The UN supports Malthusian disinformation about climate and energy and censoring accurate information that debunks it because it fears overpopulation
By Michael Shellenberger, March 20, 2023
The United States government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), within the Department of Homeland Security, is raising the alarm about the threat of “foreign influence” that is “leveraging misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation.”
CISA defines “malinformation” as information “based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.” In 2021, CISA, along with the White House and private sector partners, successfully persuaded Facebook and Twitter to censor accurate information about the origins of the SARS-2 coronavirus and Covid vaccines.
And yet CISA is failing to do its job when censoring malinformation, misinformation, and disinformation about climate change, including by “threat actors,” often funded or employed by foreign governments. A Google survey of over 2,300 people conducted last year by the nonpartisan research organization Environmental Progress, which I founded and lead, found that 53% of people surveyed in the U.S. agree with the false statement, “Climate change is making hurricanes more frequent,” while 46% agree with the false statement, “Climate change threatens human extinction.”
I strongly oppose efforts by the U.S. government to censor American citizens by ordering social media platforms to remove content, sometimes while threatening to end Section 230, the federal law that makes companies like Facebook and Twitter possible. Such censorship is a violation of the First Amendment. The journalist Matt Taibbi, former State Department official Mike Benz, and I have all pointed to the emergence since 2016 of a censorship-industrial complex operated and funded by the U.S. government. It should be defunded.
But it’s notable that the censorship-industrial complex has shown no interest in censoring climate misinformation that has led people to believe that climate change is making hurricanes more frequent, threatening human extinction, and misleading people about other aspects of climate change. “An example of malinformation is editing a video to remove important context to harm or mislead,” writes CISA.
And yet that is precisely what foreign disinformation threat actors like Greta Thunberg, her allies at the German government-funded Potsdam Institute, and even the U.N.’s own Secretary-General Antonio Guterres routinely do when they share videos of people in poor countries suffering from flooding, which is a direct result of lack of flood-management infrastructure, not slightly more precipitation from climate change.
Moreover, the censorship-industrial complex has sought to censor accurate information about climate change and energy. Last June, former Biden Administration Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy demanded censorship of those who criticized the failure of weather-dependent renewables during the blackouts in Texas in February 2021, even though such criticisms were factual. “The tech companies have to stop allowing specific individuals over and over again to spread disinformation,” said McCarthy.
In her interview, she went on to falsely claim that critics of renewables are funded by “dark money” fossil-fuel companies — the same false claim that Democrats made of the world’s most influential scientist studying hurricanes and climate change, Roger Pielke, Jr., of the University of Colorado. As such, McCarthy spread disinformation in order to undermine the legitimacy of her opponents.
The U.N. continues to wage its disinformation campaign against the people of the world, as headlines about its new report show. “‘The climate time-bomb is ticking,’” reads the CNN headline. “Scientists release ‘survival guide’ to avert climate disaster,” says BBC. “Earth to hit critical warming threshold by early 2030s, climate panel says.” Most journalists are implying that scientists have determined that a temperature increase beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would be catastrophic.
The U.N. report is malinformation. The supposed 1.5-degree “threshold” is political, not scientific, as Pielke and others have shown. Global warming causes incrementally greater risk. Temperatures are expected to rise less than most thought as recently as 10 years ago, thanks to abundant natural gas. And humankind’s physical security is assured, given our success at adapting to more extreme weather and producing more food on less land.
All of this raises a question. Why, if the U.N. and U.S. governments are so committed to censoring disinformation, are they themselves spreading it? Why, in other words, do U.N. officials perfectly fit their own definition of “disinformation threat actors,” and often foreign ones at that?
Why The UN Spreads Disinformation
Consider an Associated Press article headlined, “UN Predicts Disaster if Global Warming Not Checked.” In it, a “senior U.N. environmental official” claims that if global warming isn’t reversed by 2030, then rising sea levels could wipe “entire nations . . . off the face of the Earth.” Governments “have a ten-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effects before it goes beyond human control,” said the U.N. official.
Did the Associated Press publish that apocalyptic warning from the United Nations today? No — June 1989. The cataclysmic events the U.N. official predicted were for the year 2000, not 2030.
In truth, the United Nations has thus been the largest spreader of energy and environmental disinformation for 75 years.
In 1947, Julian Huxley became president of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and helped make Malthusianism, the view that there are too many people in the world, the official ideology of global elites. He launched a long-term, multimedia disinformation campaign spanning multiple issues and decades, which continues today.
The ostensible mission of UNESCO was to protect cultures around the world. But Huxley made “population control” a priority. He made his student, John Boyd-Orr, the first director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, which went on to falsely claim that a growing human population would result in famine and nuclear war.
Huxley’s brother, Aldous, the author of the dystopian novel Brave New World, falsely claimed growing human population would result in soil erosion and dictatorships. He fantasized about his fellow elites retreating to an island, and feared it, too, would be overrun by breeding and consuming masses.
As part of their demand for “population control,” the U.N., with the support and participation of the U.S. government, encouraged sterilization, particularly in poor nations. Julian Huxley proposed “sterilization cash bonuses”whereby “these low types might be bribed or otherwise persuaded to accept voluntary sterilization.”
As it became clear that the growth in the global birth rate and the threat of nuclear war declined after the end of the Cold War, the United Nations emphasized the threat of air pollution, specifically climate change, which U.N. officials, mostly hailing from the U.S. and Western Europe, viewed as a way to gain control over energy and food production worldwide.
Most of all, Malthusian elites in the United Nations sought to keep the masses afraid so they could be controlled and culled. The efforts were effective. The oceanographer Jacques Cousteau told the UNESCO Courier in 1991 that humanity should not try to cure diseases because the population “must be stabilized, and to do that we must eliminate 350,000 people per day.”
The U.N.’s goal today is to move all societies toward 100 percent renewable energies as a strategy to maintain U.S. and European control over poor and developing economies, particularly their energy and food sectors. Their problem has long been nuclear energy.
Malthusians oppose nuclear power because it will save millions of lives
Policymakers, journalists, conservationists, and other educated elites in the fifties and sixties knew that nuclear was unlimited energy and that unlimited energy meant unlimited food and water. We could use desalination to convert ocean water into fresh water. We could create fertilizer without fossil fuels by splitting nitrogen from the air and hydrogen from water and combining them. We could create transportation fuels without fossil fuels by taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to make an artificial hydrocarbon or by using water to make pure hydrogen gas.
Nuclear energy meant infinite fertilizer, fresh water, food, zero pollution, and a radically reduced environmental footprint, which created trouble for Malthusian propagandists, who argued that energy, fertilizer, and food were scarce. And so, the Malthusians stoked fears of nuclear weapons and convinced the public that nuclear plants resulted in nuclear weapons.
And, as would become routine in U.N. reports, including those published by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the next three decades, the United Nations’ 1987 report “Our Common Future” attacked nuclear energy as unsafe and strongly recommended against its expansion.
From the 1960s through the 1990s, the UN and others advocated renewables to prevent nuclear war, supposedly from nuclear power plants, and pollution from fossil fuels. Then, after the threat of nuclear war declined with the end of the Cold War, the U.N. turned to climate change as justification for moving toward renewables and making energy and food scarce.
These Malthusian interests have long been a close alliance with oil and gas companies, which have long rightly viewed nuclear energy as a threat, given that it is, in many countries, the cheapest way to make reliable power. The U.N.-oriented Malthusians and oil and gas interests have thus long worked together to spread frightening disinformation about nuclear in order to increase regulations on the technology to make it expensive and uncompetitive with fossil fuels.
And, as I document in Apocalypse Never, these oil and gas interests have for over 50 years funneled money to anti-nuclear renewable energy advocates. Russian President Vladamir Putin appears to have done the same, supporting anti-fracking advocacy in Europe in order to increase his control over European gas consumption.
Why then, if the U.N. and U.S. governments are so committed to stopping disinformation, are they themselves spreading it? Because they aren’t, in reality, committed to that goal at all. On the contrary, they are committed to spreading Malthusian disinformation about climate and energy and censoring accurate information that debunks it.
As such, since World War II, Malthusian elites working at the highest levels of the U.N. and U.S. government should be understood to be precisely the “foreign threat actors” that the U.N. and U.S. government have been warning us about. Their motivation to keep energy scarce and expensive is as unethical as their strategy of keeping people in a state of totalizing “environmental” fear.
Combatting Climate Disinformation
The U.N.’s Malthusian climate disinformation campaign is one of the most successful in history, persuading roughly half of humanity that we are at risk of extinction and that nuclear is more dangerous than fossil fuels, thereby giving schoolchildren like Thunberg and others severe anxiety disorders, and making air pollution, environmental degradation, and climate change worse. The news media coverage is near-uniform, and scientists like Pielke, Jr., who counter the disinformation, are smeared and have seen their careers harmed.
But the Internet has allowed independent voices to counter the misinformation. Substack has allowed Pielke, like Public, to grow a paying audience and become more independent of his employer, which failed to defend him properly. And now, thanks to the Twitter Files, lawsuits by the state attorneys-general, and Congressional hearings, new light is shining on the disinformation and censorship campaigns run by U.S. government officials and contractors.
Such efforts will not likely be sufficient to end the censorship by Facebook or the demands for more of it by U.S. and U.N. officials. Facebook has itself invested over $8 billion into renewables and is thus a renewable energy corporation, as well as a climate and energy disinformation platform.
But Facebook recently failed spectacularly to grow its business through a creepy “metaverse” of disembodied and lost souls, and even the New York Times has been forced to admit that renewables are failing to scale up. “More than 8,100 energy projects — the vast majority of them wind, solar, and batteries — were waiting for permission to connect to electric grids at the end of 2021,” noted the Times. “Fewer than one-fifth of solar and wind proposals actually make it through the so-called interconnection queue.”
The problem is opposition from conservationists, local land owners, and the high cost of electrical transmission for renewable energy projects, which are spread across many more projects and much more land than conventional energy sources.
And today, even some educated global elites are pushing back against Malthusian dystopia. Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson has launched The Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC) to challenge the view that “decline is inevitable.” Participants include the anti-Malthusian Bjorn Lomborg, former Prime Ministers, members of Congress, business leaders, and representatives of British high finance. This fall, ARC will host over 1,000 leaders from culture, politics, and business, including me, in London to discuss, among other things, how to counter Malthusian disinformation.
All of this means we are entering a period of significant change. While the U.N. and the United States government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will continue spreading disinformation and demanding censorship, human consciousness is evolving to respond to it.
Just 26% of Americans surveyed told Gallup recently that they have a favorable view of the news media, the lowest level ever recorded. Meanwhile, trust in the UN has declined since the mid-1990s. As Substack and other Internet platforms grow in influence, so will the number of people who see the U.N. for what it really is: a foreign disinformation threat actor.
The original for this article can be found on Michael Shellenberger’s Public Substack.