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Check the source for 'climate misinformation'

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Dear Editor:

In his letter to the DCI editor (10/21/15), William H. Snyer expressed concern about "climate misinformation, deception and outright lies." I have the same concern. But I have a different take on where it is coming from.

Who will lose big-time, if climate change is solidly linked to the burning of fossil fuels? Obviously the fossil fuel industry ... and the stakes are enormous! When the tobacco industry was faced with a similar dilemma -- a threatened link between using tobacco and cancer, heart disease and addiction -- they came up with strategies that kept the public unaware of the dangers for decades (their own research on animals concluded in the 1950s that cigarette smoking caused addiction and cancer, a knowledge they hid from the public until forced by legal action to reveal it in 2009). One of their very successful ploys was to argue that there's "no scientific consensus" on the health effects of using tobacco. They funded "scientific studies" that were designed to cast doubt on the real science. Today we nickname phony evidence like this "tobacco science."

Well, seems the fossil fuel industry has been using the tobacco playbook. A good example is in Mr. Snyer's letter. He uses the "no consensus among climate scientists on global warming" argument and cites the Oregon Petition, with its 31,000 scientists as proof. I'd call it tobacco science, not proof. The petition, and the documents included with it, were all made to look like official papers from the prestigious National Academy of Science. When the National Academy of Science found out about it, they released this statement: "The Oregon Petition project was a deliberate attempt to mislead scientists and to rally them in an attempt to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was not based on a review of the science of global climate change, nor were its signers experts in the field of climate science."

The credentials of the signatories were not verified; they included Charles Darwin, Michael J. Fox and Drs. "Frank Burns," "Honeycutt" and "Pierce," the lead characters from the hit TV show M*A*S*H. It may come as no surprise that the authors of the Oregon Petition worked with the Exxon-backed George C. Marshall Institute, a think tank whose CEO, William O'Keefe, has since been exposed as a registered Oil Industry lobbyist. Coincidentally, it has just been revealed by internal documents that ExxonMobil knew as early as 1981 that burning fossil fuels creates climate change. What did they do with that knowledge? They spent $30 million over the next 27 years promoting climate change denial. "Climate misinformation, deception and outright lies?" Yes. Let's all wake up to where it is coming from ... and why.

Steve Lyons

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