Unable to win the debate in the court of public opinion, climate activists are increasingly calling for the imprisonment of climate realists. The latest example is an article in Carbon Brief titled “How climate change misinformation spreads online.”  The authors, who are all University of Exeter professors, advocate fines and imprisonment for people publishing “climate misinformation” online. They justify their call for imprisonment by claiming tremendous harm from “misleading information that is created and spread with intent to deceive.”

That’s one take, another take is that those who publish what the Left deems as “misinformation” are actually publishing what might be dubbed “inconvenient truths.” The 2006 film by Al Gore of the same name is a case in point. Gore, not being particularly good at details, published a boatload of misinformation in that film, and social media responded to correct the record. In one scene Gore used an animated clip of a polar bear in danger of drowning, trying to get onto a tiny ice flow made smaller, presumably by global warming. Gore cited this as the new normal of drowning polar bears. The reality? Scientists documented one drowned polar bear at sea after an intense storm, something that hasn’t been seen since. According to an Associated Press article: “A federal wildlife biologist whose observation in 2004 of presumably drowned polar bears in the Arctic helped to galvanize the global warming movement has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated for scientific misconduct, possibly over the veracity of that article.”

Social media was the first to point out problems with Gore’s polar bear claims, and they were proven right.

Then there’s the claim Gore made about Mt. Kilimanjaro losing its ice cap due to “global warming.” Again, social media was the first to point out that what was really happening was a consequence of deforestation around the base of the mountain making less water vapor available by the process of trees releasing water into the atmosphere. Without as much water vapor causing replenishing snows, the ice simply dried up like old ice cubes in a freezer.

And finally, Gore made the bold claim in 2009 that the Arctic ice cap might be gone in five years. Again, social media was the first to point out the problems with this claim. To this day, the Arctic ice cap remains, and Gore no longer references any of those claims he once made.

If it weren’t for social media, we’d still be hearing about these. The media choose not to subject alarmist climate claims to even cursory analysis, and investigative reporting is virtually non-existent. Yet, because social media does investigate and fact-check, pushing against a group-think narrative and exposing the lies and real misinformation surrounding the climate scare, climate alarmists have to fight back using dirty tricks like labeling social media authors as if they were radical enemies of the state, worthy of imprisonment in the gulag.

This isn’t the first time such wild calls for criminalization of contrary climate opinion have been made, in fact, it goes back to 2014: Lawrence Torcello, a liberal arts professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, NY, writes in an essay at The Conversation that climate scientists who fail to communicate the correct message about “global warming” should face trial for “criminal negligence.” A commenter on his article went even further to suggest that I should be sent to the war crimes tribunal in the Hauge for having a different opinion on climate:  “… I believe Anthony Watts should be frogmarched to The Hague as well. No question, in my mind. In fact, I find the idea of a defense of his actions ethically reprehensible.”

It gets worse. An ugly theatrical play, called Kill Climate Deniers, was even created in Australian about the issue.

The bottom line? Imprisonment of political dissidents has been a common theme with repressive regimes going back to the beginning of history. When those seeking power can’t convince the populace of the merits of their ideas, they start putting people who disagree in jail, hoping that fear will keep the rest in line. Fortunately, we live in a country where free speech is guaranteed by the Constitution.

But, should the time ever come when I’m going to be imprisoned for my viewpoints, I won’t go quietly, and neither will the thousands of independent thinkers on social media.

Anthony Watts is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute. Watts has been in the weather business both in front of, and behind the camera as an on-air television meteorologist since 1978, and currently does daily radio forecasts. He has created weather graphics presentation systems for television, specialized weather instrumentation, as well as co-authored peer-reviewed papers on climate issues. He operates the most viewed website in the world on climate, the award-winning website wattsupwiththat.com.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Keep up the good fight! I think a lot of folks are (finally) beginning to wake up to the fact that the “Climate Emergency” is greatly exaggerated and actual “science” tells a much different story…

  2. If these professors want to jail people for giving out misinformation, they need to all be arrested right now. Scientific facts say the average global temperatures have risen 0.2 degrees since 1904. Telling us there is manmade global warming is gross misinformation, and should, therefore send the purveyors of these lies to jail immediately, according to their rules.

  3. Imagine if an alarmist misinforms that they’re given equal treatment, i.e. jail time. Watch how quickly they backpedal and/or make up lame excuses for their errors.

  4. Is it just me, or does climate extremism mirror many of the aspects of Maoist Communism? The Green New Deal reflects the Great Leap Forward, in its economic impossibility and impracticality, and dissenters are punished and threatened (though obviously, thank God, not as much in the Greens’ regard), via social media outlets. Also, people are forced to conform, as exhibited by the phenomenon of virtue-signalling.

  5. “Unable to win the debate in the court of public opinion, climate activists are increasingly calling for the imprisonment of climate realists.”

    Classic strawman argument in the light of current polling. Paid uneducated fossil fuel shills and propagandists like Watts know that free speech is only guaranteed between the State and the public. Your freedom stops when your actions impinge on those of another. Pushing misinformation, pseudo, and junk science to stall mitigation of the human-induced carbon in the atmosphere which, in turn, impacts extant life is gross human rights violations.

    • In theory, that could justify the restriction of practically any speech, if people can randomly assert that there could be indirect externalities to it. The Communists could theoretically have argued that speaking out against them would’ve hindered the implementation of their policies, hence having an external impact on the people it purported to help, therefore that it was right to censor their opponents. When we discuss the restriction of freedom to avoid negative externalities, we refer specifically to direct externalities, not indirect ones; i.e, you should not be allowed to punch me, because the violation of my rights to privacy and autonomy is directly contingent on that. The example of the Communists involves an indirect externality – i.e, the prevention of a positive action, without which there may be consequences. Even if it is the case that Watts’s speech is propagandising (a claim you have made without any particular evidence), you still can’t advocate for its restriction, because its possible, hypothetical externalities are not necessarily directly contingent on it. What you have stated effectively can be employed, effectively, by every tyrant who wants to censor its opponents.

  6. More homeonwers are installing back up generators or DER approved generators that worsen air quaility in our neighborhoods. I dont care as much about climate change as air quality around us.. I support continued solar energy expansion. I support decline in fossil fuel production.
    there is TOO MUCH AIR POLLUTION!
    Climate change is just a lipstick on air pollution pigs.

  7. Instead of arguing about climate change (losing battle), I try to argue that we should all go off grid and raise our own food. Most of the hypocrites will back off after that.

    • That’s mostly an Ad Hominem attack. Just because climate activists use fossil fuels does not invalidate their theories (besides, many of them have lived up to their principles, avoiding flying and refraining from meat consumption). It would be like saying that Bernie Sanders’ policies to reduce income inequality are wrong and invalid because he has three houses.

  8. THE POINTING FINGER                               Taxes Without A Taxpayer                                                                       by Dr. Stephen Finger                                                                                                   drfinger.org        The problem with taxes is that someone always has to pay them. It seems obvious but, well, it’s really not.         When the constitution was amended to allow for an income tax, for instance, many people were pretty annoyed which was understandable because they thought they would actually have to pay the income tax which turned out to be, in fact, correct. But suppose no one had to pay any income tax at all. Who would care?                                                               **********      “Now you listen to me you young government whippersnapper. I work very hard for my money and I’m not giving it to any thieving, lazy government bureaucrat (as though there were some other kind) to…”        “That’s ok, sir, You don’t have to.”        “To…eh, what? What did you just say.”        “It’s one of those new kind of taxes. No one has to pay it.”        “You mean the govt’ just passed a tax that no one has to pay.What’s the point of that”        “I don’t know sir. I only work here. Care to go out for a quick lunch?”        “Is it deductible?”                                                                 *****        Sound ridiculous? A tax that no one has to pay? Well, don’t laugh just yet. It’s been proposed and is being seriously considered by people who should know better.         Apparently, the idea is that carbon taxes will be collected on everything made with carbon, which is pretty much everything, but everyone hates taxes and so these taxes will be refunded to taxpayers at the end of the year. In other words, we will have a carbon tax which will control climate change but it won’t cost anything.         “Hi. I was interested in buying a car. Actually I had my eye on that red one over there but when I was in last month the price was only $15,000. I see that now you’re asking $25,000. I don’t think I can afford that. Looks like no new car for me.”        “Just a minute, sir. Not a problem. The extra $10,000 is the refundable carbon tax. You just have to lay out $15,000. We’ll lend you the extra $10.000 with no interest. You get the money from the gov’t at the end of the year and just give it to us. It’s a loan guaranteed by the gov’t so we’re not worried and you get the car for what you wanted to pay in the first place. We do this for lots of our customers.”       “Okay, sounds good. I’ll take it.”        Of course the refund is supposed to only go to the poorest taxpayers. The whole tax is paid by the rich who get back…nothing. Maybe keep in mind that the income tax was originally only supposed to apply to the top 2% of income earners also. Hey, good news. You might be richer than you  thought.        [Psst, want a good buy on a slightly used bridge or maybe a constitutional income tax amendment?]

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