Conservative think tanks in the United States are a sort of “ground zero” for the production of doubt about the links between fossil fuel burning and dangerous climate change.
These think tanks produce reports, hold conferences, write books, go on television, produce columns and blogs and generally and liberally splatter the public discourse with talking points.
You’ll have heard their manufactured doubt everywhere. “CO2 is great for the planet… fossil fuels are good… climate scientists are wrong… the world has been hotter in the past… cutting emissions will kill the economy.” That sort of thing.
But there has been speculation that as the world continues to break heat records, and as oceans rise and the science sends ever more clear and urgent signals, that the focus of these think tanks will shift away from attacking the science to discussing policy.
Now a new study published in the journal Global Environmental Change has declared unambiguously “the era of climate science denial is not over”.
Dr Travis Coan, of the University of Exeter, and Dr Constantine Boussalis, of Trinity College Dublin, analysed 16,000 articles, reports, transcripts, letters, reviews and press releases from the websites of 19 conservative think tanks, mainly based in the U.S, who work on climate change.
In the study, Boussalis and Coan discuss how commentators had been speculating about an end of climate science denial for more than a decade.
Analysing documents from 1998 until mid-2013, Boussalis and Coan found that think tanks had in recent years been focusing less on policy and more on attacking the science.