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News and Research

CSSN Scholar Publications

“America Misled”

January 13, 2021

CSSN Scholars John Cook, Geoffrey Supran, and Stephan Lewandowsky, with Naomi Oreskes and Ed Maibach authored “America Misled,” a look into the fossil fuel industry’s extensive history of misinformation on climate change and the strategies used to propagate said misinformation.

Key points

  1. Internal corporate documents show that the fossil fuel industry has known about the reality of
    human-caused climate change for decades. Its response was to actively orchestrate and fund
    denial and disinformation so as to stifle action and protect its status quo business operations.
  2. As the scientific consensus on climate change emerged and strengthened, the industry and its
    political allies attacked the consensus and exaggerated the uncertainties.
  3. The fossil fuel industry offered no consistent alternative explanation for why the climate was
    changing—the goal was merely to undermine support for action.
  4. The strategy, tactics, infrastructure, and rhetorical arguments and techniques used by fossil
    fuel interests to challenge the scientific evidence of climate change—including cherry picking,
    fake experts, and conspiracy theories—come straight out of the tobacco industry’s playbook for
    delaying tobacco control.”