So just in case anyone wasn’t sure, a major study of almost 12,000 scientific papers on global warming between 1991 and 2011 finds less than one per cent disagree that humans are the main cause.
Published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the study led by John Cook, the Australia-based founder of Skeptical Science, confirms the debate about the causes of global warming had all but vanished in the scientific literature by the early 1990s. Almost all the research says it’s mostly caused by humans.
For any followers of climate science in journals (the place where it actually matters) the finding wasn’t really news at all.
Yet survey after survey finds the public still thinks scientists are arguing over the causes of global warming and the media continues to attempt to resuscitate long-dead ideas.
Does it matter that people have a clear understanding of the main thrust of the science? A 2012 study in the journal Nature Climate Change found that people were more likely to accept human-caused global warming if they were informed that scientists were in broad agreement (which we know they are).
For decades, fossil fuel-funded groups, free market think tanks (some of which also qualify as fossil fuel funded groups) and the fossil fuel industry itself have known the importance of the public’s understanding of the state of climate science. A public that understands the state of the science is more likely to want something done about climate change. Doing something, means using a lot less fossil fuel.
But who wanted to tell the public that a consensus didn’t exist? Here are just some of the campaigns run over the years showing how breaking the consensus in the eyes of the public was a key strategy.
The apparent author of this list, Swiftboater Marc Morano, even included the names of Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, an historian and an anthropologist who have made themselves famous by advocating for renewed and more vigorous policy action against the threat of climate change.
Yesterday we came across this post on DailyKos about a University professor who recently received a package from a PO Box in La Jolla, CA, asking urging him to sign a petition denying global warming and condemning the Kyoto Protocol.
The package included an official looking research study titled "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide," by Dr. Fred Seitz (a gentleman we know all too well here at DeSmogBlog).
It seems that either this Professor has not picked up his mail in a long while, or the infamous "Oregon Petition" effort has resurfaced.
Below is a quick background and some helpful links to the history of the Oregon Petition. If you've also received one of these packages, please let me know it would be great to get a hold of one.
Ah, a breath of fresh air on Capitol Hill today. Was it the spring air? Nope, it was a Congressional Subcommittee hearing today questioning industry efforts within science agencies, like NASA, NOAA and the EPA, to control federal scientists and confuse the public around the science of global warming.
Check here for the RealPlayer webcast and hit read more for some quotes DSBlog has pulled from the proceedings, as well as some research on one particular Republican Senator's outrageous "scientific sources" on global warming.
A lot of public relations technique rests in language. It is built in the nuanced choice and combination of
words that are developed and tested through public opinion research - through polling and focus groups.
For example, Republican pollster Frank Luntz has made a career of massaging language to his clients advantage. In Luntz's now infamous enviro-speak memo (pdf) to the republican party, he advises the following:
There are few parties in the public realm that are more credible than a "grassroots organization" - a group of citizens who rise up with no agenda other than to speak frankly about a public issue. Politicians are inevitably suspect and businesses are clearly self-interested, so reporters are always searching for the "common man" - the "person on the street" - or from impartial experts. No news source wraps up those characteristics more efficiently than the true grass roots organization.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.