Last year, I wrote about how journalists in developing nations were doing a better job of covering climate change, largely because denial hadn’t really taken root in many of these countries. In particular, I singled out Brazil for praise: According to a study by James Painter of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University and his colleagues, Brazil’s major papers contained the least climate skepticism in all of the 6 major nations surveyed (U.S., UK, China, France, India, Brazil).
So it is with much dismay that I report to you that, in conjunction with the Rio+20 conference, climate denial is making a strong showing in Brazil. I initially became aware of this troubling development through a Brazilian Facebook correspondent—and received helpful translations of some of the content itself from another Brazilian and Portugese speaker.
In what follows, I’ve also had to rely on Google translate a bit—hardly ideal, but necessary in this instance, as I don’t speak Portugese. While I certainly wouldn’t trust any quotations below to be precise, I do think they give the broad gist of what is being said.
Basically, the high profile denialism achieved liftoff due to the popular comedian Jo Soares, who gave it quite a boost on his widely watched Letterman-like Programa do Jo (The Jo Show, we'll call it). In May, Soares had on the geographer Ricardo Augusto Felicio, for a nearly half-hour denial fest that has gone pretty viral.
Who is Ricardo Augusto Felicio? He’s a professor at the University of Sao Paulo, specializing in the study of Antarctic climate. His faculty webpage says—according to Google translate—that he “Conducts research and serious criticisms of climate variability and its consequences, demystifying the ‘anthropogenic climate change’ and its ideology embedded.” In other words, he seems to be wearing his denial proudly on his sleeve.