As they note:
“As far as infographics go, this one appears, at first glance, fairly straightforward and it charts how American opinions of climate change issues have changed in the past decade. The message seems to be that people are losing faith in climate change news. For example, fewer Americans today think climate change is occurring than compared to a few years ago. Another part of the graphic suggests that the majority of Americans don’t think climate change is going to be a serious threat in their lifetime…”
What’s interesting is not the numbers of those denying the science in 2010 – roughly 10% – but the increase in those unsure.
In 2006 close to 65% of the population accepted the science, while <30% were uncertain.
By 2010 the number of those accepting the science had dropped to just over 50% while those unsure had grown to almost 40%.
I’d note that only 10% reject the science.
However the noisy denial machine consisting of think tanks, PR hacks and sceptical journalists is not really interested in that 10%. They just want to weave a cloud of uncertainty in order to stall action on climate change.
They want to grow the ranks of the “unsure”.
Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt.
That’s the business they are in.
They are, as Naomi Oreskes so brilliant called them in her recent book, “the merchants of doubt“.
Because if you don’t think climate is an issue, you sure as hell won’t vote on it.
Doubt and uncertainty: reducing the sense of urgency
The chief strategy of the denial machine is to sow confusion, and in the US it seems they’ve had some success.
The largest polluter on the planet – with the largest per-capita emissions – is dragging it heals on climate change because growing numbers of Americans don’t believe it’s an issue of relevance.
But can we blame the average US citizen?
No: they are the victims of a deliberate campaign of disinformation. The US media has is either complacent or compliant in helping create this confusion.
The steady stream of think tank papers, op-ed pieces, television and radio interviews that denial machine produces or partakes in exist to convey the false idea the science is uncertain. Creating a climate of uncertainty is the goal of the “deniers”.
However, the strategy is far more cynical than one of simply confusing the public.
The intention is to make climate change an issue of little or no importance.
Ironically, while the deniers expend all their energy on denying climate change their goal is to make the public to think as little about it.
A desperate, cynical betrayal of humanity
We’ve seen this before.
When the medical community and governments around the world became alert to the effects of second hand smoke, tobacco companies engaged in a cynical campaign of confusing the public (see the brilliant Tobacco Wars).
The intent was to protect their market and revenue by denying the proven links between smoking and any adverse health effects. As early as the 1950’s, through their own research, the tobacco companies knew smoking posed a risk to an individual health. However, publically they either denied or down played the risks.
It was a cynical campaign that saw millions of preventable deaths for the sake of profit.
Today, history repeats itself as elements of the fossil fuel and energy industry are engaged in a simular campaign.
This desperate rearguard action conducted on their behalf by the denial machine exists to help maximise their profits for as long as possible.
Demand for energy is increasing, and the oil and fossil fuel companies have been experiencing year after year record profits. But it can’t go on. These salad days will come to an end with cap-and-trade, carbon taxes and a switch to renewable sources of energy.
The want to “squeeze” out a few more years of profit.
It is a breathlessly cynical strategy designed to delay action at the expense of every other human being on the planet.
It is nothing less than a monumental crime.