One Colorado electric cooperative has openly admitted that it has paid $100,000 to a university academic who prides himself on being a global warming skeptic.But it's not just corporations muddying up the waters when it comes to confusing the public and keeping this topic described as a "debate." No, we also have the likes of James Dobson and other far right religious figures and organizations siding with the denial folks. (For a reminder on the extent of the bought-and-paid-for scientists, read Chris Mooney's lengthy article in MoJo).
IREA contributed $100,000 to Patrick Michaels, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia.
Michaels is one of about a dozen academics who for years have cast doubt on the science surrounding global warming while downplaying the scientifically accepted idea that humans are causing it.
"We have had many apocalypses through the ages that haven't shown up, and this is likely to be another one," Michaels said on CNN earlier this year.
"There is clearly a well-organized and well-funded effort to undermine the science and cause confusion in the minds of the public," said Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. "And several contrarians have benefited solely to carry this disinformation campaign out."
Experts and journalists, however, who have documented a 15-year campaign funded by major companies in the fossil fuel industry to cast doubt on global warming science say the intent is to create confusion.
"This coal industry disinformation campaign is a repeat of a similar campaign launched in the early 1990s by Western Fuels and other coal interests," said Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Ross Gelbspan.
Gelbspan says that continued efforts to confuse the public in the face of the evidence are "particularly sinister" given that they follow "by almost 10 years the conclusion of more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries in what is the largest and most rigorously peer-reviewed scientific collaboration in history."
But we at least have this recent piece from Naomi Oreskes, who states that a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal got it all wrong (surprise!):
AN OP-ED article in the Wall Street Journal a month ago claimed that a published study affirming the existence of a scientific consensus on the reality of global warming had been refuted. This charge was repeated again last week, in a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.It's like shouting at the wall.
I am the author of that study, which appeared two years ago in the journal Science, and I'm here to tell you that the consensus stands. The argument put forward in the Wall Street Journal was based on an Internet posting; it has not appeared in a peer-reviewed journal — the normal way to challenge an academic finding. (The Wall Street Journal didn't even get my name right!)
My study demonstrated that there is no significant disagreement within the scientific community that the Earth is warming and that human activities are the principal cause.
Papers that continue to rehash arguments that have already been addressed and questions that have already been answered will, of course, be rejected by scientific journals, and this explains my findings. Not a single paper in a large sample of peer-reviewed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 refuted the consensus position, summarized by the National Academy of Sciences, that "most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations."
In 1988, the World Meteorological Assn. and the United Nations Environment Program joined forces to create the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to evaluate the state of climate science as a basis for informed policy action. The panel has issued three assessments (1990, 1995, 2001), representing the combined expertise of 2,000 scientists from more than 100 countries, and a fourth report is due out shortly. Its conclusions — global warming is occurring, humans have a major role in it — have been ratified by scientists around the world in published scientific papers, in statements issued by professional scientific societies and in reports of the National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society and many other national and royal academies of science worldwide.