My letter to the editor (Oct. 28) must have touched a few nerves: the following week there were five climate change denial response letters. Bill Sutton felt my comparing the tactics of the tobacco industry to the fossil fuel industry to be unfair because tobacco use was an "individual choice" and petroleum use wasn't.
Well, tobacco, proven to be addictive, was not an informed choice when people were being lied to about the health consequences by the tobacco industry and their hired "scientists." With hindsight, we can clearly see the tobacco industry's history of deception and its consequences. With climate change denial we are not so fortunate: we are in it, not looking back on it, and the waters have been muddied by the hundreds of millions of dollars, used to manufacture the illusion of doubt, funneled from the fossil fuel industry into climate change denying front groups like the American Enterprise Institute, Heartland Institute and The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which are funded by ExxonMobil, and the Koch Foundation.
William Snyer calls the statement "97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is real" an "obvious deception" and asks, "What scientists?" "When were they polled?" I looked into that and found the number is, in fact, no longer accurate: the scientific consensus has gotten stronger. According to a new study reviewed by MSNBC, the figure is now 99.9 percent.
James L. Powell, director of the National Physical Sciences Consortium, reviewed more than 24,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers on global warming published in 2013 and 2014 -- these are real scientists doing real research -- and found only five rejected the reality of rising temperatures or the fact that human emissions are the cause. Powell, by the way, was a member of the National Science Board under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. The good news is that climate change denial is beginning to become as transparent as the tobacco industry's tobacco science: Recently, Shell Oil chief executive Ben van Buerden stated that "climate change is real and a threat we want to act upon. We are not aligning with skeptics." When oil industry executives begin to acknowledge climate change, I see the climate change denial house of cards begin to totter.