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Big Tech cracks down on climate dissent

Politics has shut down scientific debate, skeptics say.


A sign on a building at Google’s campus in Mountain View, Calif. Associated Press/Photo by Jeff Chiu, file

Big Tech cracks down on climate dissent

Beginning next month, Google will implement a new policy to crack down on “climate change misinformation.” The tech giant announced in an Oct. 7 blog post it would start removing ads and YouTube content that counters the “scientific consensus” about global warming.

In crafting its policy, Google said, it consulted researchers from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group that releases periodic reports with dire predictions about rising greenhouse gas levels and global warming. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the IPCC’s latest report, released in August, a “code red for humanity.”

Skeptics of the IPCC say such messaging is alarmist, but media companies that have grown less tolerant of dissent are working to deplatform skeptical views.

Google, which raked in $147 billion in ad revenue last year, said advertisers and YouTube content creators had reached out with concerns about climate-skeptical material. According to the company, creators and advertisers do not want their products associated with material that casts doubt on common climate claims. It said it would no longer publish ads calling global warming a hoax or denying human involvement in climate change, nor would it allow YouTube videos with such content to make money from the platform’s monetization program.

As a caveat, Google said it would review the context of climate claims so as not to block content that simply discusses a false claim. But if claims stated as fact are designated as false according to the IPCC, they’ll have no home on Google’s platforms.

Author Marc Morano said the problem of censoring nonconsensus views has only grown worse.

“You used to be able to have a debate,” said Morano, who worked as the communications director for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works from 2006 to 2009.

President George W. Bush welcomed “vigorous debate” over climate change and committed to reducing greenhouse gases. President Barack Obama invested aggressively in clean energy initiatives and signed on to the Paris climate agreement. When President Donald Trump took office, he reversed course, rolling back some Obama environmental regulations and withdrawing from the Paris agreement. Critics called him a climate denier. Since then, the environment has become an increasingly polarizing issue for Republicans and Democrats.

President Joe Biden has now reversed U.S. policies again, creating a new Climate Policy Office and arguing environmental concerns need to be a high priority in national security and foreign policy decisions. He included sweeping energy and environmental policies in his $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation proposal, legislation crafted to dramatically increase spending while bypassing the need for Republican support.

Morano said that even before the Trump administration, he saw the tide turning against dissenters, such as when he showed up for media interviews only to find his slot canceled or a debater refusing to speak with him. After Trump took office, he said, the mainstream media clamped down on nonconsensus views about the environment. “Climate became the third rail of politics. No one is allowed to challenge it in any way.”

Morano left the public sector to manage the climate news website Climate Depot, write books on climate change, and produce documentaries challenging the mainstream climate message. The first one, Climate Hustle, played in theaters and streamed on Amazon Prime when it released in 2016. Morano and his team released a sequel, Climate Hustle 2, in February, only to find their social media posts underperforming or charged as political ads. Amazon Prime refused to stream Climate Hustle 2, citing content rule violations. When Morano pointed out that Amazon had allowed the first film, it removed that one, too.

Morano maintains that research does not show significant increases in global warming, extreme weather events, or carbon dioxide emissions when measured in long-term scales. “But if you challenge the UN agreement or the Green New Deal, you’re fact-checked as wrong, deplatformed, and silenced because the last thing they want are people demanding answers.”

Facebook does not have a policy about climate-related content, but it categorizes statements like “Offshore drilling is a benefit” or “How can we better tackle climate change?” as political messaging. The tech giant includes environmental politics in its list of ads frequently needing disclaimers, including content “for or against topics including but not limited to climate change, renewable/sustainable energy and fossil fuels.”

Environmentalist and Hoover Institute visiting fellow Bjorn Lomborg takes the view that climate change is a real problem, but he critiques mainstream media for failing to inform the public about environmental statistics that contradict alarmist narratives. In a recent article for Business Day, he pointed to statistics showing a decline in climate-related deaths since the 1920s, even as the global population quadrupled. (Facebook fact-checked the same information and covered it with a “false information” shield.)

“Contrary to the current narrative, our adaptive capacity is vastly larger than changing climate risks,” he wrote. “For a smart climate conversation, we need to insist on seeing all the data.”


Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Harrisburg, Pa.

@CarolinaLumetta

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Salty1

When a city grows up around a location the local surface and air can grow hotter because buildings and asphalt warm the surroundings, compared with plants that induce cooling. Nearly all the major locations that we record temperature have experienced this effect so you would expect the overall average temperature to increase purely from this effect if we look at the long term readings of temperature. Also, earth is a transient system which slowly changes purely due to the transient nature of the system , where for example the thermal capacitance of the oceans are great causing slow changing effects for hundreds if not thousands of years.

We have to be very careful not to over exaggerate the impact that we see in nature due to humans. The systems describing our climate are very complex and some aspects are not well understood (e.g. ion flow) so the dogmatic claims about climate change should be responded with skepticism. The fact that Big Tech should censor this discussion shows a very dangerous trend where the propagandists of climate change are attempting to hi-jack the scientific discussion and push their political agenda. This agenda extends to changing our economic system and giving big government more power. All of this is dangerous and Christians should be aware of what is happening. The people pushing this agenda don’t have our Christian interests in mind and will actually use it to suppress us.

John Cogan

Science has never been done by consensus. If it were, we would still believe in a geocentric universe and Copernicus would have been cancelled.

FIMIKIJohn Cogan

For sure, but if you go against consensus then the burden of proof is on you. The IPCC has over the years refined their models and incorporated the most compelling factors that mitigate the warming effects of CO2. Notably, the most likely scenarios in the latest report are also the least scary. Not that you would know from MSM publications:

https://reason.com/2021/08/09/high-end-global-warming-scenarios-in-new-u-n-climate-change-report-are-exceedingly-implausible/

John CoganFIMIKI

@FIMKI Thank you for your comment. I agree. You present evidence. That is how science is done. But science is not a democracy and we do not silence those in the minority even when the consensus is right - which it generally is. If you will reread the article, big tech is censoring the minority view. We do not ever censor the minority view because occasionally, it is correct. I would even be against censoring the Flat Earth Society. If we allow Big Tech to censor everyone with whom the disagree, one of these times they will censor a minority view that is right. Consensus is just not a valid scientific argument.

FIMIKIJohn Cogan

For sure. Calling Google's demonetization of minority views censorship seems a bit much - they're primarily ad add company anyway and it makes sense to respond to the requests of their biggest customers. But removing content altogether, like Amazon did, especially content that had been previously approved, is certainly troublesome.

Salty1

The tech giants need to be stopped in their spin defining what is truthful. They are a threat to our democratic republic and should be reigned in.

Laura WSalty1

How, and by whom? That's the crucial question. If we're not careful, we may end up with a cure worse than the disease.

Salty1Laura W

You raise a good point Laura!