Oily Strategists Mint Another Silly Climate Petition

Tue, 2011-02-08 14:44Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Oily Strategists Mint Another Silly Climate Petition

Update: Skeptical Science Debunks Petition Points

The public relations man and energy industry front group promoter Tom Harris has partnered with the Exxon-sponsored Idso family on a new petition dismissing the risks of climate change as “small to negligible.”

The petition is currently headlining at the WattsUpWithThat website, which probably shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that proprietor and weather guy Anthony Watts was one of the original signatories to one of the original silly climate petitions: the Leipzig Declaration.

These petitions are, in the most important ways, all the same. They feature the same cast of discredited characters (Pat Michaels, Fred Singer) and the same discredited arguments. The biggest such effort of the last 20 years was the Oregon Petition, which used a fraudulent National Academy of Sciences letterhead to solicit something in excess of 30,000 signatures from “scientists,” including a small handfull who had actually studied or practiced climate science.

But the point has never been to advance the science. The goal has been to give the impression that a legitimate scientific argument persists. And here we go again.

The wedge for this particular effort was a letter that 18 legitimate climate scientists submitted a couple of weeks ago to the Members of Congress. Those scientists appealed to legislators to stop fiddling with the “abstractions” (I would have said, deceptions) of the climate argument and to get on with some solutions that will spare us all from a future that no one wants.

In response, Harris, a former APCO Worldwide PR pro, who has since launched energy-linked front groups including the Friends of Science and the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, and remains a policy bender at the International Climate Science Coalition, teamed up with the oil-implicated Idso-family business, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change. Together, they produced a new letter and began soliciting new signatures, taking care to get to a number larger than 18, so they can say they carry more weight than the impressive scientists whom they are trying to shout down.

I will leave it to the experts to dismiss the specious arguments that the Harris-Idso cabal have advanced, but bid you to look at the names (and ages) of those “experts” who have signed this letter. There are many complaints from this community that a tight group of climate scientists control the peer-reviewed literature and keep them out. But the real reason these people don’t crop up much in scientific journals discussing climate change is that - at least with people like Singer, Michaels and the Idsos - they are not much engaged in science. They’re in PR. Which can be an honourable calling. Or not. It really depends on who’s practicing and who’s paying.

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