Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Reality wins a round

I can't remember if I linked to it at the time (I should have, but there's always too much to talk about), but on January 3 the Union of Concerned Scientists issued this report about how Exxon*Mobil adopted tobacco industry tactics by funding phony research institutes to generate phony scientific analysis denying the reality of global warming. (How's that for a Faulknerian sentence?)

From the UCS summary of their report:

Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco's Tactics to "Manufacture Uncertainty" on Climate Change details how the oil company, like the tobacco industry in previous decades, has

  • raised doubts about even the most indisputable scientific evidence
  • funded an array of front organizations to create the appearance of a broad platform for a tight-knit group of vocal climate change contrarians who misrepresent peer-reviewed scientific findings
  • attempted to portray its opposition to action as a positive quest for "sound science" rather than business self-interest
  • used its access to the Bush administration to block federal policies and shape government communications on global warming

ExxonMobil-funded organizations consist of an overlapping collection of individuals serving as staff, board members, and scientific advisors that publish and re-publish the works of a small group of climate change contrarians. The George C. Marshall Institute, for instance, which has received $630,000 from ExxonMobil, recently touted a book edited by Patrick Michaels, a long-time climate change contrarian who is affiliated with at least 11 organizations funded by ExxonMobil. Similarly, ExxonMobil funds a number of lesser-known groups such as the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy and Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. Both groups promote the work of several climate change contrarians, including Sallie Baliunas, an astrophysicist who is affiliated with at least nine ExxonMobil-funded groups.

Baliunas is best known for a 2003 paper alleging the climate had not changed significantly in the past millennia that was rebutted by 13 scientists who stated she had misrepresented their work in her paper. This renunciation did not stop ExxonMobil-funded groups from continuing to promote the paper. Through methods such as these, ExxonMobil has been able to amplify and prop up work that has been discredited by reputable climate scientists.

Well guess what? It took Exxon less than two weeks to throw in the towel. From MSNBC:

NEW YORK - Oil major Exxon Mobil Corp. is engaging in industry talks on possible U.S. greenhouse gas emissions regulations and has stopped funding groups skeptical of global warming claims — moves that some say could indicate a change in stance from the long-time foe of limits on heat-trapping gases.

Next: The Project for the New American Century joins the International League for Peace and Freedom.

*Formerly Esso, but it's still the same old gas.**

**Credit to a forgotten Mad Magazine cartoonist.

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