junk science

GREENPEACE REPORT: Climate Change Denial Machine vs. Scientists

  • Posted on: 10 September 2013
  • By: Connor Gibson

Written by Cindy Baxter, crossposted from Greenpeace: Dealing in Doubt.

Who likes being lied to by people paid by the oil industry who pose as “experts” on climate change?

Did you know it’s been going on for 25 years?

In a couple of weeks, the UN’s official advisors on climate change science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will update its global assessment on the issue. Yet in the background, more attacks on the climate science are underway

For the last quarter century, the climate science denial machine, its cogs oiled by fossil fuel money, has been attacking climate science, climate scientists and every official US report on climate change, along with State and local efforts – with the aim of undermining action on climate change.

Our new report, Dealing in Doubt, sets out the history of these attacks going back to the early 90s. These are attacks based on anti-regulatory, so called “free market” ideology, not legitimate scientific debate, using a wide range of dirty tricks: from faked science, attacks on scientists, fake credentials, cherry-picking scientific conclusions: a campaign based on the old tobacco industry mantra: “doubt is our product”.

We give special attention to perhaps today’s poster child of the climate denial machine’s free market think tanks, the Heartland Institute, which is about to launch a new version of its “NIPCC” or “climate change reconsidered” report next week in Chicago.

Unlike the real IPCC, with thousands of scientists involved from around the world, the Heartland Institute’s handful of authors is paid. Several of them claim fake scientific credentials. They start with a premise of proving the overwhelming consensus on climate science wrong, whereas the real IPCC simply summarizes the best science to date on climate change.

This multi-million dollar campaign has been funded by anti-government ideologues like the Koch brothers, companies like ExxonMobil and trade associations like the American Petroleum Institute.Big Oil funding of climate denial declines. "Anonymous" funding through Donors skyrockets. Interesting.

More recently, less visible channels of funding have been revealed such as the Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, organization that that has been called the “ATM of the conservative movement”, distributing funds from those who don’t want to be publicly associated with the anti-environmental work product of organizations like the Heartland Institute.

In the last week we’ve seen new peer-reviewed science published, linking at least half of 2012’s extreme weather events to a human carbon footprint in the atmosphere and on the weather and climate.

As the scientific consensus strengthens by the day that climate change is happening now, that carbon pollution is causing it and must be regulated, the denial machine is getting increasingly shrill. But today, while they are being increasingly ignored by a majority of the public, their mouthpieces in the US House of Representatives, for instance, have increased in number.

They’re still fighting the science – and they’re still being funded, to the tune of millions of dollars each year, to do it.

Dealing in Doubt sets out a history of these attacks. We show how the tactics of the tobacco industry’s campaign for “sound science” led to the formation of front groups who, as they lost the battle to deny smoking’s health hazards and keep warning labels off of cigarettes, turned their argumentative skills to the denial of climate change science in order to slow government action.

koch brosWhat we don’t cover is the fact that these organizations and deniers are also working on another front, attacking solutions to climate change. They go after any form of government incentive to promote renewable energy, while cheering for coal, fracking and the Keystone pipeline.

They attack any piece of legislation the US EPA puts forward to curb pollution. Decrying President Obama’s “war on coal” is a common drumbeat of these anti-regulation groups. One key member of the denial machine, astrophysicist Willie Soon from the Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics, has portrayed himself as an “expert” on mercury and public health in order to attack legislation curbing mercury emissions from coal plants.

This recent history, as well as the prior history of denial by the tobacco companies and chemical, asbestos and other manufacturing industries, is important to remember because the fossil fuel industry has never admitted that it was misguided or wrong in its early efforts to delay the policy reaction to the climate crisis. To this day, it continues to obstruct solutions.

The individuals, organizations and corporate interests who comprise the ‘climate denial machine’ have caused harm and have slowed our response time. As a result, we will all ultimately pay a much higher cost as we deal with the impacts, both economic and ecological.

Eventually, these interests will be held accountable for their actions.

Industry: 

The State of the Nation [as Arranged by Polluters, Inc.]

  • Posted on: 9 December 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

The fossil fuel industry knows that its time is running out.  While their influence and profits are still enormous, we can see from increasing shifts to unconventional extraction methods--hydraulic fracturing, deepwater drilling, tar sands mining, and other examples--that easily accessible fossil fuels are dwindling.  That's a pretty clear indicator that they will not last indefinitely, before even considering how burning dirty fuel to the last particle will cook the Earth, not to mention the casualties along the way.  You know, like the Gulf of Mexico, or the people of the Athabasca watershed, or those whose wells are now full of poisoned [PDF] or flammable water.

Unfortunately, for people who care about the future of humanity and the vast variety of species were are dragging to extinction [PDF] through the climate crisis, profit is the key factor for fossil fuel barons and their influence peddlers.  With time running out and industry insiders well aware of it, Big Fossil is focusing on how to preserve itself for as long as possible.  Creating a public relations war over the seriousness of global climate disruption has been the keystone tactic in this process. 

Companies recognize the benefits of investing in public doubt, and unfathomable sums have been dumped into this effort across the board, whether through the grossly unapologetic Koch Industries or ExxonMobil, or more slyly by the likes of Chevron or Duke Energy.  Industry misinformation is then pushed to the public through astroturf front groups (like the Koch-funded and -founded Americans for Prosperity), through advertising campaigns (like those run by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity), and by hiring "scientists" or "experts" with that special lack of integrity and credibility that allows a person to earn money at the expense of a far, far broader population.  As this happens, Congress and federal offices are constantly being filled with polluter servants instead of public servants, taking massive campaign donations or cutting career deals in order to further enrich Polluters, Inc.


As if the battle wasn't uphill enough, we now have witnessed the first round of elections post-Citizens United, in which powerhouses like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce raised tens of millions of dollars from the corporate titans it serves and funneled the money into attack ads, sending a warning message to politicians who aren't bending over backwards for big business, if not delivering a crippling blow to their election campaigns. 

Now wouldn't be a bad time to look up the definition of "democracy."  Google it now, before net neutrality is a thing of the past.

Industry: 

Heritage Foundation Cuts and Pastes to Upend Scientific Report

  • Posted on: 19 October 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

ExxonMobil has given $630,000 to the Heritage Foundation since 1998, and the Kochtopus has given over $3 million.

[UPDATED BELOW]

This blog was originally posted on October 4, 2010

Last Friday, the Heritage Foundation posted a scandalously selective blurb from a recent Royal Society report on global warming.  Editing out ten pages of the report, Heritage cut and pasted to promote the notion that a large amount of uncertainty still exists about the occurance of climate change. 

For the record: credible scientists actively studying climate patterns have no doubt that global warming is happening and that fossil fuel emissions are public enemy number one.  Had Heritage chosen to leave some of those ten pages they so gracefully skipped, perhaps they would have reached the same conclusion.  Even the summary of the report makes this clear, stating:

"[The report] shows that there is strong evidence that over the last half century, the earth’s warming has been caused largely by human activity."

The Heritage Foundation is no stranger to junk science--they've been paid over $600,000 from Exxon since 1998 (the year global warming "stopped", for those that believe in cherry-picked science, *cough cough* Senator Inhofe), and over $3 million from the Koch brothers since 1997. 

Heritage is also deeply entrenched in the climate denial machine, associated with purchased scientists who have made a living denying climate change, the links between cigarettes and cancer, and other less-than-admirable and less-than-scientific efforts to uphold their industrial clients.  These people may have Ph.D.'s (although usually not even climate-related), but don't actively study climate data in the field or publish material after a peer-review from credible scientists.  Their selective reporting wouldn't hold up through such an integrity check.

Doubt is their product, and business has been good, but you can only keep people from smelling scientific sewage for so long.

For more on Heritage's selective science, check out NRDC's Switchboard

Check these links for more on ExxonMobil and Koch Industries.

UPDATE: It turns out the author of the deceptive Heritage blog, Nicholas Loris, is a former "associate at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation."  Another small bit of evidence contributing to the overwhelming pervasiveness of the Kochtopus...

Industry: