When climate, public relations meet

Anthony J. Sadar
The Washington Times
June 4, 2010

CLIMATE COVER-UP: THE CRUSADE TO DENY GLOBAL WARMING

By James Hoggan, with Richard Littlemore

Greystone Books, $15

240 pages

REVIEWED BY ANTHONY J. SADAR

Environmentalism may be the world’s fastest- growing religion. And, like other religions, its ability to win converts often relies on crises. After the scare over the coming ice age failed to materialize in the 1970s, environmentalism was given a real boost when the global warming crisis revved up.

To manage a crisis well, you need good public relations. Enter the PR gurus and their revelation “Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming.” The authors of “Climate Cover-Up” and the associated website DeSmogBlog.com do some crusading of their own for the cause of the faith.

The sinners are easy to spot: Any individual or think tank supported by the usual evil-industry suspects, “Big Oil,” “Big Coal,” “Big Tobacco,” and the like. In addition, anyone who dares to question “Nobel laureate Al Gore,” “best in the world” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate scientists, and other such saints, or the anthropogenic global warming orthodoxy in general, will be subject to exposure, ridicule and enthusiastic belittlement by the ever-vigilant guardian angels.

If even half the sins exposed in “Climate Cover-Up” are true (and I suspect more than half are), the contrarian camp has some serious penance to deal with. However, the authors imply that such conditions (like Big Energy funding, shaky credentials and Orwellian language games) make the contrarian position a weak one. Note, though, such arguments go both ways. Volumes have been written wedding the same faults to the “consensus” position.

But some of these foibles, as identified by “Climategate” for instance, are actually defended or mitigated by “Climate Cover-Up” and DeSmogBlog. And, what about funding? Because “Climate Cover-Up” looks at Big Energy as something akin to inherent evil, Big Energy’s money is dirty. However, its contributions to its causes are quite small by comparison with that of say “Big Government” largesse, which “Climate Cover-Up” seems to favor, at least when it comes to IPCC research and forcing people to cut their carbon emissions.

Regarding the IPCC, note that its role is “to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.” Thus, as Mr. Gore has referenced Upton Sinclair’s quote, so do his disciples in “Climate Cover-Up,” proclaiming “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on him not understanding it.”

All this aside, I believe the authors would agree that it’s the truth that matters, not the fallible evangelists of it. Here is where the authors, neither of whom has even an undergraduate degree in science, have to take the science of human-caused climate change on faith. They believe their faith is well grounded, since it is in “incredibly intelligent people who are doing a Nobel-prize winning job.” And, there is some reliance, for example, on climate-science training by Nobel laureate Al Gore. Such training apparently trumps an education and subsequent career in a science field either in, or closely related to, climatology.

Nevertheless, it should take only a little education in science and perhaps a lot of common sense to see through the billowing incense when anyone or any group, no matter how intelligent, saintly and sincere, assures you it sufficiently deciphered the mysteries of climate to be able to confidently foretell global conditions 10, 20, and even 100 years from now.

I certainly agree with the authors that “you should read up on climate science.” Perhaps you should start with a book that was misread and subsequently mischaracterized in “Climate Cover-Up.” The book is “The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution and Fraud” by Lawrence Solomon. In “Climate Cover-Up,” the authors state that “Solomon admits [on page 45 of ‘The Deniers’] that none of his subjects were deniers. Not a single one.”

Unfortunately for “Climate Cover-Up,” Mr. Solomon was clearly referring to the few climate scientists with whom he began his book. Mr. Solomon was saying that those several scientists were skeptical of the conclusions of consensus climate science in their own specialized area, but rather convinced of man-made global warming outside their own area. Thus, not being true deniers.

This is a very strong defense of the fact that many people, even specialized climate researchers themselves, rely on others’ expertise. Mr. Solomon then focuses primarily on true skeptics in the remainder of his work. But, the subsequent couple dozen highly qualified, climate-related scientists biographied by Mr. Solomon are then conveniently dismissed by “Climate Cover-Up” as being included in the “Not a single one” category.

By the way, while “The Deniers” may well be at least a partial justification against some of the sanctimony in “Climate Cover-Up,” try the website icecap.us against DeSmogBlog.com.

Finally, we can prophesize stepped-up and even more-bizarre PR spins in hyperdrive for impertinent skeptics of the consensus view. “Climate Cover-Up” was “recommended reading” in the substantial cover-story special report in the May 15, 2010, issue of New Scientist, where one of the book’s authors also had a sidebar piece. The New Scientist collection of feature articles under the title “State of Denial,” began with, “From climate change to vaccines, evolution to flu, denialists are on the march. Why are so many people refusing to accept what the evidence is telling them?” Of course, in the magazine’s coverage, climate-change contrarians are also lumped in with Holocaust deniers and flat-earthers.

Skeptics of consensus climate science should consider themselves forewarned: You have been psychologically profiled. And, as you can see, environmentalism does not take too kindly to unbelievers.

Anthony J. Sadar is a certified consulting meteorologist and primary author of “Environmental Risk Communication: Principles and Practices for Industry” (CRC Press/Lewis Publishers, 2000).

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