By David L. Brown
In earlier posts we have discussed the question of how government and powerful energy-related multinational corporations may have acted to suppress information about climate change and confuse the issue in the minds of ordinary citizens. There appears to be ample evidence that this has occurred, and it is a curious example of how the general public — even well-educated individuals — can be hoodwinked.
To those of us who are science-literate and pay attention to knowledgeable sources such as the National Research Council, Britain’s Lord Stern, the IPCC and NASA’s James Hansen, there is no question but that so-called global warming is real and that climate change is taking place. Virtually every respected scientist with expertise in related fields agrees with this, and yet here in the U.S their voices have all-too-often been either outright gagged by government officials or their opinions “refuted” by flaks and talking heads working for the anti-global warming forces.
One of the strongest voices attempting to bring attention to the threat of climate change has been former Vice President Al Gore. Here is his latest word on the subject, delivered at a forum in Singapore and reported by the Associated Press here:
“There has been an organized campaign, financed to the tune of about $10 million a year from some of the largest carbon polluters, to create the impression that there is disagreement in the scientific community,” Gore said… “In actuality, there is very little disagreement.”
Gore likened the campaign to the millions of dollars spent by U.S. tobacco companies years ago on creating the appearance of scientific debate on smoking’s harmful effects.
“This is one of the strongest of scientific consensus views in the history of science,” Gore said. “We live in a world where what used to be called ‘propaganda’ now has a major role to play in shaping public opinion.”
After the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] made up of the world’s top climate scientists, released a report in February that warned that the cause of global warming is “very likely” man-made, “the deniers offered a bounty of $10,000 for each article disputing the consensus that people could crank out and get published somewhere,” Gore said.
“They’re trying to manipulate opinion and they are taking us for fools,” he said.
He said Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, is one of the major fuel companies involved in trying to mislead the public about global warming.
[For more on this, read my post "ExxonMobil's Great Global Warming Coverup," posted here on January 3.]
“Some of the tobacco companies spent millions of dollars to create the appearance that there was disagreement on the science. And some of the large coal and utility companies and the largest oil company, ExxonMobil, have been involved in doing that exact same thing for the last several years,” Gore said.
Predictably, according to the AP, ExxonMobil replied that Gore’s “allegation” was “completely false.” This does not fit well with published records showing that the oil giant has consistently funded nay-sayers on the question of climate change, both individuals and organizations such as conservative think tanks.
But is the worm beginning to turn? It seems that the overwhelming and growing mass of evidence in support of climate change is beginning to make outright denial an untenable position, even for the Bush administration which has been a strong supporter of the energy companies. Back in May the President announced plans for an international summit to address climate change. [See my post "Bush on GHG: Breath of Air or More BS?" posted May 14.]
It appears that Bush may have meant what he said, because according to a report from the Chinese news service Xinhua, his administration is moving ahead on the commitment. Here is an excerpt of the story datelined Washington, as reported on the news agency’s China View web site here:
U.S. President George W. Bush sets a high-level conference on global warming in September that will include the U.S., the European Union, the United Nations and other 11 nations, a senior governmental official announced Friday.
The exact date for the first of a series of climate conference is set for Sept. 27-28, the official said.
Bush proposed that by the end of next year, America and other nations set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases that spur global warming. This is the main purpose of the climate conference.
Bush unveiled a long-term strategy on climate change in late May before a summit of the G8, urging major nations to set a global emission goal.
In a letter to invitees, Bush assured them that “the United States is committed to collaborating with other major economies” to agree on a global framework for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to Reuters report.
Bush agreed with other leaders of the G8 in June to make “substantial” but unspecified reductions in climate-warming emissions and to negotiate a new global climate pact that would extend and broaden the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.
It remains to be seen whether Bush is truly serious about addressing climate change, but if he is this could signal a major 180 degree policy turn. In fact, using the analogy of a ship it could be described as turning away from a deadly reef toward the open sea.
But it should be pointed out that serious political problems remain, not least the insistence of “developing nations” such as China, which is now the No. 1 polluter in the world, that they be given exemption from drastic efforts to contain greenhouse gas emissions. That was the worm in the apple of the Kyoto Accord, which placed the burden of solving global warming squarely onto the developed world while allowing rapid industrialization in places such as China, India, and South America to continue to spew out carbon.
I will close by commenting that it took reading a Chinese news report to find out about this development. Where is the U.S. mainstream media? Oh, yes, I forgot there are more important things to write about, such as Paris Hilton’s latest escapades, the political opinions of Sean Penn, Michael Jackson’s whereabouts, etc. etc. ad vomitum. Jeeesh!