Interview with Prof. Naomi Oreskes co-author of the book “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming”. The quality of the video isn’t so great but that is more than made up by the quality of Naomi as a speaker. Extremely knowledgable she answers the questions with a depth that isn’t off putting which makes her quite easy to follow. Well worth a listen.
She traces the current debate in the media on climate change to roots of key right wing think tanks promoting free market, non regulatory ideology during the 80′s and 90′s. The handful of scientists who founded this movement through the Marshall Institute near the end of the Cold War started attacking the science of various issues (including environmental regulation) and demanding equal media time. They adopted the playbook from tobacco’s long held strategy of arguing that there was no direct evidence that smoking caused cancer and until the science was settled there should be no need for regulation. It is not the often assumed story of corruption, more a story of strongly held belief of the free market. A world in which tobacco and fossil fuel companies are a lot more happy operating in and thus their decision to start funding these think tanks during the 1990′s. Naomi squares a lot of the blame to these parties, but the insidious tactic would not of been as successful as it has if journalists and scientist hadn’t been willing to question and argue the issue more. It looks as though the US is almost a lost cause for the moment on this issue while the rest of the world, minus those under a Murdoch media umbrella see the real story of climate science much more clearly.
We are still a long way from real action though.