Why The Biden Admin Wants Censorship Of Renewable Energy Critics
National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy calls on Big Tech to censor renewable energy critics in the name of "public health"
In the face of widespread public outrage, the Biden Administration last month backed away from a proposal to create a disinformation board at the Department of Homeland Security.
But now it’s back with new demands to censor its critics, this time using a tactic that has worked in the recent past: by framing them as a threat to public health.
In a talk with Axios, Biden Administration Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy said, “The tech companies have to stop allowing specific individuals over and over again to spread disinformation.”
After an Axios reporter asked, “Isn't misinformation and disinfo around climate a threat to public health itself?” McCarthy responded, “Oh, absolutely… We are talking, really, about risks that no longer need to be tolerated to our communities.”
McCarthy pointed specifically to those who criticized the failure of weather-dependent renewables during the blackouts in Texas in February 2021. But many of those criticisms were factual. Over the last decade in Texas, investors sunk over $53 billion on weather-dependent energy sources, mostly wind turbines, which alongside frozen fossil fuel plants were largely unavailable during the cold snap in February. That was only partly because of the cold and mostly because of low wind speeds.
McCarthy claimed that the critics of renewables are funded by “dark money” fossil fuel companies, which she compared to Big Tobacco. She claimed the critics are being paid to “fool” the public about “the benefits of clean energy.” “We need the tech companies to really jump in,” she said, because criticizing renewables is “equally dangerous to denial because we have to move fast.”
But the main critics of renewables, including those used in Texas, do not receive funding from the fossil fuel industry. Those critics including Bjorn Lomborg, author of False Alarm, Steve Kooning, author of Unsettled, and me.
There is no question that social media companies including Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Twitter, and Alphabet (Google and YouTube) are well within their legal right to censor inaccurate and harmful information. But over the last two years, Big Tech has repeatedly censored individuals for communicating accurate information, including on covid and climate change.
Start with covid. In 2020, Facebook and Youtube censored information accurately suggesting that covid may have been created in a lab. Twitter removed a tweet by a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force who questioned the efficacy of masks. And Facebook censored a claim in October by President Donald Trump that a covid vaccine was imminent, which it was.
Censorship continued in 2021 with the encouragement of the White House. In mid-2021, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration was identifying “problematic” covid posts for Facebook to censor. YouTube removed a video in which scientists from Harvard and Stanford expressed their opinion to Florida’s governor that children should not be required to wear masks. And Facebook censored former New York Times journalist John Tierney for accurately reporting on evidence of the harms to children from wearing masks.
There has been a similar pattern on climate change. In 2020, Facebook censored me for correctly pointing out that humans are not causing a sixth mass extinction and that weather-related disasters have become less deadly and less costly over time. Shortly after, Facebook censored John Stossel after he made a video that accurately pointed out that California’s high-intensity fires were mostly caused by poor government management, not climate change. And last year, Facebook censored Bjorn Lomborg for accurately reporting that the British medical journal Lancet found that warmer temperatures save lives.
Facebook and other social media companies give the people they have censored little in the way of an appeal process. After Stossel sued Facebook, its parent company, Meta, said in response to the lawsuit that Facebook’s “fact-checks” are just “opinion” and thus immune from defamation charges.
As such, notes The Wall Street Journal, “Merely pointing out technical limitations of lithium-ion batteries could be ‘disinformation,’” under the expansive censorship framework being proposed by McCarthy, Center for American Progress, and social media companies.
What, exactly, is going on? Given the widespread backlash to its proposed disinformation board, and the unfair censorship of accurate information, why is the Biden Administration once again seeking to censor its critics?