Facts, Fake News, and Footprints

In my last post I discussed the big issue at hand; reducing our footprints. It comes down to the harsh reality of climate change, and as it worsens ecological disasters are inevitable. However, if we all do our part to reduce our footprints we can minimize the issue.

There is a lot of information out there about climate change, ecologic footprints, and how to live more sustainably. Some of its good and some of its not so good. In this post I will go over some of the best sources for finding information on these topics, and some not so great sources.  

In a world full of information, it is hard to know how accurate what you’re reading or hearing truly is. One thing I wanted to bring up first to preface everything is the Media Bias Chart (below). Ad Fontes rates the news for bias and reliability using a rigorous methodology and a politically balanced team of analysts focusing on the news content of articles and shows. It is a great way to see where your media sources actually stand in terms of reliability and bias.

There is also a great interactive version on their website.

There are so many news sources that I really can’t go over all of them. But using sources at the top of triangle in this guide is a great way to ensure the information you are consuming is reliable and non-bias.

Scientific Institutions and Journals

So these probably aren’t the first place the average consumer gets their information, but they are by far the best! They are credible and completely backed up by research.

NASA: Global Climate Change

  • Most updated information on the current state of climate change
  • News regarding climate change and research
  • Provides evidence, causes, effects, and solutions for climate change
  • Great resources for individuals, educators, students

World Heath Organization – Climate Change and Health

  • Explanation of evidence and monitoring of climate change, its impact of health, who is at risk, and WHO’s response
  • Straight forward factsheet, quick read and easy to understand, addresses global issue
  • Links to WHO publications and latest news
  • Great for understanding the threats of climate change from a health perspective

CDC – Climate and Health

  • Overview of the CDCs Climate and Health Program
  • Explains impact of climate change on health and CDCs initiatives to prepare for climate change
  • Includes up-to-date news from CDC regarding climate change
  • Provides guidance and training, data and tools, videos and other resources suitable for public health professionals

Ecological Footprint Network (mentioned in my last post)

  • Explains how footprints work & are determined
  • Descriptions of climate change, Earth overshoot, and industry analysis
  • Calculator to determine individual ecological footprints & provides tailored solutions to reduce individuals footprint
  • Access to data, journal articles, case studies, and education resources
  • Great tool to use to learn about your footprint & identify which changes to make in your life.

Another great resource for finding research journal articles on the topics of climate change, footprints, sustainability, and health data bases!

Here are a few of my favorite scientific data bases:

Everyday Sources of Information

News

Going back to the media bias chart above, when accessing information from news sources the most important thing to look for is the credibility of the source. Ideally you would choose a news source that is non-bias and reliable.

Good News Example:

NPR – On 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, What You Can Do For the Environment

  • NPR is highly reliable for factual news, though it does also include analysis and opinion pieces
  • It does sway slightly left, but is one of the most trusted news sources regardless
  • NPR is publicly funded radio program that reports on national and global news regarding politics, business, health, science, technology, and race and culture
  • News mediums include articles, videos, podcasts, and of course radio shows

Bad News Example:

World Truth TV – Mathematical Proof That Man Made Climate Change is a Hoax

  • World Truth TV is considered a Conspiracy-Pseudoscience news source; It may publish unverifiable information that is not always supported by evidence
  • This type of source is untrustworthy for credible/verifiable information
  • News articles are inconsistent and contradictory
  • fact checking and further investigation is recommended on a per article basis when obtaining information from these sources

Social Media

If you thought it was hard to find reliable news, social media can be even more difficult. Whether it be Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, or even Tiktok, anyone can start a social media account and share basically anything they want to.

My advice:

  • Follow established reliable and factual entities, like the CDC, NPR, NASA, etc, as well as individuals. This will give you a better basis of factual information to compare with more anecdotal information that is comm on on social media
  • Take information on social media with a grain of salt! If you see an interesting graphic or headline, follow up with the author and their source to see how reliable the information is
  • Don’t disregard social media entirely; it can be a great way to communicate and interact with important information to help reduce your footprint

Examples of Good Social Media Content on the Topic of Reducing your Footprint

Infographics:

These are all over Instagram, Pinterest, and facebook and in my opinion they’re pretty harmless and helpful. Not only are they pleasing to look at, they mostly repeat the same generic factual tips to reduce your footprint. Also many are tied to scientific organizations and even include citations for the information!

Bad Examples of Social Media Content and Sustainability

Corporate greenwashing:

Social media is a powerful tool, and large corporations see the huge economic potential that entails. In order to reach the green-minded consumer base large corporations, use false marketing strategies to appear environmentally friendly when in reality they are not.

Blogs:

There are thousands of blogs, similar to this one, providing great advice for living healthier and reducing your footprint. Similar to social media accounts anyone can start a blog and post whatever they want.

I have the same advice for blogs:

  • Don’t just rely on individual’s opinion
  • Always fact check on your own
  • Look to see that bloggers provide evidence or data to support what they say

Good example of a blog post:

  • This blog post is affiliated with a larger entity, Columbia University
  • Includes linked citations for facts/data provided
  • It is not highly opinionated, instead geared toward helping the reader make positive change

What to avoid with blogs:

  • Blogs that are highly oriented around opinion and not fact
  • Blogs that do not provide evidence for their statements, or cite the information they do provide
  • Blogs that are poorly written, that have spelling and grammar errors
  • Blogs with conflicts of interest; corporate involvement, product advertisements, etc.
  • Blogs that discourage readers, are particularly negative (with the subject of climate change these types of blogs are highly unproductive and don’t allow for empowerment)

Whats important to remember is that the steps you take toward reducing your footprint are completely up to you.

You can choose to make small steps with limited or false information, or you can make huge leaps by accessing the multitude of high quality information out there to help you reduce you impact and improve your health.

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