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Exxonsecrets
January 6, 2005 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Exxonsecrets - "How Exxonmobil Funds The Climate Change Skeptics" - a Flash-based tool (there are HTML-based fact-sheets available as well) to track the players, money, and Exxon's influence in various environmental issues. Designed for Greenpeace by Josh On (of Futurefarmers and TheyRule) and artist Amy Balkin...and via Doors of Perception.
posted by tpl1212 (24 comments total)

 
I'm still waiting for Greenpeacesecrets, a Flash-based tool to track the players, money, and Greenpeace's influence in various environmental issues.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:01 AM on January 6, 2005


I'm sure Greenpeace has lots of secrets, but do you really think it's anything near the magnitude of the blood on Big Oil's hands?

Not all sins are created equal.
posted by absalom at 10:12 AM on January 6, 2005


What does Greenpeace stand to gain from a clean environment?

What does Exxon stand to gain from having relaxed environmental restrictions?
posted by odinsdream at 10:12 AM on January 6, 2005


Obviously, odinsdream, Greenpeace has as much money and political clout as Exxon. Cabinet members have been chosen from the environmental "industry", not the oil industry. And most telling, we have spent billions of dollars invading Iraq for various environmental issues.
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:19 AM on January 6, 2005


Who would you expect to fund research by global warming skeptics? Universities and other allegedly "unbiased" sources for the most part aren't doing it..

I'm not arguing that global warming is non-existant, but I do think there hasn't been nearly enough research into questioning particulars of global warming. Too bad it's has to be funded by Exxon.
posted by Heminator at 10:23 AM on January 6, 2005


Great link, tpl1212. I've long wanted an all-in-one resource to track climate-change astroturf.

And brilliant comment, S@L. I mean, every day there's another article in the paper about the billion-dollar profits being reaped by multinational solar-power conglomerates or the Bush Administration's unilateral invasion of Denmark to seize its wind farms. And how do ya think that Kyoto Protocol got forced through Congress at such lightning speed? Greenpeaceniks in black hellycopters, that's how. That sinister Greenpeace lobby is some kinda powerful, I tells ya. Thanks for participating, genius.

On preview: what leftcoastbob said. Only moreso.

On further preview: Heminator, climatologists examine the particulars of global warming all the time. That's their job. What almost none of them do - except the ones funded by companies that produce fossil fuels, oddly enough - is question the fundamental fact that the process is happening, and that its impact is potentially catastrophic.
posted by gompa at 10:28 AM on January 6, 2005


It's revealing that Greenpeace has to resort to such inessentials as questioning funding sources in its attempts to discredit global warming skeptics. Anyone really interested in knowing about the existence, extent, and causes of global warming will see it for what it is. And the environmental religionists will continue in their faith anyway. I believe this is called preaching to the choir.
posted by mw at 10:37 AM on January 6, 2005


... and to the deaf.
posted by fleacircus at 10:50 AM on January 6, 2005


If you're looking for a more objective take on global climate change - or at least one that focuses on effects on climate rather than causes by corporations - check out “Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment” issued 11/04, commissioned by the International Arctic Science Committee - a high-level intergovernmental forum comprised of the eight arctic nations: Canada, Denmark/Greenland/Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the USA.

The report is “a comprehensively researched, fully referenced, and independently reviewed evaluation of arctic climate change and its impacts for the region and for the world. It has involved an international effort by hundreds of scientists over four years, and also includes the special knowledge of indigenous people.”

You can read the long report yourself on the ACIA site (http://amap.no/acia/), or, check out a briefer recent review of the Report by Michael Byers, entitled On Thinning Ice (http://www.globalpublicmedia.com/articles/329).
posted by weepingsore at 10:51 AM on January 6, 2005


It's revealing that Greenpeace has to resort to such inessentials as questioning funding sources in its attempts to discredit global warming skeptics.

Right. And we should just trust all of the studies funded by drug companies, right?

Demonstrating that the small percentage of scientists who are skeptical of global warming are paid for by Exxon goes far beyond mere ad hominem attacks. Calling foul for blatant conflict of interest is different than just calling your opponent stupid.
posted by callmejay at 10:53 AM on January 6, 2005


...such inessentials as questioning funding sources in its attempts to discredit...

I would think that pointing out funding sources is a powerful way to raise awareness to potential conflicts of interest (see recently flap over the FDA being funded by pharmaceutical companies)...sure, it takes a deeper look to reveal the scope of funding source influences, but I wouldn't call that an "inessential" point.
posted by tpl1212 at 10:53 AM on January 6, 2005


Callmejay: totally beat me to it. I'm going to look into your funding sources!
posted by tpl1212 at 10:54 AM on January 6, 2005


What's this BS about "objective" study?

Does any of you understand anything about scientific process?

Does anyone here really believe that if climate change was the hoax these hucksters make it out to be that any climate scientist would hesitate to jump all over any problems with it?

BIG Hint: Questioning the validity of conjecture and hypothesis is what scientists do. Even things they may not "think" would turn out to be accurate or true. Its a process Bart!
posted by nofundy at 11:01 AM on January 6, 2005


In related news, average air temperatures in the Arctic are rising, ice sheets are thinning, permafrost is melting, and the whole complex interconnected network of arctic life and its environment are changing in ways not reflected in the geological record. A hoax indeed.
posted by driveler at 11:13 AM on January 6, 2005


It's revealing that Greenpeace has to resort to such inessentials as questioning funding sources in its attempts to discredit global warming skeptics.

Indeed. About as revealing as when the defense points out that the witness has been covertly employed by the plaintiff.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:15 AM on January 6, 2005


Gompa: "question the fundamental fact that the process is happening, and that its impact is potentially catastrophic."

But the problem is that I'm not convinced of either of these things. Overwhelming scientific consensus has been wrong before - I certainly wouldn't be shocked if global warming existed. I just wish that there was some respected minority voice on these matters that kept everyone honest. The idea that scientists are above political motivations is complete BS (That poor bastard Bjorn Lomborg - the way his research was treated by Scientific American is positively shameful).

And the stakes here are VERY high. I mean Kyoto was totally unworkable. If we need to take economic measures that drastic we'd better be damn sure (especially since the greatest threat to the environment may ultimately be poverty). And given the general response from the Greenpeace types and the political left and their attempt to villify anyone who questions the issue honestly or not, I'm really inclined to not to trust the integrity of the of the science they are using to drive their political and economic agendas.
posted by Heminator at 11:23 AM on January 6, 2005


Gompa: "question the fundamental fact that the process is happening, and that its impact is potentially catastrophic."

But the problem is that I'm not convinced of either of these things.


Overwhelming scientific consensus? Check.
VERY high stakes? Check.
Significant, rational, non-ideological debate within the scientific community based on peer-reviewed studies that adhere to the strictures of the scientific method about the particulars of climate change? Check.
Unanimous agreement within the scientific community that junk science funded by oil companies and selectively informed screeds written by Danish non-scientists doesn't help to forward the science of climate change? Check.
Heminator convinced?

Oh well, four outta five ain't bad.
posted by gompa at 11:45 AM on January 6, 2005


As for the scientific process being used to defend climate change critics, typically the exchange should go something like:

Environmentalist: Hey, all this ice is melting, the temperatures are rising, and the historical record preserved in this block of ice doesn't predict such a change. Here's my data, here's my ice block, here's our temperature readings.

Critic: Well, I have a problem with your temperature readings, because of ____ data. I have these other temperature readings that contradict yours, and your ice sample is from an area that was unusual because of ____. Here's my ice sample that contradicts your ice sample.

Instead of:

Exxon: We don't believe in climate change. It makes no sense, and your data is just an anomaly. You hate corporations, so we don't believe you.

Holding an opposing opinion does not automatically involve you in the scientific process.
posted by odinsdream at 11:49 AM on January 6, 2005


Do you mean critics like this?
posted by marcvs at 12:15 PM on January 6, 2005


More like that, yes -- though his bait 'n' switch at the end in which he uses a 500 million year timescale for CO2 concentrations was kind of silly.
posted by Ptrin at 12:45 PM on January 6, 2005


Exxon funds Michael Chrichton?
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 1:06 PM on January 6, 2005


Heminator posted a link criticizing the Michael Mann 'Hockey Stick' paper. Yes, the Mann et al results were on the wings of all of the results produced for the IPCC 2001 report, but they weren't the only results. They are published in a peer reviewed journal but that doesn't mean they're the best example of the 'consensus'. Other researchers showed evidence of warming.

On the other hand, McIntyre and McKitrick, the authors of on papers debunking Mann et al, published in a journal called Energy and Environment, which is, as best as I can work out (or anybody I've spoken with about this) the equivalent of a push-poll in politics. One of it's editors is a good friend of Fred Singer (from the Exxonsecrets website) and a climate change sceptic himself, although he will strongly refute any suggestion that the McIntyre and McKitrick paper wasn't peer reviewed properly. This was just before he told a group of people, including co-authors of the IPCC report, that evidence for climate change wasn't accurate.

Mann et al. have posted a rebuttal to the McIntyre and McKitrick paper, but the latter have never responded. Possibly because they don't need to, when they published their rebuttal article, they chose the title carefully: Corrections to the Mann et al. (1998).....[pdf], now they and their colleagues can cite the paper as a corrections paper, not a rebuttal.

The other two links by Herminator are both books. Books aren't peer reviewed. Citing poverty as a cause for climate change is like a South African prime minister saying poverty is the cause of AIDS (I trust the quote, not necessarily the source). It's correlation, not causation. Poor countries tend to use less efficient technology (coal in China, wood in Africa) which, coincidentally, produce more greenhouse gases and pollution. Poor people tend to get ill more often as well, not because poverty causes illness, but because poverty prevents adequate healthcare.

The article linked by marcvs has multiple points where information is omitted which would cancel a number of the facts made. Taking one example, the author cites the last total glaciation (ice down to the tropics) as the highest carbon dioxide level in the last 500 million years. He doesn't point out that complete cover of the planet with white ice (10s of metres) will lower the temperature by more the 40 degrees. The increased carbon dioxide has a much bigger hill to climb before getting to 'extreme' temperatures.

..but I'm ranting..The thing that confuses me most about the climate change argument is this. Almost all scientists (even F. Singer et al.) agree on two things, 1)the Earth is getting warmer, 2) carbon dioxide is a 'greenhouse gas' (i.e causes some warming) . Yet the sceptics won't admit that more carbon dioxide (almost doubled since 1800) could cause the heating that they agree is happening. The 'green ' scientists (I can't really call them 'pro climate-change' scientists) think it may be possible, at least until somebody postulates a much better cause.
posted by Maxwell at 1:22 PM on January 6, 2005


About the economic implausibility of Kyoto, don't forget we're already paying for the way we live in dirty air and dirty water. That might be okay if each individual had to drink or breathe their portion of the mess, but that's also implausible. Even worse, this problem is being handed off to people who aren't even born yet. Our grandchildren might not thank us for deciding it's too expensive to fix this problem today.
posted by atchafalaya at 1:57 AM on January 7, 2005


Herminator, a recent review (.pdf) by the Washington based group Forest Trends suggests that the dwellers of forests are it's best protectors. They are also often poor in monetary terms.
I would argue that it is political instability and economic desperation that cause misuse and abuse of the local environment by it's inhabitants. More often than not these conditions are caused and/or exascerbated by outside influences.
posted by asok at 4:23 AM on January 7, 2005


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