Dangerous call for censorship

‘Dangerous’ is one of the words we use in the petition to Professor Michael E Mann. Atmospheric scientist and celebrity climate communicator, Professor Mann is calling for social media censorship of citizens and experts concerned about the severity of our climate-ecological predicament and collapse. Mann claims these people do the bidding of Big Oil.  

Will New Censorship Bills Increase Cyberbullying on Social Media? -  Cyberbullying Research Center

Whilst Mann’s call is part of a more legitimate and larger effort to censor climate misinformation and diminish the power of conversative commentators and lobbyists, Mann’s definition of ‘climate denier’ has now broadened to include what he describes as  ‘inactivists’. It includes people who question the environmental efficacy of renewables and who argue that collapse is possible, if not inevitable, given that the complex climate-ecological crisis lies well beyond easy fixes and solutions.  

Without evidence, Mann claims climate and collapse groups, activists, academics, and journalists are running Big Oil tactics. This includes Deep AdaptationJust CollapseProfessor Rupert ReadProfessor Jem BendellDavid Wallace-Wells, and Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans.  

At the height of the ‘climate war’, when Big Oil still exerted overt influence on climate policy, Mann made an important contribution. He stood up for the science demonstrating that, yes, climate change is of our own making. His plotting of the ‘hockey stick graph’ has also been instrumental in our understanding of how humans (western humans) have caused a massive upward rise in atmospheric CO2.  

There is little doubt that Big Oil continues to have influence, often in more subtle ways. However, Mann’s current fixation with the denier/acceptor divide makes no sense at all. Anthropogenic climate change is now broadly accepted, even at the highest levels. Climate activists and commentators come in all shapes and sizes, and if they don’t happen to agree with Mann’s narrow political perspective and techno-optimism, this does not make them ‘the enemy within’.  

Not only is silencing activists and experts dangerous, but it is an incoherent reading of climate politics. Questioning the environmental efficacy of renewables based on their production being dependent, long-term, on fossil fuels, is very different from the anti-renewable stance taken by Big Oil in the 1980s and 90s. Big Oil is now a major investor in renewables. Renewables are an established part of modern techno-industrial civilisation. They are not a radical alternative energy source that will ‘save’ us. It is nonsensical to think that drawing attention to this supports climate inaction in favour of Big Oil.  

Given the dire predictions presented by even the most conservative science, denying the clear-eyed realists who recognise the severity of our predicament a voice is a dangerous move. Four out of five of the IPCC scenarios appear terminal for civilization if not humanity, and the one scenario presented as ‘doable’ is based on conservative assumptions and yet-to-be developed technologies. New ideas and approaches must be on the table if we are act decisively and meaningfully in a changing climate.  

Censorship based on a reductionist understanding of our predicament and a simplistic reading of the politics of action will not aid us in inhabiting this damaged Earth. At the very least, a diversity of approaches and perspectives are valid for cultural and political reasons – most of the world is not the United States. Dogmatically promoting a US-centric approach, as Mann does, will not achieve broad justice in the face of the locked-in and unmitigated impacts of the climate-ecological crisis.

By signing this petition, you help raise awareness of this dangerous stance by Mann, and exert pressure on those supporting Mann’s call for censorship.

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