Lies, Liars and Climate Deniers
Fossil fuel industry’s dirty tricks campaign exposed
Leave it to Washington's top attack-dog lobbyist Richard Berman to verify what many always suspected: that the oil and gas industry uses dirty tricks to undermine science, vilify its critics and discredit journalists who cast doubt on the prudence of fossil fuels.
In a speech at an industry conference in June, surreptitiously recorded by an energy executive, Rick Berman ‒ the foremost go-to guy for Republican smear campaigns ‒ gave unusually candid advice to a meeting of drilling companies.
“Think of this as an endless war,” he told executives in a speech, which was leaked to the New York Times by an attendee at the conference who was offended by Berman's remarks. “And you have to budget for it.”
He said the industry needs to dig up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, exploit the public’s short attention span for scientific debate, and play on people’s emotions:
“Fear and anger have to be a part of this campaign. We’re not going to get people to like the oil and gas industry over the next few months.”
Berman also advised that executives continue to spend big:
“I think $2 to $3 million would be a game changer. We’ve had six-figure contributions to date from a few companies in this room to help us get to where we are.”
But always cover your tracks, he suggested, adding that no-one is better equipped at doing so than his firm:
“We run all this stuff through non-profit organisations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us. We’ve been doing this for 20-something years in this regard.”
Richard Berman's Web of Front Groups http://t.co/2q4E0wgzrE http://t.co/fzN2deFW5Z #Climate #Tobacco #Astroturfing pic.twitter.com/nCdiqZkzaL
— Matthew Rimmer (@DrRimmer) November 1, 2014
Berman, whose tobacco ties were profiled by DeSmog contributor John Mashey, is the founder and chief executive of the Washington-based Berman & Company consulting firm. He attended the conference in Colorado, hat in hand, looking to raise money from energy companies for an advertising and public relations campaign he started called Big Green Radicals.
The campaign has already placed a series of intentionally controversial advertisements in Pennsylvania and Colorado, heavy drilling states. The firm has also paid to place its media campaign on websites aimed at national and Washington D.C. audiences.
The event where Berman spoke was held in Colorado Springs and was sponsored by lobby group Western Energy Alliance.
The crowd included executives from drilling firms like Chesapeake Energy and EnCana Oil and Gas, along with energy services companies like Halliburton, industry trade associations, law firms and banks, according to a scheduled attendee list also provided to The Times.
He told them:
“… wherever possible, I like to use humour to minimise or marginalise the other side.”
Berman was joined at the conference by Jack Hubbard, a vice president at Berman & Company, who described the P.R. firm's approach for targeting what they labelled “radical” groups like the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Food and Water Watch.
A full transcript of their speech was published by The Times.
RT @RobertKennedyJr: Rick Berman: Oil Reich's Minister of Propaganda & public information http://t.co/mrY8hcK5PJ $s too
— GMWatch (@GMWatch) November 3, 2014
“So we thought, how are we going to kick off this campaign? Take the typical Berman and Company model, in terms of undermining these folks’ credibility and diminish their moral authority.”
He added that they had done “a whole bunch of intense opposition research into their board of directors”, but ended up with nothing more than a campaign based on the gas mileage of the directors’ personal vehicles.
As an example of their effectiveness at changing the public's perception of an issue through personal attacks on advocates, Hubbard explained how their campaigns worked:
“…one of the things we are really focused on is how do we take the message, put it on a bumper sticker, and get it out to the public so it gets coverage and you break through the 24/7 news cycle.”
The team’s tactics include taking advantage of people’s short attention spans, especially where ballot initiatives and issues of local control are concerned.
“The next thing you know, you’re trying to play defense against multiple public initiatives that are very different and very complex. And the public, frankly, doesn’t have the time or the brain to understand them all. So what we wanted to do is that we wanted to brand the entire movement behind this as not being credible and anti-science.”
#tobacco industry front group Forest's new #campaign modeled after 'Dr Evil' Richard Berman's front group in US- http://t.co/ND7wvABYqS
— Tobacco Research (@BathTR) November 2, 2014
Berman described the job of convincing people as he sees it — introducing just enough doubt that even if people don’t support an issue, they’re confused enough to write it off.
“Instead of getting the ‘he said she said’ debate, what you will get with the factual debate, often times, you’re going to get into people get overwhelmed by the science and ‘I don’t know who to believe'. But if you got enough on your side you get people into a position of paralysis on the issue. You get into people’s minds a tie. They don’t know who is right. And you get all ties because a tie basically ensures the status quo.”
It is unclear whether people have the stomach for more of this type of behaviour. Even the pro-drilling Denver Post editorial board has criticized the tactics that Berman suggested and which industry public relations outlets like Energy In Depth have been using for years, calling one ad:
“… a cheap shot at fracking foes.”
But the industry itself is desperate as public concerns about climate change increase and popular sentiment turns against more drilling. And desperate times mean desperate measures.
The recording is by no means the first evidence of these aggressive and ad hominem tactics.
Last month, DeSmog described how the industry’s attack machine has gone after major foundations and endowments, attempting to frame their donations to environmental groups as an insideous conspiracy to undermine American energy production instead of a response to the growing number of problems related to fracking.
Range Resources accused of "bully tactics against foes." http://t.co/SlSLMODtUz #fracking h/t @EARTHWORKSrocks
— Energy Action News (@EnerActNews) March 25, 2013
Back in 2011, CNBC revealed that Range Resources was taking military psy-ops skills and applying them to political battles in Pennsyvlania and across the U.S., with an official from another shale gas company, Anandarko, telling attendees at a Houston shale conference that
“… we are dealing with an insurgency.”
They’ve also claimed that the media is waging a “war on shale gas” at times when reporters started asking tough but vital questions, surrounding dubious financial practices and how toxic waste from fracking is handled, for example.
The industry famously targeted the New York Times itself back in 2011 when that paper ran Drilling Down, an award-winning investigative series about fracking.
In the recorded speech, Berman and Hubbard provided detailed public relations advice to those gathered:
“If you want a video to go viral, have kids or animals.”
Mr. Hubbard added, describing a series of billboards deploying personal attacks on Yoko Ono and Robert Redford, both of whom have spoken out against fracking:
“There is nothing the public likes more than tearing down celebrities and playing up the hypocrisy angle.”
Billboards Attack Anti-Fracking Celebrities http://t.co/4K2dvqGt8V #fracking pic.twitter.com/RHgmX4OCem
— MichaelLoBurgio (@MikeLoBurgio) September 18, 2014
Berman is also known for having created the American Beverage Institute in 1991, which lobbied against tougher restrictions on drunk driving, while protecting its donors.
He is also especially notorious among labor unions, another of his favorite adversaries. Berman created the so-called Center for Union Facts, which led a $10 million anti-union campaign, without disclosing its donors.
As he said:
“I get up every morning and I try to figure out how to screw with the labor unions — that’s my offense. I am just trying to figure out how I am going to reduce their brand.”
Listen to the audio recording of Berman spilling his secrets in full.
Here is the famous recording of Richard Berman's speaking at the Western Energy Alliance Absolutely chilling... http://t.co/3EtDWgkIYm
— Varushka Franceschi (@shapeshiftdream) October 31, 2014
This story was originally published on DeSmog Blog as 'Oil and Gas Industry's "Endless War" on Fracking Critics Revealed by Rick Berman'
Via Independent Australia @ http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/fossil-fuel-industrys-dirty-tricks-campaign-exposed,7064
Why Climate Deniers Have No Scientific Credibility - In One Pie Chart
I searched the Web of Science for peer-reviewed scientific articles published between 1 January 1991 and 9 November 2012 that have the keyword phrases “global warming” or “global climate change.” The search produced 13,950 articles. See methodology.
I read whatever combination of titles, abstracts, and entire articles was necessary to identify articles that “reject” human-caused global warming. To be classified as rejecting, an article had to clearly and explicitly state that the theory of global warming is false or, as happened in a few cases, that some other process better explains the observed warming. Articles that merely claimed to have found some discrepancy, some minor flaw, some reason for doubt, I did not classify as rejecting global warming. Articles about methods, paleoclimatology, mitigation, adaptation, and effects at least implicitly accept human-caused global warming and were usually obvious from the title alone. John Cook and Dana Nuccitelli also reviewed and assigned some of these articles; John provided invaluable technical expertise.
This work follows that of Oreskes (Science, 2005) who searched for articles published between 1993 and 2003 with the keyword phrase “global climate change.” She found 928, read the abstracts of each and classified them. None rejected human-caused global warming. Using her criteria and time-span, I get the same result. Deniers attacked Oreskes and her findings, but they have held up.
Some articles on global warming may use other keywords, for example, “climate change” without the “global” prefix. But there is no reason to think that the proportion rejecting global warming would be any higher.
By my definition, 24 of the 13,950 articles, 0.17% or 1 in 581, clearly reject global warming or endorse a cause other than CO2 emissions for observed warming. The list of articles that reject global warming is here. The 24 articles have been cited a total of 113 times over the nearly 21-year period, for an average of close to 5 citations each. That compares to an average of about 19 citations for articles answering to “global warming,” for example. Four of the rejecting articles have never been cited; four have citations in the double-digits. The most-cited has 17.
Of one thing we can be certain: had any of these articles presented the magic bullet that falsifies human-caused global warming, that article would be on its way to becoming one of the most-cited in the history of science.
The articles have a total of 33,690 individual authors. The top ten countries represented, in order, are USA, England, China, Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia, France, Spain, and Netherlands. (The chart shows results through 9 November 2012.)
Global warming deniers often claim that bias prevents them from publishing in peer-reviewed journals. But 24 articles in 18 different journals, collectively making several different arguments against global warming, expose that claim as false. Articles rejecting global warming can be published, but those that have been have earned little support or notice, even from other deniers.
A few deniers have become well known from newspaper interviews, Congressional hearings, conferences of climate change critics, books, lectures, websites and the like. Their names are conspicuously rare among the authors of the rejecting articles. Like those authors, the prominent deniers must have no evidence that falsifies global warming.
Anyone can repeat this search and post their findings. Another reviewer would likely have slightly different standards than mine and get a different number of rejecting articles. But no one will be able to reach a different conclusion, for only one conclusion is possible: Within science, global warming denial has virtually no influence. Its influence is instead on a misguided media, politicians all-too-willing to deny science for their own gain, and a gullible public.
Scientists do not disagree about human-caused global warming. It is the ruling paradigm of climate science, in the same way that plate tectonics is the ruling paradigm of geology. We know that continents move. We know that the earth is warming and that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary cause. These are known facts about which virtually all publishing scientists agree.
Jim Powell is a science author. He has been a college and museum president and was a member of the National Science Board for 12 years, appointed first by President Reagan and then by President George H. W. Bush.
* The original version has been updated to note one additional paper.
From de smog blog @ http://www.desmogblog.com/2012/11/15/why-climate-deniers-have-no-credibility-science-one-pie-chart
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