Thursday, June 15, 2006

Manufacturing Doubt

Yesterday I came across this piece in the Canada Free Press, "Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe - "The Inconvenient Truth" is indeed inconvenient to alarmists" by Tom Harris. I thought I'd better read it because, though I have not yet seen Gore's flick, from what I have seen and read I think Gore is highly credible on the topic of human-caused climate change. Maybe I shouldn't so credulous?

My first reaction to Harris' piece was actually to the brilliant red-white-and-blue theme of the web site. Rightly or wrongly, I've come to associate a high likelihood of bullshit with red-white-and-blue themed web sites. It's not the colors themselves, which still look great on the US flag; rather, my reaction is to what I perceive as an intent to bolster propaganda within. (Yes, I know it's a Canadian web site.)

My next reaction was to the word "alarmists" in the subtitle. I'm sensitive to that word because it's another of those focus-grouped and endlessly repeated words flagged by master compliance professionals for their manipulative effectiveness.

Then I learned that the Earth had actually been frozen while CO2 levels were ten times higher than today. Wow!
Appearing before the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last year, Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years." Patterson asked the committee, "On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century's modest warming?"
Well, I don't know. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they are both happening in the blink of a geological eye as we un-do many tens of millions of years worth of natural carbon sequestration? Maybe it has something to do with having a small feel for feedback?

Carter does not pull his punches about Gore's activism, "The man is an embarrassment to US science and its many fine practitioners, a lot of whom know (but feel unable to state publicly) that his propaganda crusade is mostly based on junk science."
Oh. OK.

So who is this author anyway? I've never heard of Tom Harris.

Looking around, I see Harris also wrote a piece called "The gods are laughing", that says
Gore repeatedly labels carbon dioxide as "global warming pollution" when, in reality, it is no more pollution than is oxygen. CO2 is plant food, an ingredient essential for photosynthesis without which Earth would be a lifeless, frozen ice ball. The hypothesis that human release of CO2 is a major contributor to global warming is just that -- an unproven hypothesis, against which evidence is increasingly mounting.
He goes on to say the ice is thicker, the polar bear populations healthier, that mountain pine beetle infestation is due to poor forest management, and that there is no "alarming" sea level rise going on.

He probably just forgot to mention thawing permafrost and increasing ocean acidity. I suppose both must be due to natural cycles (or not happening at all).

Well, all of this is certainly counter to the image I have of what is going on in the world. Who is this guy, anyway?

As I tried to answer that question, I came upon a new addition to my collection of blogs: DeSmogBlog: exists to blow off the public relations pollution that clouds climate change.

The blog does NOT exist to argue climate science; we leave that to highly reputable science sites that have already spoken on that issue (see the links under: Is Climate Change Real?). Rather, the DeSmogBlog's mission is to debunk the climate change deniers who use suspect science and a host of public relations trickery to confuse and mislead the public on this critical issue.

So far, I like what DeSmogBlog's Jim Hoggan has to say.
There is a line between public relations and propaganda - or there should be.

And there is a difference between using your skills, in good faith, to help rescue a battered reputation and using them to twist the truth - to sow confusion and doubt on an issue that is critical to human survival.

And it is infuriating - as a public relations professional - to watch my colleagues use their skills, their training and their considerable intellect to poison the international debate on climate change.

Oh yeah:

Tom Harris is mechanical engineer and Ottawa Director of High Park Group, a public affairs and public policy company.

Oh yeah yeah:

The High Park Group (HPG) is a public affairs and policy consulting firm, with offices in Toronto and Ottawa. We work in a broad range of areas, with core practices in energy, environment, and ethics.

Our dedicated team of advisors is committed to providing timely, customized services that provide maximum value to our clients.

Sounds like "hired guns" to me.

1 comment:

DeSmogBlog said...

Hear, hear. Thanks for the link!