Who makes up (& funds) the "opposition" to global warming?
By Lee Russ
Tuesday, July 04, 2006 at 05:05 PM
Many right wing web sites, and rightwingers trolling around other web sites, make much of the "economic interest" of mainstream scientists in finding that global warming exists and is man-made. Missing from their oddly similar (virtually identical) statements environmentalist bias is any concern at all with who makes up the movement opposing man-made global warming, and where they get their money.
The Exxpose Exxon campaign is a collaborative effort of several of the nation's largest environmental and public interest advocacy organizations to activate and educate the public about ExxonMobil, the world's largest and most irresponsible oil company. For more information about the organizations participating in the campaign, visit the campaign's website at www.ExxposeExxon.com.
ExxonMobil Funds Junk Science on Global Warming
ExxonMobil's position on global warming has not solely been one of denial, however. ExxonMobil has been funding many of the efforts designed to cast doubt on the overwhelming evidence linking human activities and global warming. Greenpeace has identified about 40 ExxonMobil-funded organizations that either have sought to undermine mainstream scientific findings on global warming or have affiliated with a small group of climate "naysayers" who continue to do so.25 In 2004, ExxonMobil gave $1.9 million to 26 organizations specifically to challenge the scientific consensus on global warming; this is more than double the amount given to organizations in 2003 for grants earmarked for global warming work ($905,000).26 Between 1998 and 2004, ExxonMobil gave more than $15 million to organizations working to influence global warming policy.27 Many of the recipients of funding earmarked for work on global warming are members of the Cooler Heads Coalition, formed in 1997 "to dispel the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis."28 Talking about corporate-funded anti-global warming research, Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has stated that many corporations have funded "dribs and drabs here and there, but I would be surprised to learn that there was a bigger one than Exxon."29
ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond downplays the importance of the money the company spends on global warming "naysayers," arguing that "you don't have to spend a lot of money to aggravate the proponents."30 The following are a few examples of the company's contributions in 2003 and 2004 to public policy organizations working to counter efforts to regulate global warming pollution. See www.exxonsecrets.org for more examples: 31
The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), $10,000 in both 2003 and 2004. TASSC is a supposedly inactive "national coalition intended to educate the media, public officials and the public about the dangers of `junk science.'" Phillip Morris covertly created this organization in the 1990s to generate scientific controversy regarding the link between secondhand smoke and cancer. Steven Milloy, who describes himself as an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, became executive director of TASSC in 1997 after lobbying for the tobacco industry.32 Milloy now devotes his time to www.junkscience.com, which features ongoing analysis of the global warming "hoax," including a running calculator of how much the Kyoto Protocol has cost the U.S. since going into effect worldwide. JunkScience.com is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition.33
American Legislative Exchange Council, $290,000 in 2003 and $222,000 in 2004. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) promotes the "principles of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty among America's state legislators."34 To accomplish this mission, ALEC organizes various task forces, pairing industry lobbyists who "pay to play" with state legislators from around the country. Their goal is to work together to draft, introduce, and enact model legislation that is favorable to industry. The Natural Resources Task Force has crafted legislation rejecting carbon dioxide emission reductions, and ALEC staffers frequently write on why global warming is not a problem and how policies to reduce global warming pollution will devastate the economy.35 ALEC is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition.36
Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy, $102,500 in 2003 and $75,000 in 2004. The Annapolis Center has written several papers on global warming, questioning the science behind conclusions that humans are contributing to the problem.37
Capital Research Center, Green Watch Project, $25,000 in 2003 and 2004. Green Watch is an "on-line database and information clearinghouse providing factual information on over 500 non-profit environmental groups;" it also "produces timely news reports and analyses of the environmental movement."38 These news reports and analyses often include studies questioning the validity of global warming science and equating caps on carbon pollution with a massive tax increase.39
Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, $40,000 in 2003 and $130,000 in 2004. The Center describes itself as an "educational foundation for individual liberty, free markets, property rights and limited government."40 The Center's website includes a variety of articles aiming to discredit environmental organizations as well as global warming science. In one article referenced, the author dismisses fear about global warming as a "religious belief."41 Paul Driessen, a senior policy analyst for the Center, stated in December of 2004 that advocates of caps on global warming pollution "threaten to disrupt our global economy, technology, health and prosperity, to `safeguard' us from a `risk' that is no more real than tyrannosaurus rex bursting out of a lump of Cretaceous amber."42
Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), $72,000 in 2003 and $125,000 in 2004. CFACT has written several articles attempting to cast doubt on global warming science. In one piece, Paul Driessen (also of the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise) calls proponents of curbing global warming pollution "ethically and socially irresponsible," arguing that policies to cap emissions would deprive poor people of electricity.43 CFACT is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition.44
Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), $440,000 in 2003 and $270,000 in 2004. CEI bills itself as a "leader in the fight against the global warming scare." CEI argues that "predictions of the extent of future warming are based on implausible scientific and economic assumptions, and the negative impacts of predicted warming have been vastly exaggerated."45 Myron Ebell, who oversees all global warming and international environmental work at CEI, chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition.46
Consumer Alert, $15,000 in 2003 and $25,000 in 2004. Consumer Alert promotes the "consumer value of a market economy" and publishes editorials, articles, and other papers on numerous issues, including global warming.47 One of its global warming articles is entitled "Global Warming Hotheads Use Anything to Justify their Theory."48 Consumer Alert started the National Consumer Coalition in 1996 as an "on-going coalition of market-oriented national and state-level policy and activist groups." In 1997, a sub-group of this coalition formed the Cooler Heads Coalition "to dispel the myths of
global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis."49
George C. Marshall Institute, $95,000 in 2003 and $170,000 in 2004. In a December 2004 paper on global warming, the Institute wrote that there is no "robust scientific basis for drawing definitive and objective conclusions about the extent of human influence and future climate."50 The Institute is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition.51
International Policy Network, $50,000 in 2003 and $115,000 in 2004. ExxonMobil funds the International Policy Network (IPN) to conduct global warming outreach. IPN explains that it has engaged in the debate on global warming "because of a concern that scientifically dubious and economically illiterate claims are being used to justify policies" to regulate global
warming pollution.52 IPN co-authored a report arguing that policies to reduce carbon pollution would "perpetuate poverty, making it more difficult for the poor to adapt" to the potential effects of global warming.53
National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), $75,000 in 2003 and 2004. NCPA claims that the causes of global warming remain unknown and debate whether humans are part of the problem.54 NCPA is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition.55
National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), $55,000 in 2003 and 2004. ExxonMobil gave NCPPR $55,000 in both 2003 and 2004, in part funding the EnviroTruth website. The EnviroTruth website outlines the "myths and misunderstandings surrounding the topic of climate change." The first myth is that humans are causing global warming.56 NCPPR is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition.57
TechCentralStation.com (which received $95,000 from ExxonMobil in 2003) published a letter to Senator John McCain (AZ) from 11 "climate experts" challenging ACIA's conclusions. Before a Senate hearing on the ACIA report, the George C. Marshall Institute issued a press release asserting that the Arctic report was based on "unvalidated climate models and scenarios."62 The Vancouver-based Fraser Institute (which received $60,000 from ExxonMobil in 2003 and 2004) called the ACIA report "an excellent example of the favoured scare technique of the anti-energy activists...."63 This flurry of activity created the perception of a scientific debate, even though the critics comprised a small minority of voices and lacked the scientific rigor of the exhaustively reviewed ACIA report.
Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch likens ExxonMobil's strategy to that of "a football quarterback who doesn't want to throw to one receiver, but rather wants to spread it around to a number of different receivers."58 ExxonMobil's diverse funding of think tanks and quasi-media outlets helps to generate an echo effect, where often baseless attacks on global warming science create the appearance of scientific controversy. The industry response to the Arctic Climate
Impact Assessment (ACIA), released in November 2004, stands as a stark example of this echo effect.59 Compiled by some 300 scientists, the ACIA study warned that the Arctic is warming rapidly and that this warming threatens to push Arctic species toward extinction.60 Several think tanks and other institutions funded by ExxonMobil responded within hours to debunk this report, researched over four years. Steven Milloy, who receives funding from ExxonMobil and is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, wrote a column for FoxNews.com called "Polar Bear Scare on Thin Ice."61 James McCarthy, a Harvard biological oceanographer and a lead author of the ACIA report, dismissed Milloy's column as contradicting hundreds of scientific papers. Nevertheless, several other Exxon-funded groups echoed Milloy's assertions.
Think about that statement: "Several think tanks and other institutions funded by ExxonMobil responded within hours to debunk this report, researched over four years." How is that possible? Spies planted in the ranks of the ACIA? Generic defenses prepared and articulated, merely awaiting something to be defended?
This isn't scientific debate, it's a well-oiled propaganda machine, with an economic interest, a philospohical intertest, and a political interest in finding that there is insufficient evidence of man-made global warming. Compared to this, the supposed "self-interest" of scientists who believe the earth is warming, and that man's activities are a cause, is minuscule.
It's another example of seemingly independent, grass roots groups being created in multiple to foster the illusion that "ordinary folks" are rising up in arms. Then sufficiently funded that they can immediately attack everyone and everything that threatens the funders. A lot like the phony grass roots groups that propagandize for conservative judges. Or the ones that propagandize for "family values" (ironically often funded by many rich righties whose family values are, to be charitable, a bit unusual).