Greenpeace Loves Ross Gelbspan… sort of.

Since I have a small run of “Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action” blog pieces going here, and since I had some fun at Ross Gelbspan’s expense a few years ago using a line out of the old “Columbo” TV series, here’s one more “sorry to bother you, there’s just one more thing…” examination of who claims ownership over the ‘leaked industry memos’ that supposedly prove the corruption of skeptic climate scientists.

Rummage through the uncountable instances on the internet where it’s said Gelbspan is the guy who let the world know how skeptic climate scientists were paid fossil fuel industry money to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact”, and you can jokingly say there is a 97% scientific consensus about it. Among the latest endorsements would be Greenpeace’s “Dealing in Denial” report (seemingly getting a more usable dead cat bounce’ of 550 or so Facebook ‘Likes’* as an update of the original 2010 version, which was not especially ‘Facebook likable’. *[2/28/18 Author’s note: I should have gotten a screencapture of the ‘Likes.’ because now the page link doesn’t work. But it is archived here at least]

Barely four paragraphs into the updated report’s “Part 1: A Brief History of Denial” summary (unchanged from the 2010 version’s page 4) we see,

In 1991, according to journalist Ross Gelbspan ICE:

“launched a blatantly misleading campaign on climate change that had been designed by a public relations firm…[that] clearly stated that the aim of the campaign was to ‘reposition global warming as theory rather than fact’. Its plan specified that three of the so-called greenhouse sceptics – Robert Balling, Pat Michaels and S Fred Singer – should be placed in broadcast appearances, op-ed pages and newspaper interviews.”[2]…..

[2] Ross Gelbspan, “The Heat is On,” Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. Inc, 1997, page 34

Apparently someone at Greenpeace never got the memo about the critical importance of using the 1998 paperback version of Gelbspan’s book and avoiding his ’97 hardcover.

That slip-up might be an oversight, and perhaps someone else accidentally wrecked the formerly functioning web link for Greenpeace’s older and different 2002 “Denial and Deception” report. The link doesn’t work in any of Greenpeace’s pages that I can find. Or is that link not working because there’s something in it that doesn’t jive with the newer “Dealing in Denial” report?

Fortunately for us, the internet archive PDF link for it still works, and on its page 9 we see this line,

According to strategy papers developed for the campaign, the ICE campaign sought to “re-position global warming as theory (not fact)” and attempted to target “older, less educated males from larger households who are not typically information seekers” and “younger, lower income women.”75

And its footnote #75 for this says,

Campaign strategy papers quoted in “Ties that Blind: Industry Influence on Public Policy and our Environment,” Ozone Action, March 1996

Not a word of credit to Gelbspan for the “reposition global warming” phrase. This is odd, because it isn’t as though Greenpeace never heard of him back in 2002, he’s noted right at the top of the Acknowledgements in the page immediately after the report’s screaming “Denial and Deception” cover, and his name appears no less than 7 times in the report’s Endnotes, along with 12 citations of his blog,, one of which, #74, is right above the #75 one for Ozone Action.

Let’s not forget, Ozone Action’s John Passacantando merged his group into Greenpeace USA in 2000, taking took over as its Executive Director, and he did have oversight over the 2002 Greenpeace report, since he signs his name on page ii (pdf’s page 4) of the Forward. You’d think from the “Ties that Blind” page where it clearly says, “documents obtained by Ozone Action and by Ross Gelbspan,” that Passacantando would have made sure equal billing was given to Gelbspan in the “Denial and Deception” report.

But there’s one other time where this happened. Page 173-4 of Passacantando’s “How Industry Combats Efforts to Protect Our Climate” chapter in the 1999 “The Piracy of America” book, (pgs 9 & 10 of these Greenpeace scans, click image to enlarge)


According to documents obtained by Ozone Action, several ICE strategies were laid out including: the repositioning of global warming as theory, not fact…

And as can be seen in the screencapture of paragraphs above that line, Gelbspan’s name is prominently mentioned. But without any connection to the the “reposition global warming” phrase, which he later said he got….. without any credit to Ozone Action.

Plenty of questions to be asked here. The biggest among them is why would Greenpeace be among the 97% consensus now to glorify Gelbspan over his 1997 ‘exposé’ of the “reposition global warming” memo phrase, but not back in 1999 or 2002?

I invite my journalist friends to pose those questions to anyone accusing skeptic climate scientists of corrupt fossil fuel industry funding, but don’t be surprised if you end up in the situation shown below. And if you do, ask yourself this question: What does it mean when someone stops answering questions?