Denial is a River
Here is a an edited extract from Heat, by George Monbiot, published by Allen Lane.
In HEAT, George Monbiot, one of the world's leading environmental activists proves, with passion and rigorous analysis, that there is a way. It now seems certain that we need a 90% cut in our emissions within 25 years if we are to stop ourselves reaching the point where the "climate feedback" becomes unstoppable, and our world becomes largely uninhabitable.
HEAT shows us that real change can be effected now by putting pressure on those in a position to really make a difference. Radical, pragmatic and totally surprising, this book reveals how we can reconcile our demands for comfort, prosperity and peace with the increasingly pressing need to prevent us destroying our future.
The Denial Industry
For years, a network of fake citizens' groups and bogus scientific bodies has been claiming that science of global warming is inconclusive. They set back action on climate change by a decade. But who funded them? Exxon's involvement is well known, but not the strange role of Big Tobacco. In the first of three extracts from his new book, George Monbiot tells a bizarre and shocking new story
Tuesday September 19, 2006
ExxonMobil is the world's most profitable corporation. Its sales now amount to more than $1bn a day. It makes most of this money from oil, and has more to lose than any other company from efforts to tackle climate change.
To safeguard its profits, ExxonMobil needs to sow doubt about whether serious action needs to be taken on climate change. But there are difficulties: it must confront a scientific consensus as strong as that which maintains that smoking causes lung cancer or that HIV causes Aids.
So what's its strategy?
The website Exxonsecrets.org, using data found in the company's official documents, lists 124 organisations that have taken money from the company or work closely with those that have.
These organisations take a consistent line on climate change: that the science is contradictory, the scientists are split, environmentalists are charlatans, liars or lunatics, and if governments took action to prevent global warming, they would be endangering the global economy for no good reason.
The findings these organisations dislike are labelled "junk science".
The findings they welcome are labelled "sound science".
By funding a large number of organisations, Exxon helps to create the impression that doubt about climate change is widespread. For those who do not understand that scientific findings cannot be trusted if they have not appeared in peer-reviewed journals, the names of these institutes help to suggest that serious researchers are challenging the consensus.
This is not to claim that all the science these groups champion is bogus. On the whole, they use selection, not invention. They will find one contradictory study - such as the discovery of tropospheric cooling, which, in a garbled form, has been used by Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday - and promote it relentlessly.
They will continue to do so long after it has been disproved by further work.
But what I have discovered while researching this issue is that the corporate funding of lobby groups denying that manmade climate change is taking place was initiated not by Exxon, or by any other firm directly involved in the fossil fuel industry.
It was started by the tobacco company Philip Morris.
There are clear similarities between the language used and the approaches adopted by Philip Morris and by the organisations funded by Exxon.
The two lobbies use the same terms, which appear to have been invented by Philip Morris's consultants. "Junk science" meant peer-reviewed studies showing that smoking was linked to cancer and other diseases.
"Sound science" meant studies sponsored by the tobacco industry suggesting that the link was inconclusive. Both lobbies recognised that their best chance of avoiding regulation was to challenge the scientific consensus.
As a memo from the tobacco company Brown and Williamson noted, "Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy."
Both industries also sought to distance themselves from their own campaigns, creating the impression that they were spontaneous movements of professionals or ordinary citizens: the "grassroots".
While they have been most effective in the United States, the impacts of the climate-change deniers sponsored by Exxon and Philip Morris have been felt all over the world.
I have seen their arguments endlessly repeated in Australia, Canada, India, Russia and the UK. By dominating the media debate on climate change during seven or eight critical years in which urgent international talks should have been taking place, by constantly seeding doubt about the science just as it should have been most persuasive, they have justified the money their sponsors have spent on them many times over.
It is fair to say that the professional denial industry has delayed effective global action on climate change by years, just as it helped to delay action against the tobacco companies."
It is said that a major about face is coming from the POTUS on Climate Change, perhaps because Gore is taking the issue away. (read Gore's speech) Meanwhile, Clinton is now working on Climate Change through the great cities of the world in the Clinton Global Initiative.
When it comes to the Corporatcracy
and their protection of profits,
whether about War, or about our Health, or about our Climate,
Denial is a River.
A River of Lies.
Corporate Capital Punishment is the answer.
What it is About
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