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The Campaigns That Tried To Break The Climate Science Consensus

So just in case anyone wasn’t sure, a major study of almost 12,000 scientific papers on global warming between 1991 and 2011 finds less than one per cent disagree that humans are the main cause.

Published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the study led by John Cook, the Australia-based founder of Skeptical Science, confirms the debate about the causes of global warming had all but vanished in the scientific literature by the early 1990s. Almost all the research says it’s mostly caused by humans.

For any followers of climate science in journals (the place where it actually matters) the finding wasn’t really news at all.

Yet survey after survey finds the public still thinks scientists are arguing over the causes of global warming and the media continues to attempt to resuscitate long-dead ideas.

Does it matter that people have a clear understanding of the main thrust of the science? A 2012 study in the journal Nature Climate Change found that people were more likely to accept human-caused global warming if they were informed that scientists were in broad agreement (which we know they are).

For decades, fossil fuel-funded groups, free market think tanks (some of which also qualify as fossil fuel funded groups) and the fossil fuel industry itself have known the importance of the public’s understanding of the state of climate science. A public that understands the state of the science is more likely to want something done about climate change. Doing something, means using a lot less fossil fuel.

But who wanted to tell the public that a consensus didn’t exist? Here are just some of the campaigns run over the years showing how breaking the consensus in the eyes of the public was a key strategy.

The Nation’s Must-Read Article “The Dirt on Clean Coal”

Ari Berman’s must-read article “The Dirt on Clean Coal” upholds The Nation’s proud reputation for investigative reporting which separates it from most mainstream outlets, posing relevant questions and actually attempting to find answers to them.

Berman asks the critical, overlooked question of the day, “Can the same people who told us that global warming didn’t exist–or that it was a good thing–suddenly be trusted to help solve the climate crisis?”

As you might guess, the answer is a resounding “no.”

Berman details how the coal industry - through its $40 million Astroturf campaign by the front group “American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity” - is working feverishly to fight Congressional efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, hoping to ensure that the world’s coal supplies – and the climate – continue to burn for decades to come.

Western Climate Initiative Under Attack

A powerful industry lobby group called the the “Western Business Roundtable” is scheming to derail the Western Climate Initiative

You have to start somewhere. That was the attitude of a number of progressive US states and Canadian provinces when they formed the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), an effort to begin tackling carbon emissions in the face of endless inaction from their national governments.

The WCI aims to lay the foundation for a continental cap and trade system to limit greenhouse gases 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The coalition currently has 11 member states and provinces representing 20% of the US, and 70% of the Canadian economies. They recently released their detailed recommendations for a regional cap and trade system that will be voted on for ratification by the member states and provinces.

David Wojick

David E. Wojick


  • Ph.D. “The Logic of Science”, specializing in Mathematical Logic and Conceptual Analysis, University of Pittsburgh (1974).
  • B.S., Civil Engineering, Carnegie-Mellon University (1964).

Source: [1], [2]


Wojick is a journalist and policy analyst. He holds a doctorate in epistemology, specializing in the field of Mathematical Logic and Conceptual Analysis.

The Art and Motivation of Editorializing Science

Let's see if the the Washington Times will actually print this:

Dear Editor,

In a recent Washington Times opinion piece, Dr. Pat Michaels again triDr. Pat Michaelses to confuse the science of climate change and create the perception that there are a significant number of climate change scientists who disagree that global warming is happening and is caused by humans. I am not a scientist, but I do know that in science, much like any other profession, it helps to know the background of the information source.
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