If Ross Gelbspan was swayed by concerned letter-writing readers of his 1995 article to look into the work of skeptics, but those weren’t real writers, how does it follow that skeptic scientists were influencing the masses anyway?
As I detailed in my August 16 blog piece, Gelbspan said a major factor prompting him to become familiar with the climate assessments of skeptic scientists was a backlash of letters from readers of an article he co-authored with Harvard’s Paul Epstein concerning climate change and the spread of diseases. But, as he claimed in only a few instances, he discovered the letter-writers were not really concerned private citizens but instead were people working in the PR departments of the fossil fuel industry lobby. Such an action would have seemingly indicated that there were no concerned readers wanting to steer him to the skeptic side among all those readers of his Washington Post piece, thus the skeptics must have not been very persuasive at the time.
So what are we to make of the following situation, a June 2000 article about media reporting of the global warming issue by Simon Smith at the Ryerson Review of Journalism? About 2/3rds down the page, he says, (bold emphasis mine)
… as early as 1991, says Ross Gelbspan, a retired journalist and the author of The Heat is On: The High Stakes Battle Over Earth’s Threatened Climate, the energy industry used the media as its mouthpiece for conveying uncertainty. That year, a group of utility and coal companies created the now-disbanded Information Council on the Environment and consulted a PR firm, which recommended that it “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact.” Its goal was to get coverage for skeptical scientists, and such coverage was effective, as Gelbspan first learned in 1995, after co-writing an article with an IPCC physician on how global warming would affect the spread of disease. When their article appeared in The Washington Post, readers contacted Gelbspan to say it was unfounded.
From the paragraph following that one, it certainly appears the article author spoke with Gelbspan in some fashion. Had Gelbspan not yet discovered that the ‘concerned readers that called and wrote to him’ about his 1995 article were fake? If he had not, how would anyone be able to determine when the larger public was genuinely swayed by skeptic scientists, and a necessity no longer existed for PR departments of the fossil fuel industry lobby to stage fake bouts of ‘citizen concern’?
A reviewer of Gelbspan’s “The Heat is On” wrote in early 1998 that, (last paragraph)
Perhaps the finest testament to the impact of Gelbspan’s book is the relative silence of the skeptics today.
So we had an eruption of persuasive skeptics in 2000 who were not persuasive enough in 1995 to prompt ordinary citizens to speak out on their behalf, and these same skeptics were hushed into silence by Gelbspan’s book by 1998 for at least some length of time?