Monday, December 5, 2016

"Junk Science," Big Tobacco, and the Environment

I promised a regular reader of the blog I would take a stab at dissecting this Guardian article on industry attempts to malign science, so I'm going to do that.

First of all, I'm not going to add any special insight here, just summarize the article, which concerns the faux-science concocted to fight climate change activism.  If you have the time, read the original article! That said, here at the salient points.

You may hear the phrase "junk science" bandied about, especially by certain organizations that claim that global climate change in not caused by mankind.  Many of these organizations are paid by the ExxonMobil corporation to deny inconvenient reality.  Here's the list.

Bookmark the list.  Next time you hear someone claim that global climate change science is dodgy, or might not be proven, or constitutes "junk science," etc., double-check the list.  Are one of these organizations listed therein being quoted as an authority?  If so, you may be dealing with a bullshit claim.

A lot of these organizations have names that sound academic, such as the Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change.  If I get drunk and hit on your wife while I'm dressed like a priest, I am not necessarily a priest.

Many of these groups rely on a grain of truth and then run with it, ignoring all else:

This is not to claim that all the science these groups champion is bogus. On the whole, they use selection, not invention. They will find one contradictory study - such as the discovery of tropospheric cooling, which, in a garbled form, has been used by Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday - and promote it relentlessly. They will continue to do so long after it has been disproved by further work. So, for example, John Christy, the author of the troposphere paper, admitted in August 2005 that his figures were incorrect, yet his initial findings are still being circulated and championed by many of these groups, as a quick internet search will show you.

(emphasis added mine)

The article goes on to discuss the history of bogus tobacco science advanced by Philip Morris and others back when, more or less identical in character and spirit to the climate change denialism of today.  And hey - turns out some of the same people are involved!

But the connection goes further than that. TASSC, the "coalition" created by Philip Morris [to deny the science of the harm caused by second-hand smoke], was the first and most important of the corporate-funded organisations denying that climate change is taking place. It has done more damage to the campaign to halt it than any other body.

Suffice it to say: when faced with two contradictory claims, it pays to follow the money.  I'm not sure I can actually bring any new insight to the topic beyond this.  If you don't believe that global climate change is caused primarily by man at this point, you have been successfully swindled, and while you don't need to cop to that publicly - no one likes to be embarrassed - it behooves you to bear in mind that ExxonMobil has its bottom dollar in mind, not well being, not the well being of your children or the locale where you live.

It seems that the professional swindlers are currently winning the public debate, however.  Most Americans do not believe that global climate change is primarily caused by mankind.  However, seemingly contradicting that point of view, most Americans also favor aggressive action to combat climate change.

On a side note, all of Trump's EPA candidates are truly awful, people who should not be running the EPA.  It's called the Environmental Protection Agency, not the Fuck The Environment Agency.  There are elements of the pending Trump Presidency that deserve the benefit of doubt, some caution, a fair debate, etc.  This is not one of them.

I'm off to drink bleach for now, but as always: we'll find out!!!!!!!!!!!!

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