The Invention of Lying about Climate Change

I don’t review many books because:

  1. It’s too time-consuming,
  2. I’m not sure how many of my readers (or anyone else) really devote time to reading non-fiction books on climate.
  3. There haven’t been many good books out there to review, books with useful, well-written information you can’t really get on the web.

But I have a dozen books on my table right now — and another dozen will be coming in the next couple of months.  Some are very good, including Gore’s new book on solutions due early November.  Right now, I am happy to unhesitatingly recommend Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming by James Hoggan editor of  with Richard Littlemore, key figures behind the terrific

I think everyone who follows the climate issue needs to understand the whole gory history of the most immoral and, so far, most successful, disinformation campaign in US history — the effort, largely funded by conservatives and fossil fuel companies, to deny climate science and delay the urgent action needed to preserve the health and well-being of countless future generations:

Starting in the early 1990s, three large American industry groups set to work on strategies to cast doubt on the science of climate change. Even though the oil industry’s own scientists had declared, as early as 1995, that human-induced climate change was undeniable, the American Petroleum Institute, the Western Fuels Association (a coal-fired electrical industry consortium) and a Philip Morris-sponsored anti-science group called TASSC all drafted and promoted campaigns of climate change disinformation.

The success of those plans is self-evident. A Yale/George Mason University poll taken late in 2008 showed that “” 20 years after President George H.W. Bush promised to beat the greenhouse effect with the “White House effect” “” a clear majority of Americans still say they either doubt the science of climate change or they just don’t know. Climate Cover-Up explains why they don’t know. Tracking the global warming denial movement from its inception, public relations advisor James Hoggan (working with journalist Richard Littlemore), reveals the details of those early plans and then tracks their execution, naming names and exposing tactics in what has become a full-blown attack on the integrity of the public conversation.

Leveraging four years of original research conducted through Hoggan’s website,, Hoggan and Littlemore documented the participation of lapsed scientists and ExxonMobil-funded think tanks. Then they analyzed and explained how mainstream media stood by “” or in some cases colluded “” while deniers turned a clear issue of science (and an issue for public safety) into a partisan argument that no one could win.

This book will open your eyes, it will raise your ire and, most especially, it will inspire you to take back the truth “” to end the Climate Cover-up.

While I follow the issue very closely, I still learned a lot from this book, especially the fascinating Chapter 11 on “using courts and cash to silence critics of climate confusion.”  I didn’t know the whole story of how uber-denier Fred Singer managed to get Roger Revelle (one of Al Gore’s teachers, who famously alerted Gore to the climate threat) to co-author a piece of nonsense.  I didn’t know the story of the lawsuit that resulted when Revelle’s graduate student tried to speak up about “what he saw as Singer’s blatant manipulation — his outright bullying of — of Revelle” who “was in his eighty-second and it would turn out last year,” who “had already suffered a serious heart attack and was in failing health — unable according to his students and staff to pay attention for more than 15 or 20 minutes.”  And if you want some more details on that, you can go here and here.  But while some of the details are on the web, sometimes you just need to curl up with the whole well-told story.

This is a must-read book.

19 Responses to The Invention of Lying about Climate Change

  1. Jeremiah says:

    I’ve heard of salesmen ripping off old ladies and selling them things they don’t need or want. It sounds like Singer has done the same thing with Revelle.

  2. Wes Rolley says:

    It sound like a detailed follow on the Chris Mooney’s Republican War on Science. Some of this would make Jack Abramoff look like a paragon of virtue.

    I will add it to my list.

  3. Leland Palmer says:

    Thanks, Joe.

    While it doesn’t take very long to get the big picture on the role of ExxonMobil, for example, it’s going to be fascinating to learn the details.

    I’ll certainly read it.

  4. PurpleOzone says:

    I’ve a couple of comments on the Revelle-Singer episode.

    1. Roger Revelle was a noted scientist and educator. I did not meet him, but knew he was held in the highest scientific and personal esteem by his peers in oceanography.

    2. I personally observed Revelle in June 1991 at the graduation of Revelle College, (one of USCD’s 5 colleges). The college was named after him by students 25 years earlier; it was their choice. He left a wheel chair and proudly marched to the graduation stand in full academic regalia, to the wild cheers of the Class of 1991. It was a moving moment. He was visibly very aged and weak and died a month later.

    3. I was startled when I saw bloggers claim Revelle rejected global warming, so I chased down Justin Lancaster’s story some time ago. I was not surprised to find Singer’s involvement. I recommend reading Romm’s second here, above, for Lancaster’s account.

  5. John Mashey says:

    Yes, and after people have read it, consider going to Amazon and posting a Review, even a short one, and perhaps pointing back here as well.

    Really, comments on any blog are nice as well, but a lot of people who don’t read the same blogs buy books…

  6. Means, motive, and opportunity.
    This is the suborning of mass murder.

  7. Rick Covert says:


    I’d read somewhere that Roger Revelle recanted his conclucsions that humans were causting global warming. Is there any truth to that?

    [JR: No.]

  8. Ed says:

    In their blog at some point they make an interesting observation about a parralel between global warming denial and HIV infection denial. As a former employee of a Dutch HIV monitoring foundation this is what happens if people loose their scare of a deadly (still) desease like aids.

    During the nineties as treatment for aids was scarce and laiden with side effects and aids death were all to common the rate of new infections dropped (due to protected sex etc.). Nowadays since better treatment is available and HIV patients can get a life insurance and a mortgage if their CD4 count is high and their viral load is low, aids has lost some of its scare. As a result the number of new infections is rising (at least in Holland) since people are having more unprotected sex etc.

    Now if we as a society loose our scare of global warming (and that will happen if measures to combat it are being taken and temperature still rises, due to the bathtub effect) we will be in realy dire straits.

    We have to keep being scared, out of boots if possible, this is a matter of global survival not only of our species but of form of intelligent life (that is the biosfeer excluding Homo Sapiens) itself!

    Greetings, Ed

  9. mike roddy says:

    I wish someone would turn this into a movie, maybe a filmmaker a little less incendiary than Michael Moore.

  10. Chris Winter says:

    I’ll second that wish, Mike Roddy — but I doubt that it will happen. The subject is likely too abstract, and the saga has too many participants, to make a profitable movie.

    On the other hand, if there is a trial involved, that portion might be the core of a successful movie, a la “Erin Brockovich.” It all comes down to the skill of the screenwriter, and whether the producers leave a good screenplay alone or mess it up.

  11. Eugene Wilson says:

    Book reviews like this one of important books save a lot of time for those who are trying to keep abreast of developments and are not in a position to read every book that comes out. Thanks.

  12. Woodie Coalburner says:

    I just wanted to reiterate that i don’t read much at all, I’m a lib-Dem and therefore incapeable of the long and tedious task of looking deeper into a problem and would rather read a book and agree with it than do my own research.

  13. Woodie Coalburner says:

    The real issues are third worled and underdevoloped countries. The amount of soot and mercury pumped into the atmosphrer is 100 times than the USA, so how will taxing me to death stop all that?

  14. David says:

    Well, Woodie, what makes you think that the China and India will do anything to address their new and rising contribution if the countries responsible for the vast majority of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere and still contributing far more per capita than these emerging countries like us do nothing. And James Hansen’s approach, of taxing carbon where it comes into the economy and distributing most of the money back to the public lets the market sort out that (finally) internalized cost and gives the taxpayers the money to help adjust to the rising costs. And lastly, what percentage of those pollutants in these countries are for the dirty industries supplying cheap goods to us? If you want to find the polluted Pittsburghs of the 1940s and 50s – go to these countries. Yeah they got the jobs, but they also got unbelievably serious pollution and health issues. The world is not as simple as you make it out to be and we have an enormous responsibility for the way things are today.

  15. James Newberry says:

    I would like to take the opportunity to recommend With Speed and Violence by Fred Pearce. Fascinating science from a wide ranging science reporter.

    Thanks to Joe for his continuing work.

    “We are faced with the prospect of insurmountable opportunities.”

    Attend an International Day of Climate Action, Saturday October 24.


  16. Right after I read Joe’s post I went out and bought this excellent book and think I have found a new “prop” for my own climate talks. I have often used a copy of the big Cambridge University Global Warming text as a “prop” to “intimidate” some who claim all this was made up by non scientists like Al Gore. It works nicely but now, the next time am challenged by someone influenced by this propaganda mill I will pop out _Climate Cover Up_ to show who came up with a particular part of the cover up. This sort of thing does not usually work on emotionally committed deniers but it works wonderfully on those around them. Thanks to Joe for suggesting the book so enthusiastically.

  17. GreenGuy says:

    Todays post at showcases this book as well with a free book giveway for answering 2 questions. Check it out

  18. Woodie Coalburner says:

    Well Dave,
    I travel there (China) frequently for business and guess what! The average income of a family of four or five is about $575 dollars a year, How much tax do you think that kind of income can tolerate. Of that percentage how much of that money how will it affect the toneage of pollutants dumped daily, lest you know better each family in the city heats its own appartment individually with a small coal disc in a stove in a corner of the room. That is a lot of soot and mercury. Remember the olympics? They solved the immideate problem by odd/even the daily traffic and shutting down the factories in a hundred mile radius, not practical but effective. The original hole in the ozone is still there after all the taxes i paid on all that freeon, all the recovery machines and the invention of R134. Basicaly taxing the snot out of someone or a group just makes somebody else rich, to date it has yet to solve a single problem!

    BTW Al Gore didn’t invent the internet, he did, however invent Global Warming. I dont deny that it is happining, I know this because my house sits where a Glacier formaly sat. The things are so slow I will be long gone by the time it comes back.

    Give me an example live like Gondi for say a year. If you find it comfortable and convenient and your wife hasen’t left you. I may give it a try!

    Other than that I’m heatin with Coal and living, large like Al Gore.

    $2,700 amonth electric bill give me a break man!

  19. Coyboy says:

    Does this book mention anything about the reactionary Czech President Václav Klaus??? His “Blue Planet, not Green” propaganda book and constant speeches linking environmentalists to a mindset like communists is available on BBC and Fox (Sean Hannity) interviews on Youtube (as well as countless interviews in German and Czech languages).

    He has been generously funded by both Russian and American oil concerns.