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Climate science deniers jump on to Far Right with QAnon conspiracy group

As QAnon Conspiracy Spreads on the Far Right, Climate Science Deniers Jump Aboard, DESMOG, By Sharon Kelly • Thursday, August 27, 2020 Back in December 2019, two conspiratorial worldviews collided as, for the first time, QAnon’s Q suggested his followers should question anew a topic that, by now, has been considered, and reconsidered, for decades: climate change.“The Paris Agreement on Climate is Another Scam to Ripoff Taxpayers and Enrich the Politicians,” the Q-Drop (the term QAnon followers use to refer to messages they believe come from some sort of government insider who signs messages with the letter Q) claimed, labeling climate action a “con.”

In May, a second Q-Drop riffed on climate change, with a link to a snarky tweet about science and the Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg by a would-be House Republican who’d lost her primary race in March.

Both of those Q-Drops were picked up by a report commissioned by a coalition of environmental groups and conducted by the research firm Graphika, which found that a group of vocal climate science deniers began using QAnon hashtags in May — and they haven’t stopped since.

“The QAnon movement hasn’t traditionally covered climate change, but in May, when an influential QAnon account tweeted about climate denial, there was a notable and sustained increase of QAnon content shared within the climate denial group,” Michael Khoo, an advisor on disinformation for the environmental group Friends of the Earth, and Melissa Ryan, CEO of CARD Strategies and author of the Ctrl Alt-Right Delete weekly newsletters, wrote in an article published today on Medium.

Asked and Answered

The questions that Q advanced on climate change have been asked and answered — as essentially all of the burning questions on climate science still churning around in climate denial circles have been.

And today, as the impacts of a warming climate are accelerating, it is very clear that we collectively have little time to spare waiting until those who haven’t been keeping up with, or who refuse to acknowledge, the scientific consensus are convinced. The longer the world waits to slash greenhouse gas pollution, the less chance we collectively have to calm the worst impacts of a warming world, according to the world’s top climate experts, and if we don’t, climate change could make all of the calamities we’ve faced in 2020 soon pale in comparison.

Q, however, raised different concerns about climate action.

“Who audits where the money goes?” the December Q-Drop asked, linking to an article about the Green Climate Fund, which provides funding to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to help them meet their Paris Agreement goals.

Nevermind that if you want the audits of the Green Climate Fund alluded to in the Q-Drop, the answer is extraordinarily unmysterious and unglamorous: the audited financial statements are posted online and they’re done by accountants. Nevermind also that the Paris Agreement itself was never fundamentally about the movement of money, but instead involves countries promising to regulate pollution inside their borders — something we’re still continuing to fail to do, both in the United States and worldwide.

And nevermind that the U.S., whose politicians the Q-Drop implies are pocketing money somehow along the way, has nearly walked away from both the Paris Agreement and the Green Climate Fund. That’s despite the glaring fact that the U.S. has been the world’s worst climate polluter since 1750, meaning that this country has played the single largest role in causing the very problem that the global climate pact attempts to (somewhat) address.

To turn Q’s question around, one very basic question Q has never answered is who exactly they are — and to what extent, if any, they’ve sought to monetize the power and influence they’ve been busy amassing. “At this point, who’s behind it is speculation more than anything,” Ryan told DeSmog.

Another key part of the problem — as ever — is that climate science deniers publicly talk a lot more than others. Whereas in years past, mainstream media was faulted for giving climate science deniers a misleading amount of airtime, today, they’re using social media to achieve the same ends. Graphika’s research found that for every social media post by the vocal climate scientists and environmentalists they studied, the vocal climate science deniers they studied posted four times.

“On average, they observed that the Climate Denial group was about four times ‘louder’ (number of tweets relative to the group size) than the Climate Science group,” Khoo and Ryan, both advisors to a coalition of environmental groups that commissioned Graphika’s research, wrote.

Clutching at Q’s Coattails

Not only is QAnon taking up climate denial, but prominent climate deniers have been taking up QAnon.

“The other thing we see is that the right needs QAnon more and more to amplify their messaging,” said Ryan.

Take, for example, Naomi Seibt, a young German YouTuber who has questioned climate science and who has worked with the Heartland Institute, a U.S. think tank and notorious promoter of climate science denial………….

As in Germany, white supremacists in the U.S. have increasingly engaged in racially motivated “mass shooter” armed attacks on unarmed people. And QAnon followers have also begun committing violent acts. “I think it’s also important to remember that the FBI has declared QAnon a domestic terrorism threat,” said Ryan, “and QAnon has inspired kidnappings, it has inspired at least one murder, it has inspired arson, there is a real danger from these folks who are drawn to this and become just embroiled in it.”…………

Social Media Fail

Khoo and Ryan pointed to the ways that social media companies for years failed to conduct the most basic scrutiny of information that they publish online and allowed all sorts of demonstrably false information to be repeated in an endless rumor mill online.

“Facebook has policies that let Trump lie uninterrupted,” they wrote. “And when climate deniers get a simple fact-check on Facebook, members of Congress themselves have sent letters to company executives to complain.”

All of this can, of course, have significant policy consequences in the real world.

“The danger for environmental advocates and for the planet is that QAnon could be the energy that stops a big push for any meaningful climate action,” Khoo told DeSmog. “If a Green New Deal is the next thing, we could see QAnon followers serving as the foot soldiers in that war.”

There’s also the risk that fossil fuel companies and trade organizations might jump on the QAnon bandwagon, inspired by the conspiracy theory’s popularity. Last week, President Trump praised the movement, claiming not to know much about it except that “they like me very much.”

“If QAnon becomes more mainstream,” Ryan said, “I could see a scenario where industry groups that are invested in climate denial and fossil fuels and such will be incentivized to embrace QAnon or rely on those tactics and networks.”

The other risk is that conspiracy theorizing, when mixed with social media, can not only bring in adherents, it can also raise money.

“The new addition to this history of climate capitalism is the capitalism behind the clicks, the monetizing of disinformation that happens on all the platforms,” Khoo and Ryan wrote. “Virality is central to the profit model, as are ads. Whether or not they’re true is secondary, from a business perspective.”

And the reality is that QAnon has been growing, with NBC News reporting earlier this month that Facebook discovered QAnon accounts and pages have attracted over 3 million member and follower accounts.

Last week, Facebook removed nearly 800 QAnon groups and took some steps to restrict QAnon hashtags and other social media. That follows moves by Twitter to take down roughly 7,000 Twitter accounts and designating QAnon as “coordinated harmful activity.”

Some see that as far too little, far too late. “They’ve had three years of almost unfettered access outside of certain platforms to develop and expand,” Brian Friedberg, a senior researcher at the Harvard Shorenstein Center’s Technology and Social Change Project, told MIT Technology Review in July.

As of press time, Facebook and Heartland have not responded to questions from DeSmog.  https://www.desmogblog.com/2020/08/27/qanon-conspiracy-naomi-seibt-climate-science-deniers?utm_source=DeSmog%20Weekly%20Newsletter

August 31, 2020 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties

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