Climate Denial Hits Brazil

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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.

Ricardo Augusto Felico was also involved, according to Joanne Nova, in the Portugese translation of her Skeptic’s Handbook, which we have debunked here.

Based on the translation that I acquired—which comports nicely with an English language summary, blogged here–Felicio's statements on The Jo Show are pretty stunning. He doesn't just dismiss, outright, the idea of human-caused global warming. He also appeared to cast doubt on the greenhouse effect and the idea that chlorofluorocarbons damage the ozone layer (Nobel Prize winning science, in this case). Other skeptic chestnuts were also aired, such as the idea that the planet has been cooling since 2008.

What is most disturbing, according to my Brazilian correspondent, is that the interview resonated and created a much wider influence. Take, for instance, this article the Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Globo, commenting on the Jo Show skepticism fest, and also suggesting that Felicio is instilling climate skepticism in his students at the University of Sao Paulo.

Meanwhile, the television network known as Band, Brazil’s fourth largest, has also aired a climate denialist broadcast, which appears to be the beginning of a series. Google translate gives this caption: “Earth’s temperature is not increasing, say scholars.”

So much for claiming that Brazil has some sort of exemption from climate denialism among the world’s major countries.

So what should those who want to improve Brazil’s climate debate do? Well, that’s hard to say, because I am not at all rooted in the nation’s discourse.

But first, there is a clear issue of journalistic ethics that needs to be raised. Here in the U.S., I and many others have explained not only why one shouldn’t give science denialist claims such dramatic airings in the media, but moreover, why they don't necessarily even belong in so-called “balanced” reports. Is this argument being made in Brazil as well? I don’t know. I hope so.

Second, there is an issue of science communication. Why is it that Ricardo August Felico is on the Jo Show, rather than scientists representing the mainstream position in Brazil? And what are they doing to rebut this attack on their knowledge? Once again, I don’t know—but I hope that efforts are afoot to improve scientists’ communication skills in Brazil, as they are here in the U.S.

If not—or, if not to the same extent—then perhaps those of us here in the U.S. can help.

The Rio+20 conference seriously underperformed last week, as many feared that it would. I’m not saying an emergence of climate skepticism in Brazil directly influenced that outcome. But it’s just one more development that makes the whole climate issue a little tougher to resolve—and one that, in a country of nearly 200 million people, with the world’s sixth largest economy, ought to greatly disturb us. 

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One thing I wonder about is how much Climate Denial is language based.  Its largely the English world that is suffering from Climate Denial.  Furthermore its relatively the same sources in the English world.

 I don’t know about language, but I do know that at least in part, it’s because climate change denial has been deliberately spread to Australia, and probably New Zealand and Great  Brittain, from the United States.   ‘think tanks’  like Competitive Enerprise Institute and Heartland Institute, for example.

 And then there’s the Murdock media empire doing it’s dirty work.

Pat Michaels, Robert Balling and Fred Singer helped found the skeptic organization, ESEF, in Europe in 1996. The ESEF takes the same absurd position as OSIM, the group who issued the Oregon Petition . They want you to think global warming will be good for you.

Those three skeptics sure get around, don’t they?



Specifically the denial sphere is all about repeating articles and echoing them all over the place.

Jo Nova discusses doing this with Monckton.

So, if you were in a country that largely didn’t speak English, what material would you read?  If you searched the internet, the information would be relatively scarce and likely limited to a few staid scientific journals from local scientists, likely in English.  Unless some Denial Tank pays someone to deny the science, they will likely come out pro-climate change.

That is the only reason that comes to mind when I think of Europe.  Its obviously more complex that that though. The Dutch started promoting wind after Chernobyl.

Its equally hard to counter in a foreign language. Perhaps there should be a global language translation of the Aussie response to Ian Plimer’s questions?

Thinking a bit further, what is the price a small country?  In Australia’s case, Gina Rinehart pays, what, $192 million, to finally shift the news to anti-science.  Pretty cheap, wouldn’t you say?

How much are they paying for Canada?  How much damage is Canada doing on the world stage?

Last Week Jornal da Band from Bandeirantes network, the 3rd most watched in Brazil, ran a reportage series titled Global Warming a Covinient Doubt (the original title “Aquecimento global, uma dúvida conveniente”) starring a professor from Paraíba Federal University. It was literally translated replay of all usual non-arguments, including climategate.

I’m linking bellow but it is all in Portuguese:

I’ts more than just ‘denial, it is clear that the ‘system’ is broken, and this from someone on the inside. You can keep wasting time blaming ‘communication’ or a ‘well-funded effort to confuse’ but that won’t change things!

I urge all to read this Financial Post article. They are reporting on a review of Rio+20 posted by Mark Halle, executive director of the Europe division of theInternational Institute for Sustainable Development.

Some key points:

Intergovernmental structures beyond reform:  “Intergovernmental structures are tired, lack vision and courage, and are increasingly left behind by the natural momentum of creativity and innovation in our societies. Worse still, there can no longer be any doubt that they are to all intents and purposes unreformable. Instead of once again launching attempts to streamline the UN system, we should simply assume that coordination, efficiency, accountability, responsible use of scarce funds, good governance and transparent process are now and always will be elusive goals and act accordingly.”

Corporate sector more innovative: “For all the problems still associated with corporate activity, there is more advanced strategic thinking, more deep analysis of problems, more attachment to innovative thinking in the corporate sector than is evident in inter-governmental dialogue.”

Sustainable development governance: “The real disappointment comes in the failure of the conference to agree on any serious reform of sustainable development governance. If there is a consensus on anything in the international system, it is that the configuration of organizations, conventions and forums dealing with sustainable development is overlapping, inefficient and unresponsive to the fundamental needs. But 60 years of reform ambition have unearthed another immutable rule: that the multilateral system is in essence unreformable. It is possible to add new organizations, forums or processes to the existing maelstrom, but it is impossible to shift what is already there in any fundamental way.”

Rio failure not isolated: “Worse still, this failure is not an isolated one. Although it reached a consensus conclusion, what happened in Rio is a mirror of what happened at the climate change summit in Copenhagen, and resembles the failure of the last few WTO ministerial meetings. Far from being a sad exception, low expectations and disappointment in global intergovernmental process have become the new norm, at least when success requires consensus on economic policy. We can no longer afford years of straining that ends up giving birth to a mouse.”

Finally: “We must put a stop to the massive waste of money represented by events like the Rio conference.”

Overall, Mr. Halle’s commentary reads almost like an obituary of sustainable development itself, but certainly it’s an RIP for the global movement as currently structured. Nobody involved in the sustainable development industry can read Mr. Halle’s words without seeing them as writings on  a gravestone.


Hmm… Doing what I do Hank… Using sources of the same ideological bent. Interesting change of tactics.  (I can’t just tear into you any more.)

I realize you’re not big into trying to understand anything.  That’s why you just regurgitate sources.  Right?

Mark Halle is not a Climate Change denier…

Neither are any of the board of directors…

So… why would a green organization be mad at what is going in Rio?

Apparently the locals are mad too, claiming its some sort of Capitalist agenda.

Here’s Chas’ link;

Here’s what the organization is really saying;

Here’s why everyone is upset.

The conference has been Shang Hai’d so that its not longer about the environment.

Hank, the unmistakable conclusion is that you and your kind are still working really hard to make money and destroy the environment.  The end justify’s the means, right?