Books denying human-caused climate change and its significance are one key means of creating an aura of credibility around manufactured uncertainty and attacks on climate science and scientists. New research published in the journal American Behavioral Scientist finds a strong link between right-wing think tanks and 108 climate change denial books published through 2010. “It appears that at least 90% of denial books do not undergo peer review,” the study says, “allowing authors or editors to recycle scientifically unfounded claims that are then amplified by the conservative movement, media, and political elites.”
An abstract of the article “Climate Change Denial Books and Conservative Think Tanks : Exploring the Connection,” by Riley Dunlap and Peter Jacques, is free but the full article is behind a paywall, unfortunately. [UPDATE March 31: The full article is now available free at the link to the abstract.]
Thanks to Graham Readfearn at DeSmogBlog, who called this to our attention with a good post: Research Reveals Almost All Climate Science Denial Books Linked to Conservative think Tanks. Readfearn notes:
… You might have been intrigued by titles like “An Appeal To Reason: A Cool Look At Global Warming”, “The Climate Caper” or the subtle sledgehammer that was “Global Warming and Other Bollocks”.
But new research into the origins and authors of more than 100 of these climate science denial books finds almost all of them – about four out of five – are largely the products of conservative-leaning think tanks.
While not covered in the research, many of the conservative think tanks involved have accepted cash from fossil fuel interests over the years, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, The Cato Institute, George C. Marshall Institute, and The Heartland Institute. Others, such as the Institute of Public Affairs in Australia or the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK, have consistently refused to reveal their donors.
Dr Dunlap told DeSmogBlog that it was hard to quantify accurately the impact the books had had on policy debates and the public perception of climate change science, but he said:
Keep in mind that they are just a small part of the wealth of material that conservative think tanks put out or help produce on climate change denial – there are reports, op-eds and TV interviews. But I do think that the better selling ones, almost always connected to a conservative think tanks, get a good deal of visibility. … Books tend to convey some degree of (false) credibility on their authors, allowing them to be viewed as “experts” despite their lack of scientific expertise. In the case of the successful books, I think this results in at least some interviews on TV and radio, and thus their messages are greatly amplified.
[Thanks to Lee Russ for the heads-up on the availability of the full article.]