September 1, 2023 | Bloomberg

Wildfires in Hawaii – when wildfires burn, the clouds of misinformation rise

Following recent wildfires in Hawaii, which have claimed over 100 lives and caused untold damage to the island, social media has been awash with climate denial and conspiracy theories. ISD’s Head of Climate Research and Policy, Jennie King, talks to Bloomberg about how this fits into wider trends, and how the nature of wildfire misinformation has evolved from 2019 to today.

Jennie explains that some of the posts regarding the Maui fires were definitely in “conspiratorial territory.” Although the commentators don’t deny the fires are real, they theorize the blazes were “engineered by the pro-climate lobby in order to convince you that climate change exists, so that they can then implement their whole sale agenda to change society.”

She goes on to explain how the rise in climate denial and conspiratorial rhetoric surrounding Hawaii’s fires fits into a broader trend observed by ISD.

ISD, in partnership with Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD) has tracked social media commentary around three previous wildfires – in Australia in 2019, the US in 2021, and in Canada earlier this year — in order to understand how these discussions relate to climate change.

Jennie explains how even though they observed a rise in climate denial and conspiracy theories in all three cases, there were variations in discourse. During the Australian wildfires, ISD observed a focus on claims of arson, while the Canadian fires were subjects of conspiracy theories like the Great Reset and 15-minute cities.

The full article is available at Bloomberg.