UBC Researchers Warn AI and Social Media Could Undermine Climate Action

Researchers at the University of British Columbia warn that generative AI and social media can hinder climate change efforts by reducing creative thinking and spreading false information. They call for a cautious review of these technologies' impact on climate action.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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UBC Researchers Warn AI and Social Media Could Undermine Climate Action

UBC Researchers Warn AI and Social Media Could Undermine Climate Action

Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) are sounding the alarm that generative artificial intelligence (AI) and social media could hinder efforts to address climate change. In a recent forum article published in the journal Global Environmental Politics, the researchers argue that thesetechnologies can reduce creative thinking, foster feelings of hopelessness, and contribute to the spread of false information.

Why this matters: The impact of AI and social media on climate action efforts has far-reaching implications for the planet's future, as it can influence the effectiveness of global efforts to mitigate climate change. If left unchecked, these technologies could exacerbate the climate crisis, leading to devastating consequences for ecosystems and human societies.

According to Dr. Hamish van der Ven, Assistant Professor of sustainable business management of natural resources at UBC,"These technologies are influencing human behaviour and societal dynamics, shaping attitudes and responses to climate change. "The researchers notethat AI and social media can diminish human capacities for creative thinking and problem-solving, which are crucial for tackling the complex challenges posed by climate change.

The study highlights how these platforms can distract from pressing global issues and foster feelings of hopelessness, potentially preventing collective action on climate change. Dr. van der Ven warns that recurrent exposure to negative news on social media can erode optimism and increase feelings of hopelessness, which mayhinder efforts to organizeand take action.

Furthermore, the researchers point out that increased dependence on these technologies may decrease the capacity for creativity and forward-thinking solutions needed to address the climate crisis. Both social media and AI are known to contribute to the spread of false or biased information, which can further undermine actions to mitigate climate change.

The UBC researchers are calling for a cautious review of generative AI and its impact on climate change efforts. They emphasize the need to be aware of the potential negative consequences of these technologies on our ability to address this critical global issue. As the world grapples with the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate, understanding the role of emerging technologies in shaping public discourse and action is becoming increasingly important.