Union of Concerned Scientists Cooks the Books, Media Swallow It*

An environmentalist lobbying group claims corporations pay vast sums to misrepresent climate science.

Last week the environmental lobbying group the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a new report entitled "A Climate of Corporate Control: How Corporations Have Influenced the U.S. Dialogue on Climate Science and Policy" [PDF]. Among other things, the report claims to trace corporate donations in 2008 and 2009 to think tanks and politicians as a way to uncover the true corporate attitudes and intentions toward climate change science and policy. According to the UCS, its analysis reveals that some corporations are climate-change science hypocrites, claiming to support the climate-change “consensus” in some venues but not in others. This climate hypocrisy allegedly produces confusion among both the public and policymakers, resulting in the defeat or delay of urgent policies needed to address climate change.

Several prominent news outlets swallowed these assertions from the UCS study. For example, the Los Angeles Times reported, “Some major U.S. corporations that support climate science in their public relations materials actively work to derail regulations and laws addressing global warming through lobbying, campaign donations and support of various advocacy groups.” In line with the findings of the UCS, the L.A. Times specifically declared, “General Electric has backed six environmental and non-partisan research groups that accept the scientific consensus on climate change, including the Brookings Institution and the Nature Conservancy. At the same time, it has funded four organizations that reject or question the consensus, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation.” Based on the UCS report, The Guardian (U.K.) stated, “Some of America's top companies are spending heavily to block action on climate change or discredit climate science, despite public commitments to sustainable and green values.” The Guardian specifically mentioned that UCS had identified General Electric as being two-faced about climate change. According to the UCS report, among the four GE-supported organizations that "misrepresent" climate-change science is the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website.

So what vast sums of money did the duplicitous executives at General Electric lavish on the Reason Foundation in 2008 and 2009 to support an implied campaign to traduce climate science? Exactly $325. How much did GE spend on matching and direct grants on the six think tanks identified by the UCS as being pro-climate consensus? That would be $497,744. At least with regard to General Electric’s contributions, it appears that the Union of Concerned Scientists has salted a follow-the-money trail with pieces of fool’s gold, which certain unwary news outlets obligingly picked up and reported as real bullion.

Let’s take a deeper look at just how much “support” General Electric has funneled into the Reason Foundation’s coffers. The UCS report notes it identified this “support” by mining General Electric’s two most recent IRS 990 forms, which report charitable giving by the GE Foundation. I asked Reason's development people how much GE has contributed to the Reason Foundation during those two years. The grand total in our files and confirmed by the 990 forms investigated by the UCS researchers: $100 in 2009, and $225 in 2008.

Puzzled, I called up Dr. Francesca Grifo, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and director of its Scientific Integrity Program. She put me on speakerphone with her and the author of the report, Gretchen Goldman. I asked them if these minuscule donations were why GE was listed as a corporate supporter of the Reason Foundation. They answered yes. Seriously? Yes. They added that GE’s 990 forms did not disclose what the funds would be used for, darkly implying that the money might be directed to what the UCS might regard as climate disinformation campaigns.

In a memo (pdf) sent to me the next day (at my request), Grifo explained that the UCS did not have a threshold dollar amount for funds in their analysis. She added that GE's 990 forms do not provide further information on the nature of these payments. But that is simply not true. The 990 forms clearly indicate to even the casual investigator that the payments are matching funds for employees’ donations, meaning that individual GE employees gave money, and the company matched it. (GE matching fund donations to the Union of Concerned Scientists for those same two years totaled $6,980, or 21 times more than was donated to the Reason Foundation.) Grifo's memo does note that the UCS report admits “that because the details of these affiliations are not publicly available, we cannot directly link specific donations to climate-related activities.” Indeed not. But it appears that UCS nonetheless wanted credulous reporters to uncritically accept these vaguely-referenced payments as evidence of underhanded corporate influence.

Digging further into GE’s 990 forms one finds that with just a few significant exceptions, all of the money donated to the various groups is in fact corporate matching funds for employee donations. In other words, GE executives had no hand in directing these donations.

Now consider the actual amounts contributed by GE employees (through GE’s matching funds program), as well the several directed donations from the GE Foundation. With regard to matching funds, the think tanks identified by UCS as climate science “supporters” are the Brookings Institution, Earthwatch, the Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, the Woods Hole Research Center, the Worldwatch Institute, and the World Resources Institute. The UCS’ climate “misrepresenters” are the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), and the Reason Foundation. The UCS report puts together an “anti-climate: pro-climate ratio” which is based on funding allocated between the organizations identified as anti- and pro- by UCS researchers. Much of the report focuses on political giving, but let’s restrict this analysis to just the money that individual GE employees donated to think tanks and see what that might tell us about how careful and rigorous the UCS researchers were in putting their report together.

In 2009, the think tanks identified as pro-climate received matching funds from GE amounting to $5,216.40 for Brookings; $150 for Earthwatch; $44,000 for the Nature Conservancy; $30 for Conservation International; $185 for the Woods Hole Center; $150 for Worldwatch; plus a directed grant of $95,000 to the World Resources Institute; all for a grand total of $144,731.40. The think tanks categorized as anti-climate garnered $32,765 for Heritage; $750 for Cato; $50 for CEI; and $100 for Reason; for a grand total of $33,665.

In 2008, Brookings once again received $5,216.40, plus a directed grant from the GE Foundation of $100,000; Conservation International, $250; Earthwatch, $1,035; the Nature Conservancy, $173,677.03; the Woods Hole Research Center, $120; and Worldwatch, $250; plus a directed grant to the World Resources Institute of $73,500; yielding a grand total $353,013.43. GE matching funds for the opposing nonprofit think tanks came to $5,830 for Heritage; $2,450 for Cato; $25 for CEI; and $225 for Reason; amounting to a grand total of $8,530.

When you add up the allegedly pro-climate matching funds, the total is $497,744, while the total for the purportedly anti-climate funds from GE employees amounts to $42,195. Applying the UCS’s “methodology” to the think tank world, this yields a pro/anti-climate ratio of nearly 12 to 1. As for Reason Foundation, when you compare the total GE funding that went to pro-climate groups, that figure is more than 1,500 times greater than the paltry, but nevertheless much appreciated, matching funds Reason received. I do note that GE employees were uncommonly generous to Heritage in 2009, but I suspect that such giving might have more to do with growing Republican opposition to the Obama administration’s economic policies than anything to do with concerns about climate-change science. (I also asked Reason's development team about any past GE contributions to the Reason Foundation and I am unhappy to report that the corporation last contributed in 1993 in the amount of $10,000. This is just one year after the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change had been negotiated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.)

But there’s more. Just combing through the GE 990 forms, it appears that lots of non-profits that work on climate change issues that were “supported” by the company were unaccountably overlooked by the UCS researchers. Among those missed are Greenpeace, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense, Friends of the Earth, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club. All of these non-profits were mentioned in connection with climate change hundreds of times in the Nexis database, whereas the Reason Foundation turned up only 37 times.  

Adding up the funds from the 990 forms contributed in 2008 and 2009 by means of matching grants to these additional groups, the total comes to $131,086. Adjusting the pro/anti ratio to take these funds into account now finds the UCS approved funding is nearly 15 times that attributed by the UCS researchers to disapproved groups. It bears noting that the direct grants (as distinct from employee matching grants) amounting to $100,000 for the Brookings Institution and $168,500 for the World Resources Institute are chosen by executives at the head of the GE Foundation.

I also asked Grifo on what basis did the Union of Concerned Scientists determine that the Reason Foundation “misrepresented” climate change science. Grifo and Goldman could not recall during our phone conversation, but said they would get back to me the next day with their analysis in a memo. This memo cites one specific example of alleged misrepresentation, a blog post by one of Reason Foundation’s policy analysts that linked to a Daily Mail article that interpreted recent temperature data released by researchers at the U.K’s Met Office Hadley Centre as showing “no warming in the past 15 years.” As Grifo points out in her memo, the Met Office hotly disputed the Daily Mail’s interpretation of its temperature data.

I will just note that other research groups who have been monitoring the Earth’s temperature trends for decades have a different view. For example, University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologists who have been measuring the Earth’s atmospheric temperature for more than 30 years reported last year: “While Earth’s climate has warmed in the last 33 years, the climb has been irregular. There was little or no warming for the first 19 years of satellite data. Clear net warming did not occur until the El Niño Pacific Ocean 'warming event of the century' in late 1997. Since that upward jump, there has been little or no additional warming.”

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  • Pip||

    Fraud!

  • The Derider||

    Reading the Foundation's policy site, I see many articles discussing how to mitigate climate change, some articles disputing that climate change exists, and zero articles confirming that climate change exists.

    It seems like "emphasizing unknowns" while "ignoring what is known" is exactly what they're doing.

  • Ron Bailey||

    TD: If "many articles" at the site are discussing how to mitigate climate change, doesn't that suggest to you that the authors think that it may be a problem?

  • The Derider||

    They discuss mitigating climate change, but don't discuss the cause (greenhouse gas emissions), which is the issue here. Indeed, most of those discussing mitigation suggest that greenhouse gas emissions can continue unabated, and that technological change and innovation will solve the problems of climate change.

  • Sevo||

    The Derider|6.5.12 @ 5:03PM|#
    "They discuss mitigating climate change, but don't discuss the cause (greenhouse gas emissions),"
    Maybe that's because they are smarter than you.

  • Trueblueben||

    I tell yea how to mitigate all this climate nonsense. you open up a whole bunch of oil drillin and coal plants and get business off the ground and screw the epa cause they are lying about pollution. EPA likes to control business and try and quote science saying it's bad well i say they are guessing and i quote the bible which is a heck of alot better and has much more about climate and envirnment then any science book will have. Once companies are deregulated and free to make stuff again, they will have the budget to control any "polution" they make. that's how you solve it, leave it to companies to self regulate cause they know their business better then anyone else would.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Thinking "it may be a problem" is not the same as scientific evidence concluding beyond doubt that it does.

    A consensus doesn't mean shit, Ron. Only the data. And according to a not insignificant number of scientists, the data simply isn't there beyond the "consensus" which, again, isn't evidence of anything at all.

  • ||

    God damn you are an idiot.

  • A Mathematician||

    Excellent post Mr. Bailey.

  • T o n y||

    The Huntsville team who you so dutifully follow as if it were the single most respected authority on climate science is in fact an outlier with serious credibility issues. That is, indeed, why you report their editorializing on their findings more than the findings of any other group, because it squares more with a certain agenda. I don't see how this can be denied.

    The IPCC reports based on the contributions of thousands of scientists, not just two guys from Alabama, so I don't know why that wouldn't carry just a bit more weight.

    If Reason's mission is to educate its readership then on climate science, judging by the comments sections on climate-change-related articles, it is doing a dismal job. Or maybe Reason Foundation is reporting accurately and Reason's readers are just particularly dogmatic and stupid.

    Given the necessary policy prescriptions that would follow a consensus-based reality, it's certainly no surprise libertarians would be among the last expected to embrace the scientific consensus. But, of course, science isn't optional, no matter how much science implies policies you don't like.

  • GW||

    I'm a little confused. Can you point to the statements in the scientific method that mention consensus?

  • T o n y||

    You're right, I'm so dumb, a global consensus among scientists is to be rejected precisely because it is a consensus, whereas real science is whatever feels right to you, no matter how few actual experts endorse it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Right-o! This is why I still support the theory of the Luminiferous Aether, no matter what that handful of quantum crackpots say.

  • T o n y||

    You can claim the minority opinion is the truth all you want, but it doesn't get bonus points just for being the minority opinion. It does, however, get deductions for being funded by Exxon.

  • GW||

    Logical fallacies committed: genetic fallacy, appeal to authority, argumentum ad populum.

    When you can state your case without it being full of logical holes come back and see us.

    And, it only takes ONE guy with credible evidence to overturn the "consensus". Some of the most important discoveries in scientific history have happened exactly this way.

  • T o n y||

    And when that guy emerges, good for him. That claim is completely empty. It's exactly like saying Creationism is true because evolution is the majority consensus.

  • Cool Story, Bro||

  • Sevo||

    T o n y|6.5.12 @ 5:53PM|#
    "And when that guy emerges, good for him."
    Already here, shithead, but you aren't about to accept that.

    "That claim is completely empty."
    No, shithead, that claim is 100% valid.

    "It's exactly like saying Creationism is true because evolution is the majority consensus."
    Lie, shithead.

  • The Derider||

    Appeal to authority is not a logical fallacy. That's appeal to false authority. Climate scientists are not false authorities on climate change.

  • ||

    You don't even know which people to be against anymore. Exxon has been pumping hundreds of millions into research for green energy for a couple of years now.

    You crack me up Tony.

  • Sevo||

    GW|6.5.12 @ 5:27PM|#
    "Logical fallacies committed: genetic fallacy, appeal to authority, argumentum ad populum."

    This *is* shithead.
    Shithead never posts without at least one lie and various other attempts to mislead.
    Shithead is the most dishonest poster I've ever seen here. Shithead is a liar, period.

  • The Derider||

    Wait, you're having your period? No wonder you're so mad!

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "It does, however, get deductions for being funded by Exxon."

    No, Choney, it doesn't. Reality is reality. Unless you can credibly claim that those "funded by Exxon" fudged their data (you aren't) or are making claims inconsistent with reality (again, not really), it's pretty much irrelevant whether research is funded by God Almighty, Exxon or Satan himself. In fact, the very basis on which you might try to dismiss Exxon funded scientists can quite fairly be used to dismiss those funded by government grant. Scientists don't get grants to study non-issues.

  • Brian H||

    In that case, the WWF and Greenpeace have incurred massive 'moral' debits, as they have received massive (extorted?) funding from Big Oil.

  • Sam Grove||

    Can you provide actual data on this "consensus" other than assertions that there is a consensus?

  • tarran||

    It's the in the section that that told people arguing that their observations showed that the Planet Vulcan didn't exist to shut up because Newtonian dynamics was "settled science". :)

  • tarran||

    The IPCC reports based on the contributions of thousands of scientists, not just two guys from Alabama, so I don't know why that wouldn't carry just a bit more weight.

    As I said below, the flailing is comedy gold!

  • ||

    CONSENSUS =/= SCIENCE

  • The Derider||

    Right, peer-reviewed, published data and analysis are science. Peer-reviewed, published data and analysis overwhelmingly supports the anthropocentric warming hypothesis.

  • Sevo||

    The Derider|6.5.12 @ 5:08PM|#
    "Right, peer-reviewed, published data and analysis are science. Peer-reviewed, published data and analysis overwhelmingly supports the anthropocentric warming hypothesis."

    Except for the ones that don't:
    http://reason.com/blog/2011/12.....e-well-bel

  • The Derider||

    A couple of guys posting on a website =/= peer reviewed literature.

  • R C Dean||

    Right, peer-reviewed, published data and analysis are science.

    That's funny, I thought science was testing hypotheses with results that can be analyzed and replicated.

    Peer-reviewed, published data are scientific journals, not science. The map is not the territory, my friend.

  • The Derider||

    Peer reviewed scientific journals are far more than maps. They are the forum for scientific debate. Not websites. Not town hall meetings. Not talk radio.

    There simply isn't any scientific literature that disproves climate change. Period.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    Trouble is, there simply isn't any scientific literature that proves climate change either. Period.

    Most "literature" about climate change is executive summaries of actual research findings that draw conclusions that are utterly unwarranted.

  • ||

    The scientific process:

    1. Ask a question.
    2. Research.
    3. Formulate a Hypothesis.
    4. Test your hypothesis.
    5. Analyze the results of the test and draw a conclusion.
    6. Communicate your findings.

    If your testing finds your hypothesis to be true then others should be able to recreate the test and reach the same conclusion. If someone can falsify your conclusion you have to start over.

  • T o n y||

    No, consensus = consensus. What have you got? Oh yeah, the dregs of what's outside of the consensus. Which, if you're honest, is a massive and ridiculously convoluted claim all by itself: that there is a global conspiracy of all the major scientific bodies and governments to deceive the world into... something (enriching Al Gore, whatever).

    Sure climate change is an extraordinary claim, but one now backed by more than a century of science and is graspable with a cursory understanding of thermodynamics.

    The far more extraordinary claim is the massive global conspiracy. There are massive global conspiracies (see the oil cartel), but positing the existence of one requires evidence just like anything else.

  • Sevo||

    T o n y|6.5.12 @ 5:10PM|#
    ..."Sure climate change is an extraordinary claim, but one now backed by more than a century of science and is graspable with a cursory understanding of thermodynamics."
    Which means you haven't a clue, shithead.

  • ||

    I'm sorry, can you point me to the models that predicted something accurately? What's that? Aren't any? Then shut the fuck up.

  • R C Dean||

    Indeed. When I see a model that backtests to show the actual pattern of events (pretty flat, El Nino event, pretty flat again at a slightly higher level), we can talk about something that might have an outside chance of being predictive.

    But if you can't get a model that will backtest to known data, you haven't got a prayer of having a predictive model.

  • Apogee||

    if you can't get a model that will backtest to known data, you haven't got a prayer of having a predictive model.

    Couple that with the constant veil of secrecy and shell games requiring FOIA over data and procedures that are simultaneously argued to be the most important information facing everyone on the planet and the stench of scam fills the debate.

    I know many scientists. They are always concerned about funding. No conspiracy necessary.

  • Sam Grove||

    that there is a global conspiracy of all the major scientific bodies and governments to deceive the world into... something (enriching Al Gore, whatever).

    Not to mention the accrual of political power to politicians and the multiple billions of dollars for research grants. Even climate scientists have bills to pay.

    IAC, the core of the conspiracy is traced to a relative few researchers who have too often been exposed as liars.

  • T o n y||

    Are you referring to the widely discredited witch hunts? If all you read is denier literature, you might not be aware of how those exposes actually turned out.

    Either the entire global scientific community has been duped or are in on the conspiracy. It's a wild claim, far wilder than the claim that increasing concentrations of heat-trapping gases trap heat.

  • Sevo||

    T o n y|6.5.12 @ 8:00PM|#
    "Are you referring to the widely discredited witch hunts?"

    No, shithead, no one is referring to that which doesn't exist.
    Now, shithead, want to ask an honest question?

  • The Derider||

    When did you stop fucking little boys?

  • Bill||

    Actually, the people that said there is a consensus now say the hockey stick was not necessary for the consensus. So instead of being honest and saying that the hockey stick was not good science they are backing away from it and saying it was not needed to prove global warming. Just wait another ten years Tony. Each IPCC report after the 2nd one backs a little further from the most extreme claims. And it's only the most extreme that are a potential problem.

  • The Derider||

    It's complete nonsense to say only the most extreme are a potential problem. The moderate warming scenarios all imply significant costs, they're just not catastrophic.

  • juris imprudent||

    But catastrophic is what really gives you wood.

  • Sam Grove||

    Either the entire global scientific community has been duped or are in on the conspiracy.

    Obviously you've been swallowing the alarmist propaganda.

  • Brett L||

    You mean because they transparently report ALL of their findings regularly? Yep. That's definitely put them as a credibility outlier, but not the way you mean it.

  • The Derider||

    What independent verification do you have that they transparently report all of their findings? Their good word?
    What gives you confidence in the quality of their conclusions? Your knowledge of climate science?

    Peer review solves both those problems.

  • Ron Bailey||

    Tony (and TD): Just how many guys do you think are actually involved with trying to measure global average temperature trends? It is certainly not anywhere close to 1000s. In fact, there are just six relatively groups to which the IPCC mavens ever refers.

    In any case, if you would bother to look around you will find that the UAH data and the other data sets track each other pretty well. The GISS trend (Hansen's group) is 0.18 degrees per decade and the UAH trend is 0.14 degrees per decade. They are all below the average trends predicted by the majority of climate models.

  • Bill||

    Don't try to confuse us with facts Ron. We're on a roll!!

  • The Derider||

    If they get their research peer reviewed and published, I'll be happy to read it.

    If their data isn't contradicting climate modeling, what's the big deal?

  • juris imprudent||

    You read the research?

    BWAHAHAHAhhahahahahahaha

  • Mickey Rat||

    "Given the necessary policy prescriptions that would follow a consensus-based reality, it's certainly no surprise libertarians would be among the last expected to embrace the scientific consensus."

    A thing is real or it is not, reality cannot be based on "consensus". Reality does not care if a consensus beleives in it or not. therefore "consensus-based reality" is a null phrase.

  • Kroneborge||

    This might be true, still if I'm placing bets on a subject I don't have the background to adequately address, I'm likely to go with the consensus.

    The reason the consensus is the consensus is because most of the people that have looked at it, have agreed in a certain way.

    Besides that on an issue like this I would rather take cost effective measures to address a problem that might not be real than not do shit and have it turn out to be real.

    As with everything in life we have to make decisions based on imperfect data.

  • Sam Grove||

    The consensus is bogus. A factoid given to gullible reporters and spread on a regular basis through media outlets. Alarmist articles hit the front page, retractions at least several pages back. That's how the news works.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "Besides that on an issue like this I would rather take cost effective measures..."

    The problem is being described as apocalyptic and therefore completely reordering how we live is in order. That's part of the problem, if you limit yourself to cost-effective you are a denier. Anything is "cost-effective" and practical to avert the end of the world, and that effort can brook no dissension.

  • Mickey Rat||

    But it is weak if it is constantly falling back on an appeal to consensus as its killer argument.

  • ||

    500 years ago there was a "consensus" that the world was flat. Before that the "consensus" was that the earth revolved around the sun. Fuck consensus. Give me facts.

  • johnl||

    Nobody ever thought the world was flat. This is a myth.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    So you believe in God then. After all, if you don't and there is a God, then you lose infinitely. You've simply restated Pascal's Wager. Go pick up an Intro to Philosophy text to to find out why it's a flawed argument.

  • ||

    Considering the source, forgive me for not goose stepping to the "consensus".

  • Bill||

    The Huntsville teams results are not all that different from the other satellite group's data.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    So this would be the same IPCC that was forced to retract the claims of an impending water shortage in south Asia due to melting Himalayan glaciers? Is that the IPCC you're referring to? The same IPCC that included significant amounts of gray (as in non-peer reviewed) literature in AR4 report?

    You still haven't actually refuted the UAH data which actually comes off a NASA satellite. You also failed to mention that RSS shows essentially the same signature, and they're a completely different group. Nor have you mentioned the fact that observed temperatures are now outside the lower 90% CI predicted by the models (and falling). You have failed to mention that after the peak of thermogeddongasm that estimates for ECS (climate sensitivity) to CO2 have been coming down and not going up. Nor have you mentioned the fact that the tropospheric hot spot is not present.

    What was that you were trying to lecture us about on science again?

    "It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong."

    Richard P. Feynman

    No go back and read the part about model predictions vs. measurements.

  • tarran||

    Again, the increasing hysteria of the CAGW cultists as they flail their way along the well trodden path of doomsday cults whose apocalyptic visions fail to come true is comedy gold.

  • The Derider||

    Tony called it.

  • Sevo||

    The Derider|6.5.12 @ 4:53PM|#
    'Tony made up a story about it.'

    And you repeated it.

  • The Derider||

    So did you! Slaver!

  • The Derider||

    The title and subtitle of this article are case in point. Bailey did admirable work Researching GE's contributions to Reason, but that's a tiny component of the argument the UCS is making. But, having found a meaningless flaw, Reason describes the UCS as "cooking the books". That's the bias and intent to obfuscate the issue that the UCS are complaining about.

  • Sevo||

    The Derider|6.5.12 @ 4:59PM|#
    ..."But, having found a meaningless flaw"...

    Because a brain-dead ignoramus says it is?

  • Silver Fox||

    UCS is making a mountain out of a mole hill regarding the money spent.

    $325 given to Reason would at most pay for a very nice pizza party for the staff.

  • Apogee||

    Depends on where you get your pizza.

    And if there's beer.

  • Ron Bailey||

    TD: So you don't think it is misleading to suggest that GE is a climate hypocrite on the basis of a $325 donation by GE employees to a think tank? Very interesting. And why did the UCS leave out GE employees contributions to itself? And fail to report the other environmental groups to which contributions were made?

    That being said, it took a couple of days of digging to unravel just how the UCS report came up with overblown claims regarding GE's alleged climate hypocrisy with regard to think tanks funding. Please feel free to spend your time confirming the accuracy of the rest of the report.

  • The Derider||

    Why are you singling out the Reason foundation, other than the fact that you work for it? They didn't claim that 325 dollars made GE a climate hypocrite, they claimed that 40,000 to a variety of anti-climate outfits did. Are you arguing that a 1/12 ratio is below the level that makes you a hypocrite? If so fine, but saying they "cooked the books" is nonsense.

  • SKR||

    Because its easier to get accurate numbers from an organization for which you work than one which you do not?

  • R C Dean||

    Come now, derider. There's no questio nthat Bailey caught UCS cooking the books as far as GE went. That's more than enough to tank their credibility, and confirm the hypothesis that UCS's known ideological bias has tainted this press release.

  • The Derider||

    "Cook the books" means fraud. Intentional deception. GE was one of dozens of companies studied in a variety of areas. There's no evidence whatsoever this was intentionally misleading.

    And much more importantly, even if this single data point was flawed, the study had hundreds more that supported their point that many big companies give money to both pro and anti climate outfits.

  • Ron Bailey||

    TD: I checked this assertion (which was widely quoted in the media) because it related to Reason. Given what I found, I would strongly suggest that you check others before accepting the UCS claims. Verify before trusting.

  • Apogee||

    There's no evidence whatsoever this was intentionally misleading...even if this single data point was flawed

    I'd think the lack of a correction pretty much confirms intentional deception.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    My interpretation of libertarianism is that the existence (or lack thereof) of climate change is irrelevant to libertarian political philosophy. I suppose if it is true, then such philosophy allows the issue to be handled via property laws. That is, the polluters have modified the property of citizens everywhere, and thus owe reparations to remedy the issue.

    I think the issue of climate change does often get libertarians riled, however, because often incomplete data are used as a tool in the hands of politicians to increase government coercion. Furthermore, climatologists and politicians alike commit Bastiat's broken window fallacy incessantly - they talk about how we need to spend 10s of trillions of dollars to combat climate change and talk about all the costs of NOT doing so. Not once do they consider that the money could be better spent feeding poor in Africa, etc., etc.

  • T o n y||

    You're absolutely right that (to paraphrase) libertarianism must not reject inconvenience science if it's to be a credible political philosophy. That goes for any philosophy, in my opinion. That libertarians so vehemently are in the denier camp indicates that there probably aren't libertarian solutions to this problems. The rational person would be forced to modify or reject libertarianism if it can't handle a scientific reality.

    Libertarians tend to fail to grasp costs associated with inaction all the time, and even seem, on the whole, to lack an understanding of externalities.

    Your property law prescription is fairly indistinguishable from policy proposals that are out there. Who enforces property rights, after all? So what do you endorse, a simple tax on greenhouse-gas emissions? Or a massive government bureaucracy set up to determine the exact losses for each property owner? It would have to be a global bureaucracy since greenhouse gases by their nature don't affect just countries doing the polluting.

  • Ron Bailey||

    Tony: But what about the negative externalities imposed by government action - can you really be sure that climate change will be worse than what government tries to do about it?

  • T o n y||

    CC policy would certainly be ripe for exploitation by cronies, but then our current policy is dictated by polluting industries, so it's not as if we're in the best possible world now. Policy prescriptions would be massive in scale but relatively simple in concept. Transferring subsidies from polluting industries to nonpolluting ones would not only be relatively simple, but neutral in terms of (libertarians' definition of) freedom lost.

    You are being selective in your citations as usual. Tol is a denier. Could be right, but he must be weighed against everyone else. And as for Nordhaus, here he is on those who attempt to use his data to suggest policy inaction:

    "I am equally concerned by those who allege that we will incur economic catastrophes if we take steps to slow climate change. The claim that cap-and-trade legislation or carbon taxes would be ruinous or disastrous to our societies does not stand up to serious economic analysis."

    As a general principle, economists should not be trusted to be able to calculate these costs. You can talk about GDP but you can't really measure the costs associated with global climate disruption. And cost-benefit is, in my opinion, the wrong measure anyway. Any policy should be assessed according to the precautionary principle instead. Something past and current energy and climate policy has completely and enthusiastically disregarded.

  • juris imprudent||

    And cost-benefit is, in my opinion, the wrong measure anyway.

    Of course, the results might not be anywhere near scary enough. Better to stick with apocalyptic clap-trap to bully them into compliance.

  • Sevo||

    T o n y|6.5.12 @ 5:46PM|#
    "{CC policy would certainly be ripe for exploitation by cronies, but then our current policy is dictated by polluting industries,"
    Lie, shithead.

    "Transferring subsidies from polluting industries to nonpolluting ones would not only be relatively simple, but neutral in terms of (libertarians' definition of) freedom lost."
    Lie, shithead.

    "Any policy should be assessed according to the precautionary principle instead."
    Too stupid to warrant further response, shithead.

    "Policy prescriptions would be massive in scale but relatively simple in concept."
    Irrelevant, shithead.

  • Brian H||

    Since "mitigation" is acknowledged to at best, by consensus pseudo-science, delay "warming" by about 5 yrs over the next 100, it's pointless. What it WILL definitely do is exacerbate the already mass-murderous effects of (e.g.) biofuel distortions of food markets, and in general cause penury and depopulation. That's what we should take every Precaution to avoid: certain deadly disaster is more to be avoided than improbable and unavoidable mild to moderate climate improvement.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    OK, Tony, since you love Pascal's Wager aka The Precautionary Principle so much, then what about large asteroid/comet strikes? There is absolutely no doubt that the Earth has been hit with extinction level rubble piles in the past yet we spend a few tens of millions of dollars looking at shiny lights in the sky. If a 5km rock were to hit the planet humanity would be gone. As a side note, UCS and Greenpeace would probably finally be happy. Shouldn't we be hundreds of billions protecting ourselves from that threat? Certainly we can spare something out of the $8BB annual CAGW feedfest.

    Global Warming is a mixed bag. Somethings might get worse while others will get better. If another giant chunk of iridium smacks into us it only gets worse. Infinitely worse. Therefore that should be our primary focus according to your Precautionary Principle.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Ron and Tony:

    The government solutions are far worse than whatever might possibly have a chance at one happening due to climate change.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    I believe committing the broken window fallacy marks a very strong lack of understanding of externalities. Furthermore, property law is most definitely distinguishable from current policy proposals. For example, property laws would be handled by the court system rather than congress. Ostensibly, the court is less prone to manipulation than congress due the lack of court lobbyists.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    One more item - your supposition that "libertarians are so vehemently in the denier camp" is unproved. Personally, I imagine you'd find some that believe that man has induced climate change and some that don't. I think you'd find that a fairly large fraction would question the government response to the science moreso than the science itself. Perhaps you are confusing libertarians with neoconservative republicans.

  • ||

    Tony, shrike, The Derider, and many others have this problem a lot.

  • T o n y||

    I've been here a long time and the (usually liberal) mainstream science-accepting posters are always shouted down by deniers. Bailey doesn't seem to be a denier but he usually only takes the time to correct us liberals, for some reason.

  • ||

    Wow. "Deniers", "shouting down". Sounds really REALLY scary! You know who else denied things?

  • Bill||

    Bill Clinton?

  • Sevo||

    T o n y|6.5.12 @ 5:51PM|#
    "I've been here a long time and the (usually liberal) mainstream science-accepting posters are always shouted down by deniers."
    Lie, shithead.

  • Brian H||

    I'm a denier. I deny the liberals know their posterior orifices from rabbit holes. CO2 hovers just above plant starvation levels, and they (you) want to push it back down as far as you can.

    We'd be far better off if it was at 1, 2, or 3,000 ppm. THAT would be the real "Greenhouse Effect"; booming agriculture, milder weather, and prospering societies world-wide.

  • LibertyMark||

    Tony,

    Just because I oppose a massive government response to climate change doesn't mean I'm a denier. Can you get that distinction?

  • T o n y||

    Sure, what do you propose then? I'm seriously curious.

  • LibertyMark||

    Ok Tony. I believe in the scientific method. Even with pricks all around, you usually get a signal out of the noise. I want to completely separate the scientific debate from the political one.

    So, the earth is warming but as far as I know, it has been on the bottom of the range of predicted warming. There are some uncertainties. Great! fight it out in the scientific literature.

    The problem comes in when too many scientists start grandstanding about how we HAVE to have a massive government response to the issue.

    I just disagree politically: I believe massive government action will cause far more suffering than just letting people adapt and figure out what to do on their own.

  • Brian H||

    SFA. Warming has historically been associated with boom times, cooling with crashing civilizations. Not that CO2 can do anything about it either way, unfortunately; the coming chill will be very hard on any who "mitigated" against warming.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    ^^ Case in point.

  • LibertyMark||

    Yeah, Being Waterboarded, I had been reading the thread for a while and didn't see your post. You had already stated my exact point.

  • Sevo||

    T o n y|6.5.12 @ 5:21PM|#
    "Libertarians tend to fail to grasp costs associated with inaction all the time,"
    Lie, shithead.

    "and even seem, on the whole, to lack an understanding of externalities."
    Lie, shithead.

    "Who enforces property rights, after all? So what do you endorse, a simple tax on greenhouse-gas emissions? Or a massive government bureaucracy set up to determine the exact losses for each property owner?"
    False dichotomy, shithead.
    Three for three, right on the mark, shithead.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    The fact is that measured global temps are falling below the lower model limits even after revisions. And I see you denying those facts. Doesn't that make you, um, a denier?

  • Silver Fox||

    At least with regard to General Electric’s contributions, it appears that the Union of Concerned Scientists has salted a follow-the-money trail with pieces of fool’s gold, which certain unwary news outlets obligingly picked up and reported as real bullion.

    Reminds me of this post from Climate Resistance a few years back.

    They [Greenpeace] exaggerated the influence of money spent on skepticism then and they're [UCS] exaggerating it now.

  • plu1959||

    Damn, if I had known that Reason could be bought so cheaply, I would've sent them a few hundred to promote my personal awesomeness and mock my enemies.

  • ||

    If $325 is all it takes, couldn't the IPCC just pay $750 and make them write articles about how the science is settled all the time?

  • LibertyMark||

    Union of Concerned Scientists = slimy con artists who willfully exaggerate something to make their point. Sounds familiar to me.

    And then, as if on cue, The Derider comes on says deploys the standard excuse: "Well, it doesn't matter!"

  • juris imprudent||

    Concern is the giveaway to the con job. Rank it slightly ahead of compassionate conservativism.

  • Malto Dextrin||

    Ah, yes. The Union of Confused Scientists.

  • Kroneborge||

    Wow is sure is cheap to buy Reason

  • maillot de bain magasin||

    Let’s take a deeper look at just how much “support” General Electric has funneled into the Reason Foundation’s coffers. The UCS report notes it identified this “support” by mining General Electric’s two most recent IRS 990 forms, which report charitable giving by the GE Foundation. I asked Reason's development people how much GE has contributed to the Reason Foundation during those two years. The grand total in our files and confirmed by the 990 forms investigated by the UCS researchers: $100 in 2009, and $225 in 2008.

  • Brian H||

    Spam.

  • Chaussures nike shox||

    At the same time, it has funded four organizations that reject or question the consensus, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation.” Based on the UCS report, The Guardian (U.K.) stated, “Some of America's top companies are spending heavily to block action on climate change or discredit climate science, despite public commitments to sustainable and green values.” The Guardian specifically mentioned that UCS had identified General Electric as being two-faced about climate change. According to the UCS report, among the four GE-supported organizations that "misrepresent" climate-change science is the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website.

  • Brian H||

    Spam.

  • Raymond Luxury Yach-t||

    I am feeling such self-satisfaction over giving more to Reason Foundation than GE. God, I'm so fucking EVIL! Now, how about some My Little Pony articles, Reason?

  • ||

    UCS have decades of science-free antinuclear hysteria in their past, but I imagine banging the climate change drum brings in more ducats nowadays.

  • ||

    I wonder how many members of I wonder how many members of the Union of Concerned Scientists are actually scientists.

    Hell, I wonder how many members of the Union of Concerned Scientists have ever actually taken a science clas beyond the bare minimum required to graduate from high school.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    There membership is "robust."

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/201.....cientists/

  • pet winkel||

    According to the UCS report, among the four GE-supported organizations that "misrepresent" climate-change science is the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website.

  • jason||

    This is real proof that media is corrupted too.

  • Loki||

    But, but, but... consensus! The science is settled! Denier! Heretic!

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    I, for one, want to know why the Reason Foundation with its lavish support from GE and their employees pouring in by the hundreds still has the audacity to ask me for a contribution!

  • effinayright||

    Instead of this Battle of the Pissants, I suggest going over to wattsupwiththat.com and getting some real science. You will learn that there is not, nor was there ever, a "consensus" among scientists, let alone those actively involved in "climate science" in all its forms.

    You will further learn that the IPCC reports were not the conclusions and opinions of thousands of scientists, but those of policy wonks and hacks from Greenpeace and other leftnoid orgs.

  • Brian Epps||

    I wonder if Kenji had any input on this paper.

  • Brian H||

    Not tea bags! Your ratio of donations as part of the total is about 100X the usual for 'orrible denialist sites. ;)

  • Jake W||

    And since Stossel sometimes writes for reason and he works for Fox News it was Fox News all along! SEE TEH EVUL FOX NEWZ DECEIVES EVERYONE AGAIN!!1!

  • dental_equipments||

    Much of the hype is people

  • Chaussures nike shox||

    funding is nearly 15 times that attributed by the UCS researchers to disapproved groups. It bears noting that the direct grants (as distinct from employee matching grants) amounting to $100,000 for the Brookings Institution and $168,500 for the World Resources Institute are chosen by executives at the head of the GE Foundation.

  • ||

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "According to the UCS, its analysis reveals that some corporations are climate-change science hypocrites, claiming to support the climate-change “consensus” in some venues but not in others."

    Sounds like every single "Green" -obsessed person I've ever come across, especially the special interest lobbyists.

  • Lilia||

    The whole idea that it's wrong to violate scientific consensus is utter lunacy. Scientists are SUPPOSED to challenge existing paradigms, to test in new ways theories already tested, and to expose any flaws in a theory that are revealed through later testing. This is one of the saddest consequences of government funding and lording over science. It used to be that different studies could come up with results leading to opposing conclusions, but neither had to be enshrined as absolute truth. Gaps or contradictions created opportunities for further experimentation or discovery. Now we see any experimental results that go against the holy "consensus" are written off as flawed, instead of the other way around. When scientists are no longer free to reveal truths that usurp old theories, all scientific advancement becomes impossible.

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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