This is not surprising given the AGU’s failure to discipline Richard Lindzen for academic misconduct, hypocrisy, and the denegration of fellow AGU members, but, as reported via DeSmogBlog recently:
Scientists are being asked to boycott the next major meeting of the world’s biggest earth sciences organisation after it voted to retain relationships with ExxonMobil.
The American Geophysical Union last week rejected calls from members to break ties with ExxonMobil over the oil giant’s history of funding and supporting climate science misinformation.
AGU members have been voicing their dismay at the decision, which ignored the concerns of more than 200 scientists, many of them AGU members, calling for the relationship to end.
AGU’s board said it would accept sponsorship from ExxonMobil for a breakfast event at its Fall Meeting in December – an event the oil company had previously sponsored.
But Professor Charles Greene, of Cornell University, told DeSmog: “This is far from over. There can be little doubt that this will lead to the biggest shake up in AGU’s history. There is a lot more at stake here than $35,000 for a graduate student breakfast.”
Greene has called on scientists to boycott the December meeting held by AGU – an influential organisation with about 60,000 members in 139 countries.
In a statement Greene said: “At what level does the behavior of a corporate sponsor become sufficiently reprehensible for AGU to refuse its support? I guess that a corporation like ExxonMobil, which has deceived the general public for decades while placing human society at great risk, has not achieved that level.
“The only conclusion to be drawn is that AGU will accept money from just about any corporate entity, no matter how unethical its behavior. I certainly will not attend an ExxonMobil-sponsored Fall Meeting, and I hope that every AGU member who feels the same way about this lapse in judgement will consider sending a similar message.”
ExxonMobil is facing investigations from several attorneys general, led by New York, over allegations the company misled shareholders and the public about the risk of climate change caused by fossil fuel burning.
The probes were sparked by investigations from Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times, which highlighted internal Exxon documents showing in the 1970s the company’s own scientists were aware of the clear risks of burning fossil fuels.
Over the years Exxon is known to have spent tens of millions of dollars funding dozens of organisations that have worked to mislead the public about the science linking greenhouse gas emissions to global warming.
Check out DeSmog’s research into ExxonMobil’s Funding of Climate Science Denial.
In the run up to AGU’s decision, more than 100 AGU members signed an open letter alongside other scientists asking for their organisation to end the relationship with Exxon.
Some members also issued a detailed dossier to the board claiming the organisation’s relationship with ExxonMobil violated its own organizational support policy, agreed in April 2015.
That policy states that AGU “will not accept funding from organizational partners that promote and/or disseminate misinformation of science, or that fund organizations that publicly promote misinformation of science.”
The dossier included numerous examples of Exxon funding organisations, including the American Enterprise Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the National Black Chamber of Commerce, that have underplayed and disparaged the science linking fossil fuel burning to dangerous climate change.
Scientists are also pressing the AGU leadership group to release more details of how the board came to its decision, including their deliberations over the dossier.
In announcing the decision, AGU president Margaret Leinen wrote that “it is not possible for us to determine unequivocally whether ExxonMobil is participating in misinformation about science currently, either directly or indirectly.”
She said it had been decided AGU’s acceptance of ExxonMobil sponsorship did “not constitute a threat to AGU’s reputation.”
ExxonMobil also funds meetings of ALEC – a lobby group with strong corporate ties that creates template bills for legislators that block attempts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow the development of renewable energy.
Stephen Moore, a member of ALEC’s advisory council alongside ExxonMobil government affairs manager Cynthia Bergman, told an ALEC meeting last year: “The biggest scam of the last 100 years is global warming!”
Professor Nathan Phillips, of Boston University, said: “What was called for was an exercise of judgment. Instead, the AGU avoided taking a principled stand by claiming it is not possible for it to make a judgement. The leadership seems prepared to accept some loss of membership, but what it may not be prepared for is the redoubled commitment of members who won’t relent in shining an even brighter light on the inconsistency of the AGU’s mission of a sustainable planetary future with its endorsement of ExxonMobil’s past and current activities.”
ExxonMobil’s company position on climate change says: “The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action. Increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere are having a warming effect. There is a broad scientific and policy consensus that action must be taken to further quantify and assess the risks.”
The AGU is holding two conference calls this week where members can ask questions of AGU President-elect Eric Davidson, CEO Christine McEntee and Leinen.
Image courtesy of Natural History Museum
29 March 2016
The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
Dear Prime Minister,
Whatever happened to the greenest government ever?
Given my experience of working in environmental consultancy or regulation, I understand the importance of making pragmatic, risk-based decisions (as opposed to dogmatic, opinion-based ones). I therefore believe that government policy should be formulated this way. Unfortunately, however, this does not always seem to be the case.
As a pragmatic scientist, I am not ideologically opposed to nuclear power. However, I do question the logic of pursuing ‘Hinkley Point C’ when equivalent investment in distributed renewable technologies – from domestic solar PV to submarine tidal stream – could probably generate more electricity faster. Indeed, as Greenpeace has recently pointed out, the UK could meet nearly all its electricity generation needs from renewable energy sources by 2030.
With regard to risk, the scientific consensus is that, in order to minimise anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), the World must now embark upon the fastest-possible transition to a zero carbon economy. Therefore, I also question the logic of simultaneously promoting investment in shale gas; discouraging investment in renewables; and cancelling investment in Carbon Capture and Storage research.
It is now over 50 years since scientists started warning of the climatic implications of continuing to burn fossil fuels; and 50 years since fossil fuel company executives started spending huge sums of money on being “Merchants of Doubt”. As such, along with their counterparts in the tobacco industry, they have clearly not acted in the long-term interest of humanity as a whole.
However, as with the individual health benefit of ceasing to smoke tobacco, the sooner we stop burning fossil fuels the greater the collective environmental benefit will be. Therefore, I am pragmatically opposed to shale gas exploration because burning it is not consistent with the need to transition away from fossil fuels as fast as possible.
I am certain that you would like to secure an enduring political legacy; and would therefore like to ask just one question:
What could be better than being remembered as the Prime Minister that committed the UK to meeting nearly all its electricity generation needs from renewable energy sources by 2030?
Martin C. Lack
 Nuccitelli, D. (2015), ‘Scientists warned the US president about global warming 50 years ago today’, Guardian newspaper, 5 November 2015: London.
Last month was the warmest February on record; 1.6 C above its pre-industrial average.
The post-1998 pause in warming, which has also included the warmest-ever decade, is almost certainly over.
Therefore, I hope the ideologically-blinded, not-at-all-like Galileo, pseudo-sceptics will now stop arguing about what is happening; and start engaging in the debate about how best to stop it happening.
In short, there is now no valid excuse for being anything other than a ‘policy sceptic’.
After all, it is almost 4 months since Mark Carney said as much at the Bank of England: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/09/30/bank-england-head-warns-potentially-huge-risks-literally-unburnable-fossil-fuel
It is also 20 months since Lloyds of London urged financial investors to consider the risks of continuing to back fossil fuels: http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2014/05/09/insurers-should-consider-climate-risks-says-lloyds-of-london/
No wonder academics that have watched 50% of the Great Barrier Reef disappear in the last 30 years – and say it will all be gone in another 20 years – are almost reduced to tears:
‘Does Australia Care About Saving The Great Barrier Reef?’ (Andrew McMillen, in GQ Australia, 18 January 2016)
The Guardian may be five years late with it’s warning that humanity has now delayed the onset of the next Ice Age by 100 thousand years – a prospect first highlighted by the Geological Society of London in 2010 – but this is no excuse for the oil industry to continue to deny the nature of reality.
The game is up. Now is the time to invest in non-fossil alternatives that could even make Forumla1 carbon neutral. Alternatives like the mixed alcohol fuels being produced by Bioroot Energy: Fuels that can be created from any waste product containing carbon.
This is the hydrocarbon equivalent of the nuclear industry’s Fast Breeder Reactor, which could burn all the world’s nuclear waste and the 99% of the Earth’s uranium that a conventional reactor cannot burn and, when we’re through with all of that, we could extract uranium from seawater…
Whilst I have the greatest of sympathy for all those affected by flooding in Cumbria, they should not seek to blame the government or the Environment Agency.
If anybody is to blame it is the fossil fuel industry, which has spent the last 50 years trying to discredit climate science and climate scientists, in a short-sighted and mean-spirited attempt to prevent effective regulation of the pollution caused by burning their products.
A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture more of the time.
14 of the last 15 years have been the warmest on record. This rainfall in Cumbria is the highest on record for any 24 hour period in over 300 years.
How many more statistical records must we see broken before the denial of the validity of climate science becomes as socially unacceptable as farting in an elevator?
Please tell me you are still not mad with me for something I did 5 years ago? If not ‘Pilegate’, I hope you are not still annoyed by the ‘Background’ page of my blog. Can you not see that was my tribute to your style of writing?
Given that I meant every single word of the above, how much longer do you think it will be until even ‘policy scepticsm’ is untenable?
Given that ‘watermelons’ seem to be emerging everywhere – in the Pentagon, OECD, IMF (etc) – even Viscount Monckton’s Agenda 21 conspiracy makes more sense than your Watermelon fallacy.
As almost any athiest will tell you, Galileo triumphed over the ideologically-motivated rejection of science by sheer weight of scientific evidence. So, how much longer will it be until you accept that your ‘scepticism’ regarding climate science is the no better than that of fundamentalist Christians regarding the age of the Earth?
With very best wishes for Christmas,
Here is my attempt to make sense of the academic literature categorising the rhetorical positions adopted by climate change ‘sceptics’. However, please note that the term ‘sceptic’ is used solely for convenience: Given that the totality of post-industrial climate change can only be explained as primarily human-caused, these forms of ‘scepticism’ represent varying degrees of ideological blindness.
Given the recent speech by Pope Francis on Capitol Hill, it will be interesting to see how resilient this ideological blindness is – and/or how strong the cognitive dissonance is – amongst the Catholic members of the Republican Party.