Why media consumers need to be more attentive than ever when it comes to climate change
By Asher Sochacczewski and Gianna Hutton
Alternative facts and misinformation have become prominent features with technology as the process of uploading false information have become increasingly accessible to internet users. According to research from the Pew Research Center, 50% of Americans see made-up news as the most pressing issue we face today. This trend of being skeptical in Americans has catalyzed the overall mistrust of news outlets, governments, and social media, leading to startling observations.
The climate crisis, for example, has been recognized as a severe risk to human health since 2001 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, however less than half of Americans view it as a top priority to address according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center. Thus, it is important for Americans to differentiate between alternative facts and scientific data as the media and it’s users become increasingly polarized.
Greta Thunberg and Naomi Sebit are two major influencers that exemplify this need for research beyond debate.
Noami Seibt, a 19-year-old proclaimed “climate realist” has served as a means to spread questionable information regarding the climate crisis. Sebit has been cited for her belief in the success of fossil fuels as the major source of energy. This ideology is suspected to derive from her employer, the Heartland Institute -- an organization that has notoriously supported the fossil fuel industry, causing skepticism by many when evaluating her intentions regarding climate education.
17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, one of Sebit’s main targets, has similarly faced criticism for her platform and “radical” style of speech. Consequently, the same need to research beyond specificities to find her message is vital. Thunberg has received no payment for her climate activism seeking to promote legislative change and serving as a positive force for climate education and awareness on a global scale.
The climate crisis demands action now. In South Florida, three specific extreme weather events; hurricanes, extreme heat, and flooding pose imminent threats. In Miami-Dade by 2050, we can expect to live almost half the year in what is considered “danger days,” or days where the heat index makes the outdoors intolerable by, according to a study recently published by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Thus, the vital need to solve this crisis serves as an example as to why Americans need to investigate media and sources beyond traditional means. Nowadays the luxury of always trusting the information displayed cannot be afforded and Americans need to step up and ensure that the media they are consuming and spreading is true.
Instead of just reading or listening to all information from the media we should look online to make sure the information we heard was reliable. Websites that end with .gov our websites run by the government and are usually reliable. Also, websites that end with .org tend to be reliable because these websites are made by nonprofits. In terms of news organizations, it’s important to search for objectivity in the media and find reliable media networks. It now is our responsibility to look beyond headlines and ask ourselves "Is this information coming from professionals in the field?". Now is the time where must be smart and not just expect all information we hear to be accurate.
Asher Sochacczewski is a student at Scheck Hillel Community Day School and served as an intern for Fridays For Future Miami this summer.
Gianna Hutton is a rising junior at Miami Palmetto Senior High and a Fridays For Future Miami Team Member. Read more from Gianna Hutton here.