Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming

James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore have written a powerful book exposing the efforts of the fossil industries to confuse the public and policy makers about the science of climate change. After all, if there is scientific doubt about climate change – either the causes, or the effects – then we don’t really have to do anything, do we? “This is a story of betrayal, a story of selfishness, greed, and irresponsibility on an epic scale.” The book exposes the public relations techniques used, the players, and the funding. It is a warning to all about media manipulation, and it is a lesson in public relations.

The book has chapter after chapter that outlines exactly how the climate deniers manipulate the media, and public opinion, to believe that climate change isn’t bad, or that humans haven’t caused it, or that it isn’t occuring very fast. It talks about the internet “echo chamber”, where one report is published, and then it is taken up on blogs, tweets, web sites, and continues to resurface, long after the contents of the report have been thoroughly refuted. It outlines how junk science can be used to confuse. It talks about SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), where scientists, or newpaper reporters have lawsuits threatened, or professional credentials attacked, in order to get silence in the debate. It talks about the manipulation of media, by creating spokespeople from “think tanks” (it would seem that in many cases, very little thinking actually occurs in these tanks), who with few credentials, are given the same platform as legitimate scientists. If the mainstream media (CBS, CNN, New York Times, Wall Street Journal) won’t carry the story because they consider it to be incorrect, you target secondary media, in coal producing states. Secondary media has even less staff to research the legitimacy of a viewpoint, and is more likely to publish content that is provided to them without critical review. The money trail from the fossil industries to political campaigns is laid out.

The same tactics were used to block action against tobacco for years. Publish reports that say tobacco isn’t addictive, or that it doesn’t cause cancer. Make it look like there is some scientific uncertainty. And action can be delayed for years. Some of the PR firms and people involved in the Big Tobacco cover up are now involved with the climate deniers.

The hullaballo over the leaked emails at the University of East Anglia are classic. The media reported that the scientific community had a great deal of doubt about the findings of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But as the EPA recently concluded, the email leaks uncovered only two errors in the 3000 page IPCC report – the amount of land below sea level in the Netherlands, and the speed of retreat of Himalayan glaciers. Neither of these errors cast even a shadow of doubt on the overall conclusion that climate change is occurring, and that it is caused by humans.

The story in Climate Cover Up is very compelling. Climate change is occuring. It is occuring faster than the scientists predicted. Scientist who study climate are very concerned. But much of the public information has been intentionally confused by those who have an financial interest in society taking no action. And so that is what we do. We take no action. Some may take personal action, but the actions by governments are woefully lacking.

I am struck by how similar the tactics and techniques of the climate deniers are to the anti wind groups. Like climate change, there are powerful economic interests threatened – fossil and nuclear generation. There is the internet echo chamber, where discredited reports echo for months or years. I have blogged about some of these. (Efficiency of Wind , Wind Reduces Carbon Dioxide Emissions, Misinformation on Property Taxes, Misinformation Meeting) among others. There are attacks on professional accreditation, or threatening lawsuits in order to try to buy silence. When a major reports from credible people like the Chief Medical Officer of Health are published, and mainstream media begins to downplay some of the health claims made by the anti wind group, then they target secondary media, where reporters are overworked, and have little time to research the validity of claims.

Someday, there may be a book on the tactics, misinformation, and manipulation of those against wind. It will be interesting reading indeed. Meanwhile, you would be well advised to inform yourself on Climate Cover Up. Read this book. It will make you a healthy skeptic.

Leave a Reply