This Is What Climate Change Denial Looks Like

The new movie Climate Hustle is a sad, Palin-endorsed propaganda piece

What does it take to still be a public climate change denier in 2016? While overall volume of media coverage of climate issues fluctuates, in recent years we’ve seen the tone of related public arguments change significantly. No longer do media organizations (besides FOX and talk radio, of course) always feel like they have to always present “both sides of the issue,” scouring the professional landscape for the rare climate denier in a given scientific field, eating up airtime with squabbling and name-calling before finally reporting on what 97 percent or so of scientists already agree on: the Earth is warming, sea levels are rising, and if trends continue we will be, in a number of significant ways, fucked.

This shifting pattern in media coverage has been happening slowly, but for quite a while now. In a 2008 article about media coverage of climate change, the Columbia Journalism Review (perhaps prematurely) wrote, “The era of ‘equal time’ for skeptics who argue that global warming is just a result of natural variation and not human intervention seems to be largely over.”

And as beloved astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson so succinctly told CNN in 2014, “You don’t talk about the spherical earth with NASA and then say let’s give equal time to the flat-earthers … the good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” (A producer for the network echoed the sentiment by saying, “There are some stories which do not have two sides. The climate change debate is one of them.”)

This consensus, spreading past the science world into the media’s approach to coverage, sure looks like a conspiracy to those who’ve lost talking-head gigs and on-air appearance fees due to waning interest in their lost cause. (Luckily for them, the U.S. still gives “climate skeptics” more airtime than other countries do, though this is changing.) So what’s a skeptic to do when serious news networks are running out of use for their tired message?

A new film called Climate Hustle from oil-industry shill and professional liberal-antagonist Marc Morano has some tips for those clinging to the final throes of a dying movement. The movie aims to expose what its website calls the “overheated environmental con job being used to push for increased government regulations and a new ‘Green’ energy agenda.”

“Are they trying to control the climate…or you?” the film’s tagline ominously asks.

Promoting the film on his behalf is the indefatigable Sarah Palin, short-term governor and shorter term vice presidential candidate. Palin weighed in on the so-called climate debate at a Congressional event last Thursday in honor of Morano’s film. “The science is kind of getting thrown out of the window in discussions about changes in the weather,” Palin said, throwing the science out the window in in a discussion about changes in the weather. “It leads us to believe that so many things then coming from the scientists could be bogus. If this is bogus, what else are they trying to tell us and control us around?”

Palin also focused in on a particular obsession of climate change deniers that reflects their slipping traction as both supposed tellers of truths and bookable talent for news entertainment programming: Bill Nye the Science Guy. Over the last few years, Nye, who is an engineer by training, has had a resurgence in popularity. His once frenetic, blue lab-coated personality has mellowed a bit, but his lifelong dedication to science communication and education is as strong as ever, authoring books like Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation and Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World—both of which came out last year.

This kind of relevancy, of course, is anathema to those struggling like Palin on the world media stage, whose pertinence waxes and wanes with particular issues of political fancy and attention paid to her family’s very public private struggles.

“Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am,” Palin told Climate Hustle viewers. “He’s a kids’ show actor. He’s not a scientist.” And if you’re skeptical about her scientific credentials, did an examination of her claim and you can read it here.

Morano has also targeted Nye, despite the fact that between the awkward trio of Nye, Palin and Morano, America’s Science Guy is the only one who has designed devices for NASA and been awarded six honorary doctoral degrees. The two men have even debated before, and when Morano recently challenged Nye to meet him and discuss the content of the film, each man brought his own camera crew so not to be one-upped by clever editing. The following two videos are what came of the interaction:

Nye himself has been both criticized and lauded for his dedication in continuing to debate doubters of mainstream science. Some think it’s time to let deniers fade away into obscurity, damned to the historical woodpile by their own pig-headedness. Nye has stuck it out, though, pledging to continue engaging on these issues as long as a significant number of people remain unconvinced.

But despite the grace of communicators like Nye, there’s something almost sad about the fact that long-time culture warriors like Morano—a former employee of Rush Limbaugh—still seem to think the climate conversation is a scandalous source of unsettled gray area. Shouldn’t he at least be fighting trans rights with “religious freedom” bills like the rest of his peers at this point? The whole film endeavor feels impossibly retro!

And that brings us back around to the initial question. What does it take to still be a climate change denier in 2016? In a world where 175 countries just signed a United Nations document validating the need to combat global warming and where the Pope made combatting the horrors of climate change part of official Catholic doctrine and where even Exxon Mobil has been forced to admit the existence of the phenomenon, what does it mean to be a holdout? What does it mean to be, as William F. Buckley once defined a conservative American, a person who would stand “athwart history, yelling ‘Stop,’ at a time when no other is inclined to do so”? Buckley surely presented this as a description of a brave person, but in the face of overwhelming evidence, it can also easily describe a fool or a dinosaur.

Climate Hustle will be presented at 400 theaters today. I, and most others discussing the film’s arrival, have little interest or anything to say about its content. Who cares? In the New York Times’ Dot Earth blog, Andrew C. Revkin notes, “Predictably, much of the buzz around the film so far has actually been around attempts to build buzz around the film,” including the involvement of Palin and Nye, both more interesting as personalities than the bizarre conspiracy theories, disgruntled academics, and Al Gore jokes that make up modern climate denialism.

So what does it take to still be a public climate denier in 2016? Oh, just forget about it. There aren’t two sides to this story anyway.


We've all felt lonely at some point in our lives. It's a human experience as universal as happiness, sadness or even hunger. But there's been a growing trend of studies and other evidence suggesting that Americans, and people in general, are feeling more lonely than ever.

It's easy to blame technology and the way our increasingly online lives have further isolated us from "real" human interactions. The Internet once held seemingly limitless promise for bringing us together but seems to be doing just the opposite.

Except that's apparently not true at all. A major study from Cigna on loneliness found that feelings of isolation and loneliness are on the rise amongst Americans but the numbers are nearly identical amongst those who use social media and those who don't. Perhaps more importantly, the study found five common traits amongst those who don't feel lonely.

Keep Reading Show less

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

Keep Reading Show less
WITI Milwaukee

Joey Grundl, a pizza delivery driver for a Domino's Pizza in Waldo, Wisconsin, is being hailed as a hero for noticing a kidnapped woman's subtle cry for help.

The delivery man was sent to a woman's house to deliver a pie when her ex-boyfriend, Dean Hoffman, opened the door. Grundl looked over his shoulder and saw a middle-aged woman with a black eye standing behind Hoffman. She appeared to be mouthing the words: "Call the police."

"I gave him his pizza and then I noticed behind him was his girlfriend," Grundl told WITI Milwaukee. "She pointed to a black eye that was quite visible. She mouthed the words, 'Call the police.'"

Keep Reading Show less
Good News

Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

Keep Reading Show less

Facebook: kktv11news

A post on the Murdered by Words subreddit is going viral for the perfect way a poster shut down a knee-jerk "double-standard!" claim.

It began when a Redditor posted a 2015 Buzzfeed article story about a single dad who took cosmetology lessons to learn how to do his daughter's hair.

Most people would see the story as something positive. A dad goes out of his way to learn a skill that makes his daughter look fabulous.

Keep Reading Show less