climate science denial

As QAnon Conspiracy Spreads on the Far Right, Climate Science Deniers Jump Aboard

Read time: 10 mins
Person in 'Secede' t-shirt holds a QAnon flag in front of Confederate flag

Back in December 2019, two conspiratorial worldviews collided as, for the first time, QAnon’s Q suggested his followers should question anew a topic that, by now, has been considered, and reconsidered, for decades: climate change.

The Paris Agreement on Climate is Another Scam to Ripoff Taxpayers and Enrich the Politicians,” the Q-Drop (the term QAnon followers use to refer to messages they believe come from some sort of government insider who signs messages with the letter Q) claimed, labeling climate action a “con.”

YouTube Still Monetizing, Promoting Climate Science Denial, Report Finds

Read time: 8 mins
Burning forests satellite view with play button for YouTube climate denial report by Avaaz

You don’t have to look far to find misinformation about climate science continuing to spread online through prominent social media channels like YouTube. That’s despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are driving the climate crisis.

A new report by the global activist NGO Avaaz reveals that, despite YouTube’s pledge to combat misinformation, the popular video site owned by Google has failed to crack down on this problem when it comes to climate change. Videos containing false or misleading information on climate change continue to reach millions of users through YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. Furthermore, ads — including those from major brands and environmental groups — displayed on these videos provide a monetary incentive, not only to YouTube, but to the videos’ creators to keep promoting fringe theories contrary to scientific reality.

Debunked Australian Bushfire Conspiracy Theories Were Pushed by Alex Jones, Murdoch Media

Read time: 3 mins

As unusually intense and widespread bushfires have ravaged a drought-ridden Australia, bots and trolls have begun pushing climate science denial across the internet in the form of conspiracy theories about the fires. Thanks to climate change, exceptionally hot, dry drought conditions have worsened and lengthened Australia's typical fire season.

Two of the main conspiracies about the fires are based on the false ideas that they are caused by a spate of arson and they have been worsened by the Green Party's supposed efforts to stop controlled burns as a fire management and reduction measure.

DeSmog Was Created to Combat Climategate-Style Misinformation. We’re Still Going

Read time: 4 mins
pow!

DeSmog was launched in January 2006 to call out the public relations industry for working with fossil fuel industry clients to sow doubt and seed misinformation about climate science. In those early years, we focused most of our attention on the merchants of doubt who were scuttling political action to address global warming in the United States. 

Little did we know that climate science denial was spreading throughout the English-speaking world, and we would have to follow it to the UK and beyond.

Here Are 3 Climategate Myths That Have Not Aged Well

Read time: 7 mins
Flooded trash bins

Excessive media coverage of an email hacking tilted the outcome of a critically important event against the victims of the crime. Sound familiar?

In 2016, it happened to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. That was déjà vu for climate scientists, who seven years earlier had experienced a nearly identical chain of events leading up to the 2009 UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. 

Interview: Climategate Felt Like a Disaster, But Climate Science Is Now Stronger Than Ever

Read time: 4 mins

There was this incredible hullabaloo,” says Robert Brulle, recalling the moment that the Climategate scandal broke, 10 years ago today. He remembers thinking that it was all much ado about nothing: a coordinated PR campaign by climate deniers to discredit the science of global warming. 

Brulle is a professor of sociology and environmental science at Drexel University in Pennsylvania, who has researched the environmentalism movement for more than two decades, and has focused in recent years on the funding of climate denial. In some sense, his prediction would be proven correct. 

Fossil Fuel Ad Campaigns Emphasize 'Positives' After Climate Science Denial PR Lands Industry in Hot Seat

Read time: 7 mins
Oil rig at sunset over Huntington Beach, California

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.  

Public relations experts keep a careful eye on the multitude of ways that PR can go wrong: tracking the year’s biggest “PR blunders,” assessing flopped ads for lessons learned, and noting when to remain silent and when to circulate a particular point of view.

PR blunders have been blamed for causing stock prices to dip, powerful executives to lose jobs, and occasionally even forced public apologies from PR representatives themselves.

But it takes a special kind of PR nightmare — a particularly unusual kind in the U.S., with its broad protections for free speech — to prompt investigations by state attorneys general into whether a company’s public messaging was so misleading and harmful that it should be considered illegal.

That is the situation facing one of the world’s most powerful industries, on one of the most consequential issues of our time, climate change. The subject of these investigations isn’t the direct harm from the fossil fuel industry’s actions, it’s the ways that companies communicated about their actions, and how that misled investors or the public.

And right on cue, the fossil fuel industry's PR professionals have been stepping in to help reshape the narratives propping up their bottom lines.

Why DeSmog Is Joining a Global News Collaboration to ‘Cover Climate Now’

Read time: 4 mins
Covering Climate Now logo

It may come as something of a surprise to regular readers of DeSmog that we are joining more than 250 other news outlets in a global collaboration called “Covering Climate Now,” led by The Nation and the Columbia Journalism Review. After all, DeSmog has a very long “now” that we’ve been covering climate change — all the way back to our launch in January 2006.

The ‘Historical Jigsaw of Climate Deception’: Private Notes Show How Big Oil Spread Climate Science Denial

Read time: 6 mins
Exxon Knew billboard

We’ve all heard the dodgy arguments: ‘the science is uncertain’, ‘climate change is natural, not down to humans’, ‘science has been hijacked by politics’… Now a new cache of documents sheds light on the origins of the disinformation.  

In another verse of a now familiar refrain, a fossil fuel industry group in the 1990s publicly promoted arguments to undermine confidence in climate science while internally acknowledging their products were driving up temperatures.  

David Attenborough Calls on Voters in US and Australia to Respond to Climate Science Denial Among Leaders

Read time: 2 mins

Veteran broadcaster David Attenborough has expressed his disappointment at the rise of climate science denial in the US and Australia and called on voters to respond.

Noting the prevalence of climate science denial in certain countries while giving evidence to a committee of MPs in the UK, Attenborough said he was “sorry that there are people in power and internationally, notably the United States, but also in Australia” where “those voices are clearly heard”. He said he hoped the “electorate will actually respond” to public figures that promote climate science denial.

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