Heroes’ History: From Neoliberalism to Climate Denial

About the Heroes’ History: From Neoliberalism to Climate Denial Series

The climate denial movement is the anti-science wing of the neoliberal network, funded by oil and tobacco. Our DeSmog series shows that many working in this world genuinely believe they are fighting for freedom, and against tyranny.

Antony Fisher dedicated his life to fighting for prosperity—and he believed free markets would be our salvation. The war hero unleashed a powerful political movement that attacked state control and regulation—including measures to stop climate change.

This is the 60-year saga proving that the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. Heroes’ History is the HBO-style webdoc series exclusive to DeSmog that charts the origins of climate denial through to its earliest roots in the neoliberal movement.

To challenge climate denial we must understand the cause. We see how the works of Friedrich von Hayek, the father of modern free market ideas, were co-opted and corrupted. We witness how all-powerful oil monopolies have gained control of our democracies.

And we watch as the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis have been willfully ignored – and envision how the same mistakes will lead to the biggest environmental and social cataclysm of our time. Grab the popcorn.

SEASON ONE: September to November

Antony watches as his brother Basil tumbles out of his Battle of Britain fighter plane only to discover his parachute is alight. The grief and horror of war inspires Antony on a lifelong crusade to tear down the devastating power of the state. He establishes the neoliberal think tanks and allies with major corporations, including oil and tobacco.

Their powerful support elevates Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to the highest seats of power. They change the course of British and American history—and lay the foundations for climate denial.

In This Series

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“We know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime: two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century,” the newly elected president Barack Obama sa...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post explains how Lord Lawson’s climate denying Global Warming Policy Foundation was actually created. Lord Lawson in 2008 was congratulated in private for his pamphlet ...
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Environmentalists first promoted a climate change bill when Britain was enjoying an economic boom – albeit through an evidently unsustainable housing bubble and consumer credit. When the economic c...
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The global economy was in a death spiral and Britain was at the centre of the financial tornado. The legacy of Chancellor Nigel Lawson – reliance on the deregulated and seemingly craven denizens of...
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In this DeSmog UK epic history series we meet an American presidential hopeful apparently willing to take on Koch and Big Oil. Barack Obama’s decision to give Shell permission to drill for potentia...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post explains how neoliberalism almost broke capitalism (and what this might tell us about free markets and the environment). Matt Ridley, as chairman of Northern Rock...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post remembers how Northern Rock, the first bank run in the UK since Victorian times, crashed with Matt Ridley at the helm. Matt Ridley is an Eton- and Oxford-educated m...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post details how a Channel 4 programme on climate change was edited to promote climate denial. Lord Lawson began his public relations attack on climate science in earnes...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post reveals the identity of the man behind Lord Monckton’s eccentric climate denial. Lord Monckton hoisted himself into centre stage of the denier circus in November 20...
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In this DeSmog UK epic history post, we recall the climate denial backlash to the influential Stern Review, which called climate change the greatest market failure ever seen. Tony Blair heeded an a...
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Lord Lawson would command the admiration and gratitude of the sceptic cause when he raised the economics of climate change in the House of Lords. DeSmog UK’s epic history series continues. Lord Ni...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post recalls the transatlantic effort by the European sceptic Benny Peiser and Washington lawyer Chris Horner to bring down the Kyoto Protocol. Prior to teaming up with ...
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The DeSmog UK epic history series turns to Richard D North, an environmental journalist who later took money from ExxonMobil, placing blame on consumers rather than fossil fuels for causing climate...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post looks at how Julian Morris’s free market think tank spread its influence in its attack on the Kyoto Protocol. The free marketeer, Julian Morris, and his team at his...
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Our latest DeSmog UK epic history post recalls how Dr Benny Peiser transformed from Marxist radical to director of Lord Lawson’s climate denial charity, the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Dr Ben...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post recalls the falling out between long-term friends and free marketeers Julian Morris and Roger Bate. The free market International Policy Network (IPN) was launched ...
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Our latest DeSmog UK epic history series post looks at Julian Morris’s ExxonMobil-funded, climate sceptic publication Adapt or Die. Julian Morris, the president and founder of the International Pol...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post tells the story of climate denier Jim Inhofe’s infamous ‘climate hoax’ Senate speech. The US Senator Jim Inhofe relentlessly denies that humans are driving climate...
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In this DeSmog UK epic history post we meet David Henderson, who accidentally became one of the IPCC’s fiercest opponents. David Henderson is a fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) whe...
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This DeSmog UK epic history series post investigates the dramatic U-turn taken by the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher from environmental advocate to climate change sceptic. The climate denier...
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Our latest DeSmog UK epic history post examines the troop of climate sceptic scientists funded by ExxonMobil to attack Michael Mann’s hockey stick graph. Neoliberal think tanks saw a significant b...
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Our latest DeSmog UK epic history post details the penetrating impact ExxonMobil had on US energy policy during the Bush era. One year into US President George W. Bush’s reign and the fruits of Exx...
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Our latest DeSmog UK epic history post recalls how the IPCC COP 6 was held in the midst of the ExxonMobil funding splurge. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reconvened in Bonn, ...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post looks at when free-marketeers Roger Bate and Julian Morris made the best of ExxonMobil’s spending bonanza.  Roger Bate and Julian Morris of the British free-market ...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post introduces you to a young geologist who joined the fight against climate deniers in an effort to support the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) find...
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The DeSmog UK epic history series continues with an account of how a NASA climate scientist was squeezed out of the White House environmental debate. Just a week after the announcement came from Ge...
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Our DeSmog UK epic history series continues with a look at how Big Oil helped push President Bush to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol. Despite the promising oil-rich foundation upon which George W. B...
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This DeSmog UK epic history series post takes a closer look at ExxonMobil’s contribution to George W Bush’s election as President of the United States. The 2000 US election cycle was as high stakes...
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Lord Lawson asserts that his attack on climate change policy is motivated by deep concerns for the working classes – fears environmental measures will cost jobs and undermine prosperity. Environmen...
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The DeSmog UK epic history series continues with a look at what happened when environmentalists attended an ExxonMobil meeting in Dallas, Texas. ExxonMobil and other industry hardliners came tog...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post describes how an economic think tank became a beacon of light around which the industries most affected by the new Kyoto Protocol met to discuss strategies to deal ...
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This DeSmog UK epic history post portrays Lee Raymond, the Texan captain who steered the Exxon ship against the rising tide of climate science. In 1997, BP’s British boss, John Brown, stunned the w...
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Our latest DeSmog UK epic history post looks at what happened when former BP boss Lord John Browne called for government regulation to reduce carbon emissions. John Browne was chief executive of Br...
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In this DeSmog UK epic history article we tell the inside story of how the rising tide of environmentalism in the 1990s caused a “sea change” at oil behometh Shell.  The environment movement in 199...
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The DeSmog UK epic history series recalls how the war between the climate sceptics and the IPCC heated up as they tried to cast doubt over the science. The climate sceptics were ever ready to attac...
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Our latest DeSmog UK epic history post looks at how the dynamic Professor Bob Watson (pictured) became chairman of the IPCC in 1997 amidst a groundswell of political activity. Michael Mann’s submer...
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In Part II of our intimate interview with Professor Michael Mann he tells of the exact moment he fully acknowledged humans were driving climate change – and how his conversion was thanks to the inv...
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The DeSmog UK epic history series introduces you to the creator of the climate change hockey stick graph and the man forever in the sceptics’ crosshairs. Read PART ONE of the most intimate intervie...
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The DeSmog UK epic history series continues with the first in a double-bill feature on how the European Science and Environment Forum joined the sceptics’ vitriolic attack on climate science. Roge...
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Our latest DeSmog UK epic history post reveals how the once-hidden romance between Roger Bate of the Institute of Economic Affairs and Big Tobacco became a public affair. The relationship between t...
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DeSmog UK’s epic history series looks back at the conference that marked the first major event where climate sceptic views were promoted in England. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Britain'...
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DeSmog UK’s history series examines how the tobacco industry’s PR tactics proved inspirational for the army of climate change deniers. Dr Fred Singer and his sceptic Science and Environmental Polic...
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The DeSmog UK epic history series investigates the divide that opened up between chief executives and shareholders who were anxious that company operations and profits could be undermined by climat...
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The DeSmog UK epic history series continues with a look at how oil-funded lobbyists increased their attacks on climate science as Bill Clinton’s new policy era began. The 1993 election of President...
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The DeSmog UK epic history series investigates how Thatcherite John Blundell challenged the young Roger Bate to set up an Environment Unit within free-market think tank the Institute of Economic Af...
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DeSmog UK’s epic history series continues with a peek into the intimate friendship between free-market libertarian John Blundell and the Koch brothers. “Without… Charles and David Koch… without the...
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DeSmog UK’s epic history series recounts the moment when John Blundell was recruited into Antony Fisher’s free-market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs. The free-market libertarian John...
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DeSmog UK’s epic history investigates how the former Institute of Economic Affairs director general, John Blundell, recruited British students with a flair for free market economics to the US for i...
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DeSmog UK will endeavour to publish profiles of the back-room influencers who have promoted climate denial in Britain and around the world each Tuesday. Today we begin with Ned Flanders. Sorry, Ros...
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When free-marketeer, Friedrich von Hayek, died in 1992 he left a legacy of neoliberal think tanks that would work against climate change. The DeSmog UK epic history series takes a look back at his ...
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In the second part of our Fred Smith story - part of our history series - DeSmog UK investigates his prohibition era-inspired solution to attacking climate science. Fred Smith, founder of the Koch-...
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John Blundell and Fred Smith - both funded by oil baron Charles Koch - worked closely to export climate denial to Britain. This is part one of Fred Smith's story as part of our History Series. Joh...
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As DeSmog UK continues its epic history series, we take a closer look at accusations of how academic manipulation may have helped Dr Fred Singer become the most influential climate denier of his ge...
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DeSmog UK tells the story of how the ideologically matched and politically inseparable Blundell and Dr Fred Singer became close and controversial allies, in our epic history series. One evening Joh...
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John Blundell is welcomed into the inner circle of the Koch elite at at time of inner-family squabbling and political scandal. He soon gains insight into an empire run by obsession and apparent dec...
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Climate denial was imported from the United States to Britain by a free market idealist employed by the billionaire oil baron Charles Koch. DeSmog UK tells their story for the first time in a two-p...
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The coal industry in the United States was the first source of funding for climate scepticism during the late ‘80s and ‘90s. Inspired by how tobacco battled with cancer research, the industry knew ...
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Amidst dismay at the true extent of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) submitted its first report with resulting consequences. A need to curb the then current leve...
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Nine days after Lawson resigned protesters in East Berlin began tearing down the Berlin Wall, but a Lawson free from political restraints began forging his own doctrine in the newly available marke...
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Margaret Thatcher was at the height of her premiership when she took to the podium at the United Nations general assembly on the global environment held at the UN building in New York on 8 November...
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Scientists had well understood for many decades that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere could raise global temperatures and cause climate change. But when politicians finally took notice, and ...
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Margaret Thatcher’s intellectual love affair with the economist Friedrich von Hayek continued despite divergent views on the importance of science, rationality and truth…  Margaret Thatcher present...
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Thatcher had been in awe of her fellow free market apostle Reagan, but the two world leaders would diverge on the issue of the environment. By 1988, the American president had served the maximum t...
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Margaret Thatcher's contribution to the climate debate while British Prime Minister would cause her free market fellows considerable difficulty in the coming decades.  They would spark speculation ...
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In the third of three posts charting how climate change became a political issue, we see how Margaret Thatcher, the high priestess of the magical free markets, first took up Hansen's call…  Margare...
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Scientists were warning about the dangers of climate change even before America discovered and used oil on an industrial scale. Here, in the second of three posts, we see how in the 1980s it appear...
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The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) helped Thatcher's rise to power and when she became prime minister she followed their programme. This success allowed the IEA to fundraise from industry gian...
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Lord Lawson is a patriot. He believes himself to be a very wise man indeed. But his sale of BP to the private sector nearly handed the oil company to an Arab state and this means that today, govern...
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Lord Lawson created Britain's privatised energy industry. Some argue that he supports their interests by denying the need for robust climate change policies. But he didn't support everyone who work...
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Lord Lawson is today the main voice of climate denial in Britain. But 30 years ago he was personally responsible for the British state losing control over our reserves of fossil fuels. “My career a...
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Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher meets free market economist Friedrich von Hayek at IEA. She appoints Lord Lawson and they direct privatisation of British energy interests. Thatcher arrived at the ...
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The finest triumph of the Institute of Economic Affairs was winning Thatcher to free market economics. That story is told here. Their second, decades later, was seeding climate denial. An excitable...
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The founder of the Institute of Economic Affairs argued free markets needed honesty. But his own financial success was based on smuggling - and the IEA was itself conceived with the help of a white...
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A fateful meeting between economist Friedrich von Hayek and British aristocrat Antony Fisher had lasting consequences—including for the debate about climate change policy. Picture: Fisher with Marg...
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Antony Fisher founded the think tanks in Britain that first promoted climate denial. His dramatic life story is a vital morality tale for those concerned about climate change. Picture: Antony (righ...
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Hayek achieved his dream of becoming a university academic, but could he really challenge the intellectual prowess and political influence of the master John Maynard Keynes? Friedrich von Hayek had...
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Hayek is the intellectual inspiration for neoliberal think tanks and their war against Socialism, government regulation and, today, climate science. But are these tankers really faithful to his ide...
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The first part of our epic history of climate denial opens with our hero's harrowing experience during the Battle of Britain and the war against totalitarianism His parachute was engulfed in flames...