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”

The Smoking Guns and Blue Dress Moments of Climategate

In the days and weeks following the theft of climate scientists’ emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in November, climate change skeptics and deniers flooded the blogosphere and mainstream press with reactions suggesting that the ‘scandal’ had proven global warming was a myth. 

In many instances, the reactions sounded like a choreographed choir singing from the same sheet of talking points, or at least the same sheet of of well-worn memes and cliches, like ‘smoking gun’ and ‘final nail in the coffin.’

The Desmog team took a look at several unique phrases that flew around the denier echo chamber in the aftermath of the CRU email hack, and how those memes were often adopted by the mainstream media as a result.  Here is a sampling of what we identified:

Phil Jones Exonerated by British House of Commons

The British House of Commons today issued a report exonerating Professor Phil Jones, the director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.  Dr. Jones was embroiled in controversy following the theft of internal emails and documents from the University’s servers in November of last year. 

The report states that “the focus on CRU and Professor Phil Jones, Director of CRU, in particular, has largely been misplaced,” and that Dr. Jones’s actions were “in line with common practice in the climate science community,” and the CRU’s “analyses have been repeated and the conclusions have been verified.”

Greenpeace Releases 20-Year History of Climate Denial Industry

Greenpeace released a terrific report today on the 20-year campaign by polluters to mislead the public by creating the climate denial industry. 

The new report succinctly explains how fossil fuel interests used the tobacco industry’s playbook and an extensive arsenal of lobbyists and “experts” for hire in order to manufacture disinformation designed to confuse the public and stifle action to address climate change.

In the report, titled “Dealing in Doubt: The Climate Denial Industry and Climate Science,” Greenpeace provides a brief history of the attacks waged by polluting industries against climate science, the IPCC and individual scientists.

ExxonMobil deservedly gets special attention for its role as the ringleader of the “campaign of denial.”  As Greenpeace has documented meticulously over the years with its ExxonSecrets website, ExxonMobil is known to have invested over $23 million since 1998 to bankroll an entire movement of climate confusionists, including over 35 anti-science and right wing nonprofits, to divert attention away from the critical threat of climate disruption caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels.

The report, authored by Greenpeace climate campaigner Cindy Baxter, calls out by name a number of key climate skeptics and deniers who have worked with industry front groups to confuse the public, including S. Fred Singer, John Christy, Richard Lindzen, David Legates, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon, Tim Ball, Pat Michaels and many other figures familiar to DeSmog Blog readers.

Stanford Study Confirms That “Balanced” Media Stories Quoting Skeptics Mislead The Public

Skeptics Skew Public Understanding of Climate Change

Providing climate skeptics a voice in “balanced” mainstream media coverage skews public perception of the scientific consensus regarding climate change, leaving viewers less likely to understand the threat of climate disruption and less likely to support government actions to address global warming, according to the results of a Stanford University research effort

The Stanford researchers probed the impact on public understanding of climate change when media coverage features a climate skeptic alongside a climate scientist.  Media stories featuring only a mainstream climate scientist “increased the number of people who believed that global warming has been happening and that humans have caused global warming.”

However, when media stories also include a climate skeptic, ostensibly to add “balance” to the story, the result is a “significantly reduced” number of people who understand the issue and endorse government action to address the problem.

“Watching a skeptic decreased perceptions of consensus among scientific experts, and this decreased perception of consensus led respondents to be less supportive of government action in general and of cap and trade policy in particular,” the researchers found.

New Poll Results Reveal The Impact of Decades-Long Climate Confusion Campaign

A new report published jointly by Yale University and George Mason University finds that Americans are much less concerned about climate change than they were just a year ago.  Fifty-seven percent of Americans polled believe climate change is happening, compared with a figure of 71 percent in October 2008, a 14 point drop. 

The reason ought to be clear.  The climate confusion campaign - waged by the like of Americans for Prosperity, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Petroleum Institute and American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) - is alive and well, and obviously still inflicting damage.

Republican pollster confirms Americans' energy concerns

Frank Luntz, an expert cherished equally by Fox News and the Republican Party, has just released a new poll showing bipartisan support for climate legislation that would promote energy independence and protect the environment.

The poll is important in its own right: it confirms that Americans are thoughtful and concerned about energy security, climate and the environment, and that the Republican Party’s ideologically driven opposition to climate legislation is out of step.

But the subtext is even more fascinating: here you have a poll, sponsored by the Environmental Defence Fund and executed by an ideological darling of the American right - someone who has been incredibly effective at coaching Republican politicians to mislead, distract or dissemble on environmental issues. It is an unlikely professional relationship - and therefore a surprisingly credible one.

ClimateSpin: Using the Stolen Emails to Cripple Policy

The stolen email narrative is beginning to take shape, in a way that is both disingenuous and damaging, and a prime example is attached and linked here.

This article, by Stephen Hayward in the Weekly Standard, is a mash of good information and bad analysis - a strident overstatement of the case “proven” by the emails that were stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and released last month. It also seems to provide a case study for how the emails will be used to undermine action by people who are not well-informed about climate science and can be misled with a few sensible-sounding references.

It’s appropriate to acknowledge - on this and every occasion - that the emails in question, 13 years worth, contain some embarrassing excerpts. They show some of the quoted scientists to be frustrated, sometimes petty and, in a few unfortunate cases, prepared to hide data from critics.

An independent analysis of the emails, however, show that they did not, in any way, undermine the scientific foundation for our understanding of how and why the climate is changing. Even Hayward acknowledges that “Climate change is a genuine phenomenon, and there is a nontrivial risk of major consequences in the future.”

The Copenhagen Tea Party

The American Tea Party phenomenon unfortunately has a long arm, reaching all the way to the international climate negotiations currently underway in Copenhagen, Denmark.

With their outrageous signs and over-the-top rhetoric, the Tea Party claims can be easily dismissed as fringe players, but they are nevertheless playing a role in blocking action in Washington on the issue of climate change.

This is something the fossil fuel industry and their think tank network are very aware of and are using to their full advantage. One need not look any further than the notorious Americans for Prosperity, one of the leading groups organizing Tea Party attacks on healthcare reform, and now climate solutions.

The AFP is an organization that has recieved millions of dollars in funding over the years from the Koch Family Foundations - Koch Industries Inc., is the largest private energy company in the United States and a major Big Oil force. When it comes to funding the right-wing think tanks and the climate denial industry, Koch makes ExxonMobil look like a minor player.

AFP is a non-profit organization that will not disclose its donors when asked. However, Media Transparency shows that Americans for Prosperity, and their previous incarnation “Citizens for a Sound Economy,” have received over $13 million from the Koch foundations. 

Canadian Climate Plan: All Public Relations; No Policy

The Canadian government’s climate plan is pure politics - pure public relations. It’s all hot air, with no regulation or legislation to back it up. The government is not passing laws to limit greenhouse gas emissions. It is not setting science-based targets and it’s not financing renewable energy.

And now we learn that the governing Conservative Party has been contemplating a rollback in the inadequate emission regulations that they have advertised but never enforced. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Environment Minister Jim Prentice appear to be fiddling while their friends and political supporters in the tar sands capitals of Alberta set fire to Rome.

Canada has already earned international humiliation in Copenhagen as a country that is lobbying AGAINST a reasonable agreement. It is fighting to trash the Kyoto accord, regardless that no legally binding alternative is in place. It is one of only only two parties to the Protocol that is fighting against using a common base year (1990) that would make its stated emission limits transparent.

If only it was Canada making the Copenhagen announcement

Today at the Copenhagen climate talks there was a press conference held that unfortunately turned out to NOT be the new stance of the Canadian government.

Along with some great new COP-15, Environment Canada and Wall Street Journal sites, the spoofers conducted a press conference announcing Canada’s “Agenda 2020.”

Here’s their press release:

December 14, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CANADA ANNOUNCES NEW AGENDA FOR CLIMATE AND WORLD DEVELOPMENT
Plan includes stricter emissions reductions and immediate “climate debt” bailouts for most affected countries

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