Climate Change AKA Global Warming Denial History

Here the case is made that “global warming” was supplanted by “climate change” because it sounded less urgent, (much as tarsands became oilsands), and other history is presented about the Denial movement infesting political discourse.

Bad Science: A Resource Book – described in Merchants of Doubt as a “how-to handbook for fact fighters”.

Produced by the tobacco industry to help any industry fight any legislation that responded to scientific findings, this was a representation of big tobacco’s playbook in written form.

The book provided soundbites and ready-made talking points to arm any industry fighting regulation. Among the talking points the book suggested should be pushed home were:

Too often, science is manipulated to fulfil a political agenda.

Government agencies, too often, betray the public trust by violating principles of good science in a desire to achieve a political goal.

Public policy decisions that are based on bad science impose enormous economic costs on all aspects of society.

As I wrote for The Guardian last week, in 1998 a leaked American Petroleum Institute memo detailed how a dozen fossil fuel lobbyists, think tank associates and PR professionals had come together for a mass scale misinformation project on climate science.

The memo claimed that “victory” would be achieved when “uncertainties” (read: doubt) became part of the conventional wisdom among the public.

As detailed in my piece, many of the same individuals continue to work in the climate science doubt production industry while defending fossil fuels.

But this wasn’t the first or the last time that internal documents have shown how the fossil fuel industry and ideologues work together to produce doubt on climate science.

In 1991, for example, a group of coal utilities devised an advertising and public relations campaign that would also recruit scientists to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact)”.

In 2000, influential US Republican pollster Frank Luntz produced a memo for the energy industry and anyone else challenging the science of climate change. Luntz wrote:

Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.

Luntz also proposed that Republicans should stop using the phrase “global warming” and replace it with “climate change” because this was “less frightening”.

Driving home the point about the Denial movement:

[Friends of Science] Group says climate change needs debate

Pattison did not return calls seeking comment.


4 responses to “Climate Change AKA Global Warming Denial History

  1. At some point, John, we’re going to have to hold these people accountable for the harm they’re knowingly causing both now and especially in the future. No one has any right to line their pockets on the deferred suffering of others whether they’re pimping cigarettes or derailing action on global warming. They must be made to pay.

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