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An environmental scientist is calling the platform out.
A climate change denial video pushing misleading information on the subject and peddling the “no consensus” myth has reached more than 5 million users on Facebook as the social media network struggles to fight fake news, the Guardian reports.
In the video, titled “Why Climate Change Is Fake News,” global warming skeptic Marc Morano presents and critiques alleged weaknesses in two studies. All the while, he ignores the wealth of studies proving an overwhelming consensus among scientific experts that climate change is happening.
Despite proof to the contrary, the “no consensus” myth is often used to try and dismiss climate science.
Morano first slams a study from 2009, which is often cited when skeptics make this case. This consensus study by Peter Doran and Maggie Zimmerman found that 97 percent of experts agreed climate change was happening, but it is argued that as a standalone, this study presented too small a sample size. Some data scientist recognize this to be true, looking at which of the 3,146 scientific experts were actively publishing on the topic at the time.
The findings of the 2009 study, however, corroborate the seven other consensus studies published since—which Morano fails to inform his viewers of.
Morano then goes on to attack the credibility of a second study performed in 2013 which also found a 97 percent consensus figure. He quotes a response to that study made by economist Richard Tol, who said that the methodology was flawed.
What Morano fails to mention is that, after being adjusted for Tol’s approval, the study was re-run in 2014 and turned up the same result: 97 percent.
“The consensus is of course in the high nineties,” Tol said at the time. “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 both cases, Morano is not trying to present a wholesome review of the data but instead offers viewers a skewed and narrow window accompanied by his critique.
Of course Morano, who is not a scientist but the executive director of the industry-funded Climatedepot.com and the conservative think tank Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), has managed to build a career in climate change denial funded by fossil fuel giants like ExxonMobil.
Some Facebook users were already wise to Morano’s history.
Others were clearly sold on what the video had to say.
In light of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s comments last week that he felt it was wrong for the platform to remove content that presented sincerely-held but flawed positions, such as Holocaust denial, environmental scientist Dana Nuccitelli responded to Morano’s video in the Guardian on Wednesday.
“It’s virtually impossible to discern an individual’s intent, but if that person is spreading misinformation, intent is irrelevant,” Nuccitelli wrote. “If Facebook wants to stop misinforming millions of its users, it needs to tackle the problem of fake news regardless of intent.
He continued: “Facebook needs to come to terms with the fact that there is an objective reality. Even if Marc Morano sincerely believes humans aren’t causing global warming, that belief is false, and by continuing to host his myth-filled video, Facebook is misinforming tens of thousands, perhaps even millions of its users.”
H/T the Guardian
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.