Climate Change Denial
Science is not there for you to cherry pick…You can decide whether or not to believe in it but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth….People who deny climate change exists need to be mature enough to recognize something can be true even if you don’t like the consequences of it. That’s what it means to be a mature adult.
- Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, host of National Geographic and Cosmos
When politicians start analyzing the science, I don’t know what to say at that point,…are we going to wait until the coastlines get redrawn as the glaciers melt off of Antarctica and Greenland?
- Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, host of National Geographic and Cosmos
We’ve been dealing with a Congress where a significant portion of the other party thinks there’s no such thing as global warming,…if we had a different Congress, I think you’d see a more aggressive emissions legislation.
- Senator Joe Biden
It’s not surprising that the effort to manufacture consent to the belief that Global Warming doesn’t mean anything is pretty successful. What’s interesting about this is that it tells us something about the nature of our society. Those same CEO’s and managers who are trying to convince the public that it’s a liberal hoax know perfectly well that it’s extremely dangerous. They have the same beliefs that you and I have – they’re caught in a kind of institutional contradiction. As leaders of major corporations, they have an institutional role, that is, to maximize short term profit and if they don’t do that, they are out and someone else is in who will do it. So institutionally speaking, it’s not a choice that’s going to happen in the major institutions. So they may know that they are mortgaging the future of their children but they are caught in a trap of institutional structures – that’s what happens in market systems.
- Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky explains how Climate Change became the “Great Liberal Hoax”
Poignant lifelong climate denier converted by the movie “Chasing Ice”
Official trailer of the movie “Chasing Ice”
Who are you going to Believe?
The basic science behind climate change is very robust. To understand it, go here.
Figure 1: Who are you going to believe? The overwhelming majority of scientists in the world….or nonscientists with political and religious agendas?
The Motivation behind the Climate Change Denial Movement
I’m a scientist. I’m trained in medicine. They are very few things in all of science around which 97 percent of scientists agree. And then if you take that reality and project out to what a four degree Celsius or over seven degree Fahrenheit world would look like, the images that we now are hearing about, the way the world is going to look, is very frightening. One estimate suggests that if we don’t meet our emission targets, a 7.2 degree Fahrenheit world could happen as early as 2060. That means that when my three-year-old is my age, he’ll be living in this world where the coral reefs would have all been gone. The extreme heat wave that we saw in Russia in 2010 that killed 55,000 people would happen every summer.
- Jim Yong Kim, Head of World Bank
It seems perplexing that in the face of overwhelming scientific consensus, government is powerless to implement meaningful policies to address the issue in a meaningful way. We need to look deeper for the answers. Climate deniers are not all cut from the same stone but consists of an interesting mixture of varied demographics. A recent study here shows the demographic breakdown.
Climate change has become one of the most divisive issues of modern times, unfortunately, most of the information that reaches the public is biased due to a well run misinformation campaign by a well resourced minority. It would be helpful if such biases were removed and scientists could simply debate the real facts. However, this will never happen because the climate denial movement would lose were it to argue on facts. There is no scientific debate here, instead it is a political and media lobbying campaign and the one critical weapon that the climate denial coalition continually leverages is doubt. Doubt leads to inaction, delay and stalling of policy changes.
Scientists are used to defending scientific theory against their peers based on purely scientific reasoning and well researched evidence to support their claims. Healthy skepticism is an inherent and necessary part of science, but climate denialism is not science. It is not healthy scientific skepticism but rather a PR campaign by non scientists designed to protect financial interests and dogmatic views of the world. Below are the major demographics behind the climate denial movement. To address climate denial effectively requires developing strategies unique to each subgroup of deniers.
Figure 2: Key components of climate change denial machinery
The only sure way to dispel any uncertainty is to become educated yourself. On this page, we try to collect the best information on the web and put together a narrative that explains climate science to you so that you may be informed and not fall prey to the ubiquitous misinformation campaign.
The Fossil Fuel Industry
Fossil Fuel companies are valuated by their future reserves, but what happens when these future reserves are 5x more than what can be safely burned to stay below the safe limit agreed upon at the Copenhagen summit of 2009? – The answer is that they lose a majority of their valuation. Research by the global Carbon Tracker initiative reveals a huge carbon bubble which institutional investors are beginning to realize pose a large risk. Governments are beginning to get serious about staying below the 2 Deg safe limit and if they do, this will bring all these fossil fuel companies tumbling down. It exposes the gargantuan risk that drives the fear which motivates powerful industry leaders such as Exxon and Koch Industries to invest heavily in climate denialism and the subsequent relentless smear campaigns launched against reputable climate scientists the world over.
As a result of the need by institutional leaders to protect their vested interests, climate scientists the world over find themselves as targets of relentless smear campaigns – an unfamiliar position of defending their thesis in a public arena against media experts, nonscientists armed with loudspeakers, rhetoric and who can talk louder than they can. To no surprise, they are losing the battle in the arena of public opinion.
The voting public is, by and large scientifically illiterate in such complex matters as climate science and can have the wool pulled over their eyes easily by cherry picking from data and quoting data out of context. These are techniques that climate denialist often resort to, knowing full well that the complexity of the subject helps them to distort the truth easily. The tragic consequence is that unsubstantiated talk often trumps science in the arena of public opinion of the uneducated masses, with dire policy consequences.
British writer Matt Bruenig proposes another reason why Lilbertarians, republicans and conservatives have no choice but to deny climate change: George Monbiot of the Guardian writes an excellent explanation:
Bruenig explains what is now the core argument used by conservatives and libertarians: the procedural justice account of property rights. In brief, this means that if the process by which property was acquired was just, those who have acquired it should be free to use it as they wish, without social restraints or obligations to other people.
Their property rights are absolute and cannot be intruded upon by the state or by anyone else. Any interference with, or damage to, the value of their property without their consent – even by taxation – is an unwarranted infringement. This, with local variations, is the basic philosophy of the Republican candidates, the Tea Party movement, the lobby groups that call themselves “free market thinktanks” and much of the new right in the UK.
It is a pitiless, one-sided, mechanical view of the world, which elevates the rights of property over everything else, meaning that those who possess the most property end up with great power over others. Dressed up as freedom, it is a formula for oppression and bondage. It does nothing to address inequality, hardship or social exclusion. A transparently self-serving vision, it seeks to justify the greedy and selfish behaviour of those with wealth and power.
But, for the sake of argument, Bruenig says, let us accept it. Let us accept the idea that damage to the value of property without the owner’s consent is an unwarranted intrusion upon the owner’s freedoms. What this means is that as soon as libertarians encounter environmental issues, they’re stuffed.
Climate change, industrial pollution, ozone depletion, damage to the physical beauty of the area surrounding people’s homes (and therefore their value) – all these, if libertarians did not possess a shocking set of double standards, would be denounced by them as infringements on other people’s property.
The owners of coal-burning power stations in the UK have not obtained the consent of everyone who owns a lake or a forest in Sweden to deposit acid rain there. So their emissions, in the libertarian worldview, should be regarded as a form of trespass on the property of Swedish landowners. Nor have they received the consent of the people of this country to allow mercury and other heavy metals to enter our bloodstreams, which means that they are intruding upon our property in the form of our bodies.
Nor have they – or airports, oil companies or car manufacturers – obtained the consent of all those it will affect to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, altering global temperatures and – through rising sea levels, droughts, storms and other impacts – damaging the property of many people. As Bruenig says:
“Almost all uses of land will entail some infringement on some other piece of land that is owned by someone else. So how can that ever be permitted? No story about freedom and property rights can ever justify the pollution of the air or the burning of fuels, because those things affect the freedom and property rights of others. Those actions ultimately cause damage to surrounding property and people without getting any consent from those affected. They are the ethical equivalent – for honest libertarians – of punching someone in the face or breaking someone else’s window.”
So here we have a simple and coherent explanation of why libertarianism is so often associated with climate change denial, and the playing down or dismissal of other environmental issues. It would be impossible for the owner of a power station, steel plant, quarry, farm or any large enterprise to obtain consent for all the trespasses he commits against other people’s property – including their bodies.
This is the point at which libertarianism smacks into the wall of gritty reality and crumples like a Coke can. Any honest and thorough application of this philosophy would run counter to its aim: which is to allow the owners of capital to expand their interests without taxation, regulation or recognition of the rights of other people.
Libertarianism becomes self-defeating as soon as it recognises the existence of environmental issues. So they must be denied.
God Fearing Republicans – How American Evangelical beliefs may actually be Destroying the Planet
The study is based on data from the 2007 Cooperative Congressional Election Study which uncovered that belief in the “Second Coming” of Jesus reduced the probability of strongly supporting government action on climate change by 12 percent when controlling for a number of demographic and cultural factors. When the effects of party affiliation, political ideology, and media distrust were removed from the analysis, the belief in the “Second Coming” increased this effect by almost 20 percent.
The religious bias is most strongly present in the Republican party, the party that supports climate denialism and the oil industry. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. In 2010, he said he opposed action on climate change because “the Earth will end only when God declares it to be over.”
Barker and Bearce believe it is unlikely the United States would take action on climate change while so many Americans, particularly Republicans, believed in the coming end-times. “That is, because of institutions such as the Electoral College, the winner-take-all representation mechanism, and the Senate filibuster, as well as the geographic distribution of partisanship to modern partisan polarization, minority interests often successfully block majority preferences,” Barker and Bearce wrote. “Thus, even if the median voter supports policies designed to slow global warming, legislation to effect such change could find itself dead on arrival if the median Republican voter strongly resists public policy environmentalism at least in part because of end-times beliefs.”
(Source: Raw Story)
Debunking Climate Change Denial
The confusion caused by misinformation campaigns by denialists has succesfully confused the public and has led to policy stagnation. Democracy has no chance to work if voters are misinformed. Therefore, fighting the campaign based upon pseudo science is an important part of the battle for creating successful climate change policy. A leader in this fight is the website Skeptical Science.
Pacific Institute of Climate Science has a short video series entitled Clear the Air aimed at some of the more persistent myths about climate change
Debunking myths about the greenhouse effect
The sun’s influence
The human influence
The earth is cooling
Climate change consensus
Questions & Answers
- If you ask the fossil fuel industry or their cabal of pseudo-scientific think tanks, organizations, PR firms, politicians and biased scientists, the answer is no
- If you ask the overwhelming majority of independent, unbiased climate scientists (estimates as high as 97%), the answer is yes
One of the biggest challenges of climate science seems like it should be one of the easiest; measuring temperatures. However, regular and consistent global measurements of temperature didn’t begin until the late 19th century. When scientists want to understand what temperatures were like prior to that era, they have to use alternate means called proxies. The Paleo Index (PI) is one such set of 173 proxies and the temperature history constructed from the PI strongly correlate with that from the merged land-ocean surface temperature (MLOST) records developed by the National Climactic Data Center. Proxies from the PI can range from the types of ice crystals found in ice core samples to coral, mineral deposits in caves, lake and ocean sediments, as well as a few historical records like grape harvest dates.
NOAA produces Paleo Index, a proxy measure of global warming independent of the thermometer record
This strong correlation is further evidence that the temperature has indeed been increasing as claimed. Importantly, because the proxy data is completely independent of thermometer readings, it excludes interpretation of controversial techniques such as tree rings or urban heat islands which climate skeptics like to cite. An independently produced trend which agrees so well with the thermometer trend provides very strong evidence that warming is indeed taking place.
- 2,500 scientists in the IPCC
- The Union of Concerned Scientists
- The U.S. National Academy of Sciences
- The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- The U.S. Geological Survey
- The U.S. Military
- The CIA
- The Royal Society of London
- The Royal Society of Canada
- One’s sponsored by the Fossil Fuel Industry such as the Koch Brothers or Exxon Mobil (see the special Greenpeace Koch Brother expose)
How many climate denial scientists have been published in respectable peer reviewed journals and their findings accepted by their peers?
- Those who stand in denial of climate change have failed in the last 15 years to produce a SINGLE ACCEPTED, peer-reviewed scientific journal article that challenges the theory and evidence of human-induced climate change (source: James Hoggan, Desmogblog)
- Those articles that have been submitted to journals have been rebuked by the scientific community afterwards (see Dr. Willie Soon and Roy Spencer below)
- University of California, San Diego science historian Dr. Naomi Oreskes had published an analysis in Science in which she had combed through 928 peer-reviewed climate studies published between 1993 and 2003 and found not a single one that disagreed with the general scientific consensus.
Who are the Climate Denial organizations, individuals and who is funding them?
Is man-made climate change real? …the public
- The Brookings Institute released a report in April 2011 on the public opinion on climate change in the United States and Canada entitled Climate Compared: Public Opinion on Climate Change in the United States and Canada. In a survey of 2,130 people, the report found that there is a progressive decrease in the number of people who think there is “solid evidence of global warming” and an increase in the number who think there is no solid evidence:
- In the fall of 2008, 17 percent of people did not believe in global warming.
- In the fall of 2010, that number had increased to 26 percent.
- Even though the number of climate change believers has decreased, the majority of people still believed that the Earth is undergoing global warming and most of them (61 percent of Americans and 57 percent of Canadians) felt it was a “very serious” problem.
Is the media playing a role in swaying public opinion one way or the other?
Yes, in attempting to provide “balanced reporting” on the issue, journalists have consistently reported the updates from the best climate scientists in the world juxtaposed against the unsubstantiated raving of an industry-funded climate change denier – as if both are equally valid. This is not balanced journalism.
The mainstream media was, until very recently, trying to offer “balanced coverage” of the story (in more than half the cases, according to the academic researchers Boykoff and Boykoff) by:
- quoting one scientist talking about the risks then interviewing
- one purported expert saying that climate change was not happening
Are scientists and environmentalist doing a good job representing climate change?
Not really…they need a bit of help on the communications side. Scientists are partly to blame for the publics perceptions. Unlike the wiley politicians employed by fossil fuel interests, scientists are not PR experts and are not steeped in the skills required to communicate their findings to the lay public. Their use of their normal technical, dense, cautious and conditional language in conveying the threats of climate change can alienate a poorly educated public. In science, this strict language is necessary as credibility is a top priority and a scientist who strays, even momentarily, off the path of certainty or who wanders from hard science into policy is dismissed by his/her peers.
Environmentalists have a tendency to exaggerate and extrapolate scientific assumptions to create doom and gloom stories so disheartening that they create apathy rather than activism. This tendency decreases the credibility of climate change and is easily preyed upon by the energy industry’s climate change deniers.
What is the main weapon of climate change deniers?
Doubt. Climate Denialism is a triumph of disinformation – one of the boldest and most extensive PR campaigns in history, primarily financed by the energy industry and executed by some of the best PR talent in the world.
Former Republican political advisor Frank Luntz influenced Republican policy on climate change denial. He urged them to marshal their own “scientists” to contest the issue on every occasion. He urged them to plead for “sound science” a twist of language of the sort that George Orwell once said was “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidarity to pure wind.”
Luntz’s goal – which was embraced with unnerving enthusiasm by the Bush Administration – was to manufacture uncertainty and to politicize science.
“The Scientific Debate Remains Open. Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field.”
… So the strategy was a conscious and deliberate strategy to sow doubt in order to make people think that we didn’t really know for sure and therefore it would be inappropriate for the government to regulate the product. And that’s the strategy that they use over and over again. So it’s really important for the public to understand this, to know that if you hear somebody saying, “Oh, well, we don’t really know, the science is not really settled, there’s a lot of questions about it,” then a little antenna should go up that this might be a doubt-mongering campaign designed to undermine the science to avoid action. – Naomi Oreskes, Historian and climate change researcher
Is short term weather pattern a vindication or denial of global warming?
Climate change is NOT weather. Climate change is a long term phenomena while weather is a day to day experience. Harsh winters are used as evidence of no global warming while scorching summers are used to support the viewpoint of human-caused warming of the Earth. Individual seasonal weather events such as a “snowmageddon” or heat waves cannot be directly attributed to either argument of the climate change debate because such events alone are temporary affects. Climate change, on the other hand, is a long-term problem. However, an increasing frequency of such extreme weather events can be another indication that climate change is in fact a reality.
There is an asymmetry between these two views:
- Climate Change Deniers hold that emissions have negligible effect on global mean temperature and that the changes we are observing are ONLY DUE TO naturally occurring processes
- Climate Change Supporters hold that emissions have significant effect on global mean temperature but ALSO that natural processes are also occurring. They don’t deny that natural changes will cause temperature fluctuations on Earth. However, their argument is that in the current cycle of climate change, the impact caused by man is significant
In summary, it’s not a fair fight between scientists, but rather an unfair one pitting fossil fuel industry interests and their PR and political agents vs scientists….with the fossil fuel industry players will use every dirty trick in the book to distort the truth. Indeed, some climate scientists are now being threatened with their lives for trying to share their latest findings! At stake is the future, not only of humanity but of the entire planetary ecosystem for an indeterminate number of decades or centuries.
The hard science supports man-made climate change in just about every possible way. The battle is no longer in science, but in the arena of public opinion and it is important to be aware of the individuals and organizations propagating misinformation and confusion so that we can make the right choices.
Climategate – an example of the distortion machine at work
A video which explains how personal bias distorted facts into fiction of climategate
An example of classic right wing propaganda is illustrated by the so-called Climategate incidents in which emails were leaked that “exposed” deceit on the part of climate scientists. There is an excellent article by blogger Steve Zwick at Forbes entitled “Climategate 2.0″ Looks More Like Climatefluff 3½ debunking the Heartland Institutes “senior fellow” for environmental policy, James Taylor as he attempts to media spin these emails to appear as if there were intentional deceit. In reality, what Mr. Zwick has done is to expose the seedy tactics of the Heartland Institute and other right wing think tanks supported by big oil.
Reading the Heartland Institute’s statements out of context, one would be inclined to believe these scientists were hiding something sinister from the public. It’s only when one digs deeper that one really see’s that there is no sinister plot at all…just healthy discussion between scientists using a language that is very specific to science.
Example 1: Quote from an email from East Anglia climatologist Phil Jones
“I’ve been told that IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is above national FOI (freedom of information) Acts,” wrote Jones. “One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 (The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report) would be to delete all emails at the end of the process”
This sounds so sinister, with apparent references to dodging FOIAs and deleting e-mails, until one considers a few points:
First, FOI laws generally apply to official communication between government officials – not to private mails, and not to early drafts of research papers. That’s especially important to researchers, whose deepest fears involve publishing something that has a fundamental error in it – a fear that Wingnuts and, unfortunately, most journalists, seem immune to. They avoid this by first incubating ideas in private or in brainstorming sessions, then showing them to a few peers, testing them, refining them, and only then exposing them to the formal process of peer review. This is a grueling enough process without them having to justify their every utterance to some crackpot in the backwoods of Alabama who wants to talk about sunspots and the Apocalypse.
Granted, the legal and moral debate over the countervailing principles of transparency and privacy is a sticky one, and climate scientists are in a gray area. Their work impacts us all, but the nature of that work requires them being able to contemplate the impossible and explore strange ideas without having to present half-baked ideas as finished products.
Second, in response to the above, the IPCC has established rules of transparency – for both during and after the peer-review process.
“At the end of the IPCC process, chapters, formal comments and responses are all published and that is the appropriate place for this information,”explained Jones – who, it should be noted, didn’t even participate in the Fifth Assessment Report aluded to above. “It is important that scientists should be allowed free and frank discussion during the writing process.”
Finally, we have to differentiate between legitimate requests for information and frivolous attempts to derail research. Right-wing activists, for example, have been blitzing climatologists with unprecedented requests for early, annotated rough drafts of everything they publish – whether relevant to the outcomes or not. This takes up valuable time, and is equivalent to denial-of-service attacks that hackers use to crash a company’s servers by overwhelming it with requests. I’d love to see Heritage deal with a similar barrage.
Example 2: Quote from an email from East Anglia climatologist Phil Jones
“Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we get – and has to be well hidden,” he wrote in the mail. “I’ve discussed this with the main funder (U.S. Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data.”
Anyone who’s ever done statistical analysis using multiple data sets gathered via different means knows what this is about. You end up with some data that you trust and some that you don’t, so you build your analysis on the data that you do trust and “hide” the rest of it in an appendix, or just footnote it.
“‘Hidden’ refers here to some of the work on data collection and management,” wrote Jones last week. “This is a common issue in some areas of climate research and refers to issues of an operational nature and research aspects. An obvious example is updating earlier data sets within a new project. Most funders are fully aware that this is common practice.”
“Hidden” doesn’t mean it’s locked away in a box, out of view and inaccessible. It just means that it’s not the foundation of analysis. Anyone who wants to is free to do with this data what they want – as Richard Muller showed last month. He’s the Berkley scientist who felt the IPCC had left out too much data, so he ran his own analysis using the data that he thought should be included – and found it showed that temperatures were rising even fasterthan the cautious scientists of the IPCC had claimed.
“The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what’s included and what is left out,” wrote Jonathan Overpeck, coordinating lead author for the IPCC’s most recent climate assessment, back in 2004– words that sound oddly like advice to someone writing a paper.
Heartland Institute’s Taylor cites this quotation to prove it supports his premise that the latest mails “reveal the scientists’ attempts to politicize the debate and advance predetermined outcomes.”
Overpeck was simply giving advice on how to whittle a complex piece of work down to a half-page summary, according to British reporter Juliette Jowit.
Taylor conveniently left out the following (which Jowit pulled from the same e-mail that produced the above quote):
“For the IPCC, we need to know what is relevant and useful for assessing recent and future climate change,” Overpeck continued. “Moreover, we have to have solid data – not inconclusive information.”
Peter Thorne, a research scientist with the Met Office Hadley Centre was quoted out of context with this statement:
“Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others,” he wrote to Phil Jones in February, 2005. “This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary…I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.”
Thorne was referring to a long abandoned and very early draft of the IPCC fourth assessment observations chapter that he was asked to review informally as part of the accepted report preparation pathway. The final draft incorporated his critiques – another example of the IPCC’s efforts to include all views.
Tom Wigley, of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research was quoted as saying:
“Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive … there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC,” he wrote in an open mail to Mann and others in October, 2009.
Wigley was not criticizing Michael Mann, but a separate post on RealClimate by contributor Gavin Schmidt (a climate modeller at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies)
Gavin pointed out:
“It was my figure – nothing to do with Mike, and I used it in thisRealClimate post,” he wrote. “I disagreed (and disagree) with Wigley, as I stated in response at the time. There is an update to the figurehere, and I will update it again in a month or so.”
What is happening is an extract from a normal healthy scientific debate; kicking around ideas, criticizing each other, disagreeing, getting angry, and changing their views as new information comes to light – all in a valiant effort to create a massive document summarizing complex scientific issues on which there is broad consensus but disagreement on minor issues. The areas of disagreement, by the way, are on the degree to which man is causing the climate to change – NOT on whether it’s happening or whether man is the cause.
“The massive denial machine is intent on distorting anything that doesn’t fit their worldview – a Borg-like monstrosity that believes everyone who disagrees with them is just as dogmatic and closed-minded as they are. Somewhere in the middle we have real conservatives who are just as disgusted by the wingnuts as I am. I know they are out there, because I’ve heard from them — scores of them — since I started this blog.”
Zwick wrote this to the Heartland Institute:
Exposing the Fraudsters
It’s one thing if those who question climate change are independent scientists offering unbiased, opposing views based on sound science. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Some of the notables in the movement are shown below. For a complete list, click on our Climate Denier’s name page.
The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.
- Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group
In 2010, Greenpeace outed the Koch Brothers in a report entitled: Koch Brothers secretly funding the Climate Denial Machine
With this revelation, the public can now see that the previously low key Koch Brothers are one of the main supporters of Climate Denialism, pumping $55 million USD into it. Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch have a vested interest in delaying climate action:they have made billions through their oil company Koch Industries, the second largest privately-held company in America (and one with an extremely poor environmental record).
The Koch Brothers sponsor a vast network of front organizations posing as independent think tanks which the news organizations use as cheap copy masquerading as informed, independent reporting dug up by the diligence of their staff. This gives the illusion that many different independent organizations are coming to the same conclusion when in reality they are all towing the one view of the Koch Brothers.
Koch Brother Network of Sponsored and Affiliated Organizations (Source: Headcount.org)
Koch Brother Network of Sponsored and Affiliated Organizations (Source: Northerngaijin Blogspot)
The Rolling Stone ran an informative article on the 17 top polluters and deniers. Check them out.
To find out which media companies are affiliated with the Koch Brothers, click here
In James Hoggan’s book Climate Cover-Up, Hoggan provides an example from a Nov 2, 2002 in the form of Republican political advisor Frank Luntz.
Luntz did the research, identified the soft spots in public opinion and he made a clever critical judgment about which way the public could be induced to move.
In a section entitled “Winning the Global Warming Debate,” Luntz says this:
“The Scientific Debate Remains Open. Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field.”
Luntz never expressly denies the validity of the science. In fact, he says, “The scientific debate is closing [against us] but is not yet closed.” Luntz wrote: “There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science.” He recommended that his Republican Party clients do just that. He urged them to marshal their own “scientists” to contest the issue on every occasion. He urged them to plead for “sound science” a twist of language of the sort that George Orwell once said was “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidarity to pure wind.”
Luntz’s goal – which was embraced with unnerving enthusiasm by the Bush Administration – was to manufacture uncertainty and to politicize science. Luntz himself actually backed off this position a couple of years later, saying that the evidence of climate change was overwhelming.
Since 2001, Willie Soon has received direct funding for his research of $1.033 million from Big Coal and Big Oil interests. In contrast, he received $842,079 from conventional government or university funders in the same period. The last grant he received from a funder with no ties to dirty energy interests was in 2002 (a grant that carried through to 2006). Since then, he has been entirely funded by the fossil fuel industry.
The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation gave two grants to Dr. Soon totaling $175,000. The 2005-6 grant for $110,000 from the “Koch Foundation” is titled “Koch/Mobile [sic] Charitable foundation.” This two year grant came from the Charles G. Koch Foundation according to Media Matters Transperancy.
After graduating in science (Bachelor and Masters), Dr. Soon received his Ph.D in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California (USC) in 1991.
His thesis focussed on “Collisional-radiative properties of high-temperature, partially ionized nitrogen, oxygen, helium and hydrogen plasmas at conditions relevant to the Earth’s atmosphere.” He has never had any formal training as a climatologist and stated, in a reply to Sen. Jeffords in 2003 after a Congressional testimony, that one of his main teachers in climate science was denier David Legates.
After graduating, Dr. Soon began work at the Mt. Wilson Observatory. The chair of Mt Wilson’s Board of Trustees was climate denier Robert Jastrow, who set up the George C Marshall Institute, the think tank that was arguably the first to engage in active climate denial, as documented by science historian Naomi Oreskes in the book “Merchants of Doubt”.
Dr. Soon is now employed as astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory (SAO). He is most famous for his work with fellow astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas, writing the first paper that attempted to challenge the ‘hockey stick’ graph of temperature records published by Dr Michael Mann.
Roy Spencer and William Braswell
US fossil industry sponsored scientists Roy Spencer and William Braswell recently submitted a controversial paper to the journal Remote Sensing which was immediately seized upon and publicized widely by Fox News and the authors themselves. It was cited by climate deniers as proof that man-made climate change was bogus. Now, the editor of the journal has resigned.
The following is an excerpt from a September 2, 2011 article entitled Bombshell: Journal Editor Resigns over Flawed Spencer paper from Peter Sinclair’s website, Climate Denial Crock of the Week
The editor of a science journal has resigned after admitting that a recent paper casting doubt on man-made climate change should not have been published.
The paper, by US scientists Roy Spencer and William Braswell, claimed that computer models of climate inflated projections of temperature increase.
It was seized on by “sceptic” bloggers, but attacked by mainstream scientists.
Wolfgang Wagner, editor of Remote Sensing journal, says he agrees with their criticisms and is stepping down.
One month ago, a paper by Roy Spencer and William Braswell was published in the journal Remote Sensing arguing that far less future global warming will occur than the scientific community currently anticipates. This highly controversial finding – controversial since it is at odds with observations, basic understanding of atmospheric physics, models, and with what most scientists think we know about climate science — was seized upon by climate change deniers and skeptics and broadcast loud and far.
While other climate experts quickly pointed to fatal flaws in the paper, it received a great deal of attention from certain media. In something of a media frenzy, Fox News, the authors themselves in press releases and web comments, Forbes, in a column by a lawyer at the Heartland Institute, Drudge, and others loudly pointed to this as evidence that the vast array of science on climate change was wrong.
The staggering news today is that the editor of the journal that published the paper has just resigned, with a blistering editorial calling the Spencer and Braswell paper “fundamentally flawed,” with both “fundamental methodological errors” and “false claims.” That editor, Professor Wolfgang Wagner of the Vienna University of Technology in Austria, is a leading international expert in the field of remote sensing. In announcing his resignation, Professor Wagner says “With this step I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements.”
More comment and explanation below, and a video to remind us that this pattern is not new.
The climate denial industry pushes a flawed paper into a niche journal, then blows the results up grossly out of proportion to the actual merits of the paper.
There are very few articles published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature that challenge the consensus that human-induced climate change is real and significant.
None have stood the test of time.
A new article by Spencer & Braswell is following the common trajectory of many such papers:
- The article is published in a non-mainstream journal, following inadequate peer-review.
- Press releases from the authors exaggerate/distort the contents of the article to inflate its significance and increase the attention given to it.
- News of the article spreads like wild-fire around the blogosphere.
- Some media outlets take the press release and exaggerate it further still, so that the information that finally reaches the public has almost no relation to the original article.
- Within days, experts in the field show that the original article is fatally flawed; but by now the damage is done.
- For years into the future, the article is quoted by deniers of human-induced climate change as evidence that the science is uncertain.
A key example would be the work of Willie Soon and Sally Balliunas, which inspired most of the editors of another journal to resign back in 2003. The story is told here (start at 2:20 if you want to cut to the chase..):
What made this paper so fatally flawed and toxic? John Abraham gives us more details –
It is remarkable that an Editor-in-Chief has stepped down from his role at a journal because of the publication of a flawed paper. This significant event reflects on the significance of the flaws in the paper and the review process. It is commendable that Wolfgang Wagner has reacted responsibly to the situation.
Wolfgang Wagner’s resignation was in response to the publication of a deeply flawed paper by Roy Spencer and William Braswell. Dr. Spencer and his colleagues have a long history of minimizing the effects of human-caused climate change; they also have a long history of making serious technical errors. This latest paper is only one in a decade-long track record of errors that have forced Dr. Spencer to revise his work as the errors are brought to light. The Spencer group is well known in the scientific community for publishing high-profile papers that initially dispute global warming and only later are found to be faulty.
This latest article reportedly showed that the climate is not as sensitive to increases in greenhouse gases. It also called into question the cause-and-effect relationship between clouds and climate change. Wolfgang’s resignation was based on the quality of the review the paper received and the obvious technical errors which the paper contained. Additionally, the Editor protested the press release which accompanied the paper. That press release, which was titled “New NASA data blow gaping hole in global alarmism”, received an incredible amount of attention from various news organizations such as FOX News.
What are some of the errors?
There are a number of technical errors, only some of which are listed here:
- The heat capacity of the climate in the Spencer/Braswell paper was too small.
- The Spencer/Braswell paper did not recognize that climate models which perform best are those that simulate El Nino cycles most accurately
- Spencer/Braswell treated ocean heating as random events, which they are not.
- Spencer/Braswell only showed models which supported their assertion. They did not show models which disagreed with their results
- Spencer/Braswell made an error on the causal relationship between climate change and clouds.
US Military acting upon Man-made Climate Change
It may not matter that the Koch Brothers are the 3rd wealthiest entities in America. In spite of all their personal self-worth, they are no match for the might of the US Military.
The US Military is like a nation onto itself. It is the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels and has a vast network of infrastructure for conducting scientific experiments. It naturally has a vested interest in knowing whether climate change is real or not and has in fact, been a major role player in the scientific study of the climate. The good news for the 99% and the bad news for the climate denial movement is that the US Military is emphatically siding with the consensus of scientific research that Climate Change is real and caused by human beings….after all, a lot of it was done with their human and infrastructure resources!
“We must recognise that security means more than defence.” Part of this entails pressing past “a strategy of containment to a strategy of sustainment (sustainability)” and that climate change is “already shaping a ‘new normal’ in our strategic environment”.
“Climate change and energy are two key issues that will play a significant role in shaping the future security environment.”
– from “A National Strategic Narrative” , a report written by two special assistants to chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Mike Mullen.
The DOD is actively “developing policies and plans to manage the effects of climate change on its operating environment, missions and facilities”.
– from Pentagon’s Feb 2010 Quadrennial Defence Review Report
“Climate change, from the Military Advisory Board’s perspective, presents significant risks to America’s national security.”
– from CNA Corporation, a nonprofit that conducts research for the Navy and Marines
The Army Environmental Policy Institute, theNational Intelligence Council and the Centre for a New American Securityhave issued similar reports on the dangers of runaway climate change and what it could mean for geopolitics.
CIA will not release its studies on Global Warming
In 2009, the CIA established a Center on Climate Change and National Security dedicated to researching the implications of rising sea levels, declining agricultural yields and other climate change impacts.
When a National Security Archive historian asked the CIA for a copy of any impact studies or reports the center has done in March 2010, the CIA responded on Sept 2011 that such material is“currently and properly classified and must be denied in its entirety.” The CIA has consulted with the top scientific research institutes investigating climate change, including the US military, who support climate change. One can only surmise at the reasons but suffice it to say that if there was no security threat, it would be released. The fact that it has been denied in its entirety leads one to guess that the scenarios are scary indeed.
Here’s the response letter:
Dear Mr. Richelson:
This is a final response to your 1 March 2010 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for “Any studies or reports (greater than 5 pages In length) produced by the CIA Center on Climate Change and National Security concerning Impacts of global warming. ” We processed your request in accordance with the FOIA~ 5 U.S. C. § 552~ as amended, and the CIA Information Act, 50 U.S.C. § 431, as amended. Our processing included a search for records as described in our 22 March 2010 acceptance letter existing through the date of that letter.
We completed a thorough search for records responsive to your request and located material that we detennined is currently and properly classified and must be denied in its entirety on the basis of FOIA exemptions (b)(l) and (b)(3). Exemption (b)(3) pertains to information exempt from disclosure by statute. The relevant statute is the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949, 50 U .S.C. § 403, as amended, e.g.,
Section 6, which exempts from the disclosure requirement information pertaining to the organization, functions, including those related to the protection ofintelligence sources and methods, names, official titles~ salaries, and numbers of personnel employed by the Agency. An explanation of exemptions is enclosed. As the CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator,. I am the CIA official responsible for this determination. You have the right to appeal this response to the Agency Release Panel, in my care, within 45 days from the date of this letter. Please include the basis of your appeal.
Information and Privacy Coordinator
Climate Deniers may have hit a hard unmovable wall in the form of the US Military. While uncertainty is an inherent quality of doing science, politicians supported by big oil have exploited it to create confusion and policy inaction. For the military, however, uncertainty and risk analysis is part of their daily life. The US Military has its own formidable scientific research division and they base their policies and actions on conclusive evidence derived from their own research. Much of the military’s research has, in fact gone into the very reports that climate deniers are challenging.
For years, top military brass have acknowledged that climate change is real. After extensively analyzing their data, national security advisors are comfortable in issuing dire warnings of the risk of climate change including drought, food and water shortages, massive migration and conflict that arises out of it …..scenarios that could not only threaten local populations around the world, but strategic global US resources…. all the kinds of things that impact the job of the military.
Another Bad Day for Climate Deniers
Given the profound implications of climate change, the stakes couldn’t be higher. It helps that some former Climate Denial scientists are switching sides. For instance, one of the most prominent global warming skeptics, whose research has been funded by the Koch Brothers is changing is his tune.
Some Informative Books on Climate Denialism
Starting in the early 1990s, three large American industry groups set to work on strategies to cast doubt on the science of climate change. Even though the oil industry’s own scientists had declared, as early as 1995, that human-induced climate change was undeniable, the American Petroleum Institute, the Western Fuels Association (a coal-fired electrical industry consortium) and a Philip Morris-sponsored anti-science group called TASSC all drafted and promoted campaigns of climate change disinformation.
The success of those plans is self-evident. A Yale/George Mason University poll taken late in 2008 showed that — 20 years after President George H.W. Bush promised to beat the greenhouse effect with the “White House effect” — a clear majority of Americans still say they either doubt the science of climate change or they just don’t know. Climate Cover-Up explains why they don’t know. Tracking the global warming denial movement from its inception, public relations advisor James Hoggan (working with journalist Richard Littlemore), reveals the details of those early plans and then tracks their execution, naming names and exposing tactics in what has become a full-blown attack on the integrity of the public conversation.
Leveraging four years of original research conducted through Hoggan’s website, DeSmogBlog.com, Hoggan and Littlemore documented the participation of lapsed scientists and ExxonMobil-funded think tanks. Then they analyzed and explained how mainstream media stood by — or in some cases colluded — while deniers turned a clear issue of science (and an issue for public safety) into a partisan argument that no one could win.
This book will open your eyes, it will raise your ire and, most especially, it will inspire you to take back the truth — to end the Climate Cover-up.
“Climate Cover-Up documents one of the most disgusting stories ever hidden about corporate disinformation. What you’ll discover in this book amounts to proof of an intergenerational crime.”
DAVID SUZUKI, Author of The Sacred Balance and Good News for a Change.
“This book explains how the propaganda generated by self-interest groups has purposely created confusion about climate change. It’s an imperative read for a successful future.”
LEONARDO DICAPRIO, Actor and Producer
“To those of us who have been unknowingly made to turn a blind eye to the terrifying and true facts about global warming, there’s no time left for ignorance. Please read this shocking and incredible book, learn how we’ve been manipulated, get angry and take action.”
NEVE CAMPBELL, Actor and Producer
“A clear and courageous battle cry against those who, for profit’s sake, would lead us to environmental and, ultimately, economic ruin.”
LESTER BROWN, Author of Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization
“An exposé of planetary scale.”
JAMES E. HANSEN, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
“Forget about the crime of the century – this probably qualifies as the crime of the geological epoch.”
BILL MCKIBBEN, Author of Deep Economy and The End of Nature
“A compelling, sometimes chilling explanation of how public safety has been sacrificed on the altar of private interest.”
CHRIS MOONEY, Author of The Republican War on Science
“Absolutely superb – one of the best dissections of the climate misinformation I have ever seen. This is one terrific piece of work!”
ROSS GELBSPAN, Author of The Heat Is On
“Through impeccably document analysis, Climate Cover-Up exposes the well-oiled propaganda campaign designed to manufacture dissent and uncertainty about the science of global warming. It is essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of democracy.”
ANDREW WEAVER, Author of Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World
“An important and disturbing book about the lies and corrupt language that government and industry still employ to dismiss the facts on global warming.”
ANDREW NIKIFORUK, Author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent
“Climate Cover-Up reveals how strategic corporate public relations, an unwitting media, and feckless scientists have created a rhetoric-driven public conversation that defies logic and reason. If you are interested in positive social change on climate issues, this book is a must-read.”
FRANKLIN D. GILLIAM JR, Dean, School of Public Affairs and Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles
“Jim Hoggan in this essential book illuminates our folly, even as he points a way forward with hope.”
WADE DAVIS, Author of The Serpent and the Rainbow
“Climate Cover-Up clears the way for a new era of honesty and climate progress.”
TZEPORAH BERMAN, Campaign Director and Founder, Forest Ethics
“If you want the full, detailed story of the manufactured opposition to climate science and climate action, look no further than James Hoggan’s comprehensive and compelling Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming (Greystone, 2009). It’s the real story on climate change and the media, with footnotes.”
ALEX STEFFEN, World Changing
“Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming is a remarkable deconstruction of what he argues is a carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign whose goal is to set the agenda in climate policy by discrediting legitimate science and manipulating public perceptions of the scientific evidence…I have no doubt that Climate Cover-up is going to stir up controversy, particularly in the United States where many of these strategies were deployed and fine-tuned.”
STEPHEN HUME, Vancouver Sun
“Climate Cover-Up should be as big and influential as the Hidden Persuaders was; it exposes how truth gets twisted, how lies become opinions worthy of editorial pages, how Exxon greases the whole process.”
LLOYD ALTER, Tree Hugger
“Hoggan’s must-read book describes in disturbing detail the well-oiled campaign to confuse the public and confound the science, creating enough doubt to thwart meaningful action and protect a world economic order built around the burning of oil, coal, and natural gas.”
TYLER HAMILTON, Toronto Star
“This book will open your eyes, it will raise your ire and, most especially, it will inspire you to take back the truth — to end the Climate Cover-up.”
“Hoggan’s book is a thoughtful and sustained exposure of a movement which has done great harm. I read it with close interest and shared his dismay. I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand how denial has had such a charmed run. His presentation is painstaking and reasonable. There’s nothing shrill about it, and his justifiable anger is relatively muted.”
CELSIAS, Clean Techies
““The writing is a well-researched investigation into the continuing fabrication of the defence of Climate Change “scepticism”, which amounts to a long narrative of invention, first of outright denial of the science of Global Warming, then of foot-dragging delay being urged on all Governments.”
“Climate Cover-Up is an example of anger channeled into real, sharp, relevant and useful work.”
MO BEITIKS, Inhabit
“Climate Cover-Up is an indispensable guidebook to anyone concerned about our planet’s climate future; in fact, it should be required reading for all American citizens, journalists, public policy makers — and President Barack Obama.”
JEFF BIGGERS, Huffington Post
“James Hoggan’s new book Climate Cover-Up (Greystone Books) is a must-read for anyone concerned about the biggest, most pervasive effort ever at manipulating the media by some of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations.”
BILL TIELMAN, The Tyee
“Hoggan and Littlemore have produced a cracking book that, while it may not actually fix anything in itself, provides a valuable lesson about a noxious set of practices — practices that still persist, but which now can be better understood and suitably dealt with. Use this as an ideal primer in the world of Climate Change Denial, but choose your own actions: it’s your world.”
“In brief, this is a must-read book. I’ve read a lot of climate/energy books over the past couple of years (trying to glean how to get the message across to the public); this is one of the two best books on the subject you will find, even if you aren’t involved in the issue at all. “
Consider it required reading for anyone remotely interested in a livable climate, or defending public interest from industry. Although, fair warning: You will probably be angry (or angrier) at the status quo after reading this. It certainly makes me want to take a stronger stand than before… maybe I can find a way to link studies of PR and denialism into my grad studies…”
BRIAN D, Left as an Excercise
“This book will open your eyes, it will raise your ire and, most especially, it will inspire you to take back the truth — to end the Climate Cover-up. This is a must-read book.”
“This book isn’t some silly bit of finger-waving by activists, but a concise, well-researched (thanks in large part to my friend, Kevin Grandia) piece of journalism by people who have been immersed in the PR industry for decades.”
HARRY TOURNEMILLE, The Threshold
“James Hoggan’s Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming is a valuable expose of the efforts that have been made by self-interested actors to prevent political action on climate change, by manipulating the public debate and confusing people about the strength of the science….Climate Cover-Up succeeds in its key purpose: revealing that not everyone is engaging in the climate debate in an honest or ethical manner.”
A Sibilant Intake of Breath
“His new book, Climate Cover-Up, examines the campaign from this perspective and…through meticulously documented analysis, lays out the deliberate, nefarious, and immoral campaign to manipulate the public discourse on climate change.”
BEN JERVEY, Tree Hugger
“Warning: reading their well-documented book may make you angry, when you realize how much you’ve been lied to, about one of the most important issues of our time.”
Little Green Footballs
“Climate Cover-Up is substantially easier to read than most books about climate change. The prose is witty and easy to follow. It doesn’t talk about science. It feels nothing like a textbook. I’d like everyone in the world to read this book. But truthfully, I’d rather that it hadn’t needed to be written at all.”
“Climate Cover-Up, the fascinating, funny and beautifully-written new book by James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore.”
GEORGE MONBIOT, Idiots in Power
“Their new book is a chilling description of greed, conflicts of interest and the oil and coal industries’ shenanigans; it picks up where other books, like Ross Gelbspan’s “The Heat Is On” (1997) and “Boiling Point” (2004), left off.”
“The book does a very thorough job of documenting the history of sometimes despicable attempts by various vested interests and contrarians to discredit climate science.”
The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on public health, environmental science, and other issues affecting the quality of life. Our scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers.
In their new book, Merchants of Doubt, historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway explain how a loose–knit group of high-level scientists, with extensive political connections, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. In seven compelling chapters addressing tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole, global warming, and DDT, Oreskes and Conway roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how the ideology of free market fundamentalism, aided by a too-compliant media, has skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.
Naomi Oreskes is one of the world’s leading historians of science. Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Geosciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, her research focuses on consensus and dissent in science. She has won numerous prizes for her work, and has lectured widely in diverse venues ranging from the Madison, Wisconsin, Civics Club to the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Her 2004 essay “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” cited by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth, led to Op-Ed pieces in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and to Congressional testimony in the U.S Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
… So the strategy was a conscious and deliberate strategy to sow doubt in order to make people think that we didn’t really know for sure and therefore it would be inappropriate for the government to regulate the product. And that’s the strategy that they use over and over again. So it’s really important for the public to understand this, to know that if you hear somebody saying, “Oh, well, we don’t really know, the science is not really settled, there’s a lot of questions about it,” then a little antenna should go up that this might be a doubt-mongering campaign designed to undermine the science to avoid action.
In the book, we were trying to track the whole denial campaign to its origins, and we tracked a very significant part of the campaign to this one particular think tank, the George C. Marshall Institute, which was founded by three physicists in 1984: Robert Jastrow, William Nierenberg and Frederick Seitz. (The George C. Marshall Institute (GMI) is a “non-profit” organization funded by the profits from oil and gas interests and right-wing funders)
… I don’t know if environmentalists were naïve, but I think scientists were really naïve. Scientists thought if they just explained it clearly and they just got politicians to understand what was at stake, then of course politicians would act. They could have taken Political Science 101 and known that wasn’t true. This is a huge issue, right? The entire economy of the world rests on burning fossil fuels, so we have to take that very seriously and realize there’s going to be enormous opposition.
I think we have underestimated the power and the strength of the opposition. And then combine that with the general inertia of people. This story isn’t just about the fossil fuel industry, although of course they play an important role, but it’s also about all of us, about how none of us want to be told that the way we live is bad, nobody wants to be told, “You’re a bad, evil person because you drive a car.” We need an exit strategy, we need a plan for what it looks like going forward, and I don’t think we’ve been very effective in that. I think we’ve spent too much time focusing on the science and fighting back against these doubt-mongering campaigns when what we should have just said is: “Look, we know the science. The real question is, what does the energy profile for the future look like, and how do we get there?”
Oreskes’s research highlighted the disconnect between the state of scientific debate and the way it was being presented in the mass media and perceived by the American people. Teaming up with Erik Conway, her further research soon suggested that the reason we are all confused is that people have been trying to confuse us. The resulting book is Merchants of Doubt.
Erik Conway is a historian of science and technology residing in Pasadena, CA. He is currently employed by the California Institute of Technology. He studies and documents the history of space exploration, and examines the intersections of space science, Earth science, and technological change. He most recently received the 2009 NASA History award for “pathbreaking contributions to space history ranging from aeronautics to Earth and space sciences,” and the 2009 AIAA History Manuscript Award for his fourth book, “Atmospheric Science at NASA: A History.”
Conway became a historian after serving as an officer in the US Navy in the early 1990s, where he had minor roles in planning the US withdrawal from Somalia and the non-combatant evacuation from Rawanda. He met Oreskes at an International Commission for the History of Meteorology meeting in Polling, Germany, in 2004, and began a long conversation about the denial network. This book is one product of that dialog.
“[A] fascinating and important study…Merchants of Doubt deserves a wide readership. It is tempting to require that all those engaged in the business of conveying scientific information to the general public should read it.”—Science
“Oreskes and Conway paint an unflattering picture of why some scientists continue to stand against the overwhelming scientific consensus on issues at the center of public discussion.”—USA Today
“Anyone concerned about the state of democracy in America should read this book.”—Former Vice President Al Gore, author of An Inconvenient Truth
“Sweeping and comprehensive… Oreskes and Conway do an excellent job of bringing to life a complex and important environmental battle… [a] darkly fascinating history…Merchants of Doubt is an important book. How important? If you read just one book on climate change this year, read Merchants of Doubt. And if you have time to read two, reread Merchants of Doubt.”—Grist
“…an important story about the misuse of science to mislead the public on matters ranging from the risks of smoking to the reality of global warming….This book deserves serious attention for the lessons it provides about the misuse of science for political and commercial ends.” Publishers Weekly, starred review.
“…meticulously researched and wonderfully written”—Daily Kos
“This book about the politics of doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway explores the long, connected, and intentional obfuscation of science by manufactured controversy. It is clear, scientifically responsible, and historically compelling—it is an essential and passionate book about our times.”—Peter Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University, author of Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps
Some Climate Denial Facts
Climate Denial Stats 1
In January, 2011, the 112th Congress will open session, with a huge contingent of Republicans who have explicitly rejected the threat of manmade global warming pollution. These climate zombies express the classic variants of global warming denial:
- It is not warming
- Cold weather refutes concerns about global warming
- Man’s influence is unclear
- Climate scientists are engaged in a hoax, scam, or corrupt conspiracy
- Limiting greenhouse pollution would have no impact on global temperatures
- Conspiracy theorists argue that hacked emails from climate scientists prove corruption, calling for kangaroo trials against practicing researchers.
- 56 percent of the incoming Republican caucus are climate zombies
- 74 percent Republicans in the U.S. Senate next year publicly question the science of global warming
- Of the 242 Republicans elected to the House of Representatives, 128 (53 percent) publicly question the science
Climate Denial Stats 3
Is Global Warming happening?
- 18 % No
- 64% Yes
- 18% Don’t know
-from 2011 Yale University study called Climate Change in the American Mind
Climate denialism has been highly successful. It has led to two decades of standstill on the climate change issue. What is the solution to a wiley climate denial movement which appears to have endless financial resources, powerful backroom lobbying and a well-oiled deception machinery?