Looking for a great deal?
Get ALL THREE of our new thank-you gifts when you donate $120.
This is a limited time offer – so act soon!
TESS VIGELAND: A government study out this week concludes that we — yes, we humans — are responsible for all those greenhouse gas emissions that are heating up the earth. Can’t blame the dog on this one. Writer and commentator Mark Hertsgaard says we should look to ourselves as well for ever denying a link between those gases and global warming.
Today, it’s denial of global warming that’s threatening US jobs and profits. Toyota and Honda are far ahead in hybrid car sales. And US firms are losing out in other sectors too. Our solar and wind power manufacturers once led the world. Now, we trail the Germans, Danes and even the Spanish.
In February, the EU, not the US, signed a memorandum of understanding with China that could lead to billions of dollars in trade deals for a new generation of carbon-neutral power plants.
Most American business leaders still don’t get what’s hit them. But it’s not entirely their fault.
For 15 years, Exxon Mobil and other companies spent millions to promote scientific uncertainty about global warming. They did it by funding contrarian scientists, lobbyists and PR outfits. Media outlets like the Wall Street Journal did the rest.
The deniers borrowed their tactics, and even their scientists, from the tobacco industry. In the 1980s former National Academy of Sciences president Frederick Seitz directed a $45 million research program for R.J. Reynolds that deliberately ignored the health effects of smoking. Then in the ’90s, Seitz became a leading global warming denier, a stance he says reflected his scientific judgment.
Exxon’s PR campaign ended up hurting not only the environment but other US companies and their global competitiveness.
Foreign firms are now winning the green technology race in large part because their governments, unlike Washington, take global warming seriously.
The US can do the same. But first it must reject the denials peddled by defenders of a status quo that cannot last.
TESS VIGELAND: Mark Herstgaard is the author of an article on the future of global warming in the current issue of Vanity Fair.
If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air. But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.
Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.
When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.