“We are attacking what I am”: victim of a flood of online hatred, agro-climatologist Serge Zaka hits back

“We are attacking what I am”: victim of a flood of online hatred, agro-climatologist Serge Zaka hits back

Serge Zaka was insulted for his instantly recognizable look. Midi Libre – MICHAEL ESDOURRUBAILH

Thanks to a cold episode, many climate skeptics questioned climate change by violently attacking scientists like Serge Zaka. Which, without being disconcerted, explains why, we must not let anything pass.


It's becoming a habit, as soon as it's cold you experience hordes of insults online, explain to us?

Exactly. With each climatic episode, whether it is a drought, a heatwave, a frost…hellip; climatologists are insulted on social networks. We call into question the skills of scientists, popularizers… I found myself in a controversy which overwhelmed me a little. I received insults for three days, at a frantic pace, with dozens of notifications per minute…

You are contradicted…

No, just insulted. If it was about scientific facts, I would be happy to enter into the debate, but this is just online hatred.

What was it about this time?

In fact, there was a period of very high heat at the beginning of April due to global warming which accelerated the growth of plants which became very sensitive to the frost episode that we saw. I just explained this phenomenon by recalling some figures: in April, we broke 370 heat records compared to just one cold record. And the climate skeptics, as soon as temperatures drop, scream to say that there is no climate change, that we are exaggerating, that I am a charlatan paid by Macron and I am a charlatan. rsquo;on the way… While there was no exaggeration, just ask the farmers who spent sleepless nights battling this new bout of frost.

The last wave was particularly virulent ?

Yes, and it's getting tiring. Especially to receive this hatred from people who have no expertise on the subject. They are anonymous people, often from the extreme right, who have no legitimacy. I don't give my opinion, I give scientific facts and I don't do it behind a computer but in the field.

But you're used to it ?

Except that here, we are not attacking what I say but what I am. I wear a cowboy hat, everyone knows it, I appear on television regularly, and people attack me on my outfit, on my physique, my skills are questioned because I am not in a suit and tie on BFMTV… It was extremely violent.

François Hollande told us that climate skeptics had disappeared… Is this the case ?

Not really. Finally, a huge part of the silent majority understands climate change perfectly, but there remains a very vocal minority made up of political figures, well-known people, influencers… who seek to discredit the scientific statement. As far as I'm concerned, I'm being attacked with insults about the content of my thesis, which they obviously haven't read, or about my diplomas, which they don't know. . What I find aberrant is that they echo with complete impunity, without any moderation filter…hellip;

Could this make you withdraw from social networks ?

Certainly not, on the contrary. Being insulted by people who are inventing my life, I'm not going to give them credit. If someone contradicts me on my scientific discourse, I would be inclined to argue. But then it took on proportions, I received hundreds of insulting text messages and emails, plus it was my birthday, so it spoiled the party a bit because I couldn't sort it out. , nor see my professional emails…

Why did you answer it ?

Because lots of young people would like to talk about global warming and climate problems, but when they see what's happening, they don't dare. Eminent researchers are muzzled, stop talking about these issues to protect themselves…hellip; But I was delighted because I then received many messages of thanks for continuing to lead the fight. So, I still can't read my birthday messages (laughs).

As much as you have shared the online hate you are the subject of?

Yes and young people passionate about hydrology, agriculture, science, weather…hellip; spoke again. We must reverse the process and support them so that they can express themselves and debate. The general public must also, when they witness these online lynching sequences, whether it is about climatology, or any other discrimination on gender, sexuality, racism…& ;nbsp;we must intervene, we must not let this happen. There are many more of us than them. I'm fine, but I recognize that being more fragile, you can quickly become discouraged and feel very alone if others don't say anything. Afterwards, I have to say thank you, I gained 2,000 subscribers thanks to them. This is the case every time I respond to them. So, let them know, I won't stop! And I invite people to subscribe to real scientific accounts.

Additional investigation into the information war around climate

Cyberharassment around the climate crisis is at the heart of the next issue of Complément d’enquo;ecirc;e on France 2 this Thursday 2ê nbsp;May à 11 p.m. The investigative magazine presents by Tristan Waleckx suggests understanding how climate skeptics "twist the figures" to better manipulate opinion in order to "preserve their interests". Decrease credibility but also "play on éemotions", " the opposite to lead the climate fight.

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