YouTube putting pointless labels on climate videos

The lefty BuzzFeed News has a long article saying that YouTube is beginning to label videos related to the climate with a statement that the Earth is warming. Since this fact is not a matter of debate the labels are pointless. Since the videos from both sides get labeled the same, labeling is meaningless. The clueless alarmists think this is some sort of improvement.

The label simply says this: “Global warming, also referred to as climate change, is the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects. Multiple lines of scientific evidence show that the climate system is warming.” In short the Earth is warming.

I have logged over 700 YouTube videos that are skeptical of climate change alarmism and not one argues that the Earth is not warming. The debate is entirely about the cause or causes of this warming, human versus natural, and about whether or not it is dangerous, calling for action. If there is a serious video claiming that there is in fact no warming, I would love to see it.

Alarmist Buzzfeed even shows the cover shot of a very good video by Professor Richard Lindzen, who is not only a skeptic of alarmism but also one of the world’s top climate scientists. Dick Lindzen nowhere says on this video, or any other, that there is no global warming. Perhaps Buzzfeed News should watch the Lindzen video.

Mind you there is a widespread level of ignorance where the issue is in fact understood as whether or not there is global warming. Some polls actually ask that question and the media often seem to assume it as well. Most democrats say yes and most republicans answer no. But what they understand global warming to mean in that context is human caused dangerous warming. In that sense their answers are correct, because in these cases “global warming” is more of a code word for alarmism than a literal scientific one.

But no one at this level of ignorance is watching climate debate videos on YouTube. If they did they would quickly learn that the simple existence of global warming is not the issue. Causation and threat are the issues. So the labeling is basically pointless, because it makes a statement that is not at issue.

For some reason the alarmists see this labeling as some sort of achievement, perhaps because they are operating at this unscientific level of ignorance. To begin with, Buzzfeed’s screaming headline is either false of amusingly correct. It says “YouTube Is Fighting Back Against Climate Misinformation.”

This is false for two reasons. First, as we explained, this label does not even address the debate, much less misinformation therein. Second, and possibly even more important, the label is being put on all videos found to be about the climate change debate, both skeptical and alarmist. So the presence of the label indicates nothing. It is in that sense meaningless. However, the crucial fact that all sides are being labeled is not mentioned until paragraph 13, and then only in passing.

It is true that both sides accuse the other of spreading misinformation (by disagreeing with their side). In that sense, and that alone, the label is correctly identifying videos that someone probably considers misinformation. But surely this is useless or worse.

Several prominent alarmist scientists are quoted as saying this labeling is a good thing, apparently blissfully unaware that their videos are also being labeled. These include Michael Mann, the hockey stick man, and Katharine Hayhoe of scary National Climate Assessment fame. (I regard much of what they both say as misinformation.)

Note too that this labeling is not fact checking or anything like that, although it has been reported that way. The label is not assigned to a video by human experts, but by a computer algorithm. This algorithm does not tell the difference between skeptics and alarmists, nor could it in many cases, because the issues are often very complex and subtle. This is especially true with lukewarmers, who accept some degree of human causation, but consider the warming to be harmless or even beneficial. Then too, many videos present both sides, the debate ones in particular, of which there are many.

There also seems to be a statement to the effect that skeptical videos are scarce compared to alarmist videos. This is a version of the consensus myth. My research indicates that there are well over 1,000 skeptical videos on YouTube alone. There may be that many alarmist videos as well, but I see no evidence that there are a lot more. There may well be a lot less.

Thus as far as videos are concerned there is no hint of a consensus. This is no doubt because the making of YouTube videos is not controlled by the green establishment.

In short the YouTube labeling of climate debate videos with a fact that no one disputes scientifically is pointless. It adds nothing to the debate and it certainly does nothing to reduce misinformation. It is at best a meaningless distraction, at worst an insult to real science.

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About the Author: David Wojick, Ph.D.

David Wojick is a journalist and policy analyst. He holds a doctorate in epistemology, specializing in the field of Mathematical Logic and Conceptual Analysis.