The “denier” label now gets applied to anyone who questions not only whether climate change is a thing, but whether it is a crisis, a view that encompasses a large fraction of the world’s scientists and most of its economists. Meanwhile in a lament for bad manners online, a Guardian piece hurls that insult, saying “Climate crisis deniers target scientists for vicious abuse on Musk’s Twitter,” apparently in the belief that Michael Mann isthe most mild-mannered, soft-spoken person ever to urge that Donald Trump be put “in prison for life” and also unaware that throwing a slur at people doesn’t put you in a position to complain when they throw it back. Instead, according to Anna Fazackerley, the problem is that Twitter is no longer censoring the wrong kinds of people.
“Some of the UK’s top scientists are struggling to deal with what they describe as a huge rise in abuse from climate crisis deniers on Twitter since the social media platform was taken over by Elon Musk last year. Since then, key figures who ensured ‘trusted’ content was prioritised have been sacked, according to one scientist, and Twitter’s sustainability arm has vanished.”
And you’ve got to hate it when you’re left to defend your views, or ignore people you consider fools, all on your own. I mean why be part of an elite if you’re not pampered and protected?
No, really. That Guardian piece whines on that:
“‘There’s been a massive change,’ said Mark Maslin, professor of earth system science at University College London and the author of popular books including How to Save Our Planet. ‘I get so much abuse and rude comments now. It’s happening to all of us, but I challenge the climate deniers so I’ve been really targeted.’ Maslin says he used to have regular meetings with Sean Boyle, Twitter’s former head of sustainability, who was laid off in Musk’s mass cull of staff shortly after he began his takeover in April 2022. Maslin said Boyle discussed the platform’s work to develop ways of ensuring that trusted information was pushed to the top.”
Yes, that’s right. Twitter used to help him rig the debate, and he’s now steamed that they won’t. And he’s happy to say it out loud in public. What’s more, they’re so used to having their own way that they increasingly equate online criticism, some of it unquestionably obtuse, obscene and loathsome, with physical attack. Thus:
“A British Columbia regional district has postponed a series of climate action open houses, citing safety concerns and fears of intimidation…. It means adoption of the district’s climate action plan will also be delayed…. The statement does not describe the nature of the intimidation, but the district said its draft climate guidance plan has been the subject of online misinformation that had caused confusion and misunderstandings.”
Well boo hoo. At CDN we have high standards for social media comments and delete whatever we consider vile, including a flood of conspiracy theories. But we do our own dirty work in that regard. So we scoff at a passage like this one from the Guardian piece:
“Professor Richard Betts, chair of climate impacts at Exeter University and head of climate impacts at the Hadley Centre, said: ‘Outright hostility has increased in recent weeks. It’s mostly just people saying you’re talking rubbish. They don’t want a conversation.’”
When people call us paid lying murderers, they’re not looking for a conversation either. But we don’t go crying to Elon Musk, or the government. We just brush them off and carry on.