The ‘Non-smoking Gun’ Leaked Memos Pattern

If five different instances of leaked memos from ‘anti-global warming’ interests are supposed to be proof that skeptic climate scientists are paid to lie the public in a manner parallel to the way shill experts were paid to lie by the old tobacco industry, wouldn’t that be more devastating if there was actual proof within the ‘anti-global warming’ interests’ memos to back up that corruption accusation?

A look at the overall situation with all five memo leaks reveals a situation that undermines the collective effort.

The genuine leaked memos offered no more than an insight into the Heartland Institute’s budget for material they use to tell skeptic climate scientists’ side of the issue. One additional document is highly suspect, likely an outright fabrication to give the rest of the memos some kind of sinister intent which they don’t have by themselves. Not helping the matter one bit is how Desmogblog (the web site Ross Gelbspan founded, as he says 8 seconds into this interview) was the first organization to break the memo leak news, and how one person points out that “only 38 minutes elapsed between Gleick’s Epson Scan metadata timestamp and DeSmogBlog’s posting of the files.” Surely this would have been news that should have been sent first to an established news outlet such as the New York Times.

Of all people to comment on this situation, Ross Gelbspan’s blog post at Desmogblog described how the IREA memo was “dubbed a ‘Vampire Memo’ because it resurrects an earlier campaign which was discredited and abandoned in the mid 1990s.” He’s speaking of his favorite Western Fuels ICE campaign memo set with the “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” phrase that carried him into a second career. True, it was cut short by Western Fuels after a very brief time, but the jury is certainly out on whether it was discredited. But one of the other odd things about Gelbspan’s efforts to tell the story of the IREA memo is how he linked to a full context scan of it at his Desmog piece. He’s never done the same with the ICE memos. Since the ICE memos are hardly different than the IREA memo – all describing little more than forming and implementing a science-based rebuttal to Al Gore’ politicized version of global warming – Gelbspan’s show of the IREA memo is strangely self-defeating.

In this one, the controversy was over an Exxon representative’s suggestion to the George W. Bush administration that Dr. Robert Watson ought to be kicked out of the IPCC and how “lobbyists for energy companies and auto manufacturers” were “expected to press the administration to endorse Dr. Pachauri.” That’s the same Rajendra Pachauri that Ross Gelbspan mentioned in a 2002 interview about the Exxon memo, where he said the Bush administration “supported the nomination of Dr. Pachauri, who is not a scientist.” (full text here, where Gelbspan also suggested Pachauri’s oil industry ties would make him an ally of the Bush Administration). Gelbspan flip-flopped in 2007, labeling him a ‘leading scientist’, (full text here) despite the fact that Dr Pachauri only has a Master’s and a PhD degree in Industrial Engineering. As for the Exxon memo itself, enviro-activists portray it as having evil intent, but an objective reading of it instead draws attention to potential bias of particular people and situations that were worthy of more scrutiny.

Right off the bat, the API memos were hardly different than the IREA or Western Fuels one, when we see the way the NY Times described API as, “a campaign to recruit a cadre of scientists who share the industry’s views of climate science and to train them in public relations so they can help convince journalists, politicians and the public that the risk of global warming is too uncertain to justify controls on greenhouse gases.” The problem here is how the NYT had it backwards, it was industry who learned about and then shared the views of the skeptic scientists. But beyond that, the NYT not only failed to establish any intent to direct the skeptics to lie, it also launched into a swipe at skeptics over the Oregon Petition Project, which was also the target of smear efforts at that time by the old Ozone Action group…. the very same group where Gelbspan had a most troubling association.

  • The original Western Fuels Association memo leak of 1991.

This one is what my work is all about, because among all those other so-called ‘leaked memo scandals’, this is the only one having any plausible wording which could be interpreted as evidence of a sinister directive prompting skeptic scientists to knowingly lie about global warming: the infamous “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” phrase, along with the related “older, less educated men and young, low-income women” words – the latter of which seen in Al Gore’s 1992 book being a big problem when Gore later says Gelbspan discovered the plot behind this memo set. It gets one step worse with the single line of disclosure Gelbspan offered only one time about “An official of the campaign denies that strategy of targeting selected groups was ever implemented.” If that strategy was never implemented, did the original leaker of the ICE memos fail to mention it to the people receiving the leaked memos? And did Al Gore know of this situation before he mentioned those phrases in his 1992 book?

All five of these leaked memo situations share the same problem: they’re literally nothing more than guilt-by-association, when it comes to portraying skeptic climate scientists as paid industry shills. All show and no go.

There is one more thing to consider here, in light of the 2012 Heartland Institute memo leak apparently being so devoid of damaging material that a false cover memo had to be fabricated to give the whole thing some punch. How do we know the original Western Fuels Association memo leak didn’t fall under that same fate?