What role does money play in the climate-change debate

True, but one can equally make the case that there was almost no climate science funding before Hansen’s 1988 address to Congress, and now it’s a 12B per year government-funded industry with almost 3B (see above) going directly to climate scientists for research.

And one thing I know about the medical field is that the scientist will research something, setup a corporation to market the results of that research, and then profit off of whatever their research yielded. Since I haven’t done the research, I have no idea if climate scientists are going the same route, and if I actually cared (In all honesty, I don’t mind if any scientist makes money off his/her research as long as their research isn’t affected by the potential for revenue) I could research it and make vague assessments about a quid pro quo: The top climate scientists are exaggerating the potential pitfalls so that people buy green tech/whatever from their side businesses. But all that’s there is the money link, no one has proved that there is some giant scheme to pull 12B a year out of the government by them.

In the same vein, while you DO have the money link and cash being moved around the denialist camps, this is no different than any other PAC or lobbyist organization in the US, right now, on all sides of the coin. For them, this is simply business as usual. It’s not some evil Exxon/Illuminati conspiracy to harm us all by burning off the atmosphere, it’s a way to keep business costs down. But they do this for everything. Everything.

If you really want to fight this, then corporations need to be removed from personhood, and advocacy groups of every single kind need to lose 501c3 status. But that has to come before we can tackle this sort of puppetry. And complaining about one and ignoring the rest (even the ones you may agree with) doesn’t help anything.

Honestly, I don’t trust businesses and I don’t trust the politicians in charge of the government. Other government employees I trust on a “until you prove you’re a dick” basis.

Public opinion is being perverted via perverted science.

As an example: We are 95% sure that humans are causing warming. Denier: But 5% in an atmosphere the size of EARTH is a HUUUUUUUGE lack of understanding!

Technically, yes. But they leave out the fact that 95% is huge…uh…er. That’s a word, now. cough

I missed the edit window. Just to clarify I’m not saying you, personally, ARE complaining about one kind of PAC and ignoring the rest, that’s just what I observe in the general complaints about denier funding.

You really can’t compare industry revenues – which have a huge profit component – with research funding that basically just pays the salaries of researchers. Researchers who are mostly tenured and would probably be making the same regardless of what they were doing. Do you really think there’s an equivalence between an academic climatologist in a cheap suit publishing papers and the Wolf of Wall Street? Is there an equivalence between university professors like some I know who are struggling with decisions about whether they can afford to retire despite being well beyond the age, and the $450 million retirement package that the last chairman of ExxonMobil received? Hell, forget him, just look at the average retirement packages of some of Exxon’s run-of-the-mill employees.

The most deluded of the denialists like to think they’ve caught onto a hot argument by enticing their acolytes to “follow the money”. I suggest their acolytes try following the money of the roughly $12 trillion fossil fuel industry. It’s actually somewhat remarkable that the bastards are spending less than $1 billion per year on propaganda (per my earlier link) but I suspect that’s a significant underestimate because so much of the money is passed through so many different unaccountable “foundations” that its source is virtually untraceable.

I agree completely. I would only say that the quantitative difference in magnitude of this particular campaign raises it to an extraordinary qualitative level that I don’t think we’ve ever seen before in the PR engagements of private venture. In no other field of scientific endeavor – absolutely none – can I get Google to turn up such an absolutely vast amount of complete lies and a vast array of deceptions that vary from unbelievably stupid to the occasionally clever – and all equally deceptive.

Depending on the grant, they can actually augment their salaries with grant money. I think (Although I’d have to go look it up) that it maxes at an additional 20%.

Though, similarly, most of the places like Heritage Foundation have only the top guys making any kind of real money. Most of the money from their sources goes out to spreading the information they wish to spread (and/or snaking through the PAC machines). Ad campaigns, research grants, etc.

And the paid shills for the activist camp can rack up a lot of money in their own right, though it tends to be for speeches and similar things. Gore was one that got paid a lot to speak about global warming. James Hansen has been accused of making millions of dollars doing speech tours while working for Nasa.

In science? Try smoking. In economics (trickle-down works!), abortion, gay rights, poverty/social safety net and a whole slew of other issues, you can see the same M/O, though. Science, itself, tends to not be at the forefront of political action (thankfully).

Already tried smoking :), the FUD methods of the climate change deniers is based on the models that the [del]stink[/del] conservative think thanks are using, the ones with no shame are even using the same scientists of the tobacco defense days for their “research” and they learned all their lessons from their misinformation campaigns to support the tobacco industry.


They talk about Dr. Seitz who after being a renown scientist ended up becoming a charlatan for the Tobacco industry, and then with no difficulty was accepted by many on the media as a voice to listen to when climate science was beginning to make more warnings about the need to stop [del]smoking[/de] polluting the atmosphere.

The point about the money proponents make in speeches is once again typical FUD originated from the contrarians. Deniers make also lots of money with their speech tours, but in the end what they teach is what matters.

Did you cough a lot? That’s normal. Keep at it and you can be like all us cool kids. :wink: (I don’t actually smoke.)

It’s a legitimate point in any debate. If you are being paid to shill (and I mean aggressively pursue a topic with an end game in mind) you have a win-at-all-costs mentality going. Gore, for instance, was a shill because he cares more about you dumping your money in his company’s than actually solving any issues. If those products are duds, he doesn’t care – except to sell you a “fixed” version of the product, most likely. If Hansen is a shill for the money, then he shouldn’t be someone you go to for information because you then have to vet everything to ensure it wasn’t distorted as part of his shilling.

As I said in another thread: Envirowackos do as much damage to climate change opinions as the deniers do.

Let’s look at another issue for illustration: DARE. DARE’s message was that marijuana was a drug that would kill you (I sat in on a DARE lecture, once. The officer literally and with a straight face said “Marijuana will KILL you.” I got ejected for laughing at him. :frowning: ). Once a kid finds out that marijuana is ostensibly harmless, the entire DARE message gets rejected. It’s not “Hey, weed is cool. Meth is still bad, tho.” it’s “That cop doesn’t know shit. What other lies did he tell me? If weed was no big deal, I bet meth isn’t, either!”

Adults function the same way, primarily because of time. If you have 6 or 10 hours to waste on Straight Dope, you can get an answer to all facets of something like Climate Change. If, however, you get 30-45 minutes of news time between sending your kids to bed and unconsciousness for another work day, the sound bite reigns. So when you hear in 1991 that by 2000, we’ll be using our foreheads to grill eggs and then it doesn’t come to pass, the entire idea gets rejected. Baby, bath water, window.

It’s the same reason that ACA went from being 50-55% approval to 29-34% approval after people were kicked from their insurances. Obama told a lie, that means he’s lying about the damn thing. Each additional “bad thing” snowballs on that. Oh, the website, the website “fixed by” date passing, and now people keeping their insurances. All lies.

It’s why I always try to acknowledge the truth on all sides. In this case, climate science is moneyed by everyone in a broken process of political patty cake. But, if you tell them up front “Hey, the activists/shills are fucking crazy, don’t listen to them.” it’s cuts off a way for them to find out that Al Gore…Okay, he’s obvious: James Hansen! is making a killing at this and use that to dismiss everything else.

No, you are ignoring that what I said about making false equivalencies, they are made by the deniers and it is so effective that even you do not notice when they are making you repeat misleading information. Virtually all the talking points against Gore come from people that do FUD for a living.


Besides the paid shrills that make a profit of misinforming people, I saw a lot of the points coming from World Net Daily, by the way of more blogs, you are relying on the echo chamber that I and many others are talking here.

The Company of Al Gore that gets a lot of misinformation is Generation’s Investment Management, their approach is based on the idea that sustainability factors—economic, environmental, social and governance criteria—will drive a company’s returns over the long term, what I understand is that it is not an specific energy company, but the sources and energy companies do change according to the need or opportunity. IMHO this is just putting your money where your mouth is, and example #10,000 that shows that many democrats are not socialists, nor is Gore a scientist he is still a business man that is trying to make business work in a time of change.

And really calling a real scientist like Hansen an Envirowacko raises the concern that you are really not as centrist or fair minded as you think.

Gore was pushing pushing regulation that specifically benefits him and his holdings (whether you agree with his actions, viewpoints, etc or not). You’ll note that’s the only claim I’ve made, and it is demonstrably true. The other list of lies you posted I have not claimed.

Whether or not smoking is bad for you, if you go to DC and endorse and/or push for legislation that specifically benefits you, your company, or your employer - you are a lobbyist and shill. It doesn’t matter if you believe that smoking is bad and you have the next best thing, you are still a shill, just as much as Phillip Morris’ lobbyists are.

Pay attention, Gigo:

Emphasis added.

Continually expanding what someone says to mean something different is a bad way to debate, especially when it misses the context:

Hansen’s name is here because you can easily find information on him as a fraud. Go Google james hansen and fraud. I’ll wait. When I just did it, it gave me 5 of 10 matches on the first page detailing some sort of fraudulent exploit of his or another.

So, if you are someone trying to find out information, you find information (whether questionable information or not, that is not the point here) that he is doing something fraudulent and you will dismiss his entire argument. Once, again: Baby. Bathwater. Window.

The point is: You need to be upfront and truthful with people, no matter how embarrassing it may be because if you aren’t, you are actively undermining your viewpoint and any good information you have is sacrificed to the embarrassing bit you didn’t want to detail.

The methodology of that “comprehensive study” was, as I understand it, to identify organizations that the author believed funded (in any amount) the “denialist spin campaign,” calculate their total annual operating budget, add it together, and spit out $900 million as the amount used for the spin campaign.

So, using the same anaylsis, I would conclude that last year alone the US government spent almost $3.5 trillion funding climate change research. So clearly the competition for grants motivates the science.

Or do I misunderstand the study?

$12B a year. Where did $3.5T come from?

Unless I’m mistaken (and I’ll feel appropriately foolish if I am), the way the “comprehensive study” worked is that you take the fact of denialist funding, plus the total operating budget for the organization (without regard to what amount of the organization’s funding is actually spent on climate change), and conclude that that’s the amount spent on denialist funding.

So I say: The US Government is an organization that funds climate research, its total operating budget is $3.5 trillion (give or take), therefore, the total amount spent by the US on climate change research is $3.5 trillion.

I see. I didn’t catch that implication in your post. I apologize.

With that study, I was more concerned about the additive portion of it. Most political groups disperse money amongst themselves, so if you get $40m from a Koch or two, your organization might keep a couple million and then give the rest away to other groups. So if, for instance, you are Group 1 and get $40 million and Group 2 is downstream funded by you, and it gets $20m from you. Well, your operating budget is $40m and the downstream group’s is $20m, so the total is $60m. Except it’s not, it’s still $40m of available funds to be all denier-ist.

I have it on my “hit list” to fully review when I get a few hours and feel like spending $40 to see what kind of methodology it used to derive the 900m.

I do not have access to the study, so I’m perfectly prepared to be proven wrong. My understanding is, even beyond your additive problem (which I hadn’t thought of), if Right Wing Think Tank (with an operating budget of $1 million and a focus on, say, tax policy) gives $100 to Denialist Spin Organization, then that’s $1 million spent on denialist spin (beyond which, as I understand it, “denialist spin” is defined, for purposes of the study, as organizations that oppose emissions limits).

Walks like disinformation, looks like disinformation, it needs to be repeated. :dubious:

It also seems that you are repeating what is granted already. You insist I miss that, we are just saying that lots of that has origins coming from the same people that you are not doing much about it, the false skeptics and deniers.

The issue here is that the guys from Skeptic Science point at your “system” as the best way to feed the contrarians by repeating the myths with no context.

Besides John Cook being a fellow at the Global Change Institute from the University of Queensland he got the help from Professor Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of Western Australia.:


So, while it may the true that you are in the middle with this it looks more like you are repeating the problem, not dealing with it.

Think about it, you are running into making the propaganda (that is misleading) the star of the show and not explaining that it is also part of the reason why many people are getting fooled.

Think about it a little more.

Ignoring something means that when someone inevitably stumbles across any misinformation, they will think it an “Aha!” moment: “Finally, I have proof that XYZ is false.”

You are thinking of this like it’s a “people don’t understand the science, why is that?” problem when it’s not. it’s a “I have a viewpoint” problem. If you believe, in your heart of hearts, that there should be no social welfare, you’ll find any ground you can plant a flag on to debase the people who want social welfare. Thus, if misinformation can be easily found, it must be specifically addressed, as I said in another thread, as neutrally as possible.

How many birthers are there? Why has it persisted? Because there’s an inconsistency (I really didn’t pay attention to this. Long form vs short form or something?) that you can still plant a flag into.

9/11 truthers? Same story. You can plant your flag in some details that might be inconsistent. You may not agree with the inconsistency, but if you don’t address it, it remains in their head and refutes anything else you may come across.

Conspiracy theorists, while an extreme version of this phenomenon, use the same brain functions as the rest of humanity. If you say they are idiots or give any indication that you look down on them, they immediately remove your opinion (including any data, scientific or otherwise) from consideration.


The fact that I addressed the actual levels of support one side has on this issue shows that I do it.

Once again, there skeptics, and then there are false ones, when dealing with creationists one has to face the fact that there is a good chuck of the population that will never accept facts, (compared to climate change the problem of people getting it wrong is much worse for biologists) history shows that to progress there is eventually a need to put some people in this category and just post (and keep real religious beliefs out of out education system and research institutions) for the ones that are on the fence.

One of the ongoing efforts involves filling the gap with an alternative explanation:

Yes, you concentrate on one side. Unfortunately, that leads to what I’m talking about: Dismissal of an argument (all of pro-climate science) or source of data (e.g. Hansen) by not having out in front for your notes about the situation. “Yes, this issue has been brought up. Here is where it’s false. Here is where it’s true. Here is where it’s sorta true, but was exaggerated for spin.” works wonders.

Yes, exactly what I’ve been saying. For general people and not hardcore, funded deniers, you need to make your statement as robust as possible - both sides of the issue need to be covered. Because, since it’s ultimately a political opinion, the view needs to be made unassailable by new details that they are unfamiliar with.

I’m not trying to convert the Koch brothers or the Heritage Foundation, I’m trying to get to the average person. They are smart enough to be competent and socially useful individuals, but do not have enough vested resources (time, materials, etc) to gain competency on every issue. Leaving someone in this state is dangerous to any view point.

This is along the same path as what I was talking about. In order to get any factual model installed into a brain, you need to make sure that that model isn’t able to be assaulted by factoids (whether true or false) that can undermine parts of it.

And that is the main point.

Just saying also that you still need to be aware of the ground out there is filled with information that has been seeded by the same people we are dealing with, there is a lot of false equivalencies out there.

What needs to be taken into account:

The twisting of what the equivalency actually is in this issue was noticed before in the mainstream media, besides not reporting properly the actual levels of acceptance of the issue among scientists and academics, there is even also a false equivalency about the actual acceptance of the issue among the people in North America; as I noticed before even that is not accurate at all, and it is pertinent to remember that that is also one of the main efforts of the merchants of doubt, to control even how the debate is framed and to continue to press the idea that there is an ongoing debate even on the most basic and demonstrated data that has been found.

When even the Cato Institute acknowledges that human activity is a factor in global warming, that debate is over.

We can argue lots of points, but whether humans are affecting the climate isn’t one of them.