Fossil Fuel Lobby Following the Playbook of Big Tobacco Confusing the Public on Dangers of Climate Disruption

Fossil Energy Interests Sowing Confusion and Buying Legislative Delay on America’s Biggest Threat: Climate Change says Environmental Economist

Robert Repetto

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Mar 2, 2011 (IPS)

Powerful fossil energy interests are preventing the United States from making the necessary transition to 21st century energy sources, one of the country’s leading environmental economists documents in a just-published book.

Fossil energy interests are spending “hundreds of millions of dollars” lobbying U.S. politicians in Congress and funding groups to confuse the public about the serious risks climate change poses, says Robert Repetto, author of “America’s Climate Problem: The Way Forward” published by Earthscan.

IPS climate and environment correspondent Stephen Leahy spoke with Repetto about his new book.

Q: Why did you write this book?

A: We’re running out of time. The latest science shows that climate change is coming faster and posing greater risks than previously thought. We are at risk of triggering positive feedbacks that will lead to uncontrollable climate change.

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Meanwhile, America is locked in a climate-policy stalemate, with very few in the public comprehending the real risks climate change poses. Most don’t understand that climate change is happening now. They don’t link extreme weather events we’ve been experiencing with climate change. As a result they are not demanding that politicians take action.

Q: Why don’t most Americans understand the fact that climate change is already underway and poses serious risks?

A: Fossil (oil, coal, natural gas) energy interests are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into sowing doubt and uncertainty to blunt public concern and to provide political cover to those politicians they are funding. In America, there is a very concerted effort by fossil energy interests that bankroll right-wing and libertarian “think tanks” like the Competitive Enterprise Institute to create an atmosphere of doubt and uncertainty, just like the tobacco companies did regarding the health effects of smoking. Continue reading