Lawsuit accuses big oil of deceiving the public about climate changes

July 3, 2008 | By | Reply More

The ocean is now washing away the Alaskan village of 400 Inupiat villagers. According to story and these interviews by DemocracyNow’s Amy Goodman, the villagers have responded by filing suit against twenty Oil, gas and electric companies, accusing them of “conspiracy to mislead the public about the causes of global warming.”

How has financing the global warming deniers contributed to this damage?

Well, the denial movement has flourished, in part, because of the preoccupation of the media with balance and with controversy. And so, if you have 3,000 scientists working for years and producing a report that says our considered opinion is the climate is changing by this much, it’s changing this fast, it’s having these effects, and you have two or three so-called denialists or a few small think tanks, some of which were certainly funded by Exxon, saying the opposite, they get equal time. The deniers get equal time in the newspapers, on the television.

Another problem is that a denier can tell a lie in a single sentence that takes a scientist three paragraphs to rebut, but the scientist never gets the three paragraphs in the sound bite culture that our media represent. And so, the denialists, even though they are small in number, they have no credible arguments, very few of them have any scientific credentials, get attention out of all proportion to their credentials, the merit of their arguments, and that delays the generation of public understanding and political will to do the things we need to do to address this challenge. There are a lot of things we can do, but we have been delaying doing them, in part because the so-called skeptics, or more accurately deniers or denialists, have basically obscured reality for much of the public and indeed for many of our policymakers.

This suit is a landmark suit in that it is the first global warming damage suit based on a conspiracy by industry players to provide misinformation.

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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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