naomi oreskes

Senate Hearing Calls out the Influence of Dark Money in Blocking Climate Action

Read time: 6 mins
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Today Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led a hearing of Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, which examined “Dark Money and Barriers to Climate Action.” The testimony of the expert panel and the questions and observations from senators reinforced the overwhelming influence of money — and specifically untraceable donations known as “dark money” — working against action on climate change.

New Report Explains How to Debunk ExxonMobil's Denial, as Legal Cases Against It Proceed

Read time: 4 mins
ExxonKnew protesters

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup.

On last Thursday evening, Bloomberg reported that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is proceeding with the state’s case against ExxonMobil for “engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in its efforts to cast doubt on climate science.

ExxonMobil brass may be particularly annoyed by the notification that Massachusetts is moving forward. This Wednesday, the oil giant will appear in a New York court for that state’s case against it. As E&E explains in an (unpaywalled) story, the New York case revolves around the company’s use of two sets of “proxy costs” to gauge how much of a hit the company would take from climate policies.

Climate Misinformation Researchers Throw Support Behind California Communities Suing Fossil Fuel Companies

Read time: 4 mins
Stand up for Science rally

Just in case fossil fuel companies had forgotten when and how much they knew about the impacts their products have had on the climate, a reminder came at them in court this week.

On January 29, six researchers studying climate misinformation filed one of eight friend-of-the-court briefs in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the California communities suing fossil fuel companies for climate damages.

Study Finds Exxon Misled the Public by Withholding Climate Knowledge

Read time: 4 mins
Exxon sign

Coal, oil and gas are tremendous resources: solar energy absorbed by plants and super-concentrated over millions of years. They’re potent fuels and provide ingredients for valuable products. But the oil boom, spurred by improved drilling technology, came at the wrong time. Profits were (and still are) the priority — rather than finding the best, most efficient uses for finite resources.

In North America, governments and corporations facilitated infrastructure to get people to use oil and gas as if they were limitless. Companies like Ford built cars bigger than necessary, and although early models ran on ethanol, the oil boom made petroleum the fuel of choice. Public transit systems were removed and governments used tax revenues to accommodate private automobiles rather than buses and trains.

The oil industry fulfilled many of its promises and became the main driver of western economies. It increased mobility and led to job and profit growth in vehicle manufacturing, oil and gas, tourism and fast food, among others. Petroleum-derived plastics made life more convenient.

The industry boom and the car culture it fuelled had negative consequences, though — including injuries and death, rapid resource exploitation, pollution and climate change. Plastics are choking oceans and land.

Are these unintended consequences? When did people learn burning large quantities of fossil fuels might be doing more harm than good? Evidence suggests scientists, governments and industry knew all along there would be a steep price to pay for our excesses.

I Was an Exxon-Funded Climate Scientist

Read time: 7 mins
Exxon station signs

By Katharine Hayhoe, Texas Tech University

ExxonMobil’s deliberate attempts to sow doubt on the reality and urgency of climate change and their donations to front groups to disseminate false information about climate change have been public knowledge for a long time, now.

Investigative reports in 2015 revealed that Exxon had its own scientists doing its own climate modeling as far back as the 1970s: science and modeling that was not only accurate, but that was being used to plan for the company’s future.

Exxon Changed its Tune on Climate Science, Depending on Audience, Study Shows

Read time: 6 mins

By Dave Levitan. Crossposted from Climate Liability News.

A peer-reviewed analysis of 37 years of communications from ExxonMobil concluded that the oil company has misled the public for decades about climate science and climate change. When their communications were aimed at the public and non-scientific audiences, they focused on doubt and uncertainty. At the same time, the company’s internal communications and peer-reviewed science broadly agreed with the scientific consensus that fossil fuel burning is warming the planet.

Available documents show a systematic discrepancy between what ExxonMobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change privately and in academic circles and what it presented to the general public,” the study concluded. It was researched and written by Harvard professor Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral fellow in Harvard’s Department of the History of Science.

Hundreds of Scientists and Supporters Gather to Rally Against Attacks on Science

Read time: 5 mins
scientists rallying

On a gray afternoon in downtown San Francisco, hundreds of scientists and supporters held a rally to “champion the role of science in society,” while the news of President-elect Donald Trump's latest cabinet appointment of a fossil fuel industry ally and climate denier, Rick Perry, reverberated through the air like the bells of a nearby church.

“As scientists, it’s not enough just to do our science,” Harvard social scientist Naomi Oreskes told the crowd. “We have to get out and explain to people why the science matters to them, to their lives, to their jobs, to their communities, to their health and well-being, and to their prosperity.”

Naomi Oreskes: A New Form of Climate Denialism is at Work in Canada

Read time: 5 mins

No one has a better handle on the effect climate deniers have on the socio-political stage than science historian and author Naomi Oreskes.
 
Her book Merchants of Doubt charts the path of many of the world’s most notorious deniers, skeptics, shills, PR men and experts-for-hire. Plus, as a trained historian and professor of earth and environmental sciences at Harvard, Oreskes has the ability to take a 10,000-foot view when it comes to climate politics and the turning tide of public opinion.
 
Oreskes recently visited Vancouver to discuss climate change and climate denial in Canada at a talk organized by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.  
 
For Oreskes, understanding how climate denial is active in places like Canada involves acknowledging the expansiveness of climate change as an issue, one that cuts across boundaries between government, society and market power.
 
We asked Oreskes what she makes of Canada’s current political situation — a situation in which our  prime minister announces impressive climate targets on the world stage but then quietly approves B.C.’s first LNG export terminal on a Friday afternoon.
 
“Of course there is a long road ahead,” Oreskes said. “[Climate change] is a very big issue that reaches into economics, politics and culture.”

Climate Experts Urge Dutch Government Not to Appeal Historic Court Ruling to Cut Carbon Emissions

Read time: 2 mins
Urgenda climate ruling in Dutch court

Leading climate scientists, lawyers, doctors and scholars from around the world are calling on the Dutch Government to reconsider its plans to appeal the historic Urgenda judgement by a Dutch Court ordering the government to dramatically reduce carbon emissions by 2020.

In a letter submitted yesterday to the Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and Vice Prime Minister Asscher, renowned climate experts James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes and Michael Gerrard were among the 20 signatories urging the government to “accept a judgement which is solidly based in existing law, jurisprudence and the need to protect people from the harm associated with climate change”.

Earlier this month, the Dutch Government announced plans to appeal the decision. The deadline for filing an appeal is September 24, leaving just one more day for the government to formally submit an appeal – and just one more day for others to try and persuade it otherwise.

Fred Singer Recalls Silly Attack On Consensus And Naomi Oreskes By Klaus-Martin Schulte, Lord Monckton's Endocrinologist Front Man

Read time: 10 mins

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.

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