How do you protect your profits when research emerges that what you make or how make your items causes or leads to death and destruction? You lie. Or more accurately you pay or finance others to lie for you.
That's what the tobacco companies did for decades, leading to countless painful deaths and needless suffering not just from lung cancer and emphysema but from fires started by matches and lit smoking materials by promoting a substance that former U.S. Surgeon-General Dr. C. Everett Koop told me in a newspaper interview in 1988 is "more addictive than heroin."
And according to James Hoggan, author of "Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming" (available on Amazon) that's what major industries i.e. the fossil-fuel energy outfits are doing in fighting climate change action. And if his book is to be believed it casts doubt on the validity of the arguments and the basis of them that such man-made destruction is not underway.
Hoggan should know. He is a master of the 'dark arts' i.e. a PR executive (when journalists go to work in PR they are said to have gone 'to the dark side': one ex-scribe told me she handed out Darth Vader dollars when she took a government communications job). He knows how to manipulate the opinions of the public, the media, and public officials. His book reveals the tricks such as by setting up, reports CTV.ca "groups with legitimate-sounding names that are actually funded by industries that would suffer economically by climate change legislation or other efforts to curb global warming. "
"What I would call them is Astroturf groups," Hoggan told Canada AM. "Basically fake grassroots groups of unqualified scientists saying that climate science is questionable."
Hoggan cited in a story carried last week by Canwest News Service a recent letter-writing campaign, supposedly from various seniors and community organizations protesting the potential increase in energy costs from new U.S. climate-change legislation but which in reality was funded by a coal industry association and managed by Bonner and Associates. A Congressional panel has launched an investigation after discovering the letters were not authentic.
"It's not even so much about climate change for me," said Hoggan, who chairs the David Suzuki Foundation and is co-founder of the desmogblog.com climate-change website. "It's more about the deception and the PR. It was just taken too far."
Hoggan himself in his chat with CTV.ca compared the corporate effort to resist climate change action to that of the tobacco industry to resist measures to limit smoking, which used the same instruments.
"An example of this, Hoggan says, is the Advancement of Sound Science Center, formerly the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. It was founded in the early 1990s by a public relations firm and funded by tobacco company Philip Morris.
"The TASSC's job was to discredit research that proved a link between exposure to tobacco smoke and health problems such as cancer and lung disease.
According to Hoggan, such groups hire scientists who aren't devoted to the issue at hand -- "white coats for hire," as he calls them -- and charge them with sowing the seeds of doubt about the legitimate scientists' findings.
"The thing that these groups have in common is that they don't have qualified climate scientists doing climate science and they have a tendency to hide their source of funding," Hoggan says. "So my view is, and what we try to argue in this book, is that we should strip these groups of their right to hide their funding, and so people would know who these groups actually represent."
Hoggan says it's obvious the industry groups have successfully spread their message because media reports legitimize their claims, and because climate change legislation is stalled in both the U.S. and Canada.
"This is serious. If you look at climate mitigation policy in Canada, we don't have one. Essentially Canadian policy would result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions," Hoggan said.
"So these groups have been highly effective at creating public doubt and taking the pressure off politicians to actually really do something about climate change."
However, he told Canwest that he believes the groups trying to confuse the public will wind up paying the price.
"I've been in this business a long time, and I think, ultimately, you get the reputation you deserve," said Hoggan. "Eventually, somebody is going to stumble across the truth and so you better have dealt with it yourself rather than having somebody force you into doing it."