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Climate Cover-Up: A (Brief) Review

Filed under: — mike @ 20 October 2009 - (Español)

We often allude to the industry-funded attacks against climate change science, and the dubious cast of characters involved, here at RealClimate. In recent years, for example, we’ve commented on disinformation efforts by industry front groups such as the “Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and a personal favorite, The Heartland Institute, and by industry-friendly institutions such as the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and other media outlets that assist in the manufacture and distribution of climate change disinformation.


When it comes to the climate change disinformation campaign, we have chosen to focus on the intellectually bankrupt nature of the scientific arguments, rather than the political motivations and the sometimes intriguing money trail. We leave it to others, including organizations such as SourceWatch.org, the sleuths at DeSmogBlog, authors such as Ross Gelbspan (author of The Heat is On, and The Boiling Point), and edited works such as Rescuing Science from Politics to deal with such issues.

One problem with books on this topic is that they quickly grow out of date. Just over the past few years, there have been many significant events in the ‘climate wars’ as we have reported on this site. Fortunately, there is a book out now by our friends at DeSmogBlog (co-founder James Hoggan, and regular contributor Richard Littlemore) entitled Climate Cover Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming that discusses the details of the contrarian attacks on climate science up through the present, and in painstaking detail. They have done their research, and have fully documented their findings, summarized by the publisher thusly:

Talk of global warming is nearly inescapable these days — but there are some who believe the concept of climate change is an elaborate hoax. Despite the input of the world’s leading climate scientists, the urgings of politicians, and the outcry of many grassroots activists, many Americans continue to ignore the warning signs of severe climate shifts. How did this happen? Climate Cover-up seeks to answer this question, describing the pollsters and public faces who have crafted careful language to refute the findings of environmental scientists. Exploring the PR techniques, phony “think tanks,” and funding used to pervert scientific fact, this book serves as a wake-up call to those who still wish to deny the inconvenient truth.

There are interesting new details about the Revelle/Singer/Lancaster affair and other tidbits that were new to me, and will likely to be new to others who been following the history of climate change contrarianism. Ross Gelbspan who has set the standard for investigative reporting
when it comes to the climate change denial campaign, had this to say about the book:

absolutely superb-one of the best dissections of the climate information war I
have ever seen. This is one terrific piece of work!

There is an important story behind the climate change denial effort that goes well beyond the scientific issues at hand. Its not our mission at RealClimate to tell that story, but there are others who are doing it, and doing it well. Hoggan and Littlemore are clearly among them. Read this book, and equally important, make sure that others who need to do as well.


455 Responses to “Climate Cover-Up: A (Brief) Review”

  1. 451
    john byatt says:

    it did not take long for the Lindzen paper to jump from the skeptic blogs to the “letters to the editor” pages out here in suburbia

    “All models are based on incorrect data” theme

    it is only thanks to RC that i have any hope of replying to this rubbish

  2. 452
  3. 453
    john byatt says:

    yes, roys comments have been cherry picked for skeptic sites though

  4. 454
    Norman says:

    [edit - Look up the phrase "off-topic"]

  5. 455
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re :#156 which asked

    Quick question…when you’re visualizing (intuitively) the interaction of outgoing IR energy with CO2 molecules, do you lean toward particle (photon) or wave (ray) simplification?

    Start by visualising the infra-red (IR) using a wave picture; strictly speaking an electromagnetic wave, but simplified still further by disregarding the magnetic field. We just have an electric field with an oscillating strength and a periodic reversal of direction. Next visualise the CO2 by using a particle picture (this is also a simplification) as shown in the lower animation here:

    http://science.widener.edu/svb/ftir/ir_co2.html

    The animations illustrate the effect of thermal motion. What the diagram omits to show you is that the C atom in the middle is electrically slightly positive because it has donated some of its electronic charge to the oxygens which have become a bit negative. In the asymmetric cases i.e. in all except the second animation, the centres of gravity of the negative and positive charges have become separated. The effect of a vibrating electric field (from the IR) is to drive the positive and negative charges in opposite directions , thus enhancing the motion. As a result the CO2 gains energy and the IR loses it. This picture is bit too “classical”; according to quantum theory the molecule’s energy can only change by making a quantum jump and the IR has to to pay the energy for this jump. So to account for this we have had to revert to the particle (photon) picture for the IR.

    This effect cannot happen for the symmetric stretch because there is no separation of the positive and negative charge. This also explains why oxygen O2 and nitrogen N2 are not greenhouse gases because they remain symmetrical when vibrating.


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