Understanding the Global Warming Disinformation Campaign

ClimateScienceWatch posted a brief item with a pointer to a one hour lecture titled The American Denial of Global Warming (on youtube). It is well worth watching.

Naomi Oreskes, PhD. is a Historian of Science at UC San Diego. Her recent research has been on the global warming disinformation campaign, and her lecture explains what happened and why.

Professor Oreskes has a B.S. in mining geology and a PhD in the History of Science from Stanford. She is the author of The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science and other books. By researching, writing, and lecturing on the global warming disinformation campaign she is making a valuable contribution to the history of science. She will become the Provost of Sixth College at UC San Diego in July.

The first part of her lecture oulines the history of climate science research (going back to 1850), and the unpoliticized acceptance thereof that lasted until the 1990s. The second part describes the George C. Marshall Institute’s role in creating confusion and politicizing the issue, using tactics from the cigarette wars.

John Mashey has created a guide to the Oreskes lecture to help find specific sections:

00:00 Introduction
02:00 Frank Luntz
03:40 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report
05:30 Early climate science, John Tyndall (1850s), Svante Arrenhius (1890s), G.S. Callendar (1930s), Gilbert Plass (1950s)
10:30 1957 Suess & Revelle; “Big Greenhouse” in Time Magazine
14:00 1964/65 NAS Science Advisory Committee; President’s Science Advisory Committee
17:30 1970s NRC; JASON; “Charney Report”
23:30 1988 IPCC formed; US National Energy Policy Act; George H. W. Bush signs U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change
26:00 Why is there denial? Where did it come from?
29:15 1984 George C. Marshal Institute founded by William Jastrow (added William Nierenberg, Frederick Seitz; S. Fred Singer later).
Original goal: Cold War, defend Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative against criticism from other physicists.
Tactics: Create uncertainty; threaten PBS stations with lawsuits under “Fairness Doctrine”.
36:00 1990, cold war over, switch to other areas [global warming, CFC-ozone, tobacco]
39:00 1995 IPCC Second Assesment Report, personal attacks on Ben Santer
42:00 1995 Connection with tobacco, Seitz, tactics
Create doubt, do not publish science, but in popular literature, op-eds
53:30 Why? In each case, political views [NO REGULATION, EVER] masked as arguments about science.

2 Responses to Understanding the Global Warming Disinformation Campaign

  1. George, V. K. says:

    Greenhouse Chiliasm
    …George W(acko) Bush joined the Greenhousists club. Gore is making a fortune on speeches and his book on “The Greenhouse Effect” – when the mighty support the theory of overheating, who am I to be negative, and on what basis? What do I know about all those models, our Wise Men have manufactured, forecasting that we all will be drown in the seas in a few decades?
    I do not know a thing – my objections are philosophical, methodological and political. Every once in a while, some – previously unknown – new factor influencing the Earth’s movement is discovered, new discoveries are made and new theories appear in Astrophysics, although Astronomy is being practiced for at least 3.000 years now; arrogant Climatology prophesising the end of the world does not even have 30 years of life, it’s quite younger than me – why should I respect it?
    Carbon dioxide has been declared guilty by Greenhousists; why not water vapour and clouds also? They also contribute in the rise of temperature, according to them.

    • My political objection is that, as we are concerned so much with the Big Future Destruction, we forget big destructions happening every day.
    We (Balkans) are worried about the “greenhouse effect”, being at the same time the great (not only chemical) dump of Europe.
    For example, how about worrying about all the Uranium and chemicals NATO has bombed Serbia and Kosovo with, now being washed by the rain and carried to the Aegean Sea and to the rest of the Mediterranean by the rivers?

    For this, “prophesies” about the end of our species caused by the “greenhouse effect” do not really impress me.
    I hope that, now that Bush and Gore became “Greenhousists”, the primitive ideology of “anti- Americanism”, will at least have one positive outcome: the number of the Greenhousists might be decreased; Bush is enough to undermine this new chiliastic religion.

    (G.V.K, based on a Diodoros’s idea, 10 02 2008).

  2. Jay Alt says:

    The Oreskes video is a very informative and worth watching.

    Here is the Roger Revelle piece she mentions in Time magazine-
    May 28, 1956,9171,937403,00.html