Writing about the deniersphere can be tricky. Between dark money funding front groups and the pseudo-scientific chicanery deniers use to fool the public, it can be hard to root out these issues. Especially in a world with so much time and so little to do.
The shadowy complexity of the world of denial makes the forthcoming publication of The Madhouse Effect particularly important. This short new book is co-authored by Washington Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles and climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann, and it’s clear that these two brought their A-game. Part climate science and part history of denial efforts, it artfully cuts the seriousness of saving the world with the nonsense of cartoons. Which is important, because a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.
Unfortunately, this is still all too necessary. Even though it’s increasingly well-known that deniers are an unholy mashup of pseudoscience and advertising brought to life by fossil fuel funding, they still manage to weasel their way into the public eye. Marc Morano, for example, is the keynote speaker of an upcoming energy summit in Utah known for highlighting industry voices. Salt Lake Tribune columnist Paul Rolly is clearly unimpressed by Morano, penning a column explaining to readers how Morano continues to live up to the title he earned in 2012 as Media Matters “Misinformer of the Year.”
But Morano is more than just a misinformer, he’s also one of the worst offenders when it comes to inciting personal attacks against climate scientists. It’s mentioned prominently in Rolly’s column, and featured as the quote accompanying his caricature by Toles. Morano publishes the email addresses of scientists to ClimateDepot, which encourages his readers to fill climate scientists’ inboxes with hate mail even without explicit instruction to do so. So for their efforts, Toles and Mann will likely be targeted by Morano’s trolls, but we’re sure they will persevere nonetheless. So shines a good deed in a weary world.
It’s these sort of personal attacks that make Morano a stand-out scoundrel and not a run-of-the-mill denier. While some of his more respectable colleagues cling to the fading belief that they’re engaged in a good-faith argument about the science, Morano uses the tools of harassment and intimidation to bully his opponents in a vain attempt to silence them. This wild-eyed and snarling approach makes him the perfect example of the Abby Normal madness captured in The Madhouse Effect.
But despair not. As a man who will be well and truly missed once sang, “Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.”
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