Inside Track: Sowing Seeds of Doubt in the Greenhouse”, Part 2: troubling connections

Part 1 described how Phil Shabecoff’s June 1991 Greenwire electronic news brief was the first news item to directly quote a set of worthless ‘leaked memos’ which supposedly revealed how the fossil fuel industry aimed faulty climate science assessments at ignorant people in order to spread misinformation about the issue. The old Greenwire brief also quoted a spokesperson for an electric utility trade organization who categorically stated his organization was not participating in a public relations campaign of which those memos were supposedly guided by, which undercuts current accusations about that organization spearheading the PR campaign. But wait, there’s more.

Let’s examine some of the troubling details leading forward from this Greenwire brief:

First, global warming alarmist book author/documentary film star Naomi Oreskes referred to the date of this news brief in a 2010 guest author chapter as June 19. Global warming alarmist book authors Sheldon Rampton / John Stauber refer to it as June 20, which matches the date of the version only recently uncovered after the long search I noted in my prior blog post. However, this version states it is 1426 words in length when it’s actually only 974 words, so perhaps if a longer day-previous version was written, its word length statement was copied without change to this shorter June 20 version.

Typos or a longer still-unseen version? That’s one question, but it’s also worthwhile to ask how either Oreskes or Rampton/Stauber were aware of such an incredibly obscure dawn-of-the-internet-age old news brief, the first ever to quote specific wording from the “reposition global warming” / “older, less-educated males” / “younger, lower-income women” memos that were erroneously said to be the core strategy/targeting goals of the 1991 Western Fuels Association “Information Council for the Environment” (ICE) public relations campaign.

One small bit of wording in this old Greenwire brief begs for a simple question.

Internal ICE documents obtained by GREENWIRE proposed that the ad and p.r. campaigns be targeted at “older, less-educated males …” and “younger, lower-income women.”

Obtained from whom? A concerned whistleblower who had access to documents in the ICE PR campaign, including ones that were rejected which the whistleblower could have corroborated as such?

“Obtained” in this case isn’t the only time that word was used, however.

  • Ozone Action 1996: According to documents obtained by Ozone Action and by Ross Gelbspan, several ICE strategies were laid out including: the repositioning of global warming as theory, not fact. … targeting “older, less-educated males” … and “younger, lower-income women.”
  • Global warming alarmist professor Sharon Beder, in her 1998 paper: The Information Council for the Environment, which is a coal industry front group, was formed to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact).” It has a large advertising budget and in a media strategy obtained by Ozone Action, detailed its plan to target “older, less-educated males” …
  • Ozone Action’s John Passacantando, in his 1999 “How Industry Combats Efforts to Protect Our Climate” guest author chapter: According to documents obtained by Ozone Action, several ICE strategies were laid out including: the repositioning of global warming as theory, not fact … targeting “older, less-educated males” … and “younger, lower-income women.”
  • Ross Gelbspan, in his Mother Jones 2005 article: According to internal strategy papers I obtained at the time, the purpose of the campaign was “to reposition global warming as theory (not fact),” with an emphasis on targeting “older, less educated males,” and “younger, low-income women.”

Obtained from whom?

Then there’s two other small bits of wordings in the old Greenwire brief regarding a particular plan, who was to carry it out, and where:

The campaign proposes a “creative strategy” that would, among other things, “directly attack the proponents of global warming

ICE has enlisted three scientists, Dr. Robert Balling …, Dr. Sherwood Idso …, and Dr. Patrick Michaels … to carry its message around the country.

Where was that wording seen later?

  • Ross Gelbspan’s November 1997 Multinational Monitor piece: Western Fuels, a $400-million coal consortium, declared in its annual report that it was launching a direct attack on mainstream science and enlisting several scientists who are skeptical about climate change: Dr. Robert Balling of Arizona State University, Dr. Pat Michaels of the University of Virginia and Dr. S. Fred Singer.
  • Ross Gelbspan, Mother Jones 2005 article: Western Fuels, … declared in its annual report that it was enlisting several scientists who were skeptical about climate change—Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling, and S. Fred Singer … and sent them around the country.

I wrote an entire piece on Gelbspan’s questionable use of the variation “enlist” regarding the Western Fuels Association’s supposedly sinister recruitment plan for its ICE pr campaign, another one on his outright error about where the word “attack” was seen, a third on his embellishment of the scope of the ICE campaign, a fourth on his massive error regarding a name supposedly associated with the ICE campaign, and a fifth on his error of crediting The National Journal as being a news outlet which first reported the news of the ICE PR campaign … when the actual news outlet was Phil Shabecoff’s Greenwire.

As I noted toward the end of that latter blog post link reference, Ross Gelbspan was Facebook Friends with Phil Shabecoff at that time (he still is now). In 2016, Shabecoff offered a surprisingly politically suicidal suggestion at Gelbspan’s Facebook page favoring ‘crimes against humanity’ lawsuits against oil companies. But when it comes to the set of memos which supposedly indict skeptic climate scientists of colluding in such crimes with the fossil fuel industry, Gelbspan is the person Al Gore credited for their discovery, when clearly this triumph of ‘reporting’ should have gone to Shabecoff.

Why isn’t Shabecoff livid at Gelbspan for missing out on all the fame and fortune? If accusations about egregious corruption are ironclad, these sorts of questions about the ‘discovery’ of the corruption should never pop up. If the whole ‘crooked skeptic climate scientists’ accusation starts to fall apart, another question for objective unbiased investigative reporters to ask is what the chances are that Gelbspan won’t say the fame or the blame for the origins and collective initial efforts behind the false accusation partly trace back to Shabecoff. And if he does, who would Shabecoff implicate?