I asked Bryce if he had financial ties to the fossil fuel industry after his debate appearance before the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners conference on Monday. Not only did Bryce refuse to answer the question, he also launched into an angry, finger-pointing tirade saying that I’d “made up” the amount of fossil fuel support documented by Manhattan Institute records.
The New York Times ran an op-ed last week by Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute, a group funded by Koch Industries, ExxonMobil and other polluters to confuse the public about climate change and energy issues. Bryce goes to great lengths to portray solar and wind power as land-hogging energy choices. He suggests that fracked shale gas and nuclear are somehow more environmentally preferable energy options.
But one important question remains - why does The New York Times print such misleading opinion pieces without revealing the clear conflict of interest that a Koch/Exxon-funded front group representative has on such matters? Did the Times’ even ask, and does it do so as a matter of standard practice?
(The following is a response to a recent op-ed in the Vancouver Sun.)
I am not a scientist. I am not a climate change expert. I’m a PR guy; I have been in the business for more than 25 years. So I know a public relations campaign when I see one, and lately, Canadians have been treated to a stunning example.
It began, in earnest, a month ago with wide release of a letter from 60 "experts" taking issue with the current consensus on climate change. That petition was repudiated by a second letter, signed by 90 of the top climate scientists in the country, but it didn't stop those in the first group from flooding the country's opinion pages with "climate skeptic" reports and, most recently, from hitting the talk circuit.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.