It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to anybody, but carbon polluters have been deliberately attempting to discredit the evidence for the carbon emissions link with climate change. Former US Vice President turned climate change campaigner Al Gore announced on Tuesday that some of the world’s largest polluters, including Exxon Mobil, are funding a huge public misinformation campaign with the intention to dispute the scientific consensus on global warming:
“There has been an organised campaign, financed to the tune of about $10 million a year from some of the largest carbon polluters, to create the impression that there is disagreement in the scientific community,” Gore claimed at a forum in Singapore. “In actuality, there is very little disagreement…this is one of the strongest of scientific consensus views in the history of science.”
Gore drew a comparison with the millions of dollars spent by the US tobacco industry in an attempt to give the appearance of debate as to the harm caused by smoking, a well known example of the way rich and influential companies can attempt to manipulate public opinion against the public interest.
Exxon Mobil retaliated, claiming that “the recycling of this type of discredited conspiracy theory diverts attention from the real challenge at hand: how to provide the energy needed to improve global living standards while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Last year British and American science advocacy groups accused ExxonMobil of funding groups that undermine the scientific consensus on climate change, and the company said then that the scientists’ reports were just attempts to smear ExxonMobil’s name and confuse the debate. Company spokesman Gantt Walton claimed that the company’s financial support does not mean control over any group’s views.
Gore also drew attention to the importance of developing countries joining the battle to cut emissions: “Countries like China, just to give an example, which will next year be the largest emitter in the world, can’t: be excluded just because it’s technically a developing country,” Gore said. China, whose pollution level is putting the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing under threat, overtook the US in CO2 emissions by 7.5% in 2006.