by Plutonium Page
"[The threat of catastrophic global warming is the] greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."
-- Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla), Senate Floor Statement
Melting Antarctic, Arctic, and Himalayan glaciers. Villages are being engulfed by the sea. The evidence of global climate changes is piling up... but what do a few graphs and studies mean? It's all a "hoax", right?
And that's exactly what ExxonMobile wants you to believe. They'll even pay for it.
The story's below the fold.
On January 28, 2005, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), a rightwing think tank, held a "Science Policy in the 21st Century" event. The guest speaker was novelist Michael Crichton, who discussed his new book, State of Fear.
From the New York Times review:
In Mr. Crichton's ham-handed novel, the dangers of global warming are nothing but a lot of hype: scare scenarios, promoted by shameless environmentalists eager to use bad science to raise money and draw attention to their cause.
It's the perfect propaganda tool for Inhofe and the public policy groups, including AEI, to which ExxonMobile has given money to perpetuate the talking point that there is thin evidence for global warming.
An article in the May/June issue of Mother Jones tells all:
There is overwhelming scientific consensus that greenhouse gases emitted by human activity are causing global average temperatures to rise. Conservative think tanks are trying to undermine this conclusion with a disinformation campaign employing “reports” designed to look like a counterbalance to peer-reviewed studies, skeptic propaganda masquerading as journalism, and events like the AEI luncheon that Crichton addressed. The think tanks provide both intellectual cover for those who reject what the best science currently tells us, and ammunition for conservative policymakers like Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, who calls global warming “a hoax.”
This concerted effort reflects the shared convictions of free-market, and thus antiregulatory, conservatives. But there’s another factor at play. In addition to being supported by like-minded individuals and ideologically sympathetic foundations, these groups are funded by ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company. Mother Jones has tallied some 40 ExxonMobil-funded organizations that either have sought to undermine mainstream scientific findings on global climate change or have maintained affiliations with a small group of “skeptic” scientists who continue to do so. Beyond think tanks, the count also includes quasi-journalistic outlets like Tech CentralStation.com (a website providing “news, analysis, research, and commentary” that received $95,000 from ExxonMobil in 2003), a FoxNews.com columnist, and even religious and civil rights groups. In total, these organizations received more than $8 million between 2000 and 2003 (the last year for which records are available; all figures below are for that range unless otherwise noted). ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Lee Raymond serves as vice chairman of the board of trustees for the AEI, which received $960,000 in funding from ExxonMobil.
(If you have any doubt that AEI is a conservative think tank, read this article and this article written by Robert P. George of AEI. Also, check out their Scholars and Fellows, who include Richard Perle and Newt Gingrich.)
The Mother Jones article discusses Crichton's accusation that environmentalists are politicizing global climate change, and points out the hypocrisy of that accusation. Note Crichton's outrageous analogy:
During the question-and-answer period following his speech, Crichton drew an analogy between believers in global warming and Nazi eugenicists. “Auschwitz exists because of politicized science,” Crichton asserted, to gasps from some in the crowd. There was no acknowledgment that the AEI event was part of an attempt to do just that: politicize science. The audience at hand was certainly full of partisans. Listening attentively was Myron Ebell, a man recently censured by the British House of Commons for “unfounded and insulting criticism of Sir David King, the Government’s Chief Scientist.” Ebell is the global warming and international policy director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which has received a whopping $1,380,000 from ExxonMobil.
We're used to the more obvious rightwing propaganda about the Iraq war, terrorism, and morality. Oil company donations to GOP campaigns is also old news.
However, this article points out something more subtle, and rather alarming, at least to a scientist like me: the politicization of pseudo-science. It's propaganda, and it's dangerous.