Offshore wind opponents along the Eastern Seaboard are weaponizing disinformation about whale strandings in service of their long-held political positions against offshore wind energy. Raising issues around the environmental impacts of clean energy is a common tactic of clean energy opponents, and the anti-wind claims come as social media companies (beyond just Twitter) are cutting the resources dedicated to combating misinformation on their platforms.
“They’re taking those legitimate environmental concerns and trying to manipulate the conversation by using topics that matter to the environmental movement,” UCSB professor Leah Stokes told USA Today. Marine scientists looking into the recent spate of whale strandings have found no connection between those incidents and offshore wind.
What’s more, prior actions by offshore wind opponents, including racist and misogynist Fox News personalities, bely their concerns for the charismatic megafauna.
“We’ve been 100% against this [offshore wind] project from Day One. … I don’t care how far out they put them,” Joe Mancini, mayor of Long Beach Township, said of the several wind farms in the proposal and research stage off the New Jersey shore.
“It’s just a cynical disinformation campaign,” said Greenpeace’s oceans director John Hocevar. “It doesn’t seem to worry them that it’s not based in any kind of evidence.” Climate change, mainly caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is one of the greatest threats to whale populations. “While the climate deniers and the right-wing pundits are tilting at windmills,” Hocevar added, “most of us are focused on the real threats to whales – climate change, entanglement with fishing gear, ship strikes and plastic pollution.” (USA Today, Energy Monitor, TIME; Social media cutbacks: New York Times $)