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Failed Deception: A Brief History of Climate Change Denial

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.


Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe has made a name for himself as a leading climate-change denier. If he's not throwing a snowball on the Senate floor to demonstrate his belief that global warming is not happening, he's putting forth "reports" claiming that more than a 1000 scientists support his belief. In many respects, he and his former assistant, Marc Morano have become the voice of denial on this matter.

Don't be fooled. Despite all the theatrics Senator Inhofe has brought to this issue, his attempt to expose anthropogenic global warming (AGW) as a hoax -- perpetuated by climate scientists -- can't compare with the raw data collected and other hard evidence that support this harrowing situation.

Unfortunately, Inhofe is not alone. Others have attempted to turn science fact into fiction. And the list of attempts keeps growing. Climategate, the Oregon Petition, and US Minority Report are among the debates,"revelations", and findings released by climate-change deniers over the years. While many of these documents and claims can be debunked, there are so many proliferating the media. And, as a result, the populous that pays attention to it are buying into the arguments.

There’s no doubt an official investigation into AGW is needed. However, it’s not the scientists who need to be investigated, it’s the chief accusers. Many of these individuals and groups have used nefarious tactics, lies and distortion to sway public opinion on an important topic. And they’ve vilified the people who have had little stakes in what has become a political and ideological war.

The concept that human activity is causing environmental damage – in particular, changes to the climate – has been known for nearly a century. The evidence for it has been mounting for more than 40 years. Data collected from around world has suggested that the average temperature per year has risen since the data were first collected.

On top of that, very noticeable physical changes – those that even non-scientists have reported –have become apparent. Things such as seasonal flowers blooming earlier than expected; the reduction or retreat of glaciers in places far from the polar caps; reports of erratic and violent weather patterns; and the acidification of ocean waters beyond normal levels have raised alarms for this dire situation

Many denial groups have formed think tanks to search for ways to persuade public opinion against the belief in AGW. Their tactics are to bombard the media – including the Internet – with information geared to create doubt about the scientific evidence.

Scientists, policy makers, and advocacy groups have pushed for regulations – and in many cases elimination - of dangerous chemicals, fossil fuel emissions and other greenhouse gases that are believed to be responsible for AGW.

However - while the facts speak for themselves -there are those who are actively fighting any proposed laws to curb the use of these products. And, many of the tactics used have been absurd, dishonest, and possibly criminal.

Many denial groups have formed think tanks to search for ways to persuade public opinion against the belief in AGW. Their tactics are to bombard the media – including the Internet – with information geared to create doubt about the scientific evidence. The most popular tactic is to attack scientific consensus.

To date, more than 97 percent of all climate scientists around the world agree that human activity is affecting the rate of global warming. Also, scientific organizations with members outside of climate study have sided with them.

Still, the denialists ignore such facts and come up with their own. Many claim there are increasing numbers of scientists who disagree that global warming is either (1) man-made or (2) happening, at all.

While there are numerous reports from denial groups floating around the Internet, the harshest claims come from two reports and one conspiracy: The Oregon Petition, the “U.S. Senate Minority Report” (better known as “1000 International Scientists Dissent over Man-Made Global Warming Claims"), and Climategate. These deserve more scrutiny, for they shed some light on the deceptive history they are part of.

The Oregon Petition

Between 1999 and 2001 (and circulated again in late 2007 and early 2008) a curious petition made its round. Oregon Petition Project – also known as the Oregon Petition - purported to have nearly 31,000 signatures from “scientists” who disputed AGW. It was organized by the impressively named Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine(OISM), a non-profit organization headed by known global warming denialist, Author Robinson.

The petition was later debunked. It turned out that most of the “scientists” weren’t exactly scientists. The reply card (with a survey) was given to anyone who had an undergraduate degree in science. Also, a handful of real scientists who did sign it fell into three categories:

* They were retired,

* not involved in climate science, or

* were already associated with OISM.

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