Helen of Marlowe's Blog

The Money Behind the Climate Debate

Posted in Environment by helenofmarlowe on June 30, 2014

In   Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming , James Hoggan reports and discusses dramatic stories of projects funded by the fossil fuel industry designed to confuse and mislead the public, to mislead reporters and newspaper editors, and to confuse and misinform our elected officials. The deniers want to confuse the public into thinking there is still scientific debate, when in fact, among scientists, there is no debate.  For years, this misinformation campaign has been largely funded by the oil and coal industries, often under the guise of industry front groups and fake grassroots groups.

A few of the cases Hoggan reported were so outrageous that I had to check them out for myself.  For example, there is The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, which describes itself as a small research institute, but is in reality a farm shed. They circulate online a deceptive “scientists’ petition”  signed by 31,000 “scientists” who are either skeptics or deniers of global warming.  The Oregon Institute lists six faculty members, two of whom are dead, and two others who are the founder’s 20-something sons.   Although they identify their six members as “faculty” they have no classrooms and no students.

The  31,000 endorsers of The Oregon Petition give only names, with no contact information or institutional affiliation.  Some of the names are in fact the names of legitimate climate scientists, who, when contacted, had no idea their names were on this petition and demanded their names be removed.  But the petition still circulates with a claim of more than 31,000 scientists.   You can see it  here http://www.oism.org/project/    (I wonder why the few scientists with recognizable names don’t sue.  Maybe they have, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just too costly to challenge the legal staff of the oil and coal giants.)  The Oregon Institute’s news releases are treated by many newspapers as legitimate contributions to some ongoing debate.

At the bottom of their web page, you’ll see

Note: The Petition Project has no funding from energy industries or other parties with special financial interests in the “global warming” debate. Funding for the project comes entirely from private non-tax deductible donations by interested individuals.

In Climate Cover-Up, Hoggan says that the Petition Project was funded by  the Exxon-backed George C. Marshall Institute.  Much of the deliberate misinformation is promoted by Exxon. (See http://www.ExxonSecrets.org)

Other “scientific” papers published in editorial sections of small-town newspapers are authored by the climate deniers under different names. They instruct their people that, although they are not likely to get published in  major newspapers, if they can get their articles printed in enough small-town papers,  they can reach as many people as they  would in the Washington Post. And speaking of the Post, when George Will wrote a column incorrectly stating facts about global warming (such as, that sea ice is advancing, rather than retreating) critics called for a correction. The Post’s editor Fred Hiatt said that Will may be wrong – he’s not a scientist — but he has a right to voice his opinion. Critics responded that this is not a matter of opinion, it is a fact. But George Will didn’t offer corrections and the Post stood by him.

Hoggan tells stories of climate scientists whose reputations and careers have been damaged by fake “scientists” who not only challenge the climate research, but also defame the characters of the researchers, who often simply don’t have the time or financial resources to fight the legal battles funded by the oil industry. (See Siegfried Frederick Singer, but don’t question his integrity unless you have a bank account to match The Heartland Institute.)

One of the most outrageous of the stories Hoggan tells is the story of  Christopher Walter Monckton, the third Viscount of Brenchely, a British politician affiliated with the UK Independence Party. Though he has a degree in classics and a diploma in journalism, and no further qualifications, according to Hoggan, he is quoted by think tanks as an expert in the field of global warming.  In biographical information supplied to news media, he claims to have received a Nobel Peace Prize for correcting inaccurate information put out by IPCC (actually, it was the IPCC panelists who received the Nobel) and he says  “The right response to the non-problem of global warming is to have the courage to do nothing.”

At least as culpable as the fossil fuel industry in climate disruption is the livestock industry.  Methane from landfills and livestock, and the destruction of rain forest for cattle grazing are at least as much a cause of global warming as fossil fuels.  But Hogan doesn’t talk about the impact of the livestock industry on climate change, and I wonder why. Since we hear so little in “mainstream” media about the environmental damage of the meat industry, I wonder whether there is a similar funded cover-up.  If I had Hoggan’s ear, I would encourage him to discover and tell us why only those of us who care to do our own research are finding the facts on CAFOs and their substantial contribution to global warming.



6 Responses

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  1. Sharine said, on July 1, 2014 at 12:02 am

    It is pretty obvious the money is behind the decisions leading to the downfall of our climate. When I look at the new cars that are coming out and still only have 30 MPG on a good day on the highway I wonder what the car industries have been working to improve for the past 60 years other then the look of the headlights….

    • helenofmarlowe said, on July 1, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      It’s sad, isn’t it Sharine. I hope we smarten up in time for the next generation to have a liveable planet.

  2. Robert A. Vella said, on July 1, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    The institutional corruption behind climate change denial is staggering.

    Another global warming problem that isn’t getting much media attention is the effect ocean acidification is having on single-celled organisms which supply over half of the biosphere’s oxygen. If that process continues as predicted, it will result in a mass extinction the likes of which have occurred only five other times in Earth’s history. Turn out the lights, the party’s almost over. See: http://news-oceanacidification-icc.org/2014/06/18/acid-seas-threaten-creatures-that-supply-half-the-worlds-oxygen/

    • helenofmarlowe said, on July 1, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      You are right Robert. It’s a problem we’ve known about for some time, but that we seldom read or hear about. It’s a problem that should be getting a lot more attention.

  3. Jim Wheeler said, on June 19, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I was happy to hear the pope come out strongly on climate change and the environment but I have my doubts about the power of suasion in this era of excess. (China now has more total millionaires than any other country!) The momentum of the third world, transitioning from rice to meat, appears unstoppable.

    The Catholic Church has lost much of its dignity and respect because of sex abuse scandals and its irrational stances on traditional issues, notably contraception. Overpopulation alone is a major cause of the problems he wants to cure. Francis is a good guy, but he really needs to think this thing through.

    • helenofmarlowe said, on June 20, 2015 at 8:46 am

      You’re right about the Catholic Church. I think Pope Francis is helping repair the Church’s image. I wonder if he spoke at all about the TPP. I’ve googled “tpp wordpress” and find nothing, which surprised me. The Sierra Club has a good page on how that will affect the environment. Thanks for your comment Jim.

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