[LINK] Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study
stewart_fist at optusnet.com.au
Mon Feb 5 17:01:56 EST 2007
Just to give you non-journalists a glimpse of what we journos have to deal
You might remember the famous Heidelberg Appeal, signed by 2000-odd top
scientists (including 70 Nobel laureats), which was the much publicised
Contrarian document released by the global sceptics at the 1992 Rio Earth
Summit. It earned bigger headlines ("Scientists condemn global warming
claims") than the Rio report itself.
For reasons too complex to get into here, this was a fraudulent document,
signed by scientists concerned about the removal of asbestos insulation from
Its creation was funded by the asbestos industry, and the promotion of the
Appeal as an anti-Rio document was funded by the tobacco industry through
SEPP and its offshoot ICSE (International Center for a Scientific Ecology)
in Paris. This anti-Rio project was backed up by another group called TASSC
(The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition) run by Fox-News journalist (and
<http://www.junkscience.com> operator) Steven Milloy.
TASSC and Milloy were directly in the pay of Philip Morris at that time.
The organisation behind the Heidelberg Appeal was the Science and
Environment Policy Project (SEPP) run by a Professor (on leave) of
climatology from the University of Virginia, S Fred Singer together with
Science lobbyist and Professor of Environmental Science at the University of
Virginia, named Patrick Michaels. They also employed magazine editor Michel
Salomon to run the operation and write the Appeal.
-SEPP was set up in 1990 with the help of the Washington Institute for
Values in Public Policy, which was itself funded by the Rev Sun Myung Moon's
Unification Church. Moon also provided SEPP with free office space.
Singer says SEPP is no longer affiliated with Moon and receives its funding
from various foundations - in fact it begs money each year from a range of
poisoning and polluting companies in the oil, energy, pesticide and smoking
business. Western Fuels is now one of their largest supporters since
tobacco was forced to drop out.
Singer is executive director, and he regularly publishes his
anti-environmental views in a column in the Washington Times, which is also
owned by the Rev Moon and the Unification Church.
On a Nightline program in February 1994 it was revealed that Singer has
personally accepted consulting fees from Exxon, Shell, Arco, Unocal, and Sun
According to Ozone Action, an environmental organization, SEPP has also
received funding from Monsanto and Texaco for Singer to appeared as a
witness during a 1995 Congressional ozone depletion hearing. He said he was
an expert on ozone and claimed to have published several peer-reviewed
papers on his contrarian theories about the hole over the South Pole. He
denies that CFCs are a problem.
When Congressional staff checked his references they found that Singer's
only published work on ozone depletion during the past 20 years had been one
letter to the editor of SCIENCE magazine and two articles in magazines that
are not peer reviewed
Rush Limbaugh claims to get his information about the ozone depletion from
sources that have been traced back to Singer
Much of this comes from Rachel's Environment Health Weekly 522
And this from MotherJones (a few years ago)
The carbon lobby¹s tactics can sometimes be heavy-handed; one television
editor told me that his network had been threatened with a withdrawal of oil
and automotive advertising after it ran a report suggesting a connection
between a massive flood and climate change. But the most effective campaigns
have been more subtly coercive.
In the early 1990s, when climate scientists began to suspect that our
burning of coal and oil was changing the earth¹s climate, Western Fuels,
then a $400 million coal cooperative, declared in its annual report that it
was enlisting several scientists who were skeptical about climate change
Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling, and S. Fred Singer as spokesmen.
The coal industry paid these and a handful of other skeptics some $1 million
over a three-year period and sent them around the country to speak to the
press and the public.
According to internal strategy papers I obtained at the time, the purpose of
the campaign was ³to reposition global warming as theory (not fact),² with
an emphasis on targeting ³older, less educated males,² and ³younger,
low-income women² in districts that received their electricity from coal,
and who preferably had a representative on the House Energy and Commerce
The Western Fuels campaign was extraordinarily successful. In a Newsweek
poll conducted in 1991, before the spin began, 35 percent of respondents
said they ³worry a great deal² about global warming. By 1997 that figure had
dropped by one-third, to 22 percent.
Then as now, a prime tactic of the fossil fuel lobby centered on a clever
manipulation of the ethic of journalistic balance. Any time reporters wrote
stories about global warming, industry-funded naysayers demanded equal time
in the name of balance. As a result, the press accorded the same weight to
the industry-funded skeptics as it did to mainstream scientists, creating an
enduring confusion in the public mind. To this day, many people are unsure
whether global warming is real.
Journalistic balance comes into play when a story involves opinion: Should
gay marriage be legal? Should we invade Iraq? Should we promote bilingual
education or English immersion? For such stories an ethical journalist is
obligated to give each competing view its most articulate presentation and
roughly equivalent space.
But when the subject is a matter of fact, the concept of balance is
irrelevant. What we know about the climate comes from the largest and most
rigorously peer-reviewed scientific collaboration in historythe findings of
more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries reporting to the United
Nations as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The IPCC¹s conclusions, that the burning of fossil fuels is indeed causing
significant shifts in the earth¹s climate, have been corroborated by the
American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical
Union, the American Meteorological Society, and the National Academy of
Sciences. D. James Baker, former administrator of the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, echoed many scientists when he said, ³There is a
better scientific consensus on this than on any other issue I know except
maybe Newton¹s second law of dynamics.²
Granted, there are a few credentialed scientists who still claim climate
change to be inconsequential. To give them their due, a reporter should
learn where the weight of scientific opinion falls and reflect that
balance in his or her reporting. That would give mainstream scientists 95
percent of the story, with the skeptics getting a paragraph or two at the
But because most reporters don¹t have the time, curiosity, or
professionalism to check out the science, they write equivocal stories with
counterposing quotes that play directly into the hands of the oil and coal
industries by keeping the public confused.
This is the complexity of the problem.
And don't forget that most newspapers wouldn't publish what I've written
above, and so most journalists and editors don't know such things, even
though they've been well known to investigative journalists for years.
Even now, it is impossible to untangle the interlinking forces that are used
by Singer and his associates
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