Matt Ridley takes a look at a common warmist smear.
What Al Gore says about tobacco deniers on the skeptical side:
He accusesindustry of “sowing doubt [about global warming] even more effectively than the tobacco companies before them.”
The tobacco companies, said Mr Gore last year, “succeeded in delaying the implementation of the surgeon general’s report for 40 years -40 years! In every one of those 40 years the average number of Americans killed by cigarettes each year exceeded the total number of Americans killed in all of World War II: 450,000 per year. My sister was one of them. … It was evil, evil, evil.”
In any case, the charge that climate scepticism goes with tobacco denial is false. The best example that Oreskes has produced is a 1994 paper written by the climate sceptic Fred Singer challenging some statistics about passive smoking. Yet Singer does not deny that smoking causes cancer, has served on the advisory board of an anti-smoking organization and dislikes passive smoking.
Tobacco deniers in the environmentalist camp:
Mr Gore may not be aware of a startling irony here. Carson’s mentor and the source for much of her case that synthetic pesticides, and DDT in particular, were devastating bird life and causing widespread cancer in people, was himself a fervent denier of the link between tobacco smoking and lung cancer.
His name was Wilhelm Hueper. An immigrant to the United States from Germany (who shook off an embarrassing but brief enthusiasm for Nazism that led him to seek a job back in Hitler’s Germany) he became the first director of the environmental cancer section of the US National Cancer Institute. There he single-mindedly pursued the idea that cancer was on the increase and that the cause was largely synthetic chemicals in the environment.
He encountered resistance, however, and not just from the chemical industry. Medical scientists were growing convinced that the rise of lung cancer was being caused by a rise in smoking. Hueper would have none of it. Here he is writing a paper called “Lung Cancers and their Causes” in 1955 in CA, a cancer journal for clinicians: “Industrial or industry-related atmospheric pollutants are to a great part responsible for the causation of lung cancer…cigarette smoking is not a major factor in the causation of lung cancer.”