Marc Morano is never short of a superlative or two, but when it has come to promoting his long-gestating documentary Climate Hustle, the climate science denialist extraordinaire has been outdoing himself.
“We are putting together what I think is the most comprehensive, unique, entertaining and humorous climate documentary that has ever been done or attempted,” Morano has said.
His documentary Climate Hustle will get its “big red carpet premiere,” as Morano has described it, on 7 December in the Cinéma du Panthéon in Paris at the beginning of the second week of major United Nations climate talks taking place in the French capital.
“The reason that this is a unique film,” Morano has said, “is that we are going for a pop culture-friendly… sarcastic approach and we actually give both sides in this movie.”
Morano is the head of communications at the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and runs the Climate Depot blog.
CFACT, credited as the film's producer, has accepted cash from fossil fuel interests including ExxonMobil and Chevron, as well as more than $7million from Donors Trust – a slush fund of rich conservatives which acts to conceal the identities of donors to projects.
He was also listed as one of 17 top “climate killers” by Rolling Stone Magazine. Before joining CFACT, Morano was a communications adviser to Republican Senator James Inhofe, who called climate change science “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”
That Morano is not a climate scientist or that actual experts regularly debunk his talking points seems not to matter to the numerous conservative news outlets that regularly seek his views.
Same old myths
But while Morano is promising viewers of Climate Hustle something new, pre-publicity material and statements elsewhere suggest the movie will be a rehash of old climate science denialist myths from the usual suspects.
One high-profile scientist attacked in Climate Hustle has told DeSmog that the documentary should be seen as “propaganda” and that Morano was “digging around in the trash to look for old news.”
Morano seems to have been promising the imminent release of his documentary for almost as long as climate science deniers have been promising global cooling.
CFACT executive director Craig Rucker first announced the plan for the film in July last year at the Heartland Institute’s Las Vegas conference for climate science deniers. Then, Morano said the movie would be out “in the fall” but it never appeared.
Morano, who ran a crowdfunding campaign to help finance the film, has been promising in interviews that he will be bringing new voices to the documentary. In an interview with Canadian conservative TV host Ezra Levant, who thinks climate change is a “multi-billion dollar scam,” Morano said:
I am not interviewing a lot of the main climate sceptical scientists because I feel like they have been interviewed by many other people and their stories have been told. I am trying to find another layer of scientist whose stories have not been out there yet. You will see a lot of new names in this.
But if Morano really was looking for new faces for his documentary, he does not seem to have tried very hard. During Morano’s Heartland presentation, he told the audience he would carrying out interviews during the conference.
The Heartland Institute conferences have been a mainstay of climate science denial for years, where presenters, most of which have no genuine expertise in climate science, will claim that either global warming is not happening, that its not caused by fossil fuel emissions, or that impacts will be minor or beneficial.
Who's featured in Climate Hustle?
Pre-publicity material and blogposts suggest that among the climate sceptics and contrarians featured in the film will be Professor Judith Curry of Georgia Institute of Technology, Professor Richard Tol of the University of Sussex, Ivar Giaever a retired physicist, the statistician William Briggs, geologist Dr Robert Giegengack and Canadian climate science denier Patrick Moore.
Moore has said that human-caused climate change is largely a hoax and that “we should celebrate CO2 as the giver of life that it is.”
Tol claims the economic impacts of climate change will be minor and has attacked studies showing the vast majority of climate scientists agree that humans are the main cause of climate change.
Briggs recently co-wrote a paper with Lord Christopher Monckton, who believes that climate change is a United Nations plot to install world government. Briggs’ paper argued that global warming would be much less than other studies had predicted, but a response in the same journal pointed to fundamental errors in the work of Monckton and Briggs, which was “riddled with errors.”
Earlier this month Curry wrote a column for Fox News questioning if government scientists may have been part of a political conspiracy to deliberately adjust temperature data upwards – a long-running theme from climate science denialists.
Blunt attack on Michael Oppenheimer
In several interviews about the movie, Morano has bragged of a section of the movie where he confronts scientist and climate change expert Professor Michael Oppenheimer.
In a speech to a Heartland Institute conference, Morano said he “had a quote” from Oppenheimer where the Princeton University scientist had said that “sceptics were quite literally motivated financially to be sceptics.”
Morano was referring to a quote from a 2006 Tom Brokaw documentary, where Oppenheimer said that “there are some people who have a financial interest in not believing” in climate change. Oppenheimer did not actually refer to sceptics.
Morano accused Oppenheimer of having a conflict of interest because he had accepted a grant from a foundation led by actress Barbara Streisand. He also challenged Oppenheimer over an award from the Heinz Foundation.
Oppenheimer told DeSmog the Streisand grant was received in 1989 while he worked at the Environmental Defence Fund. The Heinz Award was from 2010.
He said he was “proud” and “honoured” to have received both awards which had always been fully disclosed. He said it was “ludicrous” for Morano to suggest he had been influenced by the grants, especially because his work on climate change and his advocacy for cuts to human emissions pre-dated both the awards. He told DeSmog:
I imagine the only reason [Morano] is doing it is because he can’t find a better example and I happen to be salient in the press and I’m a good whipping boy. But that’s fine. I don’t mind.
I think it’s all fair to demand disclosure from people in the public arena and to ask where their support is coming from.
But I have met that criteria and now it’s up to people themselves to judge whether they think that the relationships that Morano has presented means that I can’t be objective about climate change. I think it’s a ridiculous notion but for people who don’t know me I think it’s perfectly fair to ask.
When asked about his 2006 quote, Oppenheimer said:
That was some years ago now. [Morano] is sort of digging around in the trash to look for old news because he has nothing currently available to talk about.
Marc is a propagandist and let him do more of his propaganda. If the strongest thing he has to say about me is that sentence then… bring it on… who cares?
Global cooling myth
So what else should people expect from Morano’s movie, besides non-scandals over a grant made to a scientist 25 years ago and the same old climate contrarian spokespeople?
In August, Morano told former Alaska Governor Sara Palin, who also rejects climate change science, that he would uncover the true agenda, saying: “Centrally planning economies. They want to go after the energy sector.”
Morano has also said the film will include clips of newsreaders in the 1970s warning of “global cooling” as if to suggest that scientists had changed their mind. But despite some news outlets warning of global cooling in the 70s, a review of the scientific literature has found that even then most scientific studies were actually saying the world would warm because of greenhouse gas emissions.
In an interview with Alex Epstein, author of the book Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, Morano claimed his movie would “present essentially both sides and let the viewer make up their mind” and how “this film is set to rock the climate debate.”
Rather than “rock the debate,” Climate Hustle is just another attempt to spread doubt and confusion about climate change science.
Watch the trailer for Morano's film: