Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Murder & Misinformation

Ordinary citizens have been force-fed a diet of dubious climate claims. Is it a surprise that some people now equate climate skepticism with murder?

Over at the WattsUpWithThat blog they’re discussing a Canadian named Barry Aubin. Last December, he launched a gramatically-challenged Avaaz petition that only accumulated its 200th signature today.

Aubin, who likes to use the word “murder” while discussing climate change, spent time on Twitter yesterday urging people to sign his petition. “Climate denial is a form of murder!” he declared, “Press charges!”


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Similarly, on January 28th and 30th, he wanted fossil fuel companies charged with attempted murder. On December 4th, he wanted attempted murder charges laid against CO2 “producers.” Evidently, he meant CO2 emitters. But this includes every person on the planet when they exhale, as well as hospitals, museums, police stations, prisons, and Royal palaces.

On December 10th, he advocated – in 40 separate tweets – attempted murder charges against fossil fuel companies. The next day he was suggesting fossil fuel companies who try to block remedial climate action “are guilty of murder.”

Back in September, Aubin was also ranting about murder while promoting three similar online petitions he appears to have launched simultaneously – see here, here, and here. So far, they’ve attracted a grand total of 40 signatures between them.


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This is the good news. Even committed climate activists (and they are legion on Twitter), understand that accusations of murder – whether in connection to climate skeptics or fossil fuel companies – are over-the-top.

But take another look at the graphic that accompanied Aubin’s Tweet yesterday. It says: “You Control Climate Change” – and implies that if we just dial down the thermostat, turn off our computers, and recycle our cardboard boxes nothing climatically bad will ever happen again. Apparently, walking rather than driving has the power to stop ice-ages in their tracks.

Aubin’s current petition ends with the following:

People doing misinformation campaigns on climate change are either guilty of 1st or 3rd degree murder. THIS MUST STOP! Please sign! [bold added]

How fabulously ironic that the graphic he used yesterday is, itself, a textbook case of misinformation. And it wasn’t invented by a lone Canadian shouting ‘murder’ on Twitter. It was designed and distributed by European governments who used it to, among other things, target school children.

On August 1st, 2006, the EU’s environment commissioner signed a letter that began with the words: “Dear student.” At the top, where letterhead would usually appear, large colourful text proclaimed: “YOU CONTROL CLIMATE CHANGE. Make a pledge!”


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That letter said polar bears and penguins were at risk of extinction within “a few decades” – something that’s news to polar bear experts nine years later. It told students they could prevent this from happening if they merely read the brochure especially designed for them, signed a pledge to reduce their personal emissions, and discussed climate change in their classrooms in the hopes that “each of your schoolmates” would also sign the pledge.

The student brochure (of which the letter is a part) directly linked extreme weather to climate change and highlighted the fact that:

The scorching summer of 2003 contributed to the premature deaths of 350,00 Europeans in the first two weeks of August… [sic]

One expects that the number they meant to print was 35,000. No doubt this was a reference to a New Scientist article which reported that an estimated 4,200 people died in each of Italy and Spain during that once-in-a-blue-moon heatwave. Both the article and the EU ignored the 27,000 Italians who die every year from cold weather and the 19,000 Spaniards who annually perish from the cold.

In other words, the graphic – as well as the web and print-based material associated with it – was a propaganda exercise. Misinformation was its hallmark. Telling individual schoolkids that they, personally, have the power to control the climate is so untrue it’s obscene.

When discussing Aubin’s tweets on his blog, Anthony Watts rhetorically asks:

Where do these people come from, and how is it they have such a warped sense of reality and scale?

The answer is that ordinary citizens have, for years, been force-fed a diet of dubious climate claims by governments and by government-funded education systems. Even though the website for that particular EU campaign was retired in 2011, this scandalously misleading image endures.

Nine years after it appeared, it’s still providing grist for people who accuse others of murder on the Internet.


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several small edits were made to this post within two hours of it going live



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This entry was posted on February 4, 2015 by in children, ethical & philosophical, historical perspective and tagged , .
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