Written by Cindy Baxter, crossposted from Greenpeace: Dealing in Doubt.
Who likes being lied to by people paid by the oil industry who pose as “experts” on climate change?
Did you know it’s been going on for 25 years?
In a couple of weeks, the UN’s official advisors on climate change science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will update its global assessment on the issue. Yet in the background, more attacks on the climate science are underway
For the last quarter century, the climate science denial machine, its cogs oiled by fossil fuel money, has been attacking climate science, climate scientists and every official US report on climate change, along with State and local efforts – with the aim of undermining action on climate change.
Our new report, Dealing in Doubt, sets out the history of these attacks going back to the early 90s. These are attacks based on anti-regulatory, so called “free market” ideology, not legitimate scientific debate, using a wide range of dirty tricks: from faked science, attacks on scientists, fake credentials, cherry-picking scientific conclusions: a campaign based on the old tobacco industry mantra: “doubt is our product”.
We give special attention to perhaps today’s poster child of the climate denial machine’s free market think tanks, the Heartland Institute, which is about to launch a new version of its “NIPCC” or “climate change reconsidered” report next week in Chicago.
Unlike the real IPCC, with thousands of scientists involved from around the world, the Heartland Institute’s handful of authors is paid. Several of them claim fake scientific credentials. They start with a premise of proving the overwhelming consensus on climate science wrong, whereas the real IPCC simply summarizes the best science to date on climate change.
More recently, less visible channels of funding have been revealed such as the Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, organization that that has been called the “ATM of the conservative movement”, distributing funds from those who don’t want to be publicly associated with the anti-environmental work product of organizations like the Heartland Institute.
In the last week we’ve seen new peer-reviewed science published, linking at least half of 2012’s extreme weather events to a human carbon footprint in the atmosphere and on the weather and climate.
As the scientific consensus strengthens by the day that climate change is happening now, that carbon pollution is causing it and must be regulated, the denial machine is getting increasingly shrill. But today, while they are being increasingly ignored by a majority of the public, their mouthpieces in the US House of Representatives, for instance, have increased in number.
They’re still fighting the science – and they’re still being funded, to the tune of millions of dollars each year, to do it.
Dealing in Doubt sets out a history of these attacks. We show how the tactics of the tobacco industry’s campaign for “sound science” led to the formation of front groups who, as they lost the battle to deny smoking’s health hazards and keep warning labels off of cigarettes, turned their argumentative skills to the denial of climate change science in order to slow government action.
What we don’t cover is the fact that these organizations and deniers are also working on another front, attacking solutions to climate change. They go after any form of government incentive to promote renewable energy, while cheering for coal, fracking and the Keystone pipeline.
They attack any piece of legislation the US EPA puts forward to curb pollution. Decrying President Obama’s “war on coal” is a common drumbeat of these anti-regulation groups. One key member of the denial machine, astrophysicist Willie Soon from the Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics, has portrayed himself as an “expert” on mercury and public health in order to attack legislation curbing mercury emissions from coal plants.
This recent history, as well as the prior history of denial by the tobacco companies and chemical, asbestos and other manufacturing industries, is important to remember because the fossil fuel industry has never admitted that it was misguided or wrong in its early efforts to delay the policy reaction to the climate crisis. To this day, it continues to obstruct solutions.
The individuals, organizations and corporate interests who comprise the ‘climate denial machine’ have caused harm and have slowed our response time. As a result, we will all ultimately pay a much higher cost as we deal with the impacts, both economic and ecological.
Eventually, these interests will be held accountable for their actions.
Similarly deceptive is an upcoming junk study from a Koch-funded think tank that has taken on the format and appearance of a truly scientific report from the US Government, but is loaded with lies and misrepresentation of actual climate change science. The false report is a tentacle of the Kochtopus--with oil and industrial billionaires Charles and David Koch at the head.
UPDATE: Climate scientists at the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science lambast the counterfeit Cato report for mimicking the scientific report they authored:
"As authors of that report, we are dismayed that the report of the Cato Institute, ADDENDUM: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, expropriates the title and style of our report in such a deceptive and misleading way. The Cato report is in no way an addendum to our 2009 report. It is not an update, explanation, or supplement by the authors of the original report. Rather, it is a completely separate document lacking rigorous scientific analysis and review."
The report's disgraced author, Patrick Michaels, has made his largely undistinguished career shilling for fossil fuel interests, including his stay at the Cato Institute, which published the counterfeit report. After admitting to CNN that 40% of his funding is from the oil industry alone, even Cato was embarrassed enough to clarify that "Pat works for Cato on a contract basis, not as a full-time employee. Funding that Pat receives for work done outside the Cato Institute does not come through our organization."
The Kochs' combined $62 billion in wealth comes from Koch Industries operations in oil refining, pipelines, tar sands exploration, chemical production, deforestation and fossil fuel commodity trading, all of which contribute to global climate change and the types of extreme weather Americans are now starting to recognize as symptoms of global warming.
Wary of how public concern over climate change could drop demand for fossil fuel products, the Kochs have spent the last 15 years dumping over $61 million to front groups telling us that global warming doesn't exist, or that it would destroy our economy to stop runaway climate change. Other billionaire families like the Scaifes and companies like ExxonMobil have funneled tens of millions more to the same groups to bury climate science in public relations schemes designed to delay solutions to global warming. While Cato got over $5.5 million from the Kochs since 1997, it received over $1 million from the Scaifes, $125,000 from ExxonMobil and tens of millions more from other fossil fuel interests and ideologues in the top 1%.
In a highly public battle earlier this year between the Koch brothers and libertarians at the Cato Institute, some Cato employees didn't want their work to become what David Koch calls "intellectual ammunition" for other Koch fronts like Americans for Prosperity. Cato's deceptive climate report is exactly the type of fake science that AFP needs in order to continue lying to the American public about the reality of global warming.
Cato's counterfeit report is classic global warming denial that is clearly designed to be confused for actual science. Its author, its publisher and its billionaire supporters have all been key to the coordinated public relations effort that has blocked climate policy in this country by making climate science a partisan issue in this country and rallying the American public behind the very lies they themselves fabricated. The junk report has already been circulated by other climate science deniers and even cited in a Congressional presentation.
With climate change already contributing to 400,000 deaths each year and costing $1.2 trillion to economies worldwide, such dubious doubt-peddling should be considered criminal. If you are an elected official or a journalist and spot the Cato Institute's bogus new report, call it for what it is: malarkey!
For more on the Koch brothers' climate denial machine, check out this illustrative video and keep your eyes out for Cato:
Written by Greenpeace Research Director Kert Davies, crossposted from Greenpeace Blogs.
No one would argue that Heartland Institute is in turmoil. The Guardian summed it up pretty well last night . The historic Joe Bast backfiring blunder of a billboard campaign featuring Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, the non-apology that followed, corporate funders running for the exits, the collapse of the Heartland DC office, former friends and colleagues jumping Bast's ship in his "hour of need"...
Desperate times indeed for climate denial central....
Before the billboard debacle, after their documents were leaked, they called another meeting - to challenge the prevailing consensus science on global warming (again...). It looked to us a lot like a circling of wagons. The co-sponsor organizations and speakers at the Heartland meeting this week in Chicago are the last remaining army bent on stalling action on global warming. The cosponsor orgs along with Heartland itself, received grants totaling almost $5.5 Million from ExxonMobil and $13.8 Million from the Koch brothers foundations since the late 1990s. Their work together goes way back. The interlaced connections between these groups and people is best illustrated by this ExxonSecrets.org map showing the meeting cosponsors down the left and some key speakers down the middle and all their other connections on the right. (Move them around on the map and explore their connections.) Marc Morano, Patrick Michaels, Myron Ebell, Fred Singer, Craig Idso, Willie Soon, Bob Carter and other speakers have long associations with multiple denial front groups The crowd assembled in Chicago this week at the 7th (not annual, but randomly occurring) Heartland Denial-Palooza meeting is a who's who of individuals and organizations that have actively conspired to derail global warming policy and science for the last two decades. Ever since the world woke up to the climate crisis, this mob has been working to delay action by distracting the public and policy arena with misinformation. Steve Coll's new book, Private Empire, gives an in depth account of Exxon's front group climate denial funding effort that accelerated after the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. These people and groups at Heartland's meeting are the very groups Exxon was funding to do their scut work a few short years ago.. Exxon Dumped Heartland The corporations fleeing Heartland now are slow learners. Exxon dumped Heartland years ago when it shed multiple front groups who they admitted "could divert attention" on climate change. Alas, Heartland is still diverting attention, Exxon money or not. Exxon did give Heartland a total of $676,500 from 1998 until 2007 they severed ties.
"In 2008, we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups, whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in a responsible manner." --2007 ExxonMobil Corporate Citizenship Report, published in May 2008
NOTE: Shareholder activists continue to try to hold Exxon accountable on climate change at their AGM May 30 in Dallas, including a resolution on greenhouse gas reductions. Reporters: go cover that meeting! Starting in 2006, Exxon dumped all (well almost all, see Heritage below) of the current co-sponsors of the Heartland meeting whom they had sent a grand total of $5.49 Million in grants from 1998 until they cut them off one by one. This year's co-sponsors include:
- Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) - Got more than $2M from Exxon since 1998, dumped by Exxon 2006
- Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) - $582,000 from Exxon, dumped by Exxon in 2008
- Frontiers of Freedom - $1.27M from Exxon, dumped by Exxon in 2008
- Capital Research Center -$265K from Exxon, dumped by Exxon in 2008
- Heritage Foundation - $680K from Exxon, STILL funded by Exxon as far as we know.
NOTE: Late comer to the Heartland party is the Illinois Coal Association. For years they bragged that these Denial-Palooza meetings were not funded by corporations, but alas times have changed. But the legacy of these groups is deeper and more detailed than just sharing money from Exxon. The Koch brothers Foundations sent the co-sponsors of the Heartland meeting a total of $13.8 Million from 1997 onward. Koch money receipts by Heartland co-sponsors
- Americans for Prosperity, late conference co-sponsor, has received nearly $5.8 Million from the Koch foundation. David Koch is the Chair of Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
- Heritage leads all Koch fundees having received over $4.4M since 1997
- Reason Foundation has received at total of $1.8M
- Capital Research Center hauled in $660K
- CEI got $521K in Koch money
- Frontiers of Freedom has received $175K
- Ayn Rand Institute, Center for Study of CO2 and Global Change, Independent Institute and the John Locke Foundation all received Koch money.
Let's explore the history of this hardcore climate denial club a bit further: American Petroleum Institute Secret Plan Many of the people at the Chicago meeting and the organizations they represent were part of the American Petroleum Institute's Global Climate Science Communications Team (GCSCT), circa 1998. This leaked document revealed a multimillion dollar plan to train scientists for media and run a counter narrative to the prevailing climate science.
- Myron Ebell was on the GCSCT and is a speaker at the Heartland conference. He was then with Frontiers of Freedom, now with CEI, both co-sponsors.
- Steve Milloy was on the GCSCT and his JunkScience.com is a Heartland meeting cosponsor.
- Frontiers of Freedom, Competitive Enterprise Institute and CFACT, all Heartland meeting co-sponsors are identified by name in the leaked API plan as "potential fund allocators". .
- Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) is a Heartland co-sponsor and was on the GCSCT
Greening Earth Society Craig Idso, a speaker at the conference, who we now know is on the Heartland payroll at over $130K this year, was one of the architects of the 1992 coal-funded Greening Earth Society which tried the non-denial approach: It's good for us, everything will be greener and warmer. Don't worry, burn coal as fast as you can!! Can you believe this guy still has a job? Recap The Peter Gleick master dupe of the century, revealed for all to see the Heartland 2012 Budget and Fundraising Plans. When DeSmogBlog released the documents on Valentines Day, we learned an awful lot about the Heartland mob and their plans. The Greenpeace Heartland investigation continues at PolluterWatch. Some of what we have learned:
- Their climate denial lifeline over the past five years at least has been one "Anonymous Donor" who is managed by the random Mr Bast., who at times has accounted for over 60 percent of their operating budget.
- Heartland is developing K-12 curriculum to teach our children their climate mythology.
- They have moved uptown out of their "shabby" offices and wanted to raise more money working on fracking, presumably to keep up with the rent.
- They hope(d) to increase their $20,000 2011 donation from one of the Koch Foundations to $200,000 and leverage the Koch network to expand their funding base. Wonder how those fundraising calls to the Kochs' are going now, after the billboard blowback?
This Heartland Chicago meeting might be interesting. The last one was a dud I hear. Oh to be a fly on the wall as the participants line up to rail on Joe Bast for dragging them into his cesspool.
PolluterWatch: Greenpeace Investigates Heartland Institute Leaked Documents -- click to see investigation and ongoing updates.
As Greenpeace questions universities about payments to faculty members from the Heartland Institute for its campaign to discredit climate science, we have made some interesting discoveries. Our newest letter is to the University of Missouri concerning professor Anthony Lupo, who leads the schools Global Climate Change Group and is slated to receive a total $18,000 from the Heartland Institute from 2011-2012 as a consultant for "Climate Change Reconsidered" reports. As you would expect from a Heartland Institute project, these reports are designed to confuse the scientific conclusions of 97% of climate researchers around the world.
While credible climate scientists and institutions have understood global warming for decades now, Anthony Lupo's position on climate has fluctuated significantly. A thorough article in the Kansas City Pitch back in 2008 revealed the following evolution of Dr. Lupo's public statements on global warming:
- In 1998, Tony Lupo boasted that climate skeptics outnumbered the consensus view that global warming is happening and caused by people, proclaiming, "there is no scientific consensus whether global warming is a fact and is occurring." This is despite the fact that in 1995 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said "the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." Dr. Lupo has participated in the IPCC as a reviewer, one of the few scientists involved who rejects the IPCC's research conclusions.
- In 2000, Dr. Lupo cited an influential oceanographer calling for more study on global warming in "recent statements"...after the oceanographer had been dead for nine years.
In 2005, Dr. Lupo contradicted his previous op-ed statements and told the Kansas City Star that "the climate is warming" but that the warming was not "unprecedented."
- In 2007, Dr. Lupo said that because of increasing global surface temperatures, "Columbia's [Missouri] probably become a more ideal place to live." This notion is consistent with that of industry apologist Craig Idso, who coordinates the work of Heartland's Climate Change Reconsidered reports.
Our new letter to Mizzou quotes Dr. Lupo this year telling the Columbia Daily Tribune that he still doubts humans are the primary cause of global warming, contrasting the explicit climate statements of scientific institutions he is affiliated with, such as the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorology Society. Anthony Lupo's work for the Heartland Institute even flipped a long-time climate skeptic columnist at the Daily Tribune, who publicly explained why the scandal convinced him that global warming is indeed occurring.
Questions posed to other schools have unearthed more potentially scandalous activity. First and foremost, we want to know why the Heartland Institute has Michigan Technological University (MTU) professor David Watkins listed in their budget. When we wrote to MTU asking if Watkins had disclosed his Heartland payments, they were shocked at the association. Turns out, Watkins is neither a climate skeptic nor a Heartland Institute contractor, something the Heartland Institute has not explained.
As Michigan Tech made it clear they want nothing to do with Heartland's junk science, Harvard University again confirmed that career climate denier and Heartland contractor Willie Soon has no formal affiliation with the school beyond office space on their campus. This hasn't stopped Willie from claiming he's a "natural scientist at Harvard" while dismissing the dangers of mercury pollution in the Wall Street Journal. Last year Greenpeace revealed that Willie Soon is exclusively funded by fossil fuel interests like Koch Industries, ExxonMobil and Southern Company, a major contributor to mercury air pollution from its coal plants.
Moving southwest, a meeting with Greenpeace student activist Erica Kris prompted an "investigation" at Arizona State University (ASU), although there was no third party involved to prevent bias. ASU's longtime climate skeptic Robert C. Balling continues to reject conclusive scientific evidence that humans are the primary cause of global warming and was listed as a recipient of prospective payments in Heartland's leaked budget for work on their "Climate Change Reconsidered" reports. According to Arizona State Vice President for Academic Personel Mark Searle, who conducted the review of Dr. Balling's disclosure forms to the school, Balling isn't going to review Heartland's latest climate denial report:
"With respect to any consulting work with the Heartland Institute, other than the previously reported $1000 honorarium Dr. Balling received for giving a speech some years ago, he has not received any compensation from them. The purported budget from the Heartland Institute was prospective and was not a commitment and Dr. Balling told me he has not engaged in any such activity."
Historically, Dr. Balling has taken plenty of money from fossil fuel interests, which brings in funding not only to Balling's predetermined "research," but hundreds of thousands of dollars in overhead payments to Arizona State University (see Balling's 1997 testimony to the Minnesota News Council). Balling teamed up with oil industry scientist Pat Michaels at the Exxon- and Koch-funded Cato Institute to write three books that have served as faux counter-arguments to settled science. Two of those books were published by Cato, while The Heated Debate was published by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), another cog in the climate denial machine. Balling claimed to know "nothing" about the Pacific Research Institute even though PRI and published his book promoting global warming doubt:
"I know nothing of their history. I'm aware that they have been a conservative public policy group. But I did not investigate who these people were that asked me to prepare a book for them." --From Ozone Action's Ties that Bind [PDF]
Dr. Balling has reluctantly owned up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fossil fuel funding as well as direct research support from Exxon [PDF] and the Kuwaiti government [PDF] to downplay global warming. As part of an extremely small group of PR scientists for hire, both Michaels and Balling worked for the Western Fuels coal coalition and its fraudulent Greening Earth Society project, led at the time by Peabody coal lobbyist Fred Palmer.
Given his history as an oil and coal industry consultant who ignores 97% of working climate scientists worldwide, why doesn't Arizona State consider it a problem for Dr. Balling to promote his political positions as if they were factual? What about his role in ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability, of which climate change research and mitigation is listed as a top priority? What about his attempts to directly influence policy based on scientific misinformation? ASU's Office of Research Integrity and Assurance lists "Objectivity in Research" among its responsibilities to "support for the responsible conduct of research." Freedom of expression does not equate to freedom to repeatedly misrepresent scientific fact on behalf of industry policy groups like Cato, Pacific Research and Heartland.
Although Heartland's reputation has become increasingly toxic, most recently indicated by General Motors announcing it would stop sending money to Heartland, they haven't given up. Perhaps Heartland President Joseph Bast would be lost in a world where he's not paid to promote tobacco products, deny global warming, and force junk science into classrooms.
You can continue to follow Greenpeace's Investigation of Heartland Institute Leaked Documents on PolluterWatch.
This guest post was written by Brendan DeMelle, crossposted from DeSmogBlog.
Climate skeptics are once again proven wrong, and this time even Koch money can't skew the facts.
Have you heard the one from climate deniers that the “Urban Heat Island” effect has ruined all the weather stations and made the data they collect completely useless? The deniers claim any warming trend seen from these temperature recordings is from concrete buildings and asphalt roads – and that climate change is therefore a myth?
That would be false. Says whom, you ask? How about a new Koch-funded scientific study?
An investigation by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project released yesterday once again thoroughly dispatches the skeptic myth about the “Urban Heat Island” (UHI) effect.
Many global warming skeptics have long claimed that the urban heat island effect is so strong that it has skewed temperature measurements indicating that global warming is happening. The skeptics argue that efforts to curb global warming pollution are therefore unnecessary, citing their pet theory that surface temperature stations were swallowed by, or moved closer to, cities, thus skewing surface temperature records on the whole.
The BEST papers – which still must go through rigorous peer review – confirm what climate scientists have correctly stated previously, demonstrating without doubt that “very rural” temperature stations miles from any new “UHI” towns or cities have also recorded warming at 0.9 degrees Celsius over the last century.
To put it plainly, even the Kochtopus denial machine will have a tough time trying to twist this Koch-funded project’s findings. It looks like the Kochs backed the wrong horse here - one wonders whether they thought Hadley CRU would be proven wrong?
Notable skeptics like Anthony Watts have long pushed this bogus UHI theory. In fact, Watts admits that he basically became a climate skeptic when he heard that urban heat islands (UHI) had distorted the global temperature record. In November, Watts wrote on Watts Up With That: “UHI is easily observable. I’ve been telling readers about UHI since this blog started…”
Mr. Watts isn’t quitting his fight just yet, complaining yesterday on his blog that the BEST studies must first clear peer review. Fair enough, sir, but in the meantime you might want to sharpen your flatware in preparation to dine on crow.
After all, Watts said in March: “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.”
Brian Angliss over at Scholars & Rogues notes the sheer hypocrisy of Anthony Watts whining about BEST publishing the findings prior to peer-review, a sin Watts himself is guilty of:
This is the same Anthony Watts who published a paper with Joe D’Aleo titled “Is The US Temperature Record Reliable?” two full years before he published the associated peer reviewed paper. Oh, and the peer-reviewed paper came to the opposite conclusion of the Heartland paper.
And the BEST papers? Pre-release versions of the papers they’ll be submitting shortly for peer-review at real scientific journals. The Watts/D’Aleo paper? Published by the climate disruption denying Heartland Institute.
Watts has so much invested in the US surface station temperature record being wrong that he can’t seem to admit that his own research proved it was right, never mind accept that anyone else’s analyses might show the same.
Watts is by no means alone in embracing the Urban Heat Island theory to downplay global warming science. John Christy, Roy Spencer, S. Fred Singer, Tim Ball and his “Friends of Science”, Ross McKitrick and Pat Michaels - to name a few - have all been proponents of the Urban Heat Island theory to explain away global warming data. Many of them excitedly praised the BEST study when it was first announced, apparently confident that it would confirm their theory. They should also sharpen their flatware for a feast of crow and humble pie.
Richard Muller and Judith Curry, the ringleaders of the BEST effort, have each received a significant amount of criticism for their own attacks on climate science, including on DeSmogBlog, and the lashings from Joe Romm at Climate Progress. (Romm broke this story back in March, in fact, but now we have the full papers from Muller’s team to back up the claims.)
It now appears that the BEST effort confirms again what the, ahem, best climate scientists have told us repeatedly in the peer-reviewed science published on this issue over the past 20 years - that UHI is negligible and certainly doesn’t skew the conclusion that surface temperatures are rising. In fact, a 2010 study indicated that stations identified by Watts and others as exaggerating warming actually indicated a cooling trend on closer examination. Oops.
Yes, the favorite arguments from skeptics griping about temperature station quality, selection bias and data correction all appear to be falling apart, thanks in part to $150,000 of their sugar daddy Charles Koch’s coin, no less.
Remember Climategate? Recall how Phil Jones was dragged through the mud chiefly due to the allegation that his landmark 1990 study on UHI - later cited by the International Panel on Climate Change – was allegedly plagued by flawed temperature data?
As it turns out, Jones and his colleagues at the Hadley Centre, who compile the HadCRU global temperature record are enjoying yet another exoneration today, since BEST data confirms the premise that the Urban Heat Island effect is not responsible for the extent of recorded global temperature rises.
But there’s little cause for celebration. What the BEST papers clearly confirm (once again) is that global warming is real, and temperatures are rising quickly.
As Richard Muller writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece today:
“When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections.
Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that.”
The hardened deniers will surely find something else to complain about now, as their attempts to paint man-made climate change as a myth grown increasingly desperate. But anyone who could be described as a “reasonable skeptic” must recognize this plain fact and stop misleading the public on this issue. To do otherwise is dishonest and frankly unethical.
UPDATE: SSSIP press release posted.
Speaking truth to climate lies, students at Swarthmore College resisted dirty industry scientist-for-hire Patrick Michaels during a presentation for a modest audience yesterday. As Michaels pecked away at credible scientific consensus over climate change, students held up signs highlighting Michael's true expertise: acting as a mouthpiece for the likes of ExxonMobil and other major polluters who have funded his anti-scientific public relations career. Recognizing his expertise, the satirical "Swarthmore Students for Scientific Industrial Progress" were photographed presenting Dr. Michaels with a Certificate of Corporate Climatology. Finally, a credential Michaels has earned!
Michaels has been a particularly useful arm of the climate denial machine, as his credentials include an actual Ph.D in climatology, lending him unearned legitimacy as he has spent recent years peddling misinformation about global warming on behalf of the coal and oil industries. Michaels has long been an ally to front groups heavily finanaced by ExxonMobil and Koch Industries, including the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, CFACT, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and numerous others. He has published several books attacking the research of climate scientists who actually are publishing peer-reviewed climate studies, the conclusions of which are against the profitability of the polluter giants who fund Michaels' work. In the two weeks that followed the release of hacked emails between climate scientists at the Unversity of East Anglia, Michaels appeared in over twenty media interviews on major news networks to broadcast the false accusation that climate researchers were manipulating data.
Michaels has become increasingly recognized as a corporate polluter megaphone. In late January, 2011 California Representative Henry Waxman sent a letter to House Energy & Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) asking him to question Michaels over his failure to disclose sources of funding that present a clear conflict of interest in his role as a climate misinformer.
Ironically, Waxman's inquiry was sparked by Michaels' own admission on CNN that "forty percent" of his funding came from the oil industry:
Pat Michaels' entire presentation was filmed, his connection to the Cato Institute is challenged at minute 57:00, shortly followed by his refusal to answer a question about his sources of funding. Michaels instead cited how ExxonMobil has spent "hundreds of millions" developing renewable technology--pennies of ExxonMobil's hundreds of billions in annual revenue. After Michaels' 40% figure from CNN was cited by the student challenging him to disclose his sources of funding, Michaels replied, "I don't discuss personal matters in public." See for yourself:
Koch Industries, which has dumped tens of millions of dollars into organizations that deny climate science, also wields its influence through a network of media operatives that are now shielding the private conglomorate from criticism.
In a dismissal of the questionable connection between Koch Industries and Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto recently defended the dubious political wrangling of the Koch brothers while chastizing its critics, namely Common Cause. Common Cause organized the recent protest in Rancho Mirage, California outside of the ritzy resort Charles Koch selected as a haven for undemocratic scheming.
What is ironic about Taranto's pro-Koch piece is his offense to the Wall Street Journal's editorial page being considered biased (it clearly is, as you would expect from a Rupert Murdoch business), while the WSJ editorial board actually has a direct connection to Koch Industries itself.
Stephen Moore, who sits with Taranto on the Wall Street Journal editorial board and is an economic pundit on TV networks, attended the secretive gathering hosted by Charles Koch in Aspen, Colorado last June. In fact, it was Moore who revealed in a 2006 interview with Charles Koch that these meetings exist.
As outlined in a forthcoming Greenpeace report, Moore has ties to the Cato Institute, co-founded by Charles Koch, and the Heritage Foundation, which have each received millions of dollars from Koch foundations since 1997. Moore has provided an explicit voice in the fabricated non-debate over climate science, where scientists are pinned against industry talking points and cherrypicked data (see clip provided by ThinkProgress).
The Wall Street Journal's opinion section has also served as host to prominent climate obstructionists, such as Bjorn Lomborg and scientists-for-hire Richard Lindzen and Patrick Michaels. Lindzen and Michaels are deeply integrated into Koch- and Exxon-funded think tanks such as Cato, the George C. Marshall Institute, Tech Central Station and the Heartland Institute. Michaels is currently being scrutinized after he apparently under-reported his financial backing by coal and oil companies during a presentation before Congress.
Taranto also cites Jonathan Adler from the National Review Online to attack Common Cause. Adler has links to the Koch- and Exxon-funded Federalist Society (which paid for the Justices Thomas and Scalia attendance at a secret Koch meeting), Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Property and Environment Research Center.
Oh, and Adler's connection as a blogger for the National Review Online adds another connection to Koch Industries--NRO senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru attended the Koch meeting in Aspen last June, just as Stephen Moore did. Moore also contributes to the National Review.
...that must have been what Taranto meant by adhering to the "highest standards of journalistic integrity."
For more on Koch Industries' connections to media outlets, check out Kate Sheppard's recent piece in Mother Jones, and keep your eyes peeled for more details from Greenpeace.
Similar to Rolling Stone's "The Climate Killers" article that was released at the beginning of the year, AlterNet has just profiled some of the most influential political, financial and popular enemies of the Earth's increasingly disrupted climate.
Snide comments aside, both reports nail some of the most influential staples: Koch Industries, an infamous engine of the climate denial machine; Warren Buffet, the filthy-rich investor who has placed his bets on coal; and Joe Barton, Big Fossil's purchased U.S. Representative (over 1.7 million dirty dollars over the last decade).
AlterNet's newer spotlight identifies Harold Lewis and Freeman Dyson, who are similar to the likes of S. Fred Singer and Patrick Michaels in their use of scientific credentials for corporate public relations rather than, say, active climate studies...or scientific study in general. Also like Singer and Michaels, they have ties to prominent denier think tanks such as Cato, the Heartland Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, all of which are currently or formerly funded by Koch Industries and ExxonMobil. Similarly, AlterNet mentions Anthony Watts, whose skeptic blog is the go-to hub for climate-solutions obstructionism, and whose credentials as a TV weatherman (not certified by the American Meteorological Society) fool people into thinking he's a climate expert. Like the other junk scientists mentioned in the article, Watts has ties to the Heartland Institute.
In a contrasting look at university integrity, AlterNet also profiles Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's attorney general who has used the "climategate" nonscandal as grounds to continue harassing Michael Mann, the influential University of Virginia climatologist whose university research was a primary target of the hacked East Anglia emails. While Mann was defended by his university and cleared of wrongdoing after investigations, the same can't be said for George Mason University's Edward Wegman. AlterNet points out that Wegman is currently under formal investigation his George Mason for pushing bogus climate material for none other than Texas Rep. Joe Barton.
It is worth noting that George Mason University (GMU) is a known breeding ground for climate deniers and heavily supported by the Koch brothers; both the Mercatus Center and the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) operate out of the University have received millions of dollars from the Kochs. There's also Koch Industries executive Richard Fink, who taught and filled various other positions at GMU, co-founded and directs GMU's Mercatus Center, directs the Institute for Humane Studies, is the president of two Koch family foundations that fund these groups, founded the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation (which became the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, of which Fink is a director)...Rich Fink pretty much lives up to his name.
Glenn Beck (who attended Charles Koch's secret election strategy meeting last June), Mitch McConnell, former BP CEO Tony Hayward, Peabody CEO Gregory Boyce, and others are also credited for their dirty work in the full article.