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Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming [Paperback]

James Hoggan , Richard Littlemore
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Oct 2009
Talk of global warming is nearly inescapable these days -- but there are some who believe the concept of climate change is an elaborate hoax. Despite the input of the world's leading climate scientists, the urgings of politicians, and the outcry of many grassroots activists, many Americans continue to ignore the warning signs of severe climate shifts. How did this happen? Climate Cover-up seeks to answer this question, describing the pollsters and public faces who have crafted careful language to refute the findings of environmental scientists. Exploring the PR techniques, phony "think tanks," and funding used to pervert scientific fact, this book serves as a wake-up call to those who still wish to deny the inconvenient truth.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Greystone Books,Canada; 1St Edition edition (15 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1553654854
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553654858
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 387,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"[Climate Cover-Up] explains how the propaganda generated by self interest groups has purposely created confusion about climate change. It's an imperative read for a successful future."--Leonardo DiCaprio "... the most detailed and probing analysis to date of the interrelations between business organizations and conservative think tanks in campaigns to question global warming...The sleuthing is sophisticated and impressive... Recommended."—CHOICE Reviews, ALA

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By brylips
A useful read for anyone interested in the role of public relations firms in redefining the debate on climate change. In particular, the way vested interests use PR agencies to create confusion and doubt about the science of climate change in order to frustrate action. Having read the book I am surprised by how many of the 'cast' I have since spotted in subsequent 'news' stories. An important read.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
If you believe smoking is safe, this book is not for you. Look away now.

The authors do start from a position that Global warming is undebatable. Not unreasonable, given the amount of peer reviewed research and volume of raw data available. They also accept the consensus that climate change is happening as a consequence, again not unreasonable. They work with the current scientific consensus of over 95% probability that man is a major influence in these events. So this book is not going to give you any of that background or insight. It works with the view that true scientific principles are the best guide we have for what is happening around us. If you don't understand climate science, this book won't help you.

This book is about the human condition that needs to ignore bad news and our tendency to latch onto any contrary statements and assertions that return our sense of security and comfort. This book is about public relations and political manipulation machinery that is directed at protecting vested interest by causing inaction and uncertainty. If you want insight into how the PR machine works and is used and abused, then read on.

When taken into the context of climate science it dissects how the issue has been obfuscated and dissembled by various groups of pseudo-scientists using rhetoric and assertion. It is well researched, not in climate science but in the workings of P.R. sources and data is presented to support positions, you can follow many threads on google yourself and get source documents.

It observes that the current commentary trends are shifting to acceptance of the warming facts and that the game is now about causing confusion and inaction through challenging priotities and predicted consequences.
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9 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The heat is On 13 Dec 2009
It is very hard to be objective about this book for a number of reasons. At the outset I would admit to being rather agnostic about climate change. I am not affiliated to any particular organisation by way of being renumerated. My educational qualifications are primarily in economics and social science whereas my interests have foundations in the sciences. I believe that any person who believes in being an informed citizen needs to be sceptical of claims to truth and particularly towards any claims by government or the media or anyone else including corporations.

If this gambit appears defensive then let it be acknowledged so. Climate Cover-Up is a political book which attempts to bulldoze a view that no-one in their right mind should oppose the policies to tackle climate change. It makes reference to the common cause that scientists have flocked to about the truth of the issue and denigrates those in opposition as being lackeys of the corporate world, while failing to acknowledge that there are funds available too to sustain those who argue the proponents case.

The author quoes sources on the internet and applauds true science in pursuit of his goal to beat down the opposition while at the same time does not provide the detailed source material he accuses his opponents of not using. He also does not acknowledge that most educated observers do not have access to scientific journals or to the techniques to fully understand them

I do not argue that this issue may be a political battle to sequester funds on one side or the other, or that vested interests wish to see one side, rather than the other succeed.
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5 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Poorly researched and argued, this book makes its partisan viewpoint painfully obvious from the start. Sometimes polemics are appropriate, but if you're trying to argue that you are on the side of reason and truth, then maybe not.

One star, for being legible.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  96 reviews
161 of 195 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent intro to the hidden infrastructure of climate anti-science 22 Sep 2009
By John Mashey - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anti-science (or agnotology), seeks to cover-up or obscure science considered inconvenient, or at least create doubt in the minds of public and decision-makers. It seeks to replace knowledge with ignorance, and has no resemblance to normal arguments within science, by scientists.

Modern anti-science is most skillfully executed by a relatively small subset of lobbyists and PR agencies. Some of the most effective are actually "thinktanks". They have public identities distinct from their (often-unidentified) funders, and can often be labeled "non-profit", thus avoiding the expense of taxes. They often seek funding in the same way as lobbyist/PR agencies, as is well-documented in the Tobacco Archives.

Such entities have played successful roles in activities like fending off tobacco regulation, fighting CFC regulation ("ozone hole"), fighting mercury regulation, etc. For some, their top priority has changed to obfuscating climate science. Anyone who can help keep children getting addicted to tobacco should find it easy to create confusion about climate.

So, if you wonder how and why so many people, especially in North America, are confused about the current state of climate science, this is an excellent introduction to the key players and tactics.


People respond better to "grass-roots" efforts than to PR from business. If no grass-roots efforts exist, then one can set up fake ones ... astroturf.

Within science, the only things that really count are:
- publication in credible, peer-reviewed journals, a relatively low bar that mostly means "Not obviously wrong and might be worth reading."

- and surviving the high bar: widespread review by scientists in the field, to see if the results stand the test of time. Many don't. A few don't survive more than a few days.

But, if people cannot even get something over the low bar, they can try "petition science", in which large numbers of names are collected, sometimes including people who object violently to their inclusion as misrepresentation.

This tactic is popular, but absurd:

If you have heart problems, and 10 of the world's top cardiologists agree that you need a quad-bypass operation, do you listen to them? Suppose 10 brain surgeons sign a petition saying cardiologists know nothing about hearts. Do you believe *that* instead? Maybe the problem can be ignored?

How about a petition with 10,000 signatures ... of brain surgeons, engineers, epidemiologists, economists, politicians, chemists, nuclear physicists, and maybe a handful of (mostly-retired or not very successful) cardiologists? Are 10,000 non-experts more believable than 10 non-experts? Are they more believable than 10 experts?

The same people who were often helped the tobacco industry now help others, using well-honed tactics and claims of non-existent expertise.

"Clean coal" isn't. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, and used to work summers at the US Bureau of Mines, which tried to regulate the industry. Homes still collapse due to mine subsidence, although the coal companies departed long ago.

One topic that I hope will get more attention in any later editions is the role of certain wealthy family foundations in funding anti-science, as corporations are not the only funders. of course, this can be hard to track, given the complex web of funding that rather resembles money-laundering.

---- Added 9/24/09
Corporate funding for climate anti-science is rather concentrated in a few sectors, but corporations generally need not support anti-science. For example, on 9/22/09, the large California utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, announced its withdrawal from the US Chamber of Commerce over the latter's climate policies. The article "Irreconcilable Differences" at PG&E's website Next100 quoted PG&E CEO Peter Darbee's strong, succinct statement:

"We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored. In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another."

Those new to this topic will learn quite a bit of what goes on behind the scenes. Even those familiar with the topic will discover new connections - I certainly did.

Some Canadian references might be unfamiliar to Americans, but are useful, because they offer both similarities and contrasts. Also, Canada has many parallels with Australia (oil or coal exports), so Australians may find this instructive as well. Australian blogger Tim Lambert gets plaudits for his sleuth work. New Zealand cases are mentioned, and the UK is well-represented. Climate anti-science knows no borders.

This is an excellent introduction to an important topic. An informed citizen should not only understand a little climate science, but really needs to recognize the machinery of climate anti-science, which really does not want informed citizens.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and clear analysis. 12 Feb 2010
By Doctor Who - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been reading about the science of climate change as a non-scientist, and about the policy and political implications, for a number of years, trying to learn what was going on, and what needs to be done in response. I particularly recommend Kolbert, "Field Notes from a Catastrophe," and Flannery, "The Weather Makers" for a good overview. And "Scientific American" provides good regular coverage of the issue. The description of this book struck me as interesting so I bought it from amazon and read it, and recommend it as well written and clear, and providing a good overview of the long-term disinformation campaign by professional skeptics who don't do much science, but do a lot of public relations on behalf of the industry that does not want to be responsible for the harm climate change is causing. I think business students familiar with marketing and advertising will find the authors perspective on how that industry plays in this area quite interesting. The insight into Canadian tar sands gives a new perspective to a subject for readers unfamiliar with anything except U.S. politics. I read it just before the latest round of PR broke --- the theft of the East Anglia E-mails and the controversy over the Himalaya glacier melt rates in the IPCC report. None of these undercut the overall science of climate change, but they play into the PR campaign to put off a timely cost-effective response. Another book I bought here, "What's the Worse That Can Happen," lays out the risk assessment argument for responsible action. But I fear our political and legal system is too dysfunctional to be able to respond in time. In any event, this book will need a second edition to take into account the events of recent months, and perhaps by then we will know the e-mails of the professional skeptics as well.
54 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Requires a careful reading 27 Oct 2009
By Personne - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The chasm between the practice of science and the public's perception is enormous. Any body of knowledge that may require a change in public policy rapidly becomes prey to ideology. One need look no farther than the reviews posted about this very book. A large portion of the public does not understand how to understand science and tends to look for voices of authority. It's no surprise that those they trust to form their political views may also end up framing their views about science. This is true no matter where a person sits along the political spectrum. It's a pity, because ideology has no place in understanding this important topic.

I believe there are still many people who would like to know what the fuss is about. They don't like to have their opinions dictated to them by someone else. They may be vaguely suspicious that there's more than impartiality going on. This book is an imperfect step for readers who may fit that description. There is too much of the author's own opinion where a simple statement of facts is more than sufficient. The book steers a little too uncertainly between polemic and journalism.

I found the preface and initial chapters somewhat off-putting. The author spends some time on the case of Freeman Dyson, a scientist with a respected opinion in many areas. Dyson has moved strongly into the camp of 'deniers' (a term I promise not to use again). Author Hoggan makes quite a spectacle of Dyson's lack of credentials in this area. This is a dangerous approach for many reasons. There are certainly cases of scientists displaying remarkable ignorance outside their fields. One need look no further than William Shockley to understand that. But there are also many uncredentialed scientists who've done spectacular work. For example, the much-respected paleontologist Jack Horner never finished his bachelor's degree. Most importantly, James Hoggan isn't a scientist at all. It's not about the credentials. It's about the work. The author demonstrates this well at many later points in the book, but he may well lose many potential readers before he gets to the good stuff.

If one finds the opening pages unattractive, I might suggested jumping ahead to chapter six, "Mangling the Language". Hoggan's own work in public relations makes him more than qualified to speak on this topic. What you learn in this chapter can prove useful far beyond the scope of the book itself. Other good chapters follow, focusing on trade groups and the spokesmen they employ. If anything, Hoggan should have been even more critical of the press. Most news organizations are arms of a larger corporation. They employ hordes of people to cover Hollywood but no one qualified to cover science. With a few welcome exceptions press coverage of science is abysmal, and has left the public ill-prepared to discuss topics as serious as climate change.

I wish that Hoggan had injected a little less of himself in this book. Much of the reportage is quite persuasive and doesn't need to be shouted. For readers whose views are not hardened, there's much to appreciate.
35 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FUD Fighters 26 Oct 2009
By Bernard S. Clark - Published on
Climate Cover-up is a book that is long overdue. For too long we have been subjected to the disinformation campaigns of many vested interests whose sole intent is to stop any meaningful action on the biggest problem facing us today. Global warming is real, we are the ones causing it and the consequences of this change will be very bad. While the media, encouraged by the biggest industrial players in energy today (big coal and big oil), has made it seem like there is doubt and confusion about global warming, the people who should know, whose jobs it is to know (such as the American National Academy of Science, which Abraham Lincoln founded to be the "supreme court" of science in America), are not confused at all. The biggest, most prestigious scientific bodies in the world all agree with the reality of global warming: it is real, we are the ones, it will be bad for us. We must stop warming up. We must stop burning coal and oil.

Why don't people today all know that we are taking a terrible risk that we should not be taking? We don't all know because there are too many active vested interests trying to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). They are using the same tactics that big Tobacco used quite successfully to delay for decades significant action in reducing the number of smokers in America. Their actions are short term and short sighted, for they too will have to live in a world where the consequences of our continuing to burn fossil fuels will damage and change our civilization forever. Climate Cover-up does an excellent job of removing the wool that has been pulled over our eyes.

Our democracy has been high-jacked by these vested interests. Climate Cover-up describes for us the many dirty tricks that are being used to deceive our politicians, to confuse our citizens and to stall any meaning action. Knowing how these vested interests work is an essential step in protecting our democracy. We need to be able to see through the facades and outright lies that some industry players use, not only to help us realize what is really happening to our climate, but to be alert to these same tactics when they are used by other industries, public relations companies and think-tanks for other issues, like health care.

Beyond learning how the climate debate has been firstly created (there is no debate in the highest scientific organizations of the world) and then shaped by the vested interests, Climate Cover-up also provides fascinating looks into the history of the "dark side" of public relations (and the author runs a PR company, so is in a great position to understand this industry) and the use of "astroturfing," which is a pseudo-grass roots movement, designed by big oil and big coal to make it appear to our politicians that there is a real grass-roots support for not taking action on global warming, when there is no such movement. These fake grass-roots movements are called astroturfing and are used more and more frequently by industry to mislead our leaders.

There are many valuable insights found in this book but one other needs highlighting: Climate Cover-up also names names. There are many fake experts proclaiming that climate change is not happening; or if it is, it is not us doing it; and if we are, the consequences will be minor; and if they aren't, industry and/or the market will fix it. By learning who these fake experts are (politely called sceptics or deniers) we can be on our guard against their dissemination of FUD.

The changes happening today because of global warming need to be known, not disguised. Our attention needs to be focused on the real issues, not diverted. Our leaders need to know the truth about what is happening and the consequences, not to be deceived. Climate Cover-up takes us in the right direction. It helps to clear away the FUD surrounding global warming. It is a very important book. Buy it. Read it. Pass it along to a friend and make sure they too read it, and pass it along.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't remember the last time I enjoyed being so upset about what I read in a book! 31 Jan 2010
By ARH - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
James Hoggan has put together an eye-opening expose of the deliberate activities of many powerful entities to refute, deny, or disclaim the cumulative scientific consensus regarding global climate change - that human activities are the primary driving force behind global climate change. These powerful entities include the oil and gas industry, the coal industry, and other money-rich manufacturing and industrial groups, as well as some local and federal governments (e.g., Canada, and the USA - under the last Bush administation). These are all entities that will suffer significantly once the general population comes to a realization that the climate is changing and that there is a worrisome risk associated with this change.

Hoggan and his associates outline and document case after case where the scientific community's consensus on climate change, including strong statements from the UN's IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], The American Meteorological Society, The American Geophysical Union, and the AAAS [American Association for the Advancement of Science] that the global climate is changing due mainly to human activities is ridiculed, undercut, and smeared by people paid either directly or indirectly by special interest money (oil, gas, coal, tobacco, manufacturing, etc.).

The margins of many pages of my copy of this book filled with comments and personal observations of things that I had long suspected, but had never been able to take the time to discover on my own. As the pages flew by I found myself getting madder and madder, and sadder and sadder. Many things I had long suspected were confirmed repeatedly.

In summary, this is not a book about climate change or even a call for action. This is a book about the practices and tactics used by the anti-climate change community to muddy the water and to keep the general population (including all of us) from coming to the realization that there is a strong scientific consensus on this issue, and that the longer we wait to act, the less effective our actions will be. This campaign of disinformation and misinformation has been so effective that even some people that should know better because of their knowledge and training have been deceived. So I certainly don't blame people for being confused when this topic is outside of their own realm of expertise and experience.

FYI - I am not just parroting what Hoggan said in his book. I have been following and studying and teaching about the environment for almost 20 years. Everything I read in Hoggan's book rang true to what I know and many things I have long suspected.

No matter where you fall on the climate change "debate" you will benefit from reading this book!

Thanks for the insights and strong reminders about the need to be diligent regarding not only the messages we hear, but their ultimate sources as well.

5 solid stars!
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