The authors noted that there had been an “explosion” of books since 2007, following a string of high-profile events, including: Al Gore’s 2006 film Inconvenient Truth and its 2007 Academy Award; the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which found “unequivocal” evidence of global warming attributable to human activities); the 2009 United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen; and the push for climate legislation in the US Congress, which was defeated in 2010.

Overall, 72 percent of the 108 books had “a verifiable link” to a conservative think tank, and virtually all of them espoused conservative ideology, Dunlap and Jacques found. Thirty-three books were self-published (mostly between 2007 and 2009). About 40 percent of these books, often by authors with no scientific training, had links to think tanks, but they often relied heavily on other think-tank-affiliated books, according to Dunlap and Jacques.

While 66 of the 108 climate denial books came from American authors (61 percent), another 19 books (18 percent) came from the UK, followed by seven from Canada, and six from Australia. The rest came from nations such as Denmark, France, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Germany, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. Since 2000, four of every 10 denial books have come from authors outside the US—evidence, say Dunlap and Jacques, of “the success of the US conservative movement in helping diffuse denial internationally.”

They also credit a coterie of primarily American contrarian scientists (usually PhDs in natural science or physics with links to think tanks who have authored climate-denial books) with “planting and legitimizing climate-change denial within conservative circles.” These include Singer and Michaels, as well Frederick Seitz, Robert Jastrow, and Robert Nierenberg (the last three co-founded the conservative George C. Marshall Institute, and are now deceased).

Lawyer Christopher Horner, affiliated with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, wrote Red Hot Lies in 2008 and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming (and Environmentalism) in 2007, both published by the conservative Regnery Publishing.

Dunlap and Jacques’s study will appear in the June issue of American Behavioral Scientist as part of a seven-part special package, edited by Dunlap, focused on “climate change skepticism and denial.” Although their analysis didn’t examine works published after 2010, Dunlap said that climate-denial books continue to be published and may become even more popular if the Obama administration follows up its climate-change rhetoric with new initiatives to control heat-trapping greenhouse-gas emissions.

Indeed, a list of books found on Amazon on Tuesday by searching for “climate change” or “global warming” included two 2012 climate-denial books near the top: Global Warming False Alarm, 2nd edition: The Bad Science Behind the United Nations’ Assertion that Man-made CO2 Causes Global Warming, by Ralph Alexander, an Australian with a PhD in physics who works as a “market analyst in environmentally friendly materials at a small Midwest consulting firm in the USA,” and The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, by James Inhofe, the Republican senator from Oklahoma—where Dunlap teaches.

 

Cristine Russell is a CJR contributing editor and the president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and a senior fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She is a former Shorenstein Center fellow and Washington Post reporter.