Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Big Tobacco Funded Anti-Global Warming Messages 623

Posted by kdawson
from the astroturfing-while-the-world-burns dept.
An anonymous reader writes, "The UK Guardian is running an excerpt from the new book "Heat" by George Monbiot (to be published later this month) spelling out the network of funding opposing global action against global warming — specifically, limits on human carbon dioxide generation. The excerpt outlines a web of fake citizens' groups and bogus (but authoritative sounding) research institutes designed to convince laypeople that human causation of global warming is scientifically controversial. Not surprisingly, the article notes funding by ExxonMobil. More interesting is the role played big tobacco, tying their attack on the health risks of second-hand smoke to global warming skepticism." From the article: "What I have discovered while researching this issue is that the corporate funding of lobby groups denying that man-made climate change is taking place was initiated not by Exxon, or by any other firm directly involved in the fossil fuel industry. It was started by the tobacco company Philip Morris."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Big Tobacco Funded Anti-Global Warming Messages

Comments Filter:
  • Common agenda (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gluecode (950306)
    The tobacco companies are seeing that their basic agenda and their best interests are very similar to the oil companies. Tobacco companies have people hooked on to a big health hazard while big oil compaines do this using the black goo they extract. Between them, it does not matter who is supporting what.
    • You forgot to mention the obvious: Burning cigarettes results (in part) in carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide being released into the air. So does burning fossil fuels. Both have been linked to global warming trends.
      • Re:Common agenda (Score:4, Insightful)

        by soft_guy (534437) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:30PM (#16140001)
        Burning cigarettes results (in part) in carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide being released into the air. So does burning fossil fuels. Both have been linked to global warming trend

        Isn't there a huge difference in magnitude, though? Do cigarettes contribute a significant amount to the incrase of carbon in the air? People have been smoking, lighting candles, etc. for thousands of years with no problem. It is the massive use of automobiles and fossil fuel to create electricity that has caused the problems with global climate change.

        That's not to say that cigarettes aren't bad for you and for society.
        • Human mob mentality is not subject to mathematics, at least not until Hari Seldon is born [wikipedia.org].

          In other words, with all the other attacks on Big Tobacco and their history with politics, they saw the fact that the political danger to their business from the scientific sector does not depend on their product being a *significant* contributer, only a contributer.

          Having said that, given the relative size of dried tobacco leaves to the entire plant, I'm willing to bet that tobacco use is actually atomopheric carbon
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Bush Pig (175019)
            I think Big Tobacco's interest in this would have more to do with a need to discredit science, as in: "See, those damn' scienticians are wrong about global warming, so they're probably lying about smoking causing cancer as well."

            As your reference implied, most people are incapable of doing a risk assessment, especially if there's mathematics involved, so tobacco companies just need to obfuscate a bit to make sure their customers ignore the risks.

        • by misleb (129952)
          The same argument coudl be used for volcanos... they've been emitting all kinds of gasses for billions of years, and everything is just fine. The question is, where is the equibrium? At what point does any additional amount greenhouse gases contribute to a long term net gain?

          But you're right, the amount of gases from cigarettes is probably relatively insignificant. Besides, there is no net gain from cigarettes. I mean, carbon is drawn out of the atmosphere to grow the tobacco. Smoking just puts it back.

          -mat
        • Isn't there a huge difference in magnitude, though?

          Yes.

          Do cigarettes contribute a significant amount to the incrase of carbon in the air? People have been smoking, lighting candles, etc. for thousands of years with no problem.

          People breathing has been known to cause historical climate changes. Fires to keep humans warm have had even more pronounced effects.

          The big difference is that it's tricky to call the historical instances "damage". The nature of any animal is to have some effect on its environment. Wit

    • Re:Common agenda (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Catbeller (118204) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:48PM (#16140811) Homepage
      Neh. No. It's not that the aims of big oil and big tobacco are the same; it's that the tobacco industry developed the methodology of creating bullshit "science" foundations and fake citizens' groups, combined with professional and surgical insertion of false memes into the popular culture through shills in the media.

      I assume that big oil just wanted big tobacco's expertise in suppressing science and creating false "controversy" in the garbage news industry. I think we've witnessed our first corporate memetic mitosis.

      The aim isn't to fund science, it's to create a false air of debate when the facts just don't warrant it. "Reasonable people can disagree on this matter" is the meme they want floating through the blow-dried heads of the media gods. But of course, reasonable people don't disagree. Unreasonable liars disagree. But no one is allowed to call a corporate shill a liar anymore, I guess. That wouldn't be "balanced".

      Journalists are now inculated with the idea that their job is to present both "sides" of an "issue", where "reasonable" people can disagree. They don't take sides. The result of this is that PR masters can create BS "sides" and create fake debate that dethrone reason and install "balance". (I'd like to see this done with religious talking heads. Fat chance.)

      A reasonable news industry would winnow out and dismiss the robots dancing to their masters tune. There would be no "debate". Hell, you can't find any opinion to the "left" of Ronald Reagan in the news shows anymore, so they apparently *can* filter out what they consider nuts; they unfortunately can't seem to apply their debate filters to fake science corporate fronts and economic looting institutes.
  • CEI's got some great anti-global warming stuff. I've seen claims that they're funded by Exxon. On the flip-side, Penn and Teller's have a CEI 'expert' on, in an episode of their show, "Penn and Teller's Bullshit!" -- one would hope that P&T would avoid using oil industry shills to support the points they make on their show.

    So what's the deal with CEI? Are they reputable?
    http://www.cei.org/ [cei.org]
    • Re:CEI? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:26PM (#16139969)
      More than you ever wanted to know about CEI:

      Exxon's Cash Pipeline to CEI [sourcewatch.org]
      • by Golias (176380)
        All think-tanks take money from somebody. That's how they manage to continue existing.

        Lost in the shouting are two... ahem... inconvenient truths.

        1. "Oil" companies are really "energy fuel" companies. They will sell you whatever fuel you want to buy. The debate on global warming is irrelevant to them. In fact, if you switch to more expensive fuels, like hydrogen induction for your car and nuclear for your electricity, their profit margins might actually go up.

        2. One of the most powerful, corrupt, and
        • Re:CEI? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Copid (137416) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @06:15PM (#16141643)
          "Oil" companies are really "energy fuel" companies. They will sell you whatever fuel you want to buy. The debate on global warming is irrelevant to them. In fact, if you switch to more expensive fuels, like hydrogen induction for your car and nuclear for your electricity, their profit margins might actually go up.
          Yes, but the one type of energy they'd hate to be selling you is less energy. It's worth noting that the average oil purchaser isn't replacing oil with alternatives. He's buying more fuel efficient vehicles and using less energy overall. When fuel cell cars fueled by water cracked with energy sold by the big energy companies, then they'll be more than willing to decry the evils of oil. As long as consumers are taking the Prius route instead, Exxon and company are hardly neutral on the topic.
    • On the flip-side, Penn and Teller's have a CEI 'expert' on, in an episode of their show, "Penn and Teller's Bullshit!" -- one would hope that P&T would avoid using oil industry shills to support the points they make on their show.

      Come on. It's freakin' Penn and Teller. Not exactly a bastion of unbiased neutrality there. Penn & Teller: Bullshit is entertainment.

    • Gee, who gives a damn if they are reputable? Why would anyone ever take someone's word on something very important on sheer reputation? If I buy a car, I don't trust the salesman's word that all 5 gears work, even if it's a little old white-haired granny who sings in the church choir every Sunday, and the dealership donates 10% of their profits to saving the whales. I drive the damn thing myself to find out. No offense to the dealer and saleman and all, but important stuff can't ever be taken on pure tr
  • by Nonillion (266505) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:20PM (#16139903)
    All this from a company that paid for studies that declared smoking couldn't be linked to causing cancer.
  • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:20PM (#16139908) Homepage

    For the free market to operate "correctly" (allocating money/resources to entities that generate value) its members must have access to good information about products -- their benefits and their costs. In the idealized theory, the market must have perfect information about products.

    When the sources of information are so frequently corrupted by established power centers, how is there any home that efficient value-allocation will occur?

    • by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:31PM (#16140019) Journal
      In the idealized theory, the market must have perfect information about products.

      I think you mean to say that in an ideal world, the market *participants* have perfect information. Participants in markets don't need to have perfect information for markets to be preferable to other methods of distribution. Communism (for example) doesn't become superior because you have to call around town to find the best price, and you decide to stop searching before you've called them all, in other words.
    • by RatBastard (949) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:40PM (#16140096) Homepage
      Libertarianism is unworkable and deeply flawed. It, like Communism, relies on something that does not exist: the perfect human being. In order for Libertariansim to work all people must work towards their own elightened self interest. The problem is that's not how humans work. We (and I'm speaking in terms of populations more than particular people) are selfish, needy, dishonest and mean.

      Libtertarianism also relies on corporations acting in their own best, long-term self interest. We've all see that modern corporations don't look any further down the road than their next quaterly statement and in every place where there is not sufficient regulations they abuse the system and their employees to the limits of human endurance. That chemical spill in India was the result of an American chemical company locating a plant in a country with lax environmental and safety laws and operating their plant at those minimum specs in order to save money.

      To blindly trust businesses is folly at best and suicide at worst. The only time businesses care about you is when you spend your money on their products and services. Never forget that.

      I grew up in a Libertarian household. None of them remain Libertarians.
      • Yes, my libertarianism is only a streak, and my green streak is prolly just as big.

        Another thing that I find in libertarian theory is the splintering of human life into discrete "transactions". Economic analysis is obviously powerful, but treating every aspect of society as a purchase seems incredibly reductive

        In addition to having imperfect information (always having imperfect information) one must consider the fact that people don't always act in their rational self-interest. Which is to say, they don't

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kismet (13199)
        This sounds to me more like Objectivism - Ayn Rand stuff. I realize that a lot of self-styled "Libertarians" subscribe to the theories of Objectivism, but I don't think that the two are exactly the same. Or perhaps this is what Libertarianism has become. I've personally favored Libertarian ideals, but if these have become tainted by business and by Objectivism, then I will re-think the next time I consider supporting them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Libertarianism is unworkable and deeply flawed. It, like Communism, relies on something that does not exist: the perfect human being. In order for Libertariansim to work all people must work towards their own elightened self interest. The problem is that's not how humans work.

        This is interesting because it is a different way of looking at the same issue I have described before, and with much the same conclusions... but drastically different terminology. From everything I've read, economic extremism fails

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by crabpeople (720852)
        "The only time businesses care about you is before you spend your money on their products and services. Never forget that."

        Fixed for you. no charge.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sloppy (14984)

        Libtertarianism also relies on corporations acting in their own best, long-term self interest.

        Huh? Libertarianism doesn't rely on corporations even existing. Limited liability is just a government-enforced way to keep accountability from happening. Does using government force to prevent people from facing the consequence of their mistakes, sound like heartless libertarianism? ;-)

        Incorporation could perhaps somehow be made compatible with libertarianism, but there would be a lot of tit-for-tat to work

    • Because people will pay high prices for information that proves to be correct.

      Another way to put it is that actors in the free market never choose to supply accurate information of their own accord. It is forced upon them by the freeness of the market, which allows any competitor to sabotage them by exposing lies.

      If Dell wants to bullshit you about what's inside their boxen, it won't work, not because Michael Dell has a conscience, but because HP and Sony would gleefully jump on the chance to expose the li
  • by orkysoft (93727) <orkysoft AT myrealbox DOT com> on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:20PM (#16139913) Journal
    Poopenmeyer: Garbage ball, huh? That sounds serious.

    Farnsworth: Very serious, Mayor Poopenmeyer.

    Poopenmeyer: I gotta be sure this isn't another scientific fraud like global warming or second-hand smoke. [He presses the intercom.] Send in my science advisor.
  • Given the summary, shouldn't the title be "Big Tobacco Funded Anti-Anti-Global Warming Messages"?
  • That means they "care" about "us"!
  • by StefanJ (88986) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:24PM (#16139947) Homepage Journal
    . . . they're employing their core competency to leverage creation of a favorable issue environment.

    Put another way, what they're doing is encouraging the creation of a population of irate soreheads programmed to doubt anything on command.

    I mean, dang, there are a lot of folks out there who think Penn Jillette and Micheal Crichton are authorities on global warming and second hand smoke.
  • by mobiux (118006) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:30PM (#16139998)
    What's the motivation behind Philip Morris trying to debunk global warming?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      To perpetuate a general doubt of scientific studies in the minds of the public.

      I would have just replied with "RTFA" or something similar, but it is a fairly lengthy article that mentions Phillip Morris only briefly. To me, the bigger story here is that the public has been getting planted bullshit "opinion articles in key markets" for our entire lifetimes and only reently have we found hard evidence of it.

      Then, of course, having been trained to doubt anything that isn't presented to me by an approved m

    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:54PM (#16140262) Homepage Journal

      It's in the article.

      Global warming is one of the things they wanted to cast doubt about. The problem they were facing was that warnings on second-hand smoke were being taken seriously. The intent was sow a general distrust of scientists, making it appear that that consensus is rare. If they'd limited their focus to only research into second hand smoke, it'd have looked suspicious and Philip Morris's actions would have been fairly obvious. However, a general discrediting of science... well, until this article came out, I wasn't even aware that part of the cause of the Cato/Crichton/"JunkScience.com" axis of uncertainty was the tobacco industry.

      I'm waiting to find out how much they paid the International Astronomers Union... ;)

    • by neonfrog (442362)
      Don't exhale?
  • George Monbiot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by colonslashslash (762464) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:33PM (#16140036) Homepage
    I've read one of his previous books - The Age Of Consent - which is actually a really good read. Although the title may imply it, is has nothing to do with the legal age of consent for sexual intercourse (*audience groans*), but is about the current global political / economic climate and his somewhat radical (although well justified) ideas to even the playing field out a bit. Obviously, not a book for everyone, but it has a lot of insight into various popular political systems and organisations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, some of which is pretty damning.


    After reading that a couple of years back, I would definately be interested in checking out his latest work.

  • Let's say... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800)
    Let's say this is true:

    1) Given that the "secondhand-smoke" hysteria genuinely was shoddy pseudoscience as a pretext to legislate lifestyle, how useful is it to tie global warming to it? Or am I supposed to read about Big Tobacco, think "Ohmigod, it's *big*!" and fall under my desk in terror?

    2) So does Big Oil (Aaaugghhh! Under the desk!!!) get some sort of apology now that it turns out that these groups were actually some sort of bizarre tobacco PR scheme?

  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:37PM (#16140069)
    Yes, the art of deception. The doctrine of "perception is greater than truth" is followed by people and organizations of low moral standards. One would think that in the age of instant information one could ferret out these amoral jerks but it's not easily done.

    A couple of enabling factors are present that contributes to the problem.

    1. In general people are lazy, complacent sheep who hear what they want to hear and don't take the trouble of getting involved until a problem directly impacts their lives. When that happens it is usually too late.

    2. There is such a volume of information and disinformation that it all blends into a kind of white noise that can make shifting the truth difficult for the few who really want to get at the truth. And if they do get at the truth problem one and two kicks in. Few will listen and their warnings just become part of the white noise.

    I'm just as guilty as most. It's just easier for me to sit back and watch seeds of corruption grow and bear fruit. Oh, I add to the white noise with my complaints but there are so many issues and no one really listens anyway. The shame is that the fruit of corruption will eventually be the end of mankind or maybe even all life on Earth.

    Heh, intelligent animals... Mother nature's greatest mistake!
  • Salon [salon.com]:

    Sep. 19, 2006 | In February, there were several press reports about the Bush administration exercising message control on the subject of climate change. The New Republic cited numerous instances in which top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and scientists at the National Hurricane Center sought to downplay links between more-intense hurricanes and global warming. NOAA scientist Thomas Knutson told the Wall Street Journal he'd been barred from speaking to CNBC because

  • new tagline (Score:3, Funny)

    by revery (456516) <charles&cac2,net> on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:43PM (#16140126) Homepage
    A million tiny smoke stacks can't be wrong.

    --
    This is a joke. I am joking. You have been joked with.
  • Which appears to be a lot of you, not that I'm really blaming anyone...

    The reason why Big Tobacco has an interest in global warming is not because global warming might be linked to cigarettes. (Considering how difficult it is for the environmentalists to prove that cars cause global warming, it would be nigh impossible for them to do the same for tiny little cancer sticks.) No, what they want to do is discredit the EPA's stance on global warming so that they can then go, "Hey, if you thought that was craz
  • Is there a law that makes it illegal to go about spreading false information in order to protect your business interests or whatever? We all know it's actionable if the information is directed as specific parties, but what about spreading general and potentially dangerous lies against the public interest? What if, for example, someone created a convincing campaign suggesting that AIDS isn't real and that no one needs to take precautions? Or in this case, attempting to subvert real evidence of planetary h
  • A nice test for /. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neonfrog (442362) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:26PM (#16140579)
    The organization at the core of all of this is The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC). Odd linky [prwatch.org] which connects them to here [junkscience.com].

    Ready for the brain-twister? They are pro nuclear energy [junkscience.com].

    Demonize away!

    The other interesting tidbit found here [exxonsecrets.org] (sorry about the horrid flash link) is that Exxon has moved $12+ million (discoverable) towards anti-global warming organizations. That sounds like a lot -- until you realize they make a billion $ a day ...

  • smell test (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bkirkby (133683) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @05:19PM (#16141133) Homepage
    this doesn't pass the smell test. there's no sureer way of getting more people on the side of your cause than to lump the other side with existing known boogeymen.

    next we're going to learn that people who don't believe the moon landing was faked are aligned with nazis

"The chain which can be yanked is not the eternal chain." -- G. Fitch

Working...