Climate change makes us much more aggressive, even on social media

Climate change makes us much more aggressive, even on social media

Climate change makes us much more aggressive

When it's hotter than normal, online hate speech increases. Especially on Twitter, and in general on social media. It is no coincidence because when it is warmer, acts of urban violence and even wars and conflicts grow. Thus, given that it is now difficult to contest climate change, some researchers analyzed a sample of 4 billion tweets between 2014 and 2020 of users residing in the United States to understand how climate change impacts online anger. Based on the findings and through other research, scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research have found that hate speech increases on social media when temperatures rise above 30 degrees. And this is a universal reaction, as Annika Stechemesser, lead author of the study published in The Lancet Planetary Health last September told Bloomberg:

"If temperatures get too hot or too cold, we have seen a increase in online hate speech, regardless of socioeconomic differences, religion or political beliefs "

Yet another tv theater of climate denial was staged at Carta Bianca To talk about the flood in Catania, Bianca Berlinguer's program has seen fit to invite the chemistry professor Franco Battaglia, known for his positions against the anthropogenic origin of climate change and against the reduction of harmful emissions

An extra quarter of hate messages with the anomalous heat

The analyzes of the Potsdam Institute researchers used artificial intelligence to isolate 75 million hate messages in English, using the UN definition of hate online, which includes racial discrimination, misogyny and homophobia. So they recorded the quantitative increase in tweets with the change in temperatures. In general, it is the heat that drives the increase in aggression: Researchers found that online hate speech increased when daily maximum temperatures exceeded 21 ° C. Compared to the average, hate messages increased by up to 22% on hot days - a fifth more than normal. But the recorded tensions on the network were even more intense when temperatures exceeded 30ºC. And in American states like Texas, Arizona or California, with hot and dry climates, when thermometers reached 42ºC and 45ºC, hate speeches grew by 24%: almost a quarter more than normal. It is not just the US: last year, a study by the same researchers dedicated to online hate messages analyzing a European user came to similar conclusions. Also in China: the direct relationship between heat and hate online has been documented through the analysis of over 400 million messages (from a sample of 43 million users) published on Sina Weibo, the largest microblogging platform in the country . The results were that on days with temperatures above 35 ° C, atmospheric phenomena such as rain, gusts of wind, leaden skies and air pollution have increased the anger of online users.

The flood in the Marche is yet another disaster caused by the climate crisis This is an extreme climatic event, totally exceptional for the region: in two hours the same rain fell that normally falls in six months. Nine dead, entire countries flooded Aggressive online behavior is often linked to offline violence, as another study by the Council on Foreign Relations explains. According to this research, anger-laden posts have led to increased violence against minorities, including mass shootings, lynching and ethnic cleansing. Not surprisingly: it is now proven by a lot of scientific research that the extraordinary heat makes people more aggressive even in real life, beyond the screens.

Climate change makes our anger grow even offline

In 2017, a study published in the Journal of Urban Health showed a correlation between rising temperatures and crime. For example, on days with temperatures higher than the seasonal average, a 7% higher crime rate was noted. The data showed that in the hot months there were still more crimes on average, but it was surprising that in the hot days of the colder months there was a 16% higher percentage of violent crimes and 23% for general unrest in urban areas. And above all, climate change increases international wars and conflicts. There are many studies but one of the most authoritative was conducted by the journal Nature, so much so that it was taken up and cited by our Ministry of Defense in a paper called precisely Climate and conflicts, which explains at the beginning: "From 3% to 20% of conflicts of the last century had climate-related factors among its triggers and the risk will increase due to global warming (...)

Taking into consideration the worst-case scenario, in which the average temperature should increase by 4 degrees, the influence of climate on conflicts could increase by as much as five times, increasing the risk of conflict by 26%. But even managing to limit the increase to 2 degrees, as foreseen by the Paris Protocol, the risk of conflict would increase by 13% "

Returning to the analysis on the net, Stechemesser has remembered that we are not forced to this state of mind: "Of course, people can consciously decide whether they want to be nice or not, but we still found a more hateful behavior if you are in a certain temperature range". The solution? The most linear: eliminate the alteration of the ordinary state: "The first thing to do is to limit global warming: this is the most obvious approach to solve the problem" concludes the researcher. Otherwise we will also have to get used to this side effect deriving from climate change. Which can bring paradoxical effects: for example, the heat can increase resentment in digital form even of those who get angry against climate denial. Her stuff that just thinking about it is so twisted that we get confused. Or maybe, get angry.

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