Climate Wars: Propaganda, Debate, and the Propaganda of Debate

With Stuart Ewen, scientist Michael Mann, and James Hoggan. Moderated by Jodi Dean.

Shifting strategies–from denialism to obfuscation, advertising, and public relations–mislead the public. People become cynical and uncertain, mistrusting of any and all efforts to confront the changing climate. With science under attack, what is to be done? How might we break through the propaganda fog and into collective action?

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Stuart Ewen is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Film & Media Studies at Hunter College, and in the Ph.D. Programs in History, Sociology and American Studies at The CUNY Graduate Center. He is generally considered one of the originators of the field of Media Studies, and his writings have continued to shape debates in the field. He is the author of a number of influential books, including PR! A Social History of Spin (1996) and All Consuming images: The Politics of Style in Contemporary Culture (1987; 1999). The latter provided the foundation for Bill Moyers’ 4-part, Peabody, Emmy, and National Education Association Awards winning PBS series, “The Public Mind.” PR! provided the basis for a 4-part BBC Television Series, “The Century of the Self.” Ewen’s other books include Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture (1976) and Channels of Desire: Mass /images and the Shaping of American Consciousness (also with Elizabeth Ewen. 1982; 1992).

Michael Mann is Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC). Dr. Mann received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University. Dr. Mann was a Lead Author on the Observed Climate Variability and Change chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001 and was organizing committee chair for the National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Science in 2003. He has received a number of honors and awards including NOAA’s outstanding publication award in 2002 and selection by Scientific American as one of the fifty leading visionaries in science and technology in 2002. He contributed, with other IPCC authors, to the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He made Bloomberg News’ list of fifty most influential people in 2013. In 2014, he was named Highly Cited Researcher by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) and received the Friend of the Planet Award from the National Center for Science Education. He is a Fellow of both the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Mann is author of more than 170 peer-reviewed and edited publications, and has published two books including Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming in 2008 and The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines in 2012. He is also a co-founder and avid contributor to the award-winning science website

Jim Hoggan is the co-founder of Stonehouse Standing Circle, an innovative public-engagement and communications think-tank and the influential website DeSmogBlog, chosen as one of Time Magazine’s Best Blogs for 2011 for its work exposing corporate misinformation campaigns. He also serves as a trustee of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education and is the former chair of Climate Project Canada – the Canadian chapter of Al Gore’s global education and advocacy organization. Jim is the author of three books, Do the Right Thing: PR Tips for Skeptical Public (2009), Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming (2009) and Polluted Public Square (Fall 2013). Jim speaks, writes, and presents widely on public attitudes towards sustainability, climate change, and the environment.