Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Writes a Letter Roasting Silicon Valley Giants

Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Chellie Pingree penned a letter to the CEOs of Google, Facebook, and Microsoft schooling them on climate change.

Jan 29 2019, 6:53pm

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Last week, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft were criticized for sponsoring a conference that featured groups that promoted climate change denial. In response, congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Chellie Pingree co-authored a letter to these Silicon Valley giants, shaming them for supporting the event and giving them a lesson on the dangers of climate denialism.

LibertyCon, an annual student-led event held in Washington, D.C. for young libertarians, featured the CO2 Coalition—a group that asserts CO2 is actually good for the planet, and not a huge, human-accelerated contributor to climate change. When President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Treaty, the group wrote in “enthusiastic support” of the decision. Withdrawing from the Paris agreement made the United States one of only three UN member states to not to participate, taking the US out of the global conversation on how to reduce carbon emissions and slow the harm of climate change.

According to Mother Jones, the CO2 Coalition handed out brochures at the event with denial messaging, including claims that that “more carbon dioxide will help everyone, including future generations of our families” and that the “recent increase in CO2 levels has had a measurable, positive effect on plant life.” On its website, the organization attempts to debunk climate change and otherwise suggests that rising levels of CO2 are no big deal.Years of research have proven that this is false.

In the letter, dated January 25 and addressed to the CEOs of Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, Ocasio-Cortez and Pingree wrote:

We understand that sponsorship of an event or conference is a common occurrence and that these sponsorships do not automatically indicate that the company endorses the variety of political viewpoints that may be presented at these events. However, given the magnitude and urgency of the climate crisis that we are now facing, we find it imperative to ensure that the climate-related views espoused at LibertyCon do not reflect the values of your companies going forward.

As you are well aware, the spreading of misinformation can be dangerous to our society. Today’s coordinated campaign to deny climate change, or to put a positive spin on its effects, is not unlike that of the tobacco companies which once sought to discredit their product’s link to cancer. Their propaganda kept the nation from addressing a public health crisis for years, leading to many preventable deaths. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again with climate change.

Google provided a $25,000 sponsorship, while Facebook and Microsoft contributed $10,000 each.

In a statement to Mother Jones, a Google spokesperson said that “Google’s sponsorship or collaboration with a third party organization doesn’t mean that we endorse the organization’s entire agenda or agree with other speakers or sponsors.” Microsoft claimed that the company “work[s] with many groups on technology policy issues and do not expect or anticipate that any organization’s agenda will align to ours in all policy areas.”

But the notions being peddled at LibertyCon are ones that these companies have openly disavowed—last year, Microsoft unveiled plans for “reducing emissions in manufacturing and advancing environmental research,” while Google made renewable energy commitments. After President Donald Trump announced that the US would withdraw from the Paris Accord, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that stopping climate change “is something we can only do as a global community, and we have to act together before it’s too late.”