SCIENTISTS WARNED BUSINESS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE BUT BUSINESS CHOSE PROFITS
Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate
Andrew C. Revkin, April 23, 2009 (NY Times)
The Global Climate Coalition (GCC) was employed from 1989 to 2002 as a front group for fossil fuel-consuming industries to argue against the reality of global climate change.
According to documents obtained by the NY Times, science and technical advisors to the GCC made it clear to them their arguments were inaccurate and the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) and global climate change was real.
GCC nevertheless proceeded to run a multimillion dollar PR campaign denying the validity of ongoing scientific documentation of climate change and its human-generated GhG cause. The effect was to slow the completion of the Kyoto treaty, sway public opinion against it and make it politically impossible for the U.S. to sign onto Kyoto or take any other substantive actions against climate change.
GCC was funded by oil, coal and car companies and trade groups. Its budget in 1997, the same year the Kyoto Protocol was completed, was $1.68 million.
Lingering doubt about the validity of the science done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the panel of scientists created by the United Nations (UN) to assimilate information and render conclusions about global climate change, is a tribute to the effectiveness of GCC’s PR campaign.
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GCC capitalized on the media’s inclination to offer opposing points of view. To every substantive scientific presentation on climate change, GCC obtained the opportunity to present its unscientific and unsubstantiated propaganda as a self-legitimating counterpoint.
William O’Keefe, an American Petroleum Institute executive and Chairman of GCC in the 1990s, continues to contend they were unaware of scientific information contradicting their work and that questioning the science was a legitimate exercise in questioning incomplete information.
GCC was dissolved in 2002. Some members (the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute) continue to work against climate change legislation and U.S. participation in international agreements to cut emissions. Others (Exxon Mobil) now ostensibly recognize anthropomorphic global climate change and claim to not fund such lobbying efforts.
The new evidence condemning GCC as a knowing participant in a fraudulent deception came out in a classic example of the law of unintended consequences. GCC's science advisory committee paper, containing the scientific information that was ignored and suppressed, thereby proving GCC's malicious intent, emerged as evidence in a 2007 lawsuit brought by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, a GCC member, to block California’s efforts to limit vehicle GhGs.
Leonard S. Bernstein, a chemical engineer and climate expert then with Mobil Corp led the GCC science advisory committee and presented the paper to GCC's board that warned against using "contrarian" arguments discounting the relationship between climate change and human GhG spew.
The legal documentation was passed to environmental groups by an attorney in the lawsuit and passed to the NY Times by the environmental groups.
GCC approved the science advisory committee paper in 1996 after forcing the removal of the parts most contradictory to GCC's propaganda.
More details on GCC are available from SourceWatch.
More about how public opinion on climate change has been shaped. From greenman3610 via YouTube.
There is no doubt that climate change deniers must be vigilantly confronted. That is their only real intent. In the long run, their lies will inevitably be exposed but the noise they make is a terrible distraction that divides and – most importantly – delays response to global climate change.
The businesses that employed GCC – and continue to employ other front groups and pay politicians to continue to distract, divide and delay – profit by billions for every year that crackdowns on GhG emissions are not aggressively pursued.
Lies, sweet, sweet lies. (click to enlarge)
GCC tactics have been compared to the tobacco industry's denials that smoking was the cause of lung cancer and heart disease. The lies have been exposed but the tobacco industry bought itself decades of sales, the opportunity to create an addiction to smoking in a next generation and time to prepare for a shift of its business to international markets.
GCC was employed as a direct response to the formation of the United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Funders included Amoco, the American Forest & Paper Association, American Petroleum Institute, Chevron, Chrysler, Cyprus AMAX Minerals, Exxon, Ford, General Motors, Shell Oil, Texaco, the United States Chamber of Commerce and many more. (See SourceWatch)
The GCC arguments now seem specious as the Obama administration leads a new movement in the U.S. to respond to climate change, create a national standard for New Energy and commit to an emissions reduction regime.
William O’Keefe did not go back to the American Petroleum Institute after leaving the chairmanship of GCC but became CEO of the Marshall Institute. Marshall, not surprisingly, opposes mandatory caps on GhGs.
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Benjamin D. Santer was a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and part of the IPCC effort in the 1990s. The fight to be heard over GCC’s propaganda compromised his ability to make heard his conclusion that there was evidence even then of human influence on the climate.
- GCC 1990s science propaganda: “The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood…scientists differ[on it]…”
- GCC science advisors internal report to propaganda writers: “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…”
- George Monbiot, British environmental activist/writer: “They didn’t have to win the argument to succeed…only to cause as much confusion as possible.”
Some former GCC people are still denying climate change. (click to enlarge)
- From the GCC scientific advisory committee primer on climate change: “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…”
- Minutes from the GCC meeting approving the abridged science advisory committee primer on climate change: “This idea was accepted…and that portion of the paper will be dropped.”
It's not about lying, it's about obscuring the truth. (click to enlarge)
- William O’Keefe, CEO, Marshall Institute: “I have no idea why the section [of GCC’s science advisory committee primer on climate change] on the contrarians would have been deleted…One thing I’m absolutely certain of,” he said, “is that no member of the board of the Global Climate Coalition said, ‘We have to suppress this.’ ”
- Benjamin D. Santer, climate scientist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: “I’m amazed and astonished…that the Global Climate Coalition had in their possession scientific information that substantiated our cautious findings and then chose to suppress that information.”