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Newsweek takes on Global Warming "Deniers"

Date: 9 August 2007

Imagine my shock when I opened my mailbox to find the latest issue of Newsweek sporting a fire-glowing orb and the headline "Global Warming is a Hoax". It's hard to believe (particularly for the GO family) that there are still people who deny that climate change is happening and caused by humans. With the influx of pro-green exposure in the media, many greens saw this past year as the tipping point in awareness and activism on global warming. Yet, "deniers" still exist, and Newsweek's cover story (complete with tongue-in-cheek headline) aims to track the foundations of the denial movement, the major players behind it, and the motivations behind the well-coordinated effort to keep the American public doubting that global warming is real. (That asterisk? It noted "Or so claim well-funded naysayers who still reject the overwhelming evidence of climate change.")

"They patterned what they did after the tobacco industry," says former senator Tim Worth, quoted early in the article. The key tactic? Creating doubt in the minds of both policymakers and the public by disputing the science behind global warming. As soon as then-senator Al Gore brought global warming to Washington's attention in 1988, groups with benign names such as the Global Climate Coalition and the Information Council on the Environment, which were actually lobbyist groups from the petroleum, steel, auto, and utilities companies, began an all-out war to contradict the overwhelming body of science that supported global warming.

The rhetoric changed as the science supporting global warming grew more and more conclusive. It started with "the science behind global warming is wrong", moved to "global warming is happening, but it is not the fault of humans", and ended with the current denier mantra, "global warming is happening, and we may be causing it, but it's effects are hardly anything to worry about."

Also impossible to ignore in the article is the amount of money and power changing hands between lobbying groups, policymakers, and scientists. One Exxon-Mobil-backed group has offered $10,000 to scientists willing to speak out against global warming. And that might be what's so depressing about the "deniers": it seems that from day one, their motives were entirely based on the acquisition or preservation of money and power. As Gore demonstrated in a graphic in An Inconvenient Truth , what's more important: bars of gold, or the entire planet?

The article is fascinating and puts a face (and clear strategy) on the campaign against the planet. This issue of Newsweek is on newsstands now, and the entire article can be found on Newsweek's website.

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