As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Perverting The Science, Boiling The World

Here's an incredibly unsurprising story: for decades, big business put their own profits ahead of reality and did whatever they could to poison the planet.

For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.

“The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” the coalition said in a scientific “backgrounder” provided to lawmakers and journalists through the early 1990s, adding that “scientists differ” on the issue.

But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.

“The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied,” the experts wrote in an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995.

This story is a smoking gun as much as the secret emails showing that cigarette makers knew their products caused disease and death. We have industry ignoring science for material gain. And the losers are you and me.

All they had to do was deny the science, and the broken media structure did the rest - posing the issue as a debate rather than exploring the facts, sowing confusion instead of certitude. For 15 years or more, we dithered, when we could have been moving forward on solving the problem. And we're still having to fight these groups.

The coalition disbanded in 2002, but some members, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute, continue to lobby against any law or treaty that would sharply curb emissions. Others, like Exxon Mobil, now recognize a human contribution to global warming and have largely dropped financial support to groups challenging the science.

Documents drawn up by the coalition’s advisers were provided to lawyers by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, a coalition member, during the discovery process in a lawsuit that the auto industry filed in 2007 against the State of California’s efforts to limit vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions.

This time around, we do have a counterpart - progressive groups that have formed an alliance to finally get meaningful climate legislation passed. But we have lost so much valuable time, to the extent that we have not much left. And all because some executives decided they needed a new luxury yacht to go with the beach house.


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