The Climate Censors
A Commentary by John Stossel
Whom does Facebook trust to censor?
A Ph.D. graduate from France.
The Frenchman, Emmanuel Vincent, started a group he calls "Climate Feedback." It does "a new kind of fact-checking."
It sure is new.
I released a video in which some climate scientists argue that climate change is not a "crisis." They believe people can adjust to changing temperatures.
Twenty-five million people watched the video.
But now Facebook will not show it to you because Emmanuel Vincent suddenly called it "partially false."
Vincent would not agree to an interview. Nor would most of his "reviewers." Only one, Patrick Brown, an assistant professor at San Jose State, agreed to an interview.
Brown doesn't like that my video suggests that America can adjust to rising sea levels by building dikes and doing other things like Holland has.
That's "not the mainstream view," he says.
Brown claims sea levels could rise 200 feet.
"You're citing an extreme," I point out. "The IPCC doesn't consider that likely."
"I don't know if they assess sea level rise out to a thousand years," he responds.
No. Of course, they don't.
In a thousand years, we may have carbon-eating machines.
It's absurd that Facebook lets Climate Feedback censor me because of something that might happen in 1,000 years.
My video also questioned the claim that hurricanes have gotten stronger.
"Misleads viewers," said Climate Feedback.
But on this topic, reviewer Brown said my video is accurate! "That's wrong that you were criticized for saying that," he says. "The IPCC (doesn't) claim that (hurricanes)... droughts... floods are increasing."
Later Brown emailed us, saying that "the problem is omission of contextual information rather than 'facts' being 'wrong.'"
Oh. Climate Feedback's "fact-check" wasn't about actual facts.
"It's a tonal thing," Brown told me.
Facebook censors me because climate alarmists don't like my "tone."
I appealed, asking Facebook to remove the erroneous "fact-check."
No one has responded.
Maybe, someday, skepticism about climate change being a "crisis" will prove foolish. But we don't know that today. It's a question that deserves debate, not censorship.
(SET ITAL)Someone(END ITAL) should respond to climate alarmism, because people are terrified.
"Children are frightened that they're going to drown," I tell Brown. "Young adults aren't having babies because they think climate change is going to end the world!"
Brown acknowledged that many people are too fearful.
"I get emails: 'Is it worth it to have a kid ... in this terrible world that's going to be destroyed by climate change? I'm so scared about famine in my lifetime!' I just reply and say, the reports don't say that."
But his email responses aren't enough. We need Facebook to allow videos like mine to reach millions of people.
But Vincent doesn't want that. And, amazingly, Facebook lets him decide.
It's the second time his group smeared me. Last time, they didn't even watch my video!
The worst part for me is that Vincent's smear means that Facebook now shows (SET ITAL)all(END ITAL) my videos to fewer people.
That hurts. Of the 25 million people who watched my climate video, 24 million watched on Facebook.
"I am sympathetic with what you're saying," says Brown. "At the same time, I like the idea of having some type of system where content can be compared to what experts think."
Emmanuel Vincent says he hopes to expand his group and censor YouTube and Twitter, too. He's eager to make sure people are frightened about climate change.
"What happens with groups like Climate Feedback," says Brown, "they're looking at emissions and nothing happens, policy-wise. ... They develop this bias: 'We really need to fact-check something that goes against the narrative!'"
Climate Feedback's "fact-checks" do sometimes criticize alarmism, too, if it's truly absurd, like New York Magazine's cover story, "Uninhabitable Earth."
But as I told Brown, "There were three times as many fact-checks on skeptics as on alarmists."
"That's wrong," he responded. "They should be fact-checking the alarmist side just as much."
They should. But they don't.
Vincent and Climate Feedback doesn't want debate. They want to (SET ITAL)silence(END ITAL) debate.
Facebook lets them.
John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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