-- George W. Bush's campaign workers have
hit on an age-old political tactic to deal
with the tricky subject of global warming
- deny, and deny aggressively.
Observer has obtained a remarkable email sent
to the press secretaries of all Republican
congressmen advising them what to say when
questioned on the environment in the run-up
to November's election. The advice: tell them
tells them how global warming has not been
proved, air quality is 'getting better', the
world's forests are 'spreading, not deadening',
oil reserves are 'increasing, not decreasing',
and the 'world's water is cleaner and reaching
email - sent on 4 February - warns that Democrats
will 'hit us hard' on the environment. 'In
an effort to help your members fight back,
as well as be aggressive on the issue, we
have prepared the following set of talking
points on where the environment really stands
today,' it states.
memo - headed 'From medi-scare to air-scare'
- goes on: 'From the heated debate on global
warming to the hot air on forests; from the
muddled talk on our nation's waters to the
convolution on air pollution, we are fighting
a battle of fact against fiction on the environment
- Republicans can't stress enough that extremists
are screaming "Doomsday!" when the
environment is actually seeing a new and better
the memo's assertions are 'global warming
is not a fact', 'links between air quality
and asthma in children remain cloudy', and
the US Environment Protection Agency is exaggerating
when it says that at least 40 per cent of
streams, rivers and lakes are too polluted
for drinking, fishing or swimming.
gives a list of alleged facts taken from contentious
sources. For instance, to back its claim that
air quality is improving it cites a report
from Pacific Research Institute - an organisation
that has received $130,000 from Exxon Mobil
memo also lifts details from the controversial
book The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn
Lomborg. On the Republicans' claims that deforestation
is not a problem, it states: 'About a third
of the world is still covered with forests,
a level not changed much since World War II.
The world's demand for paper can be permanently
satisfied by the growth of trees in just five
per cent of the world's forests.'
memo's main source for the denial of global
warming is Richard Lindzen, a climate-sceptic
scientist who has consistently taken money
from the fossil fuel industry. His opinion
differs substantially from most climate scientists,
who say that climate change is happening.
probably the most influential voice behind
the memo is Frank Luntz, a Republican Party
strategist. In a leaked 2002 memo, Luntz said:
'The scientific debate is closing [against
us] but not yet closed. There is still a window
of opportunity to challenge the science.'
has been roundly criticised in Europe. Last
month Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser,
Sir David King, attacked him for being too
close to Exxon.
Gueterbock of Greenpeace condemned the messages
given in the Republican email. He said: 'Bush's
spin doctors have been taking their brief
from dodgy scientists with an Alice in Wonderland
view of the world's environment. They want
us to think the air is getting cleaner and
that global warming is a myth. This memo shows
it is Exxon Mobil driving US policy, when
it should be sound science.'
memo has met some resistance from Republican
Mike Castle, who heads a group of 69 moderate
House members, senators and governors, says
the strategy doesn't address the fact that
pollution continues to be a health threat.
'If I tried to follow these talking points
at a town hall meeting with my constituents,
I'd be booed.'
Senator Jim Jeffords, who left the Republican
Party in 2001 to become an independent partly
over its anti-green agenda, called the memo
'outlandish' and an attempt to deceive voters.
have a head-in-the-sand approach to it. They're
just sloughing off the human health impacts
- the premature deaths and asthma attacks
caused by power plant pollution,' Jeffords
House Conference director Greg Cist, who sent
the email, said: 'It's up to our members if
they want to use it or not. We're not stuffing
it down their throats.'
said the memo was spurred by concerns that
environmental groups were using myths to try
to make the Republicans look bad.
wanted to show how the environment has been
improving,' Cist said. 'We wanted to provide
the other side of the story.'
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