The Climate Deniers Are Using the Same Tactics as the Tobacco Industry
As it becomes increasingly obvious that global warming is entering doomsday scenario territory, the fossil fuel industry is ramping up the propaganda war. Last week, the so-called Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) released its fifth report “debunking” the findings of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to the NIPCC report, which was published by the conservative think tank the Heartland Institute, global warming is nothing to worry about. It’s just a natural process that’s happened hundreds of times before. If anything, the report concludes, global warming could be a good thing because extra CO2 in the atmosphere means more air for plants to breath. Seriously.
Not surprisingly, Fox So-Called News has picked up on the NIPCC report and is treating it like real science. But if you’re wondering why 97 percent of scientists disagree with the NIPCC on global warming, Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast says it’s because the entire climate science community has been “corrupted” by environmentalists. In reality, though, it’s the NIPCC and the Heartland institute that are corrupt and dishonest.
To quote Deepthroat, just follow the money.
The Heartland Institute, the think tank that published the NIPCC report, is largely funded by the fossil fuel industry and its allies. In fact, it’s received around $67 million dollars over the past thirty years from donors like Exxon Mobil, the Koch Brothers, and the Scaife Foundation. All stand to get very, very rich if we continue pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
The NIPCC report’s leading authors, meanwhile, are a virtual who’s who of the climate denial industry. Dr. Fred Singer, the group’s founder, has been pushing the lie that global warming isn’t a big deal for decades now, and fossil fuel companies have helped him out all along the way.
Make no mistake about it: the NIPCC report is one giant scam created by the fossil fuel industry to trick the public into thinking global warming is a lie. History, it seems, is repeating itself in the worst possible way. Back in the 1990s, the people behind the NIPCC climate change denial machine used to shill for another not-so-reputable industry: the tobacco industry.
As lawsuits and Congressional hearings turned public opinion turned against the tobacco industry, the Heartland Institute pushed out bunk study after bunk study claiming that there was no connection between secondhand smoke and cancer.
In 1998, for example, current Heartland President Joseph Bast argued in a piece for the think tank’s website that the “EPA had to twist and torture its data to find a public health risk from secondhand smoke.”
The Heartland Institute’s PR campaign was so crucial to the tobacco industry’s cause that Phillip Morris executive Tom Borelli actually listed supporting the Heartland Institute as one of his company’s most important strategies in a 1993 memo called the “Five Year Plan.” At the same time as Heartland towed the big tobacco party line, NIPCC founder Fred Singer was busy pumping out some blatant pro-tobacco of his own. In 1993, he joined up with the Philip Morris’ favorite PR firm APCO Associates to “debunk” studies showing the link between secondhand smoke and cancer.
All this, of course, was done to protect the interests of giant tobacco companies who denied in front of Congress that nicotine was addictive. There are few coincidences in history. The fossil fuel industry today appears to be following the exact same script used by the tobacco industry in the 1990s.
If you’re an optimist, you might point to tobacco settlement of the 1990s and say that eventually the truth will prevail and the bad guys will get outed. But remember, it took more than thirty years after Surgeon General Luther Terry warned the American people about the dangers of smoking to hold the tobacco industry accountable for the deaths it was causing and continues to cause.
With global warming, we may not have that kind of time. Some scientists think runaway climate change could kill off the human race in a matter of decades. It’s time for the American people and the media to wake up and call out the climate denial industry for what it is, a scam, before it’s too late. After all, the future of humanity is at stake.