Over the past few decades, the fossil fuel industry has subjected the American public to a well-funded, well-orchestrated disinformation campaign about the reality and severity of human-caused climate change. The purpose of this web of denial has been to confuse the public and decision-makers in order to delay climate action and thereby protect fossil fuel business interests and defend libertarian, free-market conservative ideologies. The fossil fuel industry’s denial and delay tactics come straight out of Big Tobacco’s playbook. As a result, the American public have been denied the right to be accurately informed about climate change, just as they were denied the right to be informed about the risks of smoking by the tobacco industry. While fossil fuel companies attacked the science and called on politicians to “reset the alarm,” climate-catalyzed damages worsened, including increased storm intensities, droughts, forest damage and wildfires, all at substantial loss of life and cost to the American people.
This report explores the techniques used to mislead the American public about climate change, and outlines ways of inoculating against disinformation.