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Tricks in the Climate Debate?

Posted by: John Carey on December 3, 2007

As delegates gather in Bali, Indonesia to try to hammer out an agreement on climate change, some intriguing shenanigans are happening here at home.

One of the key developments in the whole climate change debate has been the formation of an organization of companies and envirommental groups calling for action on climate change. The group is called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) and it includes comapnies like Dupont, Caterpillar, GM, Shell, and number of others. It has called for large mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

But on Monday morning, the group seemed to go further—much further. A press release appeared in reporters’ inboxes, ostensibly from USCAP, saying that the group was calling for even more drastic cuts — 90% reductions by 2050, and a moratorium on all new coal-fired power plants. The press release had a link to what appeared to be the official USCAP webpage, complete with its logo and list of companies. It all looked real, so real that at least one newspaper ran the story as gospel truth.

But the press release, which went out at 9:21 Monday morning, and the website are both bogus. The real USCAP got wind of the phony information by late morning. They’ve managed to shut down the fake web site.

Who was behind the hoax? It’s an international group of climate activists called Rising Tide.

Why the scam? Hypocrisy, charges Matt Leonard of Rising Tide: “We wanted to draw attention to the undue influence the biggest pollutors, many of which are members of USCAP, have on climate policy. They are focused on their own bottom lines rather than the climate science.”

Reader Comments


December 4, 2007 11:16 AM

This story could have gone a lot further than a bogus website and press release hoax. This is just the fringe of a whole spectrum of bogus information leading to policy lurch. How about mentioning the ongoing farce of Canadian membership in Kyoto while mining oil deposits for exports or the recent Australian intent to join Kyoto while getting rich off coal exports to China. They also get rich by mining and exporting iron ore and bauxite for China to burn more coal to run those industrial operations.


December 4, 2007 6:13 PM

By their antics, Rising Tide proved themselves to be untrustworthy and, therefore, a fringe element unworthy of serious consideration.

kevin smith

December 4, 2007 9:07 PM

For an alternative take on the Bali climate talks, check out Alter Eco – Offsetting Emissions, which you can download from

Alter-Eco is published by a group of NGOs, IPOs and social movements at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP-13 who came together to make a unified call in support of real solutions to climate change and against the false market-based solutions to climate change that are being implemented under the Kyoto Protocol.

Zachary Funk

December 4, 2007 10:58 PM

The entire global warming issue is bogus. It is an excuse to raise taxes and give the final blow to our economy. Many scientists disagree with the opinions and wild ideas of Al Gore, but are frightened to speak out. There is too much propaganda as is with the theory of global warming, and it is time for people to question it and listen to real scientists, not career politicians and overlords of tax revenue. Here is a hint for those people wanting to raise internal revenue: CUT TAXES! It will bring more money that way by letting businesses grow, and let them hire more people. That is my opinion and it will probably not be heard.

Ms. Buckingham

December 5, 2007 9:48 PM

How wrong you are about how Global Warming is affecting our economy, Zachary. In fact, renewable energy initiatives such as wind and solar are currently some of the fastest growing investment markets. I am certain that in todays day and age with all of the resources available to us, human and other wise, rising to the climate challenge will indeed boost our economy. Finding solutions will provide jobs, not only for the innovators and engineers amongst us, but for a great number of people along the line of production and distribution. Reinventing how we produce and use energy and transitioning away from fossil fuel can do nothing but create new business and new industry. Even conservation and efficiency will indeed create new economic growth as people replace their old inefficient windows, doors, washers dryers, furnaces and even cars with new state of the art technologically advanced alternatives. We are on the verge of a green energy revolution powered by an army of green jobs and I am sure that even those who put profit before people will be on the band wagon, indeed somebody must fund it and in turn reap the benefits of the climate crisis. Oh right, they already are.

Dave Hampton

December 8, 2007 4:12 AM

Well said Ms Buckingham.

My oh my, how these 'old fossil' head-in-sand* topsy turvy viewpoints survive... like fossil... so far that is!

You are so right that the new renewable economy has set off... it needs no more passengers... so the views of these skeptics are increasingly irrelevant.

*That's unfair to Ostriches of course - they are intelligent creatures. They stick their head in the sand to better hear footsteps of what's coming their way - from afar. We could learn!)

Rising Tide, like their name suggests, are here to stay. They, and the rising tide they represent, comprise the intelligent life form self-interest of billions of stakeholders and future stakeholders on Spaceship Earth. We ignore them at our own kids peril.

They are neither fringe nor untrustworthy (like some vested business interests are).

They carry the baton of hope for the Planet, for each nation, for commerce and for people... especially the young.

I salute them and their courage.

David Becher - Cambridge

December 9, 2007 12:16 AM

To Ms Buckinham... and subsidies will further alternative energies such as US ethanol which on balance is a wealth transfer from non corn producing to corn producing states. Capital markets are presently chasing profit oppotunities - some of it will make sense and some will be subsidy and wealth transferr. Please stop talking about green machines and green jobs - I hope we can be broad minded in looking at solutions. The American pork barreling ear marking congress is part of the problem.

Energy lover

December 10, 2007 11:44 PM

Their focus may be bottom line, but long-term survival of both the companies and their customers will serve to demand greater accountability. Maybe this is a good place to interject the notion that the incessant focus of Wall Street on short-term earnings drives many companies away from long-term strategies that might benefit both those companies and their customers. It's a shame that the US also decided to shy away from UN mandatory caps on greenhouse gases recently( With the current political environment, change must come from the private sector (much to the chagrin of many Democrats). It only makes sense that companies with the most to lose (at least directly) from the depletion of the world's energy resources would seek to influence this process.

David Becher-Cambridge

December 13, 2007 6:53 PM

Ironic is the misinformation on climate change... when we are supposed to be focused on Scientific process.

Unquantified risk is uncertainty, unknown. We need to understand what is vs. what is not known in our efforts to mitigate genuine risk e.g., Nordhaus (Yale economics), Weitzman (Harvard economics) in September, 2007 issue of American Economic Review; Pielke (U Colorado - Atmos Science and Meteorology) in Science Direct, Feb 2007).

We have been down this road many times throughout history: Thomas Malthus 1798, "An Essay on the Principal of Population," Paul Ehrlich’s 1968, The Population Bomb, Club of Rome's Limits to Growth first published in 1972. Gore's exaggerated “Inconvenient Truth.”

The meaning and process of Science is abused.

Thomas Hobb’s said a person acts only in his own best interest. So it is a debate of value systems not science. The Nobel awarded themselves a the prize and not Gore and IPPC group.

Oxford historian Norman Davis outlined five basic rules of propaganda in “Europe – a History,” Oxford Press, 1996, pp 500-501):

Simplification - reducing all data to a simple confrontation between ‘Good and Bad’, ‘Friend and Foes’, etc.

Disfiguration - discrediting the opposition by crude smears and parodies

Transfusion - manipulating the consensus values of the target audience for one's own end

Unanimity - presenting one's viewpoint as if it were the unanimous opinion of all right-thinking people; drawing the doubting individual into agreement by the appeal of “star- performers,” by social pressure, and by ‘psychological contagion’

Orchestration- endlessly repeating the same message in different variations.

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BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.

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