The climate change denial industry

Book review: The climate denial industry and climate science – a brief history of attacks on climate science, climate scientists and the IPCC by Cindy Baxter
Publisher: Greenpeace International (24 March, 2010)
Number of pages: 25
Publishers description: This report describes 20 years of organised attacks on climate science, scientists and the IPCC. It sets out some of the key moments in this campaign of denial started by the fossil fuel industry, and traces them to their sources.
Download Document

Anyone interested in the current “climategate” clamour will find the report interesting. It’s a must read. It’s brief (25 pages) and available as a free pdf download.

Dealing in Doubt has just been released by Greenpeace international. The report provides a brief history of attacks on climate science, climate scientists and the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It starts with the 1990s, describing the prehistory of the organisations involved (campaigning against the science on the dangers of tobacco) and the formation of the denial networks. And the history is described up until the last few weeks.

Even little old New Zealand gets a mention:

“The campaign has made it to New Zealand, where the Business Roundtable has regularly hosted a slew of denial tours, from Fred Singer in the early ‘90’s to Lord Lawson as recently as 2007134. The New Zealand government’s international stance on climate change is one of the weakest in the industrialised world.

The New Zealand and Australian deniers have joined forces with Canadian deniers to form the International Climate Science Coalition. The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, formed in 2006, has given international fame to a small group of retired colonels and scientists, who managed to get the Heartland Institute to pay for them to attend conferences, and were supported, in part, by Heartland to go to the Bali climate negotiations in 2008.”

It’s heavily referenced for any reader who wants to dig deeper. The resources listed include useful blogs and some excellent books.

There are lots of details in this report but it still only skims over the surface of the climate denjial networks and their funding. I would love someone to dig deeper into the New Zealand situation. To reveal the links between the ACT Party, The Climate Science Coalition, the Climate Conversation Group , and the Centre for Political Research. These organisations certainly coordinated their activity recently in attacking New Zealand NIWA scientists. They will also be  linked to the usual overseas conservative organisations like The Heartland Insitute and conservative media like The American Thinker, and Quadrant.

But this report is a great start.

See also:
Dealing in doubt: 20 years of attacks on climate science
Greenpeace Says Climate Denialism a 20–Year Industry

Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony


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17 responses to “The climate change denial industry

  1. Thanks Ken. Amid the mountain of rubbish around , this will bear some time spent on it.
    The GreenPeace knockers will have a ball also.


  2. ICSC denies that we deny climate change. Climate changes all the time – that’s what planetary atmospheres do – change. So that makes us denial deniers! Is that worse still?

    BTW, I am proud to say Canada won the most fossil awards for opposing mythological action on ‘stopping’ climate change in Copenhagen. New Zealand will have to wait until COP16 in Mexico for a chance to “go for gold”.

    Tom Harris


  3. Have you anything to contubute to the discussion, Tom?

    Sent from my iPod


  4. Climate changes all the time – that’s what planetary atmospheres do – change.


    Your Honour, people die all the time – that’s what people do – die. Therefore, it is unreasonable that my client is accused of murder.

    Yet another PRATT that refuses to die. The stupid, it burns!


  5. Well the post makes a big deal of denial:

    – denial networks.
    – the New Zealand and Australian deniers
    – Canadian deniers.
    – campaign of denial.

    Seems to be someone’s favorite word so it makes sense for me to ask for a clarification before being convicted:

    What is it we are supposed to be denying. It seem that it is in the subject line:

    “climate change denial”

    We, we deny that we deny climate change. Take a look at a piece about our Chair’s research:

    So that subject and the other usages of the word denial don’t make sense.

    Maybe you folks had better think of a better slogan?

    Tom Harris
    Ottawa, Canada


  6. What is it we are supposed to be denying

    That’s easy enough.
    You are denying science.

    The global scientific community has carefully built up a consensus on AGW based on peer-reviewed research, multiple independent lines of evidence and involving all of the Earth science.
    NASA, The Royal Society, Australian Antarctic Division, British Antarctic Survey, NOAA, AGU, etc. Every scientific community on the planet.
    No exceptions.

    Yet you deny it all.
    You shove your fingers in your ears and deny it.
    It’s creationism with a thermometer.

    Climate changes all the time – that’s what planetary atmospheres do – change.

    Dumb. Agonizingly dumb.


  7. Cedric Katesby says: “You are denying science.”

    Well, we could just as easily saying you are denying science.

    The truth is, we just have different positions based on the science as we understand it.

    Cedric Katesby says: “The global scientific community has carefully built up a consensus”

    How do yo know that? Can you show us a poll of the opinion of “The global scientific community” on the causes of global climate change, please?

    Even if such a reputable, comprehensive poll existed, it would prove nothing since most of “The global scientific community” do not work on climate change, let alone the causes of climate change.

    So a better request would be: Can you show us a poll of the opinions of scientists who research the causes of global climate change, about the causes of global climate change, please?

    Cedric Katesby says: “Every scientific community on the planet.” agrees, etc.

    Even if that were true (which it is not; why do you think the AGU backed down on their plans to issue a statement on anthropogenic climate change a few months ago – it was because they couldn’t get agreement among their members), how many of the leading scientific bodies you list polled their members to gauge if any consensus exited even within their own group and then published the results of such a poll?


    So, the statements of the various groups is just statements of the executives or committees appointed by the executives of the groups and so prove nothing at all about the opinions of the rank and file members of the groups

    Cedric Katesby says: “Yet you deny it all.”

    Again, what are we denying? Not climate change. Not science. Perhaps someone could tell us what it is you think we are denying, please?

    Tom Harris
    Ottawa, Canada


  8. Richard Christie

    Tom, you are merely demonstrating that you haven’t a clue about the processes of how scientific consensus, or even position statements of scientific organisations, are formed, consequently you are making a fool of yourself.
    “opinion polls” – lol.
    And if surveys of the literature is what you are after then once again, you haven’t done your homework.
    Here’s an article from today’s press to help you begin your own research.


  9. You’re dealing with this Tom Harris, it seems. So can you expect him to show a well-trained (and well-paid) PR man’s ability to dance the rhumba on the head of a pin.


  10. Er, “you can expect” etc.


  11. Thanks for that information, Gareth.

    But Tom must be having an off day as he hasn’t really performed well here yet.

    Sent from my iPod


  12. Richard Christie

    Funny, I would have thought someone with that training and background would have come up with a more intelligent line of attack.


  13. I would have thought someone with that training and background would have come up with a more intelligent line of attack.

    Richard, I was not sure what you meant until I clicked a couple of links.

    Looks like Tom is an engineer. Damn but that’s funny. In a sad, horrible, depressing way.
    Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (Mech.), Canada

    How do yo know that? Can you show us a poll…

    Deep fried stupid.
    Opinion polls. Wow.

    Well, we could just as easily saying you are denying science.

    Yeah, right. Science is just a matter of opinion.
    Who’s right and who’s wrong in science?
    Tough one.
    If only science had, I dunno, some kind of a way to figure things out.
    Some kind of…(method?/reasoning?/critical thinking?) something that could let us distinguish reality from fiction.

    Alas, science is just speculative guesswork. It’s all just viewpoints with a topping of subjectivisim wrapped up in a big blanket of post-modernist relativism.
    (God, I hate hippies.)

    Evidently, for Tom, the Enlightenment never happened. Where did you get your Degree from?
    Liberty University or Bob Jones?


  14. Good call on the Tom Harris link, Gareth.

    Quite a few gems there.

    Harris holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from Carleton University (1975) and a Master of Engineering (Mechanical – thermo-fluids) from McMaster University.

    How embarrassing for Carleton and McMaster.
    Never mind.

    “In other Tom Harris news,” Tim Lambert of Deltoid ( wrote November 7, 2006, “he’s been editing the Wikipedia page on the Natural Resource Stewardship Project in an attempt to remove the fact that as well as heading the NRSP he works for the High Park Group a PR company that lobbies for energy companies.”

    Now why would Tom do that?

    See a similar discussion with Harris on the SourceWatch Talk page for the NRSP. Harris made numerous attempts to either change or debate SourceWatch articles on himself, Friends of Science, and the NRSP.

    On July 13, 2006, Tom Harris responded to a June 6, 2006, posting on WunderBlog about him. In his posting Tom Harris’s WunderBlog, he wrote the following:

    “My climate change writing is currently funded entirely by an elderly Toronto-based private philanthropist who also funds scientific research and so wants to see the results of this research publicized.”

    Wow. Taking money from an old person by writing crap on the Internet.
    Now that’s an easy way to make money.
    Sure beats engineering.


  15. Richard Christie

    Looks like Tom is an engineer. Damn but that’s funny. In a sad, horrible, depressing way.

    Upon reflection I believe the “where are the opinion polls establishing consensus” line from Tom was consistent with a calculated agenda aimed at obfustication. It won’t wash with anyone familiar with the scientific community but may sound reasonable to those who are not so familiar.

    Even in here.

    When flies lay enough eggs some will always hatch and survive to maturity.


  16. Ken, this might catch your interest.
    It’s one of the best articles I’ve ever read on the subject of denialism.
    Any chance of giving it a little extra publicity with a post all to itself?
    HIV Denial in the Internet Era

    Oh and a grateful hat-tip to a certain Frank O’Dwyer.


  17. Thanks for the reference, Cedric. I’ll have a read.


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