James Hoggan

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James (Jim) Hoggan is one of Canada’s most respected public-relations professionals and the president and owner of the Vancouver PR firm Hoggan & Associates.

A law school graduate with a longstanding passion for social justice, Jim also serves as chair of the David Suzuki Foundation—the nation’s most influential environmental organization—and as a Trustee of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education.

James Hoggan is the co-founder of  Stonehouse Standing Circle, an innovative public-engagement and communications think-tank, and the former chair of The Climate Project Canada —Al Gore’s global education and advocacy organization. He also led the Province of British Columbia’s Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Community Relations and First Nations Partnerships.

James Hoggan is the co-founder of the influential website  DeSmogBlog and the author of two books,  Do the Right Thing: PR Tips for Skeptical Public, and Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming. He speaks, writes, and presents widely on public attitudes toward sustainability, climate change, and the environment.

You can follow Jim on Twitter here: @James Hoggan on Twitter.

You can click here to read James Hoggan’s recent article on “How Propaganda (Actually) Works”

Communicating on Climate: the Bad, the Ugly ... and the Possible

The excellent UK Institute for Public Policy Research (not to be confused with the right-wingy National Center for Public Policy Research) has released a research paper on climate change communication entitled, Warm Words: How are we telling the climate change story and can we tell it better?

The paper, at 28 pages not counting notes, is a little dense, a little academic - a little full of consultantspeak. But the content is impressive. The IPPR analysis of the climate change conversation in Britain seems intelligent and the authors (linguist Gill Ereaut and writer Nat Segnit) make observations that appear broadly applicable.

Climate Change Denial Explained ...

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Among the ideologues in the climate change denial camp, this quote has several strikes against it. First, it was penned by the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Upton Sinclair, a socialist firebrand whose early investigative journalism led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drugs Act and the Meat Inspection Act, both in 1906.

A journalist, a socialist, an advocate for regulating the free market; actually, that's three strikes right there.

Worse still, the quote warranted a two-page spread in Al Gore's book, An Inconvenient Truth, a fact that is guaranteed to rile those defending America's right to be wrong on climate change.

On Twisting Words and Dodging Responsibility

Two items have come up in the DeSmogBlog recently that deserve further analysis. The first is the conversion of Republican pollster and strategist Frank Luntz who, until very recently, has been directing governments in the U.S. and Canada on how to communicate about climate change. For example, in a 2002 strategy memo to the Republican Party, Luntz wrote:

The Scientific Debate Remains Open. Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field.

To give Luntz the benefit of the doubt, maybe he really believed in 2002 that the debate over climate change science was legitimate and not the result of a concerted energy-industry campaign to confuse the public. He says now that he believes the advice was fair when he gave it and we would like to take him at his word.

That being the case, however, you would have expected that his recent conversion from “climate change skepticism” would have come with an apology, or perhaps a messaging update. Instead, when asked about the continuing Republican denial of the science, Luntz said:

That's up to the [them]. I'm not the administration. What they want to do is their business. And it's nothing to do with what I write. And it's nothing to do with what I believe.

The language is a powerful tool and Frank Luntz has a real gift in wielding that tool. With such a gift should come some sense of responsibility. Instead, Luntz offers a total abdication: “What they want to do is their business.”

Given the degree to which Luntz's advice has defined the Bush administration's position on climate change science, that response is analagous to saying, 'I just sold them the guns, officer. I had no idea what they planned to do with them.' Not good enough.

Oil Companies Funding Friends of Science, Tim Ball takes the brunt

A Globe and Mail feature article by Charles Montgomery today  has delivered what should be a death blow for the climate change denial and anti-Kyoto attack group, the Friends of Science.

The G&M says that FOS has taken undisclosed sums from Alberta oil and gas interests. The money was funneled through the Calgary Foundation, to the University of Calgary and on to the FOS though something called the “Science Education Fund.”

All this appears to be orchestrated by Stephen Harper’s long-time political confidante and fishing buddy, U. Calgary Prof Dr. Barry Cooper. It seems the FOS has taken a page right out of the US climate change attack group’s playbook: funnel money through foundations and third party groups to “wipe the oil” off the dollars they receive.

This comes as no surprise considering the FOS has been linked to some of the most notorious oil money-backed scientists in the US, including Drs. S. Fred Singer, Sallie Baliunas, Sherwood Idso, Willie Soon, Robert C. Balling and Pat Michaels.

Philidelphia Inquirer: get on with it America!

Yesterday's editorial in the Philidelphia Inquirer couldn't have made the point any clearer:

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The world cannot tackle global warming without the United States' proactive involvement. Sulking on the sidelines of this effort makes no sense.

Milloy's National Post Spin is Textbook PR Manipulation

Pure junkThe column that Junk Scientist Steven J. Milloy wrote in the National Post Aug. 2, 2006 is a textbook example - a really reprehensible example - of the kind of PR spin that is perverting the global climate change conversation.

Milloy is rising in defence of General Motors, DaimlerChrysler Corp. and the Association of Automobile Manufacturers, all of whom are suing the State if California for trying to strengthen its emissions legislation. In its own defence, in a pretrial discovery motion, California had asked for information on how much these companies were paying a group of “scientists” who are the most outspoken climate change skeptics in the United States.

ExxonSecrets and the Slick 60 Climate Change Denial Gang

DeSmogBlog reader Patrick Arnell very kindly spent a great deal of time connecting 20 of the more infamous signatories to Canadian climate change denial petition to the institutes and funding agencies that pay for their opinions. The resulting map is available here. Just “skip intro” and you'll be taken to the map, which shows pretty clearly what a complex web we're dealing with!

Thanks to Patrick and, as always, to Exxonsecrets.org for this excellent resource.

When "Balanced" Journalism is Anything But Balanced

Here's a marvellous attack on climate change science, scientists and media types who might take those scientists seriously. It's also a perfect example of a PR tactic that is being used to pervert the climate change conversation.

The writer, one Dick Little, complains that in a recent Discovery Channel feature on climate change, host Tom Brokaw failed to present the contrarian case. Little says, “… the fact is the program did not show anyone with proper scientific credentials to express an opposing viewpoint. That's not balance. That's propaganda.”

The Art and Motivation of Editorializing Science

Let's see if the the Washington Times will actually print this:

Dear Editor,

In a recent Washington Times opinion piece, Dr. Pat Michaels again triDr. Pat Michaelses to confuse the science of climate change and create the perception that there are a significant number of climate change scientists who disagree that global warming is happening and is caused by humans. I am not a scientist, but I do know that in science, much like any other profession, it helps to know the background of the information source.

No apology is owed Dr. S. Fred Singer, and none will be forthcoming

On Sunday, June 18, the DeSmogBlog received an email from Dr. S. Fred Singer, in which he says, “Yr (sic) June 16 blog contains the false statement that I sold my services to tobacco lobbyists.”

Dr. Singer goes on to “demand a full retraction and apology from the blog,” and he asks that we publish the following statement: “Dr. Singer and SEPP (Science & Environmental Policy Project) have no connection whatsoever with the tobacco industry, now or in the past. As a matter of policy, SEPP does not solicit funds or other kinds of support from any industry or from government, but relies on tax-deductible donations from foundations and individuals in many countries. Further, Dr. Singer serves on the Advisory Board of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), an organization that has a strong anti-smoking position.”

We have no comment on the ACSH, but Dr. Singer’s main point – that he has “no connection whatsoever with the tobacco industry, now or in the past” – strains credulity.

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