Assignment Description

Improving the Climate Change Information Environment

Part of the Digital Polarization Initiative (DigiPo)

(adapted from

Bad information about climate change is everywhere, and many common searches on the web return misinformation. We can think of this situation in terms of the “information environment” about climate change. Bad or poor quality information is “information pollution” that degrades the information environment we all share. We don’t have to accept this situation as inevitable. We can, as students and scholars, make the information environment better.

For the Improving Our Climate Change Information Environment assignment you will work in a group of 2 or 3 to identify a question about climate change for which the current top Google results are either flawed or incomplete. Our class climate change information site ( contains a list of possible claims that you might choose from. Or you can come up with your own claim to investigate. You will write up that question and answer it (see the Format section below). If you wish, you can choose submit your questions and answers for permanent inclusion on our class climate change information site. This will result in your answer coming up in Google responses to the question you chose (permanent submission to the site is optional, not mandatory, and acceptance may be dependent on quality).

Your work will be assessed on the following criteria. These criteria are all derived from the goal of the assignment: to produce useful, accurate information that people can understand and feel they can trust.

  • Choice of question: Did you choose a question about which there is currently misinformation or a lack of information? Your completed assignment should show that the question is either matter of some disagreement or an issue on which there is no significant disagreement, but about which there is significant misinformation on the web.
  • Quality of explanation: In answering the question do you write with clarity while still showing the level of nuance the subject requires?
  • Quality of Sourcing: Do you source your support for the answer through the appropriate use of hyperlinks? Are your sources reliable, and do they tap into relevant expertise in the field? For statistical questions do you note both the source of the statistics and any relevant information about how they were collected and by whom?
  • Breadth of sourcing: Do you use a variety of sources, old and new, to show the points of scholarly consensus and disagreement? For statistical questions, do you provide multiple sources if required and available?
  • Style: Does your answer project authority through use of proper grammar, clear writing, and freedom from spelling errors? Where possible, do you make use of properly cited images, videos, and other media? Do you maintain a neutral, unemotional tone throughout?

Examples of previous exemplary work on questions from other topics: