Friday, April 24, 2009

They've Known All Along - Denialist Lobby Scam Exposed

They called themselves the "Global Climate Coalition," a group of climate experts who represented the fossil fuel industry and their message was clear: "The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood."

But, within their closed ranks they understood well enough to write this in an internal memo from 1995: "The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied.”

Cannot be denied, it seems, was subject to interpretation depending on who was paying and how much. From The New York Times:

The coalition was financed by fees from large corporations and trade groups representing the oil, coal and auto industries, among others. In 1997, the year an international climate agreement that came to be known as the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated, its budget totaled $1.68 million, according to tax records obtained by environmental groups.

Throughout the 1990s, when the coalition conducted a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign challenging the merits of an international agreement, policy makers and pundits were fiercely debating whether humans could dangerously warm the planet.

Today, with general agreement on the basics of warming, the debate has largely moved on to the question of how extensively to respond to rising temperatures.George Monbiot, a British environmental activist and writer, said that by promoting doubt, industry had taken advantage of news media norms requiring neutral coverage of issues, just as the tobacco industry once had.

“They didn’t have to win the argument to succeed,” Mr. Monbiot said, “only to cause as much confusion as possible.”

They weren't mistaken. They knew the truth, knew it was undeniable, and then proceeded to line their pockets by denying it. Who can tell just how much damage these bastards have done, how many lives will be needlessly lost to their perfidy, how much suffering they and their patrons have inflicted.

Read more here:


Oemissions said...

The 3 big auto companies spend in the last year $1.5 Billion on advertising. Percentage wise that was probably less than what they have spent in other years to get everyone to buy their wares.

Saskboy said...

Painful, but true part of human history is that we have millions of people who make it their hobby or job to deny the truth about things that can destroy us all.

The Mound of Sound said...

True, but how does our complacency feed into this? There's simply no collective outrage left. It's as though we've already given up, defeated. Some of us aspire to a better world but seem to lack to fire to fight for it. We're like a slack tide.

Especially the young - 20's, 30's, those who'll pay the price of their complacency. I just don't get it. Where's the survival instinct?

Scruffy Dan said...

I can't say I am surprised. I think Michael Tobis summed it up best when he said:

"It's possible, I think, that the failure of civil society to reject this cynical manipulation of factual information may turn out to be the single most salient historical fact of our time. It certainly deserves a lot more attention than it's gotten so far, and the sooner the better."

The Mound of Sound said...

No, Dan, there is no real surprise in this disclosure. I suppose there'll be no surprise in how little impact it will likely have on the denialists either. The damage is done and disclosure of what ought to be a monumental admission is probably a 2-paragraph, page 9 story. I find it hard to disagree with that quote from Tobis. Thanks for that.

Fish said...

Mound, I can't say that I have an answer to your survival instinct question, but I might be able to point you in the right direction.

A buddy of mine from Undergrad blogged about a documentary he saw about the human brain, and why it does not react with horror when told about global warming.

I found it interesting anyways. Here's the link:

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks for the link, Fish. It reminded me of Jared Diamond's explanation of "landscape amnesia," a process whereby man can tolerate significant degradation so long as the process is incremental and gradual. We just keep retuning our mental picture of what is "normal".

For example, today we're told not to go out into the summer sun without sunblock, long-sleeve shirts, hats and top-notch sunglasses. You can get brutally irradiated in less than an hour. When I was a teen we had to work all summer to get a really good tan.

The earth was at an all-time, record population when I arrived. We've more than trebled that in my lifetime. The earth's renewables were more than adequate for mankind's needs when I was born. By 1984 mankind had outgrown our very planet.

This is a problem that poses an enormous and mounting existential threat to our species and yet which of what passes for our political leadership today even mentions it - ever?

Oh shit, this is too depressing for the start of a sunny weekend.

Scruffy Dan said...

'why [the brain] does not react with horror when told about global warming.'

That reminded me of this talk by Dan Gilbert.

Anonymous said...

If every adult American eats three cheese burgers a week...that equals 200 metric tons of carbon dioxid from the cows used to make the cheese burgers in one week....isn't that something? Just think about how many cheese burgers being eaten in one day all around the world. Depressing as well. A. Morris

Anonymous said...

Did you know it takes 800 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk Hmmmm!! A. Morris

Anonymous said...

That should read 200 million metric tons of.......A. Morris