Thursday, April 13, 2006

Global Warming Skeptics Take a Page from Big Tobacco's Disinformation Playbook

Thanks to Colin Delany at the National Environmental Trust for tipping me off to their press conference this morning on the parallels between the campaigns by industry to discredit both climate change science and the health risks of tobacco. This event grew out of an article in the new issue of Vanity Fair (you know -- the green issue) by investigative journalist Mark Hertsgaard that
...[details] how Dr. Frederick Seitz, a former president of the National Academy of Sciences and one of the most often-quoted skeptics on global warming, was paid over half a million dollars by the tobacco industry to obfuscate the connection between smoking and cancer. Seitz went on to spearhead a campaign to cast scientific doubt about global warming.
In addition to an audio file of the press conference (which included Hertsgaard, Dr. James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Science, Phil Schiliro, Minority Chief of Staff, House Government Reform Committee, and Philip Clapp, President of the National Environmental Trust), NET has also released industry media plan to oppose global warming [PDF] — an April 3, 1998 American Petroleum Institute strategy memo on its public relations campaign to plant doubts about global warming science.
Pretty damning stuff. The speakers at the press conference went to great lengths to show how the plan outlined in the API memo was modeled on the tobacco industry's efforts over decades to muddy the science on the health effects of smoking. Listen to the press conference, and read the memo. And for commentary from a real scientist, go see what Daniel had to say...

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