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Scientists Offered Cash to Dispute Climate Study 668

Posted by Zonk
from the you're-wrong-and-i-think-mr.-lincoln-knows-why dept.
w1z4rd writes "According to an article in the Guardian, scientists and economists have been offered large bribes by a lobbying group funded by ExxonMobil. The offers were extended by the American Enterprise Institute group, which apparently has numerous ties to the Bush administration. Couched in terms of an offer to write 'dissenting papers' against the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, several scientists contacted for the article refused the offers on conflict of interest grounds."
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Scientists Offered Cash to Dispute Climate Study

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  • The Report (Score:4, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday February 02, 2007 @11:53AM (#17859530) Journal
    I'm not sure if this has been posted or linked on Slashdot before but the IPCC Final Report [bbc.co.uk][PDF Warning] is public as of today. The BBC has a summary [bbc.co.uk]:
    • Probable temperature rise between 1.8C and 4C
    • Possible temperature rise between 1.1C and 6.4C
    • Sea level most likely to rise by 28-43cm
    • Arctic summer sea ice disappears in second half of century
    • Increase in heatwaves very likely
    • Increase in tropical storm intensity likely
    It's a 20 page report and I know we're all really busy but I think this is the first document one can read and really catch up on what's been decided recently in the scientific community.

    I haven't seen anyone discredit this panel or this document yet. What I have seen is criticism from right wing papers about this report either being "unsurprising" or "offering no hope, grim." On the other hand, leftist papers have been in a sort of "we're doomed" sort of mode. I haven't really seen anyone stepping up to the plate and telling the public that it's on our consciouses now. We are responsible--if you have the money, start paying more for green products or products from carbon neutral companies. Increase incentive for companies to be carbon neutral. Right now, as a consumer, I don't know how I would figure out if the car I bought comes from a more or less environmentally friendly company. Consumers need to start driving this change because it sure the hell isn't going to be our ignorant president.

    from the you're-wrong-and-i-think-mr.-lincoln-knows-why dept.
    Also, Zonk, I think you mean Mr. Chase knows why [coinsite.com], Salmon P. Chase [wikipedia.org] is on the $10,000 bill. Offering nominal fees for paper and pen to write reports is one thing but when the incentive is a large percentage of my yearly income, I think Exxon should be ousted as scientifically backwards assholes.
    • Re:The Report (Score:4, Insightful)

      by micktaggart (1047954) on Friday February 02, 2007 @11:59AM (#17859612)
      Just because ExxonMobil paid someone, does not mean the arguments the scientist made are not valid, although they might as well be; same goes for the people who worked at the IPCC report. Let's stick to the actual arguments and data, instead of making cheap ad hominem attacks.
      • Re:The Report (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:04PM (#17859722) Journal

        Just because ExxonMobil paid someone, does not mean the arguments the scientist made are not valid, although they might as well be; same goes for the people who worked at the IPCC report. Let's stick to the actual arguments and data, instead of making cheap ad hominem attacks.
        No, it doesn't mean their scientific findings aren't valid. But it sure the hell does mean they're financially motivated. Here's what should happen: Exxon should hire scientists to research this. If the report comes up against global warming, the scientists get $10,000 grand and stay employed. If the report comes up proving global warming is our fault, the scientists get $10,000 and stay employed. You have to approach a hypothesis willing to disprove or prove it--otherwise you're not engaging in the scientific process. You're basically paying "scientists" money to say something.

        Instead, we see Exxon offering money for the predetermined outcome of 'scientific' research. And that, my friend, is why I feel compelled to keep "making cheap ad hominem attacks." Because Exxon is pissing science down their leg and the public is paying attention to it when they shouldn't. Who's offering the $10,000 for the report proving global warming is our fault?
        • Re:The Report (Score:4, Insightful)

          by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormon@gmail. c o m> on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:11PM (#17859832) Homepage Journal
          No, it doesn't mean their scientific findings aren't valid. But it sure the hell does mean they're financially motivated.

          And the climate scientists who created this report aren't idealogically motivated? I'm sure some are. Some probably aren't. And scientists who respond to the $10,000 bounty may or may not be motivated. Frankly, I don't care about motivations. If you put out a bounty for an open source project, no one gets upset. Why should this be any different? If the scientist trades his/her credibility to create a fraudalent attack on the climate report that's unethical, but the fault of the scientist - not the bounty. ANd I have no doubt the life of such accusations will be short-lived.

          If ExonMobile itself wants to offer bounties for this research I really don't care. Let the scientists try to do the research. They will either come up with a valid criticis, or they won't.

          -stormin
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by SnapShot (171582)
            Actually, your comparison to an open source bounty is pretty apt: Exxon wants something built (fake science in regards to climate change) and is willing to pay a bounty to have it built.

            The difference is that in one example the experts are building wi-fi drivers or utility softare. In the other example, the "experts" are building SFUD (smiley faces, uncertainty, and doubt).
          • Re:The Report (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Xabraxas (654195) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:35PM (#17860300)

            And the climate scientists who created this report aren't idealogically motivated?

            That's a hefty charge to be leveling against climatologists without any proof.

            ...scientists who respond to the $10,000 bounty may or may not be motivated

            The point is that you are giving so called scientists a financial motivation for making one conclusion over another. This is nothing like your OSS bounty comparison.

            If ExonMobile itself wants to offer bounties for this research I really don't care.

            I don't either but that is not what ExxonMobil is doing. They are not offering bounties for research, they are offering bounties for specific conclusions.

          • Re:The Report (Score:5, Insightful)

            by kestasjk (933987) * on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:39PM (#17860398) Homepage

            If you put out a bounty for an open source project, no one gets upset. Why should this be any different?
            What?!
            You're saying that paying scientists to come to your conclusions, on a subject as important as climate change, is morally on par with paying programmers to write open source code?

            They are paying for any papers that will cast any sort of doubt. This means "clutch at straws to find any possible way to cast uncertainty on this report, and we'll reward you handsomely". This is not moral in any way. This is like MS paying a bounty on an open source project so that it adopts an MS standard; it's abuse of the system for the companies own gain.
          • Re:The Report (Score:5, Insightful)

            by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:39PM (#17860408) Homepage Journal

            If you put out a bounty for an open source project, no one gets upset. Why should this be any different?

            If you're paying for a project, you're paying for results. If you're paying for a report written a certain way, you're paying for propaganda.

            Put another way, software has hard specifications, while science only has "the truth" (or a working model, anyway.) If you are specifically offering money for someone to produce a report that supports your view, that is not science.

            If the scientist trades his/her credibility to create a fraudalent attack on the climate report that's unethical, but the fault of the scientist - not the bounty.

            If a bribe is given to a policeman, both he and the person offering the bribe are committing a crime. It's a recognition of the fact that it takes two to tango, as it were. This situation is directly analogous.

            If ExonMobile itself wants to offer bounties for this research I really don't care. Let the scientists try to do the research. They will either come up with a valid criticis, or they won't.

            If the bounty was for someone who could prove (ha!) whether global warming was caused by human sources, then I would agree with you. But what they are looking for isn't the truth; in fact we know beyond any real doubt that humans have an effect on global weather. There can frankly be no question about this. The only thing there is question about now is the extent of that influence. So this reward constitutes a bribe, nothing more, intended to cause the expression of falsehoods. Well, it does constitute one other thing - an attempt to confuse the public, to keep them in disarray so they don't unite against the oil companies.

          • Re:The Report (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Touvan (868256) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:40PM (#17860420) Homepage

            If the scientist trades his/her credibility to create a fraudalent attack on the climate report that's unethical, but the fault of the scientist - not the bounty.

            You complain about ideological motivation, yet you yourself have fallen victim to it. Your ideal says that scientists should not be subject to the reality of human nature, greed being part of that nature, and that those who take advantage of it should not be held accountable for their part.

            That is absurd. If someone wants to kill a man, and hires a hitman to do it, you can bet he is going to jail for conspiracy to commit murder (well if he's caught anyway).

            I'm not saying that bribing a scientist is the same as murder. I am saying that paying someone to misrepresent the truth doesn't let you off the hook, just because the payee was willing to do it.

          • Re:The Report (Score:5, Insightful)

            by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:45PM (#17860548)

            And the climate scientists who created this report aren't idealogically motivated? I'm sure some are. Some probably aren't. And scientists who respond to the $10,000 bounty may or may not be motivated. Frankly, I don't care about motivations. If you put out a bounty for an open source project, no one gets upset. Why should this be any different?

            The scientific method relies upon hypothesis and testing, then publishing and interpreting the results of that testing and it is reviewed by peers. If you are only paid when the results of your testing indicate a particular item, which may or may not be true, you have direct motivation to break the scientific process. Your analogy involving open source bounties is different. Say someone offers a bounty to find security holes in product X. That is paying people to do research and find some hole, and there are always going to be holes. It is not paying them to prove a specific hole exists (result), which would be undermining the scientific method. In the case of global warming, you're starting with an answer "global warming is not man made" (result) and trying to find a reason. Sure there are lots of potential reasons why this might be the case, but none of them are science because you did not follow the scientific method. They are also a lot likely to be correct answers for the same reason. With a bounty on security holes in some project you're looking to find something, but not provide evidence for whether holes exist or not, simply to find any that you can. Whether or not a given hole exists and is exploitable can still be a scientific process.

            Let the scientists try to do the research.

            Part of the failing of the US education system is that people refer to researchers or engineers or technologists as scientists, when in truth a scientist is someone who uses the scientific method. The reason for this misapplication is because science comes up with lots of useful solutions and thus has a lot of credibility. The fact is, tis lobbying group is not offering to pay scientists, because the offer precludes people acting in that role form participating.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by ArcherB (796902) *
          No, it doesn't mean their scientific findings aren't valid. But it sure the hell does mean they're financially motivated.

          Well, threatening climatologists with decertification doesn't invalidate their findings either, but it sure as hell means they are being forcibly "motivated".

          Instead, we see the weather channel threatening climatologists' jobs for the predetermined outcome of 'scientific' research. And that, my friend, is why I feel compelled to keep "making cheap ad hominem attacks." Because the Weather
          • Re:The Report (Score:5, Informative)

            by SnapShot (171582) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:39PM (#17860406)
            For fear that you were miss-informed rather than just stupid: the incident you are referring to was one weather person's blog referring to other weather people (meterologist not climatologist). I realize Republicans have a real problem with the difference between weather [wikipedia.org] and climate [wikipedia.org].

            I realize that in your and Rush L.'s mind there is perfect analogy between a random blogger and Exxon corporation (who made 180 million dollars a day [nytimes.com] last year); roughly like comparing a grocery store parking lot speed bump to the Himalayas.

            Most of the rest of us are able to see the difference...
        • Re:The Report (Score:4, Interesting)

          by gravesb (967413) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:22PM (#17860050) Homepage
          Last year, the Sierra club provided more than 90 million dollars to climate scientists. What does this mean? Who knows. Both sides of the discussion are paying scientists to create global warming studies. Whether the money is tied to the result implicitly o explicitly doesn't really matter. It is sad that we are at a point where we can't have a legitimate scientific inquiry into this area because of the shady tactics of both sides. Its also sad that some politicians have decided to make political hay with unrealistic plans and promises. In 1997, the Senate vote against Kyoto was unopposed- no many of those same senators are saying its the president's fault for not implementing climate control. With an issue this charged and controversial, I have doubts we can reach an effective solution, at least in the political arena. Our best hope? Use the market. Toyota is rapidly passing GM in no small part because of the strength of its hybrids. Now, GM and Ford are reacting by offering more environmentally aware options. Look at BP and GE's ad campaigns- they both stress environmental concerns. Whether their actions carry through, we don't know yet. But at least some of the companies are recognizing the importance of the enivornment to the consumer. If we, as consumers, continue to push this issue through our purchases, some real change can be made before the politicians can decide on legislation.
          • Re:The Report (Score:5, Insightful)

            by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:57PM (#17860790)

            Whether the money is tied to the result implicitly o explicitly doesn't really matter.

            It matters if the result is tied to money at all. Any research that starts with a conclusion which it tries to find proof for is not following the scientific method and is not science. If some government grant was worded such that is is contingent upon proving some conclusion, that is not science either. To my knowledge this is the only case where funding was offered for research starting with a result. I've seen other cases where companies paid for research, but reserved the right to publish the results or not, and then buried science that disagreed with their predetermined opinion, but I don't know of any other attempt to so openly buy an unscientific study and pass it off as science.

          • Re:The Report (Score:5, Informative)

            by theodicey (662941) on Friday February 02, 2007 @01:49PM (#17861654)
            That $90 million figure is complete BS. It's the budget of the entire Sierra Club Foundation, which funds the Sierra Club's outreach and legal work. It does not fund any basic climate research.

            That figure seems to be repeated by climate conspiracy theorist senator James Inhofe (R-OK) here [senate.gov].

            Sorry, there's no substitute for political action. We're not going to stop the Iraq war by not buying gas, and we're not going to stop climate change by buying hybrids.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Erioll (229536)

          Instead, we see Exxon offering money for the predetermined outcome of 'scientific' research.

          And from the article (you DID read it right?): (emphasis mine below)

          The letters were sent by Kenneth Green, a visiting scholar at AEI, who confirmed that the organisation had approached scientists, economists and policy analysts to write articles for an independent review that would highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the IPCC report.

          "Right now, the whole debate is polarised," he said. "One group says that anyone with any doubts whatsoever are deniers and the other group is saying that anyone who wants to take action is alarmist. We don't think that approach has a lot of utility for intelligent policy."

          Definitely sounds like "Exxon offering money for the predetermined outcome" to me. Oh wait, they want the strengths and weaknesses.

          But it's all academic (pun intended) anyways. If you question any aspect of any of it, your credentials are pulled. What a great atmosphere to foster discussion and research in.

      • by Morosoph (693565) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:13PM (#17859886) Homepage Journal

        Just because ExxonMobil paid someone, does not mean the arguments the scientist made are not valid, although they might as well be; same goes for the people who worked at the IPCC report. Let's stick to the actual arguments and data, instead of making cheap ad hominem attacks.

        What you're saying makes perfect sense concerning the debate amoungst scientists, but when it comes to the popular debate, large amounts of funding will result in a proportional amount of material. Since the population at large don't have the wherewithall to analyse the findings, they look instead to the volume of the work produced and the reputation of those producing it.

        In the abscence of the capability to analyse the science itself, it help to know where the funding comes from. If the science is then picked up by a scientist who's sources appear not to be compromised, then it is reasonable to assume that it was sound science in the first place. This filter layer is the meaning of peer review. In the abscence of this filter layer, it is reasonable for the population to know that the funding is selecting for particular conclusions, thus possibly prejudicing the data or the analysis of that data.

        Knowledge of funding is part of the mechanism by which the non-scientist protects him or herself against junk science.

      • Re:The Report (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:39PM (#17860404) Homepage Journal
        Maybe in a perfect simulation of a perfect world. But the history backs up the common sense: oil companies pay for science that serves only their agenda, which is to cover up the true costs of their industry to protect their maximum profits at everyone else's expense.

        Pointing out real bias is not "ad hominem". Corporations are not "hominems". Diluting the obvious interest conflict demonstrated in oil companies buying scientists to write against the IPCC report is work for the oil companies. And pitting the extreme, unaccountable oil companies' self interest against the factual analysis of the IPCC report is pretending to "balance" the facts against propaganda.

        Let's not game the system any more, now that the seriousness of the threat is finally being widely analyzed and reported after generations of lies, coverups and propaganda all serving the oil companies at the expense of everyone else.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian (840721)

      Also, Zonk, I think you mean Mr. Chase knows why, Salmon P. Chase is on the $10,000 bill. Offering nominal fees for paper and pen to write reports is one thing but when the incentive is a large percentage of my yearly income, I think Exxon should be ousted as scientifically backwards assholes

      I don't imagine there's anything to be done about the company, but I'll wager those scientists who rolled over for cash are going to suffer greatly among their fellow researchers.

    • Offering nominal fees for paper and pen to write reports is one thing but when the incentive is a large percentage of my yearly income, I think Exxon should be ousted as scientifically backwards assholes.

      I wonder if ExxonMobil is actually still funding the American Enterprise Institute. Late last year they announced their intention [cnn.com] to stop funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and I was assuming (I know, dangerous) that they were going to stop funding all similar institutes. Here is their official try-to -please-everyone-without-admitting-any-guilt [exxonmobil.com] statement for those who are interested.

    • by Basehart (633304) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:07PM (#17859754)
      Micheal Savage, a radio talk show host here in the USA, was explaining to his millions of listeners yesterday that the so-called global warming trend is nothing but a natural cycle that occurs through the grace of God from time to time, and that it's sheer impudence to imply that mere man can cause such a global condition. He also went on to say that several thousand ducks waiting outside his SF bungalow upon his return from a trip to Florida were a sign from God. So who ya going to believe?
      • by spun (1352)
        Well, God, obviously. He told me that he sent those ducks just to fuck with Micheal Savage. We had a good laugh. Then God asked if I wanted to strip down to our underwear and, you know, wrestle a bit so I told him I had to leave 'cause I had work in the morning. He always gets like that when he drinks.
    • Re:The Report (Score:4, Informative)

      by evil agent (918566) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:23PM (#17860062)

      What I have seen is criticism from right wing papers about this report either being "unsurprising" or "offering no hope, grim." On the other hand, leftist papers have been in a sort of "we're doomed" sort of mode.
      I haven't read the report but I've read two summaries:

      From cnn [cnn.com]:

      And the report said no matter how much civilization slows or reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and sea level rise will continue on for centuries.

      From foxnews [foxnews.com]:

      Scientists from 113 countries issued a landmark report Friday saying they have little doubt global warming is caused by man, and predicting that hotter temperatures and rises in sea level will "continue for centuries" no matter how much humans control their pollution.

      However, they both do go on to say that it would be irresponsible to just sit back and do nothing. Also, we have to adapt to a warmer earth.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by radtea (464814)

      Increase in tropical storm intensity likely

      Does the report give any basis for this claim? There are politics on all sides of this issue, because there is nothing better than a crisis to give power-hungry bastards like Al Gore and George W. Bush the excuse to enhance their position. The only differentiator is their crisis of choice. The debate about what to do about anthropogenic climate change is at real risk of being lost in the noise made by anti-scientific hysterics on both sides.

      I raise the question
  • by Moggyboy (949119) on Friday February 02, 2007 @11:54AM (#17859548)
    Can someone publish the names and phone numbers of these scientists so I can lobby to get them into top positions in government?
    • Why do people always assume A leads to Z? Just because these guys have morals does not mean they would make good politicians. It's like saying "That psycho who killed the most people is clearly the best leader for the squad", except he has no clue how to lead, just maim people.
  • >> several scientists contacted for the article refused the offers on conflict of interest grounds." ...now please can we have the email addresses of the ones that accepted the bribe?
  • attempt to bribe them (oh, sorry, "lobby aggressively"). It's The American Way (tm).
    • Yes, scientists are supposed to work for free, and you should never ask any scientist if he would document what he considers the flaws of a prevailing theory.

      At least, that's the message I'm getting from the story.
  • If a report were issued that global warming was not manmade and a thinktank offered a similar reward, would you also call it a bribe?

    If (and this is a very strong IF) they do this right, what they are doing is using money to accelerate the scientific debate. If there are errors in the report that other scientists can find, there is now incentive to find them and weed them out. It's the scientific process pushed forward by money.

    The downside of it will, of course, be that a lot of "scientists" will make wild
    • by xilmaril (573709)
      gimme a sec, I need to pick my jaw up...

      kay.

      YES! Fucking right we would! When a scientist takes money to report a specific result, that's a bribe. There are NO situations under which that is not a bribe. Seriously, what are you smoking?

      On a sidenote, this bribe thing is a nice way of discrediting anti-global warming reports. funny, that.
      • by ScentCone (795499) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:16PM (#17859952)
        When a scientist takes money to report a specific result, that's a bribe.

        How about when a scientist is funded to point out the ways in which another (paid!) scientist's conclusions may be either wrong or taken in a politically-driven context that's all about fear? When a scientist is paid to challenge widely-held beliefs that happen to be peculiarly embraced by one end of the political spectrum, and used as leverage to push legislative agendas that are more about redistribution of income or other unrelated non-science-ish stuff, we usually call that... science. You should be delighted that scientists are being offered money to publicly challenge the conclusions of other scientists. If the challenge is weak, the other scientists' findings are strengthened. If the challenge prevails, then it was essential that it was done. What's not to like?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by timmarhy (659436)
        do you honestly think the people who wrote this report were unpaid and had no bias of their own? take the blinders off.
    • by pubjames (468013) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:16PM (#17859956)
      If a report were issued that global warming was not manmade and a thinktank offered a similar reward, would you also call it a bribe?

      Yes, of course. Scientists should never be paid to come to specific conclusions.

      It's the scientific process pushed forward by money.

      No, it's the scientific process being corrupted by money.
  • How could that be defined? Conflict between the desire for money and power versus life on earth?
  • Damn liberals! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spun (1352)
    This is just propaganda from the liberal controlled greeny environmental industry, making shit up to slander the good name of an honest, productive and responsible corporation. Everyone knows global warming scientists are rich as Midas from all the money funneled to them by their commie-pinko-socialist masters, of course they don't need to take money from an honest corporation! Just think, this poor industry, barely making ends meet, scrapes up a little money to try to help fund some REAL SCIENCE, and these
  • Once, warning og climate change might have been damaging for you career. Now, disputing climate change, something everyone now believes to be a reality, will do the same. This is why bribes like this is no longer effective.

    Only thing that works for a big companies now is to think "if you can't beat'em, join'em" and go green, or at least seemingly green.

    Let's hope it brings a change for the better. Anyone else who actually feels a bit optimistic that we're learning to take a bit more responsibility for ou
  • If Exxon wants to fund climate research, good. Once their research comes out then if it disagrees with your pet theory then argue based on the facts, but don't denigrate the funding of those who may interpret things differently than you do. Doing otherwise is following in the footsteps of the church who forced Copernicus to recant because it disagreed with their theory.
  • by nweaver (113078) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:05PM (#17859726) Homepage
    $10K is a pretty damn paltry bribe. $100K research grants are pretty common for those in the sciences, with $1M+ programs not unheard of. As for personal salary, a PhD college professor in the sciences is easily at $100k+/year when you include summer salary.

    If you are going to bribe someone, make sure you at least get in the right ballpark of "interesting". Trash my carreer for $10K? Don't make me laugh.

    • by mangu (126918)
      a PhD college professor in the sciences is easily at $100k+/year when you include summer salary


      PhD college professors who are experts in climatology all agree that global warming is an effect of burning fossil fuels. People who are accepting those $10k aren't scientists, they are just mediocre writers, almost certainly unemployed, for whom that money makes all the difference in the world.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What's Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Iraqi Minister of Information is up to these days?

    I'm sure he's looking for work.
  • by good soldier svejk (571730) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:05PM (#17859738)

    Among its authors are Tad Murty, a former scientist who believes human activity makes no contribution to global warming.
    Has he abandoned empiricism and scientific method in favor of rationalism? Disavowed science? Become an Objectivist? Had his degrees revoked for fraud? Who is this guy? [wikipedia.org] And if his training is in oceanography, how did he get into civil engineering?
  • by Speed Pour (1051122) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:08PM (#17859784)
    ...that every single move taken by the tobacco industry in the last 15 years is going to be repeated in exact fashion by the oil industry?

    - This particular case is exactly the same as the tobacco industry paying to have scientists say there was no connection between smoking and cancer (or any of the other ailments).
    - The paying off of lobbyists is normal, but was made infamous by "big tobacco". Now it's "Big Oil" making sure senators get to make frequent holidays in the Grand Caymans.
    - Some might even point out that all of the gas guzzling autos are the cool toys for the younger crowd...just as people might say Joe Camel was targeted at America's youth. I, of course, would not make such a brash statement; but only to say some might.

    There are plenty of other examples of the pattern being repeated, but I'm too tired to write them all out. Short version, the only thing that's changed is the product
  • A bribe? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joNDoty (774185) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:09PM (#17859800)
    Now before we all cry bloody murder, why are we calling this a bribe? There was a report released on global climate change. One company is hoping that there were shortcomings and inaccuracies in that report. That company doesn't have the scientific capability to refute the findings, so they are hiring scientists to document any and all shortcomings for them.

    As far as I can tell, there is no proof that they asked the scientists to lie. Unless, of course, you have already made up your mind that global warming is a fact and any attempt to refute it is corrupt and evil.

    The company involved is obviously biased, but I don't see an attempt to refute a study as evil in and of itself.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Urban Garlic (447282)
      There are several shortcomings in your post.

      The problem is, the FUD-nitpick attack really has no defense.

      To wit, regarding your post:

      You should have used a comma after the first "Now".

      The article summary did not propose criminal sanctions against the actors it describes. Nobody is planning to cry "bloody murder", so your estimate of the number wanting to do this ("we all") is evidently inaccurate.

      You describe "one company" as hoping for shortcomings and inaccuracies in the report, but the probable truth is
  • Couched in terms of an offer to write 'dissenting papers' against the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, several scientists contacted for the article refused the offers on conflict of interest grounds

    How about refusing on the grounds that research and scientific opinion should not be for sale or political motive? It's pretty sad only one person did so: Professor Schroeder.

    Scientists often talk big, but nothing shuts them up faster than a threat to their funding, and there's no

  • Just like the other researchers were "bribed" into doing the "global warming" research in the first place. It's called funding folks. It's what you do when you don't have a bunch of religious zealots to spread your viewpoint for free or you need to entice credible resources to risk their life, limb and career disagreeing against said zealots.
  • closed system (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wmeyer (17620) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:13PM (#17859884)
    There is no impartial scientist to be found. As earth is a closed system -- we're all here for the duration -- we all have a vested interest in the future. It makes little difference whether a study is financed by a corporation like ExxonMobil or by a green group with deep pockets; both have agendas, and in the final analysis, either the scientific methods are sound, or they're not, regardless of who is funding.

    The problem up to now has been the tendency of many to assume that a) because a study is endorsed by scientists, it must therefore be valid, and b) that if it is financed by a green organization or a government, it is therefore more trustworthy than if it were funded by a multinational corporation. Both assumptions are false. Of all the scientists on the planet, only a very small percentage are competent in the the analysis of climatological data, and of those, even fewer are knowledgeable with respect to the long term studies involved. As to funding and impartiality, every group I can think of has an agenda here, be they environmental groups, governments, or corporations.

    What is clearly needed is a rational study by qualified scientists, and discussion and even attacks on the conclusions drawn by other groups of equally qualified scientists. This is essentially the kind of thing that is done to keep scholarly journals on track. Articles are refereed by people with knowledge and experience in the field.

    Finally, one of the chief problems in trying to analyze the existing data is that we possess reasonably accurate data for only a very brief period of time, and from those data, we hope to extrapolate global long term trends. In undertaking that task, trends are extrapolated forward and backward, and assumptions are stacked upon assumptions. The further we get from today, in either direction, the less reliable are those assumptions. And let us not forget that we are still unable to reliably predict the weather more than a few days in advance, yet we have sufficient hubris to believe we can predict 100 years forward.
    • Re:closed system (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Grym (725290) * on Friday February 02, 2007 @01:32PM (#17861384)

      There is no impartial scientist to be found. As earth is a closed system -- we're all here for the duration -- we all have a vested interest in the future. It makes little difference whether a study is financed by a corporation like ExxonMobil or by a green group with deep pockets; both have agendas, and in the final analysis, either the scientific methods are sound, or they're not, regardless of who is funding.

      Sure, in the strictest sense, there can be no completely disinterested person on this issue because we're all stakeholders of this rock we call Earth. That being said, there are some people who are far more invested in a particular outcome being true (or at least publicly believed) than others. You're kidding yourself if you think that "scientists" funded/employed by the most profitable industry in history (which has everything to lose, if anthropogenic climate change is real/accepted) are just as objective or impartial on this matter as regular scientists working off federal grants or university funding.

      Secondly, the philosophy of science isn't as objective as you might think. Sometimes your methods can be right, your experiments verified and repeatable, but your conclsions dead wrong. This happens frequently and is what makes scientific progress so difficult. However, ill-intentioned people can devise experiments that intentionally lead to false or misleading conclusions. This is the essence of bad science.

      The big hint, for laymen that this is taking place, is when such studies ignore the highly supported, well-documented claims of opposing theories and tend to focus on minor (often neglible) discrepancies or areas where there just isn't enough data to know for sure. Take Intelligent Design (ID), for example. Proponents of ID make no effort to debunk sequence homology studies or the fossil record, because doing so is extremely difficult if not impossible. Instead, ID supporters focus on a few select cases where the exact nature of biomolecular events is unknown (for now) and from that draw sweeping, and unsupported, conclusions about the entire theory of evolution.

      You'll note that global warming opponents do the same thing. You'll see their papers study carbon sinks (which, even if true, might be neglible in the scheme of things) or how variations in solar output (something that isn't well understood at this point) might fit the data. But what you don't see are papers denying the fact that increased cabon dioxide in the air is anthropogenic or disputing the basic science behind greenhouse gases in general.

      And let us not forget that we are still unable to reliably predict the weather more than a few days in advance, yet we have sufficient hubris to believe we can predict 100 years forward.

      That's like saying that because its impossible to know which direction an individual atom in a solution might go from instant to instant that net diffusion isn't predictable. And yet, diffusion is practically a mathematical law, in practice.

      Sometimes, things are far easier to predict in aggregate than they are individually. Take lifespan, for instance. Just because I can't predict, to the day, when an indvidual squirrel might die, that fact has no bearing upon my ability to make stunningly accurate predictions on the average lifespan of a group of squirrels. Furthermore, I'll remind you that the data for global climate change extends into thousands of years. It's not unreasonable to expect an accurate extrapolation for the next fifty or one-hundred years from that.

      -Grym

  • My tax dollars are being given over to pro-glowball warming scientists in the form of grants. Do these research grants which are often worth hundreds of thousands of dollars also constitute bribes?

  • by internic (453511) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:18PM (#17859992)

    I guess they took the expression, "the marketplace of ideas" a bit too literally.

  • This kind of attempt to brible people to peddle an agenda should carry consequences similar to that of obstruction of justice like tampering with a witness. This situation is tampering with science -as best understood. And the "scientists" who support or "cherry-pick" their data should be held to the same standards as front-people are held accountable if they (mis)-represent a product they know to be short of what is claimed --as it is in some states.

    If these people get paid to mis-represent data (diff

  • Not a surprise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bullfish (858648) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:22PM (#17860052)
    Really, what do you expect exxon et al to say, do... look at the tobacco lobbies and their efforts to discredit studies and such that say cigarettes are not addictive using their own lobby-funded studies. In the rest of the world, and I would say most of the US, global warming is not controversial. Do wing nuts prop up their people to go on camera and say "it ain't happening". Sure, but so did the tobacco people. Most thinking people can see past this type of stuff and not get swept up in the propaganda wars. Unfortunately many do get suckered in by it. They have a lot of cash to throw at ads and lobbying these days due to the price of oil, and they want to keep that cash flowing. Like the addictive tobacco controversy... this one is dying. Expect to see more thrashing from the lobbies as it goes down for the count.
  • by neo (4625) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:24PM (#17860078)
    Won't change anything, and at least you can buy a nice winter coat.
  • by Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:24PM (#17860098)
    I just have wonder what is wrong in Exxon-Mobile. Every other major oil company in the world has admitted that global warming is for real and it's probably caused by man. In example Jorma Ollila [wikipedia.org] who is the chairman of Shell has said it an interview that global warming is real and the only way to tackel it is to reduce carbon emissions. He continued and said that when he came to work in Shell, he was amazed by the concern that Shell employees had about global warming. So the question is what is wrong in Exxon-Mobile? Are their executives so locked into an equation (oil = money) that they have forgotten that it's really (oil = energy = money) and that a company can have other forms of energy sources than just oil?
  • by jonwil (467024) on Friday February 02, 2007 @12:41PM (#17860462)
    Several European oil companies (most notably Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum) have gotten involved in other energy sources than just oil (hydrogen, solar, wind and others).

    However, the US oil companies (such as ExxonMobil and Chevron) refuse to acknowledge that any energy sources other than oil even exist and are fighting tooth and nail all alternative energy sources and anything that would show that humans are killing the planet with fossil fuels.

    Why aren't the US companies following the lead of the Europeans and trying to become world leaders in the new technologies before someone else (such as Shell or BP) beats them to it?
  • Um... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Friday February 02, 2007 @01:09PM (#17860992) Journal
    According to Greenpeace's 2006 Annual report, they spent 4.3 milliion Euros on their 'climate' campaign.

    This is pure advocacy advertising money, by the way, unlike Exxon which actually has to sell a product.

    How is it that (Company A) offering $10,000 for proof of one side of an issue is irredeemable evilness, but (Advocacy Group) spending $5.6 million is a justified righteous crusade?
  • wow, what a surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Locutus (9039) on Friday February 02, 2007 @02:06PM (#17861978)
    You mean the same Cheney/Bush who, when he took office in 2000, created his own automotive energy project, moved the existing hybrid vehicle project( 7 years old ) into this new project, axed the old project, created and funded a hydrogen/hype vehicle project, then axed the hybrid vehicle project? The list goes on and on about the deals Cheney and Bush made which stalled or killed off efficiency projects and labs while making sure their buddies in the oil industry would grow their profits. Remember during the 2004 election campaign when Bush made a visit to a renewable energy lab in Colorado? It was found out a week earlier that he'd cut their funding and they were going to layoff over 40 employees right before Bush arrived. They got special funding in a matter of days before Bush arrived but the funding was only going to last about 1 year....

    So this is not surprising. What gets my goat is that all the Republicans were just acting like lemmings and allowing Cheney/Bush to do whatever the wanted. Only now that he's a lame duck and the public FINALLY figured out Iraq is a screw-up, are some Republicans making statements against their( Cheney/Bush ) policies.

    What a wonderful spineless group bunch of lemmings they are. IMO.

    LoB
  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Friday February 02, 2007 @02:36PM (#17862556)
    Would it be a 'bribe' for me to hire a criminal defense attorney and experts to poke holes in the prosecution's case if I were accused of a crime? That's how I see what's being described here. This is a company being accused of environmentally inimical behavior and wanting to find out if there are flaws in the case being made against it.
  • Hrmm. (Score:3, Funny)

    by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:03PM (#17863900) Homepage Journal
    A new study shows there may be a conflict of interest amongst some climate scientists.

    The study, done over the course of the last 60 years, shows some startling conclusions:

    - many climate scientists are employed by public universities, which themselves are funded by governments
    - the employment of many climate scientists is contingent upon publication in referreed journals. Those journals themselves are paneled by other government-employed climate scientists
    - a key finding of climate science research is that climate scientists should have more say in public policy
    - another key finding of climate science research is that considerably more government money needs to be spent doing climate science research at institutions that pay climate scientists with government money

    Some nerve ExxonMobil has in paying people to do research.
  • by AnalogDiehard (199128) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:20PM (#17864190)
    Galileo's many discoveries, especially the universe revolved around the sun and not the earth, put him at odds with the papacy and many universities. He was pressured into silence for almost two decades. Towards the end of his life he faced the Inquisition, was compelled to abjure, and spent his life imprisonment under house arrest.
  • The IPCC Report (Score:4, Informative)

    by E++99 (880734) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:31PM (#17864416) Homepage
    It is important not to confuse this report with science. It is also important in general not to confuse the claims and opinions of scientists with science. This report contains claims and charactorizations. I suppose a lot of the data in this report probably comes from scientific studies, but as they are not cited (anywhere that I can find), they can't be confirmed or disconfirmed, or even put into context. The gist of the report are completely subjective charactorizations about various horrible things being "likely" or "very likely" to increase, or to be attributable to human actions. In other words the gist of the report is handwaving nonsense. Scientists don't have Special Knowledge not available to the rest of us. They are not soothsayers, priests or magicians. Even if they were, there were more politicians working on this report than scientists.

    One thing of note from the report, which I can independently confirm:

    Global average sea level in the last interglacial period (about 125,000 years ago) was likely 4 to 6 m higher than during the 20th century, mainly due to the retreat of polar ice. Ice core data indicate that average polar temperatures at that time were 3 to 5C higher than present[...]
    Since the last interglacial period peaked out at 4 to 6m higher seas, and 3 to 5 C higher temperatures, then in the absense of evidence suggesting we should peak elsewhere, we should assume that the global climate will max out at similar levels, apart from any human infulence. (After that happens, maybe the IPCC can tell the politicians how to make new laws to encourage greenhouse gasses emission, to somehow keep the next ice age from coming along and killing us all.)
  • by Jerry (6400) on Friday February 02, 2007 @04:41PM (#17864546)
    cash to right wing orgs are bribes?

    It's ok for government agencies to fund reseach limited to proving global warming, but not for disproving it.

    Nice double standard.
  • by scorilo (654174) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .s1xl0maz.> on Friday February 02, 2007 @05:56PM (#17865934) Homepage
    I think global climatic changes we are living through are the most significant challenge for the human race. It is best if governments respond intelligently through legislation, but that will not happen unless we, as individuals, are willing to take initiative in our daily lives.

    To that end, I have sold my car in 2003 and living without one ever since. That's rather difficult, as I live in Toronto uptown, but I found that I can easily rent (Enterprise is my favourite) when I absolutely need to; my life and my health have improved and am generally happier this way, not to mention that it's much cheaper. I also try to avoid buying gas from Esso (for the few times I need to rent), because I disapprove of Exxon and what they stand for.

    That being said, I believe that Exxon is doing a public service by spending their money this way. If I were a scientist offered money to play the devil's advocate, I would jump at the opportunity. This is because good ideas and good science do not come from unanimity. Dissent, if taken seriously, can only improve the scientific discourse and is the best sanity check against groupthink [wikipedia.org].

    Maybe it's because I lived my formative years in a communist dictatorship, or maybe it's because I loved debating and miss judging those university tournaments, but I often found that I learned the most about a subject by listening to dissenting opinions - opinions I disagreed with.

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