The Sciences

Mike Mann on Point of Inquiry: Climate Denial Astroturfing Online?

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyMar 1, 2010 5:37 PM

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There are now some 51 comments at the Point of Inquiry forums on the latest show. But so far none are getting into what I found most intriguing in my interview with Mike Mann. When I asked his views on the “really energized global warming movement on the web” at around minute 31:30, Mann suggested something that has been on a lot of our minds—namely, that although it may appear that online climate deniers are really fired up right now on the web (hence all the comments on everybody’s blog), he suspects some of it is astroturfing:

The anti-science industry has fully exploited the resources made available by the World Wide Web. So it isn’t coincidental. It isn’t like that’s an organic thing that has emerged from grassroots anti-climate change activists….

In the exchange, which runs about 2 minutes, I tell Mann I too have my suspicions, but at the same time, am skeptical and would want to see some solid proof before I fully buy into this idea. After all, there really is a groundswell on the political right at the moment (see the Tea Party movement) and that is surely also spilling over into the climate denial blogosphere. And that would be, I guess, “organic.” So the question is, how could we tell the two apart? Meanwhile, if you haven't yet I encourage you to listen to the Mike Mann interview here, and to subscribe to the Point of Inquiry podcast via iTunes.

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