Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve cautioned against celebrating the lockdown’s emission reductions, and called out how deniers misrepresent the economic shutdown as climate policy, complete with anti-semetic dog whistles.
Now they’re kicking the disinformation up a notch further, by attacking an academic who warned that we should take action on climate change now to prevent having to do something as drastic as COVID-like lockdowns for climate change. To reiterate: the point of her op-ed is that a climate lockdown would be very bad and we should do what it takes to avoid it.
To deniers, though, a rejection of climate lockdowns is actually an embrace of them, at least according to the Washington Times’ Valerie Richardson, and the deniers she quotes. In their telling, the only part of professor Mariana Mazzucato’s op-ed worth paying attention to is the paragraph that warns of “climate lockdown” that might be necessary if we hit a climate tipping point, “when protecting the future of civilization will require dramatic interventions.”
And yes, limiting private car use and banning beef and oil drilling would be dramatic. That’s Mazzucato’s point. She's arguing that it’s a lot easier to just make relatively small adjustments to the economy now, so everything doesn't all come crashing down at some point in the future.
But according to Marc Morano, “the COVID lockdown is a trial run for the climate lockdown.” According to Steve Milloy’s tweet in the story, this is “evidence that climate is about communism.”
Of course it’s not, so what else did Richardson flesh out her story with? Oh just Joseph Vazquez of Newsbusters, who latched on to the fact that the outlet that published Mazzucato’s opinion piece, Project Syndicate, is funded by George Soros's and Bill Gates’s foundations. Then Richardson ends her piece by essentially quoting Mazzucato's website bio, which notes that some of her research has been funded by Soros and others.
So are Soros and Gates secretly pulling the strings behind Project Syndicate, forcing them to publish Mazzucato's supposedly communist take?
Well, for starters, we’ll just point out that Project Syndicate has published a ton of Bjorn Lomborg op-eds, so if it’s supposed to be communist propaganda, it’s not very good at it.
And while a New York Times profile last year described her as a “leftish economist,” it also pointed out that Mazzucato’s work was repeatedly (and favorably) cited in a bill by Marco Rubio. Similarly, her work has also gotten a shout-out from the libertarian Niskanen Center, so this is clearly someone with bipartisan appeal.
Oh and then of course on a factual basis, we’ve known since the spring that the coronavirus lockdown isn’t going to slow down climate change, and a study published in August found it would mean “negligible” changes to the climate.
So there’s absolutely no reason for anyone, Soros and Gates included, to push for climate action that looks anything even remotely like the coronavirus lockdown.
Which makes it all the weirder that Richards was so insistent in disclosing Mazzucato’s and Project Syndicate’s funding.
Weirder still, then, is that she failed to inform her readers of her sources’ sources of income.
For example, she plugged Morano’s new movie, but failed to mention that Morano’s group CFACT has received money from coal and Koch sources. And apparently it was worth telling readers what Steve Milloy thought about these efforts to reduce pollution and protect the public health, but not worth telling them that his career has been spent working on behalf of the tobacco and fossil fuel industries to prevent policies that would protect the public from pollution.
But perhaps it’s understandable that Richardson merely mentioned that Newsbusters is a project of the conservative Media Research Center instead of disclosing their billionaire and industry funders, since that’s such a long list there wouldn’t be any room left for the “story.”
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