Google Demonetizes Climate Skepticism
Climate Change Weekly #423
It seems that when there is a difference of opinion related to climate change, there can be only one viewpoint from the Left: “my way or the highway.”
On October 7, 2021, in an announcement titled Updating our ads and monetization policies on climate change, Google stated it would no longer allow providers of content that offers a skeptical viewpoint on climate change to earn money from the Google AdWords platform:
Addressing climate change denial
In recent years, we've heard directly from a growing number of our advertising and publisher partners who have expressed concerns about ads that run alongside or promote inaccurate claims about climate change. Advertisers simply don’t want their ads to appear next to this content. And publishers and creators don’t want ads promoting these claims to appear on their pages or videos.
That’s why today, we’re announcing a new monetization policy for Google advertisers, publishers and YouTube creators that will prohibit ads for, and monetization of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change. This includes content referring to climate change as a hoax or a scam, claims denying that long-term trends show the global climate is warming, and claims denying that greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change.
Google cites the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a reference for this action, along with unnamed “experts”:
In creating this policy and its parameters, we’ve consulted authoritative sources on the topic of climate science, including experts who have contributed to United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Reports. As is the case for many of our policies, we’ll use a combination of automated tools and human review to enforce this policy against violating publisher content, Google-served ads, and YouTube videos that are monetizing via YouTube’s Partner Program.
True to this announcement, Google has already demonetized several prominent platforms that provide skeptical viewpoints on climate change. One of the first websites targeted was my very own Watts Up With That (WUWT), the world’s most-viewed website on climate change. On October 11, 2021, I got this email from my ads partner, Sortable:
We have recently received communication from Google that ad serving has been disabled on your site due to their new policy on climate change content.
Unfortunately, without Google approval, we will have to end our partnership. We understand this is frustrating and if possible, we suggest you appeal to the Google team for re-approval. If they overturn this, we would be happy to start our partnership again.
Of course, making an appeal would have been an exercise in futility, because this isn’t a fact-based action on Google’s part. It’s part of an orchestrated witch-hunt, in my opinion.
I’ve been informed that other websites were also affected, and probably the most surprising one was that of former NASA scientist Dr. Roy Spencer, who wrote about his experience in a January 7 post, “‘Unreliable and harmful claims’: This website has been demonetized by Google.”
Dr. Spencer writes:
From a monetary standpoint, it’s not a big deal because what I make off of Google ads is in the noise level of my family’s monthly budget. It barely made more than I pay in hosting fees and an (increasingly expensive) comment spam screener.…
I’ve been getting Google warnings for a couple of months now about “policy violations”, but nowhere was it listed what pages were in violation, and what those violations were.…
It wasn’t until the ads were demonetized that Google offered links to the pages in question and what the reason was.
Spencer’s experience parallels mine: no specifics of any “violations,” only that WUWT was in violation of these nebulous new policies.
As far as the content goes, Dr. Spencer has this to say:
I was kind of hoping my content was mainstream enough to avoid being banned since:
1. I believe the climate system has warmed
2. I believe most of this warming is probably due to greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning
Many of you know that I defend much of mainstream climate science, including climate modeling as an enterprise. Where I depart of the “mainstream” is how much warming has occurred, how much future warming can be expected, and what should be done about it from an energy policy perspective.
Wow, dangerous thoughts, right?
But as I pointed out earlier, this isn’t about facts. It is a witch hunt.
A 2018 Gallup Poll reported less than half of American citizens think climate change is a “crisis.” Only 45 percent think that global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetime, and just 43 percent say they worry a great deal about “climate change,” aka “global warming.” Nevertheless, the Left is determined to make it a majority, no matter what facts suggest otherwise, and they are employing a monopoly hammer in the form of Google to squash any dissenting views.
The Gallup Poll points out this is nothing more than an extension of the great political divide that has gripped our country. The authors note Democrats view global warming seriously and Republicans view it skeptically: 69 percent of Republicans, but only 4 percent Democrats, say global warming is exaggerated.
The problem is more than just a conflict between political viewpoints. It has to do with competence in evaluating climate information. Independent “fact checkers” often have no more knowledge than a collection of news headlines in their head.
“Google has already said you are targeted for termination from their Adsense program. I can’t expect their liberal arts-educated ‘fact checkers’ to understand the nuances of the global warming debate,” writes Spencer.
And of course they don’t. Spencer points out his most-visited pages targeted with “unreliable and harmful claims” are “our (UAH) monthly global temperature update pages. This is obviously because some activists employed by Google (who probably weren’t even born when John Christy and I received both NASA and American Meteorological Society awards for our work) don’t like the answer our 43-year long satellite dataset gives.”
The UAH satellite dataset remains one of the central global temperature datasets used by mainstream climate researchers in their work, yet now with the Google witch hunt in full force, it has been branded as somehow data non grata by people who probably don’t even know how the process works but are given blanket marching orders and the power to impose them.
It is a sad day for science and for truth in America when a monopoly is allowed to decide what Americans see and don’t see and becomes a self-appointed arbiter of truth.
— Guest Essay: Anthony Watts
IN THIS ISSUE …
CLIMATE TYRANNY FAD: FREE SPEECH, DEMOCRACY, AND MEAT MUST GO … SOUTHWESTERN PLANTS USING WATER MORE EFFICIENTLY … CHINA SHUTTERS POLLUTING ‘GREEN’ POWER PLANT
CLIMATE TYRANNY FAD: FREE SPEECH, DEMOCRACY, AND MEAT MUST GO
Two weeks ago, I discussed the trend of climate alarmists endorsing eco-tyranny to impose their will on everybody else. It’s an important topic that merits continuing coverage.
In an article at The Federalist, my colleague Justin Haskins, director of the Socialism Research Center at The Heartland Institute, does a detailed takedown of one professor’s call for climate authoritarianism in the latter’s article titled “Political Legitimacy, Authoritarianism, and Climate Change.” Haskins describes Professor Ross Mittiga’s argument:
For Mittiga, the allegedly dire nature of climate change justifies rethinking democratic norms and Western understandings of individual rights. Mittiga believes freedom is the problem when it comes to mitigating climate change, and that “authoritarianism”—his word, not mine—is justified and perhaps even necessary to ensure humanity doesn’t die from a climate catastrophe.
Haskins details a few of the initiatives Mittiga says the government is justified in imposing to fight climate change. Examples include nationalizing private property, limiting democracy and free speech, and forcibly suppressing the eating of meat—little things like that:
Mittiga …. suggests “a censorship regime that prevents the proliferation of climate denialism or disinformation in public media,” as well as “relaxing property rights in order to nationalize, shutter, or repurpose certain companies.”
Even democracy itself is too dangerous for Mittiga, who says governments could “justifiably limit certain democratic institutions and processes to the extent these bear on the promulgation or implementation of environmental policy.”
For example, anyone running for office could be subjected to a “climate litmus-test,” and governments “may establish institutions capable of overturning previous democratic decisions (expressed, for example, in popular referenda or plebiscites) against the implementation of carbon taxes or other necessary climate policies.”
As I discussed in Climate Change Weekly issue 441, it’s not clear the climate would benefit if authoritarian governments replaced Western democracies, but it is clear our freedoms would be greatly diminished.
Why have Mittiga and other elitist climate scolds become so desperate? Haskins provides a partial answer to that question:
[T]he vast majority of Americans aren’t willing to make even modest sacrifices to address global warming. For example, a 2019 survey found 68 percent of Americans wouldn’t agree to pay just $10 extra per month in higher electric bills to “combat climate change.”
In the same survey, only 57 percent said they would support paying $1 extra per month.
If the scare stories Mittiga and others are constantly churning out aren’t enough to stampede the public into dramatic, costly action to fight climate change, these alarmists are perfectly willing to call forth a firm hand in an iron glove. Consider that as you peruse the latest version of the nearly 2,500-page “Build Back Better” bill or when Biden talks about taking a “whole-of-government” approach to fighting climate change.
SOUTHWESTERN PLANTS USING WATER MORE EFFICIENTLY
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirms what previous research has shown: as atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have risen, plants are adapting by using water more efficiently, losing less water through transpiration.
The authors of the report measured “intrinsic water-use efficiency” (iWUE), the tradeoff between the intake of carbon dioxide and the loss of water through plants’ stoma. They found iWUE “has risen dramatically over the past century in concert with increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration.” Continuing “the shift to more water-efficient vegetation would be, all else being equal, a net positive for plant health,” they conclude.
The researchers found the increase in iWUE efficiency was particularly notable for shrub species in the naturally arid areas of the southwestern United States. The improved iWUE efficiency means any negative effects on plants, if droughts increase across the region or elsewhere because of climate change (something not yet in evidence), might be mitigated in whole or in part by this natural process.
CHINA SHUTTERS POLLUTING ‘GREEN’ POWER PLANT
China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide and, despite its stated expectation emissions will peak in 2030 and be net-zero by 2060, it is actively building and planning new coal-fueled power plants daily. That means any effort to reduce emissions must include cutting emissions from coal-fueled power plants and industrial facilities. As part of that effort, the Chinese government developed a power plant fueled by the emissions from coal tar plants combined with gas and steam to generate electricity. This state-owned facility used the by-products or waste from other industrial facilities to produce low-emission energy.
Less than three years into its operation, the government-controlled utility that operates the plant is shutting it down because it has become a major source of pollution.
An onsite inspection of the project by external auditors found the plant’s purification system wasn’t working properly and was releasing large amounts of wastewater containing carbolic acid. After the utility concluded fixing the problem would be expensive and the proposed fixed might not even work, it decided to shut down and dismantle the power plant and related facilities.
The government’s plans to use similar technology at other facilities to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions that were in the works have now been shelved.
This means China will have to look to other technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its ever-increasing use of coal.