A cynical campaign to spread climate denialism
From the BBC via Yahoo!
Thirty years ago, a bold plan was cooked up to spread doubt and persuade the public that climate change was not a problem. The little-known meeting - between some of America's biggest industrial players and a PR genius - forged a devastatingly successful strategy that endured for years, and the consequences of which are all around us.
On an early autumn day in 1992, E Bruce Harrison, a man widely acknowledged as the father of environmental PR, stood up in a room full of business leaders and delivered a pitch like no other.
At stake was a contract worth half a million dollars a year - about £850,000 in today's money. The prospective client, the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) - which represented the oil, coal, auto, utilities, steel, and rail industries - was looking for a communications partner to change the narrative on climate change.
Don Rheem and Terry Yosie, two of Harrison's team present that day, are sharing their stories for the first time.
"Everybody wanted to get the Global Climate Coalition account," says Rheem, "and there I was, smack in the middle of it."
The GCC had been conceived only three years earlier, as a forum for members to exchange information and lobby policy makers against action to limit fossil fuel emissions.
Though scientists were making rapid progress in understanding climate change, and it was growing in salience as a political issue, in its first years the Coalition saw little cause for alarm. President George HW Bush was a former oilman, and as a senior lobbyist told the BBC in 1990, his message on climate was the GCC's message.
There would be no mandatory fossil fuel reductions.
But all that changed in 1992. In June, the international community created a framework for climate action, and November's presidential election brought committed environmentalist Al Gore into the White House as vice-president. It was clear the new administration would try to regulate fossil fuels.
The Coalition recognised that it needed strategic communications help and put out a bid for a public relations contractor.
The consequences of 30 years of climate denialism are still with us: runaway climate change; record floods; record heatwaves; record droughts; record bushfires. And there are still useful idiots out there who counter the science with talking points from denialists.
Read the rest of the piece, and watch the film if you can. You will be as infuriated as I was.
|Denialism in action.|