Kevin Grandia: The Muckraker
When "climategate" first surfaced, blogger Kevin Grandia knew journalists were missing the real story. The trumped-up controversy was based on over 1,000 stolen emails between the world's leading climate scientists that seemed to suggest global warming was a hoax, or lacked evidence. But Grandia had spent three days reading all of the emails, which totaled 20,000 pages, and he knew that the supposed scandal was nothing more than a few quotes taken out of context. Eventually the story would be debunked by six separate investigations, but its immediate results were disastrous: The release of the emails came weeks before the 2009 global climate summit at Copenhagen, where world leaders were poised to agree to binding emissions reductions. "Unfortunately, most journalists didn't have time to read the emails, and they just ran with the story," Grandia says. "To this day, climate-gate lingers in people's minds, and continues to sow doubt that global warming is real."
Grandia hopes something like that never happens again – which is why he now helps run DeSmogBlog, a Canadian website that does daily battle with climate change skeptics, aggregating the best research on global warming and dissecting misinformation campaigns backed by right-wing think tanks. He's traced much of the money that funds anti-global-warming research back to the fossil fuel industry and found that some of the most outspoken skeptics once worked for Big Tobacco. "They're using the exact same tactics they used to convince people smoking doesn't cause cancer," Grandia says. "It's a tactic that's been around forever. You can muddle up a debate for a long time just by creating doubt."
When DeSmogBlog started seven years ago, Grandia says he had to call reporters to get them to pay attention to his research, and many hung up. "Now we've got staffers in D.C. calling us, politicians in Canada, the UK, looking for information. We have producers at ABC News and the BBC asking for help on research," he says. "There's still a lot of work to do, but we think the tide is turning."