Circuitous attempts to smear AGW skeptic scientists
Ed. note: Russell Cook, author of the recently published article Silencing Global Warming Critics, sent us the following email and asked that we publish his rebuttal to some of the comments he read. We're happy to oblige.
One particular comment from an AGW believer following my article brings home the entire reason why I stopped focusing exclusively on finding science reports, papers and assessments that contradict the IPCC, to instead focus on accusations that skeptic scientists are 'corrupted by big oil, coal, tobacco, etc. Commenter "Derecho64" wondered why my comments were stuck on "Ross Gelbspan" (the anti-skeptic book author who is largely credited with 'exposing the corruption of skeptics'), and asked for my opinion of the recent James Hoggan / Richard Littlemore "Climate Cover-Up" book that supposedly proves skeptic scientists are corrupt.
"Derecho64" apparently was oblivious to the fact that Hoggan / Littlemore had to take an oddly circuitous route in their book to cite Ross Gelbspan for their source of the infamous 1991 "reposition global warming as theory rather than fact" coal industry internal PR memo that is the subject of my 7/6 American Thinker article which CCF reproduces here. Hoggan / Littlemore cite Naomi Oreskes' famous 2007 PowerPoint presentation as the source. (PDF file transcript here)
Oreskes' PPT cited pages 51-52 of Gelbspan's 2004 "Boiling Point" book for the source, in which Gelbspan cites his own 1997 "The Heat is On" book as the source. But of course, in his first book, he never said where he got the "reposition" memo, an inconvenient truth I pointed out in my 7/6 article.
The primary reason I ever got into this 'accusations against skeptics' angle was the result of an inadvertent prompting from Society of Environmental Journalists board member Robert McClure. That's the individual I mention in my 12/29 American Thinker piece " The lack of climate skeptics on PBS's 'Newshour' ", which CCF has here.
In his own blog last October, where McClure and I had an entertaining back-and-forth about skeptic scientists, McClure assured me "The first person to document widespread payments by industry to “skeptic” scientists, as far as I know, was journalist Ross Gelbspan in his book, circa 1997, “The Heat is On.” But it’s been documented since then, too." Dr S Fred Singer joined in the comment section there immediately afterward.
My questions to McClure about others 'documenting' the alleged corruption went unanswered. And that was the kicker - if he had those 'others' memorized or could look those up among his notes as a simple matter of educating me, why did he not do that?
It wasn't many days after that incident that I stumbled across the "reposition global warming" phrase in a web forum where I had seen it before, but had dismissed it as simply a preposterous accusation. That, and McClure's claim about Gelbspan and 'others', prompted me to look for answers on my own.
I didn't find nice easy answers, I kept finding book authors and article writers citing Gelbspan as their source for the "reposition" phrase. I began to wonder why this all kept spiraling back down to Gelbspan. Then I started finding book authors citing the phrase whose books predated Gelbspan's. All of this prompted more questions than answers, and more searches through name associations, which only provided more questions and more bizarre paths to follow.
This all isn't simply an issue about the science anymore, it spreads to all the unanswered questions about the way skeptics were and are being characterized deliberately or accidentally by the mainstream media and the internet, who collectively never seemed to have checked the voracity of the accusations. Would AGW have died of natural causes long ago, if it weren't for all these highly questionable efforts to make sure the public got only a particular impression of skeptic scientists, and only saw one side of the issue?