back to article Motivated by commerce, not conscience, Google bans ads for climate change consensus contradictors

Google has decided not to run any ads alongside content that "contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change". The decision impacts YouTube, advertisers, and publishers. It appears to be primarily a matter of commerce, rather than conscience: the adtech strangler vine has …

  1. jake Silver badge


    What are these things you call "ads"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ads?

      I've got R.Pi running but it doesn't seems to catch You Tube ads. I presumed those were embedded (for non subscribers). Do you manage to filter them?

      1. Sam Therapy

        Re: Ads?

        I've never seen an ad on YT - unless it's one in the middle of, and therefore part of - a regular video. Colin of CS guitars sometimes does it but in a very overt way, but other than that, nothing.

        I am a subscriber to YT but don't have a paid account. FWIW, there's an ad blocker in my browser.

      2. Snake Silver badge

        Re: YouTube ads

        I use my phone for YT viewing, and since I'm on Android I get to use YouTube Vanced.

        Say goodbye to ads, trailers and embedded sponsorships.

      3. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Ads?

        Yes, but you need to filter them on the client side. UBlock origin does it on Firefox/Chromium based browsers. AdGuard does it on iOS Safari, but you have to activate it every time you visit the YouTube website.

        Sponsor segments added by the YouTube creator themselves are much more difficult to filter. Sponsor-block sometimes manages it, but only if someone has already flagged it.

      4. Chris G

        Re: Ads?

        I have Blu-hell a FireFox add on and U Block Origin, I never get You Tube ads other than when creators plug something within the video.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Instead of

    "The decision impacts YouTube, advertisers, and publishers. "

    should that be:

    "The decision impacts advertisers and publishers on YouTube" ?

    1. Draco

      Not just Youtube

      It will affect anyone using Google's ad network - many advertisers use Google Adsense to serve up ads because many websites use Google Adsense to try and generate a little revenue,

      It will also impact the types of ads served on Google's search page - where Google has +90% of the search market globally (except in: China, Czech Republic, Russian Federation, and South Korea - the might be one or two others).

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Another proof that hitting the wallet is the best argument ever when dealing with MegaCorps.

    Do you hear that, regulators worlwide, who want to curb their abuses? Hit them hard where it does matter.

    1. Robert Grant

      They know this. And this didn't need regulation, just market forces. Much more efficient.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google definitely wants to claim they believe and care about global warming; they've been claiming for years that they are "carbon neutral". It's hard to know how much advertisers and publishers really care about what shows next to their content, but Google is certainly trying to avoid having to take responsibility for the change by claiming it is purely done for commercial reasons.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Google definitely wants to claim they believe and care about global warming; they've been claiming for years that they are "carbon neutral".

      That's just your basic greenwashing. Buy carbon credits, claim neutrality. Or buy 'green' energy, only generated from 'renewable' sources. That one has been fun recently as part of the energy crisis. So a period of low windspeeds across the UK & Europe meant that windmills weren't spinning, so demand for gas & coal increased. Suppliers that provide 'green' tariffs still managed to supply electricity, but it wasn't from 'renewable' sources.

      1. Sixtiesplastictrektableware

        Hey, neat! Carbon credits sound just like Catholic indulgences. Get 'em signed and sin away!

        Thanks James Burke, for teaching me stuff that still applies to this very stupid day.

        1. Filippo Silver badge

          The analogy between carbon credits and indulgences is pretty neat. I'm going to reuse it at some point, thanks.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Yup, it's been used for a while by climate sceptics. Plus you know it's become a religion when you get 'news' like this-


            COP26: Pope will not travel to Glasgow for climate summit

            But such is politicss. Shame really because the Pope could have said something about decarbonisation and the impacts on energy poverty. Or how COProphiliacs by the thousands will be jetting into Glasgow, where there carbon sins can be forgiven by buying some of those indulgences.

            Still, when the UN is still holding out for the $100bn a year 'agreed' in Paris, it's a small expense compared to the potential profits.

            1. stiine Silver badge

              But he would have had to drive there in a car powered by satan...

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Not just the comparison of 'greenwash' purchase being like the indulgences themselves. Let's not forget the religious nature of the so-called "consensus" regarding anthropogenic "climate change". Then, the comparison becomes even MORE 'spot on', all things considered.

            Consensus != Science

            (hypothesis, experimentation, verification, repeatability, review - THAT would be science)

            The so-called "consensus" fails MOST of the true definition of science.

            Galileo's observations eventually won the argument against the religious interpretation of the day, which in MY bombastic opinion, is very MUCH like "consensus" vs actual science.

            (and cancelling those you disagree with, simply because YOU are more powerful at the moment, isn't welcome in a free society, RIGHT Galileo?)

            1. Stoneshop

              (hypothesis, experimentation, verification, repeatability, review - THAT would be science)

              The repeatability is a bit of a problem here, as we can't reset the CO2 levels, put the glaciers and the ice caps back, etcetera, then do the same emissions thing again and see if it has the same effect, or reset + no emissions and check what the outcome is two centuries on. Not on an earth scale.

              So the scientists are stuck with "all of this data points to", which is enough for any climate chance denier to go "nanana, you haven't proved it's caused by human activity", then going and bying an even bigger SUV and cranking the aircon up because geegollygosh, it sure is hotter these days.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Most people, and that includes most people in power, are not moved by scientific measurements. However they can relate to direct physical impact on their lives as a kind of measurement, and also group to group thought - I think those are embedded in human genes through evolutionary selection process.

              It wasn't until the 18 century, the beginning of industrial revolution, and the everyday practical application of Newtonian dynamics to launching cannonballs, that the church began to slowly relent on Heliocentrism.

              To draw a parallel, the CO2 measurements at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii (since ~1960) did not do much to persuade non-scientists. However, the thawing of Siberia and its many forest fires has finally convinced even Putin.

              I suppose in earlier eras, climate change would have been attributed to God(s) or blamed on some other ethnic group. However, due to the credibility of science in making material contribution to peoples lives, a channel has been carved by science and the masses reaction (at least some of it) to the impact of climate change flows down that channel.

              At the same time, a logical response to climate includes changes that adversely affect peoples immediate well being. I hypothesize that that is the main source of "climate-change-denial".

              1. stiine Silver badge

                Ah, but you (and they) are presuming that we (humans) are the sole cause of these effects. Unfortunately, I don't think that we are...

        2. Chris G


          Are also what the likes of google and other mega corps are getting from the courts and governments when they make a 'Settlement'.

          Paying for your sins, literally!

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I have one question

    How does Google know what content is against climate change ? How is Google going to be able to target those pages, but not the pages that discuss the claim ?

    If Google can actually do that, then Google has far more information about the Internet than I feel comfortable with.

    1. Alpharious

      Re: I have one question

      My first thought is that it's just a pr stunt. I rarely see ads, let alone one that is saying global warming is fake. So unless there is something going on in the non-English speaking net; then this is just a publicity stunt.

      Then again, this could be a sneaky way to curate their advertisers anymore. "you have to be google approved to pay us to show ads on our network"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have one question

        Though they are banning both, in the main it's not people aren't putting climate denying adverts onto pages; it's that they are publishing climate denying pages, and then Google's algorithmic process is inserting adverts from companies that don't want to be associated with idiots.

        Seems perfectly reasonable in an essentially 'baking gay cakes' sort of way. If you want to self-publish in an 'I did my research - I watched a you tube video and my friend showed me a funny meme' sort of way, pay for it yourself, or do what you normally do - get an oil company to slip a few mil to your 'foundation'.

    2. Warm Braw

      Re: I have one question

      How is Google going to be able to target those pages


    3. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: I have one question

      I would assume in a heavy handed way based on dodgy machine learning algorithms and biased user reports.

      YouTube's general approach on its various policies appears to be overly broad application and let the edge cases and false positives complain if they want (then ignore them anyway).

      Its demonetisation (which is basically what this is) is frequently a prime example of that approach. Unfortunate, but credible challenge to the consensus is still viable through academic papers and other channels, so really it boils down to Google saying, "We'll host your content for free if you like, we just won't pay you for it."

  6. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Unexpected consequences?

    "Google has decided not to run any ads alongside content that "contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change"."

    Since a substantial body of research has shown that most folks hate ads, this might even increase attention on such content.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Unexpected consequences?

      Indeed, the first comments on such content will be along the lines of " Great video and no ads!! "

    2. Dinanziame Silver badge

      Re: Unexpected consequences?

      The people who own the content, and who probably hoped to get money from the ads, might have a different opinion.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: Unexpected consequences?

        No, they just want your beach house to be washed away as the seas rise.

  7. RyokuMas


    "Google has decided not to run any ads alongside content that "contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change"

    ... thereby ensuring that more people watch this content because it's not stuffed full of ads, perchance?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The GQP will not like this

    because they seem to be against everything at the moment. You name it and there will soon be a conspiracy theory against it. Then it will spread like wildfire to their faithful.

    Then the 11th commandment will apply

    Do not question any GQP official or idea or anything related to the party of Trump and 'Q'.

  9. CountCadaver Silver badge

    Scientific Consensus

    The scientific consensus was settled for decades that stress was the sole cause of stomach ulcers and that there was no viral or bacterial cause....until a researcher drank a solution of heliobacter pylori and promptly developed stomach this day even some doctors still think stress is the cause of stomach ulcers and fail to run the test for heliobacter pylori causing their patients to suffer health issues unnecessarily, see also galileo where the consensus was that the sun orbited the earth and this was settled scientific fact.

    My concern is by yelling "long established scientific consensus" we are going down the same path yet again and shutting down scientific debate, leading to other causes or the real cause being missed.

    Correlation is not causation i.e. just because the hockey stick curve correlates to CO2 doesn't mean CO2 is the cause (doesn't mean it isn't either) and absence of evidence is not evidence of absence - i.e. just becase we can't find solid evidence for something doesn't mean it isn't happening, it just means we don't have all the facts yet.

    Climatology seems to attract the same extremists and fanatics that nationalism and religion does, those intent on bullying and intimidating any one who questions the orthodoxy by branding them "deniers" aka heretics or traitors, shouting down academics who call for continuing research into other causes while reducing CO2 "your wasting time CO2 must be our only focus", putting other people's lives in danger by blockading roads and stopping ambulances getting to those who need help / hospitals in a timely manner.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: one who questions the orthodoxy

      For those who question, they never offer an alternate solution to the issue. They...just doubt.

      But they never fix. All they do is doubt, usually under the guise of "If you can't prove it 100%, then don't bother me or expect me to modify MY life". All the data points to the climate changing. If you don't believe that *humans* are, at least, partially responsible and therefore partially responsible for helping correct it, Fine.

      But then, what exactly do you offer as a solution to the problem that, no matter who or what is to blame, the climate changes will have a DRAMATIC effect on the human race??

      Besides the "solution', 'It can't be proven that we've done it, so we can sit on our hands and do nothing'??

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: one who questions the orthodoxy

        But then, what exactly do you offer as a solution to the problem that, no matter who or what is to blame, the climate changes will have a DRAMATIC effect on the human race??

        That depends. If past performance is an indicator of future, then yes. So at some point, we'll probably have another ice age. Canada ends up under a few kilometers of ice and the price of maple syrup hits the stratosphere. Sea levels will fall tens of meters, so new beach front properties will become available to Al Gore and Obama's descendents.

        Alternatively, we know that in the past, CO2 levels were much higher than present, and have been on a downward trend. If that continued, eventually photosynthesis would pretty much stop, and so would much of life as we know it.

        So we're perhaps delaying the onset of the next ice age, which would be a good thing, especially for Canadians. Or there are other benefits, like milder winters mean we spend less on heating. Cold kills far more people than hot.

        But we know climate change is normal. Scientists know this because glacial retreat uncovers plant remains. From that, we could deduce that it was warmer in the past, because plants don't grow under ice sheets.

        But then we're also told that the present climate is the warmest ever. So how can both be true? We also know that as ice ages end, sea levels rise, it gets warmer, CO2 levels increase, and that there have been things like the Medieval Warm Period, or the Little Ice Age. Yet some scientists deny this, even though there's abundant evidence.

        Or there's evidence of human involvement like this-

        Clean Air Acts correlate with more sunshine. More sunshine, more warming. Or correlation doesn't equal causation and it's the Sun that's variable.. Except there's an issue of effect potentially exceeding cause.

        So no matter how much Google is in denial, there is, or should be room for grown-up debate. Especially regarding adaptation or mitigation. Currently we have an 'energy crisis' largely caused by bad policy. So money wasted on unreliable 'renewables' instead of dependable or at least despatchable power. That's a huge problem given politicians still seem hell bent on 'decarbonising' the economy, so massively increasing demand and reliance on electricity.

        And they don't seem to have realised the connection. Building more windmills is just a waste of money when we get long periods of no wind covering much of the UK and Europe. But that's nothing new, after all the Age of Sail gave way to the Age of Steam, which helped improve people's quality of life and lifted people out of poverty. Politicians seem to be ignoring that bit of history, and this time it'll be different with dependence on windmills for economic activity.

        But sceptics have been pointing this out for decades, it's just they're often shouted down by the vested interests promoting junk solutions like 'renewables'.

        1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          Re: one who questions the orthodoxy

          "vested interests promoting"

          Always follow the money, on both sides of the argument.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: one who questions the orthodoxy

          There is ample basis for avoiding burning fossil hydrocarbons where substitutes exist. Hydrocarbons are multi-use materials, usable as fuels and as the starting point for industrial processes. In the first role it's often open to substitution, in the second not so often. The stuff that's been burned needlessly isn't available as a substrate. In similar vein the hydrocarbon used to make one-use plastic bags can also be substituted with paper.

          You don't need to believe or not believe in anthropogenic climate change, nor do you have to realise change in climate and sea-level changes are inevitable to realise that finite supplies shouldn't be exhausted where substitutes exist.

          At some future date, and maybe not that far into the future, our descendants will be blaming us for the sheer waste of current usage.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: one who questions the orthodoxy

            In the first role it's often open to substitution, in the second not so often. The stuff that's been burned needlessly isn't available as a substrate. In similar vein the hydrocarbon used to make one-use plastic bags can also be substituted with paper.

            This is kinda the problem, ie what problem are we trying to solve? So Google probably uses more energy than aluminium smelters. There are substitutes for Google.

            Fossil fuels are substitutable, ie we can create synthetic fuels and have done since the 1920's with the Fischer-Tropsch and Sabatier processes. Germany did that during WW2, South Africa during anti-apartheid sanctions. So if we really have to, we can make 'fossil' fuels.

            But neo-Luddites want to ban fossil fuels. Slight snag, shutting down petrochemicals means shutting down all the products created from those barrels of oil. Including some fun ones, like ammonia & fertiliser production, which we'd need a lot more of, if we're also going to go meat free.

            Or we could carry on extracting oil & gas, but only for uses approved by the Green Board. But without revenues from oil & gas, all those products would be expensive. Plus what do do with the fractions that are now forbidden.

            And of course there's energy. Without petrochemicals, there would be no 'renewables'. With no energy, there'd be no chemicals either, and we're seeing that with some industries shutting down due to high energy costs. Especially industry that needs reliable power, which renewables can't deliver. Cut power to either Google or an aluminium smelter, and you get a big & expensive mess.

            But that's politics. Our descendents may be sitting in fusion powered & heated classrooms on Mars learning about work in the off-world colonies, and wondering why their ancestors thought the Earth had an exclusive monopoly on resources in our solar system.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Scientific Consensus

      You assert that stress cannot possibly be a contributing cause of any ulcer, and that all stomach ulcers are caused strictly by heliobacter pylori and nothing else.

      Did you know that MOST of the worlds population are infected with heliobacter pylori? Why does it affect some people and not others?

      I would say the evidence is far stronger that industrialization, rising CO2 levels, and observed change in climate are all related, than that heliobacter pylori are the only source of stomach ulcers and that stress cannot be possibly be related to stomach ulcers.

  10. a_yank_lurker

    'well-established scientific consensus'

    Science does not work by consensus but a couple of people having a better explanation for something than everyone else that can be thoroughly tested. It does not matter the area. Dogmatic assertions that something is true because it is the currently accepted scientific paradigm is closer to religion than science, not that scientists cannot fall into the trap of being dogmatic. Science relies on skepticism and debate to advance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'well-established scientific consensus'

      How to evaluate what is better? You say "testing", but I think in practice, for the vast majority of humans, it is "how does this make my life easier?" or "how does this help me win a war?" - which eventually coincides with consensus.

      For a small minority only does actual scientific method carry sway.

      In addition, there are scenarios where precise scientific method is simply not available. Let's say you are piloting a sailing ship before the era of accurate clocks, and all you have is a sextant and some not so accurate maps, and quite a few clouds. Then you make due with what you've got - approximations, sightings of birds, a coconut shell spotted in the water, and whatever other clues can be had. And in the end the ability to fuse such unreliable data into a decision making process makes the difference success and failure, between life and death.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'well-established scientific consensus'

      The pushing of consensus science and the current favourite 'attribution science' devalues Science, but Science was already being devalued by all the pseudo-sciences being taught in Universities. Many of the new Luddites would destroy Science and the advances it has enabled in their near religious fervour for their climate 'cause'.

  11. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    Stop me if you've heard this before

    "One thing is certain: this change will spark weeks of culture war arguments ..."

    At this point the whole internet is a role playing adventure game with the underlying AI trained on a garbage data set. The most benign comment quickly and uncontrollably escalates to shouting, and sometimes spills over into violence IRL. Those who trained the AI then punish the netizens.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stop me if you've heard this before

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