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Scientific American: "How to Win Friends and Bamboozle People about Climate Change"

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"What is the difference between a magician and a man who obscures the truth about global warming for the fossil-fuel industry? Magicians are "moral liars," according to the illuminating new documentary Merchants of Doubt, by director Robert Kenner. That's because their magic acts use expertise in the art of deception and misdirection to entertain. Shills for the fossil fuel-industry, such as Steve Milloy, Marc Morano and others examined and accused in this film, use their expertise to fool people about matters of life and death.

"The new documentary springs from the 2010 eponymous book by historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. The film (and the book before it) lays out how the fossil-fuel industry funds talking heads to sow confusion about climate change in a deliberate imitation of the successful doubt-sowing tactics of the tobacco industry. That industry famously employed experts in public relations, starting with venerable PR firm Hill+Knowlton, to cast doubt on the idea that smoking causes lung cancer or that nicotine was addictive, tactics that delayed regulation of the tobacco industry for decades.


"... Still, the ideological struggle over climate change has now raged for nearly 30 years. It took 50 years but eventually the tobacco companies were laid low and had to pay more than $200 billion in fines. Perhaps in another 20 years or so climate change will be so obvious that the ExxonMobils and Peabody Coals of the world will have to pay back some of their profits to compensate the victims of global warming.

"The problem is that in the meantime people will die too soon, rising oceans will flood coastal cities and weird weather will make farming harder, all serving as a 'threat multiplier'—as the U.S. military puts it. By revealing the little men behind the curtain of climate change denial maybe Merchants of Doubt will help cut short this fight, because the world may not have that much time to waste."

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