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ETpro's avatar

Remember Big Tobacco's disinformation and junk science campaign? Isn't the man made global warming denial debate remarkably similar?

Asked by ETpro (34469points) March 8th, 2013

In the 11,300 years since the last ice age, temperatures were warmer than they are today for a 4,000 year stretch, with a cool down beginning some 5,500 years ago. But hang on to your hats, we’re very rapidly warming now and due to shatter that old record in this century.

Thinking about the junk science cranked out by PR firms in the tank for Big Oil and the fossil fuel industry, and the speeches given by politicians bought by big oil, I was struck by how similar today’s debate is to the one that finally led to the Tobacco settlement of 1998.

Internal tobacco company documents reveal that as early as 1950, the cigarette manufacturer’s own scientists knew that nicotine was addictive and that smoking causes heart disease, COPD and various cancers. But here they are in 1994, on video, testifying the exact opposite under oath before Congress. And they had massive political support from the states that grow tobacco and house the industry.

Their internal documents also show that they funded junk science studies meant to obfuscate and prolong the debate. Many of the same PR firms and Think Tanks that played water carrier for Big Tobacco’s disinformation are hard at work today as water carriers for the fossil fuel industry. Even the Solid South is still on board supporting disinformation to protect the lobbyist that fund them. The only big difference is that in 1950, they were all Democrats, but thanks to LBJ signing the civil rights laws into existence, the Solid South is now solidly Republican.

Can we learn anything from the similar corporate behaviors, or is it just a crazy coincidence?

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15 Answers

Linda_Owl's avatar

No, I don’t think it is a coincidence. I think that the conservative funded ‘Think Tanks’ are being paid to deny that Climate Change is real (being paid by the petroleum industry who have the most PROFITS to lose).

Plucky's avatar

Yes, it is very similar. And, no, people won’t learn anything until they are open to it. For many, it’s easier to just shut their minds and blindly follow the rich/powerful. And why wouldn’t they? People would have to stop and actually think about where our planet is heading; never mind the atrocities that are committed, hourly, to our fragile environment…just so developed countries can live far too comfortably as those big companies gain more wealth/power. The lazier and more complacent we get, on this matter, the more we actually lose.

flutherother's avatar

A true acceptance of the reality of global warming would mean reducing consumption of oil starting today. It won’t happen; we are never going to give up our cars and our warm homes for the sake of the future.

Harold's avatar

Sounds like a conspiracy theory to me- evil oil companies….....

There are plenty of good independent scientists who challenge the politically correct global warming/climate change/whatever we want to call it today alarmists, but they are ridiculed and made to be pariahs in the scientific community because of the popularity of scaring people about polar bears floating around on shrinking icebergs.

Junk science? Sorry, but that is the realm of those who won’t consider the fact that climate has fluctuated for all eternity.

ETpro's avatar

@Harold 99% of publishing climatologists say that global warming is underway, is a threat, and is do to human activity. 89% of all publishing scientists agree. One might wonder just how many of the dissenters in that group are either geologists or chemists employed by the fossil fuel industry or some industry related to it.

Yes, temperatures have fluctuated throughout time but the speed of this change is unprecedented. Look at the chart of what is happening now, and show me a similar spike in global temperatures anywhere in the previous history of Earth.

Yes, junk science.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@ETpro Pretty weird how perfectly your graph lines up with this and this. I’m sure it’s nothing more than coincidence….

ETpro's avatar

@uberbatman Amazing, isn’t it. We know CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Any denier who denys that shows themselves to be either grossly misinformed or a shill. We know CO2 has an atmospheric half-life of about 30 years (in varies dependent on humidity, weather patters, etc.), and we know humans are adding 35 billion metric tons of CO2 per year now to Earth’s atmosphere and that the volume we release is constantly rising. A scientist would either have to be crazy or bought to look at those facts and then say, “Nothing to see here folks, Move along.”

Harold's avatar

Yes, those who disagree can’t get published because of pressure put on the publishers to get on the bandwagon. Even if they are the majority, that doesn’t make them correct….........

ETpro's avatar

@Harold The facts stated immediately above have no bearing on pressure to publish. And it it’s pressure you want to talk about, which industry is positioned to buy the most, the $400 billion alternative energy industry, or the $40 trillion fossil fuel industry?

I see that facts don’t have any influence on your view, and that when faced with facts that negate your assertion, you simply retreat to the previous assertion. That’s not the sort of approach that allows for meaningful debate. It I have misstated facts, or applied them improperly, feel free to point out the logical fallacies in my argument. But it you are just going to argue by assertion (a well-known logical fallacy, in itself) then let’s agree to disagree and save each other some valuable time.

Harold's avatar

I agree. Let’s agree to disagree, because you seem determined to hold to the conspiracy theory. Money isn’t the strongest influence in academia, it is acceptance by peers. I am not sure what you do, or how much you know about the machinations of academia, but it is where I work

ETpro's avatar

Aha, so whatever fails peer review is to be trusted. Plonk.

Harold's avatar

Um, no. And this is the type of deliberate misinterpretation that anyone who dares to disagree is subjected to. I rest my case.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Harold ”, because you seem determined to hold to the conspiracy theory” You do realize that you’re the one holding onto conspiracy theories right?

ETpro's avatar

@Harold Some unsettling news broke today. Wooded areas in the region could increase by 50% thus accelerating global warming. Also, melting appears to be the cause of Antarctic sea ice expansion. When are those that claim warming is an Al Gore inspired hoax going to come up with some credible explanation as to how Gore is convincing the Arctic and Antarctic, global temperatures and virtually all the world’s glaciers to make his hoax look so apparently real?

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