Saturday, August 02, 2008

There are no "smoke-free areas" on the planet

Climate denial may turn out to be the world's most deadly PR campaign.

The headline and opening line are the last two sentences of an article by David McKnight, associate professor of the University of NSW. Asking, 'Who is behind climate change deniers?', McKnight tracks the emergence of the AGW denial industry, phoenix-like, from the dying embers of the tobacco-cancer link denial industry in the US.

We how the Australian denial scene even reaches into to the cabinet of the opposition. And who is engineering the campaign of doubt:

In Australia, the main group that tries to undermine the science of global warming is the Lavoisier Group. It maintains a website with links to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (over $2 million from Exxon), Science and Environmental Policy Project ($20,000) and the Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide (at least $100,000).

The Lavoisier group is certainly influential in the Federal Opposition. A senior figure in the group told Guy Pearse, author of High and Dry, a study of climate policy in Australia, that there "is an understanding in cabinet that all the science is crap".

And why it's so easy to sell doubt.

But perhaps the oil companies' PR campaign is not the main reason for the success of the climate change deniers. There are at least three others. First, the implications of the science are frightening. Shifting to renewable energy will be costly and disruptive. Second, doubt is an easy product to sell. Climate denial tells us what we all secretly want to hear. Third, science is portrayed by the free market right as a political "orthodoxy" rather than objective knowledge.
The tide slowly turned on tobacco denial and the science was accepted in the end. But climate is different. There are no "smoke-free areas" on the planet...

Read in full.

Technorati Tags: ,

No comments: