Monday, September 16, 2019

Science Under Attack

There are those who want to derail action on climate change. They include powerful corporations and individuals with 'fossil fortunes' at stake. Now, as pressure for concrete action begins to mount, they're fighting back. It should come as no surprise they're weaponizing social media.

Scientists, activists and politicians who are engaged in climate policy say they are being besieged by a surge of online attacks. It is difficult to divine whether the bursts of "climate change"-related Twitter activity are spontaneous or part of coordinated campaigns; some experts say that likely a small number of influencers are touching off postings by a far larger number of followers. But in a post-2016 world that is keenly aware of the role that social media played in the election of Donald Trump, the targets of climate attacks are concerned about the potential for online onslaughts to manipulate opinion and neutralize growing public support for climate action.
"I believe this is a concerted effort, likely by bad state actors and fossil fuel interests, to create disinformation, discord and division as we approach the all-important UN Summit and children's youth event later this month," said climate scientist Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, a frequent target of attacks. 
...Bot Sentinel has become a tool for those trying to fight the spread of disinformation on Twitter. The platform uses an algorithm to identify accounts it labels as "trollbots"—those that frequently retweet known propaganda accounts, exhibit repetitive behavior or violate Twitter's terms of service by harassing other users. Following CNN's climate forum on Sept. 4, there was an unusually high 700 mentions of climate change in a 24-hour period from the 100,000-some accounts Bot Sentinel is tracking as trollbots.
Targeted Attacks.
Mann, the climate scientist, found himself on the receiving end of some of this activity after he posted a Tweet thanking CNN for a "full evening of informed, detailed climate change conversation." "Climate change is a hoax," replied @fdnymt, another account identified as exhibiting trollbot behavior by Bot Sentinel. 
Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, who traveled to the United States for the UN Summit, has been a frequent target of toxic online attacks. Soon after Thunberg started her two-week sailboat voyage across the Atlantic, British political donor and co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign Arron Banks tweeted, "freak yachting accidents do happen in August." Following the lead of figures like Banks, lesser-known Twitter handles have piled on.

We're being attacked. It would help if, at some point, we acted as people do when they're under attack.


rumleyfips said...

I read somewhere this morning about the attack on any plan to install electric car charging stations. Petro interest are going to fight tooth and nail, at every stage to maintain their market share.

Anonymous said...

There are many countries calling Canada out at the moment.

The Mound of Sound said...

At some point, Rumley, we're going to have to treat them not as a nuisance but as an active threat. That goes for people like Kenney and Bernier too.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon 12:47 - Good.

Anonymous said...

Some professorial dope from Univ Calgary was on CBC Radio this evening, reiterating the tired argument that if Alberta doesn't provide the oil (ha ha dilbit but no Albertan seems aware of that) then the rest of the world will just make up what Alberta doesn't ship. Doesn't take much to get to be a prof in Alberta if you espouse the local folklore, apparently. Nothing like going with the petro flow instead of trying to change things for the better, far too much hard work. Above his pay grade. Look at Notley. She turned me off the NDP forever - I'll never forgive her vituperativeness towards BC and the Orwell-speak TV ads of upside down logic as she stamped her tiny impatient feet for TMX. Just another pol wanting to keep their job, no interest in leading people in real social democrat policies. At least with Kenney one knew he was a grasping "Christian" animal of a dud dead-minded right wing politician interested only in himself not about to turn down a backhander from big oil, but Notley tried to eat her petro-cake and come over as a social progressive as well. Glad she's gone; she and JT would make a lovely pair of liars together on a lecture circuit for ecological bureaucrats putting in time for a pension, perhaps even co-author a book. The mind reels at the idiots we vote into power.

For that matter, Horgan is happy fracking gas in north-eastern BC and shipping it to an LNG terminal. Leaks, pollution, earthquakes. Who cares? Not the BC NDP. Nor the BC Greens, partners in the crime by propping up the Horgan government. Weaver seems two-faced as well.

We're screwed. Nobody important's going to "wake up" and smell the roses, it seems to me, they'd rather debate nothingness like the distribution by deck and port and starboard of lifebelts on the Titanic, making it a game instead of deadly serious. They all want to die instead, providing they have a bacchanalian time before the day of judgement. Stupid, venal, convenient. Human, and as dim as any invasive species. Gorge until you drop, eating your way out of house and home.


The Mound of Sound said...

I can't argue with anything you wrote, BM. I so wish I could.