ExxonMobil gave approximately $1.3 million to climate denial organizations last year.
This has been reported by The Times (London) after being provided information by the Greenpeace Research Department. (The Times is unfortunately a subscription-only paper online, but a version of the story can be found syndicated at The Australian).
Greenpeace tabulated this figure - as we have done every year - from Exxon’s annual corporate Worldwide Giving Report. This year's Giving Report was way late on arrival, only published online in late June rather than the customary delivery in May before Exxon's annual general shareholders meeting. Download pdf of Worldwide Giving Report here
The Times concluded that Exxon had broken its pledges dating back to 2005 to stop payments to climate change deniers. After significant pressure from numerous bodies including ExxonSecrets, the Royal Society of London and Senators Snowe and Rockefeller, Exxon admitted its campaign of diversion.
In its 2007 Corporate Citizenship Report, published in May 2008, the oil giant stated,
“In 2008, we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups, whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in a responsible manner.”
And indeed, over the past four years, Exxon has reduced its grants to prominent climate change deniers from the peak spending in 2005 of over $3.5M. Greenpeace’s research shows a $2.2 million reduction in annual funding to these organizations, down to roughly $1.3 million in 2009. The number of groups known to be funded has dropped from 51 to 24 between 2005 and 2009.
So they are down to about half the organizations and about one third of the funding. But is that good enough? Does this mean Exxon gets credit for finally ditching the deniers?
In 2009, Exxon was still giving significant contributions to organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, the Annapolis Center, the American Enterprise Institute, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Harvard- Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Washington Legal Foundation, each of which has a long history of climate change denial. (see complete list of 2009 funding below).
Exxon has told The Times that it is no longer funding Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Pacific Research Institute and the Media Research Center, the former nest of Marc Morano (ex- Sen. Inhofe staffer and now CFACT blogger).
The 2009 funding to these groups was:
Exxon drops denial groups, but picks up denier scientists instead
Importantly, during the same period where Exxon bent to the pressure on its campaign of denial and cut all funding to hard core deniers like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute and others...
Exxon began funding (at least publicly) the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in 2005.
The 2009 ExxonMobil funding to SAO was $ 76,106, for a grand and odd total of $417,212 since 2005. SAO is the home of Dr. Willie Soon and Dr. Sallie Baliunas, two scientists who have worked both together and as individuals on publishing junk science for nearly two decades. Both have been heavily involved with many of the groups running denier campaigns today.
For example, Soon and Baliunas’ article “Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years,” concluded (incorrectly) that the warming of the globe experienced today is not at all unique and that the twentieth century is not the warmest on record, contradicting well established science. This paper was partly funded by the American Petroleum Institute. The flawed peer review process that led to its publication caused several editors at Climate Research (where it was published) to resign.
In 2007, just ahead of a crucial decision by the US Federal Government about whether to list polar bears as "endangered" from climate change, Soon was funded by ExxonMobil for his work in a paper that argued that polar bears were not under threat (because climate change wasn't happening). Soon is an expert in astrophysics, not polar bears, but Exxon saw fit to fund this work.
Baliunas has individually authored a 1994 report entitled “The Ozone Crisis,” claiming that science denies CFC’s affect on the ozone. She has been a resident expert at the George C Marshall Institute for years, alongside other serial deniers such as S Fred Singer.
So much more is detailed in our "Dealing in Doubt" report. It is a campaign of denial that goes back some 20 years. It continues to this day as the stakes get higher and higher. 2010, so far, has set global records for high temperatures. Corporate and private funders of the organizations who continue to deal in misinformation about climate science and climate policy will someday be held accountable for their destructive actions.
24 organizations in ExxonSecrets database were funded in 2009:
Finally. After years of denying its role in the campaign of climate denial, Exxon has revealed a dirty secret, that it has and likely still is DIRECTLY funding junk scientists.
The ExxonMobil 2008 Corporate Citizenship Report and Worldwide Giving Report were just released by the company ahead of their Annual General Meeting in Dallas tomorrow (May 27th) where the company is once again under significant pressure from Shareholder Activists.
The Worldwide Giving Reports are a key part of the data from which we have derived the ExxonSecrets funding linkages for the past decade. Through the years, most ExxonMobil Foundation and corporate grants (the ones they report to the IRS anyway) have gone to think-tanks, organizations who have in turn propped up the small army of denial scientists, amplified their voices and injected them into the media and policy arenas.
Thanks to Exxon's revealing this little secret, we now have a direct link between the Exxon black bag o' cash and two scientists who have made their careers as global warming deniers.
The new Exxon Giving report shows straight pipe funding, in the odd but specific sum of $76,106 to the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory, home of Dr. Willie Soon and Dr. Sallie Baliunas. Or we assume the cash went to these two, until Exxon explains itself.
The Observatory is the research arm of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) which has little to do with either the Smithsonian or Harvard at this point, other than in name (founded as a joint venture in 1973). In past episodes, Smithsonian has distanced itself from Baliunas, who discredits their name.
Wait!!? Is that Ben Stiller starring as Willie and Amy Adams portraying a young spry Sally? Maybe they should spend a Night at the Museum...they might learn a few things.
The Observatory has produced some pretty useful publications over time like the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Star Catalog, originally published in 1966 by Fred L. Whipple. But somewhere along the line they let in the riff raff...
Sally Baliunas built her denial career downplaying the significance of the destruction of the ozone layer, publishing a report entitled "The Ozone Crisis" in 1994 for the George Marshall Institute. Baliunas was, at the time, the chair of the Marshall Institute's Science Advisory Board and Fred Seitz was the Chairman of the Board...a full throttle denial team if ever there was one.
Remember the Marshall Institute? Oh yeah, Exxon announced that they had dropped their funding last year...who needs Marshall when you have their scientists on a leash.
Here is an excerpt from SallyBali's Ozone junk science:
Sound familiar? Talk about lies and misinformation, check out the projected cost estimates of getting rid of CFCs! Wow, was Sally wrong...its a wonder she wasn't so ashamed as to never publish again...but wait, there is no shame for a denier!
During the early Bush years, Soon and Baliunas were back in action, joint authors of a denial classic attacking mainstream climate conclusions.
"Lessons & Limits of Climate History: Was the 20th Century Climate Unusual?" was published by the George Marshall Institute. Jeff Nesmith of Cox News Service, revealed that the study was funded by the American Petroleum Institute. Senator Inhofe of course loved the report!
Soon went on to coauthor another denial classic, Polar Bears Are Doing Just Fine, reviewed by ExxonSecrets back in 2007.
This polar bear paper is key because, old Willie proudly admits both Exxon and American Petroleum Institute funding to support the research. However, Exxon didn't report this funding in its Worldwide Giving Report or to the IRS...they never said a word about it...
After an October 17th 2007 House Science Committee hearing entitled, Disappearing Polar Bears and Permafrost: Is a Global Warming Tipping Point Embedded in the Ice?, Representative Brad Miller of North Carolina penned a letter to Exxon demanding answers. He wrote, “Exxon has the right to fund any research or publications it wishes. However, the Congress and the public have the right to know why ExxonMobil is funding a scientist whose writing is outside his area of expertise to create the impression that expert scientists have conducted rigorous, peer-reviewed work that says the problems with polar bears are unproven or unserious.”
As far as we know Rep. Miller never got answers.
By now, Willie Nilly has emerged from Sally Bali's shadow to become one of the go-to skeptics, appearing as a key speaker at the two recent Heartland Institute's Denial-Paloozas in New York. Soon is again a featured panelist at next week's 3rd Heartland Institute Denial-Palooza (wait, didnt they just have the 2nd one about 2 months ago?) Senator Inhofe and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) will join the shrinking but noisy denial crew in DC on June 2nd.The Exxon AGM season is like Christmas for us at ExxonSecrets and this year Santa treated us right. Now, Rex Tillerson, what exactly have you been paying Soon and Baliunas to do and for how long? Clearly it didn't start in 2008. Answers please.....we're waiting...
ExxonSecrets is hanging here in the Big Apple with DeSmogBlog, as the Heartland Institute, flush with cash from anonymous planet hating foundations and corporations, is putting on the second annual global warming Denial-Palooza.
The Guardian led with a description of the keynote address by Czech president, Václav Klaus, whose country holds the important rotating presidency of the EU. Klaus' alarmist message to the cheering denier throng was that European nations plans for climate solutions hide a nefarious plot to ruin human society... "They probably do not want to reveal their true plans and ambitions to stop economic development and return mankind several centuries back"
How's that for optimism and hope in troubled times? Yo Vaccie, chillax and enjoy the Energy Revolution.
The New York Times panned the conference in Monday's paper, documenting several cases of peer to peer disagreement on how to best deny global warming - MIT's Richard Lindzen slamming the sun-spot people and Fred Singer correcting fellow skeptics understanding of physics. ExxonSecrets loves it when the skeptics eat their young.
But the best salvo of the Times article was a recitation of last year's Exxon Corporate Citizenship report blockbuster sentence by ExxonMobil spokes Alan T. Jeffers, who wrote the Times in an e-mail, saying that the company had ended support “to several public policy research groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion about how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner.”
Ending Exxon's diversion campaign being the primary goal of ExxonSecrets, seeing these immortal words from last May in the NY Times warmed our hearts....
Heartland, the free-marketeers, went on...attacking corporations who now express some consciousness of the threat of global warming: "Joseph L. Bast, the president of the Heartland Institute, said Exxon and other companies were just shifting their stance to improve their image. The Heartland meeting, he said, was the last bastion of intellectual honesty on the climate issue." Last bastion of antireglatory extremists more like.
“Major corporations are painting themselves green around global warming,” Mr. Bast said, adding that the companies have shifted their lobbying and public relations efforts toward trying to shape climate legislation in their favor."
Well they have a point there, we have noticed a spike in climate greenwashing. Maybe Heartland wants to join our StopGreenwash campaign?
Despite Exxon unceremoniously kicking them to the curb in 2007, Heartland seems to have raised a lot of money bashing Al Gore over the last few years. In a promo brochure handed out at the conference, the Heartland Institute's funding looks like the much maligned Michael Mann hockey stick graph. Their funding more than doubled from 2005-2007 rising from $2.5 million to $5.2 million after hovering at less than $2 million from 1999-2003.
Today, Guardian writer Ed Pilkington took a fresh swat at Governor Sarah Palin's use and defense of Exxon-funded junk science on polar bears in the State of Alaska's attempts to to kill the listing of the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.
Much has been made of Palin's denial of global warming since she was nominated as the GOP Veep candidate, but no one has questioned her credibility for using 'research' that was funded by ExxonMobil, American Petroleum Institute and Charles Koch Foundation.
We are wondering if Gwen Ifill of PBS will ask Ms. Palin a pointed question tomorrow? or if Senator Biden has read the Guardian story?
This classic ExxonSecrets map of the junk science authors from the Dyck, Soon, et al article shows once again the tentacles of the Denial Machine (see page 9 for acknowledgement of funding from Exxon and friends). Palin's goon squad cited the Dyck, Soon paper 6 times and even attached a copy of the article (pre-publication) to their 49 page submission to the Department of Interior.
All the background documents can be found on Greenpeace Investigations:
No reporters have questioned Exxon or API about funding this research and no one has gotten the scientists themselves on the record as to how much money they got from Exxon and friends and the marching orders attached to that funding.
The UK TV watchdog, Ofcom, is the watchdog for the UK broadcasting industry, keeping an eye on how broadcasters carry out their duty to the public to be both fair and accurate and not cause harm.
It upheld complaints by the former UK Chief Scientist, Sir David King, the IPCC and oceanographer Carl Wunsch, stating that the filmmakers had treated them unfairly, misquoted them or misled them into being interviewed. However, it managed to cleverly dodge the complaint about accuracy or misleading the public, to the fury of some scientists.
The film itself has been sold around the world, and the DVD viewed by thousands online.
What those viewers still haven't been told is that at least 10 of the 16 interviewees are central to the denial industry - directly associated with - or even paid by - think tanks funded by ExxonMobil.
And yes, we have a map showing you just how that all works. Total funding to these groups since 1998? $11,335,600
But of course even Exxon is apparently walking away from them - if you believe the latest statements from the company.
The issue isn't over yet - the complainants are now considering appealing the decision. But meanwhile the UK public has been swayed by the film - a staggering 60% are now sceptic about climate science - a shift that has been squarely blamed on the Swindle by the UK's leading polling company, Ipsos MORI, as George Monbiot mentioned in his column.
The best interview I've seen of the problems with the programme was by ABC Australia's Tony Jones, which is well worth a watch.
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