Saturday, April 25, 2009

We're Gonna Need Another Load of Pitchforks

Sorry, I meant to pass this along when I first came across it. Maybe you have already seen it; if not, you really ought to have a look. It's an article by Andrew Revkin, headlined "Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate."

Here is how it begins.

For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.

“The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” the coalition said in a scientific “backgrounder” provided to lawmakers and journalists through the early 1990s, adding that “scientists differ” on the issue.

But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.

“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,” the experts wrote in an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995.

And here is another bit.

Environmentalists have long maintained that industry knew early on that the scientific evidence supported a human influence on rising temperatures, but that the evidence was ignored for the sake of companies’ fight against curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. Some environmentalists have compared the tactic to that once used by tobacco companies, which for decades insisted that the science linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer was uncertain. By questioning the science on global warming, these environmentalists say, groups like the Global Climate Coalition were able to sow enough doubt to blunt public concern about a consequential issue and delay government action.

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.”

Very likely, you'll say, "Just as I've long suspected -- big energy companies covering things up and paying to foment FUD." But it is good to know the details of the shenanigans and to have these things nailed down for sure, so you really ought to read the whole thing.

If you weren't already sure about it, this is the point where anyone who still tries to deny the reality of anthropogenic global warming is officially declared a crank. That is no longer a legitimate debate by any stretch.


Thanks to Attaturk for the link in the first place and to Al Gore for the reminder. And yes, Joe Barton is an ass. But you already knew that.

[Added] Still more Barton. Moron's on a roll.

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