By the 1950s, smoking's cause of disease had risen to strong scientific consensus, but Big Tobacco needed an illusion of scientific controversy to keep the public in doubt. As seen in the new film Merchants of Doubt, they developed superb marketing tactics copied by others, including the fossil fuel industry and allies.
The scientific consensus on human causation of climate change is just as strong as that on smoking, so the same tactics are used against it, plus Internet-amplified harassment of scientists. Fred Singer recently tried to revive a nearly-forgotten 2007 attack on climate consensus, one of the silliest and least competent, entangled with plagiarism and falsification. A revisit of this episode may be instructive, as consensus (not unanimity) is important enough that people keep challenging it.
The relationship between the media and think tanks is the most “pernicious” problem in environment reporting today, Adam Ramsay of Open Democracy has warned.
The co-editor of the e-zine...