Friday, June 12, 2015

Confused Global Warming Deniers

To preserve their flow of profit, tobacco companies in the 1960's countered the scientific research about cigarettes and lung cancer by producing a war on scientists and their research

“Merchants of Doubt” is primarily based on the influential 2010 book of the same name by science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, which traces the strategy and tactics of climate denial back to the tobacco industry’s 50-year propaganda war against clear-cut medical evidence and increased government regulation. “Our product is doubt,” as one infamous internal memo, found amid the reams of tobacco-industry documents pried free from the corporate vaults, put it. Advised by consultants at the P.R. firm Hill & Knowlton never to directly deny the mounting evidence that cigarettes were addictive and deadly, tobacco execs and their hired scientific hands insisted for decades that they simply weren’t sure. Maybe and maybe not! We need more research and more evidence! We don’t personally believe these things are harmful just because smokers are many times more likely to die of lung cancer – but who really knows?

The Heartland Institute was founded to support the effort by the tobacco companies to promote cigarette smoking and in the 1980's moved on to global warming denialism.  Thus we see a strong connection between the people obfuscating the smoking/lung cancer issue and global warming denialism. 

A prominent global warming denial web site is now exercising its right of free speech to turn this obvious connection on its head

The warmists have it exactly backwards. It is the global warming proponents who are guilty of the tobacco tactics.

Climate Depot needs to look up the definition of sophistry.  The comparison of the tobacco industry and the oil industry is pretty straightforward.  First, science produces evidence that threatens them, and they counter with tactics spreading doubt about the science.  With cigarette smoking it was easy because the only evidence was epidemiological, essentially survey data.  It wasn't ethical to conduct clinical trials and as a result the evidence had to come about from the accumulation of many epidemiological studies.  During that time it was always possible to throw doubt on the findings.

The global warming deniers have a far more difficult task than the tobacco companies.  The evidence for global warming is extensive.  One problem the scientists had with tobacco is that they didn't have laboratory evidence of smoking causing cancer in the lungs, a "smoking" gun, so to speak.  But the climate scientists have a well-established process, the greenhouse effect.  Fortunately for the deniers, they don't really have to go after every piece of evidence for global warming.  All they have to do is go after the weakest ones, like the cheetah after the gazelles, find the slowest one.  They chop up that one finding, and use that to throw the unsuspecting public into confusion. 

Actually there's a long history of this sort of attack on scientists going back to the dawn of the Enlightenment.  There were travelling preachers inveighing against Copernicus' claim of the earth going around the sun for a hundred years after he died.  Even now, a hundred years after Einstein's theory of gravitation was proven by evidence, people still believe that gravity is an attractive force pulling us to the ground.   What science shows us takes some people a long time to accept.

Global warming deniers are composed of amateurs and crackpots.  Also some scientists, but not climate scientists.  There isn't any way that the deniers can claim that they aren't anything but the same people who disputed the connection of smoking cigarettes to lung cancer, or the people who couldn't accept that the earth went around the sun rather than vice versa.