Fake news, hacked mail, alternative facts – that’s old hat for climate scientists

Distortion? False information? Conspiracy theories? Hacked email? Climate scientists have known all this for decades. What can be learned from their rich experience with climate propaganda.

The world is slowly waking up. “Post-truth” was declared the word of the year 2016 by the Oxford Dictionaries. Finally, people start to widely appreciate how dangerous the epidemic of fake news is for democracy.

Stir up hate, destroy discourse, make insane claims until no one can distinguish the most bizarre absurdity from the truth any more.

Thus the Austrian author Robert Misik aptly describes the strategy of right-wing populists.

Some call it “alternative facts”. (Those are the convenient alternative to true facts.) Let’s simply call it propaganda.

Fake News

Confusing people with fake news is not an invention of the Brexit and Trump campaigns. Here are some examples of simply false to outright crazy claims that “climate skeptics” have used to fool lay people for at least two decades (the links lead to explanations):

The greenhouse effect cannot exist, because it supposedly violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Since the late 1990s there has been no warming. In the Middle Ages Greenland was almost free of ice. The climate has cooled dramatically, Daily Mail and Breitbart News recently claimed (see the following video, in which meteorologist Kait Parker from the Weather Channel charmingly debunks this).

The “hockey stick” is broken. Sea levels are falling (claimed Björn Lomborg ). Etc. etc.

Graph: Greg Laden , with permission

The latest salvo in this is the claim by David Rose (yet again) in the British tabloid Daily Mail that “world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data”. Check out the “data manipulation” yourself in the next graph to see immediately how credible this story is. Rose used a misleading graph and cited a retired “whistleblower”, John Bates, who has since told AP that there was “no data tampering, no data changing, nothing malicious.”

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