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Who is funding the climate change skeptics?

By Kenneth Barbalace
[Monday, May 07, 2007]
It is often said that to find someone's true agenda or motivations all one needs to do is follow the money. So, the question is where does the money trail lead when it comes to the skeptics of climate change? This was a question I asked as the result of a discussion I was having with some others on the topic of climate change. The answer is a disturbing page from the tobacco industry's playbook to discredit the science around the health hazards of smoking. So, who is funding what? I sifted through the web for most of yesterday evening, and this is what I found (it is pretty startling for only one evening's worth of digging):

ExxonMobil using tobacco industry tactics to subvert science and public policy

From what I have found, of those who have been funding climate change skeptics, ExxonMobil has spent the most money. Between 1998 and 2005, ExxonMobil funneled $16 million to a network of ideological and advocacy organizations that manufacture uncertainty on the issue of climate change. These organizations, which were often staffed with the same people, published and republished non-peer-reviewed works of a small group of scientific spokespeople. These papers, which had been discredited by reputable climate scientists, were a calculated effort to manufacture the appearance of debate and disagreement over climate change when in fact there is an overwhelming consensus among scientists on the issue of climate change.

Between 2000 and 2006, ExxonMobil through its political action committee and people affiliated with ExxonMobil contributed over $4 million to election campaigns with much of that money going to President George W. Bush's election campaign.

Between 1998 and 2005, ExxonMobil spent over $61 million on lobbyists in a highly effective effort to gain access to key decision makers in Congress and the Bush administration and influence U.S. public policy.

Organizations that have been funded by ExxonMobil and ExxonMobil has used to disseminate disinformation and/or manufacture debate include (but is not limited to): American Enterprise Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, the International Policy Network, Frontiers of Freedom, Global Climate Science Team, Center for Science and Public Policy, George C. Marshall Institute, Chicago-based Heartland Institute, Tech Central Station, The Advancement of Sound Science Center, Free Enterprise Education Institute (a.k.a. Free Enterprise Action Institute), et al.

(See: Union of Concerned Scientists: Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science PDF 1.8mb).

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) paying scientists to undermine climate change report

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is an ExxonMobil-funded think tank, sent out letters to scientists and economists offering them $10,000 each to undermine a report UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) before it was released on Feb. 2, 2007. According to the Guardian, the AEI has received more than $1.6 million in funding from ExxonMobil and more than 20 of its staffers have worked as consultants to the Bush Administration.

(See: Guardian Unlimited: Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study)

Intermountain Rural Electric Association paid $100,000 to a prominent climate change skeptic

The Colorado electric cooperative Intermountain Rural Electric Association, which is heavily invested in coal fired power plants, paid $100,000 to climate change skeptic Patrick Michaels, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia.

(ABC News: Making Money by Feeding Confusion over Global Warming)

Leading climate change skeptics and their money trail

Frederick Seitz, Ph.D.: A physicist who worked as a paid consultant to R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company from the late 1970s to late 1980s and has been Chairman Emeritus of the George C. Marshall Institute, and served on the Board of Academic and Scientific Advisors for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (both organizations have been funded by ExxonMobil).

Richard S. Lindzen, Ph.D.: A meteorologist who has frequently testified in front of Congress. In 1995 Harpers Magazine reported that he was charging oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services; in 1991 his trip to testify in front of the U.S. Senate was paid for by the Western Fuels Association and a speech he wrote entitled "Global Warming: the Origin and Nature of Alleged Scientific Consensus," was underwritten by OPEC. He is a member of the Advisory Council of the Annapolis Center for Science Based Public Policy, which has received funding from ExxonMobil. Dr Lindzen has also been a contributor to the Cato Institute and George C. Marshall Institute, which have received funding from ExxonMobil.

Patrick J. Michaels, Ph.D.: an ecological climatologist, he is editor of "World Climate Review," a newsletter and blog funded by the Western Fuels Association. He has received money from the German Coal Mining Association, the Edison Electric Institute, the Cyprus Minerals Company and the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (see above).

Robert C. Balling, Jr. Ph. D. (in geography): a former senior consultant to the United Nations World Meteorological Organization, he has written numerous books including Heated Debate, published by the Pacific Research Institute (which has been funded by ExxonMobil), True State of the Planet, published by Competitive Enterprise Institute (has also received funding from ExxonMobil) and co-wrote The Satanic Gases with Patrick J. Michaels, which was published by the Cato Institute (yet another beneficiary of ExxonMobil). He has also received over $200,000 from coal and oil interests in Great Britain, Germany, and elsewhere as well as having been paid by the Kuwaiti government for a version of his book A Heated Debate to be released in the Middle East. Dr. Balling also conducted an ExxonMobil funded study in 2002.

(See PBS Frontline: The doubters of Global Warming)

Can a tiger change its stripes?

Since the release of the Feb. 2, 2007 IPCC report on climate change, ExxonMobil appears to be changing its stance on global warming. Their chief executive, Rex W. Tillerson, has acknowledged that greenhouse gas emissions from cars and industry are factors in global warming. This is not a complete about face, but it is a sign that ExxonMobil is reevaluating their position on the issue of climate change.

(See: the Boston Globe: Debate over global warming is shifting)

More reading on the climate change deniers' money trail

Climate change special: State of denial
Organizations in Exxon Secrets Database


NOTICE: Comments are user generated feedback and do not represent the views and/or opinions of EnvironmentalChemistry.com.

Anonymous said...

so what? All that money doesn't even come close to this.

Japan Gives $2.1B to Stem Climate Change


Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

This pledge of money has come AFTER the scientific community via the IPCC reports decided that the evidence was overwhelming (90% certainty). This money isn't to prove climate change is a real issue. It is the Japanese governments response to working to find ways to resolve the issue.

Regardless, it isn't the amount of money that is important. It is the intention with which the money was provided. The Union of Concerned Scientists, who's report I provided a link to, show in very careful detail that ExxonMobil's objective was to sow bad science and disinformation to create an appearance of more debate on the issue of climate change than there really was. They were doing this out of their own economic self interest.

Jim Campbell said...

Nice article. Why don't you spend an equal amount of time telling us who is funding the 90% that are sure about CO2. It's called the $5 billion dollar grant game. Funded by the the U.S. tell them what they want to hear or you don't get funded. I know this for a fact. Those who are speaking out are in many cases the level of Professor Emeritus, as such don't need to write grants anymore. Does it disturbe you that the same scientist who were all in agreement about the coming ice age 35 years ago were also funded by the same sources. That would be not just the Government but environmental groups that have probably funded you and your hit piece. Well I'm glad you didn't use Gore's hockey stick to hit anybody at least nobody has been physically harmed by your remarks. Seriously nice web page, enjoyed reading it, Jim


Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

Jim, if you actually read the report by the Union of Concerned Scientists that I linked to you would see that under the current U.S. Administration any research that runs against White House policy that is skeptical of man's impact on global warming was a quick way to shorten one's career.

What many people do not understand is that climate change and greenhouse gas research has been going on since the late 1800s. The Washington Post published good summary history of climate change research. The point being that climate change research has gone through a long process of discovery and debate. For most of that time researching climate change was research in obscurity and not a good way to advance one's career. It required perseverance when skeptics were the majority, not the minority.

What we know about climate change is not the result of some conspiracy to force us to give up modern technology. Rather it is the result of decades of pure research to better understand the world around us. This is a massive difference from the efforts made by ExxonMobil to manufacture debate in a cynical attempt to avoid having to make changes in the way they conduct their business.

Mikey_Capital said...

Does it disturbe you that the same scientist who were all in agreement about the coming ice age 35 years ago were also funded by the same sources.

What an utter crock, and a typical moronic statement from the righties. Hardly any scientists back then backed the ice age in 35 years schlock that was bandied about. Yes there were a couple. Did they have an almost global consensus of their peers? Of course not.

Another idiot whose read State of Fear who wants to gibber and froth about the nasty uneconomic lefties.

Anonymous said...

Boy that comment about global cooling just never seems to go away even though skeptics like Lindzen have disavowed it. If people would do a little research they'd find out that unlike today, the great majority of scientists did not support the idea of global cooling. It was the MEDIA that insisted on stretching the truth. Climate science was in its infancy and science just did not know what was happening for sure.


Anonymous said...

Excellent. For clarity of thought, it helps to repeat ad infinitum the credo of these in-bedded "scientists" and all the other corrupt bushies:
Its Always About Getting Away With Money.

Despite the staggering number of crimes committed to distort science and do harm for profit we CAN prosecute, fire, fine and jail
many of the perpetrators. DO SUPPORT IMPEACHMENT OF DICK CHENEY - it can be done very swiftly and once he is removed we can really start the job of repairing the staggering world-wide damage done by these madmen.

The volume of complicity is just mindblowing:
The White House’s White-Out Problem


Anonymous said...

A relative recently sent me a link - http://www.wecnmagazine.com/2007issues/may/may07.html. It seems a certain Prof. Bryson is doubtful of global warming. The curious thing is, when you check on his distinguished career, it turns out he was best know as a promoter of the global cooling theory - the same theory that is cited over-and-over by the deniers as proof that scientists can be very wrong. Talk about cherry picking your advocates!

Barnaby Rudge said...

This post is such propoganda. Try showing both sides, or rather try taking on the actual evidence as an objective observer. Statistics can lie. If you have a graph that covers 100 years and looks like the rocky mountains and you merely show a 15 year subsection of said graph where it is on an upslope it'll look like there is a drastic rise. If you show the whole graph the trend is flat.



Pick up a copy of Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" it is loaded with environmental science, you'll probably like it. Its half fiction, half non-fiction. Every fact presented is referenced. Read it and tell me that the pro-global warming (oops.. I forgot the new marketing buzzword is "climate change") people really have their hands clean.

Why is it anyone who is skeptical about human involvement in global warming is immediately labelled as a big oil stooge whereas no one questions the motives of those on the other side of the fence?

Ken (EnvironmentalChemistry.com) said...

The mistake with the mainstream media is that they equate showing both sides of an issue with being objective. Sometimes being objective requires one to look at an issue and then exclude one side if it is not credible.

Everything in my post is very well documented. You can call it propaganda if you want, but most of the time the use of this term is nothing more than a hollow labeling for something someone can not refute on the merits.

Anonymous said...

The main question is whether or not man is responsible for climate change/global warming? No one would doubt that the earth has experienced ice ages in the past.

According to Wikipedia:

"The present ice age began 40 million years ago with the growth of an ice sheet in Antarctica. It intensified during the late Pliocene, around 3 million years ago, with the spread of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere, and has continued in the Pleistocene. Since then, the world has seen cycles of glaciation with ice sheets advancing and retreating on 40,000- and 100,000-year time scales. The most recent glacial period ended about ten thousand years ago."

So if there were indeed ice ages what caused the ice to melt 10,000 years ago? Could it have been warmer temperatures - global warming perhaps?? That means radical climate changes occurred long before man had any chance to influence it.

Ken earlier stated:

"...climate change research has gone through a long process of discovery and debate."

but if this research and "debate" began in the late 1800's that's only a period of less than 150 years which is nothing when compared to the age of the earth and all of the warming and cooling that has occurred without man's influence.

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