Really Sciency

Visit my other blog 'Really Sciency' looking at Climate Science and its portrayal, misrepresentation and denial in the media.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Million Dollar Willie

Follow the Money

And oft used argument from science deniers is, ‘Follow the Money’, often spouted with the implication that if scientists actually make a living from their profession they are probably corrupt, and will publish any flawed science as long as the grant money keeps coming. In fact it is usually suggested that they publish flawed science to keep the grant money coming.

The amount of money the science denying crowd arrive at usually varies enormously. For example in man made climate change denial, it always includes research money but can also include any one who might actually profit in some way including the corner shop selling an energy efficient light bulb. It also usually includes the millions used for satellites, their launching and their operation. But what the deniers usually ignore is that scientists do not gain from this, and are not in the position to alter the remote data for their own ends anyway.  Many of the satellites are not specifically geared for climate change work as their primary use may be surveillance, weather and the like which is needed in the modern world even if it wasn’t heating up.

Of course anyone with half an ounce of sense who really was concerned about following the money would wonder how the research side stacks up against all others. When comparing the billions sloshing in the fossil fuels and chemicals industries with academic research into climate change I doubt it stacks up at all.
 
 So let’s follow some money.

We find that one of the very few scientifically qualified climate sceptics, Dr. Willie Soon, who has actually published research by peer review, has received $1m from oil companies over the past decade according to this investigation.
 
But let’s clear something about funding up – it shouldn’t really matter where funding comes from. If research shows that 9 out of 10 cats prefer a certain cat food and the research is carried out by a pet food manufactured or research shows a certain product really does make your hair shinier than rival products and is paid for by a hair care company it does not invalidate the research. There may be a conflict of interest but if the research is sound and peer reviewed there is nothing to stop it from being good science. But it has to pass these tests.

So Dr Soon pocketing a million dollars for research is fine if what is produced is good science and all above board. But is it? According the investigation and this article about it, it looks like Soon has claimed in 2004 that "All sources of funding for our research were fully disclosed in our manuscript. Most of our funding came from federal agencies, including the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and NASA" but he doesn’t seem to think substantial funding from the American Petroleum Institute from 2001 to about 2004 of over $150,000 is worth noting. Was this money used for research and not disclosed or used for something else entirely? I can’t really tell from the information in the two references I have linked to.

Another Real Climategate (after this one).

Forget about the CRU emails that became public and cherry picked, surely the emails released for this investigation by an FOI request need some explaining. They seem to show Dr Soon coordinating a plan in 2003 to undermine the IPCC Report years before the report was released in 2007 by contacting other prominent climate sceptics. Soon writes:

“Clearly they [the AR4 chapters] may be too much for any one of us to tackle them all ... But, as A-team, we may for once give it our best shot to try to anticipate and counter some of the chapters, especially WG1---judging from our true expertise in the basic climate sciences ...    

Even if we can tackle ONE single chapter down the road but forcefully and effectively ... we will really accomplish A LOT!    

In all cases, I hope we can start discussing among ourselves to see what we can do to weaken the fourth assessment report or to re-direct  attention back to science …”

Isn’t this real evidence of Climategate – orchestrated and premeditated planning by an ‘A-team’ to discredit a report years before it’s contents could have been fully known and reviewed? It certainly doesn't sound like an ethical scientist doing independent unbiased research.

The A Team

It seems that this 'A-team' contains some of the usual suspects;

Bob Carter
Dr. Sallie Baliunas
David Legates
Randy Randol aka Arthur G. Randol III


I'm the last person to believe in conspiracy theories but... A shadowy cabal of climate skeptics/deniers substantially funded by oil and coal interests who can be seen planing for years to discredit a report on climate change that could be used by Governments to determine policy which in turn could negatively affect oil and coal company profits. It is starting to should like I'm becoming a conspiracy theorist nut-job after all... except I really do think that the 'A-team' has some explaining to do.

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