Climate Change, Disinformation, and How to Combat It

Annual Review of Public Health, Forthcoming

23 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2020

See all articles by Stephan Lewandowsky

Stephan Lewandowsky

University of Bristol; The University of Western Australia

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 16, 2020


Climate change presents a challenge at multiple levels: It challenges our cognitive abilities because the effect of the accumulation of emissions is difficult to understand. Climate change also challenges many people's worldview because any climate mitigation regime will have economic and political implications that are incompatible with libertarian ideals of unregulated free markets. Those political implications have created an environment of rhetorical adversity in which disinformation abounds, thus compounding the challenges for climate communicators. The existing literature on how to communicate climate change and dispel misinformation converges on several conclusions: First, providing information about climate change, in particular explanations of why it occurs, can enhance people's acceptance of science. Second, highlighting the scientific consensus can be an effective means to counter misinformation and raise public acceptance. Third, culturally aligned messages and messengers are more likely to be successful. Finally, climate misinformation is best defanged before it is encountered through a process known as inoculation, although debunking techniques can also be successful.

Keywords: climate change, science denial, disinformation, communicating science

Suggested Citation

Lewandowsky, Stephan, Climate Change, Disinformation, and How to Combat It (September 16, 2020). Annual Review of Public Health, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Stephan Lewandowsky (Contact Author)

University of Bristol ( email )

University of Bristol,
Senate House, Tyndall Avenue
Bristol, BS8 ITH
United Kingdom
07440189544 (Phone)


The University of Western Australia ( email )

35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics