Reviewed 4/17/2010

Climate Cover-Up, by James Hoggan

Access to this book courtesy of the
San Jose, CA Public Library
The Crusade To Deny Global Warming
James Hoggan
Richard Littlemore
Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2009




ISBN-13 978-1-55365-485-8
ISBN-10 1-55365-485-4 250p. SC $15.00

The craft of public relations originated early in the twentieth century. Since then it has grown in importance and become a profession with its own societies. James Hoggan is a Canadian member of that profession, and he finds the misuse of its techniques by some practitioners distasteful in the extreme.

Hoggan heads the public relations firm Hoggan & Associates in Vancouver, British Columbia. Concerned about the increasing prevalence of what's come to be called "spin" — a modern euphemism which covers the sloping ground from shading the truth to outright lies — Hoggan ultimately decided he had to fight the trend. Along with like-minded colleagues including Richard Littlemore and Kevin Grandia, Hoggan started DeSmogBlog, a blog dedicated to blowing away "the PR pollution that clouds climate change." The blog has developed a large following and is one of the most influential sources of information on who provides the money that pays the "spin doctors."

But blogs reach only a subset of the population. Hoggan wrote Climate Cover-Up as ongoing scientific observation made the urgency of responding to climate change ever greater, and the intensity of pushback rose in proportion. He pulls no punches in explaining why.

"Public relations is the art of building good relationships. You do that most effectively by earning trust and goodwill among those who are important to you and your business. And in more than thirty years of public relations practice, I have learned that the best way to achieve those goals is to act with integrity and honesty and to make sure everybody knows you are doing so."


"Of course, lies are darned handy when the truth is something you dare not admit. Earning trust and goodwill is a nonstarter if you're a cigarette company peddling a product (often to children) that everyone knows is offensive, addictive, and potentially deadly. An impartial observer might come to the same conclusion about the fossil fuel industry. ExxonMobil doesn't really have to worry about its public image because it has a stranglehold on a commodity that is also addictive (we need that energy to make our current economy function) and, in the current circumstances, ultimately life-threatening—especially for all those people who will not be able to adapt to dramatic changes in world climate.

– Pages 23-24

Over the past three decades the climate-change Denialists have become a formidable force — not a conspiracy, but a widespread network of individuals and organizations cooperating in what they mistakenly perceive to be their self-interest. This book lists the names1 of those perpetrating this massive fraud, lays bare their methods and campaigns, and traces the connections to those who are paying the bills. Naturally Hoggan provides better information than the other sources I've seen on Canadian activity, but he covers events in Australia, Britain and the United States as well. The writing is clear and relatively free of errors, and the book cites a good number of books and Web sites as references. There is a set of endnotes and an index. All in all, this paperback book is an essential contribution to the high-priority task of understanding what the climate-change spinmeisters are doing and stopping them as soon as possible so we can get on with the even higher-priority task of cutting greenhouse gases.

We are at a critical juncture in human history. By mastering technology and by (so far) outperforming every other species on the planet, we humans have achieved global domination. We can remake landscapes, defeat diseases, extend lifespans, and expand the scope and scale of human wealth by almost every measure. We can also trash whole countries, pollute streams, rivers, lakes, and perhaps ultimately whole oceans to a disastrous extent. We can kill one another more quickly than ever in human history, and we can change the world's climate in a way that scientists say is threatening our ability to survive on Earth.

The question, as yet unanswered, is whether we can stop. Can we as a species rescue ourselves from a threat of our own making? To do so will take personal restraint, political courage, and a degree of global cooperation unprecedented in human history. Even more, it will take a clear understanding of the risks—an understanding that we will only achieve if we expose the climate cover-up.

– Pages 5-6

1 The usual suspects, like Steven Milloy and Benny Peiser, figure prominently in that list. But there are new names as well: Names like Stanley Lewandowski and Suzanne Hammelman.
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