Conspiracy! Author James Hoggan realizes the ridiculousness of that word, asserting that it “strains credulity and is offensive in its own right.” Yet the massive media sway that he details in his book Climate Cover-Up feels like something a squinty, scruffy, clipboard-wielding man would accost you with. It turns out that most of the oft-quoted global warming skeptics are not climate scientists, and are not published in credible scientific journals. They are funded mostly by think tanks which are, in turn, funded by fossil fuel companies. “There are conspiracies aplenty,” he writes, ” documented and undeniable.” The central conspiracy here is the perpetuation of global warming uncertainty. His book puts out the serious details.
The anti global-warming “conspiracy” is a series of well-orchestrated public relations ploys. “Grassroots” deniers of global warming refuse to reveal their funding sources. Certain memos and documents detail a plan to inundate mid-level American newspapers with letters and articles from scientific skeptics. Hoggan even gathers research on the signatories of several anti-climate-change petitions complied by the Heartland Institute and others. Among listed skeptics of climate change there are: dead scientists, scientists with no peer-reviewed climate research, and in some of the most shocking instances, well-respected climate scientists whose named were attached without their consent.
In one particularly stinging story, Hoggan details the circumstances surrounding the coercing of renowned climate scientist Roger Revelle into coauthoring a “look before you leap” climate paper and the subsequent lawsuit against his indignant graduate student. What perturbs Hoggan the most is the fact that each denier group or individual is working to create uncertainty despite an overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is real and man-made.
Part of Hoggan’s appeal as an author is that he is not, in fact an old man with a clipboard — he’s a very accomplished Public Relations executive who understands the machinations of media. The book is borne from his DeSmogBlog, and fueled by his professional indignation. Hoggan is aware that PR guys do not have the most glowing reputation, and so is infuriated by these interest groups’ perpetuation of spin-doctoring. “I started to notice evidence of the campaign everywhere I looked. To a trained eye, the unsavory public relations tactics and techniques and the strategic media manipulation became obvious. The more I thought about it, the more deeply offended I became.”
Hoggan does allow this indignation to color his language occasionally in that conspiracy-theorist way, but his research is so extensive that it’s easy to forgive. It’s even okay that he gets all dewy-eyed and poetic towards the end.
All in all, Climate Cover-Up is an example of anger channeled into real, sharp, relevant and useful work. “My best advice might be that you should survey a variety of sources just to help confirm — or challenge– what you have read in this book. I am confident that it will stand up to scrutiny, but I am even more concerned that you be rock solid in your own understanding, in your conviction, of what has been happening in the global climate change conversation.”