Thongchai Thailand

CLIMATE DISINFORMATION

Posted on: October 28, 2021

THIS POST IS A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF THE CLIMATE DISINFORMATION PROBE BY CONGRESS

Democrats to investigate oil companies over climate disinformation

PART-1: THE CASE FOR A CLIMATE DISINFORMATION PROBE:

Oil Executives to Face Congress on Climate Disinformation. The heads of Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron and BP will testify Thursday in the first congressional inquiry into industry efforts to hinder action on climate change.


As in the tobacco hearings of the 1990s that exposed the lies pf tobacco companies about the health dangers of smoking that paved the way for tough nicotine regulations, Executives of Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Shell are set to appear before a congressional committee Thursday to address accusations that the industry spent millions of dollars to wage a decades-long disinformation campaign to cast doubt on the science of climate change and to derail action to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels. This is the first time that oil executives will be pressed to answer questions, under oath, about whether their companies misled the public about the reality of climate change by obscuring the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is raising Earth’s temperature and sea levels with devastating consequences worldwide including intensifying storms, worsening drought and deadlier wildfires. For the first time in American history, Big Oil is going to have to answer to the American public on their climate disinformation.

There is an ongoing climate crisis and tons of news about the climate crisis. Oil companies have denied lying to the public about climate change, and have said the industry is now taking bold steps to rein in emissions. Shell oil has admitted that meeting the demand for reliable energy must simultaneously address climate change and that it is a huge undertaking and one of the defining challenges of our time. Exxon’s position is that it has long acknowledged that climate change is real and poses serious risks.The company’s statements about climate science have been factual aqnd transparent and consistent with the broader mainstream scientific community and it evolved as the science evolved although back in the year 2000, Exxon’s position was that scientists have been unable to confirm that the burning of oil, gas and coal caused climate change although decade before that, in the year 1950, the IPCC had confirmed that the planet had warmed by 0.5C over the previous century because of fossil fuel-driven greenhouse gases. The American Petroleum Institute has taken a position in favor of climate change policies.

PART-2: THE CASE FOR SCIENCE

The essence of the case presented above is that the climate science position on climate change is correct and that therefore any deviance from the climate science position on climate change is an evil and unscientific enterprise that threatens human welfare in the USA as well as globally and that therefore the goverment must intervene on the side of climate science in this issue.

This argument is fatally flawed. First, it is not a governmental function to resolve scientitic disagreements. Secondly, if the government can and must intervene into this science discourse it must do so without taking a position on the issue before it carries out its investigation. That there is a role of the government to deal with and resolve the disinformation of the fossil fuel industry is based on the assumption that the government has determined that the climate science position on climate change is information and that the fossil fuel industry position on climate change is disinformation and that the government must intervene to defend information against disinformation. This position of the government is illogical and indefensible in the settlement of a science issue.

Yet another aspect of a role for the government of the USA is that climate change is a global issue with no role for nation states. This is why the UN is running the show and why we have COPs. The tobacco issue was a national issue that was resolved by national policies . These two issues are not comparable and nothing about either contains implications for the other.

If the government has a role in resolving the climate issue it should address the points of disagreement and not use the tobacco issue as a blanket rationale for its involvement in climate change. For example, what is the government’s position on the climate sensitivity issue where large uncertainties are either ignored or interpreted with a bias for high values? Details of this issue are presened in a relaed post: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2021/05/10/the-climate-sensitivity-issue/ and what is the position of the government on statistical errors in climate science described in another related post?: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2021/05/18/climate-science-vs-statistics/ ????

\CONCLUSION

If the government wants to intervene in the climate change issue it must address the issues in the science instead of simply citing tobacco. The tobacco argument is nonsensical. It says in essence that since the tobacco industry was wrong in the tobacco issue therefore, the fossil fuel industry must be wrong in the climate issue. This logic is flawed. If the government wants a role in the climate science it must address the science issues at hand.

What the Tobacco Industry did for Women – Bill Wirtz

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