Skeptic climate scientists and the organizations they are associated with stand accused of receiving fossil fuel industry money in exchange for lying about the issue. It has been said that there is a parallel between global warming skeptics and the “expert shills” who once worked for “big tobacco” and lied to the public about the risks of smoking.
Does the accusation have proof to back it up? When I asked this in late 2009 of a Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) board member, he said numerous journalists had documented the accusation. But the only journalist he could name was Ross Gelbspan, and indeed, virtually every instance of the accusation appearing in print or online seems, one way or another, to be traceable to this man. The more I studied the matter, the more problems and contradictions I found:
- Although he is often referred to as a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, the Pulitzer organization does not recognize Gelbspan as a Pulitzer winner.
- The “secret memos” that Gelbspan began citing in 1995 are not a “smoking gun” at all, but merely interoffice guidelines for conducting a pilot ad campaign. There is no evidence that a particular subsection in the campaign memos which Gelbspan often refers to was ever implemented into the campaign or that this subsection was any kind of central industry directive given to skeptic climate scientists.”
- Al Gore wrote about the “secret memos” some four years before Ross Gelbspan first mentioned them, but later said Gelbspan had discovered them, which suggests a critical need to nail down the real source of the memos and the motivations for the subsequent spin about it.
- Gelbspan is cited thousands of times by reporters, activists, politicians, sociologists, and others as proof that skeptic climate scientists are basically stooges of the fossil fuel industry … but none of them has tried to confirm or independently corroborate Gelbspan’s claims.
- There is simply no evidence that skeptical scientists were ever paid by any industry to lie about the causes or consequences of global warming.
These points and more are made in numerous of articles I’ve written on the subject since 2009. I’ve got enough material on hand that I could probably write another 500 blog pieces here. In no particular order, I will examine as many aspects of this controversy as I can.
Cook is already well underway in the task of sharing his research. His archive page has some 60 articles exposing the Gelbspan fraud from outlets such as the American Thinker, Bretibart, and Red State. Peruse Cook’s extensive coverage, as well as his frequent updates at the main Gelbspan Files page (newest posts at the bottom).
Full disclosure: as Cook explains in “A Note About Funding”:
The Heartland Institute, a prominent supporter of skeptical climate scientists (and consequently a major target of global warming advocates as well) generously offered me a $12,000 strings-free grant to enable me to continue devoting time to this subject. I have carte blanche to write whatever I wish to write, whenever I wish to write it, without any direction from Heartland, its donors, or anyone else.
And if you are interested in a scientifically rigorous examination of climate science — a pursuit driven by the scientific method instead of a political agenda — you can find it here at Heartland’s archive of its eight international conferences on climate change. They are not nearly as lavish as a typical taxpayer-funded IRS staffer conference, but what we lack in line-dancing expositions and Gilligan’s Island parody videos, we compensate with a dogged pursuit of climate truth.