“The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” the coalition said in a scientific “backgrounder” provided to lawmakers and journalists through the early 1990s, adding that “scientists differ” on the issue.
But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.
“The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied,” the experts wrote in an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995.
George Monbiot, a British environmental activist and writer, said that by promoting doubt, industry had taken advantage of news media norms requiring neutral coverage of issues, just as the tobacco industry once had.
“They didn’t have to win the argument to succeed,” Mr. Monbiot said, “only to cause as much confusion as possible.”and concludes:
Except this is one case where the "media norms" may prove catastrophic, maybe not for me but for my children and eventual grandchildren. Several media critics -- but most notably journalism guru Jay Rosen from NYU -- have been focusing on the dangers of a kind of mindless "he said, she said" journalism that rules inside-the-Beltway reporting, sometimes to trivial effect but sometimes with great consequence, on topics like the financial crisis. But climate change may be the textbook study here.Journalists have to weigh many things in striving for the truth -- but the ultimate mile marker must always be objective facts where they exist, and not a juggling act of talking heads, especially when one of the heads doesn't even believe its own baloney it's putting out there.