[Still on a break, but I just have to share this information!]
I’m presently reading “Merchants of doubt: how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming” by historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway.
It is a brilliantly researched and documented study.
It draws the links between industry funding and denial on a range of scientific issues. In many instances, the very same individuals who accepted money from “big tobacco” also accepted funding from “big oil” to question the reality of climate change.
A great deal of the primary material for this book was unearthed via tobacco related litigation (via the discovery process), and shows the links between “dissenting” scientists and the tobacco industry.
These materials are freely available in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library from the University of California.
Of course, I had to jump into this collection and start research myself. And I have to say I’ve found some fascinating documents.
But one of them made me jump out of my seat when I read it.
Tobacco and big oil: a positive feed-back loop of denial
Oreskes and Conway’s thesis appears solid: the techniques used to delay action on regulating tobacco have been replicated by the climate change “deniers”.
However it also appears the climate change “sceptics” influenced the tactics of the tobacco lobby. Call it a “positive” feed back loop of denial.
Perhaps the most stunning evidence of this is a (then confidential) report by US public relations company Mongoven, Biscoe and Duchen (MBD) advising Phillip Morris to create a pro-tobacco NGO to lobby for the industry.
MBD specialises “opposition research” – studying the motives and tactics of NGOs and government agencies either opposing or seeking to regulate industry.
Incredibly, MBD suggests the tobacco NGO should be modelled on the industry funded Global Climate Coalition! (GCC)
GCC was a coalition of corporations opposed to action on climate change. Members included Shell, DuPont, Exxon and BP, and they worked hard to blunt efforts such as the Kyoto Protocol.
Titled “An analysis of Non-Governmental Organisations form a United Nations perspective“, it suggests the tobacco industry set up a NGO in order to represent their interests at the global level:
“A comprehensive strategy to influence the tobacco-control vehicle that the eventually emerges from UN/WHO policies would be enhanced significantly by establishing an NGO capability to help counter anti-tobacco NGO influence at international agencies…”
It is a deeply cynical and Machiavellian document that essentially coaches Philip Morris on how to set up an NGO, work with other interest groups and corporations and influence policy debate at the national and international level.
It is a 1997 document, and throughout the 254 page document the GCC is repeatedly cited as a model:
“A tobacco related NGO – one that represents a spectrum of interests and concerns – would, given the appropriate strategy, have a significant impact on the progress and content of an eventual framework treaty on tobacco control…
…It could be a very effective at lobbying member states and at countering the more outrageous proposals of anti-tobacco forces. This doesn’t mean it would be difficult for the accrediting body to deny a tobacco NGO status at the conference equal to that of health and welfare groups. The industry has an obvious “expertise” in the subject matter and it has the constituency and membership. It would be equivalent to the Global Climate Change Coalition in nearly all respects.”
The GCC operated between 1989 and 2002.
It collapsed when the 2001 IPCC report confirmed the reality of climate change and CGG employed scientists stated the evidence for climate change was “undeniable”.
Seriously, I don’t think “proof” of the links between industry and denial gets better than this. Clearly they employ the same tactics to deceive and mislead.
I’m finding incredible stuff here, including an analysis of how BP set up its “green washing” activities on climate change.
All of this will be produced on the revamped version of the blog, but I had to share this stunner.
Cheers, Mike @ WtD