There’s been some chatter lately about how (in an effort to soften their image to suburban white women voters) some Republicans are now only rejecting meaningful climate policy on economic or political grounds, not scientific. That way they can claim to acknowledge the reality of the climate crisis that no one’s constituents are immune to, while still opposing any policy that would reduce fossil fuel emissions (and therefore displease their
But that doesn’t mean the groups generating old school climate denial are slowing down. Instead, they too are doing their best to keep up with the times by developing an app to “target a younger, nongeriatic [sic] group,” CO2 Coalition Executive Director Gregory Wrightstone told Scott Waldman last week.
Apparently, Wrightstone’s hoping that the app will be useful for when “your idiot nephew Billy” talks about climate change at Thanksgiving. “You can pull out your phone” and use the app to deliver whatever Koch-approved talking point is marginally relevant. (We can’t wait to see if it has an answer to Billy’s question about that time Greenpeace revealed how the CO2 Coalition could serve as a happy home to secret funding from unnamed middle eastern oil interests!)
That’s not the only recent clue that someone is spending some money to continue promoting the same sort of climate disinformation that the industry has spurred for decades. Lachlan Markay recently noted that “Newsmax media registered a handful of web domains” with names like climatescandal.com and climatesham.com, suggesting that the far-right website founded by Donald Trump "buddy" Christopher Ruddy will be moving more concertedly into the climate disinformation space.
Newsmax is not an outlet that, until now, has been a hub of climate denial, necessarily. But it definitely hasn’t ignored the issue, either. It has regularly aggregated and regurgitated other, more energetic and prolific, far-right and organized denial propaganda outlets.
Newsmax picked up a recent Heartland poll, for example, that found “a majority of liberal news media viewers say they believe climate change could doom humanity within 100 years,” which ... OK? They also ran an AP story on the recent IPCC report, so they're at least willing to have real climate content appear on their site.
But they’ve also long-run Larry Bell’s columns, which sometimes feature garden-variety ”climate crisis hoax” flavored-denial. His background is decidedly non-climate though, as a professor of architecture and also apparently as the founding director of a space architecture foundation funded by a far-right Japanese millionaire who built a fortune on gambling after being one of the last surviving members of a group accused of Class A war crime. (He was arrested and held but according to his 1995 New York Times obituary, “prosecutors failed to prove him guilty of helping finance and wage the war or of profiting from Japan’s wartime occupation of Manchuria.”)
But what was really weird because if we had a nickel for every time we fell down a Newsmax-related financial-filtered war crime rabbit hole for this piece we’d have two nickels. That's not a lot, but it’s weird that it happened twice.
The first was reading a different columnist’s work, Hans Baumann. He wrote something using the Wall Street Journal as a foil for the IPCC report, but then also a more recent column on Afghanistan.
While many are rightfully concerned about the human toll of war, Baumann’s got more material concerns. “Among all this handwringing about the fate of the Afghan women and translators,” he writes, “one should not forget the economic side of this war.”
No, this isn’t satire. “The most important US economic interest is the TAPI gas pipeline” Baumann writes, which apparently the Taliban approved in 1998 but it “never got finished.” But it might be done next year, so “having hundreds of billions [of] dollars invested, it would behoove our State Department to renegotiate with the new Taliban leaders to renew the permit of passage.” Yes! Of course! That’s exactly what the State Department should be doing right now, great advice, thank you so much.
Again, we're pretty sure this isn’t satire. Baumann goes on to describe the iron, copper and gold deals the Afghan government made with Indian, Chinese and Australian companies, and writes “after spending a trillion dollars for a 20-year war, I still question: where is our share?”
Which yes, is very much a recommendation that the US use war to cover for theft, which is basically pillaging, which, yes, is a war crime.
So there’s no telling who’s encouraging Newsmax to buy up climate disinformation domains and get into the organized denial game, but at this point, we can’t help but be more concerned than usual about where the money’s coming from…