Climate Deniers Turn to QAnon to Spread Misinformation

by Natasha Lasky and Miro Korenha

A recent study from online network analysis firm Graphika suggests that the loudest voices perpetuating climate change denial have started sharing content and hashtags from the QAnon conspiracy movement. Researchers speculate that this partnership is tactical, as followers of the QAnon movement— who are already skeptical of science — would boost the profile of climate deniers.

As staffers for Friends of the Earth wrote for Medium in August,

“The QAnon movement hasn’t traditionally covered climate change, but in May, when an influential QAnon account tweeted about climate denial, there was a notable and sustained increase of QAnon content shared within the climate denial group.”


Why This Matters:

  • According to the Pew Research Center, 2 in 10 Americans, and 4 in 10 Republicans, say that QAnon is a “somewhat good” or “very good” thing for the US. As climate change deniers begin to espouse QAnon talking points, climate denial could spread to a large audience. They’ve already been successful in spreading misinformation about the wildfires in the western US — suggesting that the fires were started by Antifa activists
  • According to Media Matters, 81 current or former congressional candidates have in some way given credence to QAnon. If the QAnon and climate denial factions unite, it could have dangerous implications for efforts to enact climate legislation.
  • Not only do those who follow QAnon tend to discredit global warming, they also tend to be anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers. This alliance between climate change deniers and QAnon reveals a broader mistrust of science and the government that festers on the internet unchecked.


Social Networks Fan the Flames: Tech companies profit off virality and QAnon and conspiracy content tend to generate more clicks than fact-based content, giving social media companies incentives to promote misinformation.

This year, journalists revealed the extent to which social media giant Facebook was allowing climate misinformation to proliferate unchecked on its site. And while Facebook said it would make factual climate change information to be more easily accessible for its users, it won’t commit to removing climate misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Facebook isn’t the only platform where climate misinformation has been easily spread. YouTube’s algorithm has suggested videos promoting climate denial to its viewers and on Twitter “trollbots” have swarmed scientists and tweets promoting climate science. 

This is alarming as 1 in 5 American adults get their political news from social media and compared to other groups, are far less informed and susceptible to conspiracy theories. Without fact-checking and quality control on social media networks, climate denial and confusing misinformation will continue to perpetuate. 




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