Unveiling the Identity of ‘Climato-Realists’: Exploring the Truth

This summer, the climatosceptic sphere once again had a blast. Between announced heat waves that would not have taken place and deliberately “alarmist” weather maps, there were many arguments to oppose the doxa. Many accounts have continuously flooded social networks with publications aimed at minimizing climate change due to human activities, questioning it or simply denying it.

“The Fires of Canada: One More Lie”
One of the most prolific accounts on the subject is undoubtedly the association of climato-realists, which aims “to promote an open and free debate on the evolution of the climate and the societal questions relating to it. “. But under the guise of realism, it promotes ideas that go against the scientific consensus on climate. The team of Verifiers has already had the opportunity to look into its untruths, such as that on the melting of Greenland. If the association does not deny the existence of climate change, it questions human responsibility in it and sells a main idea: the planet is not dying, because adaptation is the key.

This declared association, which has a website and a presence on Twitter and YouTube, would have “a few hundred members”, according to its president and founder, Benoît Rittaud, at TF1info. It would be entirely financed by them, according to his words. On the site, there are articles signed by full names or initials. They concern both “Canada’s forest fires: one more lie” and “the significant silences of the recent IPCC report”.

A “scientific committee” without a climatologist

The association owes its existence to Benoît Rittaud, a mathematician and author of climatosceptic books (Le Mythe climatique, Éditions du Seuil – 2010). A time invited by the traditional media, as at France Culture in 2015, the latter now grants his interviews to France Soir and reserves his pen for Current Values, with whom he collaborates regularly. Proof of this is the “Author” page dedicated to him on the site of the far-right weekly. Contacted, the editorial staff ensures that the forums of the teacher-researcher are not the subject of any correction “on the merits”, specifying that he is not paid.

In addition to Benoît Rittaud, other well-known names are part of the organization, grouped together within a “scientific committee”. If the members of this committee are physicists, geophysicists or engineers, almost no climatologist is present. Asked about the subject, the president of the association cites a case: that of Richard Lindzen, physicist and former American meteorologist who contributed well to the site, with the translation of his work in November 2022.

If some of the publications of this former scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are respected by his colleagues, his positions on the climate, denouncing in particular “alarmism” in terms of climate change, have been widely denounced and go to the against the conclusions of the IPCC, which considers that it is urgent to limit greenhouse gas emissions to contain the rise in global temperatures.

Within the “scientific committee”, we can also mention Vincent Courtillot, geophysicist at the Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris. Its position on global warming has not changed for more than ten years, as this INA archive shows: this phenomenon will eventually subside as has already happened in the past. In his book “New Journey to the Center of the Earth”, he writes that “without calling into question the reality of global warming over the past 150 years, we are still far from having identified with enough certainty the drivers of climate change to predict becoming it”. No reason to worry about the future, then.

A position claimed by Benoît Rittaud, for whom we should not speak of climate change but rather “climate change”. Except that these assertions are contradicted by the scientific consensus and the work of the IPCC which points, in its report published in 2021, to the “unequivocal” responsibility of humans in the current crisis and gives the keys to reverse the trend: drastically reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases.

Another member of the association of climato-realists: François Gervais. This physicist is known for several of his works which have called into question the urgency of acting for the climate (The climate emergency is a decoy, edition of the Gunner – 2018) and full of factual errors, in particular The Carbon Innocence (Albin Michel), denounced by several climatologists for its untruths at the time of its release in 2013.

2016 and the counter-COP 22 in Paris

Beyond its headliners, the association has tried to shine through action. From its birth in 2016, it organized a counter-COP 22 in Paris after being indignant against COP21 and the historic Paris Agreement which notably plans to contain the rise in temperatures below 2°C. The event is worth to the collective to arouse a certain media curiosity. But perhaps it is the presence of Claude Allègre as guest of honor that fuels the interest. The scientist and former Minister of Education is also considered by some to be the father of French climatoscepticism.

And to have more weight in the debate, the association takes part in collective initiatives. Like this international forum signed by 1,200 scientists, including a hundred French, and entitled “the climate emergency does not exist”. Benoît Rittaud or Vincent Courtillot are among the signatories. The errors that crept in have since been pinpointed by other scientists.

This article is originally published on tf1info.fr



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