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Facebook video spreads climate denial misinformation to 5 million users

Posted on 25 July 2018 by dana1981

Marc Morano is the real-world fossil fuel industry version of Nick NaylorHis career began working for Rush Limbaugh, followed by a job at Cybercast News Service where he launched the ‘Swift Boat’ attacks on 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. In 2006, Morano became the director of communications for Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who is perhaps best known for throwing a snowball on the Senate floor and calling human-caused global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

Thus it’s unsurprising that in 2009, Morano began directing fossil fuel-funded think tanks designed to cast doubt on the reality of and dangers associated with human-caused global warming. As he admitted in Merchants of Doubt, Morano frequently embodies the strategy of climate denial known as ‘fake experts’:

Most recently, Morano created a short video that centers on three common climate myths and has garnered over 5m views on Facebook.

Morano’s climate fake news

Morano begins his video by denying the 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming. Consensus denial is one of the most popular climate myths, and was the subject of the most widely-shared climate story of 2016.

Morano’s strategy is to critique two of the studies that found a 97% expert consensus. One, published in 2009 by Peter Doran and Maggie Zimmerman surveyed 3,146 Earth scientists, but fewer than 80 of the participants were actively publishing climate science research (and hence experts on the subject). Basically, the critique is that the study sample size was too small to make a conclusive determination about the level of expert consensus.

That’s a valid point, except this was just one among many such climate consensus studies. In fact, the authors of seven separate consensus studies using a variety of approaches (some with very large sample sizes) teamed up in 2016 to publish a paper concluding that the expert consensus on human-caused global warming is between 90 and 100%. So, this critique is invalid when considering all the available consensus research.


 The results of seven studies evaluating the expert scientific consensus on human-caused global warming. Illustration: John Cook,

Morano also critiques the consensus study that my colleagues and I published in 2013. He does so simply by quoting economist Richard Tol saying our 97% figure “was pulled from thin air.” Tol argued that the methodology in our study was flawed, but when we applied his critiques in a follow-up paper published in 2014, we found that the consensus was still 97 ± 1%.

Moreover, Tol himself has said, “The consensus is of course in the high nineties” and “There is no doubt in my mind that the literature on climate change overwhelmingly supports the hypothesis that climate change is caused by humans. I have very little reason to doubt that the consensus is indeed correct.”

In short, Morano’s only evidence to dispute the expert consensus on human-caused global warming is to quote an economist who agrees the consensus is 90–100%, and that the experts are correct that humans are responsible for global warming.

Next in the video, Morano claims that we’re not actually in the midst of the hottest period on record, and that ‘hottest year’ claims are “merely political statements” because for example, he claims, scientists can’t say with 100% certainty that 2016 was hotter than 2015 due to the margin of uncertainty in the data. This claim is similar to one made on Fox News that earned a ‘Pants on Fire’ rating from Politifact based on consultation with climate scientists. 2014 through 2017 are indeed the four hottest years on record, outside the range of uncertainty.

Morano concludes the video by claiming “the most outrageous myth of all is that carbon dioxide is somehow the control knob of the climate.” Ironically, Nasa climate scientists published a paper in 2010 titled, “Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth’s Temperature.” Morano argues that the experts are wrong because there are hundreds of factors influencing Earth’s climate, and that carbon dioxide “is one of these factors that gets essentially drowned out, and you can’t distinguish its effect from natural variability.”

That claim is entirely false, as elegantly illustrated in this graphic created by Bloomberg. Human-caused global warming now far outside the range of natural variability. In fact, we’re now warming global temperatures more than 20 times faster than Earth’s fastest natural climate changes. And of course, climate scientists have observed human fingerprints all over climate change, most recently in the atmosphere. It would be absurd to take Marc Morano’s word over the evidence published in peer-reviewed studies by climate scientists at Nasa and other scientific institutions around the world.

Facebook is still spreading fake news

Lately, Facebook has struggled mightily in trying to figure out how to combat the epidemic of fake news propagated via its platform. Mark Zuckerberg made headlines last week when he defended fake news from Holocaust deniers, saying he didn’t “think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”

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Comments 1 to 13:

  1. How is it not a crime to do what Marc Morano does?

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  2. How is it not a crime for Youtube to post all those videos about how The Earth is Flat, or NASA is fake? "Social Media" couldn't care less about what is true and what isn't. When the internet started I thought, great, now people will have the tools to find out the truth about the world. I was wrong. It just gives people a way to find other people who don't care about truth and evidence and concoct even more bs. And now it has penetrated to the very highest levels of our government. I don't think there is much we can do now. Just hope that science and reason can win the day eventually.

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  3. People like Morano promote ignorance. They abuse the right of free speech.

    Social media does create a global platform for ignorance. Sometimes I wonder if the internet is doing more harm than good.

    The climate denial and general internet nonsense shows little regard for dispassionately examining the evidence. It is clearly politically motivated and based on self interest, when you listen to peoples rhetoric, and people are reluctant to back down from this position by looking too closely.

    People get locked into beliefs because they are reluctant to admit they have been fooled. This is why people adhere so rigidly to conspiracies like the nasa moon landings thing, even when presented with obvious evidence otherwise.

    I agree I hope science and reason prevail. I wish they would prevail a little faster.

    It's hard countering an endless gish gallop of myths, and I think the one to focus on most is that climate change is being allegedly caused by solar cycles, because this will be in most peoples minds as a possibility. Show people good evidence that solar cycles don't explain recent warming. But yes, the consensus is very important as well and well proven to be above 90% by numerous studies.

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  4. It would be good if there were a method by which we could complain to Zuckerberg personally about this clown.  Banning him and his ilk would be a start. Facebook should start taking a stand for truth, since it is being used as a source of information (news). 

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  5. I doubt Zuckerberg cares at all - it's just business.

    As for "science and reason": remember that Mother Nature Bats Last.

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  6. Yes it may be hard work getting Zuckerberg to do anything about Morano. Even this material isnt serious enough to be banned: "Facebook on Tuesday said that Infowars founder Alex Jones’s monologue threatening special counsel Robert Mueller is not a violation of its platform rules. In his rant, Jones accuses Mueller of covering up sex crimes, challenges the special counsel to an imaginary gunfight and pantomimes shooting the former FBI director."

    Phew! If that doesn't violate facebook rules what does? Well apparently nude artworks by the painter Rubens are a terrible violation. Some websites have pretty unusual priorities....

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  7. Indeed it is a bleak time, in the middle of unprecedented material wealth, and security from the traditional chief killers of humans (infectious diseases, by far).

    The climate aspect of it is only one side. The true damage is the diminishing ability of the population to distinguish between what's real, or at least a sincere attempt at approaching it, and what is thrown around only to serve the interest of a few.

    There is no doubt in my mind that smart phones and social media are quite likely at this point to have a much more negative overall effect on humanity than positive. As of right now, they are having an overall negative effect by quite a margin. Democracy is receeding all over the World. Fascists and populists are gaining ground everywhere because their propaganda finds an ear in attention deficient populations completely unable to think critically, who have forgotten even the recent history of the 20th century. Traditional tyrants have been overthrown only to be replaced by religious fanatics. Long held bastions of freedom become overtly friendly to such ideologies as white supremacism, nazism, and neo-nazis. Even countries that have suffered tremendously in WW2 like Poland are sliding toward the ideology that was unleashed on them only a human lifetime ago. 

    The people who are in the best position to enact progress, westerners, are obsessed with material things that are of no interest and react like capricious children at the simple thought that they may not have what they're made to want by the enormnous burden of advertisement that have invaded our entire lives. Despite being richer, more secure and more comfortable than ever, they can't contemplate having less and they're full of fear: fear of terrorists that kill minuscule numbers compared to diabetes and other avoidable diseases, fear of having less stuff, or simply of not having in the future all the stuff they have envisioned. It's really sad.

    The super rich, except for a few running significant charitable work, seem to have no other drive than getting always richer, without concern to the price of doing so. The new dominant western religion is profit, at any cost, by any means. Large interest groups are so powerful that most nations are too small to do anything against them and essentially are their vassals. African nations can not warn their populations against the danger of tobacco because tobacco companies sue them and they can't defend effectively. Drinkable water supplies are being bought by profit driven private interests everywhere. A new feodal order of money is emerging.

    Reality will win eventually, as it always does. Whatever form that takes will likely be a surprise. 

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  8. Morano gives me the impression that a major part of his motivation is the thrill of conflict and the pleasure of thinking he has ut down an adversary.

    If I am right then he cannot admit that he is wrong and there is an element of bad faith in all his arguments.

    Now I think most of us know there is little chance of getting an ideologue to understand. You have to make your aguments for the benefit of bystanders who are willing to try to understand.

    But how do you deal with someone like Morano who is probably in part doing it for kicks? How do you make this behaviour recognizable to bystanders?

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  9. The internet has been really useful in getting some truths, like how to get the water out of your headlights and seal the seams again:  Just 'youtube' it.  At the same time, its become filled with misinformation about less personal, general interest topics, like climate change, where the moneyed-interests are free to broadcast their lies.  As SkS repeats, if you don't innoculate people against these viral lies, they catch the disease and its difficult to dislodge.  Commerce is global.  The internet is global.  Some kind of global governmental watchdog is needed to counter these diseases.  I know that sounds like 'one world government', but in the absence of global regulation, we have unregulated global capitalism.  This is a place where a gangster like Vladimir Putin can realistically expand his vision from ripping off mere Russia, to ripping off the whole world.

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  10. Al Gore's "The Assault on Reason" is a detailed presentation of what has been happening in the USA.

    Essentially, the acquisition of wealth or power is becoming less constrained by good reason. And wealth has been getting an increased ability to purchase power.

    People are more easily moved by appeals to selfish fears than by appeals to be more caring altruists. They believe simple claims from demagogues rather than determining if the claim is made for good reason. The Sustainable Development Goals are a compendium of Good Reason.

    Climate science presents a threat to unjustified wealthy and powerful people. And those unjustified rich and powerful people can easily get support from people who sense that they would personally lose their currently developed perceptions of prosperity and opportunity if burning of fossil fuels was limited or made to be more expensive.

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  11. There's one study missing concerning the scientific consensus on climate change:

    The Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming Matters

    => The Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming Matters

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  12. Is building a Facebook alternative worth the effort? MeWe thinks so

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  13. Media Matters (2012)

    Marc Morano: Climate Change Misinformer Of The Year


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