The “reposition global warming as theory” Memos: When It’s All You Got, You. Have. NOTHING.

From the

Russell Cook

How’s it going to work out when you have to defend your accusation that this ‘leaked memo’ directive is smoking gun proof that the fossil fuel industry ran disinformation campaigns to deceive the public about what the industry knew about the certainty of man-caused global warming? Just askin’ … for potentially 218+ friends ….

No exaggeration there about that worthless-as-evidence memo directive phrase (it was never implemented anywhere) being the only thing enviro-activists have in their arsenal to support their accusation about the fossil fuel industry bankrolling disinformation campaigns, and I’m not kidding about the sheer repetition of it recently which proves just how devoid that mob is of anything else to support their accusation, and how desperate they’re becoming in using it to keep the accusation alive.

While the New Jersey Attorney General did not bring up that phrase in his video or written announcement about filing his 10/18/22 Matthew Platkin v Exxon Mobil lawsuit, the lawsuit itself most certainly did, as I showed in my Oct 30th dissection of it. And so did the left-leaning Triple Pundit website on October 25, where they felt compelled to mention the “reposition global warming” memos — not in conjunction with AG Platkin’s filing, but instead with regard to the other New Jersey “Exxon Knew”-style lawsuit, Hoboken v Exxon — like so:

The city also pointed to the industry’s orchestrated campaign to deceive the public on what it already knew to be true about climate change from its own scientific studies: “Defendants spent millions of dollars on advertisements that cast doubt on climate science; funded scientifically unsound research to do the same; and created expansive networks of front groups to ‘reposition global warming as theory, not fact’.

While these tactics no doubt got us where we are today, industry representatives naturally argue that holding the oil companies to task in a court of law is frivolous and a waste of time and money.

Funny thing about that bit out of the Hoboken filing: The Defendants all had literally nothing to do with that, not even tangentially. Since nobody of major industry administrative influence ever saw the directive strategy to “reposition global warming,” and considering how the unsolicited proposal with its unwanted “Informed Citizens” and other alternate PR campaign name suggestions ended up in the trash, there is no possible way that ‘those tactics no doubt got us where we are today,’ and thus the whole idea that the industry set out to deceive anybody collapses. Worse, the public relations that the strategy memo is falsely attributed to was not actually “the industry,” the PR campaign was no more than the brainchild of a non-profit co-op that simply wanted the public to know there was a side of the issue that the mainstream media did not report about at any depth. Seems Triple Pundit wants to “report on the business of doing better” but has no investigative journalism curiosity to see whether the accusation they report about actually has any merit, or curiosity of what happens if not one, but two, New Jersey lawsuits are exposed as relying on worthless ‘leaked memos’ evidence.

Then there was the September 1 paper that regurgitated ye olde “reposition global warming” memos, which I dissected in my 9/26 blog post. I didn’t catch it until just in the recent couple of weeks, the author saw fit to publicize her paper on Twitter with a direct quote of that memo phrase …..

 … complete with the – again – unsolicited name for the PR campaign name that she never mentioned one single time within her paper. Obvious question there is how could such an alleged ‘careful’ researcher make that big of a blunder which undermines a core accusation within her supposedly “peer reviewed” science journal paper?

These instances never bolster the credibility of the main accusation that there’s been a never-ending conspiracy by the fossil fuel industry to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact;” each new clumsy regurgitation only draws more attention to how inconsistent each tale is about the never-used memos. Witness Vice article contributor Geoff Dembicki, in his October 14 effort to claim the “Koch Industries, Fake Scientists, and Rush Limbaugh Invented Climate Denial” through a regurgitation of a passage out of his Sept 20th-published “The Petroleum Papers” book:

The goal of the utility-led campaign, which was given the name “Informed Citizens for the Environment,” was to shift what people thought and believed about climate change. “Reposition global warming as theory (not fact),” read a strategy document. “Target print and radio media for maximum effectiveness.” The optics of coal interests leading an advertising effort to confuse the public weren’t great, so they decided to “use a spokesman from the scientific community” to deliver their message.

Throughout the spring of 1991, Michaels was their man … [meeting] with editors and writers at media outlets …

In just that one passage alone, I count seven fatal errors. Acutely ironic, since book author Dembicki labels himself an “investigative climate reporter.” For example, the actual “Information Council FOR the Environment” PR campaign that a very limited portion of the public saw – three small cities – lasted for just 18 days, 2½ weeks, May 12th through May 29th, thus Dr Patrick Michaels could not have been the public face of the campaign from March through May. And the ICE campaign administrators were not the least bit shy about the optics of who was leading the campaign.

What’s another problem plaguing “investigative climate reporter” Dembicki? It appears he did no investigation of any kind on the above claims, he sources it all to a Climate Files page – or as I’ve further detailed it many times here at GelbspanFiles, that page at Climate Files, operated by that Kert Davies, who’s a former top worker of the old forgotten Ozone Action group, the place that magically ‘obtained’ ye olde “reposition global warming” leaked memos without ever saying who they got them from.

Rather than clearcut another forest for all the paper going into his books, Dembicki could have printed 1-page pamphlets on used paper saying, “for descriptions and evidence of industry-orchestrated disinformation campaigns repositioning global warming as theory, see Kert Davies and his former boss, and their stuff circa 1996-2000 at Ozone Action.”

Same thing applies to the hapless “peer reviewed” paper researcher Emily Williams concerning her source for that memo set.

Meanwhile, an example of how one instance of disinformation can be blown up into a larger bit of disinformation is this Tweet from a person who might fall under the category of ‘useful idiot’:

See how that works? Like I showed in my blog post over nine years ago, it doesn’t matter if you get basic details wrong, so long as you just get the “reposition global warming” memos phrase out there.

Think I’ve got nothing more recent than mid October on regurgitations of ye really olde “reposition global warming” strategy memo phrase? Think again.

From November 8th, 8 days ago as of this day of my blog post publication, we have the following from Al Jazeera English “investigative reporter” Hilary Beaumont’s “How US climate lawsuits could hold Big Oil accountable” article:

In 1991, the Information Council for the Environment, whose members included oil companies, launched a national climate denial campaign attempting to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact)“.

“Disinformation works best when we anchor it in just a teeny sliver of truth, and then you just warp it, and that’s what they did – raise uncertainty, raise doubt where there was none,” Richard Wiles, president of the Center for Climate Integrity, told Al Jazeera.

To her credit, Ms Beaumont actually got the official spelled-out ICE acronym correct, but I still count 4 errors in her sentence – the ICE campaign members – meaning associates in the Western Fuels Association’s co-op of coal mines / transporters / power plants – included no oil companies, the ICE campaign was only in three small cities, nobody in the campaign was directed to reposition anything …. and her clickable link for the “national climate denial campaign” words ineptly goes to another Al Jazeera containing not a solitary word remotely mentioning national climate denial campaigns. Maybe she meant to link straight to Kert Davies’ Climate Files page.

Interesting to see how there’s a sudden influx of inept ‘investigative reporting / researching’ (*ahemreally inept researching – no joke!) going on in the last three months.

An educated guess about what compelled Ms Beaumont to mention the memo set is her quote from the Center for Climate Integrity’s Richard Wiles. He’s that Richard Wiles, who’s also a board member of the Climate Communications & Law (CCL) organization, where guess who gets top billing as a board member? Kert Davies. Notice the “Environmental Working Group” name in that screencapture — Wiles & Davies go way back at that place. Who is the Center for Climate Integrity associated with? They direct the Pay Up Climate Polluters group. What does Pay Up Climate Polluters say is one of the smoking guns evidence of industry-led disinformation campaigns? Ye olde “reposition” global warming set … “originally uncovered” by Kert Davies’ Climate Investigations Center, no less, complete with the never-used name for the ICE campaign, and a mention of oil companies.

Funny thing about Wiles / Davies and the Climate Communications & Law, they are not exactly open and transparent on what they do. Davies and his former boss aren’t either when it comes to how their efforts are funded. Ironic how they and the people they possibly enable demand transparency and all kinds of hidden documents from the fossil fuel industry ‘relating to payments to shadow groups to spread disinformation.’

Two points to wrap this up: First, when the very best thing you have to prove an entire industry ran outright disinformation campaigns is a literally unused, tossed-in-the-trash memo set sole-sourced from a tiny group of people whose sole goal in life is to kill that industry, then you have a problem if ever you have to actually defend this accusation under oath. Second, elections matter …. especially when the side who has the power to investigate where disinformation exists and who promulgates the disinformation changes.

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Bryan A
November 18, 2022 6:15 am

Since those tweets “Hang Around” and are often retweeted, perhaps it’s time for a fresh round of Fact Checking on prior tweets.

Last edited 6 months ago by Bryan A
Henry Pool
November 18, 2022 6:21 am

Ja. Ja. The heat is coming from earth itself…..

Reply to  Henry Pool
November 18, 2022 8:18 am

The heat coming from the earth is less than the rounding error on the level of solar energy.

Reply to  MarkW
November 18, 2022 10:04 am

Mark, don’t you know the interior of the earth is millions of degrees? 🙂

David Dibbell
November 18, 2022 6:23 am

The history of these accusations of what the fossil fuel industry “knew” is certainly a tangled web.

But what NASA, NOAA, and other science-based agencies knew is not so difficult to figure out. They knew that the atmosphere and ocean circulations are best understood as heat engine responses to absorbed solar energy. Grasp the implications, and lose the fear of non-condensing GHGs entirely.


Joseph Zorzin
November 18, 2022 6:35 am

“The city also pointed to the industry’s orchestrated campaign to deceive the public on what it already knew to be true about climate change from its own scientific studies…”

Rather absurd to presume that the industry’s “own scientific studies” could actually know the truth about climate when nobody else does.

November 18, 2022 6:41 am

Is it beyond the wit of modern science to debunk the climate catastrophe narrative? No, but…

That’s where the money, tenure and accolades come in.

November 18, 2022 7:28 am

Each and every one of the climate cultists seem to be paid to be who they are. Similar to Hollyweird actors. Their livelihoods depend upon them following a script and convincing the masses that they really care about the planet. They don’t. Its all about money and power over the citizens. Know a climate cultist? Shun them, they are insane. Guaranteed.
If anything, we should be honoring the fossil fuel industry for allowing us the lifestyles we have enjoyed for decades.
Just sayin’.

November 18, 2022 7:32 am

Clearly, these marketers of manmade global warming have a lapse in their understanding that the bases for scientific method are hypothesis and theory and the evidence thereof.

November 18, 2022 7:49 am

One of many underhanded tactics of Climate Howlers is to hear Climate Realists refute CAGW, and then claim they are trying to refute AGW, or global warming in general. Misinterpret the opposition’s beliefs and then attack. Typical of smarmy leftists.

Reply to  Richard Greene
November 18, 2022 8:44 am

The straw man argument.

Put words in your opponents mouth, something they have never said, then ridicule those “statements”.

Classic Obama, and Alinsky Rules for Radicles methodology. It is only effective when the MSM and all their “fact checkers” don’t bother to fact check the left.

Rick C
November 18, 2022 8:14 am

BUT Global Warming caused exclusively by CO2 emissions from fossil fuels IS a theory or hypothesis. It is most certainly not a proven fact. The ICE memo is therefore not evidence of any disinformation even though it was never persued by any industry.

The fact that this so-called smoking-gun (empty pea shooter?) memo has no connection to ExxonMobile should be sufficient to get these suits summarily dismissed and perhaps be grounds for SLAPP counter suits. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure ExxonMobile has some.

Russell Cook (@QuestionAGW)
Reply to  Rick C
November 18, 2022 11:45 am

… memo has no connection to ExxonMobile …

Not for a lack of trying on Al Gore’s part to try to link it to Exxon anyway, though. Listen here to his attempt, starting at the 29:08 point, heard off-camera during the Q&A session at the 2008 Davos conference:

Reply to  Rick C
November 18, 2022 11:53 am

“Global Warming caused exclusively by CO2 emissions from fossil fuels IS a theory or hypothesis.”

A FAILED one, in terms of any real science.

It exists now as nothing more than a zombie conjecture/suppository !

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rick C
November 18, 2022 12:35 pm

“BUT Global Warming caused exclusively by CO2 emissions from fossil fuels IS a theory or hypothesis.

At best. It looks more and more like a failed hypothesis.

” It is most certainly not a proven fact.”

That’s correct.

“The ICE memo is therefore not evidence of any disinformation”

Yes, you are not guilty of hiding something if there is nothing to hide.

The Fossil Fuels Industry didn’t know any more about CO2 and the Earth’s atmosphere than did anyone else, then or now. And there is no evidence, to this day, that CO2 causes the Earth’s weather to change and become more extreme, or that it will do so in the future.

November 18, 2022 8:17 am

The same guys pushing this disproven meme, also want the government to set up a new department to “help” the news media weed out disinformation.

November 18, 2022 8:53 am

Good work Russell Cook!

Will report your latest investigative work at my climate forum area.

November 18, 2022 9:01 am


That’s more than I’ve got…

Jason S.
November 18, 2022 3:10 pm

I’m not a lawyer…but shouldn’t the fact that CAGW never needed to be “repositioned” as at theory in the first place be the defense? Because that’s what it actually is (albeit a bad one). So you can now sue someone for stating a fact that you don’t like…yeah, sounds about right for our progressive lawyers and politicians.

It doesnot add up
November 18, 2022 5:36 pm

No-one has done more to reposition global warming as a theory (and a failed theory at that) than the climate industry. Its repeated outlandish claims that do not match reality show that the key to science still works. It opens the door to understanding that it’s wrong.

November 18, 2022 5:54 pm

Scientific fact is a curious thing. Every time someone maintains they know it, it changes again.

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