Mainstreaming doubt and nurturing climate denial

Fake news has, since January 2017, received a whole new lease of life, with peddlers of misinformation greatly emboldened by the installation of the Liar-In-Chief at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. However, climate science denial has been in full swing for decades; hardly surprising when you consider the trillion-dollar interests its (factual) findings threaten. Organised climate denial is, however, a new phenomenon in Ireland, first rearing its head in May 2017.

There are those who argue that by covering the activity of these jokers, you’re simply empowering them, since most are needy attention-seekers to begin with. But I would counter-argue that it it precisely because we have failed to take deniers and liars seriously that we find ourselves in our present global imbroglio. Below, my piece as it appeared on DeSmog.uk in April:

THE LATEST in a line of supposed experts drawn from the fringes of science is the guest speaker at tonight’s meeting (April 8th)  in Dublin of the Irish Climate Science Forum (ICSF), a climate science denial group. This is the sixth in a series of quasi-public meetings hosted by the ICSF since its first event last May.

Guest speaker at the meeting is Nir Shaviv, a professor of astrophysics at the Racah Institute of Physics in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is one of a number of recent speakers selected by the ICSF who promote the widely debunked view that cosmic rays rather than anthropogenic emissions are the dominant driving force behind global warming.

Shaviv is a member of the academic advisory council of the UK’s leading climate denial organisation, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, an organisation with opaque funding that works to spread doubt and disinformation about the causes and consequences of climate change.

Shaviv, along with two other recent ICSF guest speakers, Henrik Svensmark and Nicola Scafetta, contributed a chapter to a 2012 German book, ‘The Cold Sun – why the climate catastrophe does not take place’. The book’s claims have been widely criticised by mainstream scientists as lacking in credibility.

According to the abstract for this week’s meeting, Shaviv will argue that ‘climate sensitivity is low and future climate change is benign’. His talk is titled: ‘The Cosmic Ray Link – from Geological Time Scales to 20th Century Climate Change. While the venue for the meeting is once again an upmarket hotel in south Dublin. Attendance at the event is strictly by invitation. The GWPF published a video of a lecture with a very similar title that Shaviv delivered days before his scehduled ICSF appearance.

The secretive ICSF refuses to identify either its membership or funding sources, and has no publicly available website. Despite engaging with politicians and key influencers in state bodies including Met Eireann, the Irish national meteorological service, DeSmog UK could find no evidence that the ICSF has registered itself as a lobbying organisation.

The Irish government’s Regulation of Lobbying Act requires all individuals and groups engaged in lobbying to register and verify their details on the Lobbying.ie website and make written returns every four months

Attendance at the ICSF’s meetings is controlled by the group itself. Independent environmental media, including DeSmog UK, have been barred from attending.

Ireland is currently in the grip of its latest fodder crisis following an extremely cold spring, with emergency food supplies for its 7.3 million cattle being shipped in from the UK and Europe.

Irish agriculture has been rocked by a series of extreme weather events in recent years, including another fodder emergency five years ago and a large number of climate-fuelled severe flooding episodes.

Ironically, the agri-food industry has lobbied successfully in Ireland against climate action, on the grounds that it could have economic implications on the country’s emissions and input-intensive beef and dairy sectors. As a result, Ireland is among the worst performing countries in the EU in terms of emissions reductions.

The ICSF has worked with agricultural media in Ireland to spread doubt and disinformation about climate change among the Irish farming community.

Event organiser Jim O’Brien, did not respond to DeSmog UK’s request for clarification about the event and the ICSF’s funding and lobbying activities.

ThinkOrSwim is a blog focusing on the inter-related crises involving climate change, sustainability, resource depletion, energy and biodiversity loss
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3 Responses to Mainstreaming doubt and nurturing climate denial

  1. Pingback: Mainstreaming doubt and nurturing climate denial | Climate Change

  2. michael mcsharry says:

    It would seem to me that the only reasonable response would be to have a public demonstration on the pavement outside whatever venue this odious cabal of misanthropes chooses to have its next seminar / meeting at. I am up for it if anyone else is.

  3. John Gibbons says:

    Interesting suggestion Michael. They’ve been laying a bit lower of late; I haven’t heard of an upcoming meeting for the last couple of months, but once I get wind of the next one, will aim to post its details ahead of time on Twitter. One word of caution: these really are mostly a bunch of has-beens and never-weres. Targeting them like this risks giving them two things they crave: (a) attention and (b) persecuted hero/victim status. I’ve learned to avoid feeding trolls, both online and when they meet up in hotels for some mutual back-slapping.

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