A remarkable example of silencing science is the climate alarmists’ success against the Marshall Institute. The Marshall Institute was founded in 1984 by three outstanding scientists, each of whom knew more about carbon dioxide and climate than 97% of the IPCC authors combined:
- Frederick Seitz, a physicist and former President of the National Academy of Sciences.
- William Nierenberg, a physicist and the Chairman of the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee. In 1983 the CDAC issued a comprehensive report on CO2’s influence on climate, recommending further research as the only action on the subject, but no other action. Notably, at the same time he was presiding over a similar panel on Acid Rain, which did recommend immediate cuts in sulfur dioxide emissions.
- Robert Jastrow, a physicist and astronomer, the first chairman of NASA’s Lunar Exploration Committee, and the founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (succeeded in this position by James Hansen, who disgraced that institution).
The Marshall Institute is best known for its contribution to ending the Cold War – another reason the Left hated it. Nevertheless, it was improving national security and public policy on other subjects as well. In 2000-2005, the whole Marshall Institute operated on an annual budget of less than $900,000 per year. This is probably less than Leonardo DiCaprio spends on makeup, and it is absolutely nothing compared to the billions at the disposal of present-day climate alarmists. The Institute’s budget started shrinking even further after 2006, until the Institute was forced to shut down.
In 2010, the formerly mainstream media accused Dr. Willie Soon, a solar physicist affiliated with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, of receiving grants from ExxonMobil and some other businesses and non-profits, defined by the alarmists as “fossil fuels interests.” In 2015 the media repeated the same accusations and sold them as news again. The facts of the matter:
- The Smithsonian did make contracts with these organizations and received about $1.2M to fund Dr. Soon’s research, over ten years (2001-2010).
- At least the ExxonMobil grant was approved by a low level ExxonMobil employee, obviously one unfamiliar with the workings of science. She probably believed in the existence of the “scientific consensus” on the global warming and was not expecting to find a “skeptic” in the Harvard-Smithsonian (climate skeptics are not obligated to wear a distinctive clothing, at least not yet).
- The Smithsonian took ~50% for the affiliation, passing to Dr. Soon the remaining $60k per year, from which he had to pay his own research expenses.
- Despite being paid from the leftovers, Willie Soon obtained a number of noteworthy scientific results: he showed that our Sun is unusually quiet compared with other similar stars; developed an empirical theory of solar-linked climatic variation on centennial to millennial timescales; and introduced a novel theory of solar Arctic-mediated climate variation on multi-decadal to centennial timescales.
I invite the reader to compare this achievement with the activities of Dr. Sandra Whitehouse, the wife of infamous Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who has been “consulting” for Ocean Conservancy from their house in Rhode Island and receiving an annual salary of more than $200,000.
For the climate alarmists, the main evidence of the allegedly massive funding for climate dissent is that they can find none:
“Most funding for denial efforts is untraceable. Despite extensive data compilation and analyses, only a fraction of the hundreds of millions in contributions to climate change denying organizations can be specifically accounted for from public records.” (Drexel University; this “study” is referenced by the Government of California in the authoritative page on its website: The Deniers).
Enormous pressure was brought on citizen’s groups and political organizations to abandon dissenting opinions on the science of climate change, even if it was only a very small part of the organizations’ activities. After this strategy mostly succeeded, it went further, targeting organizations that opposed the energy policies of the Obama administration or its other abuses, derived from the climate alarmism agenda. Usually, such pressure is invisible to outsiders. A rare glimpse into the process was allowed in 2014, when a number of the top software companies announced they were “cutting ties” with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over its opposition to Obama’s energy policies. ALEC describes itself as “America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism. Comprised of nearly one-quarter of the country’s state legislators and stakeholders from across the policy spectrum, ALEC members represent more than 60 million Americans and provide jobs to more than 30 million people in the United States.” Google has not only withdrawn its meager financial support (their right), but also publicly defamed ALEC, as well as its personnel:
“Google Inc. Chairman Eric Schmidt said the world’s biggest Internet search company made a mistake in funding a political group that opposes U.S. action on climate change.
Schmidt said Google paid the American Legislative Exchange Council as part of a lobbying campaign on an unrelated issue. Without elaborating on Google’s relationship with the group, Schmidt said facts about global warming aren’t in dispute.
“The people who oppose it are really hurting our children and grandchildren and making the world a much worse place,” Schmidt said on NPR’s “Diane Rehm Show” yesterday. “We should not be aligned with such people. They are just literally lying.”
Google, a hard Left search engine, became the arbiter of truth!
Koch Industries is a private corporation (thanks to the wisdom of the founder, who resisted the trend to take companies public when possible), so the government has fewer sticks to beat it with, and the Leftist media reserves special vitriol for the Koch brothers.
Christopher Monckton of Brenchley is a rare example of a wealthy scientist and public figure.
Climate alarmists immediately took advantage of the Tobacco Precedent, and accused their opponents of serving “fossil fuel interests.” This description can be stretched to cover almost everything. The State of California, providing an official listing of traits of the “deniers,” includes funding from “industries with a financial interest in ignoring climate change. Oil companies, coal-burning electric utilities, and other companies that make their profits from burning fossil fuels” (my emphasis). This includes everybody whose employees use electricity or drive cars. Yes, the State of California uses the term “denier” on its official website, and does not bother even to prepend it with “climate” or “climate change.”
Here’s a recent review by Paul Driessen of some parts of climate alarmism funding.
This is Part III of the supplemental material for Climate Alarmism and the Muzzling of Independent Science, published in American Thinker on 04/21/2016. Part I is about Scientists and Lawyers. Part II is the Tobacco Precedent Background.