Pandemic spurs pushback against climate change regulations
This summer, we’ve been inundated with news of devastating heatwave after heatwave, unprecedented droughts, and raging wildfires. We’ve also been inundated with news and opinion on how European climate policies have left the continent in a position where it is over-reliant on Russian oil and gas to meet its energy needs.
It got me thinking about how conversations around climate change and those that deny or minimize its effect have popped up in the media.
According to Erin McAweeney, Director of Analysis at Graphika, a network analysis firm, climate conspiracists have latched onto the global attention on climate issues to push their anti-regulation agenda.
For instance, Dutch farmers continue to protest over regulations that require cuts to nitrogen emissions. The farmers argue that the policy will adversely impact the Netherlands’ agricultural industry by limiting food production. Right-wing media have picked up on these protests to claim that green policies are disrupting livelihoods. Some far-right leaders, like Marine Le Pen in France and former U.S. President Donald Trump, have voiced support for the Dutch farmers’ cause, with Trump even going as far as to describe the situation as “climate tyranny.”
McAweeney told me that her firm had “noted an uptick in content related to the ‘Great Reset’ throughout covid, and it appears to have converged with these longstanding climate conspiracy theories about governments using these policies for authoritarian control.”
The Netherlands is not the only place reeling from farmers protesting green regulations. Earlier this month, Sri Lankans faced economic devastation, spilling out on the streets in the tens of thousands to force President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign. His policy to ban synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, some analysts said, was disastrous, leading to food insecurity and poverty. Climate change deniers have seized on this analysis to argue that Rajapaksa was acting to appease international green lobbies.
Earlier this year, the International Monetary Fund published a paper about how Covid-19 has impacted people’s reaction to climate change and policies meant to mitigate its effects. The researchers found that people were “significantly less likely to support green policies when faced with job income loss during the pandemic.” It highlights how economic precarity, political panic, and the need to protect livelihoods works to reduce popular support for climate recovery policies.
I asked McAweeney where she sees the future of climate and covid conspiracies going, and she told me that they would “continue to converge under the widening umbrella of the Great Reset, ‘anti-globalist’ narrative,” especially in the face of newly proposed sustainable policies meant to curb climate change.
IN GLOBAL NEWS
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WHAT WE’RE READING:
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