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How ExxonMobil Funded Global Warming Skeptics 625

Posted by Zonk
from the gotta-keep-our-minds-open dept.
Erik Moeller writes "According to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, oil company ExxonMobil 'has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science.' The report compares the tactics employed by the oil giant to those used by the tobacco industry in previous decades, and identifies key individuals who have worked on both campaigns. Would a 'global warming controversy' exist without the millions of dollars spent by fossil fuel companies to discredit scientific conclusions?"
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How ExxonMobil Funded Global Warming Skeptics

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  • News at 10 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AliasTheRoot (171859) on Friday January 05, 2007 @02:53PM (#17477334)
    Big business lobbies to protect its interests!
    • News at 2am (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Martin Blank (154261)
      Environmentalist groups lobby to protect their interests!
      • Re:News at 2am (Score:5, Insightful)

        by FrenchSilk (847696) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:35PM (#17478210)
        Except that environmentalists interests are for the general welfare of the planet and its inhabitants, not for the increased wealth of acorporation and its stockholders. A rather significant difference, wouldn't you agree?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cptgrudge (177113)

          Sure, for the environmentalist movement proper. But as you go up the hierarchy in any activist or political organization, the further removed people become from logic and open-mindedness, and instead become more involved in power and influence.

          And I don't think you have to be an actual environmentalist to have an interest in the general welfare of a planet and its species. Despite what people think, corporate and political policy is not always at odds with the environment.

        • Re:News at 2am (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 5KVGhost (208137) on Friday January 05, 2007 @04:50PM (#17479836)
          Except that environmentalists interests are for the general welfare of the planet and its inhabitants, not for the increased wealth of acorporation and its stockholders. A rather significant difference, wouldn't you agree?

          I would not agree.

          That is a very charitable evaluation, but your conclusion doesn't make much sense. The Spanish Inquisition (bet you didn't expect that) would have claimed, quite sincerely, that their goal was the general welfare and spiritual well being of the planet and its inhabitants. All they required was absolute obedience and license to do pretty much anything they wanted. By your logic they would rank as one of the most trustworthy and wonderful organizations in history. Most of their victims would not agree. Good intentions do not automatically bring about good results.

          So sre environmentalists the Spanish Inquisition, blessed with absolute knowledge of right and wrong and empowered to change the world and crush all dissent? No, of course not. But some of them sure seem to wish they were.

          Is science done by people with alleged good intentions always right, and science paid for by people with a profit motive always suspect? No, obviously not. I don't care who pays for what. All that matters is whether the science is sound enough to stand up to scrutiny. A lot of climate science is really, really slipshod stuff rigged up to support foregone ideological conclusion. Regardless of whether you agree with the conclusions or not, that's not science.
          • Re:News at 2am (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Skjellifetti (561341) on Friday January 05, 2007 @05:18PM (#17480372) Journal
            A lot of climate science is really, really slipshod stuff rigged up to support foregone ideological conclusion.

            And you are qualified enough to make that judgement, how, exactly? Could you please cite some specific examples of peer reviewed literature that demonstrate your point and explain why you think they are slipshod stuff? Otherwise, you are just engaging in a logical fallacy known as wishful thinking.

    • I guess the part of this argument that defies logic for me is the part where the pro-fossil fuel lobby, the conservative pundits, who reliably will come down on whatever side the rich guys do, the scientists who get paid by the oil companies (along with the mopes who listen to right-wing radio), and folks like some of the jackasses we hear from sometime, all try to deny the fact that *PAUSE* it's probably not a good idea to dump toxic shit into the atmosphere, ground and oceans and NOT EXPECT SOMETHING BAD
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday January 05, 2007 @02:53PM (#17477338) Journal
    All the flames that are about to be posted...
    • by WidescreenFreak (830043) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:06PM (#17477640) Homepage Journal
      It's too bad that you got a mod or two as "troll" instead of "funny", but that itself should have been expected because you're absolutely correct with respect to what's about to happen. The inflammatory (no pun intended) nature of the article summary itself just begs for the whole damned thing to be marked as "troll" or "flamebait".

      Look, the whole idea that any company or organization would attempt to skew any studies to their own viewpoint is universal. Enviornmentalists are always looking to make surveys/studies support their viewpoint. Corporations are always looking to make surveys/studies support their viewpoint. Skeptics are always looking to make surveys/studies support their viewpoint. Conspiracy theorists are always looking to make surveys/studies support their viewpoint. Anyone with any kind of agenda is always looking to make surveys/studies support his viewpoint. But in this case it's "big oil" { insert doom-and-gloom music here }, so therefore their attempts to skew results are somehow more evil than other groups doing it? What a complete and utter crock.

      The question of "Would a 'global warming controversy' exist without the millions of dollars spent by fossil fuel companies to discredit scientific conclusions?" is infuriating by itself. Hell, yes there would be a controversy for numerous reasons that have been stated time and time and time again, not the least of which is that without indisputable proof, which I still don't believe we have, there will always be room for skepticism. Honestly, the whole notion that skepticism is unhealthy, as that last line suggests, is an abhorrent idea in itself.

      Yeah, yeah, mod me down for actually contesting a Slashdot article and for being somewhat of a global warming skeptic. I have karma to burn, but that doesn't make what I've said any less valid.
      • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:42PM (#17478342) Journal
        Everyone has a viewpoint to push, but in objective reality, only one of those views will be correct. There is almost no dissent in the scientific community as to whether global warming is man made, and even less that it exists. This is even counting the million spent by big oil to fuel the debate. Would there be any debate if not for that money? Of course their would. Would it be miniscule, even in comparison to the miniscule amount of debate that exists to day? Of course it would.

        Face it, there is very little to be gained by believing in global warming. No money, no fame, no honors, no women. In fact, there is much to be lost. There are billions to be gained by opposing belief in it. Even if one cannot make money off of opposing belief in global warming, at the very least, one doesn't actually have to do anything. Those who really believes in global warming will feel compelled to alter their behavior.

        Skepticism is the lazy person's default position. I think for most global warming skeptics, the desire not to do anything different came first, and the skepticism was reached through a chain leading from "I don't want to have to do anything" back to "this is why I don't have to do anything."

        Nothing any moderators could do to you could possibly make what you have to say any less valid.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by argle2bargle (794789)
          "There is almost no dissent in the scientific community as to whether global warming is man made, and even less that it exists."

          These guys might disagree with you, from an open letter to the Canadian PM calling for a second look on the science of global warming

          (but I am sure they are all either industry shills or quacks):

          sorry for the long list, but the whole "there is no debate" statement always makes me angry. I do not know who is right in this, but there is definitely not a consensus.

          Dr. Ian D. Clark, pr
      • by NoOneInParticular (221808) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:43PM (#17478368)
        The reason why (oil) companies are being treated more sceptically than non-profit organisations is simply because people are assuming that the companies don't have a particular point of view on the issue at hand per se, but rather that the opposing view point will hurt their (short term) bottom line. In other words: where if you don't agree with the environmentalists, you think they are misguided, with the company, you think they're purposefully lying. In this particular case it's even more damning, as they're lying through their teeth to protect their profits while potentially destroying the world . People tend to get upset about that last part, given that we live there.

        As for the 'controversy' on global warming. That's a US thing. It has been understood in the rest of the world for quite some time that (a) global warming is real, and that (b) we're contributing majorly to it. Discussions on the Exxon points has been non-existent here in Europe. Guess where Exxon has spent his 'educational' dollars? Yes, to the gullable.

        • by Erioll (229536) on Friday January 05, 2007 @04:11PM (#17478938)
          If there were skeptics, on ANY topic, who is going to FUND them except if you have a stake in it? For any viewpoint in any issue, ONLY the people that stand to lose if the issue goes the other way will fund research supporting them. Thus saying that big oil is funding most of the research that contradicts "prevailing opinion" makes 100% sense. Do you actually expect the Sierra Club to fund a study who's goal is skepticism?

          This comes from confusing cause & effect. The studies don't come out a certain way because the group funding them dictates that it should, but only because the only ones LOOKING for an opposite outcome are those with something to lose. A very slight difference, but it's still critical to understanding it. The first is straight-out lying. The 2nd can happen with the most honest of intentions. I'm not saying that's the case here, but to dismiss it automatically as the 1st just means your mind is made up without even looking at what evidence may exist.
          • Look, those people who went to the Antarctic to get ice core samples didn't go there to prove anything. They went there because they wanted ice core samples. They showed the data. It showed trends. It showed that CO2 hasn't been as high as it is today for the past 300,000 years. If it had shown that CO2 was higher in the past than today, then they would have published that data, and it would have formed a solid basis for refuting the claim that humans are contributing unnatural levels of CO2 to the atm
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Chris Burke (6130)
        Ah yes, the Everyone Has Some Degree of Bias Therefore All Biases Are Equal gambit. It's a close relative of the We Must Do Something And This is Something So We Must Do It gambit, in that it relies on believing that there are no quantitative differences between things. I wish my grocery clerk worked that way so I could give them "an amount of money" to pay for the groceries which cost "an amount of money".

        Of course there would still be controversy and debate about global warming without the oil companies
      • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Friday January 05, 2007 @04:39PM (#17479610) Homepage Journal
        The word "skeptic" comes from a Greek work, "skepsis", which refers to looking at something and examining it. Skepticism is that the person from Missouri does when they say "show me".

        A skeptic isn't a denier. A denier says the scientests are making it all up to curry favor with government grant issuers, you know, the rabid environmentalist Bush administration. A skeptic asks how big the error bars are on the temperature measurements and finds http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature_record [wikipedia.org]. A skeptic asks how a huge computer model of a system which is incompletely defined can ever be validated (and finds annoyingly little in the popular literature). A skeptic asks whether increased solar output could account for the changes and finds out that nights are getting warmer and the upper atmosphere is getting colder, both of which point to heat getting trapped in the lower atmosphere.

        A skeptic refuses to be rushed into policy choices. A skeptic asks the question Bjorn Lomborg has been exploring, whether it's better to mitigate the results of climate change than to uproot the foundations of the world economy trying to prevent it.

        Skepticism clarifies issues, astroturf campaigns and phony think tanks obscure issues.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bill_kress (99356)
          This is one of those cases where theory has very little to do with reality.

          In theory you are completely right, but in reality people who call themselves skeptics often seem to religiously deny that which can't be proven.

          For instance, before it was possible to prove gravity, it was still there. Before it was possible to prove that we could walk on the moon, it was still a possibility.

          If we can't currently prove an afterlife or ESP, that has no relation to their existence--yet those who call themselves skept
    • Internet flaming has been going on for almost as long as scientific types have been warming up to the idea of Global Warming (err, 'scuse the pun...)

      I think you may have stumbled on the root cause - I commend you, sir!

      /P

  • by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Friday January 05, 2007 @02:53PM (#17477352)
    why don't the tobacco companies merge with the oil companies then if they're so similar. Then you just know eventually someone will make a careless mistake and BOOM! That'll kill two very evil birds with one stone :-)
    • by ArcherB (796902) *
      But then I would not be able to put gas in my hybrid to drive to the store to buy my Nabisco [kraft.com] cookies.

    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      why don't the tobacco companies merge with the oil companies then if they're so similar.

      Oil is a global environmental problem with far reaching implications for the Earth even after (ab?)use is stopped. Tobacco is primarily a local or personal problem - if abused. I *like* smoking the occasional cigarette - the tobacco cos are providing a service useful to me. Otherwise I'd have to grow my own tobacco, and I don't really have the land for it :/

      -b.

      • by megaditto (982598)
        One might argue that smoking is also a "global" problem inasmuch as the society has to pay for the lung cancer treatment and care and the lost productivity.

        Then again, perhaps the heavy fag taxes are covering all that, who knows?
  • by the_tsi (19767) on Friday January 05, 2007 @02:55PM (#17477390)
    ...and I have been for years. Where do I sign up to get my check from Exxon?
    • Where do I sign up to get my check from Exxon?

      With the man wearing the rubber glove.
    • by seriesrover (867969) <seriesrover2@yahoo.com> on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:19PM (#17477886)
      Exactly.


      I think this is a report that is trying to link some sort of monies to conspiracies and agendas. $15M spread across 42 (to remove the one high example they use) organizations over 8 years = $45K a year on average. Its a lot to an individual but hardly enough to fund "access to the Bush administration to block federal policies and shape government communications on global warming".

      Further, I see froth but no substance - no irrefutible proof saying that Exxon doesnt mind global warning or that it doesnt exist, or even that they dont care. The best I can see is that a group that recieved money "touted a book". Incidently, they use this as "an example" because the group recieved $600K - far above the average amount given, so its hardly a typical example.

      This is clearly a biased report hoping to use allegations and bend them into truth. I am a sceptic but in the sense that I dont think anyone has a grasp on whats really going on, whats normal, and how much us humans have played a part in any change that has happened. I'm a skeptic when anyone tells me they have all the answers.

  • by The_Pariah (991496) on Friday January 05, 2007 @02:55PM (#17477392)
    ExxonMobil's Response to a Report by the Union of Concerned Scientists ExxonMobil believes the Union of Concerned Scientists' paper is deeply offensive and wrong. ExxonMobil engages in public policy discussions by encouraging serious inquiry, analysis, the sharing of information and transparency. Our support of scientific research on climate change is made public on our web site and it includes more than 40 peer reviewed papers authored by ExxonMobil scientists, and our participation on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and numerous related scientific bodies. While there is more to learn on climate science, what is clear today is that greenhouse gas emissions are one of the factors that contribute to climate change, and that the use of fossil fuels is a major source of these emissions. With regard to contributions that ExxonMobil provides to various public policy organizations, our support is transparent and appears on our web site. The support extends to a fairly broad array of organizations that research significant domestic and foreign policy issues and promote discussion on issues of direct relevance to the company. These groups range from the Brookings Institution to the American Enterprise Institute and from the Council on Foreign Relations to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. As these organizations are independent of their corporate sponsors and are tax-exempt, we don't control their views and messages, and they do not speak on our behalf. In many cases and with respect to the full range of policy positions taken by these organizations, we find some of them persuasive and enlightening, and some not. We annually review our support of tax-exempt organizations and make appropriate adjustments. In addition, we publish the complete list of such organizations on our web site - and we update this list once per year. Supporting scientific and public policy research leads to better informed and more open discussion of options to address such a serious, global issue as climate change. http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/Newsroom/NewsR eleases/corp_nr_mr_climate.asp [exxonmobil.com] They provide me with an income. I'm happy with them. But this doesn't I agree with all their policies. I just fix their computers!
  • The UCS, which has it's own agenda and pushes it at every opportunity, is upset because someone on the opposite side wants their view heard as well? To bad.

    The UCS no more wants open debate over issues than any other special interest - they want to frame all discussion so their viewpoint prevails; since only +they+ have the right answer.
    • by FatSean (18753) on Friday January 05, 2007 @02:58PM (#17477448) Homepage Journal
      I'm willing to accept that bias. Until we find Earth v2.0, we should be much more careful with Earth v1.0.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ajs (35943)
        The problem is that that's not their bias. Their bias is rooted deep in the changes that have come to pass in the sciences that touch climate, energy, and a number of other fields over the last 20-30 years. They seek to de-politicize the sciences in theory, but in reality, they have sought to de-corporatize them. This has two problems: 1) it's impossible and 2) it ignores the fact that some of the most important and ground-breaking science is done in a corporate environment.

        I think it's important to fact-ch
    • by Ingolfke (515826) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:03PM (#17477542) Journal
      I agree that UCS is heavily biased and is just a political front group that has abandoned scientific reporting and married itself to marketing. Read their FAQ about global warming [ucsusa.org]. They certainty about topics that are still heavily debated by legit scientists.

      That said... Exxon has every right to honestly defend itself, but if they have indeed created front groups or are knowingly spreading misinformation they should be properly scorned.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mpa000 (129787)
      I could not agree more.

      The UCS *depends* on climate fears for it's existence.

      It is as much a political player in this and has as much to gain or lose as any Corporation.

    • Could you mention what that agenda is? You left it out in your comment.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nomadic (141991)
      The UCS no more wants open debate over issues than any other special interest - they want to frame all discussion so their viewpoint prevails; since only +they+ have the right answer.

      Alright, so ExxonMobil does this because they think they will gain financially from it. What exactly do you contend the UCS gains from adopting the opposite viewpoint?
      • Additional funding for its members studying various pet research programs, including global warming, pollution effects on wildlife, and investigating the effects of chemicals such as perchlorate on human health, among other things. I'm still trying to understand their view on nuclear power.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mcostas (973159)
      UCS is only biased towards science. They are non-partisan and far less political than any of the other environmental groups like Sierra Club or NRDC. Their reports are always thorough and fact filled, they don't hesitate to criticize or commend all political parties. This is why they can usually get hundreds of leading scientists and Nobel prize winners to sign onto their statements.
    • Your comment would be a lot more persuasive (and useful) if you said exactly what this agenda is supposed to be and actually provided some facts to back up your claim.

    • by compro01 (777531)
      Opinions and agendas are like assholes. everyone has one.
    • by sammy baby (14909) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:20PM (#17477916) Journal
      The UCS, which has it's own agenda and pushes it at every opportunity, is upset because someone on the opposite side wants their view heard as well? To bad.


      Hear hear. I'm sick and tired of hearing what scientists think about global warming: it's about time that we heard from the oil companies.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Illserve (56215)
        Just because they're being funded by the oil companies doesn't mean they're not scientists.

        Recently it has become difficult for scientists who don't support the AGW theory to get funding, and they've had to go elsewhere.

        (see http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008220 [opinionjournal.com] for one article to this effect).

        People think of federal grant agencies as being unbiased but that's absolutely untrue. Even outside of political hot-button issues (e.g. my field, psychology) one has to write grants that toe the popula
    • biased how exactly? (Score:3, Informative)

      by jimmyfergus (726978)

      What is their agenda? I'm not that familiar with it, so I'm interested to know where they deviate from widely accepted science?

      Another poster mentioned their global warming FAQ [ucsusa.org], but I read it and thought that most of what I read was pretty uncontroversial among qualified climate scientists (apart from a few counter-views, which almost always seem to be oil-funded).

      Given that you assert UCS is a special interest, how do they profit from acceptance of their assertions? It's obvious how oil companies profi

  • Honest question, I promise. Claiming the conclusion is "scientific" would seem to imply that scientists have been able to make accurate, statistically signfiicant predictions of climate change, given existing C02 etc. emission measurements. That's *future* predictions, not curve-fitting the past. To rule out chance, you'd probably need over 20 years of data.

    What kind of models even fit on computers 20 years ago?

    I don't doubt that GW predictions follow from current scientific knowledge, but for those pred
    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:02PM (#17477524)
      They have. Slowdown of the North Atlantic Current, increases in global average temperatures, melting of glaciers, raising of ocean levels (and no, they were not expected to be in the multiple yard levels) have all been inline with the median models.
      • And the predictions that those would happen were on record as being the scientific consensus before they happened, and the predictions that have gone on record were right far more often than they were wrong (i.e., no John Edward), and this happened frequently enough to be statistically significant?
      • by stevew (4845)
        First my bonafides - I'm a global warming skeptic - at least when it comes to mankind being the cause. I could accept that there is a general warming trend right now (Poles getting smaller seems to be a simple proof of the concept.)

        However, proving that man is the cause is a whole different kettle of fish. Consider the following points - The Sun is the single largest contributor to the Earth's temperature, consequently variation in it's output is a first order effect. Oh -and did you know the Sun HAS cha
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by NeutronCowboy (896098)
          Anyway - the fact that Exxon is spending money to get their point across is no more abnormal than UCS pointing out what Exxon is doing as part of THEIR actions to get UCS's point of view across.


          Absolutely.

          Regarding the effect of solar forcing, check out the wikipedia article. It's got good links to studies that have shown that solar forcing only accounts for about 25% of the recorded increase in global temperatures.
    • Claiming the conclusion is "scientific" would seem to imply that scientists have been able to make accurate, statistically signfiicant predictions of climate change, given existing C02 etc. emission measurements. That's *future* predictions, not curve-fitting the past.

      Actually, you can do a valid scientific test if the predictions aren't the material you derived the hypothesized relationship from, whether or not the measurements are of events from the past. Otherwise, all of paleontology would be non-scien

      • Actually, you can do a valid scientific test if the predictions aren't the material you derived the hypothesized relationship from, whether or not the measurements are of events from the past.

        True, however:

        a) Because the scientist already knows the time history, he doesn't have to put his neck on the line; he can always add and remove factors he chooses to deem "significant", thus making it an exercise in curve-fitting.

        b) The predictions came from one material (weather observations) and are of that material
    • Prediction and observation.

      Currently, we're observing that the planet is warming up. That is a simple fact. No scientific dispute.

      To this observation, you can match models, to explain why the warming occurs. That is the theory. No scientific dispute exist about the theory either, that the warming is caused by human activities, specifically because of the burning of fossil fuels.

      No reasonable human being can argue about the observation and if you want to argue about the theory, to explain the reason of
    • by syphax (189065) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:52PM (#17478548) Journal
      This is the best treatment of Hansen's 1998 predictions [colorado.edu] that I have seen. It discusses Hansen's forecasts of emissions and temperature back in '88 (this was testimony before Congress; Pat Michaels and Michael Crichton have since lied quite bluntly about this testimony only by talking about scenario A, which is not relevant given actual CO2 emissions).

      The verdict: Not perfect, but pretty damn good.
  • Yeah... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    because the "Union of Concerned Scientists" sounds really non-biased.
  • In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichPowers (998637) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:00PM (#17477480)
    $16 million over a 7 year period is nothing, especially for a company that regularly posts profits in the $30 billion dollar range. And none of this matters unless someone actually reports on the "findings" and "analysis" of ExxonMobile's "specialists." If anything, the media is responsible for creating the image of some debate about global warming (even though a huge scientific consensus exists).

    • $16 million may be nothing to an oil company, but its a hell of a lot to the rest of us. I know a lot of people who would swear the sky was falling for a lot less money over 7 years. This is the problem when a group with an agenda funds a study.
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:06PM (#17477634) Homepage Journal
    Rush Limbaugh told me that the only reason that it's not snowing in winter anymore in the northern sections of the U.S. is because of the number of cows we farm and the carbon moronoxide they expude from their butts. Cow farts != global warming folks! And besides, even if global warming is happening (which it isn't) there's a lot of benefits: The southern U.S. will become a tropical paradise. The mid U.S. will be able to produce different crops. And even the Canadians will benefit in that they won't have those savage winters anymore. Any concerns about coastal areas flooding can be put to rest as the army corp of engineers will be able to build very efficient and effective dams and breakwalls for most normal situations. Besides, floodwaters can easily be pumped out back to the ocean to lower the local water level. So stop all this worrying. There is no global warming. Rush told me so and I believe him. Megadittos!!!
    • I realize that you're being a smart ass; but if you really think that he believes all of that then it's clear that you don't really listen to him.
    • I wasn't sure if this was satire or not until the last sentence. Its sad that there are people in the world who would say the same things you just said and whole-heartedly mean it, and that they are numerous enough that I had some honest doubt about the seriousness of your post until the very end.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      >Rush Limbaugh told me that the only reason that it's not
      >snowing in winter anymore in the northern sections of the
      >U.S. [...]

      Since you believe that "it's not snowing in winter anymore",
      can I have your snowblower? You're not going to need it
      anymore, right?
  • I was hoping I wouldn't have to see another article about whose experts are more biased than others. Now I get to watch whole flames erupt over completely pointless issues.

    Can we not get back to the fundamental problem of figuring out what path Global Warming is going to take, it's impact and how we are should deal with it? All this crap is just wasted air.
  • Would a 'global warming controversy' exist without the millions of dollars spent by fossil fuel companies to discredit scientific conclusions?

    Yes. I'm one of them and for good reason. Ice cores and incomplete and inaccurate data only going back ~125 years, of which only 50% is probably usable, can only tell us so much. There is so much to learn about how the weather patterns on the Earth operate.
  • by TheWoozle (984500) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:07PM (#17477660)
    The average American is confused enough as it is.
    Look, it's simple: all of the authorities and powers-that-be could have been in total agreement for the last 2 decades, warning people about global warming in every available media outlet and it wouldn't have mattered because Joe Sixpack doesn't give a shit. And politicians won't force people to do the right thing, because that doesn't get you elected.
    Unless it unavoidably and directly impacts the price of beer or his ability to watch his favorite TV show, Joe wouldn't care if his SUV ran on mulched babies. "Scrubs" has it right: people are bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling. And global warming is Somebody Else's Problem.
    • by sl3xd (111641) * on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:59PM (#17478710) Journal
      Actually, there is a shift among the public.
      * The outlook on Nuclear (fission) power is far less negative. The fear of possible nuclear meltdown is far less than of guaranteed climate change.
      * More people are becoming concerned with energy efficiency: Compact Flourescent light bulbs being pushed at Wall-Mart and on TV, Hybrid Vehicles, etc. People are looking to cut financial burdens by reducing their energy costs. Some (like CF bulbs) can have a significant impact with little extra cost. Same thing with insulating homes for cheaper heating and air conditioning. More energy efficiency=less carbon in this economy.
      * The people who are more educated (managers, engineers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc.) are becoming more convinced and concerned with global warming, and aren't "joe sixpack." In other words: Joe sixpack may not care, but his boss does. You don't need Joe Sixpack to care nearly as much as you need his boss to care.

      So his boss does things that force Joe Sixpack to change his behavior, both on the worksite and as a consumer. (More efficient/environmentally friendly policies & practices at work, and produces more environmentally friendly products)

      Huge vehicles aren't without cost. Eventually, Joe then gets burned by high gas prices, and low mileage, and sells his SUV because he can't afford it. I've seen it happen a lot in the past two years. I see people I never expected to do the environmental thing change their behavior and opinions.
    • by demachina (71715) on Friday January 05, 2007 @04:23PM (#17479220)
      Somewhat beyond the public apathy what you are seeing at work here are forces that are inherent flaws in Capitalism, flaws that are deeply ingrained and very difficult to change.

      The mechanisms that drive Capitalism never choose "the right thing", they always favor "the profitable thing". Sometimes "the right thing" and "the profitable thing" are "the same thing" but that is often not the case. The fact is the exploitation of fossil fuels did in fact drive some enormous advances in standard of living, technological progress, economic well being, and the entire structure of modern society is completely dependent on them at the moment. A few forward thinking people figured out the dangers of releasing all that sequestered CO2 back in to the atmosphere a long time ago, in particular Joseph Fourier(also the genius behind the Fourier Transform) and Svante Arrhenius, but most people didn't worry about it until now because the earth was so big and the profits so good. When we started we weren't burning a billion tons of coal a year.

      Energy is essential to industrialized and information age living, its not easy to produce cheaply and on large scale, so you can't exactly fault the people who created our massive dependence on fossil fuels for doing what they did, and most of them saw enormous potential for benefit, and profit so they reaped it. That is just the way Capitalism works. We decimated most whale species because they were also a great and profitable source of energy in their day in the form of whale oil. The right thing was probably not to wipe out the oceans whales, but the profitable thing for a while said go for it.

      To rant against whalers, big Tobacco or Big Oil is kind of howling at the moon. You are really just ranting at the unfortunate down side of Capitalism, and for better or worst it is the economic system almost our entire world is using now. Unless you opt for some kind of Socialism where government planners benevolently pick "the right thing" over "the profitable thing" you are going to have profit obsessed people do some really horrible things to each other and the earth as a whole. That is the way the system is designed. So far precedent indicates Socialist government planners are equally bad when it comes to doing "the right thing".

      It is an interesting mental exercise to think about the pros and cons of global warming. The fact is our planet has had much warmer periods than the current one and it survived, and there were periods when much of that CO2 sequestered in fossil fuels was in fact in our atmosphere. Its not entirely bad that much of the Northern Hemisphere doesn't have the bitterly cold winters that were so common not very many years ago, and that vast new regions at the poles are now going to finally come out of the last ice age and become habitable.

      The obvious problem is that, thanks to human ingenuity and excessive population growth, we are probably going to precipitate these changes much faster than either humans, or most animal and plant species can cope, and the consequences to all species will probably be dire. There is a little problem that we've built so much of our society at sea level. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and thanks to our short sightedness due to our short life spans and brief recorded history, we didn't realize that sea level has always fluctuated through the earth's history. If you are building cities to last, the current sea level and islands like Manhattan are actually not a good choice. Perhaps the native Americans who sold Manhattan island to the Europeans had a longer view of things and realized it really wasn't worth much, and sure wasn't a good place to build a town, much less a city.

      This raises another interesting puzzle in economics. If global warming does happen and sea levels rise the economic consequences will be devastating because vast quantities of capital will go underwater. At some point burning fossil fuels will cease to be the profitable thing, at least for everything at sea level,
  • A large corporation spending money to defend it's business? I'm shocked!

    the problem doesn't lie with Exxon-Mobil, it lies with the whole corporate structure in general. If they don't defend their bottom line, they can get sued by shareholders (Look at how Dodge got their startup capital). Don't hate the playa, hate the game.

  • by Zero_DgZ (1047348) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:08PM (#17477702)
    Global warming shouldn't even enter into it. The whole "global warming debate" is a smokescreen blown from both sides to avoid asking the really tricky, really pertinent questions, namely: "Global warming aside, is spewing fossil fuel byproducts into the atmosphere bad for the environment in general?" (Yes.) "Is a complete and total reliance on nonrenewable fossil fuels and pigheadedly refusing to look into alternative energy sources because they aren't where the money is a bad plan?" (Yes.) "What are our next steps?" (We don't know.) So people bitch and moan about global warming because it's a nice, round cornered, warm and fuzzy topic that any idiot can get his head around, as opposed to the intricate economic and political machinations behind the energy (read: fossil fuel) trade as a whole. It's just like hippies whining about recycling saving trees when the real issue is so much more complex than that. They just ignore the rest of it because it doesn't make a good tagline and it's harder for the average public-school-educated-Joe to understand. And things that the average public-school-educated-Joe has a hard time understanding make him change the channel, which is bad for support and bad for business.
    • by Ingolfke (515826)
      Great post.

      I agree. Forget the whole mess about global warming and all of the debate a pseudo-science and marketing bullshit. Focus on your local city and the damage done by local pollutants. I don't by into global warming but I do know that my city's emissions laws have made the air healthier.

      I also know that most of the world is dependent on a limited natural resource that is coming primarily from an incredibly unstable region. Let's invest resources in developing fuels and systems that can use rene
  • by SengirV (203400) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:12PM (#17477764)
    Because the scientific communty would still shun any scientist that questions the present assumptions. Now take away funding from those voices that dare to question and we would has even less understanding than we have today.
    • Jack about science (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wytcld (179112)
      You don't know jack about science. Scientists get published precisely by questioning present assumptions. But the questions themselves have to be rigorous. Virtually every breakthrough in science was made by someone questioning present assumptions. We've had a long string of major and minor breakthroughs over the last several centuries. The global warming/climate change hypothesis was itself a major challenge to the present assumptions back in 1988, when the first major papers suggesting it got into the jou
  • Will we see a breathless story detailing the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by governments around the world supporting global warming proponents? Or how the Clinton and Blair governments actively try and silence those who dissent(ed) from the orthodoxy? Would there be a controversy if said governments actually allowed a real debate in the agencies which have made it their mission to impose the Kyoto Protocol?

    But right, I forgot, big business is inherently evil.
  • About the billion or so spent by George Soros to fight every traditional or conservative cause out there. There is plenty of FUD from both sides. You just need to be smart enough to sift the BS for the few grains of truth.
  • WOW! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SnarfQuest (469614) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:26PM (#17478022)
    So much money! That $16 million, over 7 years, divided by 43 groups, comes to the amazingly huge sum of $53,000 per year per group. Why, with that king of money, they could probably pay the salary of 1 person!

    My God! They could take over the world with an army like that!
  • Not only, but also (Score:5, Informative)

    by OriginalArlen (726444) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:35PM (#17478228)
    The Royal Society [google.co.uk] recently issued a fairly unprecedented public warning to Exxon to stop perverting science in the name of $$$. I'm sure the UCS are a very worthy body, but the Royal Society are somewhat more prestigious and authoritative (what with having been founded by Newton, Boyle and Hooke, amongst others, being the oldest such learned body in the world, and still representing the elite (in a good way) of UK science. Exxon ("Esso" here in the UK) are still, as the Greenpeace campaign from 5 years ago pointed out, "#1 Global Warming Villain".
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cartman (18204)

      Exxon ("Esso" here in the UK) are still, as the Greenpeace campaign from 5 years ago pointed out, "#1 Global Warming Villain".

      No, the "#1 Global Warming Villain" is Greenpeace itself, by far. Greenpeace and similar organizations have done incalculable damage to the environment, far more than Exxon could ever hope to achieve. By relentlessly attacking nuclear power, Greenpeace has achieved nothing except to destroy the only viable competitor to coal. The result has been a massive increase in coal-burning o

  • by gillbates (106458) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:43PM (#17478356) Homepage Journal

    From the other, more pressing issues that we should be dealing with. For example:

    • The loss of democracy in the First World via electronic voting machines with secret, undisclosed code.
    • The problem of establishing peace in Iraq.
    • The attempted legitimization of torture by First World governments.

    I could go on...

    Anyway, Global Warming fanatics always bring up the negative aspects that it could produce, but not necessarily that it will. Indeed, anyone who is going to make 100 or 1000 year predictions on a few decades of data is foolish. We simply don't know. Regardless, does anyone ever bring up the possible benefits of global warming?

    • The arctic melts. This is good, because we will need the increase in arable land to feed the burgeoning population. How else would you feed 10 billion people? - more pesticides and genetically modified crops? Make the farmer the patent slave of the corporations?
    • Warmer climates require less energy for heating. It is more difficult to live without heat than air conditioning, so this will be a net positive for those living in the Northern and Southern areas of the globe, as they won't need to spend as much money on heating their homes. Even in Illinois, the cost of heating can get prohibitively expensive during the winter months.
    • Cross arctic passage from Russia to Canada - the reduced distance could open up an entirely untapped market. Furthermore, the reduced distance would reduce the amount of fuel required, and the cost of shipping. Russia could finally enter the global economy on the same footing as China.

    And these are just a few. The real question shouldn't be "is GW happening?", but, "Is it a bad thing?". It could be that preventing global warming would leave us with a worldwide shortage of food a few centuries from now. How are you going to feed 10 billion people?

    • by radtea (464814) on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:08PM (#17481302)
      Regardless, does anyone ever bring up the possible benefits of global warming?

      Yes, very frequently, as you would know if you followed the issue at all.

      The problem is that fast-paced environmental change is always a short-to-medium-term massive economic negative. That is, if we woke up tomorrow and the world was 5 C warmer with no rising sea levels or any other long-term negative consequences, the immediate result would be a world-wide recession the like of which has never been seen.

      This is because human economies are highly optimized for things just as they are now. We are extremely adaptable creatures and we have adapted to our current circumstances. Our adpative strategies are almost always incredibly short-sighted and amazingly inflexible, because that is how we squeeze the last drop of cash out of the economy. We build major cities on top of known faults because there hasn't been an earthquake in a while. We build major cities on flood plains or below sea level and then claim "no one could have predicted this" when they wind up under water. We build huge amounts of infrastructure on the basis that nothing is ever going to change, and then pretend to be shocked and outraged when it does.

      So the thing about global climate change is not that "the weather is going to get worse everywhere", as I once heard it put. It is that we are inflexibly adapted to the climate as it is now, and therefore change as such will cost money. Depending the scope and scale of the change, it could cost lots and lots of money--enough to drive economic growth to zero or below world-wide.

      People who make a big deal about climate change because they are worried about the polar bears are idiots. The polar bears survived the Younger Dryas, amongst other things. They have a good chance of surviving this. What does has a less good chance of surviving is the global economy, and the global civilization that depends on it.
  • by harl (84412) on Friday January 05, 2007 @03:56PM (#17478622)
    Where's the article about the tree huggers funding pro global warming research? Since it's functionaly identical everyone should be up in arms about that too.
  • by Aqua_boy17 (962670) on Friday January 05, 2007 @04:03PM (#17478788)
    If only they'd used the $16 million to recruit more pirates, they'd have done a lot more to reduce Global Warming. More pirates = Less Global Warming. I thought everyone knew that by now! We simply have to have more pirates.

    And more cowbell would be nice too.
  • by elmartinos (228710) on Friday January 05, 2007 @04:18PM (#17479092) Homepage
    Ok, the environmentalists are right. I have finally found the proof [funnyhub.com].
  • by The_Crowder (946902) on Friday January 05, 2007 @04:21PM (#17479184)
    Subway sponsors [americanheart.org] the American Heart Association and in return, Subway's food is now endorsed by the AHA as heart healthy. I hope to see the USC bring Jared and his cronies down!
  • by w3woody (44457) on Friday January 05, 2007 @04:45PM (#17479748) Homepage
    Would a 'global warming controversy' exist without the millions of dollars spent by fossil fuel companies to discredit scientific conclusions?"
    Yes, but the shape of the debate may be slightly different.

    Look at it this way: Bill Clinton, in the eleventh hour of his presidency, buried the Kyoto treaty--and admission from Kyoto supporters suggest the reduction of CO2 may only slow global warming by the tiniest fraction of a degree. So assuming everyone was on the same page--that is, assuming we all knew that Global Warming was a fact, and further assuming we all knew that Global Warming was entirely caused by human activities--the real political battle over control of how (or if) we can solve this problem would be under way.

    The fact that opponents to the idea that Global Warming is real or is as big a problem as presented--and those who believe in Global Warming but who believe it is not entirely (or largly) mankind's fault--have received funding from the oil companies does not take away from the fact that "solving" the problem of manmade Global Warming is a big political undertaking. And anything that is this big political undertaking will inevitably be a big political mess involving trillions of dollars and lots of opportunities for lying, cheating and stealing. (To think otherwise is to think all of our politicians are as pure and clean as the wind-driven snow. Hah!)

    I mean, even though we now have proved the Tobacco Companies falsified clear evidence and used tactics to falsify scientific evidence--evidence that has a much more solid basis in double-blind studies on smokers than Global Warmings evidence of computer models and tree ring studies--we still haven't solved the problem of smoking. People still smoke like chimineys, and the evil Tobacco Companies are still selling cigarettes like crazy.

    So even though we have reached a solid consensus that smoking kills you and it's all the fault of the Tobacco Companies--they are still in business. And a good friend of mine died of lung cancer at the age of 41 just last year, caused by smoking.

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