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The real climate change scandal
The Denial Industry has much more experience with distorting and withholding scientific evidence.
Dateline: Monday, December 07, 2009
George Monbiot
When you survey the trail of wreckage left by the climate emails crisis, three things become
clear. The first is the tendency of those who claim to be the champions of climate science to
minimise their importance. Those who have most to lose if the science is wrong have
perversely sought to justify the secretive and chummy ethos that some of the emails reveal. If
science is not transparent and accountable, it's not science.
I believe that all supporting data, codes and programmes should be made available as soon as
an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal. That anyone should have to lodge a
freedom of information request to obtain them is wrong. That the request should be turned
down is worse. That a scientist suggests deleting material that might be covered by that
request is unjustifiable. Everyone who values the scientific process should demand complete
transparency, across all branches of science.
The second observation is the tendency of those who don't give a fig about science to
maximise their importance. The denial industry, which has no interest in establishing the truth
about global warming, insists that these emails (which concern three or four scientists and just
one or two lines of evidence) destroy the entire canon of climate science.
Even if you were to exclude every line of evidence which could possibly be disputed — the
proxy records, the computer models, the complex science of clouds and ocean currents — the
evidence for manmade global warming would still be unequivocal. You can see it in the
measured temperature record, which goes back to 1850; in the shrinkage of glaciers and the
thinning of sea ice; in the responses of wild animals and plants and the rapidly changing crop
No other explanation for these shifts makes sense. Solar cycles have been out of synch with
the temperature record for 40 years. The Milankovic cycle, which describes variations in the
earth's orbit, doesn't explain it either. But the warming trend is closely correlated with the
accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The impact of these gases can be
demonstrated in the laboratory. To assert that they do not have the same effect in the
atmosphere, a novel and radical theory would be required. No such theory exists. The science
is not fixed - no science ever is — but it is as firm as science can be. The evidence for
manmade global warming remains as strong as the evidence linking smoking to lung cancer
or HIV to AIDS.
The third observation is the contrast between the global scandal these emails have provoked
and the muted response to 20 years of revelations about the propaganda planted by fossil fuel
companies. I have placed on my website four case studies, each of which provides a shocking
example of how the denial industry works....
Related addresses:
URL 1:
URL 2:
Case Studies
Posted December 7, 2009
Here’s the evidence for the contentions in The Real Climate Scandal
You can read the article here:
1. The Public Persuasion Campaign
In 1991 the Western Fuels Association, National Coal Association and Edison Electric
Institute set up a group called the Information Council for the Environment (ICE). Its
founding documents were leaked. The text has been made available online by the scientist
Naomi Oreskes[1]. The strategy was spelt out in a document produced by the Western Fuels
Association: to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact)”[2].
ICE was given $510,000 to test its messages in key markets, all of which happened to be the
homes of members of the Energy and Commerce or Ways and Means Committees of the US
House of Representatives. The purpose was to “Demonstrate that a consumer-based media
awareness program can positively change the opinions of a selected population regarding the
validity of global warming.” If it worked, ICE would “implement program nationwide.”
It identified “two possible target audiences”:
“Target 1: Older, less educated males”.
These people, ICE said, would be receptive to “messages describing the motivations and
vested interests of people currently making pronouncements on global warming - for example,
the statement that some members of the media scare the public about global warming to
increase their audience and their influence….”
“Target 2: younger, lower-income women”
“… These women are more receptive … to factual information concerning the evidence for
global warming. They are likely to be “green” consumers, believe the earth is warming, and to
think the problem is serious. However, they are also likely to soften their support for federal
legislation after hearing new information…”
ICE discovered that “members of the public feel more confident expressing opinions on
others’ motivations and tactics than they do expressing opinions of scientific issues.” Here are
some of the messages it tested:
- “Some say the earth is warming. Some also said the earth was flat.”
- “Who told you the Earth was warming … Chicken Little?”
- “How much are you willing to pay to solve a problem that may not exist?”[3]
These messages must have worked, because they were later used by ICE in a wider media
2. ibid.
3. James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore, 2009. Climate Cover-Up. Greystone Books,
2. Undisclosed Interests
Dr Patrick Michaels is often used by the media on both sides of the Atlantic, as one of the
very few people who deny that manmade climate change is happening who is a practising
climate scientist. Among many other outlets, he has written for the Guardian’s website, which
describes him as “a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Climate of Extremes:
Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know.”[1] But there’s something Dr
Michaels doesn’t want you to know: as far as I can tell, he has never voluntarily disclosed the
following information.
In 2006 the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) circulated a memo to electricity
generators, transmitters and distributors[2]. The memo explained that most of the electricity
its members provided is generated by coal plants, and IREA was intending to engineer a
“considerable shifting from gas-fired generation” to coal. But the profits from this enterprise
were now under threat. “A carbon tax or a mandatory market-based greenhouse gas regulatory
system would erode most, if not all, of the benefits of the coal-fired generation.”
In the hope of averting this disaster, IREA had “decided to support Dr Patrick Michaels and
his group (New Hope Environmental Services, Inc). Dr Michaels has been supported by
electric cooperatives in the past and also receives financial support from other sources … In
February of this year IREA alone contributed $100,000 to Dr Michaels. In addition we have
contacted all of the G&T’s [generators and transmitters of electricity] in the United States and
as of the writing of this letter, we have obtained additional contributions and pledges for Dr
Michaels group. We will be following up with the remaining G & Ts over the next several
3. Science by Petition
The Heartland Institute is a lobbying group which has received $676,000 from
ExxonMobil[1]. In 2007 it published a list of “500 Scientists Whose Research Contradicts
Man-Made Global Warming Scares”[2]. These people, it maintained, supported “the very
important view that the
Modern Warming is natural and no more dangerous than were the Medieval Warming, the
Roman Warming and the Holocene Warming before it.”
But they didn’t. Kevin Grandia of started contacting the people the
Heartland Institute had listed. He asked them whether they endorsed the views the Heartland
Institute said they held. Within 48 hours, 45 people responded, all outraged that they had been
traduced. Here are some samples of their replies to Kevin and their messages to the author of
the list, Dennis Avery:
“I am horrified to find my name on such a list. I have spent the last 20 years arguing the
Dr. David Sugden, Professor of Geography, University of Edinburgh.
“I have NO doubts ..the recent changes in global climate ARE man-induced. I insist that you
immediately remove my name from this list since I did not give you permission to put it
Dr. Gregory Cutter, Professor, Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Old
Dominion University
“Please remove my name. What you have done is totally unethical!!”
Dr. Svante Bjorck, Geo Biosphere Science Centre, Lund University
“Because none of my research publications has ever indicated that the global warming is not
as a consequence of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, I view that the inclusion of my name in
such list without my permission or consensus has damaged my professional reputation as an
atmospheric scientist.”
Dr. Ming Cai, Associate Professor, Department of Meteorology, Florida State University.
“They have taken our ice core research in Wyoming and twisted it to meet their own agenda.
This is not science.”
Dr. Paul F. Schuster, Hydrologist, US Geological Survey
“Please remove my name IMMEDIATELY from the following article and from the list which
misrepresents my research.”
Dr. Mary Alice Coffroth, Department of Geology, State University of New York at Buffalo
None of these names have yet been removed from the institute’s list.
4. The Inside Track
When George W Bush was president, White House staffers collaborated with the oil industry
to fix government policies on climate change.
In 2004, Harper’s magazine published a leaked memo from Myron Ebell of the Competitive
Enterprise Institute to Phil Cooney, the chief of staff of the White House Council on
Environmental Quality. The Competitive Enterprise Institute has been given over $2m by
Exxon[1]. Ebell’s memo showed that the White House and the Institute had been working
together to discredit a report on climate change produced by the Environmental Protection
Agency, whose head at the time was Christine Todd Whitman.
“Dear Phil,
Thanks for calling and asking for our help. … As I said, we made the decision this morning to
do as much as we could to deflect criticism by blaming EPA for freelancing. It seems to me
that the folks at EPA are the obvious fall guys, and we would only hope that the fall guy (or
gal) should be as high up as possible. I have done several interviews and have stressed that the
President needs to get everyone rowing in the same direction. Perhaps tomorrow we will call
for Whitman to be fired[2].”
The New York Times later discovered that Phil Cooney, who is a lawyer with no scientific
training, had been imported into the White House from the American Petroleum Institute, to
control the presentation of climate science[3]. He edited scientific reports, striking out
evidence that glaciers were retreating and inserting phrases suggesting that there was serious
scientific doubt about global warming[4]. When the revelations were published he resigned
and took up a post at Exxon[5].
The oil company also had direct access to the White House. On 6th February 2001, 17 days
after George W. Bush was sworn in, A.G. (Randy) Randol, ExxonMobil’s senior
environmental adviser, sent a fax to John Howard, an environmental official at the White
House[6]. It began by discussing the role of Bob Watson, the head of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change. It suggested he had a “personal agenda” and asked
“Can Watson be replaced now at the request of the U.S.?”[7]
It went on to ask that the United States be represented at the panel’s discussions by a Dr
Harlan Watson[8]. Both requests were met. One Watson was sacked, the other was appointed,
and went on to wreak havoc at international climate meetings.
2. Letter from Myron Ebell to Phil Cooney. Published in the May 2004 edition of Harper’s
magazine: White House Effect.
3. Andrew C. Revkin, 8th June 2005. Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global
Warming. New York Times.
4. ibid.
5. Jamie Wilson, 16th June 2005. Bush’s climate row aide joins oil giant. The Guardian.
6. A.G (Randy) Randol III, Senior Environmental Adviser, ExxonMobil, 6th February 2001.
Memo to John Howard. Bush Team for IPCC negotiations. Facsimile, sent from tel no. (202)
7. ibid, p2.
8. ibid, p5.