“Dealing in Doubt” – new book exposes the climate scepticism industry
Report offers field guide to the climate change denial industry, Guardian, Graham Readfearn, 13 Sept 13, Greenpeace report documents the who, what, when and how of a long-running campaign to block action on climate change It writes boilerplate legislation, runs extensive PR campaigns, puffs CVs with fake credibility, facilitates or promotes the intimidation of climate scientists and advocates, publishes books, organises speaking tours and conferences, gets on the telly and radio a lot, uses Freedom of Information laws as a surveillance tool, pays scientists to speak and – crucially – it manufactures doubt and confusion among policy makers, politicians and the public about climate change.
To get this work done, it has accepted many millions of dollars from fossil fuel interests or ideologically-driven conservative donors who funnel their cash through anonymous trust funds because they are too cowardly to put their mouths and their money in the same place.
We’re talking about the international climate science denial industry. Now it has a field guide, of sorts, courtesy of researchers at environment group Greenpeace.
Published this week, Dealing in Doubt: The Climate Denial Machine Vs Climate Science recounts the history of efforts to underplay the risks of human-caused climate change, to deny the scientific evidence and to misrepresent the state of the collective knowledge of genuine scientists on the issue.
Oh, and it comes with fun little caricatures of some of the key characters in the denial industry.
The title of the report “Dealing in Doubt” comes from a tactic employed and articulated by tobacco industry executives in a 1969 memo, which read:
Our consumer I have defined as the mass public, our product as doubt, our message as truth — well stated, and our competition as the body of anti-cigarette fact that exists in the public mind….
Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the “body of fact” that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.
The fact that some of the key players in today’s climate misinformation campaign were also campaigning to convince the public that cancer sticks were not cancer sticks is recounted in the book Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway……….
Yet the Dealing in Doubt report isn’t a historic document……..
The climate misinformation groups continue to provide material for potential updates. US groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, the Cato Institute and the American Tradition Institute continue their work, with Australia’s The Institute of Public Affairs and the UK’s Global Warming Policy Foundation among those joining the choir.
One organisation identified in the Greenpeace report is the Heartland Institute, which – when it’s not misrepresenting the Chinese Academy of Sciences - is hanging billboards suggesting if you believe in global warming then you’re no better than a terrorist.
In a couple of weeks time, the United Nations-affiliated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will begin releasing its latest round of reports summarising the science and impacts of climate change, five years after their last round of reports.
The Heartland Institute is onto it, and have in recent days been holding “briefings” ahead of the release of a counter report – the Non Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (see what they did there?).
Internal Heartland Institute documents have shown that one of the authors of the report, Australian geologist Dr Bob Carter, was to be paid $1667 a month for his work on the report (for anyone interested,Skeptical Science has a good summary of the key differences between the genuine IPCC report and the NIPCC).
Dealing in Doubt also has a section looking at the qualifications of many sceptic commentators and how their “expertise” (or lack of it) tends not to correlate with the frequency with which they are wheeled out by some media outlets.
One example would be British hereditary peer and UKIP figure Lord Christopher Monckton, who wrote that he had been “appointed” as an expert IPCC reviewer, only for the IPCC to remind him that nobody actually “appoints” IPCC reviewers and that practically anyone (no journalists allowed) can self-register.
Dealing in Doubt serves as a handy reference guide for anyone new to the cogs, wheels and fuel that constitute the climate science denial machinery. The report concludes:
The individuals, organizations and corporate interests who comprise the ‘climate denial machine’ have caused harm, have slowed our response time, which will in the end cost more in impacts – both economic and ecological.
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