Harvard historian: strategy of climate science denial groups 'extremely successful'

tags: Naomi Oreskes, climate denialists



In 1965, US President Lyndon Johnson had a special message for the American Congress on conservation of the environment.

Worried about the "storm of modern change" threatening cherished landscapes, Johnson said: “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through… a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.”  

The same quote appears at the beginning of the 2010 book Merchants of Doubt: How A Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by science historians Erik Conway and Professor Naomi Oreskes.  

Plainly the line – almost half a century old now – was picked to show just how long the impacts of fossil fuel burning have been known in the corridors of the highest powers.  

The book explained the efforts since the 1960s of vested interests and ideologues to underplay the risks of pumping ever-increasing volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  

One of the most startling revealing aspects of the book was how some of the same institutions and individuals who held out against a wave of scientific warnings about the health impacts of tobacco smoke became integral to efforts to block any meaningful policy response to greenhouse gas emissions...



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