There has been another sighting of the regular complaint that climate scientists are being subject to hurty comments on Twitter. The Guardian reports a “huge” rise in abuse since Elon Musk took over the platform last year. “It’s mostly just people saying you are talking rubbish,” admits Professor Richard Betts from the Met Office, although the Guardian headlines its story with a “vicious abuse” charge. This would appear to be the same Guardian that apologised in 2019 for saying David Cameron felt only “privileged pain” upon the death of his handicapped young son. The same newspaper that recently published George Monbiot’s belief that “taking out” pipelines, refineries, abattoirs, coal plants and SUVs is “morally justified“, and the same publication that has taken to printing racist cartoons aimed at its political opponents that would not have looked out of place in a Third Reich newspaper.
The Guardian reports that some of the U.K.’s top scientists are struggling to deal with this rise in abuse from “climate deniers”. They are fighting to make themselves heard over what is described as a “barrage of hostile comments”. Twitter employees who ensured ‘trusted’ content was prioritised have been sacked, while Right-wing culture warriors such as Jordan Peterson have been reinstated. The newspaper cites a recent survey from Global Witness which suggested prominent scientists were the most likely to face abuse.
One of those prominent scientists is UCL Geography Professor Mark Maslin, who received an ‘abusive’ tweet that referred to “a fairy tale about the big bad weather”. Another correspondent replied: “Great stories about BS science Mark. But I am tired of sci-fi.” Dr. Helen Muri, a Norwegian researcher, was sent a graph of Greenland ice core temperatures over the last 10,000 years suggesting current temperatures were at an all-time low. The writer asked in polite terms, “Any luck finding the climate crisis yet?”
Of course there is abuse across social media, some of it not very pleasant. Nobody condones threats of violence, or indeed support for violent acts, and it should be removed from public discourse. But anyone who takes an inquiring view on the current mainstream narrative on issues such as climate change and Covid gets enormous amounts of abuse on a daily basis. Slightly less concern seems to be in evidence for all the hurty feelings this may be causing us (not that it is something that really fusses us).
What is happening of course is that the horrors of the collectivist Net Zero project are becoming increasingly apparent, as a widespread attack on almost all human activity is launched under the suggestion that the climate is breaking down. Until recently the ‘settled’ science promoting this view had a safe, largely uncontested space to prosper. But scepticism about the unproven hypothesis that humans operate the climate thermostat by burning fossil fuels is growing, with two recent polls showing that over 40% of people surveyed worldwide believe climate change is mainly due to natural causes. Far from coughing up the huge sums required to hit Net Zero, 4 in 10 Americans are not even prepared to pay more than two dimes a week to combat climate change.
Professor Maslin has noted an “uptick in stupid comments” when he says something “very logical” such as “if we all eat a lot less meat, we’ll live a lot longer and be healthier”. As regular readers will recall, Maslin believes that climate change politics helps build “a new political (and socio economic) system”. It is hardly surprising that the banning of meat eating, along with all the other notable Net Zero suggestions such as no flying, shipping, barely enough energy to heat homes and cook food and restrictions on all common building materials, is starting to foster wide debate – even sometimes robust debate. Maslin, along with many of his fellow climate extremists, seem oblivious to this gathering trend. This is perhaps not surprising. In 2018, he was one of a number of eco-activists who signed a letter to the Guardian saying they would no longer “lend their credibility” by debating climate change scepticism.
The loss of Twitter as a ‘safe’ space for climate alarmists has been a bitter blow. It is not seemingly enough to exert considerable control over most other public platforms including social and mainstream media. Global Witness is of the view that if climate scientists are unable to do their work because of “stress and fear caused by harassment”, the critical evidence that undergirds climate action and solutions is put at risk. For his part, Maslin seems particularly disappointed, since he discloses that he held regular meetings with the platform’s Head of Sustainability to ensure ‘trusted’ information was pushed to the top. But the sustainability chief was sacked and Twitter “became the Wild West”, he laments.
It is reasonable for social media users to tell delicate activists like Maslin that there is really nothing to worry about from our climate. It’s just free speech, and it applies – in fact it is vital – in science and geography, as elsewhere. But it’s not just about science anymore. It is becoming apparent that Net Zero is being used as an attack on almost all human activity. Everything humans do to survive, from keeping warm to growing food, is being cast as an attack on Mother Earth.
In his Guardian article backing eco-saboteurs “who have acted with courage”, George Monbiot argues that if we take out the obvious targets, “we are still committed to extinction”. He finds that the case for a campaign of violent attacks on the industrial economy is “compelling”. In his view, the struggle is not just with fossil capital and the governments that support it. “We are fighting against all capital and, perhaps, most of the people it employs”, he explains.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.
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