Reposition Global Warming as Theory Rather than Fact Redux, 22 Apr 2019

A strange pair of same-day appearances barely over a month ago of that supposedly ‘leaked industry strategy memo phrase’ are an indicator of how people who can’t stop repeating it seem blissfully ignorant regarding the way its less-than-three-degree separation from Ross Gelbspan — and all the related fatal problems surrounding that — could potentially torpedo the legacies of the prominent people who’ve long promulgated it as evidence of the fossil fuel industry conspiring with skeptic climate scientists to undercut the alleged ‘certainty’ of man-caused global warming. Watch this.

Published on April 22 this year, Mark Hertsgaard’s “The Media Are Complacent While the World Burns” article (ironically subheaded “a brand new playbook“) in The Nation was a 5600 word+ screed combining the ridiculous notion that the mainstream media doesn’t adequately cover the climate issue enough (Hertsgaard apparently is not a PBS NewsHour viewer), with the even more ludicrous idea that there’s no need to give skeptics of man-caused global warming equal reporting coverage. That isn’t a new playbook tactic for journalists, it’s a very old one first seen in the late 1980s, an absolute embodiment of the three propaganda points that the entire global warming issue ultimately boils down to — “the science is settled” / “skeptics are industry-corrupted” / “reporters may ignore skeptic material because of points 1 & 2.”

In dutifully adhering to that last propaganda point while regurgitating one of Gelbspan’s book quotes on why such skeptics can be ignored, we have the following two bits from Hertsgaard only separated by three sentences deep within his piece:

Ross Gelbspan reported in his book, The Heat Is On. “Except for your country, the only debates are how fast and with what impacts the changes will happen.” …

… most of the rest of the media have not reckoned with their decades of culpability. It’s not as if they weren’t warned. The “reposition as theory (not fact)” memo first appeared in The New York Times in 1991.

No, it actually didn’t, as I proved in my timeline for the appearances of that so-called strategy phrase and its directly related targeting phrases which are routinely erroneously attributed to the Western Fuels Association’s very short-lived pilot project public relations campaign titled the “Information Council for the Environment (ICE).”

Hertsgaard would know that if he read GelbspanFiles, but then he would also know how I’ve dissected his very long-term associations with Gelbspan in my posts tagged “Hertsgaard.” They don’t help his situation at all. What’s peculiar now is how he has joined Al Gore in the way they both initially praised Gelbspan for the discovery / unearthing of that “reposition global warming” strategy phrase as a “Pulitzer winner” (he is not), but later ignore his ‘discovery’/‘unearthing’ in favor of the ‘NYT origin’ for the phrase, as seen above and in Gore’s 7000-word Rolling Stone 2011 screed, while also failing to bring up the Pulitzer bit at all.

Weird, huh? We have to wonder if either Hertsgaard or Gore can explain their backpedaling on those rather important and influential assertions of theirs and why they feel a need to change them when nobody is looking.

Meanwhile, there is the other same-day appearance of that old weather-beaten non-ICE strategy phrase. It came out of Dr. Geoffrey Supran’s April 22 Twitter feed, in what amounted to a 23-post, approximately 6000-character screed on the way “evidence alone has floundered in the face of 30y of climate denial & delay by fossil fuel interests & conservative ideologues.” In his Twitter post #5 we see this ….

5/n: Here’s a 1991 internal strategy memo from the coal and utility industries explicitly planning to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact).” Those who simply presented the evidence didn’t stand a chance. …

…. with its clickable link leading to guess who? Kert Davies and his Climate Files website page for the ICE campaign, which — again for emphasis — never operated under the “reposition global warming / older, less educated malesyounger, lower-income women” strategy/targeting ‘memos.’

Supran would know this if he read GelbspanFiles, but then he would also know from reading my blog how politically suicidal it is for Naomi Oreskes, Michael Mann (yes, that ClimateGate scientist), and Katherine Hayhoe to be in a tagged user list for his Tweet (along with George “citation cascade redux” Monbiot) to this never-ending single-source “evidence” for the ‘skeptics/coal-oil conspiracy campaign.’ And from reading my dissection of his role in the Oreskes et al. January 19 amicus brief, Supran would also know how politically suicidal it is to reinforce his own ties to that worthless bit of ‘Gelbspan-discovered/unearthed’ leaked memo evidence.

Now, piling on regarding a day-late-but-not-dollar-short regurgitation of that non-ICE strategy phrase, consider the following effort by Arthur Hoyle (a basically unknown book author having less Twitter followers than my GelbspanFiles account), who employs it as a smoking gun accusation against all of the bad guys. It’s from the April 23 online appearance of Part 8 of his ten-part,13,000-word “The Cassandra Syndrome” screed, where he states,

The Global Climate Coalition, the Information Council for the Environment, think tanks such as the George C. Marshall Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Cato Institute, joined lobbying entities like the American Petroleum Institute in commissioning their own sets of reports in a concerted effort to reposition global warming as theory rather than fact.

Smoothly inserted that otherwise awkward phrase into his narrative, didn’t he? He offers no footnote source for the accusation, but a good hint of what influenced that line of thinking is found at the end of his book in his Appendix’s “What You Can Do” section, where his recommendation on staying informed is … guess who? Ross Gelbspan.

If he read GelbspanFiles, Hoyle would be aware of how efforts to mention that phrase more casually it in a sentence actually end up looking more propagandistic to fully informed readers, and he would also know from reading my blog how any appearance of attributing the phrase even vaguely to the Global Climate Coalition could be termed a repetition of “the Hertsgaard error.”

Full circle, vicious circle, back to where we started a day before, and arguably an illustration of how completely enslaved the collectively population of man-caused global warming believers are to a single worthless source of evidence for their belief in ‘industry-funded merchants of global warming doubt.’

What can you do to end this madness? Inform people like Hoyle about how they’ve been misled by their heroes and heroines, get people like Supran and Hertsgaard to turn state’s evidence against their mentors who brought them in as participants in this false accusation, and use the latter in legal action against the clique who appear to be the core promulgators of this accusation where there is a golden opportunity to release long-hidden correspondence.