The Union of Concerned Scientists should be able to win any argument on global warming based on the merits of available data - but instead they seek to use smear tactics and compare Exxon-Mobil to Big Tobacco. We all know Big Tobacco is evil, right? So if you disagree with them on global warming, you must be evil too.
Who Funds The Global Warming Consensus?
1) Exxon-Mobil = $16 million among 43 groups in the 8 years covering 1998 to 2005.
2) Union of Concerned Scientists = $12 million in 2004 alone.
The Union of Concerned Scientists issued a report today criticizing Exxon-Mobil and groups that received money from them.
On the exterior, this seems like a fine thing. It's always a good idea to calibrate the opinions of any group involved in a political debate - that includes scientists. But there comes a point when advocacy goes a little too far and it becomes a hammer with which to crush dissenting opinion.
The latest salvo by the Union of Concerned Scientists treads on dangerous ground.
It's a good thing, for example, that scientists in the U.S. recently won a battle to allow scientists employed by federal government to speak freely even if their views are in opposition to the federal government. This freedom needs to go both ways.
Except it doesn't work that way.
In the Associated Press story on this report, they reference a similar effort by The Royal Society to halt support for groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change."
But the Royal Society didn't stop at that. They wrote journalists asking them to ignore opposing science.
I've had a letter from Sir David Wallace, CBE, FRS. In his capacity as treasurer and vice-president of the Royal Society, he writes: "We are appealing to all parts of the UK media to be vigilant against attempts to present a distorted view of the scientific evidence about climate change and its potential effects on people and their environments around the world. I hope that we can count on your support."
Gosh! The V-P of the Royal Society! How could anyone not support such an eminent body, especially as Sir David warns: "There are some individuals on the fringes, sometimes with financial support from the oil industry, who have been attempting to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on climate change."
I say! A conspiracy as well. Definitely time to rally round, chaps, and repel fringe individuals. To help us do so, there's a "guide to facts and fictions about climate change written in a non-technical style" that even non-members of the Royal Society can grasp.
Like Mr. Collins, we recognize that debates like this arouse strong emotions. Sometimes people say ( and write ) things they will later regret. The fact remains a consensus of opinion is not fact.
In that instance The Royal Society listed 928 papers which all supported the same conclusion. Not a single paper was cited that disputed it. Have you ever seen a fair election where 100% of the votes went for one candidate? I can't find a single discipline in science where 928 separate people agree with each other without question - well, maybe everyone can agree that clean water is good but even experts like Bono figured that out.
Exxon-Mobil recently took 7 million dollars and distributed it to 140 groups, some of which disputed the Royal Society consensus on Global Warming. The Union of Concerned Scientists received $12 million in 2004 - almost double what Exxon spent and was split among many groups. Who funds the Union of Concerned Scientists? The Blue Moon Fund, with almost 20% of the income of UCS, is one ... and 100% of their money goes toward activism. Environmental Defense is another contributor. Also an activist group.
Did the Union of Concerned Scientists reach their global warming conclusions because they received funding from environmental activists? Of course not. Yet it seems to be okay to allege that a scientist who takes grant money from a big business that is not in the activism industry is somehow being unscrupulous or rubber-stamping bad science. Not a single Associated Press article has bothered to look into the funding of UCS - and I doubt I will get a phone call from an AP reporter about it. It took me two hours to do the research and write this article so why hasn't an AP reporter or anyone else asked these questions?
"ExxonMobil needs to be held accountable for its cynical disinformation campaign on global warming," said Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists' Director of Strategy&Policy. "Consumers, shareholders and Congress should let the company know loud and clear that its behavior on this issue is unacceptable and must change."
His title is Director of Strategy for a reason. Enraging activists so that they pressure scientists who don't show adherence to the scientific consensus is a fine strategy if you are an activist, but it makes for bad science. The "chilling effect" doesn't just happen if you are a Democrat working for government when a Republican is President.
Climate scientists and advocates who have data on their side - and clearly an overwhelming advantage in funding, since the UCS is just one group and has revenue that dwarfs the groups funded by Exxon ( only a fraction of whom disagreed with the global warming consensus ) - should be able to dispute all challengers with facts, not just by hammering them with this kind of pandering to hysteria and authority.
Theories come and go. The only way for us to know the truth about anthropogenic global warming is to hear all sides and get real data. Now that global warming activism has become big business too, that is less likely to happen.