Adam Houser: Google, YouTube, and the Climate InquisitionThe Washington Times, 30 October 2021
A slippery slope toward censorship and intellectual tyranny
“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” says the famous Monty Python comedy sketch.
But unfortunately, everyone can expect the coming Climate Inquisition.
Google has announced it will now prevent ads and monetization supporting content that questions climate change alarmism. This includes YouTube.
Google’s support document on the policy says: “… we’re announcing a new monetization policy…that will prohibit ads for, and monetization of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change.”
What makes this new policy so concerning is that Alphabet Inc., which is the parent company for Google and YouTube, has a near-monopoly on internet search and video. According to Statista.com, Google has a worldwide market share for internet search engines of almost 88 percent. Global Media Insight says over 2.3 billion people use YouTube at least once a month and that it is the second most popular social media platform.
What are the limits of what a private company can prohibit on its platforms? This is the debate politicians and citizens have been having, at least regarding social media, for years now.
The libertarian argument goes something like this: “As a private company, Google can do what it wants to limit content on its platforms. Don’t like it? Go somewhere else!”
But when that company owns 88 percent of global online search traffic, as well as the largest video hosting platform in the world, there is little else to go to.
Yet Google assures users that the best experts are being consulted, so there is no need to worry!
“In creating this policy and its parameters, we’ve consulted authoritative sources on the topic of climate science, including experts who have contributed to United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Reports.”
What about experts that say the United Nations, and their assessment reports, may have a few things wrong when it comes to climate policy? Google doesn’t pay them any mind.
For example, Dr. Steven E. Koonin, who served as science advisor for President Barack Obama’s Department of Energy, said the UN’s climate models don’t hold up under scrutiny in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal: “The latest models also don’t reproduce the global climate of the past. The models fail to explain why rapid global warming occurred from 1910 to 1940 when human influences on the climate were less significant.”
Dr. Koonin also has a fair amount of criticism concerning AR6, the UN’s latest climate assessment report, saying in that same piece: “The Summary for Policy Makers section says the rate of global sea-level rise has been increasing over the past 50 years. It doesn’t mention that it was increasing almost as rapidly 90 years ago before decreasing strongly for 40 years.”
Physicist Dr. Ralph Alexander also criticized the UN’s climate report. He said, “there’s no scientific evidence that global warming triggers extreme weather, or even that weather extremes are becoming more frequent. Anomalous weather events, such as heatwaves, hurricanes, floods, droughts and tornadoes, show no long-term trend over more than a century of reliable data.”
Unfortunately, scientific experts are beginning to be censored across not just digital media but all media. The Los Angeles Times has banned letters to the editor from those skeptical of a climate emergency. In 2018, Chuck Todd, host of “Meet The Press,” said he would not give any air time to “climate deniers.”
But it goes further than mere censorship. Prominent figures are even advocating for the jailing and prosecution of those who are skeptical of a man-made climate crisis.
When asked what should happen to climate “deniers,” environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said: “I think they should be enjoying three hots and a cot at the Hague, with all the other war criminals who are there.”
When actor Bill Nye was asked the same question, he said, “We’ll see what happens. Uh, was it appropriate to jail the guys from Enron?”
In 2015, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) suggested that climate skeptics could be prosecuted under RICO laws used for racketeering enterprises.
Do these all seem like things that should be done in a free, democratic society? It seems more like the beginnings of the Inquisition by the Catholic church hundreds of years ago.
In 1633, Galileo was charged with heresy as part of the Roman Inquisition for his continued assertion that the earth orbited the sun. Galileo was not sentenced to death. Instead, he was sentenced to lifelong house arrest. He was forced to recant his beliefs.
Like Galileo, will scientists and experts be forced to recant their belief that we don’t face an imminent, dire climate emergency?
Will they even be subjected one day – as ridiculous as it may sound now – to house arrest or prosecution, as Senator Whitehouse wants?
Google’s ad ban may be one more step in a long slippery slope toward censorship and intellectual tyranny – a Climate Inquisition, if you will.