The material below contains a memo by the API from April 1998.
To: Global Climate Science Team
Cc: Michelle Ross; Susan Moya
Subject: Draft Global Climate Science Communications plan
As promised, attached is the draft Global Climate
Science Communications Plan that we developed during our workshop Last Friday. Thanks
especially to those of you who participated in the workshop, and In particular to John
Adams for his very helpful thoughts following up our meeting, and Alan Caudill for turning
around the notes from our workshop so quickly.
Please review the pan and get back to me with your
comments as soon as possible.
As those of you who were at the workshop know, we
have scheduled a follow - up team meeting to review the plan in person on Friday, April
17, form 1 to 3 p.m. at the API headquarters. After that, we hope to have a "plan
champion" help us move it forward to potential funding sources, perhaps starting with
the global climate "Coordinating Council." That will be an item for discussion
on April 17.
Again, thanks for your hard work on this project.
Please e-mail me, call or fax me with your comments. Thanks.
Global Climate Science Communications
- In December 1997, the Clinton Administration agreed in
Kyoto, Japan, to a treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent what it purports
to be changes in the global climate caused by the continuing release of such emissions.
The so-called green house gases have many sources. For example, water vapor is a
greenhouse gas. But the Clinton Administration's action, if eventually approved by the
U.S. Senate, will mainly affect emissions from fossil fuel (gasoline, coal, natural gas,
As the climate change debate has evolved, those who
oppose action have argued mainly that signing such a treaty will place the U.S. at a
competitive disadvantage with most other nations, and will be extremely expensive to
implement. Much of the cost will be borne by American consumers who will pay higher prices
for most energy and transportation.
The climate change theory being advanced by the treaty
supporters is based primarily on forecasting models with a very high degree of
uncertainty. In fact, its not known for sure whether (a) climate change actually is
occurring, or (b) if it is, whether humans really have any influence on it.
Despite these weaknesses in scientific understanding,
those who oppose the treaty have done little to build a case against precipitous action on
climate change based on the scientific uncertainty. As a result, The Clinton
Administration and environmental groups essentially have had the field to themselves. They
have conducted an effective public relations program to convince the American public that
the climate is changing, we humans are at fault, and we must do something about it before
The environmental groups know they have been successful.
Commenting after the Kyoto negotiations about recent media coverage of climate change, Tom
Wathen, executive vice president of the National Environmental Trust, wrote:
"...As important as the extent of the coverage was
the tone and tenor of it. In a change from just six months ago, most media stories no
longer presented global warming as just a theory over which reasonable scientists could
differ. Most stories described predictions of global warming as the position of the
overwhelming number of mainstream scientists. That the environmental community had, to a
great extent, settled the scientific issue with the U.S. media is the other great success
that began perhaps several months earlier but became apparent during Kyoto."
Because the science underpinning the global climate
change theory has not been challenged effectively in the media or through other vehicles
reaching the American public, there is widespread ignorance, which works in favor of the
Kyoto treaty and against the best interests of the United States. Indeed, the public has
been highly receptive to the Clinton Administrations plans. There has been little, if any,
public resistance or pressure applied to Congress to reject the treaty, except by those
"inside the Beltway" with vested interests.
Moreover, from the political viewpoint, it is difficult
for the United States to oppose the treaty solely on economic grounds, valid as the
economic issues are. It makes it too easy for others to portray the United States as
putting preservation of its own lifestyle above the greater concerns of mankind. This
argument, in turn, forces our negotiators to make concessions that have not been well
thought through, and in the end may do far more harm than good. This is the process that
unfolded at Kyoto, and is very likely to be repeated in Buenos Aires in November 1998.
The advocates of global warming have been successful on
the basis of skillfully misrepresenting the science and the extent of agreement on the
science, while industry and its partners ceded the science and fought on the economic
issues. Yet if we can show that science does not support the Kyoto treaty - which most
true climate scientists believe to be the case - this puts the United States in a stronger
moral position and frees its negotiators from the need to make concessions as a defense
against perceived selfish economic concerns.
Upon this tableau, the Global Climate Science
Communications Team (GCSCT) developed an action plan to inform the American public that
science does not support the precipitous actions Kyoto would dictate, thereby providing a
climate for the right policy decisions to be made. The team considered results from a new
public opinion survey in developing the plan.
Charlton Research's survey of 1,100 "informed
Americans" suggests that while Americans currently perceive climate change to be a
great threat, public opinion is open enough to change on climate science. When informed
that "some scientists believe there is not enough evidence to suggest that [what is
called global climate change] is a long-term change due to human behavior and
activities," 58 percent of those surveyed said they were more likely to oppose the
Kyoto treaty. Moreover, half the respondents harbored doubts about climate science.
GCSCT members who contributed to the development of the
plan are A. John Adams, John Adams Associates; Candace Crandall, Science and Environmental
Policy Project; David Rothbard, Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow; Jeffrey Salmon, The
Marshall Institute; Lee Garrigan, environmental issues Council; Lynn Bouchey and Myron
Ebell, Frontiers of Freedom; Peter Cleary, Americans for Tax Reform; Randy Randol, Exxon
Corp.; Robert Gehri, The Southern Company; Sharon Kneiss, Chevron Corp; Steve Milloy, The
Advancement of Sound Science Coalition; and Joseph Walker, American Petroleum Institute.
The action plan is detailed on the following pages.
Global Climate Science Communications
- A majority of the American public, including industry
leadership, recognizes that significant uncertainties exist in climate science, and
therefore raises questions among those (e.g. Congress) who chart the future U.S. course on
global climate change.
Progress will be measured toward the goal. A measurement
of the public's perspective on climate science will be taken before the plan is launched,
and the same measurement will be taken at one or more as-yet-to-be-determined intervals as
the plan is implemented,
Victory Will Be Achieved When
- Average citizens "understand" (recognize)
uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the
- Media "understands" (recognizes) uncertainties
in climate science
- Media coverage reflects balance on climate science and
recognition of the validity of viewpoints that challenge the current "conventional
- Industry senior leadership understands uncertainties in
climate science, making them stronger ambassadors to those who shape climate policy
- Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extent
science appears to be out of touch with reality.
Unless "climate change" becomes a non-issue,
meaning that the Kyoto proposal is defeated and there are no further initiatives to thwart
the threat of climate change, there may be no moment when we can declare victory for our
efforts. It will be necessary to establish measurements for the science effort to track
progress toward achieving the goal and strategic success.
Strategies and Tactics
I. National Media Relations Program: Develop
and implement a national media relations program to inform the media about uncertainties
in climate science; to generate national, regional and local media coverage on the
scientific uncertainties, and thereby educate and inform the public, stimulating them to
raise questions with policy makers.
Tactics: These tactics will be undertaken
between now and the next climate meeting in Buenos Aires/Argentina, in November 1998, and
will be continued thereafter, as appropriate. Activities will be launched as soon as the
plan is approved, funding obtained, and the necessary resources (e.g., public relations
counsel) arranged and deployed. In all cases, tactical implementation will be fully
integrated with other elements of this action plan, most especially Strategy II (National
Climate Science Data Center).
Identify, recruit and train a team of five independent
scientists to participate in media outreach. These will be individuals who do not have a
long history of visibility and/or participation in the climate change debate. Rather, this
team will consist of new faces who will add their voices to those recognized scientists
who already are vocal.
- Develop a global climate science information kit for
media including peer-reviewed papers that undercut the "conventional wisdom"on
climate science. This kit also will include understandable communications, including
simple fact sheets that present scientific uncertainties in language that the media and
public can understand.
- Conduct briefings by media-trained scientists for science
writers in the top 20 media markets, using the information kits. Distribute the
information kits to daily newspapers nationwide with offer of scientists to brief
reporters at each paper. Develop, disseminate radio news releases featuring scientists
nationwide, and offer scientists to appear on radio talk shows across the country.
- Produce, distribute a steady stream of climate science
information via facsimile and e-mail to science writers around the country.
- Produce, distribute via syndicate and directly to
newspapers nationwide a steady stream of op-ed columns and letters to the editor authored
- Convince one of the major news national TV journalists
(e.g., John Stossel ) to produce a report examining the scientific underpinnings of the
- Organize, promote and conduct through grassroots
organizations a series of campus/community workshops/debates on climate science in 10 most
important states during the period mid-August through October, 1998.
- Consider advertising the scientific uncertainties in
select markets to support national, regional and local (e.g., workshops / debates), as
National Media Program Budget -- $600,000 plus
II. Global Climate Science Information Source: Develop and implement a program to inject credible science and scientific
accountability into the global climate debate, thereby raising questions about and
undercutting the "prevailing scientific wisdom." The strategy will have the
added benefit of providing a platform for credible, constructive criticism of the
opposition's position on the science.
Tactics: As with the National Media
Relations Program, these activities will be undertaken between now and the next climate
meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in November 1998, and will continue thereafter.
Initiatives will be launched as soon as the plan is approved, funding obtained, and the
necessary resources arranged and deployed.
- Establish a Global Climate Science Data Center. The GCSDC
will be established in Washington as a non-profit educational foundation with an advisory
board of respected climate scientists. It will be staffed initially with professionals on
loan from various companies and associations with a major interest in the climate issue.
These executives will bring with them knowledge and experience in the following areas.
- Overall history of climate research and the IPCC process;
- Congressional relations and knowledge of where individual
Senators stand on the climate issue;
- Knowledge of key climate scientists and where they stand;
- Ability to identify and recruit as many as 20 respected
climate scientists to serve on the science advisory board;
- Knowledge and expertise in media relations and with
established relationships with science and energy writers, columnists and editorial
- Expertise in grassroots organization; and
- Campaign organization and administration.
The GCSDC will be led by dynamic senior executive
with a major personal commitment to the goals of the campaign and easy access to business
leaders at the CEO level. The Center will be run on a day-to-day basis by an executive
director with responsibility for ensuring targets are met. The Center will be funded at a
level that will permit it to succeed, including funding for research contracts that may be
deemed appropriate to fill gaps in climate science (e.g., a complete scientific critique
of the IPCC research and its conclusions).
- The GCSDC will become a one-stop resource on climate
science for members of Congress, the media, industry and all others concerned. It will be
in constant contact with the best climate scientists and ensure that their findings and
views receive appropriate attention. It will provide them with the logistical and moral
support they have been lacking. In short, it will be a sound scientific alternative to the
IPCC. Its functions will include:
- Providing as an easily accessible database (including a
website) of all mainstream climate science information.
- Identifying and establishing cooperative relationships
with all major scientists whose research in this field supports our position.
- Establishing cooperative relationships with other
mainstream scientific organizations (e.g., meteorologists, geophysicists) to bring their
perspectives to bear on the debate, as appropriate.
- Developing opportunities to maximize the impact of
scientific views consistent with ours with Congress, the media and other key audiences.
- Monitoring and serving as and early warning system for
scientific developments with the potential to impact on the climate science debate, pro
- Responding to claims from the scientific alarmists and
- Providing grants for advocacy on climate science, as
Global Climate Science Data Center
Budget --- $5,000,000 (Spread over two years minimum)
III. National Direct Outreach and Education: Develop and implement a direct outreach program to inform and educate members of
Congress, state officials, industry leadership, and school teachers/students about
uncertainties in climate science. This strategy will enable Congress, state officials and
industry leaders will be able to raise such serious questions about the Kyoto treaty's
scientific underpinnings that American policy-makers not only will refuse to endorse it,
they will seek to prevent progress toward implementation at the Buenos Aires meeting in
November or through other ways. Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate
science will begin to erect a barrier against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like
measures in the future.
Tactics: Informing and educating members of
Congress, state officials and industry leaders will be undertaken as soon as the plan is
approved, funding is obtained, and the necessary resources are arrayed and will continue
through Buenos Aires and for the foreseeable future. The teachers/students outreach
program will be developed and launched in early 1999. In all cases, tactical
implementation will be fully integrated with other elements of this action plan.
- Develop and conduct through the Global Climate Science
Data Center science briefings for Congress, governors, state legislators, and industry
leaders by August 1998.
- Develop information kits on climate science targeted
specifically at the needs of government officials and industry leaders, to be used in
conjunction with and separately from the in-person briefings to further disseminate
information on climate science uncertainties and thereby arm these influentials to raise
serious questions on the science issue.
- Organize under the GCSDC a "Science Education Task
Group" that will serve as the point of outreach to the National Science Teachers
Association (NSTA) and other influential science education organizations. Work with NSTA
to develop school materials that present a credible, balanced picture of climate science
for use in classrooms nationwide.
- Distribute educational materials directly to schools and
through grassroots organizations of climate science partners (companies, organizations
that participate in this effort).
National Direct Outreach Program Budget ----
IV. Funding/Fund Allocation: Develop and
implement program to obtain funding, and to allocate funds to ensure that the program is
carried out effectively.
Tactics: This strategy will be implemented
as soon as we have the go-ahead to proceed.
- Potential funding sources were identified as American
Petroleum Institute (API) and its members; Business Round Table (BRT) and its members,
Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and its members; Independent Petroleum Association of
America (IPAA) and its members; and the National Mining Association (NMA) and its members.
- Potential fund allocators were identified as the American
Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT),
Competitive Enterprise Institute , Frontiers of Freedom and The Marshall Institute.
Total Funds Required to Implement Program
through November 1998 ---- $2,000,000 ( A significant portion of funding for the GCSDC
will be deferred until 1999 and beyond)
- Various metrics will be used to track progress. These
measurements will have to be determined in fleshing out the action plan and may include:
- Baseline public / government official opinion surveys and
periodic follow-up surveys on the percentage of Americans and government officials who
recognize significant uncertainties in climate science.
- Tracking the percent of media articles that raise
questions about climate science.
- Number of Members of Congress exposed to our materials on
- Number of communications on climate science received by
Members of Congress from their constituents.
- Number of radio talk show appearances by scientists
questioning the "prevailing wisdom" on climate science.
- Number of school teachers / students reached with our
information on climate science.
- Number of science writers briefed and who report upon
climate science uncertainties.
- Total audience exposed to newspaper, radio, television
coverage of science uncertainties.