BPSDB“ExxonMobil has manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer,” said Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Director of Strategy & Policy. “A modest but effective investment has allowed the oil giant to fuel doubt about global warming to delay government action just as Big Tobacco did for over 40 years.”
Quiz: which of these two is actual tobacco industry denial, and which is climate change denial with “tobacco” and related terms substituted:
1 “The claim that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer has not been scientifically proven………..it is a reductionist error and not keeping with the current theories of cancer causation to attempt to assign each cancer to an exclusive single cause…………the use of results from flawed population studies to frighten people by attributing large numbers of death yearly to smoking may be misleading and is most regrettable………
2 “There is no experimental data to support the hypothesis that smoking causes lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis………any number of things can influence the onset of a disease. The list includes genetics, diet, workplace environment, and stress…….we understand public anxiety about smoking causing disease, but are concerned that many of these much-publicized associations are ill-informed and misleading
Hard to tell? That’s not surprising since they are so similar. It been two and a half years since the Union of Concerned Scientists released their report Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science (68 page pdf) and the lobbyists are still at it.
For those who are not familiar with the history of tobacco denial Lightbucket did a wonderful and very readable analysis of the tobacco industries misinformation campaigns, underscoring the tactics that we now see being used for climate change denial:
The tactics and campaigns are carbon copies ( 😉 ) and almost shocking in that only the names have been changed. For example:
If you take TIRC’s four-point “distinguished authorities point out” argument and strip out the references to tobacco, you’re left with a template for many of the pseudoscience-based corporate disinformation campaigns that followed. It has become a standard denialist manifesto:
- …research indicates many possible causes of [……];
- …there is no agreement among the authorities regarding the cause of [……];
- …there is no proof that [……] is one of the causes;
- …the validity of the statistics is questioned by numerous scientists.
Action plan: Set up a PR front organisation masquerading as a research institute.
The tactics worked for the tobacco industry for 40 years, so are we really so surprised to see them being used again? Particularly since it is some of the same organizations that as handling the Public Relations. Kevin Grandia looked at the involvement of the Heartland Institute in both tobacco and climate denial in A Climate Deniers take on Tobacco Smoke, The Heartland Institute and the Academy of Tobacco Studies as did the Center for Public Integrity in Global Warming: Heated Denials, The Organized Effort to Cast Doubt on Climate Change.
And not just the same organizations, but the same people:
If you’re not convinced, try googling “seitz singer tobacco“, 2 of the top hits today are “The Indisputable Corruption of Frederick Seitz“, “The Corrupt S. Fred Singer, corrupt Fred Seitz…” and “No apology is owed Dr. S. Fred Singer, and none will…” The last one is interesting, as it shows the connection between S. Fred Singer and tobacco lobbyists, whose “product” was doubt.
Global warming skeptic Steven J. Milloy, for example, once headed the now-defunct Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, established in 1993 with money from cigarette maker Phillip Morris to help the company fight smoking restrictions. Today, Milloy is the founder of junkscience.com, a website that claims to debunk climate change science, and writes a column for FoxNews.com.
Had enough dejas vu? I hope not, because “Libertarism, climate change and the tobacco lobby” looks at how the ‘freedoom’ and ‘rights’ memes are used to create political resistance to action on climate change. Just as health science was re-cast as an attack on individual liberties, so climate science is cast as an attack on the “right” to engage in environmentally destructive behaviours.
Predictably absolutely no mentions is made of the rights of the victims of climate change. With hundreds or thousands dying, hundreds of millions being affected (here) and many more at risk it’s an odd omission for those “concerned” with human rights.
Global warming skepticism cannot be understood without understanding the background of the skeptics, that much is sure. The skepticism in my opinion results from a dogmatic, quasi-religious, belief in the libertarian dogma of free market capitalism without any interference. The fallacies used in climate change discussions remind me to the fallacies made by creationists. Anything is possible, except the dogma to be wrong. If it requires attacking science to save the dogma, science gets attacked …
Of course there is no such concern for human rights, any more than there is any actual doubt about the science. It’s all fiction, made up by PR spin doctors to profit from human suffering and death. Some of the the Deniers are idealogues, many are simply gullible dupes, and clearly, despite the human suffering that their lies are causing, some are knowingly doing it for profit. They’re lying, just as they did for the tobacco industry.
QUIZZ Answer: I am not actually going to give you the answer as to which is really tobacco denial and which is climate change denial. If I did you would miss out on reading the rest of the quotes from A Well-Documented Strategy.
Worse, you might not discover the blog ClimateSight, and that you probably wouldn’t forgive me for. So have your bookmarker/blogline/RSS feed ready and get over there 🙂
This warming trend has been particularly pronounced during the pre-monsoon month of May, which is now on average 4.9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it was in the late 1970’s. The Indian Ocean warmed to a much lesser extent during this period, enhancing the temperature gradient between the ocean and the land. Earth Gauge
We give our consent every moment that we do not resist.
Denier “Challenge” aka Deathwatch Update: Day 294 … still no evidence.
Comments that are not relevant to the post that they appear under or the evolving discussion will simply be deleted, as will links to Denier spam known to be scientific gibberish