Rachel Carson, James Hanson and the Merchants of Doubt, Working Waterfront Philip Conkling, July 25, 2012
...Since 1988, a well financed campaign, primarily funded by corporations with large fossil fuel holdings have tried to sow doubt either on the existence global warming itself (“it is just natural variability”) or on the evidence that burning of fossil fuels by humans is the cause of climate change. It is not hard to find scientists who, when asked about whether the climate is changing as a result of the build up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, will honestly say, “We just don’t know.” There are more venal actors as well, including some in academia where contrarian views can be a badge of honor, who will say that most climate change science is based on a high degree of uncertainty or will introduce other non-human causes to explain the observe changes in climate.
The merchants of doubt understand human psychology all too well. If your mind is balanced between yes and no; between acceptance and denial; between this possibility and that possibility—the longer you are in doubt, the less action you take. Action means that you have decided something. So if someone can convince you that we do not have enough information on which to base a decision, inaction is the inevitable result. And if you have an economic interest in preventing action, doubt is your most effective tool, particularly because doubt can seem so reasonable. Even when it is not.
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