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Earth The Almighty Buck Science

Climate Skeptic Funded By Oil and Coal Companies 504

Posted by timothy
from the not-that-I-can-recall-at-this-time-sir-no dept.
Honken writes with a report from The Guardian that "'One of the world's most prominent scientific figures to be sceptical about climate change has admitted to being paid more than $1m in the past decade by major US oil and coal companies.' This somewhat contradicts that [Harvard researcher Willie] Soon in a 2003 US senate hearing said that he had 'not knowingly been hired by, nor employed by, nor received grants from any organisation that had taken advocacy positions with respect to the Kyoto protocol or the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.'"
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Climate Skeptic Funded By Oil and Coal Companies

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  • and in other news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shivetya (243324)

    many climatologist on both sides of the discussion are employed by people who take a particular interest in one outcome or another.

    So, you found one you don't like, I am quite sure we can find more, there are probably even websites dedicated to this.

    • Re:and in other news (Score:5, Informative)

      by bareman (60518) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:21PM (#36625446) Homepage Journal

      There are indeed such websites:

      http://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Willie_Soon#Funding [sourcewatch.org]

    • by Biff Stu (654099) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:22PM (#36625466)

      Most climatologists who support global warming are employed by public sector or non-profit universities and rely on research grants from the federal government. How is this in any way equivalent to taking money from Big Oil and Coal?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Pino Grigio (2232472)
        It's quite simple: the more catastrophic the scenario, the more cash your institution will get for further research work and the more expenses paid trips you'll get to the Maldives.
        • by SETIGuy (33768) * on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:33PM (#36625624) Homepage
          Other than the fact that that is a lie promulgated by conservative talk radio hosts, it would be a good point.
          • by Pino Grigio (2232472) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:37PM (#36625700)
            But it isn't a lie. It's a fact. Billions of dollars are being poured into climate research by tax-payers. That is an order of magnitude more than corporations are spending on the sceptical viewpoint. None of that money would be available to these institutions and researchers if the conclusion was, "climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is ~1C and in other news, increasing CO2 makes plants grow more vigorously". Al Gore has made millions from this fraud. But you people are completely blind to these things.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Goaway (82658)

              But it isn't a lie. It's a fact.

              Well, no, it just isn't. Perhaps you are wishing really hard for it to be a fact, but that will not make it so. It just plain isn't true.

              But it really doesn't need to be my word against yours. There's a rule to these situations. That rule says that you are supposed to provide evidence, since you're the one making the claim.

              That should be easy, since it's a "fact", yes?

            • by Gerzel (240421) <brollyferret&gmail,com> on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:44PM (#36625812) Journal

              Research does not equal support for global warming.

              Research finds support but it also finds things such as weather satilites. Climate trends. Water tables. Pollution and air quality surveys. Storm prediction. I could go on.

              There are many reasons to pour money into researching the climate and weather other than just to "support" global warming. The research just happens to be supporting it.

            • by toriver (11308)

              [citation needed]

              Then again, I understand your skepticism: It's the same feeling I get whenever someone yells about those "Islamic terrorists" and then it turns out the yeller is a Christian - not exactly a neutral party in the inter-religious struggles.

              If you want to see the effect of the "billions of dollars in climate research", turn on the Weather Channel. Also, it does not help that CO2 makes plants grow more if we keep cutting them down and burning them, and learn something about system equilibrium -

            • Re:and in other news (Score:5, Interesting)

              by haruchai (17472) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @02:00PM (#36626012)

              Oil companies have been getting billions in corporate welfare for a long time. Why is this necessary? BP, despite spending over $20 billion on the DeepWater Horizon spill, have already returned to profitability. Gore's supposed "millions" pale in comparison to the clout and resources of just the oil and coal industries.
              While most plants grow more quickly as CO2 increases, it's not a slam dunk. Researchers have discovered that soybean crops grown in higher levels of CO2 are more susceptible to attack by insects. Bigger and faster doesn't necessarily mean better and healthier.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Broolucks (1978922)

              There is no need to spend a lot on the skeptical viewpoint since there is no research to be done on that front. Billions will buy research, millions will buy people.

              As for government interference, it's pretty obvious that conservatives (at least republicans and Canadian conservatives) are trying to push the skeptical point of view. I'm not sure how a government conspiracy to shove climate alarmism down our throats could survive eight years of Bush presidency and the staunch opposition of roughly half of the

            • by iceaxe (18903)

              OK, let's break it down:

              1. The climate is changing (always has, always will)
              2. Human activities have some amount of impact on the rate of change.
              3. People who do actual research on climate have a range of theories about how much effect human activities have on the rate of change.
              4. If the climate continues to change at the current rate, there is a chance of subjectively unpleasant disruptions to the human population of the planet.
              5. People who are afraid of the possible disruptions have been trying for deca

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Obfuscant (592200)

            Other than the fact that that is a lie promulgated by conservative talk radio hosts, it would be a good point.

            Either you don't work at a Univeristy or you are dishonest. The amount of grant money one can bring is a significant part of your evaluations and status within the University and the science community as a whole. When a University looks at hiring someone for the faculty, one of the things they look at is grant history and existing grant money that the new hire will bring with him. (Not the only thing, but one of them.) If you want to move up the ladder you need to have grants.

            Research faculty write their

            • by epine (68316)

              The kids are OK. We've got a 2^19 UID actually making sense while typing long paragraphs replete with capital letters and many other symbols reserved for passwords but rarely employed.

              The problem with the granting process is that the scientists become so inured to the process, they begin to think their wild-ass call-to-action save-the-planet promotional paragraph is part of the scientific process itself, rather than an ass-pluck social nicety / funding necessity. Scientists sometimes have a lot of trouble

            • Re:and in other news (Score:4, Informative)

              by Medievalist (16032) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @04:39PM (#36628120)

              Anyone whose job involves being paid by grants know this

              You're quite wrong, and all the people around me who are paid by grants agree.

              A research scientist can make ten times as much money if s/he can make a potentially valid claim that pollution isn't hurting the environment. That's been true ever since Reagan took office, OK?

              Politicians pay for what they want to hear, polluters pay (even more!) for what they want to hear, but nobody else wants to pay squat for research that makes no new claims or discoveries.

              And yes, I have spent years working in an academic research institution funded by both private and public grants. My spouse and many of my friends still do; half our family income is based on grants.

              What you are saying is simply not true. There is far, far more money available to scientists willing to deny so-called "global warming" (which is merely one symptom of excessive pollution, really) than to scientists who are not.

              As my friend the historian once told me, "I can't make name for myself by saying Tacitus's histories are just fine, but I can get grants and book deals by claiming he dressed in women's underwear". In real life, you simply don't get grants by knuckling under to some other person's ideas. You get grants by challenging conventional wisdom, and proposing a means of validating your challenge.

            • by SETIGuy (33768) *

              Either you don't work at a Univeristy or you are dishonest. The amount of grant money one can bring is a significant part of your evaluations and status within the University and the science community as a whole.

              Either you don't work at a University or you are dishonest. The amount of grant money one can bring in is related to the quality of the science you have done in the past, the likelihood that your current work will advance the state of knowledge in the field, and the significance that your findings may have. If you are a young faculty member want to get a grant in study of the Earth's climate, the last thing you would want to do is to submit a grant to broadly study global warming. It will get you nowher

        • by Gerzel (240421)

          Not really. Catastrophic is actually looked down upon in the scientific community.

        • by Biff Stu (654099) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:54PM (#36625934)

          I have heard this idea before. It assumes that all the climate researchers are somehow in collusion on a vast conspiracy. The problem with your idea is that the top tier universities are full of egotistical bastards who would gladly screw their peers in order to demonstrate that they are smarter than everyone else. These professors tend to do pretty well with grant money and anything that enhances their fame just ensures that the money keeps coming, even though this may be at the expense of others.

      • You say that as if it's not immediately obvious. Since when did we trust government organizations to not politically interfere with research?

      • by Benfea (1365845) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:44PM (#36625828)

        Here's a hint: the universities and research agencies that employ most normal scientists get the same amount of money regardless of the findings on anthropogenic climate change. The oil companies who employ all of the prominent ACC skeptics stand to lose billions of dollars if the findings are not a certain way.

        Let's put it another way. Acme Pharmaceuticals wants to start selling a new drug. Scientists from universities find that the drug is not safe. Scientists employed by Acme Pharmaceuticals find that the drug is perfectly safe. Given these two pieces of information, would you give this new drug to your children?

        This constant "the other side is exactly as bad" argument from conservatives and libertarians is laughable in almost every instance it is used.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Moryath (553296)

          30 years ago the Republicunts insisting smoking wasn't bad for you (on the pay of Big Tobacco) were playing the same game there. They still are screaming about the "free choice to smoke" in my area as we try to eliminate smoking from public places.

          Remember the "your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins" idea the Republicunts keep screaming about when they want "freedom"? Well, your right to smoke ends when you blow it in my face, asswad.

      • Researchers who are subsidized by public concerns are paid to provide results that may be useful to the public. The grant process is transparent.

        Researchers who are subsidized by private concerns are paid to provide results that are useful to the owners. The grant process is opaque.

        The perceived interests of active shareholders and executives often do not coincide with the perceived interests of the public at large, ergo private concerns often attempt to hide their role in certain kinds of "research", because the degree of self interest in controlling the results is all too apparent.

      • Re:and in other news (Score:5, Informative)

        by BergZ (1680594) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @02:13PM (#36626238)
        I'd argue it is very different: There was a poll of climatologists conducted back during the Bush administration and even those "government grant" scientists felt pressured to downplay/minimize the consequences of Anthropegenic Climate Change.

        High-quality science [is] struggling to get out," Francesca Grifo, of the watchdog group Union of Concerned Scientists, told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. A UCS survey found that 150 climate scientists personally experienced political interference in the past five years in a total of at least 435 incidents. "Nearly half of all respondents perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words 'climate change', 'global warming' or other similar terms from a variety of communications," Grifo said.

        Source [newscientist.com], 2007.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:22PM (#36625468)

      Yep.. on one side are the people who want to keep making $$$ profits. And on the other side are people who'd like to avoid massive coastal flooding and ecological destruction in the next several centuries. We all have our biases, I guess.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Yes, because no one on the pro-warming side is in it for the grant money or funding from the left. They're all pure of heart, like angels really.

    • by chemicaldave (1776600) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:22PM (#36625470)
      The news here is that he lied about it.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      many climatologist on both sides of the discussion are employed by people who take a particular interest in one outcome or another

      Your attempt to muddy the waters aside, one thing is clear: this guy accepted a million dollars to deny reality.

    • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:35PM (#36625666) Homepage

      many climatologist on both sides of the discussion are employed by people who take a particular interest in one outcome or another.

      What do you mean by "both sides"? Really? What funding source were you thinking of that has a financial interest comparable to the trillion dollar profits of the fossil-fuel companies?

      That's the party line of the climate-change deniers: "Oh, it doesn't matter that the so-called skeptics are all funded by fossil-fuel companies, because both sides are funded by dirty money."

      But, oddly, when there is even a rumor that a climate scientist has received as much as a lunch paid for by a source that is not absolutely spotlessly apolitical, isn't it amazing how the blogosphere lights up with accusations of how climate change is "bought and paid for." (Even when the rumor turns out to be unrelated to actual fact.)

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        What do you mean by "both sides"? Really? What funding source were you thinking of that has a financial interest comparable to the trillion dollar profits of the fossil-fuel companies?

        I believe you'll find the oil companies have put hundreds of millions of dollars of funding into 'global warming' and 'green energy' research. They'd probably be foolish if they didn't, because if they can use 'global warming' to reduce the usage of coal, then they're likely to make more money selling oil.

        Didn't the 'Climategate' emails include a bunch where they were discussing how to get funding from oil companies?

    • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:36PM (#36625680)
      This is not just a person who happens to get money from somewhere. This is a person who lied to the US senate about where they were getting money. There is a big difference here and trying to make the two issues equivalent just makes me think you are pushing an agenda.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Gerzel (240421)

      Ok. Who are the big bidders for pro-climate change? And by big I mean those that can put down millions.

      Clean energy, who spends most of their money on R&D?

      Politicos? Who could get leverage a lot cheaper elsewhere with that same money?

      Who?

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Exactly. For those that don't know Al Gore, or Rev Al as I call him for his Lear jet riding rampant hypocrisy, is setting himself up to be a carbon billionaire [telegraph.co.uk] by getting the government to jump on board and force folks and businesses to buy indulgences...err I mean credits, so that they can sin...whoops meant pollute to their hearts content.

      If you wanna see someone that is for treating the planet better that isn't a complete self serving douche the ONLY one I've seen so far is Ed Begely Jr, who actually wal

  • More proof that just because you're a professor or student from Harvard, you aren't instantly a respectable or knowlegeable authority.
  • by gweihir (88907) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:21PM (#36625454)

    Lying in these kinds of hearings is utterly amoral and can have drastic negative consequences for society.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Please people RTF(biased)A carefully.

      He didn't lie. They are taking a (true) statement he made in 2003 and then pointing at grants and stuff he received in 2005 and later then going "A HA! LIAR!"

      Unless they have a quote of him saying he "would never ever take money from those groups ever" or time has suddently started working backwards I fail to see why people are up in arms or how this discredits him or his work.

      He started out doing a bunch of research using a variety of funding sources. Took a certain pos

      • by RatPh!nk (216977) <ratpH1nk@gMailYEATS.com minus poet> on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:51PM (#36625906)

        But according to a Greenpeace US investigation, he has been heavily funded by coal and oil industry interests since 2001, receiving money from ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Insitute and Koch Industries along with Southern, one of the world's largest coal-burning utility companies. Since 2002, it is alleged, every new grant he has received has been from either oil or coal interests.

        Take "Greenpeace" with a grain of salt but that clearly says 2001 and 2002 which is before 2003 testimony, no?

    • by Prune (557140)
      Or, in this case, can have positive consequences depending on where you live. Canada for example is expected to have significant benefits from global warming over the rest of this century, due to things like the opening of the northwest passage allowing new shipping lanes in the arctic and exploiting the arctic's natural resources, as well as (what is more important in the longer term) an increase in arable land due to melting of the permafrost which raises the country's capacity for farming as well as liva
      • by cyfer2000 (548592)
        And Soviet Russia...
      • Patriotism without values or honour is just selfishness and greed. As a Canadian I reject the extreme dishonesty of the majority of climate change 'skeptics', and I would ashamed if our country tried to interfere with meaningful action on climate change out of self-interest.

        Of course, with the current anti-science* government your point of view may win the day. No wonder the UN doesn't want us on the security council.

        Posted by a proud Canadian from Ottawa, Ontario

        * Two quick references for the conservativ

        • by Bemopolis (698691)

          Of course, with the current [Canadian] anti-science* government your point of view may win the day. No wonder the UN doesn't want us on the security council.

          Awww, that's cute, ya big Canuck puddin'. Here in America we have a museum with dinosaurs in it AND THEY ARE FUCKING WEARING SADDLES. And it is not only NOT laughed out of existence, it is doubtlessly attended by a huge swath of members of one of our major parties.

          Checkmate.

  • Lying to Congress (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SETIGuy (33768) * on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:23PM (#36625480) Homepage
    I remember when lying to Congress used to be a crime. Now it's just an alternative lifestyle.
  • Funded by Exxon (Score:5, Informative)

    by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:24PM (#36625498) Homepage

    Not surprising; the main source of critiques that attempt to discredit climate science is the "Heartland Institute," which doesn't state its funding sources, except to say it's funded by "foundations and corporations"... but reading the budget information from Exxon Mobil shows those "foundations and corporations" tend to be fossil fuel companies, and fossil-fuel funded institutes like the American Petroleum Institute.

  • and voter apathy are the main causes behind this country's approaching decline. This shit needs to stop. This kind of thing was rampant in the US around the late 1800s and the country went through war and economic depression before finally turning itself around. I fear that history is repeating itself, and that nobody who can actually do anything about is bothering to give a fuck. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the country's crumbling infrastructure (physical and digital), and the horrible US economy are
  • by GreyFlcn (963950) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:38PM (#36625728)

    Was there really any doubt that Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon were full of it?

    Here's a thorough debunk of their most infamous paper.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXesBhYwdRo#t=2m00s [youtube.com]

    i.e. The one skeptics go crazy about how in emails, how other climate scientists said it shouldn't have even been published in the first place.

  • by TallGuyRacer (920071) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:56PM (#36625960) Homepage
    Please stop refering to these people as climate 'skeptics'. They are climate 'deniers' - just like holocaust deniers and round earth deniers.
  • by fatmar (992498) <fatmarauder@gmail.com> on Thursday June 30, 2011 @02:54PM (#36626768) Homepage
    Doing this sort of thing is called "the Tabbaco Strategy". Read "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming" Naomi Oreskes (Author), Erik M. M. Conway (Author) http://www.amazon.com/Merchants-Doubt-Handful-Scientists-Obscured/dp/1608193942/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309463389&sr=8-1 [amazon.com]
  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @03:17PM (#36627068)
    This is the real "climategate". Of the emails stolen from CRU that the best climate skeptics could do was a couple of quotes out of context in the the roughly 70mb of emails. I even downloaded the torrent to see for myself*. This was heralded as proof of the climate change hoax. It was not, rather it proved everything was legit.

    THIS is worthy of the title Climategate, the real scandal is in the millions spent or trying to seed doubt and stall planet-saving policy. (After initial expenditure, hords of useful idiots and wackjobs take over - they are desperate for something to fight since the cold war, there are no longer commies under their beds).

    Once again the data doesn't support what the deniers claim. Once again, caught red handed, lying for money.

    Deniers: Please please present examples of scientists caught out doing false science for money from whoever has a vested interest in saving the world rather than wrecking it for short term profit, I dunno... EV battery company?

    *(In actual fact the volume of emails showed nothing untoward, just genuine scientists doing their usual thing).
  • by Loopy (41728) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @08:43PM (#36629904) Journal

    This criticism isn't applied uniformly. Somehow getting funding from these guys taints everything they do regardless of whether they publish verifiable data. Yet we don't apply the same standard to say, "news" outlets that contribute 85% to one political party. Where else might these standards be conveniently brushed under the rug?

    I suspect if you dig deep enough, you'll find some evidence of this in one form or another and to varying degrees for every single scientist in existence. Good science can be verified.

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