From climate scientist Mann (Meteorology and Geosciences/Penn State Univ.; co-author: Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming, 2009, etc.), an important and disturbing account of the fossil-fuel industry’s well-funded public-relations campaign to sow doubt about the validity of the science of climate change.
The author was an originator of the “Hockey Stick,” a graph showing that average temperatures today are higher than they have been for at least the past 1,000 years, which became an icon of the “climate wars” when published in a 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. In 2009, he was among the scientists whose e-mails, hacked and posted online, gave rise to “Climategate.” As a target of critics who deny the reality of climate change, he has been subject to smear campaigns and accusations aimed at discrediting his work. In fact, the validity of his work has been affirmed many times by leading scientists. Despite personal anger, Mann offers a scientist’s factual chronicle of the evolution of the disinformation industry that has challenged climate science. He describes a “virtual Potemkin Village of pseudoscience institutions” including dozens of think tanks, such as the Advancement of Sound Science Center and the George C. Marshall Institute, many of them funded by Koch Industries and the Scaife Foundations, and all working to “introduce some measure of doubt into the public mindset.” Noting connections between the climate-disinformation campaign and past industry-funded efforts to deny the dangers of smoking and other health threats, Mann details the many tools used by deniers: misleading articles, questionable petitions, cherry-picking of documents and one-sided conferences featuring deniers. With their need for controversy, immediacy and “balance” in reporting, even respected media have often “parroted” deniers’ accusations and innuendo, giving credence to their claims.
This blistering indictment of corporate-funded chicanery demands a wide audience.