Climate change science goes back decades ⁠— and so does rapid climate change skepticism, says historian

International director of the Norwegian Polar Institute Kim Holmen relaxes with a cup of tea as he travels past the Wahlenberg Glacier in Oscar II land at Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway, on Aug. 5, 2019. The northernmost town on the planet is also the fastest-warming, as Longyearbyen in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard feels the effects of climate change. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)
(Hannah McKay/Reuters)

Historian Naomi Oreskes breaks down the origins of efforts to undermine climate action, links to the tobacco industry and the start of environmentalism.

CBC Radio · Posted: Sep 27, 2019

Some of the interview from this podcast has been transcribed in the following CBC article but listen to the full episode below to get better context and understanding.

More from CBC Ideas

The Origins of Specious: Rapid Climate Change Denialism

Climate change denialism has been around for years. And it’s still here, even after four decades of scientific consensus that humans are causing the climate crisis. But why? Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes explains in a public talk how denying climate change came to be a personal and political belief.

Listen or Download The Origins of Specious: Climate Change Denialism
[mp3 file: runs 00:54:09]

Alternate link:


Statment from The American Physical Society (APS) about global warming.

Discovery of Global Warming site created by Spencer Weart with initial support but not endorsement from the American Institute of Physics, the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Merchants of Doubt – Book

Draft notes from above podcast:

The Koch brothers who have made Billions from coal and other fossil fuels. They have provided over $100 Million in funding to the Heartland institute, other think tanks and groups that distribute misinformation about rapid clmate change, balanced regulation and environmentalism.

Tens of thousands of books have been produced containing this misinformatioand and sent to science teachers.

What is the argument really about?

Governance, regulation and free markets.

Failures, …

Only a handful of scientists have given their voice to the misinformation.

Typical responses to the scientific facts are “fixing will be too expensive, they will destroy the economy, undermine personal freedoms or nothing needs to be done or why make the effort for something that might not exist.”

Peter Wall U of BC

1965 …

Predicted 20% more C02 by 2000

Lyndon Johnson responded …

In 1979 the National Sciences Institute demonstrated a consensous by the majority of active climate scientists on the accelerating of climate change from human activties but they were not sure how long before the impacts would be felt.

But only six years later Jim Hanson detailed report provideded the evidence.

In 1988 he was called to testify to the US Senate.

The issue became political after scientific doubts initially which were premature …

Who started the rapid climate change denialism?

If you go back it was main three scientists

Robert Jastrow, together with Fred Seitz and William Nierenberg, established the George C. Marshall Institute[3] to counter the scientists who were arguing against U. S. President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, arguing for equal time in the media. This institute was later critical of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming.[4] Jastrow acknowledged the earth was experiencing a warming trend, but claimed that the cause was likely to be natural variation.[5]

Fedrick Seitz – Tobacco harm denialism with court testifing on behalf of large well paying tobacco corporations.


These three were part of the military presence – stratefic defense, Star Wars / SDI.

Witb the fall of the Berlin wall, communism decline and the coldwar ending they called it a success of the free market capitalism model.

Environmentalism and activism started.

They used the playbook from thr Tobacco industry to spread disinformation.

Q…, Alexis?, Libertain think tank …

Funded by the the Tobacco industry.

They claimed regulation and environmental laws were the slippery slope toward communism and socialism, that it opens the door …

George Well called environmentalism a green tree with red roots.

She goes on with some examples of what else was said of environmentalism o that with “Liberals should be that organised”

Environmentalism started by men like Teddy Roosevelt, John D Rockefeller (called for national parks and …) and other strong republicans.

Back then environmental protection laws passed with large bipartisan margins.

In the 1980’s Regan helped stall environmentalism and promoted de-regulation to try and counter recession.

Acid rain, ozone depetion, second hand smoke and other significant issues tackled by government involvement and better choices by key industry players.

Then environmentalism was headed on a collision course with right wing thinking.

The right didn’t want to admit failures of full free market models with little regulation.

Proper economic models now factor in the huge externalized costs of carbon emissions. China uses large amounts of coal, oil and gas for energy to produce and create products sold to the US and other large western countries.

The real costs are going to be higher than the short term benefits.

The IMF pegs the cost of carbon including these externalized costs at over $3 Trillion per year world wide.

Wall institute at U of BC …

Facsimile science is a serious threat …

Journalists can’t give it or other misinformation equal time. The public noticing must call this out.

There is a long history of the private sector saying explotation of … results in loss of freedoms but ….

In 1960 the private electricity generation industry used the Berlin wall in an ad as example of how freedom is lost.

They were trying to avoid eastern Canada’s municipal generation success stories that started in 1920.

Book: Merchants of Doubt

Already many great examples of carbon neutral or zero carbon projects.

Bullet Center Building in Seatte produces 52% more power than it uses. Construction costs were in line with regular buildings

Sun drop farms in western Australia, mostly private sector funding, Desalination to water crops, fossil fuel free.

Alberta the Texas of the north has an ambitious and comprehensive carbon reduction plan that it has already started implementing albiet with some recent set backs.

Denialism is also rooted in fear of excessive government and the illusion that full free markets do not have failure or weaknesses.

Governance is failing when influenced by unethical and corrupted players.

If we allow this to continue unabated we all get a lot poorer.

See what NOAA and the Boulder Climate Action plan are doing and saying aboug current green technology, growth, without energy storage, utilizing an integrated grid in NA as a whole. I.e somewhere in NA the sun is shinning, water is running and the wind is blowing, Add in feothermal ther grewner technology. Longer distance transmissionmore efficient if converted to DC. Currently this underutilized.

Pricing on carbon will not work unless there is viable options.

We need to stop utilities from blocking green development.

We need smarter grids.

Markets are not magic and have pros and cons.

Government was established to help balance competing interests.

Lincoln’s quote is suitable: “The sheep thanks while the wolf ….

Or as …. said “Liberty to the wolves is death to the sheep”.

Slavery took place while there was …

Timothy Schneider, History of the holocaust, Black earth

Freedom is the abscence of …

Hitler’s Nazi’s started by dismantling Citizen protections

These protections are essential to freedom.

There is more and more divesting in fossil fuels.

Guss …, … report in 197x was visionary.

We must be optimistic yet be aware the fight has really only begun.

Embedded emissions in products.

Adding Pipelines is like getting drunk again tonight and saying you will deal with your alcoholism tomorrow.

Building more pipelines is saying you want to be tied to 30, 50 or 70 years of fossil fuel infrastructure.

Ozone success story – chapter … but it was simplier.

Energy is so integrated in our economies.

A dozen or so countries are producing most of the emissions. This includes the US, China, India, Brazil, Canada, … especially when factoring in exteralized costs.

These counties must lead the way and then the technology and expertise sold or given to other countries to help them reduce emissions.

Post Paris …

About Kevin Yaworski

I use my blog to write about things that I think are a matter of public interest or that I think others will be interested in
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