Andy Revkin has a must-read NYT piece, “Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate.”
Turns out the Global Climate Coalition, an anti-action lobbying group floated by fossil fuel industries, ignored its own climate scientists while spreading disinformation about global warming. An internal report stating that the human causes of global warming “cannot be denied” fell on the deaf ears of Coalition leaders.
The amazing 14-year-old document totally trashes the standard arguments by deniers — including Richard Lindzen and Pat Michaels — that are still used today. After a long analysis of “Are There Alternate Explanations for the Climate Change Which Has Occurred Over the Last 120 Years?” they conclude:
The contrarian theories raise interesting questions about our total understanding of climate processes, but they do not offer convincing arguments against the conventional model of greenhouse gas emission-induced climate change.
Jastrow’s hypothesis about the role of solar variability and Michaels’ questions about the temperature record are not convincing arguments against any conclusion that we are currently experiencing warming as the result of greenhouse gas emissions. However, neither solar variability nor anomalies in the temperature record offer a mechanism for off-setting the much larger rise in temperature which might occur if the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases were to double or quadruple.
Lindzen’s hypothesis that any warming would create more rain which would cool and dry the
upper troposphere did offer a mechanism for balancing the effect of increased greenhouse
gases. However, the data supporting this hypothesis is weak, and even Lindzen has stopped
presenting it as an alternative to the conventional model of climate change.
And so we have proof of the obvious: Corporate polluters have no interest in preserving a livable climate and will go to great lengths””and spend large amounts of money””to muddle the argument on climate change. Political operatives, such as Newt Gingrich (see here), who, like the GCC, are owned by big oil (see here), continue the disinformation campaign. It’s about time that these ponzi-scheme advocates are publicly and definitively discredited.
As Revkin writes:
For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.
But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.
“The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied,” the experts wrote in an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995.
The coalition was financed by fees from large corporations and trade groups representing the oil, coal and auto industries, among others. In 1997, the year an international climate agreement that came to be known as the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated, its budget totaled $1.68 million, according to tax records obtained by environmental groups.
Throughout the 1990s, when the coalition conducted a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign challenging the merits of an international agreement, policy makers and pundits were fiercely debating whether humans could dangerously warm the planet. Today, with general agreement on the basics of warming, the debate has largely moved on to the question of how extensively to respond to rising temperatures.
Well, one dubious sentence in an otherwise good piece. The fact is that the disinformation campaign continues unabated and still persuades conservative voters, politicians, and pundits to advocate inaction.
Environmentalists have long maintained that industry knew early on that the scientific evidence supported a human influence on rising temperatures, but that the evidence was ignored for the sake of companies’ fight against curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. Some environmentalists have compared the tactic to that once used by tobacco companies, which for decades insisted that the science linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer was uncertain. By questioning the science on global warming, these environmentalists say, groups like the Global Climate Coalition were able to sow enough doubt to blunt public concern about a consequential issue and delay government action.
Revkin has more on his blog here, including comments from some of the original authors of the document.