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AP History of Climate Science Denialism Demonstrates Power of Dirty Energy Propaganda

1 min. read

An AP article by Charles J. Hanley does a tremendous public service by tracing the history of America's "allergy" to global warming. Here's an excerpt, which makes crystal clear why that is the case:

The reluctance to rein in carbon emissions revealed itself early on.

In the 1980s, as scientists studied Greenland's buried ice for clues to past climate, upgraded their computer models peering into the future, and improved global temperature analyses, the fossil-fuel industries were mobilizing for a campaign to question the science.

By 1988, NASA climatologist James Hansen could appear before a U.S. Senate committee and warn that global warming had begun, a dramatic announcement later confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a new, U.N.-sponsored network of hundreds of international scientists.

But when Hansen was called back to testify in 1989, the White House of President George H.W. Bush edited this government scientist's remarks to water down his conclusions, and Hansen declined to appear.

That was the year U.S. oil and coal interests formed the Global Climate Coalition to combat efforts to shift economies away from their products. Britain's Royal Society and other researchers later determined that oil giant Exxon disbursed millions of dollars annually to think tanks and a handful of supposed experts to sow doubt about the facts.

Since 1989, more than twenty years have passed, and the scientific evidence for man-made climate change has only gotten stronger. Today,  as former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert points out,  "[n]inety-eight percent of the world's climate scientists say it's for real," yet "the doubters persist." How can that be?

Very simple, actually. This is a classic example of the power of dirty energy industry propaganda to influence public opinion on a matter of tremendous concern to the dirty energy industry's bottom line. In this case, it's amounted to tens of millions of dollars spent on a disinformation campaign to make a significant portion of the public skeptical, dubious, or even in complete denial about the scientific reality of man-made global warming. And, sadly, it's worked. Hopefully, as the evidence becomes clearer - right before peoples' eyes, in the form of record heat waves, flooding, fires, etc. - it won't work for much longer.