As ever, one of the hallmarks of far-left enviro-activists is their psychological projection, where they ought to just wear a huge sign saying “what I accuse others of doing is exactly what I do myself.” I’ve covered Mark Hertsgaard here at GelbspanFiles before, so I shouldn’t be surprised that he and his Covering Climate Now (CCN) efforts continue to be a one-trick pony show where he is enslaved to repeating “Pulitzer-Winning journalist” Ross Gelbspan’s decades-old attack about skeptic climate scientists being paid fossil fuel industry money to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” – Hertsgaard began his current career track doing exactly that back in 1997. It was a myth back then that Gelbspan had won a Pulitzer and was an even bigger myth concerning Gelbspan’s outright false accusation that skeptic climate scientists were paid and/or instructed to reposition anything. But Hertsgaard persists in keeping the glory of Gelbspan’s fake news alive to this day. Witness the following from Hertsgaard’s CCN page dating from just short of three months ago, in which his subheading points an arrow the size of Texas at himself when it comes to projecting his own ‘decades of disinformation’:
Beware These 10 Climate Myths
Decades of fossil fuel industry disinformation are still distorting climate coverage
… A decades-long disinformation campaign by the fossil fuel industry explicitly intended — to quote an internal planning document — “to reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” (even though the industry privately knew better). This campaign has relied on many of the same tactics, and even the same scientists, as the tobacco industry’s campaign to deny that smoking causes cancer.
To help liberate our reporting from this industry spin, CCNow has published a list of 10 common climate myths, … But first, the context.
In 1991, alarmed that even conservative politicians, including US president George H. W. Bush and British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, were urging action after NASA scientist James Hansen’s US Senate testimony that “the greenhouse effect is changing our climate now,” fossil fuel companies founded the Global Climate Coalition. It was this outfit that aimed to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact,” as Boston Globe reporter Ross Gelbspan revealed. Since then, ExxonMobil and other companies have spent millions of dollars promoting climate myths through advertising, press briefings, think tank “studies,” and allied politicians, even though the companies’ own scientists had privately told them the truth years before: that burning oil, gas, and coal would catastrophically raise global temperatures. (See here for further background on the industry’s deceptions.)
I specifically included the screencapture above for posterity. One of the other hallmarks of far-leftists overall is that they routinely never own up to their errant assertions; they disappear those errors and pretend that they never happened. Nevertheless, what’s seen on the internet cannot be unseen, which is why screencaptures are as important as they are. It’s even harder to disappear what has been printed in ink on paper, but in this case, that’s what’s being done. Notice how that last link within Hertsgaard’s bits goes to a page for Ross Gelbspan’s paperback version of his old “The Heat is On” book. As I pointed out in one of my first few blog posts here in 2013, Gelbspan’s 1997 hardcover book version accused Dr S Fred Singer of trying to “reposition global warming,” but the 1998 paperback pretended like that false accusation against Dr Singer never happened. It doesn’t stop there, though. None of the scientists Gelbspan named were ever paid or instructed to reposition anything.
But lets now see where Hertsgaard’s latest effort has problems.
- When news outlets do not tell their audiences about the highly detailed science-based assessments from PhD-level climatologists / atmospheric physicists / experts in statistical temperature data gathering / analysis, it can be argued that such a major exclusion is, by default, a form of disinformation.
- “Disinformation campaign,” singular, meaning inter-company coordination operating under one agreed-upon unified plan. However, the “internal planning” document, a directive intended for the “Informed Citizens for the Environment” campaign to ‘reposition’ settled science back into unsettled speculative theory, was an inexplicably conceived idea within a set of public relations campaign suggestions that included targeting portions of the public which were “older, less-educated men” and “young, low-income women“ that was rejected outright – including the name suggestion variant of “Informed Citizens” – by the group the proposal was sent to. The nonsensical suggestions ended up in the trash. The actual decades-long disinformation campaign entirely concerns the Gelbspan accusation which Hertsgaard is once again repeating.
- Since no fossil fuel industry efforts operated on a plan to reposition anything or deceive the public about the harm of their products, by default they would not have been using the same tactics as the the tobacco industry. What Hertsgaard is referring to here is the myth that one particular skeptic climate scientist – Dr S Fred Singer – denied that smoking causes cancer. Dr Singer never did any such thing, as I detailed in my May 6, 2017 blog post. His criticism was entirely about the misuse of science-based labels, namely that second-hand cigarette smoke, while certainly absolutely very harmful to health, did not rise to the level of being labeled a Class A carcinogen. It’s just that simple, and by making a mountain out of a molehill, it could be said Hertsgaard is spreading disinformation.
- The Global Climate Coalition (GCC) outfit never aimed to reposition anything, the rejected proposal came from the Edison Electric Institute. Hertsgaard is repeating the myth he himself generated out of his 2006 Vanity Fair article in which it appears he implied the “reposition global warming” directive stemmed from the GCC. As I detailed in a 2014 blog post, Hertsgaard’s implication became so widespread that even the prominent IPCC-associated scientist Dr Stephen Schneider repeated that falsehood. It took the sheer persistence of a particular person to wipe that false implication out of its multi-year appearance at Wikipedia … and yet Hertsgaard tries to revive that GCC ‘reposition’ myth in his months-old piece.
- “Boston Globe reporter” Ross Gelbspan never revealed or “unearthed” any such thing. The first time he spoke of them in public was 3½ years after he’d retired from the Globe, while the first time the “reposition” memo directive was mentioned anywhere was apparently in a June 25 1991 Eco-Geneva newsletter nearly 4½ years before Gelbspan ever spoke of the memos, and the newsletter was also quoting the audience targeting suggestions from a one-day-prior report at the Energy Daily trade publication. Four days prior, those same audience targeting phrases were in a June 20, 1991 Greenwire fax new report run by ex- New York Times reporter Phil Shabecoff. The story was subsequently picked up in the most prominent way in a July 1991 New York Times article that – strangely – attributed the revelation of the memos to the Sierra Club, which has never admitted any role in the matter ever.
- Fossil fuel companies’ own scientists could not have “told the truth” that burning fossil fuels would catastrophically raise global temperatures because there was no widespread agreement that any such situation was absolute. As “Merchants of Doubt” book author Naomi Oreskes once inadvertently told the truth about, uncounted numbers of scientists believed fossil fuel use would lead to global cooling. Viewpoints were also held back then that any warming from carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere might be offset by particulates accumulation which would cause cooling. There was clear disagreement on whether the planet was warming or cooling. The argument about a cooling trend was so widespread that it even found its way into the 1977 “Barney Miller” situation comedy TV show.
Keep in mind the “Covering Climate Now” is spoken of as being one of the major suppliers of information to news outlets, the PBS NewsHour declaring that among those. The NewsHour has also never once permitted a skeptic climate scientist onto its program to detail the science-based skeptic part of the issue. Imagine, however, if it not taken an almost entirely unquestioning position on the topic and had done its job back in 1996 – a job that Mark Hertsgaard himself did not do – and simply check whether accusations about industry-directed skeptic scientists had any merit, and whether what was being said at the time by IPCC-associated scientists could stand up in face-to-face debates with those scientists who said IPCC conclusions were vastly overblown.
Imagine if we had a mainstream media overall that had done their investigative reporter jobs back then, and instead not chosen the path they’e on now, which has every appearance in the world of repeating one-sided, scientifically unsupportable, emotion-driven propaganda. Imagine if President Bill Clinton, back in 1997, had set the tone for hard-nosed investigative journalism to happen by simply suggesting to reporters that they should look into why Ross Gelbspan claimed to have won a Pulitzer.
It doesn’t take rocket scientist levels of intelligence to ask the most basic of questions there: if an individual apparently feels compelled to advance a story – any story – by bolstering it with personal resumé fraud, what else might be disinformation within the story?