“Canada won’t really have a lot of problems. The main problems will be in developing or underdeveloped countries that even today have problems with high cold or high temperatures.”
- Anthropologist and Science Fiction Writer Benny Peiser
The Edmonton Journalwas once quite a serious institution - the newspaper of record in the capital city of Alberta, the largest oil producing region in North America and the second largest in the world. Given the 37 years of one-party (Conservative) rule in the province, Journal writers have often considered themselves the Official Opposition, charged with a mission of keeping industry honest and holding the government to account.
Naomi Oreskes, the science historian whose landmark article 2004 Science article, finally put the lie as to whether there was a legitimate climate change “debate,” has written a new piece for the TimesOnline, describing on of the best early warnings the U.S. received about global warming, and revealing the efforts of scientist-turned-lobbyist Bill Nierenberg in beginning to sow confusion.
As Oreskes reports, the U.S. government had solid information on the likelihood (and potential severity) of climate change in 1979 - delivered by a panel of some of the most impressive scientists in the land. But In 1980, then-President Ronald Reagan found the truth inconvenient. If the world community started worrying about climate change, Reagan figured everyone would start blaming America (because America was making the biggest contribution). Reagen tapped Nierenberg for an alternative report, and the big lie began.
Oreskes is well known for her oft-quoted 2004 article in Science that found that out of a random sample of 928 research articles on climate change, not one questioned the consensus view that human activity is to blame.
University of California (San Diego) science historian Dr. Naomi Oreskes offers this extremely worthwhile one-hour lecture, giving both a solid primer on global warming and a very compelling account on how effectively industry has sown confusion in the hopes of preventing Americans from taking action to prevent it.
A new paper (attached) by Oxford Research Fellow Max Boykoff shows that phony media balance has almost disappeared in U.S. climate change coverage.
But Boykoff's paper also shows an embarrassing difference in the extent and quality of climate change coverage in the United States, compared to coverage in the United Kingdom. For example, he found that between 2003 and 2006, UK papers covered the story three times as often as U.S. papers and were significantly more likely to present it accurately.
The celebrated research by Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte, claiming that a legitimate debate still continues over the science behind climate change, is “a bit patchy and nothing new,” according to Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen , editor of the Energy and Environment journal to which Schulte had submitted the work for publication.
It is “not what was of interest to me” and will not be published, Boehmer Christiansen said (in email correspondence reproduced in full at the end of this post).
Tim Lambert, who does excellent work on his Deltoid blog, offers a devastating critique of the Shulte attack on Naomi Oreskes, demonstrating, for example, that Shulte has cribbed parts of his paper from the already discredited Benny Peiser (photo).
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.