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The Front Pages of Christopher P. Winter

Denialist Tactics: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

When I examine the arguments used by global-warming Denialists, I find some common patterns. I'll discuss those below. But first, it's useful to consider who these Denialists are, and why they so persistently promote disbelief in global warming.

Denialists

They are not all getting money under the table from big oil or coal companies. Some have done so, and it's plausible that this motivated their mendacity. But the number of such shills was never more than several hundred, and it is shrinking as the once-reluctant coal and oil producers themselves begin to "cooperate with the inevitable." Note that it is not unethical for executives of a company with billions invested in coal mines or oil wells to question the need to abandon that investment. It becomes unethical only when they do so dishonestly.

Encounters with the Arch-Denialist

Few Denialists have been as persistent, or as influential, as Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe. In 2003, chairing the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, he called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated upon the American people." He claims the entire case has been refuted scientifically, but "George Soros, the Hollywood elitists, the far left environmentalists on the committee that I chair — all of them want us to believe the science is settled and it's not." He told the nation in 2006 that whatever warming was happening was due to the sun, adding the assurance that "God's still up there." Only Senator John Cornyn got more campaign money from oil and gas interests during the 2002 election cycle.

Those donations are "the gifts that keep on giving." Inhofe holds on to his Senate seat, and stubbornly maintains his position on global warming. In December 2008 he distorted the conclusions of a study by Swiss scientists to claim that half of warming was due to the Sun. His staffer Marc Morano went so far as to say this showed that "the participants of the Poznan conference are lunatics." Inhofe's career epitomizes the Denialist playbook. See for yourself:

Politics plays a part: Republicans are more likely than Democrats to disbelieve in AGW.1 No doubt fundamentalist Christianity is also a factor. Those who read their Bible literally would be inclined to believe they are a special creation, whom God will preserve no matter what. But the dominant factor is probably poor understanding of science coupled with, paradoxically, too much faith in the technological miracles wrought by free-market development of science. This faith was seen in George W. Bush's oft-proclaimed optimism that voluntary compliance would solve all environmental problems.

Deniers

It's important to distinguish between Denialists and deniers. Deniers don't believe in AGW, or don't believe it's a looming crisis. But, unlike the Denialists, they feel no need to push their disbelief onto others. They are, for the most part, ordinary Americans. They hold down a job they may not enjoy in order to keep food on the family table, a roof over their heads, and gas in the car. They resent large impersonal forces (like government) screwing with their lives. Their understanding of science is less than adequate.2 They know it has given us great things, but are confused and annoyed by the steady barrage of conflicting claims from "experts" about subjects like nutrition, disease and, yes, global warming. From their ranks come the Denialists, but more important, they are the reason the Denialists have such influence. Without large numbers of deniers, the Denialists would be much less of a problem.

Denialists, then, arise from the pool of deniers for one of two reasons: either they have become radicalized by outrage over what they perceive as a series of unfounded warnings, or they simply seek to preserve their comfortable position. The news media play a part in creating that perception of unfounded warnings. Just in recent memory are grim headlines about things like alar, bird flu, cyber-crime, deficit spending, endangered species, mad cow disease, obesity, SARS, Y2K... the list goes on and on. Meanwhile, the real work that staves off many of the threats the headlines warned against goes on behind the scenes, largely unreported by the media. It's easy to perceive such headlines as empty warnings, nothing more than a way to sell newspapers. So why should global warming be any different?

Characteristics of Denialist arguments

A large segment of the American public is poorly informed about science. Such ignorance can readily be exploited. And it is being exploited, by those with large stakes in the status quo, to defend their interests. Again, this is a relative handful of people. Most of the energy industry understands that global warming is real, and that the changes it will bring present new opportunities for profit. Most politicians also understand these things. But a relative handful cannot or do not accept the new reality. For whatever reason, they seek to fend it off as long as possible. Their tactics fall under the rubric of FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.3

The primary goal of a well-run FUD campaign is to avoid discussing the facts of the matter at hand, when the facts don't favor your side. Global-warming Denialists have this down to a science, if you'll pardon the phrase. They cherry-pick facts, quote experts out of context, ignore unsuitable evidence, misuse statistics, and generally dismiss the big picture. Denialists leap on the slightest discrepancy in data presented by a mainstream scientist to claim that his entire study is without merit. At the same time, they ignore all rebuttals to arguments they present. Distraction is an essential part of this process. If one claim is demolished, they simply trot out another from an array of seemingly plausible arguments. By the time that one is demolished, a third one is ready. And so it goes. If this round-robin distraction should falter, the ad hominem attack is an ever-ready backup. Thus, the typical arguments depend on rotation (as already discussed), on repetition, ridicule and rodomontade — which supports my contention that they are part of a political campaign.

  • Repetition — Denialists do not rebut the claims of scientists; they simply sidestep them, raising the same long-discredited talking points again and again. It's not hard to figure out that their intent is to wear down the opposition (or at least the undecided public.) In fact, political attacks on the scientific evidence for global warming are on the increase, as noted here:

    Meanwhile back at the ranch (Michael Tobis, Only In It For The Gold)
  • Ridicule — It is common for Denialist arguments to include ad hominem attacks, by turns calling the opposition shamefully gullible or shamelessly greedy. Al Gore has become the chief target of such attacks, with James Hansen a close second. Here's an example:

    10 Reasons To Doubt Global Warming is Man-Made (Duane Lester, All American Blogger)
  • Rodomontade — There are two sides to the argument from rodomontade (boasting or bluster). One side maintains that humanity can easily adapt to the effects of global warming, whatever they turn out to be, often adding that humankind survived previous climate changes just fine — as if that's relevant to our current situation. The other side claims that global warming will actually be good for us, as this site humorously avers:

    Ten reasons to love global warming (Garry Reed, From Reason to Freedom)

Denier Dubya

Science during the administration of George W. Bush was treated as a luxury, to be cast aside when its findings undercut the party line. Climatology was the most prominent field affected, but the axes fell on inconvenient truths in every scientific field.

Bush is out of office now, and I won't dwell on the past here. Nevertheless, I think it's important to understand how pervasive the damage to science was. (See the links below.)

Finally, fear comes into play when, casting aside their nonchalance, they point to the costs of fighting global warming — costs so enormous, they maintain, that the economy will collapse. They rarely discuss the costs of not fighting global warming.

Climate scientists have recently been subject to fears of a more personal nature. These include both investigations for alleged malpractice4 and threats of death.5

Add up all their contradictory claims and you have a nonexistent phenomenon which will be largely beneficial, but whose harmful effects, if any, will be dealt with in due time through technical advances produced by the free market. The sensible course, therefore, is to ignore the doomsayers. However, if any action is taken to combat global warming, the entire world will go bankrupt.

A scientifically literate person might think that, with all the information about global warming that is freely available on the Web, in popular magazines, on television, and in scientific journals — not to mention plain common sense — these absurd arguments would have long since faded away. Sadly, I have found this not to be the case. Since the Denialists won't see reason and stop of their own accord, I conclude they must be forced to stop.

The Bottom Line on Denialist Tactics

So what's to be done?

That conclusion begs the question of what can be done about this obstinate obstruction. My opinion is that the Denialists must be engaged as often as possible, on as many fronts as possible. Those who seek to oppose them should be familiar with the general scientific picture, but need not be up on every detail. This is because pinning Denialists down on details is not helpful; in fact, it is a waste of time. A better plan is to turn their own tactics against them. Point out inconsistencies. Ask them for citations. Remember that the real goal is to convince the audience. Be polite, but firm. Keep in mind the following talking points:

  • If climate is so poorly understood, the effects of AGW might be much milder than expected — or much harsher.
  • All estimates of the economic impact say fighting AGW will cost a lot, but doing nothing will cost far more.
  • The longer we delay, the more the costs of either option will increase.
  • It is poor people and underdeveloped nations who will suffer the most, while it is the rich, developed nations who have caused most of the problem.
  • No one, however wealthy, will be untouched. Whether they're hit by stronger storms, rising tides, heat waves, or withering drought, all will feel global warming's effects. And its effects on the globalized economy will reach everyone, AGW believers and skeptics alike — and their children and grandchildren as well. So Denialists' conspiracy theories are as bogus as the rest of their arguments.

In any real-time confrontation with Denialists, don't let their endless barrage of nonsense make you lose your temper, or tempt you into mockery. That's what it is intended to do. Remember that the facts and reason are on your side. Stay cool, and you'll prevail.

And what about AGW?

The topic of what can be done, or should be done, about AGW itself is very complicated. Even a cursory answer would be far beyond the scope of what I'm doing here. Merely discussing the options properly requires a book-length work. Fortunately, such books are being written; I've seen about six of them. The one I've managed to read is:

  • Fixing Climate
    Wallace S. Broecker and Robert Kunzig
    New York: Hill and Wang, 2008
    ISBN 978-0-8090-4501-3

Wallace Broecker is a climate scientist with Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. This book reflects his cautiously optimistic outlook. (Here's my review.) It looks at the feasibility of pulling carbon dioxide out of the air and storing it under ground, and concludes that it can make the grade. Like everything else I've learned, it supports the following conclusions:

  1. Combatting global warming will not be as technically daunting nor as financially draining as the Denialists like to pretend it will. Previous environmental problems have been solved without ruining the economy. So will this one.
  2. The best approach is an incremental one: start with small, relatively unobtrusive measures, assessing progress at each step and changing course as experience demands. (The Kyoto process was supposed to go like this.)
  3. The free market will not address global warming on its own. Just as with leaded gasoline or CFCs, governments must take the lead, imposing regulations and incentives to get the private sector working on mitigation.
1 The April 2008 survey of the topic, by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, found that the partisan divide over global warming had widened. Fully 84% of Democrats and 75% of independents say there is evidence that Earth's temperatures have been rising, compared with just 49% of Republicans. Among Republicans, conservatives "out-doubt" the more moderate wing of the party: only 43% of conservatives think there's evidence for rising temperatures, versus 69% of the others. A March 2009 Survey found a similar partisan divide.
2 Evidence that many Americans understand science poorly is indisputable. Most newspapers run a daily horoscope feature. Surveys show that roughly half the adult population thinks humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time, and many dismiss biological evolution as "only a theory." Thinking "Intelligent Design" is a scientific alternative to evolution, local school boards and some state legislatures continue trying to introduce ID into public school science curricula. Surveys regularly show that, sadly, such shallow understanding of science is only one facet of the general public lack of understanding of law, history, civics, geography, basic mathematics, and the devices most of us use daily, from cars to computers.
3 Republican pollster and focus group leader Frank Luntz is credited with recommending the phrase "climate change" to replace "global warming" because it sounds less threatening. He is also the architect of the strategy of keeping public attention on scientific uncertainty. In a 2002 memo to President George W. Bush, Luntz wrote: "Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field."
4 Following the theft and release of the CRU e-mails, a spate of investigations began. Scientists found guilty of serious misconduct would be dismissed. So far, all have been exonerated of everything but insufficient openness. But these investigations take them away from their research, and the attendant publicity can hurt public and official support for them. Some calls for inquiry come from hostile parties (e.g. Senator Inhofe) and it's arguable that these are meant to do that. The release of the CRU e-mails shortly before the December 2009 conference in Copenhagen lends credence to that suspicion.
5 On the Internet, heated discussion of climate change (and most any other topic) has long been commonplace. This tide of what's called "flaming" has always included a few empty threats. But recently, about the time in early 2009 that James Hansen began speaking out and showing up at coal-plant protests, climate scientists began getting death threats. These surged after each diatribe from a right-wing radio talker, and when the CRU e-mails were stolen and released, they rose to a torrent. It's hard to keep a detailed record of this, but the threats now number in the hundreds. It's likely that most of them don't amount to anything more than letting off steam. But it only takes one man to kill an abortion doctor or a scientist, and in the climate of fear promoted by right-wing radio, deadly action by that one unbalanced man becomes more likely. See Violent Backlash Against Climate Scientists (By Stephen Leahy, IPS News, 9 March 2010)

Notes and References

Denialist Tactics

These references on Denialist tactics deserve special mention. They are a collection of YouTube videos produced by Peter Sinclair (aka Greenman3610) to debunk various climate-change myths — a job they do superbly well.

CLIMATE DENIAL CROCK OF THE WEEK

1. "It's Cold, So There's No Climate Change" 21 January 2009 6:20
2. Ice Area vs. Volume 28 January 2009 4:15
3. Solar Schmolar 3 February 2009 4:59
4. That 1500 Year Thing 22 February 2009 6:46
5. I Love the '70s (Removed & updated) 4 March 2009 8:33
6. The "Urban Heat Island" Crock 14 March 2009 5:56
7. Mars Attacks!!! (Removed & updated) 20 March 2009 6:53
8. The Great Petition Fraud (Removed & updated) 29 March 2009 8:43
9. The "Medieval Warming" Crock 29 March 2009 5:48
10. All Wet on Sea Level Rise (Removed & updated) 6 April 2009 7:32
11. The "Temp Leads Carbon" Crock 20 April 2009 8:58
12. Party Like It's 1998 27 April 2009 6:18
13. Sense from Deniers on CO2? Don't Hold Your Breath... 21 May 2009 6:43
14. Don't It Make My Green World Brown? 2 June 2009 7:51
15. The Big Swindle Movie 12 June 2009 8:46
16. This Year's Model 26 June 2009 9:38
17. Polar Ice Update 5 July 2009 9:24
18a. What's Up with Watts? (Now restored *) 13 July 2009 8:02
18b. What's Up with Watts? (Alternate YouTube location **) 13 July 2009 8:07
19. Creepy at the EPA 3 August 2009 9:33
20. Denial Was a River in Africa 21 August 2009 7:51
21. 1998 Revisited 05 September 2009 7:46
22. Mars Attacks!!! 12 September 2009 6:47
23. Climate Change and Sea Level Rise 24 September 2009 7:19
24. Birth of a Climate Crock 6 October 2009 7:08
25. 2009 Sea Ice Update 29 October 2009 6:31
26. Water Vapor and Climate 24 November 2009 7:37
27. Climate Crock Sacks Hack Attack, Part 1 6 December 2009 8:54
28. Climate Crock Sacks Hack Attack, Part 2 11 December 2009 9:12
29. In the 70s, They Said There'd Be an Ice Age 14 December 2009 9:41
30. 32000 Scientists 9 January 2010 9:55
31. It's So Cold, there Can't Be Global Warming 16 January 2010 8:55
32. Plug-in Hybrids: Renewable Energy 8 February 2010 9:45
33. What We Know About Climate Change 27 February 2010 9:49
34. What Do We Know About Climate Change? 1 March 2010 9:48
35. Flogging the Scientists 15 March 2010 9:53
36. Debunking Lord Monckton, Part 1 10 April 2010 9:54

*On 26 July 2009, Anthony Watts misused the DMCA to force this video off Peter Sinclair's YouTube channel. Sinclair pursued the administrative process of restoring it. On 19 August, he succeeded.

** Just in case of further disruption, here is an alternate YouTube location for the video. (Note that this version has an extra five seconds of runtime.)

These Climate Crock videos are now collected in a blog, http://climatecrocks.com/ , in order released. There is also a live TV channel, http://www.ClimateTV.tv/ .

  1. The Frank Luntz memorandum on Republican strategy (PDF)
  2. The Truth About Denial (Sharon Begley, Newsweek, 13 Aug 2007)
  3. Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism (Posted by ScruffyDan on June 28, 2008)
    "While this really shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone who has had even a passing interest in environmental issues, a new study in the journal Environmental Politics has concluded that over 90% of books downplaying the seriousness of environmental problems (also known as denial) had direct links to conservative think tanks (CTT)."
  4. Environmental Skeptics Are Overwhelmingly Politicized, Study Says (Ben Block, Worldwatch Institute, 12 Jun 2008)
  5. REVEALED: Marc Morano's Pack Of Climate Denial Jokers (Brad Johnson, ThinkProgress, 17 Feb 2009)
    "Morano's 'entire job,' Gristmill's David Roberts explains, 'is to aggregate every misleading factoid, every attack on climate science or scientists, every crank skeptical statement from anyone in the world and send it all out periodically in email blasts' to the right-wing echo chamber. The Wonk Room has acquired Morano's email list, and we can now reveal the pack of climate skeptics, conservative bloggers, and corporate hacks who feed the misinformation machine."
  6. Who is behind climate change deniers? (David McKnight, Western Australia Today, 2 Aug 2008)
  7. Climate of Denial (Bill McKibben, Mother Jones, May/June 2005)
    McKibben: "I was standing next to a top industry lobbyist, a man who had spent the last week engineering opposition to the treaty, huddling with Exxon lawyers and Saudi delegates, detailing the Venezuelans to change this word, the Kuwaitis to soften that number. Right now he looked just plain tired. 'I can't wait to get back to Washington,' he said. 'In Washington we'll get this under control again.' "
  8. The denial industry (George Monbiot, The Guardian, 19 Sep 2006)
  9. Manufactroversy: The Art of Creating Controversy Where None Existed
    (By Leah Ceccarelli, 11 April 2008)
  10. Climate Denial's Biggest Hypocrites? (Theo Spencer, Natural Resources Defense Council, 12 Feb 2009)
    Comments on a TV ad paid for by Americans for Prosperity, the group founded by David Koch, billionaire owner of a holding company for coal and oil firms.
  11. Climate Denial Crock of the Week (Peter Fairley, IEEE Spectrum EnergyWise, 17 Feb 2009)
    "Opponents of the theory of anthropogenic climate change are hard at work via Internet forums making a last stand against the present societal momentum to address our impact on global climate and, specifically, to reduce the carbon footprint of our energy systems. They tend to repackage a dozen or so arguments, each of which takes a factual nugget, strips it of its scientific context, and twists it into a proof that climate change is either a natural process or a figment of the IPCC's imagination. Midland, MI-based multimedia producer, cartoonist, and alternative energy enthusiast Peter Sinclair is returning fire, nugget-for-nugget, with his new YouTube-distributed video series, Climate Denial Crock of the Week."
  12. Interview with Peter Sinclair at MSSC Summit 2009 (YouTube, 2:49)
  13. Corporate-Sponsored Disinformation: Exposing the "Grassroots" Campaign against Climate Science
    (By Martin, The Lay Scientist, 22 May 2008)
  14. The American Denial of Global Warming (Video, 58 minutes)
    (Naomi Oreskes, Professor of history at UC San Diego)
    This video looks best on YouTube, but an alternate source is here.
  15. Climate Change Denialism is Dead; long live Climate Change Denialism
    Or: How Real Science Reacts to Surprising Data

    (Jon Dursi, No More Shall I Roam, 20 Aug 2005)
  16. SCIENCE AND NONSCIENCE CONCERNING HUMAN-CAUSED CLIMATE WARMING (PDF, 23 pages)
    (J. D. Mahlman, NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, 1998)
  17. Climate Change: Debunking a Denier (Gooch, Get Energy Smart NOW!, 9 Feb 2009)
  18. Global Warming: Heated Denials (Lisa Chiu, The Center for Public Integrity, 30 Sep 2008)
  19. Why Climate Denialists are Blind to Facts and Reason (From the diary of the late Johnny Rook, Daily Kos, 12 May 2008)
  20. Hoax Study 'Disproving' Global Warming Fools Skeptics (History Commons, 3 Nov 2007)
    "Talk show host Rush Limbaugh tells his listeners of the study, apparently misunderstanding a warning from global warming skeptic Dr. Roy Spencer. While Spencer tells Limbaugh that the study is a spoof, Limbaugh tells listeners that the study proves global warming itself is a hoax. Spencer will apologize to Limbaugh for 'not being clear.' "

The Media

  1. The climate con: media, misinformation, and the masters of spin (Liisa Antilla, One Blue World, 6 Oct 2006)
  2. The Daily Telegraph and Climate Change Denialists (Sunny, Pickled Politics, 2 Dec 2008)
  3. "Mediarology": The Roles of Citizens, Journalists, and Scientists in Debunking Climate Change Myths
    (Stephen H. Schneider, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University)
  4. Climate Experts Tussle Over Details. Public Gets Whiplash. (Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times, 29 July 2008)
  5. "How Much Would You Pay to Save the Planet? The American Press and the Economics of Climate Change" (PDF, 40 pages)
    One of the country's leading journalists, Eric Pooley, has written a searing critique of the media's coverage of global warming, especially climate economics, for Harvard's prestigious Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. Pooley has been managing editor of Fortune, national editor of Time, Time's chief political correspondent, and Time's White House correspondent, where he won the Gerald Ford Prize for Excellence in Reporting. Before that, he was senior editor of New York magazine.
  6. Hot Air in the Media Contributes to Global Warming!
    A good criticism of the media's coverage of Gore & Hansen, as well as detailed analysis of works by Wm. J. Broad, Spencer, etc.

The Public

  1. Fighting Over Darwin, State by State (Pew Forum, 4 Feb. 2009)
  2. Scientific Literacy: How Do Americans Stack Up? (Science Daily, 27 Feb 2007)
  3. MSU prof: Lack of science knowledge hurting democratic process (Michigan State University, 15 Nov. 2007)
    I include these three sites to give some idea of the public's general understanding of science and its impact on democracy.
  4. A Deeper Partisan Divide Over Global Warming (Pew Research Center, 8 May 2008)
  5. Deniers are still mostly duping GOP voters (Joseph Romm, Climate Progress, 3 Feb 2009)
  6. The Reality and Urgency of Global Warming (World Public Opinion.org)
    Finds the belief that AGW is real and potentially harmful has been growing, except in America during the Bush administration.
  7. U.Va. poll: Most say global warming is real and they want government to deal with it
    (Melodie N. Martin, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11 Dec 2008)
    "Virginians and most other Americans believe global warming is a real and serious problem, a poll says, and they want local, state and federal governments to do something about it. They're split, however, on what should be done.
    "Those results from national and state-level polls measuring public attitudes on climate change were released today during the National Conference on Climate Governance at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.
    'The public believes all levels of government should be involved or are responsible for this,' said Christopher Borick, co-author of the report. 'They support regulatory options but strongly oppose tax-based approaches.' "
  8. Climate Change Denial (George Marshall, Climate Outreach Information Network)
    This site explores the psychology of climate change denial, and often provides an Israeli perspective. It also includes a scathing review of Lawrence Solomon's book The Deniers, which according to its subtitle has the topic of "The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud (and those who are too fearful to do so)." (The review first appeared on 28 July 2008 here in more readable form.)

Business and Climate Change

  1. The Journalist's Resource on Climate & Energy Policy (Natural Resources Defense Council)
  2. View from the States: ExxonMobil — The Rest of the Story (businessGreen blog, 22 May 2007)
  3. Investor groups point finger at "Climate Laggards": Exxon, GM and Others (businessGreen blog, 20 Feb 2009)
  4. Research on the "sponsors" behind the Heartland's New York Climate Change Conference (Kevin Grandia, DeSmogBlog, 24 February 09)
  5. Moving to a global low carbon economy: implementing the Stern Review (HM Treasury — 09 Oct. 2007)
  6. Climate change may carry huge price tag for California (Margot Roosevelt, LA Times, 14 Nov. 2008)
  7. Warming's Costs to Top Its Benefits, Study Says (Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, 17 Oct. 2007)
  8. Business and Climate Change (Grant Rowe, World Renewable Energy Association, 14 May 2008)
  9. The Market Myth (Posted by David Roberts on 06 Jan 2009)
  10. Carbon Taxes: Nudging the Free Market Fairy — Review of Hot Air: Meeting Canada's Climate Change Challenge (by Ian Angus, Climate and Capitalism, 6 Mar 2008)
  11. James Hansen: "Ways and Means" and peaceful protest at Capitol Power Plant, Washington, DC, March 2 (Cassandra Moderna, Climate Change: The Next Generation, 27 Feb 2009)
    Dr. Hansen: "On the train I read on politico.com that the number of lobbyists in DC working to influence federal policy on climate change increased in the past few years by 300% to 2,340 lobbyists — four climate lobbyists for every member of Congress. At least the alligator shoe business is doing well. Not too good for alligators, though.

    A Carbon Tax & 100% Dividend would not let Congress enrich their favorites or divine winning technologies. Instead, the winners would be innovators who invent products with improved energy efficiency or develop carbon-free energies, which allow people to reduce their carbon tax. Of course, if you don't trust your innovation skills, it is easier to pay a lobbyist to get Congress to adopt a jury-rigged Cap&Trade system."

The Bush Years

Science during the Bush administration was treated as an inconvenience to be dispensed with when its findings conflicted with Republican policy. The damage was pervasive: Competent scientists were cut from advisory panels and replaced by industry lobbyists or ideologues; political hacks watered down study conclusions to conform to doctrine; cabinet members ignored staff recommendations for the sake of party loyalty; dissenting scientists were monitored or even muzzled; funding was shifted to faith-based programs; anti-pollution standards were relaxed. Early in his first term, Bush renounced his campaign pledge to cut carbon dioxide, undercutting his EPA director in the process. Quite a few scientists, as well as other administration officials, resigned in protest over Bush's policies. His EPA director was one of them.

An array of diverse organizations fought back, investigating and exposing the suppression and distortion of science. During Bush's second term, Congress began investigations of its own. Books were written. Reports were issued. Hearings and press conferences were held. There is a great deal of documentation. I contributed a tiny bit of it myself, while Bush was in office.

But now he's out of office, and President Obama has pledged to restore scientific integrity to the White House. I don't think it serves any purpose to examine the past administration's misconduct here. But I do think it's important to recognize and understand the extent of that misconduct. The following links are a small part of what's available.

  1. The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science
    (Union of Concerned Scientists)
  2. Committee Report: White House Engaged in Systematic Effort to Manipulate Climate Change Science
    (House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 12 Dec 2007)
  3. Redacting the Science of Climate Change (PDF, 138 pages)
    (Tarek Maassarani, Government Accountability Project, March 2007)
  4. Perino: 'There Are Public Health Benefits To Climate Change' For People Who Die From 'Cold'
    (Matt Corley, ThinkProgress, 25 Oct 2007)
    Ms. Perino: "I'm sure lots of people would love to ridicule me when I say this, but it is true that many people die from cold-related deaths every winter. And there are studies that say that climate change in certain areas of the world would help those individuals."
  5. Dana Perino's Climate Denial Past
    (Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone, 25 Oct 2007)
    "Perino cut her teeth in the White House's global warming denial unit as director of communications for the Council on Environmental Quality."
  6. Scientific Integrity
    (Union of Concerned Scientists)
  7. Whistleblower's Revenge (William S. Becker, The Environmentalist, March 2009)
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