Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Denialists on Parade

Salon has obtained e-mails demonstrating the White House's attempts to control media access to climate scientists at the NOAA. Grist explains:

Commerce Deputy Director of Communications Chuck Fuqua happily OK'd interview requests with NOAA hurricane researcher Chris Landsea, who has stated publicly that global warming has little to no effect on hurricanes. In email correspondence, Fuqua writes, "Please make sure Chris is on message" and "I'm a little nervous on this, but trust he'll hold the course." But Fuqua declined a request that NOAA researcher Thomas Knutson, who published research indicating that global warming strengthens hurricanes, be on CNBC -- when told that Knutson disagreed with Landsea, Fuqua wrote, "Why can't we have one of the other guys on then?"
Meanwhile, the UK's Royal Society has taken the unprecedented - and politically astute - action of writing a letter to ExxonMobil, demanding that it stop funding denialist pseudoscience. After noting that ExxonMobil paid $2.9 million to denialist groups in the United States, the author makes this polite request:
I would be grateful if you could let me know which organisations in the UK and other European countries have been receiving funding from ExxonMobil so that I can work out which of these have been similarly providing inaccurate and misleading information to the public.
Most damning of all, George Monbiot has fascinating new information on the pivotal role of Philip Morris in climate-change denial. Apparently, the tobacco giant's response to the threat of passive-smoking laws was to present the appearance of a grassroots rejection of "overregulation." This decentralized, generalist approach allowed Philip Morris's astroturf group - The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition - to seek funding from a wide variety of industries:
It was important, further letters stated, "to ensure that TASSC has a diverse group of contributors"; to "link the tobacco issue with other more 'politically correct' products"; and to associate scientific studies that cast smoking in a bad light with "broader questions about government research and regulations" - such as "global warming", "nuclear waste disposal" and "biotechnology".
I know that some Americans actually enjoy being treated with contempt by powerful people. But I think the rest of us can agree that a sensible country would dissolve Philip Morris and ExxonMobil, seize their assets, and use their money to fund the type of research and problem-solving that they hobbled for so many years.

UPDATE: Just to round things out, Bjorn Lomborg's flogging the Copenhagen Consensus yet again. I dealt with Lomborg and the CC at some length here.

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