Environmental infodemic

An environmental infodemic is a piece of rapid and widespread information including misleading and false information about environmental and health issues. This information is undermining sustainability since many people could not able to identify authentic details. On one hand, the internet plays a significant role to spread scientific knowledge and awareness. On the other hand, it is a significant source of infodemic. This is because of the large content generation based on superstitious, illogical, and unscientific for economic benefits. One such example is climate disinformation. As per UNESCO, about $5.3 million in ad revenue was generated in the last six months by 10 toxic spreaders of climate disinformation. The top five possible reasons for environmental infodemic are as follows.

1. Unscientific health advise

A plethora of information and guidelines on health advice are getting published across the world online as well as in print media. Often these pieces of information are unreliable due to a lack of authentic sources or misunderstanding of primary information. Therefore, it is important to identify authentic sources of information before adopting the advice. To avoid the same, several initiatives have been taken care of by WHO, NIH, the National Health Mission, and the Health Ministry of Governments. Often people believe that anything that goes online is authentic and correct. In this race, one can become an author and write anything for economic benefit. This leads to an environmental infodemic and can be a threat in the coming future if not taken care of properly.

2. Predatory research publication

One of the reasons for the increasing environmental infodemic is the predatory research publication without quality checks. For academic growth and benefits, predatory journals have trapped many academicians. Often predatory journals publish research and review articles without peer review for the mutual benefit of the author and publisher. Tens of thousands of research awards and degrees have been issued to researchers based on predatory publications. This could be a serious threat to research and development in addition to the risk of infodemic. Therefore, it is crucial to follow and publish research in peer-reviewed journals. To avoid this, academicians should discontinue publishing research articles in predatory journals. Think Check Submit tools may facilitate researchers to identify the integrity of research journals. Further increasing infodemic for economic benefits and recognition will be costly affairs for the upcoming generations and can not be justifiable.

3. Inacurrate citation

Inaccurate citations mislead readers about ideas and impact research quality by distracting the flow of information. The inaccurate flow of information generates misleading and false information in the scientific communities. Often researchers do not verify the citations while the literature survey and could not find the history of ideas. In addition, some researchers are using paraphrasing tools to rewrite published ideas as their ideas without citing the creator. There are many reasons or factors for inaccurate citations at different levels. This could be minimizable with the help of the author, editor, reviewer, and readers. These acts undermine sustainability by enhancing environmental infodemic. Therefore, each researcher should read and understand the original idea and cite it properly to avoid such conditions. In addition, research journals should follow strict quality control to accept the manuscript for the peer review process and publication.

4. Biased publication

Biased publications are increasing significantly throughout the world due to a lack of awareness among authors, editors, and reviewers. Selective publication approaches of a journal increase the likelihood of publishing positive results than negative findings. There are many reasons for biased publications including rejection by editors or reviewers, lack of competing interest, and lack of motivation to write a manuscript with negative results. Often researchers do not think about negative findings despite conducting research. As of now, only 15% of total publications in science have negative results. The trend of decreasing negative results in science indicates biased publication. The result of this act distracts researchers from the main objectives of the research. Therefore, it is important to publish unbiased results to avoid environmental infodemic conditions.

5. Underreporting

Often data and facts about the environment and health are underreporting due to insufficient public awareness, inadequate monitoring systems, lack of transparency, and deliberate concealment. For example, the number of death reported due to COVID-19 is about 24% lesser than the actual number as per the recent estimate in the US. Underreporting of COVID cases is even higher in other countries.

Underreporting about the environment and public health is undermining sustainability due to a lack of actual extent knowledge. The possible reasons are poor enforcement of environmental regulations, political and economic pressures, and limited monitoring and surveillance system. In addition, social and cultural factors such as societal norms, cultural beliefs, or fear of reprisals may significantly influence underreporting.

The severity of the environmental infodemic will increase further If the extent of environmental issues is not documented and handled properly. Therefore, an understanding of the actual state of the environment and health is crucial for decision-makers as well as for researchers to develop effective strategies and policies for sustainable development.

The underreporting could be minimizable by strengthening monitoring systems, promoting transparency and accountability, enhancing public awareness and participation, and improving regulatory frameworks and enforcement mechanisms. This is achievable through awareness initiatives since the key to all environmental progress and development is public awareness.


Based on the foregoing discussion it can be concluded that multiple factors and activities increase the severity of environmental infodemic. Environmental infodemic is significantly undermining sustainability since it has a negative correlation with growth and development. Therefore, combating the increasing environmental infodemic is vital for effectively managing and addressing health issues and environmental challenges and ensuring a sustainable future. This is achievable through awareness programs and public participation.

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