Commonwealth National Podcast

Merchants of Doubt


Merchants of Doubt


Erik Conway, Historian, California Institute of Technology


What do tobacco and fossil fuels have in common? A handful of scientists were able to obscure the truth about both threats to public well-being, according to author Conway. “Doubt is our product,” one tobacco executive reportedly said. Oil and coal companies borrowed a page from that playbook and have used it effectively to cast a cloud over climate science. The result? Opinion polls show that a falling percentage of Americans think climate change is urgent and, as the economy faltered, it has plunged as a national priority. Conway, an expert on the history of carbon dioxide measurement and climate science, offers a peek into the campaign against the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the global scientific consensus that human activity is adversely impacting the Earth.


This program was recorded in front of a live audience in San Francisco at The Commonwealth Club on June 11, 2010

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