Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

Naomi Oreskes, Erik M. Conway

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 1608193942

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"Merchants of Doubt should finally put to rest the question of whether the science of climate change is settled. It is, and we ignore this message at our peril."-Elizabeth Kolbert

"Brilliantly reported andwritten with brutal clarity."-Huffington Post

Now a powerful documentary from the acclaimed director of Food Inc., Merchants of Doubt was one of the most talked-about climate change books of recent years, for reasons easy to understand: It tells the controversial story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. The same individuals who claim the science of global warming is "not settled" have also denied the truth about studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. "Doubt is our product," wrote one tobacco executive. These "experts" supplied it.

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organizational machinery,” one press release concluded. The industry had already given more than $7 million in research funds to 155 scientists at more than one hundred American medical schools, hospitals, and laboratories; now it would give even more.69 When Congress held hearings in 1965 on bills to require health warnings on tobacco packages and advertisements, the tobacco industry responded with “a parade of dissenting doctors,” and a “cancer specialist [who warned] against going off ‘half

woven through several episodes. Sagan wasn’t a weapons scientist, but he knew enough to know that what Reagan was proposing was as fantastical as the Star Wars films whose moniker they had borrowed. The reason was simple. No weapons system—indeed, no technological system—is ever perfect, and an imperfect defense against nuclear weapons is worse than worthless. It’s a matter of arithmetic. If strategic defense is 90 percent effective, then 10 percent of the warheads still get through. The Soviets

Scientists.64 Other scientists, like Edward Teller and fellow physicist Eugene Wigner—Fred Seitz’s mentor—supported Sentinel and its deployment in the fight against Communism. Garwin and Bethe’s efforts were successful in first limiting its deployment to one site. By 1977, the United States had no ballistic missile defenses. Six years later, the proponents of missile defense were trying again, but Garwin and Bethe’s view hadn’t changed. They argued that Reagan’s vision would be colossally

regulatory compliance is a powerful form of necessity. If the U.S. government had established a strong regulatory regime on acid emissions, then the industry might have done more to innovate. And if technological advancement had made it easier and cheaper to control emissions, then industrial resistance to tightening the caps as time went on would have lessened, and it might well have been easier to tighten the regulations over time, giving the forests the protection that science showed they

than a dollar a century from now, so we can “discount” faraway costs. This is what Schelling was doing, presuming that the changes under consideration were “beyond the lifetimes of contemporary decision-makers.”41 Not only did we not know how much energy future populations would use, and therefore how much CO2 they would produce, we didn’t know how they would live, how mobile they would be, what technologies they would have at their disposal, or even what climates they might prefer. Schelling

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