July 10, 2020

The fossil fuel sector has misinformed in the US about climate change

Fossil fuel companies have misinformed about climate change in the United States for decades "using denial and postponement tactics that are taken directly from the tobacco strategy manual," according to a report published Monday by George Mason University.

This is "America Misled" (the United States cheated), a report signed by five academics from that university, Harvard and Bristol that show how the fossil energy sector financed and organized a "disinformation campaign" for " suppress the action and protect the status quo in its economic operations. "

The report gives as an example the largest oil company in the United States, Exxon Mobil, precisely when tomorrow Tuesday faces a fraud trial in New York, where it has been accused by the Prosecutor's Office of deceiving its shareholders regarding the impact they could have on their You count the regulations that fight climate change.

One of the report's co-authors, John Cook, a professor at the Center for Communication on Climate Change at George Mason University, said the document "sheds a disinfectant light on how fossil-fueled disinformation has denied the public's right to be accurately informed. "

"Scientists employed in the fossil fuel sector knew the potential heating effects of CO2 emissions since 1950," say the academics, who cite Exxon's internal documents dated between 1977 and 1998 where it reflects how "they were explicitly aware" of those Product risks.

"The evidence is unequivocal: Exxon cheated the public," says researcher Geoffrey Supran of the Department of History of Science at Harvard University: "Instead of warning the public or doing something, they turned around and orchestrated a campaign massive (…) to protect its benefits. "

Scholars point out that disinformation has "succeeded" in the US, where policies to mitigate climate change have been "blocked or delayed for decades" while extreme weather changes occurred, as well as damage and death "that they will continue to get worse if we don't expose and subtract credit from denial. "

Americans "have been denied their right to be accurately informed about climate change, just as they were denied their right to be informed about the risks of smoking by the large tobacco industry (Big Tobacco)," states the document summary.

In that sense, scientists say that the oil industry (Big Oil) is the new Big Tobacco: "Following the instruction manual of the tobacco industry, fossil fuel companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to confuse the public and delay actions that can save lives. "

The report includes strategies to combat these denialist techniques that "sow the seed of doubt in the public" and offers annotations on several internal Exxon Mobil documents and even an announcement that was published in The New York Times in 2000, with " false arguments "and contradictory.

In one of those internal notes, from 1998, Exxon says that "victory will be achieved" when "the average citizen recognizes that there are uncertainties in climate science", that this becomes "common sense" and that "media coverage it reflects "a" variety of views that defy current common sense. "

Scholars point in the margins of the note that what Exxon said means "to make the public think that scientists know nothing for sure" and "manipulate the media to pay attention to both parties."

(tagsToTranslate) fuels (t) fossils (t) uninformed (t) US (t) climate

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