Notorious Climate Science Denier Marc Morano Flying to Australia With Misleading Climate Hustle Movie

Marc Morano — one of world’s most notorious climate science deniers — is heading to Australia to push his discredited documentary Climate Hustle.

Morano is the communications director at the mistitled Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) – one among a suite of US-based conservative “free market” groups that helped convince President Donald Trump to pull the country out of the international Paris climate agreement.

Climate Hustle, first screened in late 2015 in Paris, claims human-caused climate change is a scare story and that scientists actually disagree that humans are causing global warming.

In reality, climate scientists and campaigners say the documentary is a rehash of long-debunked talking points, cherry-picked claims and misrepresentations promoted by a “fossil fuel salesman.”

Australian Screenings

According to promotional materials, the film will screen in Melbourne on 12 July at the State Library of Victoria, in Brisbane on 15 July at New Farm Cinema and then on 18 July in Sydney at Club Five Dock.

Morano told DeSmog he wants to encourage Australia to withdraw from the United Nations Paris agreement – a step taken by the President Donald Trump, who has packed his administration with staff members who reject the conclusions of the world’s scientific community that greenhouse gases are causing climate change.

Climate scientists who have reviewed the film for DeSmog have described Climate Hustle as “muddled”, “misleading” and “the usual rubbish from the usual suspects.”

Anticipating that Morano and his two colleagues also travelling from the United States will seek media coverage, campaigners said the group should be ignored.

The last thing we need is another fossil fuel salesman,” said a Greenpeace spokesperson.

Origins of Climate Hustle

Climate Hustle was made for CFACT by CDR Communications – a small production company that has made similar climate science denial films for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation

The Cornwall Alliance denies any evidence that human-caused climate change is dangerous, and promotes “experts” that promote creationism.

Climate Hustle was first shown in public in December 2015 at a farcical “world premiere” in Paris as United Nations climate talks were ongoing across the city.

Before and after the film was released, Morano gave multiple media interviews on conservative TV networks in the United States.

In May 2016, the film was shown in about 400 US cinemas after CFACT paid a distributor for a one-night only broadcast of the film.

The film gained more media coverage after Morano secured the enthusiastic endorsement of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, prompting a combination of disdain and ridicule. 

At the European Parliament in Brussels in October 2016, Climate Hustle was shown by a group of Eurosceptics to a near empty room in the EU Parliament.

Aside from rehashing long-debunked myths about climate science, the movie itself has been described by one filmmaker as “very amateurish” and “not very watchable.”

Who is Marc Morano?

Morano has been described as a “central cell of the climate-denial machine” and has worked for conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and US Senator James Inhofe – a Republican who once suggested “manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

Morano told DeSmog: “We are taking a quick hop to Australia to help export the awesomeness of what is currently happening in the U.S. when it comes to climate policy.

There is no reason we climate skeptics in the U.S. should not be exporting our good fortune of rejecting the UN Paris pact. Climate skeptics in the U.S. have been grinning ear to ear for months now. We have lots to get done in Australia. At the top of the list is helping to spread a global Clexit — Climate exit from UN Paris Pact.”

According to CFACT’s financial disclosures, Morano earns $190,000 a year (AU $250,000) for his efforts to convince people that burning fossil fuels is not causing dangerous climate change.  CFACT has previously received cash from fossil fuel interests including ExxonMobil and have accepted millions from two secretive linked funds - Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund - that have become a key funding stream for climate science denial groups.

Blair Palese, CEO of the Australian arm of the climate campaign group 350.org, said: “Morano is one of the most notorious climate deniers worldwide. Given how certain scientists are worldwide about the links between our man-made emissions and climate change, we are well beyond listening to the likes of a Morano who wants to do nothing but slow us down on the urgent action we need”

A Greenpeace director, Susannah Compton, said: “Marc Morano has no scientific training yet tries to argue with scientists, he is paid by industry groups with a vested interest in fossil fuels, yet cries conspiracy.

“He is a fossil fuels salesman masquerading as a climate sceptic and should be ignored. The last thing we need is another fossil fuel salesman spreading more lies and climate charlatanism.”

Morano was thrown out of the 2016 United Nations climate talks in Morocco for holding an unauthorised protest while standing next to a life-size cut out of Donald Trump. At the time, Morano was with a delegation headed by Myron Ebell, who was part of Donald Trump's team tasked with preparing the Environmental Protection Authority for the new administration.

Usual Suspects, Usual Rubbish

Climate Hustle, running at 78 minutes, is a grab-bag collection of climate denial myths, featuring a well-known cast of contrarian voices, many of which have no actual climate science expertise.

They include British hereditary peer Lord Christopher Monckton and the late Australian geologist Dr Bob Carter.

Climate scientist Professor Will Steffen, an emeritus professor at Australian National University and a member of the not-for-profit Climate Council, has reviewed sections of the film for DeSmog.

He said: “This is just the usual rubbish from the usual suspects - a re-hash of misleading and downright incorrect arguments that denialists have trotted out for a long time.”

One section of the film attempts to quantify the role of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and downplay the role of carbon dioxide. 

Steffen said the section “misrepresents how the carbon cycle works” by completely ignoring how oceans and land absorb CO2 – a very basic and well-known mechanism in the carbon cycle that’s taught in schools around the world.

Steffen added: “What the film didn't say is that both oxygen and nitrogen, which comprise about 99 per cent of the atmospheric gases, are transparent to UV, visible and heat radiation. They don't play a role in the energy balance at the Earth's surface.”

Dr Andrew King, a climate scientist at the University of Melbourne, said a section of the film that tried to underplay the role of increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was “muddled.”

He said: “Whilst there are certainly other potential drivers of changes in the climate we know that over the last century we have greatly increased the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and, through detection and attribution analyses, we know that the rising levels of atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases have driven the rise in global temperature.

Changes in other potential drivers, like solar activity, simply can't explain the 1C rise in global temperature we have observed.”

Attacking the Consensus

Large parts of the film try to convince the audience that scientists disagree about the causes of climate change. 

Morano told DeSmog: “Our goal with our trip is to provide Australians with a break from the manufactured ‘consensus’ and entertain by showing audiences how silly man-made climate change claims have become.”

One section quotes economist Professor Richard Tol attacking a study that found that 97 per cent of climate scientists agree humans are causing global warming.

The film doesn’t say that Tol himself has also said: “There is no doubt in my mind that the literature on climate change overwhelmingly supports the hypothesis that climate change is caused by humans. I have very little reason to doubt that the consensus is indeed correct.”

Australian Dr John Cook, of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University in Virginia, was the lead author on the study attacked in the film by Tol.

Cook told DeSmog that attempts to cast doubt on the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change had been a key strategy for opponents to greenhouse gas reductions.

He said: “This dates back to the late 1990s when political strategists conducted market research to find that attacking the consensus was one of the most effective ways to reduce public support for climate policy. The Climate Hustle film closely follows this playbook, devoting a significant chunk of its film casting doubt on the consensus.

The film attacks our 2013 paper that found 97% consensus among peer-reviewed climate papers stating a position on human-caused global warming. It also attacks Peter Doran’s 2009 paper that found 97% consensus among actively publishing climate scientists. However, these two papers are only two among a number of independent studies each finding an overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.

In 2016, we teamed up with co-authors of seven key consensus studies to publish a survey-of-surveys. Among papers that examined expert agreement among publishing climate scientists, we found 90 to 100% agreement on human-caused global warming with a number of studies converging on 97%.”

CFACT's Trio

Morano will be joined in Australia by CFACT Executive Director Craig Rucker and CFACT president and co-founder David Rothbard.

Rucker said: “CFACT has a lot of fans and followers in Australia who have long wanted us to make a trip. We were beckoned to come and are excited to premiere our film Climate Hustle.”

According to one climate science denial blog, groups helping to organise the CFACT trip are the Galileo Movement (once managed by current One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts), the Australian Environment Foundation, the Australian Tax Payers Alliance and the Australian Institute for Progress.

Check out DeSmog’s archive of coverage of Climate Hustle.

Main image: Marc Morano outside the Cinema du Pantheon in Paris for the premiere of Climate Hustle