What is the true nature of an oil company's funding to people and groups?

I'd like to start what I believe to be a common belief among warmists (perhaps as much as 97%):

"An orchestrated campaign is being waged against climate change science to undermine public acceptance of man-made global warming, environment experts claimed last night."

That statement really says quite a lot. And we all know it implies the funding of individual skeptics as well as various skeptical organizations like Heartland. And the primary evidence for that claim is funding from energy companies, especially oil companies. For example, it seems this is the only reason Exxon is ever in the news and is even the target of a specific website (ExxonSecrets).

If you think about this, where is the connection between the simple evidence that funding has indeed occurred and "An orchestrated campaign is being waged..."? Funding is simply not enough evidence for that claim. This has the hallmark of a conspiracy if there is no public declaration of such a campaign.

Here is a whole bunch of questions about this:

Who in a company like Exxon (for example) decides where funding goes when in the range of say $10,000 to $100,000? Are there memos or letters or documented "strings" that Exxon has attached to its funding instructing the recipients to do what they do? Or do the recipients just assume they need to give a particular answer or act in a particular way to get more funding?

If oil companies were actually serious about this, are they spending enough (compared to their profit)? Why would they also spend money on the mainstream side? Do they spend more or less on the non-skeptical side?

Who approached whom for this sort of funding? Did Exxon seek out groups and individuals or the other way around? Would that matter?

What are the oil company's official positions on CO2 warming? Are they trying to reduce their own CO2 and if so does this mean any intent to undermine the science is done is secret (i.e. a conspiracy)?

Finally, what do you think the comparison is between what oil companies provide in funding to skeptical think tanks and what they are spending on research for renewable energy? Does that matter?

Update:

@david b: There are 11 separate questions above and your answer has nothing to do with any of them. And "splitting hairs"? I just picked the first website from Google's 5,610,000 results on: skeptic oil funding.

Perhaps you prefer the second website which states: "A campaign of climate change denial has been waged for over 20 years by big oil and big coal,"

Update 2:

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Just another couple of questions: Are oil companies still funding climate skeptics? If not, did oil-funded skeptics change jobs or start working on other issues? Did any just keep going on with their skepticism even with the funding gone? Are they hoping for future money or are they actually skeptical?

Update 3:

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@******: "maximize the impact of scientific views consistent with ours on Congress, the media and other key audiences," Yes, everybody does this.

"" with a goal of "raising questions about and undercutting the 'prevailing scientific wisdom.'"

Why not look at the whole paragraph: "Develop and implement a program to inject credible science and scientific accountability into the global climate debate, thereby raising questions about and undercutting the "prevailing scientific wisdom." The strategy will have the added benefit of providing a platform for credible, constructive criticism of the opposition's position on the science."

Update 4:

Hmm. Kinda sounds a little different when you read it all, doesn't it? You have officially been rescinded of your right to accuse others of cherry-picking. Three strikes, you're out.

Update 5:

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Still@******: "Many US oil companies spend some on researching renewable energies because it simply looks good. It's a PR and marketing strategy."

"Oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. is making a major jump into renewable energy with a $600 million investment in algae-based biofuels." http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/07/14/14greenwir...

$600M to look good. Nice. And that's just a single example.

Update 6:

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@******: "There is no point in quoting stuff from 1998 which has not materialized."

I was thinking the exact same thing.

Update 7:

"When you are making a quarterly profit of nearly $16 billion, it's ($600M) peanuts. "

Well that's debatable but hey, it's your call. However, if $600M is peanuts, then how would characterize the amount given to skeptics, say in the past two or three years? And what is that amount again?

7 Answers

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  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    In the late 1990s, Exxon was instrumental in the forming of the industry "Climate Science Team", headed by lobbyist and PR-guy Joe Walker. This PR task force included Randy Randol, (Exxon lobbyist), Steven Millow (then Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, now FoxNews), Jeffrey Salmon (George C. Marshall Institute), David Rothbard (Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow), Myron Ebell (Frontiers of Freedom).

    This PR task force's objective was to blunt the effect of scientific research on public opinion. Their agenda is in the public domain.

    http://thedgw.org/definitionsOut/..%5Cdocs%5CGloba...

    Upon the impending release of the IPCC AR4, a lobby funded by Exxon, The American Enterprise Institute, sent a letter to scientists offering $10,000 for "essays" that criticize the IPCC.

    http://desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/fi...

    Remember, this is not all oil companies. Royal Shell's climate science team was working with Michael Mann et all in this period, actually working to understand climate science rather than PR.

    Today Exxon publicly says it supports cap-and-trade to make reducing CO2 emissions profitable. What they are actually promoting is subject to conjecture, as it is only when documents become public do we actually get transparency. And post-Wiki-leaks, all organizations are much more careful about what they put in writing.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    The oil cartel (exxon being the major player) has been funding politicians, presidents, third world leaders, think tank and related organizations.for many many years going back to at least the early 1900s as far as corruption is concerned. During the 1900s, the sugar and tobacco lobbys were another two of the biggest guns.

    It is my understanding that the funds to groups like Heartland have changed focus and no longer received $$ for denier activity. I believe this is due to a combination of oil wanting to gamble on green solutions so they wont be left last in line for the teat and the inability of said groups to have a significant impact. Willie Soon is still active and is likely getting oil money through some source. He has personally received more than 1 million USD from big oil.

    The first year they began truly raping us with the price of gas, Exxo was crying about the barrell price of oil. If they were hurting so bad, how is it the scored a fourth quarter profit that year of more than 30 Billion. Conspiracy in action.

    If you want the skinny on any corporations activities, become a stock holder by purchasing a single share.

  • 8 years ago

    Split hairs much?

    Whether it is an "orchestrated campaign" or not is a matter of semantics. You spent a lot of time bitching and complaining about Michael Mann's book several months ago, but it seems you never actually read it.

    I'd suggest it. A bit on the arrogant side, but he sure does have quite a few nuggets of evidence for an "orchestrated campaign" against climate science and certain climate scientists in particular.

    Also, I haven't read it but "Merchants of Doubt" would be a good read as well. At least a fantastic, if not temporary, distraction from Watts.

  • 8 years ago

    Since AGW is strictly a PR campaign and opposes 'big oil' wouldn't it be reasonable that 'big oil' would pay organizations to justly scrutinize the AGW's data. A private organization can legally get records easier. Besides AGW would only have to fear if they were lying. So what is the big fuss?

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Joseph Goebbels quote. He was Hitler's propaganda minister.

    This is the successful formula for the deception of the masses. The greenie movement is in lock step with Goebbels' agenda and now has to mask the truth from the masses to stay successful. They have the help of most of the media in this.

    Quote by Ross Gelbsan, former journalist: “Not only do journalists not have a responsibility to report what skeptical scientists have to say about global warming. They have a responsibility not to report what these scientists say.”

    Also the governments are in on this propaganda and using our money to spew this nonsense. Look at what James Hansen, who is at the public feeding trough and on the dole, has to say, "...chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to [should] be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature; [Hansen] accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

    Now when an official makes inflammatory statements like that using out tax money, well, heck yes, any oil executive has the right and responsibility to fight back, not only for his own interest but for the nation's

    All it Takes for Evil to Triumph Is for Good Men to Do Nothing

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  • JimZ
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    I have never been hired by a major oil company. Most oil companies are obviously either private or public companies that have to satisfy the stock holders. If they are private, then they can donate to whatever charities they want to but they are not likely to invest in "studies" because there is little incentive to. They are in the business to make a profit. The same is pretty much true of public companies but some money (a very small percentage) would be put aside for that sort of thing but I would guess it would be relatively evenly distributed and not aimed at disproving AGW. I suspect more money would go to renewables so they could get in on the gravy train from Uncle Sam and also throw a bone to the environmentalists.

    I have noticed lately that both BP and Chevron make commercials which seem to me to be trying to show they are with the environmentalists. Clearly, they want to be perceived as pro-environment. Even though the damage that BP did in the Gulf was greatly exaggerated, they use it to suggest they are continuing to care about the people of the gulf and continuing the remediation etc. They wouldn't want to fund programs that reverse the good feelings they are trying to generate. I suspect that Exxon Mobil is in the same situation.

    Exxon Mobil is like a buzz word to the some which simply stands for corporations and capitalism. It seems to me that generic attacks on Exxon Mobil are poorly disguised attacks on capitalism in general or they reveal that they have been reading too many leftist blogs and are caught up in weird conspiracies.

    "An orchestrated campaign is being waged against climate change science to undermine public acceptance of man-made global warming, environment experts claimed last night."

    I wonder who these experts are. It reminds me of the end of Raiders of the Lost Arc when Indy asks who the experts are and the guy just repeats, "top experts".

    Note: I am really curious who would give Dook a thumbs up for that non-answer . I would like to see one alarmist admit to it. Are alarmists really that stupid or are the sock puppets back?

  • Gringo
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    <<<...where is the connection between the simple evidence that funding has indeed occurred and "An orchestrated campaign is being waged..>>

    (1) A leaked memo. A 1998 memo from a public relations specialist the American Petroleum Institute (API) to other members of the so called "Global Climate Science Team" comprised of Exxon's Senior Lobbyist on Environmental issues Randy Randol, Steven Milloy of the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition and and API representative. The memo detailed plans "to recruit a cadre of scientists who share the industry's views of climate science and to train them in public relations so they can help convince journalists, politicians and the public that the risk of global warming is too uncertain to justify controls on greenhouse gases" & "proposing a US$ 5,000,000 multi-point strategy to "maximize the impact of scientific views consistent with ours on Congress, the media and other key audiences," with a goal of "raising questions about and undercutting the 'prevailing scientific wisdom.'" (1)

    (2) Exxon (and that of other companies) funding of think-tanks which in turn fund climate science denial. In 2006 the British Royal Society even send a letter to Exxon to ask/demand them to stop funding denial think tanks which misrepresent the science and push myths instead. (2)

    In the link below, Appendix B lists all the groups and their Exxon provided funding and their anti-climate science actions as contained within the Union for Concerned Scientists' report 'Smoke, Mirrors and Hot Air'.(3)

    <<Or do the recipients just assume they need to give a particular answer or act in a particular way to get more funding? >>

    Are you joking? We're talking about the 'crème de la crème' of US right-wing think tanks and fake experts' here? Do you really believe that they need to be told by their funders what is expected of them?

    <<Funding is simply not enough evidence for that claim.>>

    Read the UCSUSA report linked below. It is not just funding, it is a wide web of connections, groups and denial experts, all repeating over and over again the same discredited message. Their objective is not to reject the current consensus; their whole objective is to spread doubt!

    <<Who in a company like Exxon (for example) decides where funding goes when in the range of say $10,000 to $100,000? >>

    In Exxon it was its Senior Lobbyist Randy Randol who faxed the Bush team requesting the then head of the IPCC, American Robert Watson to be replaced. (3) Randy Randol currently is president of the American Energy Freedom Center, another Exxon funded think tank pushing anti-science.

    <<If oil companies were actually serious about this, are they spending enough (compared to their profit)? >>

    Judging by the impact they are having, particularly in the US, I'd say yes, more then enough,

    <<Finally, what do you think the comparison is between what oil companies provide in funding to skeptical think tanks and what they are spending on research for renewable energy? Does that matter?>>

    No, it does not matter because you are comparing apples and oranges. Many US oil companies spend some on researching renewable energies because it simply looks good. It's a PR and marketing strategy. Oil companies make tremendous amounts of money in today's oil market and as cheap oil gets scarcer, their profits will only increase. They have no interest whatsoever in changing the current status quo. Renewable energies endanger their profits. That is why they want to post phone any regulation as long as possible. And that is also why investing relatively very little money in funding fake skeptics is so lucrative for them.

    Edit @ Ottawa Mike:

    <<Why not look at the whole paragraph>>

    Because, unlike you usually do, I provided the link in this already lengthy answer in which I wanted to reserve some space for the inevitable edits.

    <<Hmm. Kinda sounds a little different when you read it all, doesn't it? You have officially been rescinded of your right to accuse others of cherry-picking. Three strikes, you're out.>>

    The whole problem is that to date we are yet to come across this so called "credible science" from the part of the deniers, let alone 'credible, constructive criticism'. There is no point in quoting stuff from 1998 which has not materialized.

    <<$600M to look good. Nice. And that's just a single example.>>

    When you are making a quarterly profit of nearly $16 billion, it's peanuts. (4)

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