Friday, October 07, 2011

What has smoking got to do with climate change?

DOUBT from The Climate Reality Project on Vimeo.

Do cigarettes contribute to the warming of the planet? Not really, but the deliberate manufacturing of public doubt in the face of widespread scientific evidence has been the hallmark of industry attempts to delay regulation in both cases. Not only has big oil used the same arguments and tactics as big tobacco, but in some cases, the same individuals. Certainly many of the same anti-regulation think tanks appear as sources of claims that are subsequently picked up and repeated in the mainstream media. Numerous publications have documented the history of these groups, who act as a PR smokescreen for industries in danger of serious public backlash over the dangerous activities from which they profit (for instance, Merchants of Doubt). The goal is not refutation of the science but merely the seeding of public doubt through the appearance of ongoing controversy on topics considered resolved amongst the experts. The question is how long they will be successful. For the link between cigarettes and cancer, such tactics effectively won the tobacco industry three decades of public confusion and regulatory hiatus in which to maximise profits. We don't have three decades in which to delay over climate.

17 comments:

Rich said...

have you read Toxic Sludge Is Good For You?

http://www.prwatch.org/tsigfy.html

byron smith said...

No, I haven't. Is it good?

ericdarylmeyer said...

There's a psychological connection as well, in that both smoking and climate change are driven by forms of consumption well-known to be destructive in the long term, but whose deleterious effects are difficult to measure in the present, or are only incrementally measurable. The approaching "brink" is deniable (at least rhetorically/plausibly), which leaves enough wiggle room for the PR "smokescreen."

byron smith said...

Yes, and in both cases, once the true extent of the danger has become bleedingly obvious (pardon the language), it is too late to do more than palliative care.

byron smith said...

TH: Environmental impacts of smoking.

byron smith said...

Grist: Umbra tackles the environmental costs of smoking.

byron smith said...

Guardian: Oz govt wins High Court case brought by big tobacco. Plain packaging is in. Another small step...

byron smith said...

DSB: When not to trust scientists. Fracking scientists paid by gas industry to give good reports.

byron smith said...

BBC: The man who invented cigarettes.

James Duke, who invented and helped mechanise the mass-produced cigarette also pioneered their marketing and distribution and in some sense also became the father of globalisation.

He went on to give $100m to a university that changed its name to Duke in his honour.

During the 20thC, it is estimated that 100m died from tobacco related diseases. WHO estimates that in the next 30 years another 100m could die unless trends change.

"Cigarettes cause about one death per million smoked. [...] Cigarette makers make about a penny in profit for every cigarette sold, which means that the value of a life to a cigarette maker is about $10,000."

byron smith said...

Grist: Tobacco companies ordered to admit deception. Heads up coal industry.

byron smith said...

A chapter on climate denial co-authored by John Cook and summarised by him here.

byron smith said...

The Conversation: WHO and the effectiveness of tobacco control measures.

byron smith said...

Monbiot: What the defeat of UK plain packaging laws reveals about political influence and lobbying.

byron smith said...

Conversation: Tax rise helps smokers quit.

byron smith said...

CP: How IPCC Climate Reports Are Like The Surgeon General’s Cigarette Warnings. A nice analogy.

byron smith said...

Rhymes with Smokey Joe. Another great video from Peter Sinclair drawing parallels between climate misinformation and tobacco misinformation.

byron smith said...

The Saturday Paper: Murdoch and the IPA work together for Big Tobacco.