Posted by keith on May 20th, 2008
It’s no surprise that India is becoming a hotbed of greenwashing, with the market-friendly government and some of the richest people on Earth starting to understand the power and wealth that can be gained by brainwashing a population of a billion people into the way of industrial civilization.
For alerting me to the blatant Astroturf that is the CSCCC I have Manu Sharma to thank:
Two days ago (Apr 1, 2008) Hindustan Times carried an article titled Climate change not as big a problem: report. Lest anyone should think it as an April Fool’s joke, it was a completely serious piece based on real events. Today (Apr 3, 2008), the same correspondent published a report titled: ‘Sun too causes global warming.’
Both articles are highly misleading, contain factual inaccuracies and at the very least deliberately hide widely known facts that counter its argument to paint a biased picture. In the following paragraphs, I will attempt to highlight the key issues raised by each of the stories.
Climate change not as big a problem: report 
by Chetan Chauhan | Page 14, HT New Delhi, Apr 1, 2008 | 353 words
“An international civil society report has debunked the claims of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, saying there is no evidence available to show loss of human life directly due to climate change.
The report of the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change [CSCCC], to be released in India on Tuesday, says there is no evidence to suggest climate change has caused an increase in diseases.”
By pitting CSCCC directly against IPCC, the article creates the impression that both organisations are of similar stature. Nothing could be further from the truth. IPCC is a Noble prize winning United Nations body made up of hundreds of scientists and governmental representatives while CSCCC is merely a coalition of so-called global “think tanks” – corporate lobbyists funded by big oil corporations, the likes of ExxonMobil, to further their interests.
The HT article makes no mention of the background of CSCCC – who comprises the coalition and how are they funded. Unlike IPCC, which was formed two decades ago, CSCCC was only organised a little more than an year back  by International Policy Network (IPN) which is a well known recipient of Exxon funding. IPN has received $390,000 from Exxon. Several other members of the coalition have also been a beneficiary.
Paul Reiter, the expert cited in the article, for example, sits on the “Scientific and Economic Advisory Council” of an organization called the “Annapolis Centre.” What is Annapolis Centre? It’s a US based “think tank” that has pocketed $793,575 from ExxonMobil and has been very active in playing down the human contribution to global warming.
Reiter doesn’t have anything too substantiative in his research papers published in scientific peer reviewed journals to back his claims of lack of relationship between disease and climate change. It’s unclear how many other claims of CSCCC report are backed by research in peer reviewed journals.
Yet, here’s a newspaper that reaches out to a country of one billion, publishing unsubstantiated “research” of corporate lobbyists that have a direct financial interest in sensationalising their so-called findings; and pits them against a neutral, highly conservative group of scientists and government representatives whose work is completely based on pure scientific research published in peer-reviewed journals…
I strongly recommend you read the rest of this well-researched article here.
Astroturfs are not new, of course, and they are such powerful tools of business that I have a separate category for them on The Unsuitablog. The CSCC is notable, though, for purporting to be a truly international body, representative of “46 member organisations from 35 countries”. When you did down a little you find that these “46 member organisations” are also astroturfs or even more obvious corporate lobby bodies, making the CSCCC a Super Astroturf.
Time For A Game
There’s a fun game you can play, trying to find out why they are members of CSCCC — it’s called “follow the links“.
I picked the very first body on the list, the Alabama Policy Institute.
Go to http://www.alabamapolicy.org/ for the main site, then click on “About Us“. Nothing particularly exciting, except some stuff about wanting to bring religion into politics. Click on “Press and Media” instead, to find out that their President is Gary Palmer. Click on his biography and you find:
“Gary co-founded the Alabama Policy Institute, formerly known as the Alabama Family Alliance, in 1989. Gary was previously employed by Rust International in cost analysis, and prior to that with Combustion Engineering in the environmental systems division.”
A man of business clearly, and also someone who is very fond of religious censorship. But Gary isn’t our main man, it is Vice President Michael Ciamarra :
“a widely published columnist and a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s National Task Force on Tax Policy and The Heritage Foundation Resource Bank. He is an advisor to the National Center for Health Transformation.”
“Free trade is central to ALEC’s vision of the way nation states should relate to each other. In order to fully realize a broad and deep free market that reaches across the Atlantic, we need to mobilize strong leadership from legislators on both sides, as well as our business communities. Now, more than ever, conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic need to continue their challenge to over-taxing, over-borrowing and over-governing.”
Hmmm, wonder why preventing climate change would be a worry to ALEC then? What about the Heritage Foundation Resource Bank?
With a little digging around…bingo! Here’s a brilliant (well, crap) piece of straw man thinking:
And there are many more: have a look at this lot.
And finally, the National Center for Health Transformation. Take a look at their members! Clearly it’s the public whose concern is foremost in CHT’s mind — surely nothing to do with ensuring the market economy is vibrant and all powerful.
It’s a great game that all the family can play, and I think I’ll be playing it a lot more in the future.