The Voice of Industry: GCC Doesn’t Concede Full Truth on Science

The Voice of Industry: GCC Doesn’t Concede Full Truth on Science

Early Climate Denial

global climate coalition denial

In one 1994 volume of its Climate Watch Bulletin, the Coalition highlighted “new scientific evidence,” which suggested that fossil fuels may help maintain “an essential atmospheric balance” and “that cutbacks in fossil fuel use may actually enhance the greenhouse effect.” (emphasis added).

In two other publications that same year, the GCC stated that, “[t]here is no evidence of a warming trend that can be traced to man-made emissions” and claimed that while the “popular press” seemed concerned about “the consequences of a potential man-made warming of the Earth’s atmosphere during the next 100 years, there remains no scientific evidence that such a dangerous warming will actually occur.” (emphasis added).

The GCC highlighted work by a relatively small group of climate denier scientists and claimed that their “arguments have received far less attention than they deserve.” These spokespeople, often with academic credentials, put forward alternative explanations for the warming trend such as changes in the Sun’s intensity, they questioned computer modeling, and attacked the temperature data record from surface stations and satellites. These specific arguments and individuals would be continually cited in GCC-commissioned reports and other publications by the organization.

Throughout our collection, the GCC consistently relied on the same, small group of climate change deniers.

Throughout our collection, the GCC consistently relied on the same, small group of climate change deniers including Richard Lindzen, Robert Balling, Willie Soon’s mentor Sallie Baliunas, Patrick Michaels, John Christy, Robert Jastrow, Frederick Seitz, and Roy Spencer.  This reliance continued into the late 1990s and early 2000s, even as the GCC’s defiance of the scientific consensus became more subtle.

Some of the GCC’s founding members and board of directors internally acknowledged anthropogenic climate change caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels years before the GCC’s formation. Playing key roles in the formation and dissemination of the organization’s denial rhetoric, reports and remarks from GCC members Exxon, Shell, Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Ford, Mobil, and American Petroleum Institute (API), were at odds with the GCC’s materials.

Science and Technology Assessment Committee

Released in full for the first time, a series of documents produced during litigation show the GCC’s Science and Technology Assessment Committee (STAC) as the origin point of the organization’s carefully worded, strategic denial.

STAC was at the center of shaping the GCC’s climate positions, emphasizing natural climate variabilities, questioning the reliability of climate modeling, and diminishing the importance of humanity’s role in greenhouse gas emissions.

STAC was at the center of shaping the GCC’s climate positions, emphasizing natural climate variabilities, questioning the reliability of climate modeling, and diminishing the importance of humanity’s role in greenhouse gas emissions. However, in a 1995 internal draft version of a GCC “primer on climate change”, written in response to the IPCC 2nd Assessment, Mobil Corporation’s staff scientist Lenny Bernstein (a STAC Co-Chair) accepted anthropogenic climate change and debunked each of the prevailing “contrarian theories.” The “contrarian theories” section of the draft primer was subsequently removed by the Committee before publication. The draft memo that was approved by STAC, in contrast to Bernstein’s draft, concluded, “claims that human activities have already created a significant impact on climate, seem unsubstantiated given the many limitations and uncertainties in the studies used to support those claims.”

The GCC would continue to publicly emphasize natural climate variability over anthropogenic climate change from the time the draft primer was circulated to STAC until at least 1999. The same month that Bernstein deemed the scientists rebutting the prevailing scientific consensus research as “not convincing,” the GCC’s Climate Watch Bulletin cited some of those same scientists and stated that “no credible scientific evidence exists,” which proved climatic changes “have been caused by human activity.” Several months later, the GCC released an overview of its work, which argued that climate change was “part of a natural warming trend.” A separate, public-facing “Climate Change Primer” was published around 1998, emphasizing that greenhouse gases have both manmade and natural sources.


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