The Guardian hyperventilates today, with a story headlined: “Climate experts urge leading scientists’ association: reject Exxon sponsorship.”
Well, those “experts” should be having that discussion with their own employers first.
The Guardian article reports on a petition just issued by prominent climate hysterics like James Hansen, Michael Mann, and Naomi Oreskes, who are using the petition to ask the American Geophysical Union (AGU) to end its sponsorship deal with oil giant ExxonMobil. The AGU is a membership organization for Earth and space scientists known for its scientific journal and its conferences.
The signatories write:
We, the undersigned members of AGU (and other concerned geoscientists), write to ask you to please reconsider ExxonMobil’s sponsorship of the AGU Fall Meetings.
As Earth scientists, we are deeply troubled by the well-documented complicity of ExxonMobil in climate denial and misinformation. For example, recent investigative journalism has shed light on the fact that Exxon, informed by their in-house scientists, has known about the devastating global warming effects of fossil fuel burning since the late 1970s, but spent the next decades funding misinformation campaigns to confuse the public, slander scientists, and sabotage science — the very science conducted by thousands of AGU members.
We won’t litigate Exxon’s alleged “complicity” in “climate denial and misinformation” now. (You may read the silly allegations here and Exxon’s detailed defense here.) But for the sake of argument, let’s assume the hysterics are making their claims in good faith.
In that case, they have much more numerous personal conflicts to address.
Of the more than 100 climate “experts” signing the letter as of now, 73 are affiliated with U.S. universities, including Harvard, MIT and Stanford, just to name a few.
Of those 73 signatories, 59 of them are affiliated at universities that — in 2014 alone — accepted grants worth about $40 million from ExxonMobil.
In 2002, Exxon awarded Stanford University a ten-year grant worth $225 million. One might expect such an award to give Stanford professor Mark Z. Jacobson some pause in adding his name to a petition demanding Exxon not sponsor the AGU — but he did sign it. Jacobson should forward the AGU letter to Stanford’s Board of Trustees to see what they have to say.
Adding further amusement to their petition is the fact that climate researchers are themselves turning to the oil industry they supposedly loathe to survive.
As federal funding for climate research recedes amid budgetary belt-tightening, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution signed agreements in 2014 to do research for the Saudi Arabia-owned oil company Saudi Aramco. What are Woods Hole researchers doing for Saudi Aramco? They are helping the company find more oil in the Red Sea, of course.
And of course, several of the AGU letter signatories are affiliated with Woods Hole, whose researchers claimed that fossil fuel-caused global warming will collapse Antarctic ice shelves by 2100.
But in the meantime, they need to keep the lights on.