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Is Climate Denial Corporate Driven, or Ideological?

UPDATE: After posting this, I realized that the idea that climate denial is ideological, rather than corporate driven, is also the explicit and central argument of Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt. There was no intention to slight them–it’s just that I’d read Dunlap and McCright more recently, so their work was at the front of my mind. I’ve added a reference below, and my apologies to Oreskes and Conway.

Recently, I’ve been reading some research by Riley Dunlap, a sociologist at Oklahoma State University who collaborates frequently with Aaron McCright, another sociologist at Michigan State. Together, they’ve done penetrating work on the right wing resistance to climate change science in the US, and in particular, on the role of conservative think tanks in driving this resistance.

In a series of 2010 papers, however, I’m detecting a theme that runs contrary to what many often assume about the driving forces of climate denial. It is this: McCright & Dunlap argue that while corporate interests may once have seemed front-and-center in spurring resistance to climate science, at this point it’s becoming increasingly apparent that ideological motivations are actually the primary motivator. Or as they put it: “conservative movement opposition to climate science and policy has a firm ideological base that supersedes the obvious desire for corporate funding.”

Oil Supermajors Desperately Chasing a Tar Sands Pipe Dream

The six major oil companies that for decades enjoyed phenomenal profits and power over the world’s oil supply now find themselves fighting over the dirtiest and most dangerous oil left - Alberta’s climate-wrecking tar sands and the dangerous deepwater deposits in the Arctic, Gulf of Mexico and other difficult to reach areas. Geoff Dembicki reports today in The Tyee that the oil supermajors once known as the “Seven Sisters” now control a tiny fraction of the world’s dwindling oil reserves - just seven percent - while state-owned oil companies and national governments control 93 percent.

That shift in power has left the six Anglo-American oil majors sparring fiercely for control of the remaining dregs to feed our oil addiction.  Dembicki writes that:

“aggressive oil sands development appears to be one of the few viable growth strategies left for ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, ConocoPhillips and Chevron. These six energy giants are among the top-earning private companies on Earth. Yet their continued corporate existence, at least in its current form, is far from assured.”

In their race to the bottom, these six oil companies are all vying for control of Canada’s dirty tar sands. Dembicki notes that:

“all the supermajors own – or plan to develop – huge operations in Alberta’s oil sands. Canada is one of the few countries left on Earth offering unbridled private sector access to major known oil reserves (in this case, the planet’s second-largest).”

Shell Oil Behind London Science Museum Decision to Take Anti-Science Stance on Global Warming?

The Times of London reports that the London Science Museum has decided to change its position from promoting understanding of the science of global warming to one that they deem “neutral” in their climate science gallery. And by neutral they mean a stance at odds with the widely accepted science on climate change.

‘The Angry Mermaid Award’ - Vote On The Worst Industry Lobbyists Killing Climate Action

Citizens from around the world will convene in Copenhagen next week for the COP15 U.N. climate conference, ready to voice their frustration at the slow pace of global action to address climate change. Friends of the Earth International recently launched ‘The Angry Mermaid Award,’ inviting everyone to vote for the worst corporate lobbyists who are primarily responsible for obstructing progress toward a global agreement.

Copenhagen is home to The Little Mermaid statue, a Danish landmark honoring Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale character. In Andersen’s tale, the Little Mermaid saves the life of a shipwrecked prince and then risks her voice and tail to win his love. If the prince chooses another bride, she is destined to turn into sea foam and disappear forever.

The Angry Mermaid Award is designed to shine a spotlight on the worst industry lobbyists whose actions have done the most to cripple international action on climate change, a delay which now risks unleashing climate chaos. In this real life story, it won’t be a fictional mermaid who disappears beneath the sea forever - it will be low-lying island nations like the Maldives

Lobbyists for polluting industries have worked tirelessly to block effective action, while also seeking every possible way for their corporate clients to benefit from any agreement the nations of the world manage to reach eventually.

Cast your vote in the Angry Mermaid Award today and help decide which company or lobby group is doing the most to sabotage effective action on climate change.


George Monbiot cuts through Shell Oil's PR spin

Here’s a great video interview with Guardian columnist George Monbiot and Jeroen van der Veer, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell.  The spin and bafflegab is almost too painful to watch. We need more reporters like Monbiot that push hard and ask the right questions.

Enjoy:

Shell's Greenwashing Advertisements 'misleading'

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has been ordered to withdrawal 'misleading' advertising in Holland after the environmental group Friends of the Earth claimed the ads were a case of “greenwashing.”

The ads showing flowers emitting from smoke stacks made the claim that Shell's greenhouse gas emissions were being recycled and used to grow flowers in actual greenhouses. The Dutch Advertising Code Authority stated, “Shell suggests that all of these gases are recycled and that is not the case, so our committee found a misleading environmental claim.”

Do Nothing, Risk Everything

A recent report published in March by the Ethical Funds Company found that out of 48 Canadian oil and gas companies studied, only 2 were responding in any meaningful way to address the risks associated with global warming; Shell Canada and Suncor.

Using a wide variety of sustainability metrics, EFC scored each company to determine how well they are prepared to meet the increasing demand for environmentally and sustainably sound practices in the oil and gas sector as it becomes more and more clear that climate change is a reality and will have a significant effect on operations and investor relations.

Climate Change a Business Opportunity

Shell, which in the course of contributing to global warming posted a $9 billion profit in the third quarter of this year, has just released a report showing that climate change could, in fact, create a market opportunity for British businesses amounting to more than $60 billion over the next 10 years.

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