Exxon believes in global warming, but pays shills to lie about it

by John Quiggin on October 22, 2006

As everyone knows (or ought to know by now), one of the main reasons controversy over climate change is continuing in the face of overwhelming evidence is the fact that ExxonMobil has the cash spigot open to fund anyone willing to deny the evidence – the Competitive Enterprise Insitute, George Marshall Institute and the old tobacco industry network run by Steven Milloy, Fred Seitz and Fred Singer have been among the main beneficiaries. The Royal Society wrote to them recently, asking them to turn off the money tap.

Exxon’s response

The Royal Society’s letter and public statements to the media inaccurately and unfairly described our company.”

It went on: “We know that carbon emissions are one of the factors that contribute to climate change – we don’t debate or dispute this.”

So, they know the groups they are funding are lying, but they need to promote the idea that there is so much uncertainty that we should do nothing. The best way to do this is to create as much Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt as possible by promoting those who claim that global warming is a fraud.

{ 15 comments }

1

Jim Harrison 10.22.06 at 5:33 pm

I used to tell people that a major factor in the political ascendency of the Republicans was the availability of so many out-of-work tobacco shills who were willing to work at reasonable rates and had no sense of shame whatsoever. That had been an attempt at humor. It wasn’t very funny, but I’m afraid it was quite true.

2

John Emerson 10.22.06 at 7:33 pm

I know two sisters who have inherited their father’s Exxon Valdez 17 years ago. As far as I know, after the cosmetic cleanup (wiping off visible oil, etc.), the company has successfully dragged its feet on settling. Their strategy was to wait till the news lost interest.

3

Joey D 10.22.06 at 9:28 pm

It’s scary how these people will say whatever the owner of the so called spigot wants them to, as long as the price is right.

4

NoumenalSelf 10.22.06 at 10:27 pm

Acknowledging that carbon emission are a factor contributing to climate change is hardly the same thing as acknowledging the full-blown theory that there is a global warming crisis and that it is being caused, fundamentally, by human industry.

It may very well be true that, all things being equal, carbon emissions contribute to atmospheric warming. But all things may not be equal. Critics of the warming hypothesis contend that there are countervailing factors and feedback mechanisms that check this causal factor.

Also, the fact that these critics may receive support from industry does not by itself impugn the integrity of their arguments. To say otherwise is gross ad hominem. Why is it that when scientists take money from industry, they are attacked as non-objective, but when they take money from bureaucrats with a vested interest in regulation, they are regarded as above suspicion? Neither source of money necessarily corrupts the objectivity of judgment.

5

P O'Neill 10.22.06 at 11:05 pm

The shills aren’t vital as long as Bush is in the White House, and he’s already moved to Plan B, which is to appear to do something about global warming while not actually doing so. It only takes a slightly careful reading of his speeches to see that he has defined the problem as excess dependence on foreign oil and not global warming, and that all his policy proposals involve pie-in-the-sky technologies and place zero emphasis on behavioural changes. Particularly telling is the absence of any proposal to absorb the recent decline in oil prices in higher petroleum taxes.

6

Walt 10.23.06 at 9:22 am

Noumenalself: There is no countervailing invested interest in regulating carbon emissions. The only invested interest is on the other side.

7

aaron 10.23.06 at 9:39 am

Believing in climate change doesn’t mean that you believe it is important or catastrophic.

8

Christopher Walker 10.23.06 at 11:13 am

If anyone would like to see Exxon/Mobil’s political clout eroded a little, you might want to look at the ActBlue page below:

http://www.actblue.com/page/defeat-exxon-pac-incumbents?refcode=timber

Where I have profiled about a dozen candidates running for the US House and Senate against incumbents who take money from Exxon/Mobil’s PAC.

9

neil 10.23.06 at 11:26 am

This company does not deny the contribution of carbon emissions to climate change! Does anyone know of a company nearby that does?

10

bi 10.24.06 at 4:29 am

aaron:

Round and round the cobbler’s bench
The monkey chased the weasel,
The monkey thought ’twas all in fun
Pop! Goes the weasel.

A penny for a spool of thread
A penny for a needle,
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! Goes the weasel.

11

aaron 10.24.06 at 12:22 pm

Our impact on the climate is insignicant to the natural variation. That we can even measure it is a feat.

12

Steve LaBonne 10.24.06 at 1:32 pm

And you know this how, aaron?

13

Rob 10.24.06 at 8:25 pm

Fred Singer told him

14

JJ 10.25.06 at 11:04 am

Yawn. Aaron, We’ve had proof for a long time that CO2 causes climate change.

Click here (commissioned by the White House).

And here.

Here.

I am so tired of playing wackamole.

15

bi 10.25.06 at 1:36 pm

I have a suspicion that aaron is really some sort of bizarre bot. Here’s something from his blog:

“Many people blame Bush policy for our troubles in Iraq. I think these people are incredibly narrow-minded. Our greatest weakness in Iraq is policy.”

It’s a Zen koan, I say.

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