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Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study

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Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study

Ian Sample, science correspondent

Friday February 2, 2007
The Guardian

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world’s largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

This story didn’t make this morning’s Vancouver Sun, which I think is probably a fair reflection on that paper’s editorial policy. Canwest is still pursuing the line that there is no consensus on climate change, that it is still controversial and that both sides have to be heard. But of course, the new report of the IPCC shows that there is very little doubt.

The contents of the IPCC report have been an open secret since the Bush administration posted its draft copy on the internet in April. It says there is a 90% chance that human activity is warming the planet, and that global average temperatures will rise by another 1.5 to 5.8C this century, depending on emissions.

Lord Rees of Ludlow, the president of the Royal Society, Britain’s most prestigious scientific institute, said: “The IPCC is the world’s leading authority on climate change and its latest report will provide a comprehensive picture of the latest scientific understanding on the issue. It is expected to stress, more convincingly than ever before, that our planet is already warming due to human actions, and that ‘business as usual’ would lead to unacceptable risks, underscoring the urgent need for concerted international action to reduce the worst impacts of climate change. However, yet again, there will be a vocal minority with their own agendas who will try to suggest otherwise.”

And who am I to dispute the words of Lord Rees? (Oh yes, there’s lots of us, you know – and we know how to spell our name right too!)

The strategy of throwing doubt on the science worked well for the tobacco lobby for years and now seems to be making sure that Bush Jr does the bidding of his Texas oil buddies. What worries me is that so many people I talk to seem to have fallen for the same claptrap. Although recent coverage now suggests that the tipping point on public opinion here may have turned. About time too!

Written by Stephen Rees

February 2, 2007 at 8:22 am

3 Responses

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  1. What? Lobby groups tried to pay someone off? UNHEARD OF! Oh, the humanity!

    David Schleicher

    February 2, 2007 at 8:47 am

  2. Not unheard of – as I pointed out the tobacco lobby has been doing it for years. In the case of climate change, it is not always clear that the nay saying articles that appear in the popular press (not, note, ever in a peer reviewed journal) are not always clearly attributed. Because if the article carried the tag ” paid for by Exxon” it would lose credibility. Not the humanity either – the entire planet – since these lobbyists were successful in their strategy and put off action that has been needed urgently for many years.

    But thank you for reading and commenting on my blog

    Stephen Rees

    February 2, 2007 at 9:08 am

  3. One pet theory I’ve heard a lot of uninformed skeptic bloggers passing around is that climate change is being invented/exaggerated by scientists who are greedy for research grants.
    Hopefully the lobbyists have shot themselves in the foot with this one, showing that there’s more money to be made going the other way.

    Dave On Fire

    February 2, 2007 at 9:27 am

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