The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme, or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of recently reported ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉
Main Topic: Google Caught Selling Out Our Future
Dear Diary. I just loath corporate greed. The worst comes from fossil fuel companies that refuse to quickly shift to renewables to garner profits, but instead take the much easier path that squeeze every last cent from remaining undrilled sludgy stockpiles of carbon polluting goo.
Perhaps just as bad are tech companies that have found great profit in selling disinformation on social media platforms or on search engines. Here is one example from Google, which over the last decade has monopolized the world wide web search information business. Google actually broke its own policy to make a quick buck via advertising money. Yes, proverbially, money is actually the root of all evil:
While Australia burned, Google took fossil fuel money to spread misinformation about climate change
A new report claims Google made more than $400,000 by breaking its own policy of prohibiting climate misinformation ads.
NOV 08, 2022
(IMAGE: EPA/EVAN COLLS/DFES)
A think tank funded by fossil-fuel companies used Google advertisements to target people searching for information about Australia’s bushfires during bushfire season, with messages casting doubts on the link between climate change and natural disasters, a new report has found.
The messages were part of more than $400,000 in ads bought by a group denying climate change, despite Google’s policy prohibiting climate misinformation in advertising.
International non-profit Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) uncovered the advertising and published it in a report titled “Greenwashing on Google. How Google profits by cleaning big oil’s reputation“.
The report used analytics tool Semrush to look at US ad spend data from five oil and gas companies between September 1 2020 and August 31 2022. CCDH concluded that half the US$23.7 million spent on Google search ads was targeted at people searching for environmental sustainability terms such as “net zero”.
Google search ads are placed above organic search results, meaning that people searching for these terms would see the advertisers’ messages touting their environmental credentials before non-paid, reputable sources. The effect of this — according to the report — is “greenwashing” these companies’ reputations to make them appear more climate-friendly than they are.
“Big oil is cynically and deliberately polluting our information ecosystem to muddy public understanding of how they have polluted our physical ecosystems,” CCDH’s CEO Imran Ahmed said.
CCDH also discovered that Google took US$421,000 from climate change-denialist group Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). It’s an American organisation funded by millions of dollars from fossil-fuel companies that has publicly argued climate change isn’t a problem and taking climate action is more harmful.
Among more than 1000 advertisements bought by CEI over the two years, Google accepted ads directing users searching for terms like “australias wild fires” and “how are australian fires doing” to a CEI web page that republished an article titled “Australian wildfires were caused by humans, not climate change”.
The advertisements included messages saying that “Climate Campaigners Hype The Risks of Global Warming”, “Fossil fuels make the planet safer and the environment more livable”, and question the link between bushfires and climate change.
CEI’s ads ran over the two years analysed by CCDH, including during Australia’s 2020-21 and 2021-22 bushfire seasons and after Google’s 2021 announcement that it was banning ads that promoted climate denialism.
CCDH’s recommendations include Google enforcing its anti-climate denialism policy, rejecting all advertising from fossil-fuel companies, and creating a first party, open database of all Google’s advertising as a transparency measure.
“We are calling on Google to stop gaslighting the world, follow through on [its] promises to stop profiting from climate change denial immediately and to break up with big oil once and for all,” Ahmed said.
A Google spokesperson didn’t answer Crikey‘s questions about the advertisements and instead provided a short on-the-record statement about its climate denialism policy.
“When we find content that crosses the line from policy debate or a discussion of green initiatives to promoting outright climate change denial, we remove those ads from serving,” they said in an email.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ASSOCIATE EDITOR @CAMERONWILSON
Cam Wilson is Crikey’s associate editor. He previously worked as a reporter at the ABC, BuzzFeed, Business Insider and Gizmodo. He primarily covers internet culture and tech in Australia.
Here are some “ET’s” recorded from around the planet the last couple of days, their consequences, and some extreme temperature outlooks + heavy precipitation reports:
Here is more climate and weather news from Wednesday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)
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Guy Walton… “The Climate Guy”