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New report details the disturbing links between denialism about climate change and COVID-19

Airmen from the 18th Medical Group conduct COVID-19 testing at Kadena Air Base, Japan, March 20. Under the most current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the 18 MDG has increased its testing for the disease. Those who are tested become Persons Under Investigation (PUI), are contacted by Public Health, placed into isolation and instructed on how to avoid spread of their illness to family members in the home. Public Health interviews the PUI and develops a list of “close contacts” who are then called and given instructions to quarantine for 14 days. A close contact is someone who lived with or cared for a PUI, had direct physical contact with a PUI, or shared eating utensils or had prolonged close conversation with a PUI. On average, lab results take 2-5 days to return. If results are negative, isolated and quarantined individuals will be notified and released. If results come back positive, quarantine for the close contact will continue for 14 days and isolation for the PUI will continue until the PUI is medically cleared. Someone who has had contact with someone deemed a close contact does not need to be placed in quarantine but should continue to practice social distancing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mandy Foster)

Long before some people on the far right were downplaying the dangers of coronavirus, they were promoting climate change denial. And according to the environmentalist website DeSmog, those who have been wrong about coronavirus this year also have a history of denying the dangers of climate change.


In a recent report, DeSmog explained, “People like Steve Milloy and Patrick Michaels and organizations like the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the Heartland and Manhattan Institutes gained influence in the early heyday of climate science denial when the fossil fuel industry made a broad and concerted effort to mislead the public about global warming."

"We’re now seeing many of the same people and organizations utilize the tactics they honed in the 1990s to foment doubt about the deadly coronavirus pandemic,” it added. "Many of the organizations now spreading misinformation received funding from fossil fuel companies and/or trade groups for years or even decades, as DeSmog and others have previously documented (e.g. Reason FoundationIndependent InstituteTexas Public Policy Foundation, etc.)"

It notes that conspiracy theorists are among those who have been downplaying the dangers of COVID-19 or using the pandemic to promote bogus products.

According to the report, “Some climate deniers have pushed outright conspiracy theories on COVID-19: claiming, as Piers Corbyn did, that the pandemic is a ‘world population cull’ backed by Bill Gates and George Soros; alleging, as a former member of British Parliament did, that COVID-19 is just a ‘big hoax’ — or, like Alex Jones, seeking to profit directly off of COVID-19 through false marketing, according to the Food and Drug Administration and the New York Attorney General (Letitia James), both of which have warned Jones to desist from marketing a toothpaste he claimed ‘kills the whole SARS-corona family at point-blank range.’”

The report, however, also points out that while some climate change deniers acknowledge that COVID-19 is a major threat, they are disingenuously using it to bash environmentalists.

“Some climate science deniers conflate the impacts of slashing carbon emissions through a managed transition to renewable energy and electric vehicles with the slashed emissions that resulted from the dramatic drop in travel caused by shelter-in-place orders — two very different ways to arrive at a similar point,” the executive summary explains. “Brendan O’Neill, editor of Koch-funded website Spiked, argued that ‘this pandemic has shown us what life would be like if environmentalists got their way.’ In a column titled ‘COVID-19: A Glimpse of the Dystopia Greens Want Us to Live In,’ O’Neill claimed government responses to the virus represent a ‘warped dystopia’ that environmentalists like George Monbiot have been calling for.”

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