All posts by Erik Conway

Merchants of Doubt

After a too-early screening of Merchants of Doubt last Wednesday at the Toronto International Film Festival, Scott Feinberg at The Hollywood Reporter lauded director Robby Kenner as a potential Oscar nominee.

That’s a nice set of words to read.


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Merchants of Doubt a Must-See at TIFF!

I’m over the Moon about seeing Robby Kenner’s film translation of our Merchants of Doubt ranked a “must see” at the Toronto International Film Festival next week. I’m looking forward to finally seeing it on the big screen.

Meanwhile here’s a clip starring Naomi. (Apologizes for the random ad at the beginning.)

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Once revealed, never concealed.

That’s one of the best lines from the new documentary film by Robby Kenner, inspired by our previous book Merchants of Doubt. It just premiered at the Telluride Film festival.

There’s a nice review by Heather Sackett of the Telluride Daily Planet here.

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California’s Air Resources Board and the Carbon Combustion Complex

In our Collapse of Western Civilization, Oreskes and I defined the “Carbon Combustion Complex as “The interlinked fossil fuel extraction, refinement, and combustion industries, financiers, and government ‘regulatory’ agencies that enabled and defended destabilization of the world’s climate in the name of employment, growth, and prosperity.”

According to this article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, it appears that California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) has adopted an industry proposal that, in essence, allows our utilities to continue buying out-of-state coal power, and magically count it as “clean.” This renders the “cap” part of the state’s “cap and trade” system irrelevant, because it simply shifts emissions from California to the neighboring states it purchases power from.

This kind of “leakage” from the cap was anticipated in the original clean energy law, AB 32, and the law contains language designed to prevent it. CARB, as the article explains at length, has interpreted those restrictions out of existence.

The proper economist jargon for regulators doing the bidding of for-profit companies is “regulatory capture.” Capture is so common in the U.S. now that we felt the need to strengthen the concept as it applies to the fossil fuel industry. Thus the Carbon Combustion Complex was born.

I’m rather sad to see the California Air Resources Board joining the Complex. But I’m not at all surprised.

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Collapse is being re-printed!

We’ve been aware for a couple of weeks that our book (the paper edition, at any rate) has been sold out of Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, and at our press. We’re told that new copies will be shipping from the printer this week, so back orders should start being fulfilled around the end of August.

It’s been exciting to see so much interest in our work!

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Merchants of Doubt gets a movie!

Yesterday Sony Pictures Classics announced that they have picked up the documentary based on our 2010 book, Merchants of Doubt, for distribution. The film is a wonderful work by Robby Kenner, who also made Food, Inc. on industrial agriculture. We’re excited to finally see it hitting the big screen.

Here’s coverage of the announcement.

Coverage for Merchants of Doubt / Sony Pictures Classics Announcement 
Locker Dome 
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Physics Today calls out the New York Times

And it was fun!

Steven Cornelliussen of Physics Today noticed that the Times had published a round table interview that pursued the question “Will fiction influence how we react to climate change?” And in a very nice article, he pointed out that Oreskes and I had just written exactly what the panel was supposed to be talking about.

The Times’ writer had apparently never heard of us, so we weren’t invited to participate. Go read the Times’ piece here.

But there’s an obvious answer the entire panel missed. Fiction has already affected our response to climate change. Or, rather, it has prevented us from making any effective response. The adolescent fantasies of Ayn Rand have been powerful influences on climate change deniers. One need not look further than the biographies of Ron and Rand Paul to discover that fact. (Here’s a Washington Times article on them).

Anything that’s happened before can happen again, so since fiction has already influenced our (non) response to climate change, fiction can be influential in the future, too.



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