Scientists Reveal How the Fossil Fuel Industry Misled the Public About Climate Change


An international group of scientists has shown that fossil fuel corporations have, for decades, denied the public's right to be accurately informed about climate change by funding efforts to deceive people about the dangers of their product.

A report illustrating how the industry "polluted the information landscape" and how the damage could be undone is published today. The report entitled, 'America misled: how the fossil fuel industry deliberately misled Americans about climate change', by academics from the universities of Bristol, UK; George Mason, USA and Harvard, USA, summarizes more than a decade of peer-reviewed research, and has been published to help inform policymakers, journalists, and the public.

The report includes what the fossil fuel industry knew versus what they did, the arguments they used to seed doubt in the public, the techniques they used to create those arguments, and some strategies for combating them. The key points in the report are:

  1. Internal corporate documents show that the fossil fuel industry has known about human-caused climate change for decades. Its response was to actively arrange and fund denial and disinformation to suppress action and protect its status quo business operations.
  2. As the scientific consensus on climate change emerged and strengthened, the industry and its political allies attacked the consensus and exaggerated the uncertainties.
  3. The fossil fuel industry offered no consistent alternative explanation for why the climate was changing—the goal was merely to undermine support for action.
  4. The strategy, tactics, infrastructure, and rhetorical arguments and techniques used by fossil fuel interests to challenge the scientific evidence of climate change—including cherry picking, fake experts, and conspiracy theories—come straight out of the tobacco industry’s playbook for delaying tobacco control.
  5. Informing the public about how these arguments are deceptive not only begins to correct the misconceptions, but also will make it harder for future campaigns to use these misleading tactics to confuse the public.

Continue reading at University of Bristol

Image via University of Bristol