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Dupery on climate change disclosed

A Star Tribune cartoon carried by the Johnson City Press on Aug. 23 has the board of directors of a major corporation announce they’d “like to pay some scientists to … help us dupe the world.” The cartoon is aimed at obesity effects from Coca-Cola.
A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, released in July, is titled, “The Climate Deception Dossiers.” It documents internal fossil industry memos, leaked or unearthed through lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act requests, which reveal the industry’s awareness of the reality of climate change and a deliberate, decades-long disinformation campaign to “dupe the world” regarding it.
As UCS shows, the industry knew long ago and warned unequivocally that burning its products – coal, oil and natural gas – was causing climate change. A memo from a team headed by a Mobil Corp. scientist and distributed widely to major fossil fuel companies acknowledges, in 1995, that “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.”
Yet, in a relentless (and continuing) drive at public deception, it denied this reality, even as the destructive and costly climate impacts on the ground were worsening rapidly. The tactics, as revealed in the dossiers and described by UCS, involve “collusion, the use of front groups to hide companies’ influence and accountability, and the secret funding of purportedly independent scientists” to sow confusion and claim lack of scientific consensus on the issue.
Companies’ front groups “have even used forged letters, claiming to be from nonprofits that advocate for the well-being of women, minorities, children, seniors and veterans, to dissuade members of Congress from supporting much-needed climate legislation.”
Long ago, the industry’s awareness of the greenhouse gas problem caused it to factor climate change into decisions about new fossil fuel extraction. The example given is of Exxon’s decision, in 1981, not to develop a newly discovered, enormous natural gas field in southeast Asia. The company knew this field to be “the (then) single largest source of global warming pollution” and feared that eventual carbon regulation would hurt its bottom line.
For decades thereafter, the company nevertheless spent $30 million on think tanks and researchers that promoted climate denial. From a July article in “The Guardian,” one learns that it “now acknowledges the risk of climate change and does (no longer) fund climate change denial groups.”
Knowing deception of the public on harm from products in whose sale a corporate industry is invested is not a new phenomenon, nor success through such campaigns in blocking harm-reducing policies for decades.
One is reminded of the tobacco industry’s similar disinformation campaign regarding its product’s link to cancer and other health hazards, along with secretly funding distracting science and publicly discrediting the rapidly accumulating, legitimate medical science. Its eventual conviction by the Justice Department hinged on its decision, proved by internal company documents, deliberately “to deceive the American public.”
Much more is at stake for humanity and the planet in the matter of climate disruption.