How an Enviro-Advocacy Group Propped Up Global Warming in the MSM – A Nov 2 Election Connection

Has the so-called global warming crisis been propped up in the media and on the internet as the result of a single phrase?

Astute Breitbart readers will know the IPCC theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is crumbling apart at an exponential rate, as can be seen in a daily roundup of the news at web sites like, WattsUpWithThat, SPPIblog, and PlanetGore. That’s the skeptic scientists at work, exposing the faults of the IPCC and all the people surrounding it, but has news of this been seen anywhere in the mainstream media?

No. Why not? A single phrase made famous by an enviro-advocacy group and its anti-skeptic book author “star” may have been the primary reason the MSM felt a compulsion to exclude any news of, debates of, and discussions with skeptic scientists. What was this phrase?

global warming

“Reposition global warming as theory rather than fact.” Not exactly a smooth sounding sentence. If the average disinterested citizen was presented with compelling evidence that human activity is not causing global warming, and compared it to Al Gore declaring the debate over, he or she would probably say something more like, “We should show how the global warming debate isn’t settled yet.”

Back in late 1990, that is essentially exactly what happened, except that the specific people who wanted to counter-argue Al Gore’s surging rhetoric were members of a coal producers’ association. They formed the Information Council on the Environment (ICE) sometime around January 1991, and one of the documents used by its public relations personnel did not contain the more mundane sentence I have above. Instead, its #1 sentence on a strategies page was this verbatim version: “Reposition global warming as theory (not fact).” It’s #2 sentence was, “Target print and radio media for maximum effectiveness.” The #9 one was, “Use a spokesman from the scientific community.” Most anyone would interpret this paper to be what it is, pointers for PR workers to follow. A scan of the paper can be seen when you click on the page 10 thumbnail at Greenpeace archives here.

For a phrase that is cited in those two variations in a viral manner across the internet, you’d think there would be a few dozen other places where it could be seen, but here’s a small homework assignment for anyone willing to undertake it: try finding any internet site that shows either its complete transcript or a link to that Greenpeace scan. I’ll bet you can’t, with two exceptions, the Greenpeace archive scan page itself, and my own July 6 American Thinker article, “Smearing Global Warming Skeptics,” where I went into great detail about the origins of the phrase and the enviro-advocacy group that ended up making it famous. There are so many other red flags attached to the phrase and its promoters that I ended up writing three other articles about them, along with a blog piece prior to those that basically started me on this path of investigation, “The Lack of Climate Skeptics on PBS’s ‘NewsHour.'”

The enviro-advocacy group is Ozone Action, founded in ‘92 or ‘93 (depending on which of its personnel got the date right) to fight ozone depletion. Its “star” is former Boston Globe reporter Ross Gelbspan, who repeated the “reposition” phrase in a December 1995 NPR radio interview that coincidentally is the same month that Ozone Action said it started “working on climate change” – have a look again at the “’93” link in my previous sentence. In April 1996, an Ozone Action report proclaimed the “reposition” phrase was in a set of memos “obtained by Ozone Action and by Ross Gelbspan.” He went on to publish two global warming themed books with noticeable anti-skeptic scientist tones, and watch Al Gore show the “reposition” phrase in An Inconvenient Truth full screen for six seconds at the 1 hour 12 minute 55 second point of the movie.

Gore hasn’t let go of that phrase, either. As recently as May 8, 2010 in The New Republic (full text here), he said, “The largest carbon polluters have, for the last 17 years, sought to manipulate public opinion with a massive and continuing propaganda campaign, using TV advertisements and all other forms of mass persuasion. It is a game plan spelled out in one of their internal documents, which was leaked to an enterprising reporter, that stated: ‘reposition global warming as theory rather than fact’.” As I showed in my July 6 American Thinker article, the documents were not leaked to Gelbspan, and perhaps more of an inconvenient truth, Gelbspan is not actually a Pulitzer winner.

When it comes to the November mid-term elections and the near-certainty of a GOP House takeover – there is one instance where a repetition of the “reposition” phrase could prompt congressional inquiry under GOP committee leadership. On May 28, 2007, Sheldon Rampton of PRWatch said at the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations & Oversight (starting around the 42:30 point of the video), “One of the first campaigns of this type began in the early 1990s funded by groups like the National Coal Association, the Western Fuels Association, and it was called the Information Council for the Environment, and its goal was to, in their words, reposition global warming as a theory, not fact… And the effect is to amplify the views of a relatively small number of scientists and make it seem like that is, like there is a huge scientific debate going on when, in fact, there is not.” Where did Rampton source what sounds like Gelbspan’s talking points? In a 1998 piece about the subject, Rampton cited Gelbspan, of course, along with two others who in turn cited Gelbspan and Ozone Action.

Notice the ironic title of the hearing, “Shaping the Message, Distorting the Science: Media Strategies to Influence Public Policy.” Republican James Sensenbrenner is currently serving on that main committee, and more important, is the ranking member on one of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’s creations, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. On Sept 28, Politico reported that Sensenbrenner “wants to keep the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming alive so it can investigate climate science and police President Barack Obama’s green policies.”

As Breitbart readers might guess, I’ve already used the contact form at the CEI & GW web page to suggest a specific investigation.

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