The next disinformation campaign?

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Fred Ryan
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

The public nastiness over vaccinations, masks, and lockdowns has exceeded normal boundaries of public debate, but this nastiness is not new, especially after Trump’s foray into anti-democratic politics.  Well before

Fred Ryan
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

The public nastiness over vaccinations, masks, and lockdowns has exceeded normal boundaries of public debate, but this nastiness is not new, especially after Trump’s foray into anti-democratic politics.  Well before
then it was a current in American political culture, reaching back well before the Civil War.  So it’s hard to blame social media entirely, as many do, although social media has unquestionably been
the gasoline into which these torches are tossed.
Social nastiness may have a long history, but must it have a future? And how can we strengthen our social bonds with each other to reassert the democratic reliance on logic and evidence, as well as good will, respect and fairness?  
If we look outside our Covid safety-shields, the big issue facing us all, rich and poor, urban or rural, is the
growing climate catastrophe.  We have plenty of examples — BC’s heat dome, atmospheric rivers, California’s and Australia’s hell-like wild fires, the droughts and the flooding,  ice caps
melting, seas rising.  One of the take-aways from this fall’s COPS conference in Scotland is that climate change as a world problem requires everyone on board,  doing their bit to mitigate and even reduce the coming climate catastrophes.  … Oh-oh, trouble ahead.
Picture today’s deniers, conspiracy theorists, libertarians, and unemployed oil workers, fanned on by Big Oil’s big oil-protective budgets, by smaller-government think tanks, and by multiple dark-money funders. Even hostile foreign-based disrupters will see their opportunities here. "Climate change"  they can get their teeth into : "government over-reach", ex-football players revealing the conspiracies of the
scientists, and the claims that alternative energy is too expensive, unreliable, and polluting with its batteries. None of these "alternate facts" are truthful. Imagine all that can be denied, starting with the very existence of human-provoked climate change. They can chart back millennia to show cycles of cold and heat — change is normal, they will argue.  They can reference a glacier or two which is growing, not melting.  All while this whole-Earth effort is going to be costly and represent sacrifices.
How can we sidestep social media misinformation when we can hardly put down our phones for twenty minutes?  
It would be presumptuous here to propose solutions and lines of action.
Just reining in social media has proven near-impossible.  Yet it is legitimate and necessary to at least get these questions up into view early.  How are we — all of us — going to overcome this disastrously changing climate amid a campaign to discredit that very effort?
Our best defense is to rely on science and on our strong sense of belonging to our community, isn’t it?