Dealing in Doubt: New Greenpeace report reviews 20 years of the climate change denial machine

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Dealing in Doubt, a report released by Greenpeace on March 24, concisely traces the history of attacks on climate science, climate scientists, and the IPCC.  The report covers some of the key developments in the campaign of disinformation bankrolled by the fossil fuel interests. It identifies leading participants and how they put forward selected “skeptic” scientists in a predatory effort to confuse public opinion with an exaggerated message of scientific uncertainty, thus advancing a corporate and ideological agenda of warding off effective government action. 

To download the 25-page report: Dealing in Doubt: The Climate Denial Industry and Climate Science.  Also, see the Greenpeace report, Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine, published on 30 March 2010.

Jim Hoggan, our friend at DeSmogBlog, posted on the report.  Taking the liberty of re-posting from his review:

… The new report succinctly explains how fossil fuel interests used the tobacco industry’s playbook and an extensive arsenal of lobbyists and “experts” for hire in order to manufacture disinformation designed to confuse the public and stifle action to address climate change. …

ExxonMobil deservedly gets special attention for its role as the ringleader of the “campaign of denial.”  As Greenpeace has documented meticulously over the years with its ExxonSecrets website, ExxonMobil is known to have invested over $23 million since 1998 to bankroll an entire movement of climate confusionists, including over 35 anti-science and right wing nonprofits, to divert attention away from the critical threat of climate disruption caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels.

The report, authored by Greenpeace climate campaigner Cindy Baxter, calls out by name a number of key climate skeptics and deniers who have worked with industry front groups to confuse the public, including S. Fred Singer, John Christy, Richard Lindzen, David Legates, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon, Tim Ball, Pat Michaels and many other figures familiar to DeSmog Blog readers.

A number of the key “think tanks” at the forefront of the attacks on climate science—including the Heartland Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Enterprise Institute, George C. Marshall Institute, Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute—are also examined for their climate denial work on behalf of oil and coal interests.

Greenpeace explains how the network of denial was created in the early 1990s to dissuade politicians from taking action to prevent climate change.  Chief among these early groups were the Global Climate Coalition, the Climate Council and the Information Council on the Environment (ICE). 

The report also provides a brief history of the attacks launched against each of the IPCC’s scientific assessment reports dating back to 1990, noting the key players involved in each successive attack leading up to the present day attempts to tarnish the IPCC’s reputation and to falsely suggest that a debate still exists among climate scientists.

Personal attacks endured by climate scientists, especially key contributors to the IPCC reports, are also discussed in some detail, including the virulent attacks by the climate denial industry against reputed scientists like Michael Mann, Ben Santer, and Kevin Trenberth.

Greenpeace also calls out Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and other members of Congress who are beholden to polluting industries through campaign contributions, and who regularly aid and abet the climate denial industry by promoting the false and misleading claims of deniers and skeptics on Capitol Hill.

Finally, “Dealing in Doubt” notes the escalation of the denial campaign during the administration of George W. Bush, when key White House and regulatory agency positions were filled with polluter lobbyists.

The placement of Philip Cooney, a lawyer and lobbyist who spent 15 years at the American Petroleum Institute before he was picked as chief of staff in the Bush White House Council on Environmental Quality, serves as a key example.  Days after the New York Times broke the story that Cooney had made extensive edits on government scientific reports on global warming, Cooney resigned to go work for ExxonMobil. 

“Dealing in Doubt” is recommended reading for anyone looking for a brief primer on the history of the denial industry’s relentless campaign against science and reason. …

Some earlier CSW posts:
Global Warming Denial Machine—Archive of CSW posts

March 18: Americans for Prosperity: Distorting climate change science and economics in well-funded campaign

March 18: Koch Industries multibillionaire Koch brothers bankroll attacks on climate change science and policy

March 10: Michael Mann interview: Denialists are waging “asymmetric warfare” against climate science

March 5: Naomi Oreskes: How a handful of scientists obscure the truth on global warming

March 1: UK Guardian: “US Senate’s top climate sceptic accused of waging ‘McCarthyite witch-hunt’”

February 24: Sen. Inhofe inquisition seeking ways to criminalize and prosecute 17 leading climate scientists

January 22: Richard Somerville: A Response to Climate Change Denialism

October 21, 2009: Climate Cover-Up: New book by the DeSmogBlog team is a take-down of the denial machine

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