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2023 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #7

Posted on 18 February 2023 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news and opinion articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Feb 12, 2023 thru Sat, Feb 18, 2023.

Story of the Week

Revealed: The Science Denial Network Behind Oxford’s ‘Climate Lockdown’ Backlash

A traffic filter scheme in Oxfordshire has been “weaponised” by the anti-climate lobby, according to disinformation expert Jennie King.

Oxford City Crest w/ Guinea Pig 

Not Our Future put leaflets through letterboxes in Oxfordshire.

The “grassroots” backlash to a traffic reduction scheme in Oxfordshire is being boosted by an international network of established climate and Covid science deniers and amplified by right-wing media, DeSmog can report. 

The group ‘Not Our Future’ made headlines last month by putting leaflets through Oxfordshire residents’ letterboxes calling them “guinea pigs” in the UK’s first “climate lockdown”. This was a reference to a conspiracy theory about a government plan to curb people’s freedoms. 

False claims about the Oxfordshire County Council scheme to cut traffic and pollution went viral online, with one tweet by climate sceptic author Jordan Peterson being viewed 7.5 million times. The claims, which have seen local councillors receive death threats, have been fact-checked and debunked as misleading, and the council has described them as “harmful to public debate”. 

Not Our Future’s director David Fleming, an anti-Covid lockdown and vaccine activist, presents his campaign as a people-powered movement opposed to a coming “authoritarian future” imposed by what he calls “The Blob”.

However, DeSmog can report that the group was conceived by Fleming years before the pandemic or the Oxfordshire scheme, and is backed by a network of high-profile climate deniers and conspiracy theorists based in the UK, Canada, the United States and Australia. 

It is also the latest sign of a growing alliance between opponents of climate action and anti-Covid vaccine conspiracy theorists. Not Our Future’s founding signatories include Kathy Gyngell, a trustee of Tufton Street think tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s main climate science denial group. 

Gyngell’s website TCW hosted an anti-vaccine event in London last week with climate denial author James Delingpole, anti-vax MP Andrew Bridgen, and 90s pop group Right Said Fred, the public face of Not Our Future.

Experts say fears generated by the Covid pandemic are being exploited to oppose green policies. 

“Until 2020, fear-mongering about so-called ‘green tyranny’ had little to point towards, and often felt like an abstract, even lame Boogeyman,” said Jennie King, head of climate research and policy at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) think tank. 

“The pandemic was a moment of genuine trauma for millions of people,” she said. “That trauma has been weaponised by the anti-climate lobby, who now condemn any public policy as an ‘infringement on civil liberties’ and draw direct comparisons with Covid.”  

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the DeSmog website.

Revealed: The Science Denial Network Behind Oxford’s ‘Climate Lockdown’ Backlash by Adam Barnett, Michaela Herrmann & Christopher Deane, Desmog, Feb 16, 2023

Links posted on Facebook

Sun, Feb 12, 2023

Mon, Feb 13, 2023

Tue, Feb 14, 2023

Wed, Feb 15, 2023

Thu, Feb 16, 2023

Fri, Feb 17, 2023

Sat, Feb 18, 2023

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Comments 1 to 2:

  1. Similar tactics to those documented in the OP were used in the fight to oppose the construction of a wind farm off of the New Jersey coast. This effort is detailed in: 

    Whale deaths exploited in 'cynical disinformation' campaign against offshore wind power, advocates say by Elizabeth Weise & Dinah Voyles Pulver, USA Today, Feb 11, 2023 

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  2. I just read this NPR report about how pursuers of benefit from fossil fuel use appear to be coordinating misleading 'local' campaigns against renewable energy developments.

    An activist group is spreading misinformation to stop solar projects in rural America

    The following is a quote from the article about the group coordinating opposition to Solar developments:

    "Analysts who follow the industry say Citizens for Responsible Solar stokes opposition to solar projects by spreading misinformation online about health and environmental risks. The group's website says solar requires too much land for "unreliable energy," ignoring data showing power grids can run dependably on lots of renewables. And it claims large solar projects in rural areas wreck the land and contribute to climate change, despite evidence to the contrary."

    The success of this type of 'claimed to be grass-roots' campaign is a reason that the "Hamburg Climate Futures Outlook 2023" (Story of the Week in 2023 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #5) indicates there is a very low likelihood that the US will meet its current Paris Agreement NDCs (NDCs that need to be ratcheted up if global impacts are to be kept below 2.0 C).

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