In 2010, historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway released an eye-opening book, Merchants of Doubt, which explains how a few high-profile scientists with extensive political connections misled the public to deny well-established scientific facts. Over four decades these scientists, with the help of multi-million dollar public relations contracts and a scarily acquiescent media, these scientists cast doubt on the truth. Specifically, Merchants of Doubt covers the not-scientifically debatable, yet politically controversial topics of tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole, global warming, and DDT.
Earthworks' own Sharon Wilson has followed up on this story and connected some of the world's biggest public relations firms to fracking misinformation. The fracking industry and their buddies in coal and other polluting industries have mounted a billion dollar public relations campaign that does it all: from funding faulty “science” to promoting talking heads and countering peer-reviewed papers; they've left no stone unturned.
So now, our friends at TakePart have released a documentary adaptation of Merchants of Doubt to further expose the war on science these “scientists” waged. I'm looking forward to watching it, maybe crying, and then figuring out how we can take back the truth.
As part of the communications team at Earthworks it's my job to help figure out what we can do to reclaim the headlines, and the nitty gritty details. And I'm happy to say, because it is kind of rare in my work, that we have a lot going for us.
The first piece of good news: it doesn't look good to cast doubt on science.
The world's biggest PR firm recently severed ties with 10% of its income, a.k.a the American Petroleum Institute (API). After a campaign aided in part by some awesome Greenpeace activists, Edelman Group has dropped the lucrative client, who represents the fracking industry. A high price to “show a commitment to not aiding the denial of climate change science.”
And there is more good news.
The second thing we have in our favor in the fight to elevate the truth: you.
Thanks to social media, and frankly the internet at large (shout out to our friends who recently won on net neutrality) we, the many, many people of the world, have a very loud voice. Every time you sign one of our petitions, share our resources or, in any way spread the word about fracking's impacts on communities, the environment, and the climate, you're making a difference. You're using people power to counter the efforts of the world's most profitable and powerful industry to deny the truth.
And, if you're looking to take one more step after you share on Facebook, sign a petition or write a letter to the editor, you can help us beat the fracking industry at its own game by donating.
By joining Earthworks' Sustainability Circle today you can help defend science, speak out for the truth and protect clean air, clean water and healthy communities. Monthly giving is different than a one-time donation. You are committing to change. Industry doesn't put up one billboard and walk away, they have a multi-year, multi-faceted, multi-million dollar plan, and we need one too.
Whether you Tweet, write a letter, or donate, you can be a part of the solution. Join us. Become a Merchant of Truth.