Science is done by scientists, and policy is done by politicians. This is something that those who stand to lose money if we get serious about global warming understand very well. Rather than fight the science directly and argue against a mountain of evidence, they mostly have been fighting a PR campaign to try to convince the general public – and thus the voters who elect politicians – that there’s a great deal of doubt and uncertainty regarding our climate problems.
The forces of obscurantism have won many battles over the years, turning what should be a scientific question into one more divisive issue of identity politics, but the facts can be suppressed forever, and now even the usually unscrupulous PR industry is having moral qualms. Working for tobacco companies and arm merchants might not be below many of those firms, but climate deniers seem to be too much…
Now a number of the top 25 global PR firms have told the Guardian they will not represent clients who deny man-made climate change, or take campaigns seeking to block regulations limiting carbon pollution. Companies include WPP, Waggener Edstrom (WE) Worldwide, Weber Shandwick, Text100, and Finn Partners.
“We would not support a campaign that denies the existence and the threat posed by climate change, or efforts to obstruct regulations cutting greenhouse gas emissions and/or renewable energy standards,” said a spokeswoman for Weber Shandwick, a PR firm with over 70 offices worldwide and over half a billion dollars in revenue.
The world’s largest PR firm, WPP, which is the parent company of Burson Marsteller and Oglivy Public Relations, considers that “advertising that is intended to mislead and the denial of climate change” would be against its code of business conduct.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the whole PR industry is now taking this moral stance. Many PR firms are still making a lot of money by working for climate deniers. But it’s still nice to see progress in that area.