Indeed, the phrase “a subterranean war” is a good description. People in general are ignorant, complacent about climate change. Few people know the extent and drama of the online campaigns that entangle big business, governments, activists, scientists, politicians, military, and finance in their ever stronger webs. If climate change were not The Issue Of The 21st Century, the promise and peril of the electronic Web would be.
That Web and world can be leveraged as a weapon to selectively disable or amplify messages of attackers choice. It can be used to deny citizens proper representation and access. It can be used to deflect public attention regarding such practices away from their proper concerns towards organizations who have every intent and capability to help the public, with evidence which is innuendo and unsubstantiated.
Consider what happened to the climate science site, Skeptical Science.
Angela: Just think about it. Our whole world is sitting there on a computer. It’s in the computer, everything: your, your DMV records, your, your social security, your credit cards, your medical records. It’s all right there. Everyone is stored in there. It’s like this little electronic shadow on each and everyone of us, just, just begging for someone to screw with, and you know what? They’ve done it to me, and you know what? They’re gonna do it to you.
— The Net (1995) —
I’m concerned because my professional perspective lets me see this same thing play out two, three, four times per day, against major Web properties. We learn to put up countermeasures, but the attackers get smarter. It’s not clear who will win. They go after your stuff. And all you’ve done is hobbled the federal agencies who are best suited to help you fight this. Best o’luck after doin’ that!
But my bigger concern is that the same tactics, antics have and are being levied against climate science, climate scientists, and educational blogs like Skeptical Science, prohibiting the public from getting clear, compelling, leading edge descriptions of what Science is telling us. It’s as if Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos was censored because people did not like what it said. A New Inquisition.
What future do you want? What lies do you want to live with? Who do you trust?
And do you have good reasons for your choices?