Climate Cover-up

Climate Cover-up

The Crusade to Deny Global Warming

Paperback - 2009
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Talk of global warming is nearly inescapable these days -- but there are some who believe the concept of climate change is an elaborate hoax. Despite the input of the world's leading climate scientists, the urgings of politicians, and the outcry of many grassroots activists, many Americans continue to ignore the warning signs of severe climate shifts. How did this happen? Climate Cover-up seeks to answer this question, describing the pollsters and public faces who have crafted careful language to refute the findings of environmental scientists. Exploring the PR techniques, phony "think tanks," and funding used to pervert scientific fact, this book serves as a wake-up call to those who still wish to deny the inconvenient truth.
Publisher: Vancouver : Greystone Books/D&M Publishers, Inc. ; Berkeley : Distributed in the U.S. by Publishers Group West, c2009.
ISBN: 9781553654858
Characteristics: xiii, 250 p. ; 22 cm.
Additional Contributors: Littlemore, Richard D.


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Feb 04, 2018

If you've thought that the media coverage about global warming- excuse me, "climate change"- has been weird for the last two decades, you're not alone. The author shows that we weren't watching a scientific debate but rather a coordinated public relations campaign. The author should know- he is the president of a successful public relations firm in Canada.

Why wasn't this a scientific debate? Because, as Hoggan explains in his first chapter, there is no debate and there hasn't been for at least 20 years. All articles printed in peer-reviewed journals and all scientists whose expertise is in climate study agree. The earth is warming, human activities are contributing to that warming and, perhaps most importantly, humans can alter those activities to reverse or stop some of the damage.

It is that last point that has indirectly led to the confusion that has played out in the popular media for so long. If we change our behavior, the parties that will be most impacted are the corporations who produce oil, coal and other fossil energy products. Indeed, ExxonMobil has been shown to be one of the biggest contributors to the "think tanks" and "grassroots" organizations that have worked to sow doubt about global warming. Coal companies are close behind. Many of the tactics that are used to discredit the scientific understanding and exploit the minimal factor of uncertainty (more about when than if) were pioneered by tobacco companies in the decades before.

The author worries that we're going to be outraged by what he writes, but at some points you just laugh, especially after you've read about the seventh or eighth "climate expert" who is shown to be anything but. While I admire anyone who can get a Ph.D. in any field, I must agree that someone whose degree is in sociology or classics isn't as qualified to critique climate research as someone whose degree is in, well, climatology or atmospheric physics.

That's funny. What isn't funny are the lies- excuse me, exaggerations- frequently used by the debunkers or deniers. I suppose it's one thing to cherry pick facts and drastically misconstrue someone's position, but it's another thing to essentially forge signatures or trick someone into participating in the making of a video or the authorship of a paper.

As much as we can be justifiably disgusted by these tactics, let's not let the mainstream media off the hook for their role. Media outlets should be open to "balancing" viewpoints when they are talking about matters that are based on opinion or somewhat unknown. Most things might fall into that: politics, economic policy (most agree that's an educated guess) and restaurant, movie and book reviews. But when we're talking about facts (documented historical finding, the law and agreed upon scientific facts), no, they do not have an obligation to host a debate on the matter. Simply claiming that everyone has the right to exercise their free speech doesn't excuse them from publishing something that is factually incorrect, such as the infamous George Will op-ed in 2009 in the Washington Post.

The author made his case very well, but the first few chapters stumbled. His transition from the tobacco company tactics to the climate deniers was a little jarring- how did we get there?- but it otherwise flowed pretty well. However, citing Wikipedia not once but twice just made me shake my head- I had to take off a star for that.

Jul 19, 2014

This book was a great read outlining the strategies used by industry to diminish awareness about risks associated with global policy and individual lifestyles. It also puts forth changes that can be made in a hopeful way that encourages management of the climate crisis for future generations.


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