Koch Brothers' $67M to Climate Denial (E38)
Worldwide 'Biblical' disasters predicted by new UN study; successive global catastrophes served by a small sinister network of 'institutes'; and corporate-funded gangs trained to troll web users.
Seek truth from facts with Merchants of Doubt co-author Professor Naomi Oreskes; As You Sow chief executive Andrew Behar; and science writer John Gibbons.
Watch live on RT:
Sunday April 20 at 0445, 0845, 1245, 1645, 2045 GMT.
Monday April 21 at 0045GMT.
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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
RT: Why are the Koch brothers funneling over $67m to climate change denial. Coming up.
Annoucer: A new UN report foretells "Biblical" disaster.
A single network discovered behind successive global catastrophes.
And Koch-linked groups being trained to troll web users.
RT: Doubt is our product - the name of the leaked killer strategy by Big Tobacco that's tricked the public for decades.
Leaked tobacco industry memo:Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the "body of fact”. The consensus is that cigarettes are harmful to health. If we are successful in establishing a controversy at the public level, then there is an opportunity.
RT:Merchants of Doubt is an extraordinary book which uncovered the same small group, multinational-funded, has successfully employed the doubt strategy in media to get inaction on one global health catastrophe after another.
Cigarette makers’ own research had concluded they were killing en masse already in the 1950s. But for decades after, it paid false experts who successfully convinced the public that smoking’s good for you.
Siegfried Singer’s a retired physicist, Big Tobacco paid him to be an expert on smoking and health, along with right-wing think-tank the Heartland Institute, funded by cigarette major Philip Morris to deny risks of smoking.
Leaked documents show Singer's also been paid $5,000a month by the same institute to deny climate change. Heartland was funded by two of America’s biggest polluters - Exxon Mobil and the Koch brothers.
The brothers alone have funneled an astonishing $67m to climate denial. This, notes writer Scott Westerfeld, is the story a B-movie would reject, but mainstream has us believe.
Scott Westerfeld, author:Plot idea: 97% of the world's scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires & oil companies.
RT:This is now the number of national or international science academies which deny man-made climate change. Deniers can no longer even get published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, because they require evidence. Yet deniers were guests of choice on fully 88% of mainstream media reports.
America's top science society the Association for the Advancement of Science rarely intervenes in policy. It’s so alarmed at mainstream lies that it reminded the public: we are as sure on dangers of man-made climate change as we are on dangers of smoking cigarettes.
The co-author of Merchants of Doubt Professor Naomi Oreskes is one of the world's leading science historians she joins us. Thank you very much for coming on, how similar is climate change to the tobacco lies?
Prof. Naomi Oreskes, co-author, Merchants of Doubt: Well they are identical. The basic strategy is the same in all of these cases. These issues that you might think were totally independent, I mean, what does tobacco have to do with the climate change? Most of us will think – nothing. But what we found was actually, there was this network, this very significant set of interconnections where the same organizations, the same industries, and in many cases the same people, same individuals, have been involved in challenging the scientific information on a whole set of questions, including climate change, acid rain, ozone depletion and the use and dangers of tobacco.
RT: What’s the basic strategy?
Oreskes:The strategy is to challenge the idea that there even is a problem. The main thing is to point out that this is still going on. All this is very worrisome because it shows that the denial campaign has actually been effective and that we are plowing ahead with further development of fossil fuels that will make climate change worse. We know for sure that some of the changes we’re seeing now are irreversible.
RT:This week the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed 100-year floods and irreversible weather extremes. The UN’s report has more than 60 expert authors and thousands more peer-reviewed scientists, but mainstream media turned to Richard Tol, a man who argues we shouldn’t fret about climate change, because people are "very very adaptive". Science journalist John Gibbons notes the notion our children will simply adapt to extreme floods and failed agriculture is ‘fantasy’.
That Tol’s views are ridiculed in the science community didn’t matter, it was all mainstream needed to bring in the tobacco strategy of doubt. The British Broadcasting Corporation trailed the UN report as 'dissent among scientists', when it’s actually ‘one go-to contrarian scientist’. In fact, Tol’s not a scientist at all.
Corporate media's forced to turn to completely unqualified people for denial. For an article explicitly on "the science of climate change", instead of specialists the Washington Post spoke to one pastor, two fossil fuel execs, three economists and the head of the G C Marshall Institute, the organization which denies everything from smoking risks to ozone depletion and acid rain, whenever a multinational’s profits were threatened.
It's a chilling reminder that corporate media graft for their advertisers, not the public. And leading advertisers are - fossil fuel extractors, carmakers and banks.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting:BP and Morgan Stanley issued directives demanding their ads be pulled from any publication that included potentially “objectionable” content. BP demanded advance notice of any stories that mentioned the company, a competitor of the company, or the energy industry in general.
RT:News editors admit that direct corporate control of mainstream media output is routine. British mainstream simply refused an ad by a green group criticizing car emissions - just because it might upset big carmakers who advertise more often.
When 255 members of the US Academy of Sciences wrote a Wall Street Journal letter about climate change, the paper simply refused to publish it. The journal instead printed this report called No Need to Panic on Global Warming by 16 climate deniers.
Groups linked to the Koch brothers also spam and troll climate science online. Leaked footage shows armchair generals getting trained to make the public doubt.
Trainer: We hold presentations like this, educational seminars. We manipulate the medium. It was the printing press then, it’s the Internet now. That’s where we influence the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens. I get on Amazon, I go through and I say “1 star”, “1 star”, “1 star”, ok? So literally 80% of books I put a star on I don’t read, so I always give a bad rating, I spend around 30 minutes a day just tch-tch-tch-tch-tch. You have to do it. That’s how you control the online dialog.
RT: A study called The Public Life of Private Affairs revealed the sinister seve-point corporate strategy to environmental crises:
Deny the problem
Deny the solution
Suppress dissenting voices
Argue for more research
If all else fails, propose lowest-common-denominator voluntarism.
But privately, fossil fuel giants not only admit climate change disaster, they plan to profit from the panic, an executive told the author of Windfall, the Booming Business of Global Warming.
As You Sow works with shareholders to divest from fossil fuel, Chief Executive Andrew Beyhar joins us. Great to see you, what do you make of business as usual for big oil?
Andrew Behar, Chief Executive, As You Sow: Well we asked Exxon the question and they replied: 'We’re going to burn every last drop of it, we do not see any risk at all'.
RT: What consequences for the rest of us?
Behar: If you read the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, their new report that just came out, frankly, it’s biblical, this report. Death; injury; ill health and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal communities; severe ill health for larger urban populations; systemic risks due to breakdown of infrastructure such as electricity, water supply, health and emergency services; mortality and morbidity from extreme heat in urban and rural areas; food insecurity, breakdown of food systems. With "business as usual" we are dooming our children and grandchildren to a life on a planet that’s not going to be particularly pleasant.
RT:University of California complex systems theorist and geophysicist Brad Werner’s paper put the issue in a way we all understand. When pressed for a clear answer on the question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”
Just one dynamic in the model offers some hope - resistance. Werner isn’t an activist, he is noting the same mass public resistance, or social 'friction' as he calls it, has always played a key role, from the abolition of slavery to the civil rights movement, and is the only geophysical factor capable of stopping collapse of the environment.
Public protest's already stalled the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multinationals' paradise that the US government’s tried to "fast track" through Congress, under mainstream media blackout. WikiLeaks exposed the TPP gives multinationals equal status with sovereign nations, and sets up international criminal courts run by corporations themselves.
Against the triple cabal of government, multinationals and mainstream media, the public is on its own. Government officials have even instructed the American National Academy of Science that they will "not approve of alarmist scenarios" on the climate, which might harm oil firms’ profits.
So scientists themselves are now turning activist. The world's pre-eminent climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has been arrested many times, trying to stop the likes of mountaintop removal mining, and tar sands pipelines.
Let’s talk to John Gibbons a leading reporter at science site ThinkOrSwim, great to see you. What’s going on?
John Gibbons, ThinkOrSwim.ie:Well, I think first of all the scientific evidence is mounting up that climate change is a crisis like no other, and I think we’re already beginning to see scientists leaving the traditional role of policy advisers and people like Dr. Jim Hansen in the US are now actually getting themselves arrested, putting themselves in harm's way.
Now the scientists are reacting first because they’ve seen most clearly the scale of the crisis. I hope that the public will begin to react, when they come to realize that their future is on the line as well.
RT:Investigative reporter Naomi Klein notes global warming’s now an existential threat that calls for extraordinary and heroic acts of resistance. One way, she notes - occupying power stations, to shut them down.
The Guardian reporter: On the chimney nearest there are another six protesters. This is the coal-fired power station, and indeed that enormous black mountain there is its coal. And the air over the village smells of coal. The result of their action is that the central chimney has been stopped.
Mountaintop Removal: the American Tragedy:This is mountaintop removal coal mining. It has already destroyed hundreds of mountains and streams, forever.
RT: It's the biggest issue facing our world today; it’s your choice. Seek truth from facts. This is The Truthseeker.