Although this probably isn’t a surprise to most people who have followed the political gamesmanship surrounding climate change, Andy Revkin has a piece in the New York Times and an accompanying post at Dot Earth providing irrefutable evidence that like the tobacco companies before them, industry groups- who spent millions of dollars trying to convince the public that anthropogenic climate change wasn’t happening and that nothing should be done to mitigate against it- were doing so against even the conclusions of their own in-house scientists.
I hope that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of documents pertaining to the organized disinformation campaign waged against the public. Unlike the political and media pundit establishment, I don’t believe that some things need to “remain mysterious”. These revelations may not add to our understanding of the climate system or at the end of the day even provide political momentum in the US for mitigation. They will, however, allow the public to see exactly who was working in their best interests and who was working against them. This extends beyond the front groups themselves and the industries behind them. It applies as well to their fellow travelers in op-ed pages and speaking venues.
Let’s remember- certain “non-skeptical heretics” like Lomborg and Roger Pielke Jr. have long perpetuated the lie that James Hansen wanted to see trials for people over an innocent “difference of opinion” on climate change rather than a deliberate effort by industry executives, made in bad faith, to mislead the public as the tobacco company executives did. They whinged about persecution, witch hunts and inquisitions, and the trampling of free speech.
Hansen’s own words were sufficient to rebut the ludicrous claims made by the Lomborgs and Pielkes as to the scope of to whom he was referring- not, despite their claims, the genuine skeptic, or people who merely disagreed with the mainstream; but rather:
[s]pecial interests [who] have blocked transition to our renewable energy future… fossil companies [who chose] to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link… CEOs of fossil energy companies [who] know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual.
The pathetic fig leaf these “heretics” hid behind, once they were confronted with their mendacious twisting of Hansen’s claims, was that no one could really know that the industry groups were deliberately misleading the public. Here we have undeniable evidence that this is exactly what took place. How long, do you reckon, we’ll have to wait for apologies from these paragons of intellectual honesty to Hansen? And how will history look upon them, those who in exchange for fleeting acclaim fought in defense of special interest groups bent on deceiving the public about one of the greatest threats to its well-being?
[UPDATE: Pielke Jr. doesn’t dissapoint, continuing to feign concern over non-existent attacks on free speech on behalf of the poor defenseless corporations who knowingly misled the public.]