Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Denial Machine: a repetitive rationale

After following George Monbiot's exposé about the global warming denial machine, modeled as it is on the Big Tobacco denial machine, I didn't imagine that I would see such a story in an American mainstream media outlet. That such a story would appear in Newsweek seems even more amazing. But it is there and, if you are not familiar with the infrastructure of the Denial Machine, check out
The Truth About Denial

Since the late 1980s, this well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change. Through advertisements, op-eds, lobbying and media attention, greenhouse doubters (they hate being called deniers) argued first that the world is not warming; measurements indicating otherwise are flawed, they said. Then they claimed that any warming is natural, not caused by human activities. Now they contend that the looming warming will be minuscule and harmless. "They patterned what they did after the tobacco industry," says former senator Tim Wirth...

As soon as the scientific community began to come together on the science of climate change, the pushback began," says historian Naomi Oreskes of the University of California, San Diego. Individual companies and industry associations—representing petroleum, steel, autos and utilities, for instance—formed lobbying groups with names like the Global Climate Coalition and the Information Council on the Environment. ICE's game plan called for enlisting greenhouse doubters to "reposition global warming as theory rather than fact," and to sow doubt about climate research just as cigarette makers had about smoking research....

Groups that opposed greenhouse curbs ramped up. They "settled on the 'science isn't there' argument because they didn't believe they'd be able to convince the public to do nothing if climate change were real,"
Wow, that strategy sure sounds familiar. Because it was Paul Wolfowitz, on how the neocons were going to convince the American public that Iraq needed invading, who said,
The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason.
If by "government bureaucracy" Wolfowitz meant "public opinion," then this might have borne some vague resemblance to the discussion. And they sure knew the American public would not bone up to war for a program of "spreading freedom."

The Newsweek story is great lesson in how these organisations work and exactly why much of the public thinks there is significant debate about this. Check out it out.


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