Just weeks after broadcasting Jordan Peterson's bizarre climate views to his 11 million listeners, Joe Rogan hosted another climate change skeptic, Randall Carlson. Rogan has been at the center of climate-related controversies in recent years, and recently activists called on Spotify – which exclusively broadcasts Rogan’s podcast – to take action against his COVID-19 misinformation. Carlson’s main beat is lost civilizations, hidden mathematics, and a unique brand of climate conspiracy and skepticism.
Sierra Club, a national environmental organization, highlighted its concerns about Carlson’s frequent appearances on The Joe Rogan Experience in an article published last September. According to climate journalist and founder of the Critical Frequency podcast network Amy Westervelt:
The Joe Rogan Experience, with its millions of listeners, has hosted Randall Carlson more than once to talk for hours on end about how Earth's natural cycles (and sunspots, volcanoes, etc., etc.) are really to blame for climate change while "the so-called consensus view" on climate is driven by politics. Rather than press him for evidence, Rogan gifted Carlson with the quip "that's the real inconvenient truth."
Carlson has appeared at least six times on the podcast since 2014. In those appearances, he has asserted that carbon dioxide is not driving global warming and that “natural factors” are driving climate change more than human factors. During his latest appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, Carlson expressed skepticism about sea level rise and stated, “The sun was actually a much more important factor in climate change than had been acknowledged.”
Despite the tepid assurances of Rogan’s guest, in the last year alone, we’ve seen blistering heat waves that killed hundreds of people in the U.S. and Canada, destructive wildfires, droughts that triggered the first ever water shortage in the country’s largest reservoir, and Hurricane Ida, which pummeled the South and unleashed “catastrophic” rains across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region.
Globally, the flooding that devastated Europe last summer was the most expensive disaster in the continent’s history. Summer flooding in China resulted in the third most expensive disaster in Asian history. 2021 was one of the seven hottest years on record, and “since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one,” according to the World Meteorological Organization.
To make matters more urgent, the window for meaningful climate action is rapidly closing. The warming detailed in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report – and experienced by tens of millions of people in America alone – represents a “code red” for humanity, according to the United Nations. Each degree of additional warming poses increasingly existential risks for humanity in terms of public health, economic well-being, and social cohesion. Staving off climate change’s worst consequences will require rapid decarbonization and an immediate transition to renewable energy. Considering that the cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of action, the time to act is now.
Yet Rogan is providing a massive platform to climate deniers and skeptics during a time when meaningful climate action remains tenuous at best. Hosting these voices also aids the fossil fuel industry’s billion-dollar campaign to erode the public consensus on climate change and thwart basic climate action.
The majority of Americans, and likely many in Rogan's audience, want the government to take action on climate change. His insistence on hosting climate skeptics serves no one, except perhaps fossil fuel executives.