Frederick Hall: Global warming ‘hoax’ is being perpetrated deniers
Nearly 200 nations agreed in Paris that limiting global warming is essential. No doubt the poison in Frank Pinney’s November advertisement was intended to destroy support for those agreements.
What the fuels industry’s own scientists wrote in 1995 provides the antidote: “The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 is well established and cannot be denied.” How revealing that this came from a group with a vested interest in denying it! They already knew it was real, yet they vigorously deny it to this day.
That quote is from one of many fuels industry documents gathered by the Natural Resources Defense Council … no “establishment” mouthpiece! It correctly states that information then available was insufficient to predict the amount of temperature rise caused by humans, but establishing the fact of mankind’s negative impact on climate doesn’t require agreement on its amount.
By 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asserted that mankind’s effect is both real and destructive. Science academies of 19 countries in North and South America, Europe and Asia explicitly agreed. So did 11 climate-focused science groups.
To Pinney, that isn’t consensus. He wants us to believe instead that 19 nations set aside competition — economic, political and sometimes military — to conspire together and dupe simpletons like you and me. By contrast he fails to identify 17,000 scientists who, he says, signed a 1998 statement that man-caused global warming doesn’t exist. He also avoided saying why they were contacted, what questions were asked or how many wouldn’t sign. His is a strange view of the rigor necessary for scientific consensus.
The fossil fuel industry recognized early that linking global warming with their business would harm profits. Did they set out to find ways of minimizing the impact on your quality of life and damage to the environment? Of course not! Instead they followed tobacco’s sterling example by mounting a campaign to mislead the public and bias the government in their favor.
The advertising campaign by the front group Information Council on the Environment (ICE) was short-lived but nonetheless set the model for disinformation to follow. A leaked 1991 memo stated this fundamental strategy: “Reposition global warming as theory (not fact).” To achieve that, ICE paid scientists to write “peer-reviewed papers that undercut the ‘conventional wisdom’ of climate science.”
ICE knew their credibility would suffer if the public knew who paid them to deliver their disinformation. To solve that problem in the case of Dr. Wei-Hock Soon, ExxonMobil laundered $300,000 through the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics — blight on a respected institution’s record. The Smithsonian further compromised the credibility of Soon’s work by allowing funders to review material before publication and agreeing not to name his funders. Two coal companies plus Chevron and Occidental Petroleum subsidiaries secretly funded Soon and others with much more money.
By 1998 that approach had flowered into the American Petroleum Institute (API) campaign to assure that:
• Average citizens and media recognize uncertainties in climate science.
• The media “balance” the views of supporters and deniers.
• Industry leaders become stronger presenters to climate policy shapers.
• Supporters of the Kyoto protocol appear foolish.
API sought to head off a future turn of public opinion against them by sending material directly contradicting science to teachers and students, some through the National Science Teachers Association.
With BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell and others as API sponsors, participation in the deception was industry-wide. But dark money was hardly the limit of their purposeful deceit. To shape debate on the unfavorable Waxman-Markey bill before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, the coal industry forged letters from interest groups that didn’t exist and borrowed NAACP, AAUW and American Legion letterheads for others. Nonprofit indignation sparked a congressional investigation that found 13 such letters.
Bonner & Associates was an excellent choice to execute the fraud. It gained the relevant experience serving the sugar, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries.
API is hardly alone in creating a false picture of support. An internal presentation by the Sacramento-based Western States Petroleum Association listed 16 faux groups created to appear in protest of proposed energy regulations in California.
The fuels industry went to great lengths to deny what their own scientists told them was true. Did it work? Think of it this way: In schizophrenic Washington, climate change’s ardent denier, James Inhofe, heads the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
There is a global warming hoax; it’s being perpetrated by the deniers.
Frederick Hall lives in Grass Valley.
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