Misinformation about renewable energy projects is a major barrier to the expansion of renewable energy, NPR reports. “It can really slow down the clean energy transition, and that has just as dire life and death consequences, not just in terms of climate change, but also in terms of air pollution, which overwhelmingly hits communities of color,” said Leah Stokes, an associate professor of political science at UC-Santa Barbara.
Often catalyzed by fossil-fuel backed groups like the Texas Public Policy Foundation, among others, false and misleading information about renewable energy and climate science denial is widely disseminated across social media and YouTube. Facebook is the largest driver of renewable energy misinformation, Josh Fergen, a researcher at the University of Minnesota Duluth, said. The misinformation, and Facebook’s refusal to take meaningful action to prevent false information proliferating on its platform, comes as the destructive impacts of climate change become worse and more frequent, including in the rural communities where many large scale solar and wind projects are concentrated.
“I just find it upsetting,” Dan Reuman, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas, told NPR in describing the role of misinformation in the opposition to a proposed utility-scale solar project. “I hope that the government doesn’t make a compromise between a scientifically based position and a misinformation-based position. Because if you’re compromising with misinformation, then there’s sort of no limit to that, right?” (NPR)