Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming by James Hoggan

Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming

byJames Hoggan, Richard Littlemore

Paperback | August 31, 2009

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An insider's view of how the energy industry has fuelled a bogus controversy about climate change.

This book rips the lid off the campaign to discredit scientists, confuse journalists, and deny climate change. The tactics have been slick, but PR expert James Hoggan and investigative journalist Richard Littlemore have compiled a readable, accessible guidebook through the muck. Beginning with leaked memos from the coal industry, the oil industry and the tobacco-sponsored lie-about-science industry, the authors expose the plans to "debunk" global warming; they track the execution of those plans; and they illuminate the results—confusion, inaction, and an epidemic of public mistrust.

Climate Cover-Up names names, identifying bogus experts who are actually paid lobbyists and flaks. The authors reveal the PR techniques used to misinform, to mangle the language, and to intimidate the media into maintaining a phony climate change debate. Exposing the seedy origins of that debate, this book will leave you fuming at the extent, the effect, and the ethical affront of the climate cover-up.

About The Author

James Hoggan, co-founder of DeSmogBlog.com, is president of James Hoggan & Associates, an award-winning public relations firm in Canada. Hoggan is also chair of the David Suzuki Foundation and a trustee of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education.Richard Littlemore is a strategist and senior writer at James Hoggan & Associates and...
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Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming
Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming

by James Hoggan

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Title:Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global WarmingFormat:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.5 inPublished:August 31, 2009Publisher:Greystone Books Ltd.Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1553654854

ISBN - 13:9781553654858

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INTRODUCTIONThis is a story of betrayal, a story of selfishness, greed, and irresponsibility on an epic scale. In its darkest chapters, it’s a story of deceit, of poisoning public judgment—of an antidemocratic attack on our political structures and a strategic undermining of the journalistic watchdogs who keep our social institutions honest. It is ultimately a story that drove me and those closest to me to outrage and to activism. And although it is not my purpose to make you angry, I hope that you may, through the coming pages, come to understand the sense of indignation and injustice that brought me to write this book. I didn’t go looking for this trouble. I don’t think of myself as an activist, and I don’t fit the stereotypical description of an environmentalist. I have a decent wardrobe that doesn’t include a single hair shirt. I spend too much money on art, fine wine, skis, and high-end bicycle parts, and I am in recovery from my habit of buying luxury cars. Nor do I bear any grudges against “the establishment”—and particularly not the public relations industry. As the owner of a successful Vancouver public relations firm, I think that pr is a good thing. It connects people and builds understanding, and I generally have a high regard for my professional colleagues. It’s true that there have always been bad actors in my business—the tobacco apologists and the partisan political spin doctors—but I have always regarded them as obvious exceptions. In my career, examples of spin-doctoring seemed episodic, not epidemic. Or that’s what I thought before I started looking closely at the climate file. That too began in relative innocence, and only three or four years ago. I was thinking about adding a community service element to the Hoggan & Associates Web site, and somebody suggested a public information section on climate change. I liked the idea immediately. I knew the topic was controversial, and I knew that in a controversy people sometimes oversell their position. I thought it would be useful to introduce an objective viewpoint. I started doing a lot of reading and was surprised by what I discovered. Where I expected a blistering controversy, I found an overwhelming scientific consensus. Mainstream media had been reporting that doubt lurked in every report, that for every scientist warning of global warming there was another saying it was all bunk. But when I started reading reports from the world’s leading science academies, I found that everyone seemed to be speaking with one voice. Every science academy in every major developed country in the world had stated clearly that the world’s climate is changing dangerously and humans are to blame. Why, I wondered, were people so confused? Who had started this public debate? The great U.S. journalist Ross Gelbspan had the answer. In two early books, The Heat Is On (1997) and Boiling Point (2004), Ross had uncovered the first hard evidence of an organized campaign, largely financed by the coal and oil industries, to make us think that climate science was somehow still controversial, climate change still unproven. I had always known about the potential for public manipulation, but I had never conceived of a campaign so huge, well-funded, and well-organized. Ross is anything but a conventional environmentalist. He’s a reporter, skeptical to the bone. And when I flew to Boston to meet him, he told me that when he had started looking into climate change, he actually thought the “science skeptics” had it right. He thought the science was truly stuck in uncertainty. Then Harvard oceanographer Dr. James McCarthy showed Ross how the deniers were twisting the data to mislead people, and he posed what for Ross became an important question: where were these purported skeptics getting their money? The answer to that question formed the backbone of The Heat Is On, and what Ross found struck me as a revelation. Denier scientists were being paid well, not for conducting climate research, but for practicing public relations. As I looked around, I started to notice evidence of the campaign everywhere I looked. To a trained eye the unsavory public relations tactics and techniques and the strategic media manipulation became obvious. The more I thought about it, the more deeply offended I became. I also found that the same sense of indignation was common among my friends and colleagues. For example, the senior writer at Hoggan & Associates and my collaborator on this book is Richard Littlemore. A veteran newspaper guy, Richard is like Ross Gelbspan, another ink-stained skeptic accustomed to steering a wide berth around anyone who is passionately committed to a cause. But he had been worrying about climate change since 1996, when he took a freelance contract to write a public education package on the topic for the David Suzuki Foundation, Canada’s leading environmental organization. Even then, Richard says, reading through the material, “it was clear we were in trouble, and obvious that some people were trying to deny it.” In 1998 Richard was selected to be a part of the Canadian government’s Kyoto Implementation Process, which he describes now as “a sham,” a “vast public relations exercise designed only to waste time—an effort that never had a chance of success.” Richard found himself distraught and disillusioned at the scope and nature of the big lie (in this case, that the Canadian government was serious about reducing national greenhouse gas emissions). It was, he says, built on a foundation of what he came to think of as little insults to democracy, incremental efforts to ensure that government did nothing to disrupt the profitable status quo. My own gathering horror probably came to a head one day when I started sharing my newfound knowledge with my old friend John Lefebvre, a burly lawyer turned musician who along the way had made his fortune by helping to build an Internet banking empire. John has the kind of money that makes the worries of the world drift into the distance, but he also has a conscience. We were chatting during the summer of 2005 about this corruption of the public conversation when John said, flatly and urgently, “What can we do about it?” That’s how DeSmogBlog was born. We decided to start doing this research in a more organized way and share it with everyone we could find. With a generous stake from John we launched www.DeSmogBlog.com, an unfamiliar but promising Internet platform that we hoped would give us access to a larger audience. Richard started collecting information. He identified people who seemed to be making a living by denying climate change, and he asked a few obvious questions: Were these climate “skeptics” qualified? Were they doing any research in the climate change field? Were they accepting money, directly or indirectly, from the fossil fuel industry? Finding that the most vocal skeptics were not qualified, were not working in the field, and all too frequently were on one or another oily payroll, we started publishing our results online. From that modest beginning we have built a popular Web site and an active team of researchers and collaborators. We hired Kevin Grandia as a manager early in 2006 and began attracting volunteers such as Emily Murgatroyd—a woman who proved so passionate and determined that we made her part of the team. We engaged brilliant contributors, including the authors Ross Gelbspan, Bill McKibben (Deep Economy), and Chris Mooney (The Republican War on Science and Stormworld: Hurricanes, Politics and the Battle over Global Warming). We found established journalists like Mitch Anderson and hot up-andcomers like Jeremy Jacquot and Nathanael Baker. More to the point, we assembled the body of research that we share with you here. This is more, however, than a collection of posts or a greatest hits album. We have tried to pull together the whole story, to give you a complete sense of how the public climate change conversation was pushed so badly off the rails.I suspect that you will find the results offensive, even infuriating. We are at a critical juncture in human history. By mastering technology and by (so far) outperforming every other species on the planet, we humans have achieved global domination. We can remake landscapes, defeat diseases, extend life spans, and expand the scope and scale of human wealth by almost every measure. We can also trash whole countries, pollute streams, rivers, lakes, and perhaps ultimately whole oceans, to a disastrous extent. We can kill one another more quickly than ever in human history, and we can change the world’s climate in a way that scientists say is threatening our ability to survive on Earth. The question, as yet unanswered, is whether we can stop. Can we as a species rescue ourselves from a threat of our own making? To do so will take personal restraint, political courage, and a degree of global cooperation unprecedented in human history. Even more, it will take a clear understanding of the risks—an understanding that we will only achieve if we expose the climate cover-up. That’s been our goal, and you may judge our success in your own time. After which, I hope that you will join us in our effort to restore integrity to the public conversation about science, about governance, and about saving the world. That sounds melodramatic, but I believe two things absolutely. First, I believe that scientists have been telling us the truth when they’ve said that the world is at risk. And second, even if countering the risk will be difficult, even if the tasks seem overwhelming or the solutions are dismissed by the deniers as impractical, I believe, absolutely, that the world is worth saving.

Editorial Reviews

"[Climate Cover-Up] explains how the propaganda generated by self interest groups has purposely created confusion about climate change. It’s an imperative read for a successful future."—Leonardo DiCaprio, actor"To those of us who have been unknowingly made to turn a blind eye to the terrifying and true facts about global warming, there's no time left for ignorance. Please read this shocking and incredible book, learn how we've been manipulated, get angry and take action."—Neve Campbell, actress and producer“Climate Cover-up: the Crusade to Deny Global Warming is a remarkable deconstruction of what he argues is a carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign whose goal is to set the agenda in climate policy by discrediting legitimate science and manipulating public perceptions of the scientific evidence.”—Vancouver Sun“James Hoggan’s Climate Cover-up is our generations Hidden Persuaders, an exposé of the methods by which people are convinced (or paid) to write comments to Treehugger like ‘climate change is a hoax’ …it exposes how truth gets twisted, how lies become opinions worthy of editorial pages, how Exxon greases the whole process.”—Treehugger.com “Canadian environmental activists Hoggan and Littlemore pull no punches in this spirited indictment of global warming deniers. Their well-sourced research spotlights premeditated prevarications about the threat of greenhouse gas emissions by the oil and coal industry, in league with ‘junk’ scientists, compliant conservative politicians and unsavory public relations practitioners.”—Publishers Weekly “Climate Cover-Up is a must-read for anyone who’s concerned about the biggest effort ever at media manipulation by the world’s most powerful corporations…Hoggan’s book is really about how a vast conspiracy has been undertaken by corporations opposed to reducing greenhouse gasses and pollution to convince the media that everything is just fine.”—24 Hours “…compelling insights for anyone interested in learning why there is so much confusion about this issue in the media.”—Georgia Straight “The book examines the research organizations and academics who question weather human activity is causing dangerous global warming, and trace their arguments back to funding from the fossil-fuel industry…”—Times Colonist "Climate Cover-Up reveals how strategic corporate public relations, an unwitting media, and feckless scientists have created a rhetoric-driven public conversation about climate change that defies logic and reason. If you are interested in positive social change on climate issues, this book is a must-read."—Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., dean, School of Public Affairs, University of California“An exposé of planetary scale.”—Jim Hansen, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies"This is essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of democracy.”—Andrew Weaver, author of Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World“A compelling, sometimes chilling explanation of how public safety has been sacrificed on the altar of private interest.”—Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science"A clear and courageous battle cry against those who, for profit's sake, would lead us to environmental and, ultimately, economic ruin."—Lester R. Brown, author of Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization"An important and disturbing book about the lies and corrupt language that government and industry still employ to dismiss the facts on global warming."—Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent"Jim Hoggan in this essential book illuminates our folly, even as he points a way forward with hope."—Wade Davis, author of The Serpent and the Rainbow"Climate Cover-Up clears the way for a new era of honesty and climate progress."—Tzeporah Berman, campaign director and founder, Forest Ethics