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Extreme heat, cold may drive up online hate speech

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Wednesday, September 7, 2022 - 4:14pm
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2022 - 4:52pm
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Scientists have long tried to clarify the complex relationship between uncomfortable temperatures, human behavior and societal stability.

Climate change has only added urgency to the question.

A new study in the journal Lancet Planetary Health offers some clues.

Researchers used machine learning to identify 75 million posts matching the UN definition of hate speech and then cross-referenced them with weather data.

They found the number and share of hate tweets grew as temperatures moved outside the 54-70 degrees Fahrenheit range: up to 12% more during cold conditions and 22% more on hot days.

The pattern held regardless of income, religious belief or political preference.

Online hate can worsen mental health conditions, so the findings suggest protecting the planet from excessive warming could also help safeguard mental and societal health.

Science Sustainability