What is the climate "doomism" and who is fighting it?

"Climate dooms" think the world is already losing the fight against global warming.

What is the climate "doomism" and who is fighting it?

"Climate dooms" think the world is already losing the fight against global warming. This is false - even though it's spreading online, others are fighting to stop the viral tide.

Charles McBryde walked down the street in a Jurassic Park hat, then raised his smartphone and stared at it.

"Ok TikTok. I need your help."

Charles is 27 years old and lives in California. Charles has more than 150,000 subscribers to his TikTok videos on news, politics, and history.

The video was recorded in October 2021. He decided that it was time to confess.

He said, "I am a climate skeptic." "Since around 2019, I have believed there is little or nothing we can do to reverse climate change globally."

Climate doomism refers to the belief that humanity is unlikely to survive unless we stop global warming.

Scientists say that's false, but the argument is gaining momentum online.

Charles acknowledged feeling anxious, overwhelmed and depressed by global warming. He then offered his help with a plea.

He said, "I'm calling upon the activists and scientists of TikTok for help," "Convince us that there is something worth fighting for and that we can win the end over this, even though it is temporary."

It wasn't too long before someone responded.

Alaina Wood, a sustainability scientist from Tennessee, is the author of this article. She's also known on TikTok as thegarbagequeen.

After viewing Charles' video, she replied explaining in plain English why he was wrong.

Alaina has made it a habit to challenge climate doomism, a mission that she has taken on with urgency.

People are abandoning activism because they feel like they can't handle it anymore. This is too much . And if it's too late , why bother? She says, "Doomism ultimately leads to climate inaction which is the opposite of what we want." "Doomism eventually leads to climate inaction which is exactly the opposite of what we want."

Dr Friederike Otto is a climate scientist who works with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She says that it is not helpful to pretend that climate changes will cause humanity's extinction.

The IPCC has released a detailed plan in its latest report that could help the world to avoid the worst effects of rising temperatures.

It calls for "rapid and deep" reductions in greenhouse gas emissions - gases that trap heat from the sun and make the planet even hotter.

"There's no disputing that there are significant changes all over the world, and some of them irreversible," Dr Otto, a Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, says.

"It doesn’t mean that the world will end, but we must adapt and stop emitting.

The US's Pew Research Center conducted a poll last year that covered 17 countries and focused on attitudes to climate change.

The overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they are willing to make changes in their lives to address the problem.

When asked how confident they were that climate change would reduce the impact of global warming, over half answered "Little to No"

Doomism exaggerates that feeling of hopelessness and taps into it. Charles's story began with Reddit community dedicated to civil collapse.

Charles states, "The most apocalyptic language I could find was actually coming out of former climate scientists."

Listen to "The online boom in climate doom" from BBC Trending

It is impossible to determine if the people who posted the messages Charles saw were scientists.

However, he felt that the posts had a profound impact on him. He admitted that he did think he fell into the rabbit hole.

Alaina Wood, sustainability scientist, said that Charles's story was not uncommon.

She says she has never encountered climate denial or misinformation on social media. "It's not people who say that fossil fuels don’t cause climate change. People are saying it's too late.

TikTok rules prohibit misinformation that can cause harm. Alaina had previously debunked some videos. We sent them the videos. No one was found to have broken the rules.

TikTok claims it collaborates with accredited fact-checkers in order to "limit the spread false or misleading climate information".

It can come in many forms and is therefore difficult to measure accurately, but Alaina believes that doomism has a particular appeal among young people.

"There are people who are climate activists, and they're scared. She says that they want to see change but feel they must spread fear-based content in order to achieve this.

"There are also people who understand that fear is viral and they just follow the trends even though they don't necessarily know the science."

I have seen several of the videos she debunked. They all feature young people expressing despair about the future.

One young woman says, "Let's tell you why my life is not what it should be and why I am not planning." "By 2050, most people should be under water from global warming." However, this is a gross exaggeration based on what climate scientists actually tell us.

Alaina states, "A lot that is often fatalistic humor, but people at TikTok are taking that as fact."

After Alaina's debunks, is Charles still one of them? Is he still a climate ogre?

He tells me, "I would not say no." "I am convinced that we can get out this."

Visit the BBC Action Line for more information on mental health support.

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