The audacious PR plot that seeded doubt about climate change

Started by Hydra009, July 23, 2022, 09:54:33 AM

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It started in 1992, when the recently-created Global Climate Coalition (an innocuous name for a cabal of oil and gas businesses, some of the worst polluters on the planet - to gainsay the even then clear scientific fact of pollution-induced climate change)

They weren't worried under Bush Sr due to his industry ties.  But Al Gore had them in a panic.

QuoteDrawing on thousands of newly discovered documents, this three-part film charts how the oil industry mounted a campaign to sow doubt about the science of climate change, the consequences of which we are living through today.

QuoteThey would persuade people that the scientific facts weren't settled, and that alongside the environment, policy makers needed to consider how action on climate change would - in the GCC's view - negatively affect American jobs, trade and prices.

The strategy would be implemented through an extensive media campaign, everything from placing quotes and pitching opinion pieces (so-called op-eds), to direct contacts with journalists.

"A lot of reporters were assigned to write stories," Rheem says, "and they were struggling with the complexity of the issue. So I would write backgrounders so reporters could read them and get up to speed."
They got reporters "up to speed" by feeding them disinfo - lies and half-truths - through glossy, professionally-produced (and therefore credible) brochures and newsletters.

QuoteWhile most climate scientists agreed that human-caused climate change was a real issue that would require action, a small group argued there was no cause for alarm. The plan was to pay these sceptics to give speeches or write op-eds - about $1,500 (£1,250) per article - and to arrange media tours so they could appear on local TV and radio stations.
They created an army of professional liars and sent them loose on your local TV and radio stations to deceive you.  And they were aided by news stations that favored a "fair and balanced" approach, splitting the difference between truth and lies, between reality and unreality:

Quote"My role was to identify the voices that were not in the mainstream and to give those voices a stage," Rheem says. "There was a lot we didn't know at the time. And part of my role was to highlight what we didn't know."

He says the media was hungry for these perspectives.

"Journalists were actually actively looking for the contrarians. It was really feeding an appetite that was already there."

QuoteThree decades on, the consequences are all around us.

"I think it's the moral equivalent of a war crime," says former US Vice-President Al Gore of the big oil companies' efforts to block action.

"I think it is, in many ways, the most serious crime of the post-World War Two era, anywhere in the world. The consequences of what they've done are just almost unimaginable."