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Professional denialism

June 23, 2020

Frits Böttcher will be remembered for marketing global warming denialism to aid the fossil fuel industry, rather than for his scientific work. That is not how anyone should want to be remembered. His journals tell the story:

While Böttcher’s simplistic but clear and crisp narrative about ‘the CO2 myth’ played well in the media, the majority of his work took place behind closed doors. On February 2 1994, he wrote DSM board member Ruud Selman that his objective was to provide ‘ammunition’ to opponents of climate policy and to ‘help them prevent all kinds of harping being pushed through’. The archived materials reveal that Böttcher’s strategy was very similar to that of his American colleagues. He would write a climate sceptic book or article, and his contacts and sponsors within the business community would then disseminate it amongst colleagues, politicians, journalists and, of course, the IPCC. And it worked. …

In September 1996, he told Clement Malin and Jaap Meinema of Texaco that, although ‘few reports and books are actually read,’ they do have an effect: ‘People realise that the opposition is growing.’

Note that Shell and Exxon’s own scientists were not fooled. But scientists never were the intended audience.

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