Monday, January 15, 2007

The 1998 smoking Memo

At the bottom of the Union of Concerned Scientists "rubbish" report, they reproduce the April 1998 "Global Climate Science Team" memo containing an Action Plan produced by an American Petroleum Institute workshop at which Myron Ebell participated (See Appendic C Part 1). The other participants were: John Adams, Candace Crandall, David Rothbard, Jeffrey Salmon, Lee Garrigan, Lynn Bouchey, Peter Cleary, Randy Randol (Exxon corp), Robert Gehri, Sharon Kneiss (Chevron corp) Steve Milloy, and Joseph Walker.

The preamble to the plan admits that
[W]hile Americans currently perceive climate change to be a great threat, public opinion is open enough to change on climate science. When lied to informed that "some scientists believe there is not enough evidence to suggest that (what is called global climate change) is a long-term change due to human behavoir and activities," 58 percent of those surveyed said they were more likely to oppose the Kyoto treaty.
Read that again. This means they had checked out whether lying to people worked. On the back of this, they designed their plan, which began with the paragraph (quotation marks used as they appear):

Victory Will Be Achieved When
  • Average citizens "understand" (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the "conventional wisdom"

  • Media "understands" (recognizes) uncertainties in climate science

  • Media coverage reflects balance on climate science and recognition of the validity of viewpoints that challenge the current "conventional wisdom"

  • Industry senior leadership understands uncertainties in climate science, making them stronger ambassadors to theose who shape climate policy

  • Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appears to be out of touch with reality.
"Tactics: These tactics will be undertaken between now and the next climate meeting in Buenos Aires, in November 1998, and will be continued thereafter, as appropriate. Activities will be launched as soon as the plan is approved, funding obtained, and the necessary resources (eg, public relations counsel) arranged and deployed."

The tactics include:
  • Identify, recruit and train a team of five independent scientists to participate in media outreach. These will be individuals who do not have a long history of visibility and/or participation in the climate change debate. Rather, this team will consist of new faces who will add their voices to those recognized scientsts who are already vocal.

  • Develop a global climate science information kit for media including peer-reviewed papers that undercut the "conventional wisdom" on climate science. This kit will also include understandable communications including simple fact sheets that present scientiic uncertainties in language that the media and public can understand.

  • Conduct briefings by media-trained scientists for science writers in the top 20 media markets, using the information kits. Distribute the information kits to daily newspapers nationwide with offer of scientists to brief reporters at each paper. Develop, disseminate radio news releases featuring scientists nationwide, and offer scientists to appear on radio talk shows across the country.

  • Produce, distribute a steady stream of climate science information via facsimile and e-mail to science writers around the country.

  • Produce, distribute via syndicate and directly to newspapers nationwide a stead stream of op-ed columns and letters to the editor authored by scientsts.

  • Convince one of the major news national TV journalists (eg John Stossel) to produce a report examining the scientific underpinnings of the Kyoto treaty.

  • Organize, promote and conduct through grassroots organizations a series of campus/community workshops/debates on climate science in 10 most important states during the period mid-August through October, 1998

  • Consider advertising the scientific uncertainties in select markets to support national, regional and local (eg workshops/debates), as appropriate.
The budget for this disinformation campaign, broken down into phases, rounds off at over five million bucks.

Included also is an outline of a database to track baseline opinion surveys and follow-up surveys on the percentage of Americans and government officials who recognize significant uncertainties in climate science. It would also contain:
  • Tracking the percent of media articles that raise questions about climate science.
  • Number of Members of Congress exposed to our materials on climate sciene
  • Number of communications on climate science received by Members of Congress from their constituents.
  • Number of radio talk show appearances by scientists questioning the "prevailing wisdom" on climate science.
  • Number of school teachers/students reached with our information on climate science.
  • Number of science writers briefed and who report upon climate science uncertainties.
  • Total audience exposed to newspaper, radio, television coverage of science uncertainties.
Of course, it's too much to ask our esteemed media to maintain a database of disinformation merchants with whom doing reports and taking interviews would be a dereliction of duty to the public. No, they're far too fecking useless that it takes a mere five million dollars and a cadre of multiply unmasked and malicious individuals, like Myron Ebell, to completely derail progress and send our world careering into the chasm of runaway environmental degradation.

This is where we are now. The intent behind the Exxon-Ebell campaign, regardless of its effectiveness, proves where the corporations are coming from. In future, when they try and pin the blame on the public for their flawed human nature of having unrealistic expectations which they had no choice but to honour or risk going out of business, we can point directly to the source of those expectations.

That's where the guilt lies. However, the real responsibility is with the press, with their access to phone books, science citation indexes and university switchboards, who were too lazy to phone up a single actual publishing scientist for comment and fact-checking when some petroleum-funded charlatan came knocking on their door with a pack of lies that looked as suspicious as a lemon in a briefcase. If there had been a streak of prefessionalism running through the media, the plan would have bombed. Who knows, there could have been a story there about a conspiracy. The public loves to read about conspiracies. They don't buy newspapers because they think they are a tissue of lies designed to them and their children long lasting harm.

Thank you, tossers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Myron only hopped on the climate change denial bandwagon a few years ago. Before that, he was part of the wise use movement, advocating for large corporations to mine, deforest, and generally tear up public land.

He's still at it, apparently, working to kill off the Endangered Species Act.

Hidden Ties: Big Environmental Change Backed by Big Industry

Does Myron ever sleep?

5:33 AM, January 18, 2007 Permanent link to this entry  
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