Climate scientists speak out on BLM and social justice. So of course, climate deniers attack them.

  • Published on June 3rd, 2020

If there was any question as to the depths of despicability to which deniers dare reach, let the answer be found in their reactions to the nationwide protests against the homicides of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other victims of the white supremacy still ingrained in the United States and enforced through policy brutality.

environmental justice is social justice

By Climate Denier Roundup

Not that the climate movement itself has been perfect, as Emily Atkins painstakingly demonstrates in a piece about how many green groups have been slow to respond, no doubt in part because of the “Climate Chads,” who unwisely seek to divorce climate and social justice.

But climate and green groupsscientific organizations and even the solar industry are starting to speak up and say unequivocally that “Black lives matter,” and of course climate justice groups have been quite vocal, as Atkins ends her piece with a number of quotes from them. For example, Hip Hop Caucus’s Liv Havstad explained how “incredibly important” the words “I can’t breathe” are to climate groups, and asked “How do we make sure our movement is responding to all the ways people can’t breathe, particularly black people?”

Similarly, those climate scientists and others who have made statements of solidarity have been met with the typical bile from deniers. While twitter gadflies snarking on screenshots is annoying, it’s also directing followers to harass them.

NASA’s Peter Kalmus likely got the brunt of it though, for his tweet explaining that “race justice and climate justice are one and the same” because “the oppressive extractive plutocracies that colonize and kill black bodies and colonize and kill our planet are one and the same.”

The fact that Kalmus is at NASA means that he may be vulnerable to pressure from political appointees there — like, say, Eric Trump’s brother-in-law, who was recently installed as NASA’s deputy chief of staff. That fact might explain why Marc Morano decided to target Kalmus with the feature treatment at ClimateDepot, instead of one of the women he traditionally subjects to his harassment. As a former Rush Limbaugh staffer and longtime Republican operative and fossil fuel defender, this sort of behavior is standard for Morano, who’s said that climate scientists should be publicly flogged. In a past piece about his tactic of whipping followers into a frenzy and siccing them on scientists, his defense is that he claims to think he is “doing them a favor by posting their publicly available email addresses.”

And who wouldn’t want to get an outpouring of hate and abuse in their inbox? What a charming fella! We thought about returning the favor and publishing Morano’s email, but we’re not going to because he’d just use it to cowardly play the victim anyway, as he does when confronted about his harassment campaigns.

If mocking climate scientists supporting the protests is an unsurprising confirmation of what you already thought about deniers, just wait, there’s more! Because on top of that, plenty of deniers have been criticizing the protesters themselves in some inadvertently revealing ways. (By which we mean racist.)

Take Luboš Motl, a conservative Czech physicist who left Harvard some years ago under mysterious circumstances, who was offended that a DC monument to Polish abolitionist Thaddeus Kościuszko was defaced. Apparently, Kościuszko opposed slavery and left his wealth to buy their freedom, so we guess he’d probably be pretty chill about “BLM” getting spraypainted at the base of his statute. But Motl was very angry, and tweeted that “These criminal savages don’t really have any ‘intellectual leadership’ with the IQ above 80 but sadly, they’re still treated as if they mattered.” Admittedly, it is impressive he was able to pack three white supremacy tropes in just one sentence. (That people of color are uncivilized savages whose concerns shouldn’t matter, and that IQ is a meaningful measurement rather than a framework and process steeped in white supremacy and reeking of eugenics.)

So do deniers want the protests against police brutality to end peacefully, or with more brutality? Well, Steve Milloy is hoping for police dogs, calling for the military to be brought “on the streets” “to maintain law and order,” claiming the police, who are here because they murdered yet another defenseless black man, “are not even allowed to defend themselves.”

And if you prefer your calls for escalating the brutality to be a little more explicit, consider CFACT’s Craig Rucker: “Having a son in the National Guard, it is very encouraging to hear that if he must — he has the ability to defend others and himself with live ammo.”

So there ya go. Deniers are actively being racist and calling for more police brutality in response to protests against racism and police brutality. On the other hand, green groups are slowly showing up in solidarity to, if nothing else, provide a counterweight to climate deniers. So if you’re trying to figure out if your organization should speak up, keep in mind what message silence sends.

And if (when) you do choose to show solidarity, remember too that statements aren’t enough, as Liv Havstad told Atkin, if they are “not backed up yet with significant action.”

We need to be asking ourselves how are these statements “translating with the daily work of climate activism and climate leadership?

How do they stack up against the strategic direction of the movement?

How do they compare to the resources devoted to black communities?”

We need to figure out the answer and start acting, Havstad explains, because that’s “the next step that has to be taken immediately.”

(Crossposted with DailyKos. Image CC by Laurie Shaull on Flickr.)

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