Thursday, December 3, 2009

Self-Interest In Climate Change Skepticism And Everything Else: Proof Is In Teh Money

Once again, nothing new here. Still, here's another example of what truly lies underneath the so-called climate change skepticism (emphasis added):

Group promoting climate skepticism has extensive ties to Exxon-Mobil

A group promoting skepticism over widely-accredited climate change science has a web of connections to influential oil giant Exxon-Mobil, Raw Story has found.

The organization is called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), apparently named after the UN coalition International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). An investigation into the group reveals its numerous links to Exxon-Mobil, a vehement opponent of climate legislation and notorious among scientists for funding global warming skeptics.

"Exxon-Mobil essentially funds people to lie," Joseph Romm, lauded climate expert and author of the blog Climate Progress, told Raw Story. "It's important for people to understand that they pay off the overwhelming majority of groups in the area of junk science."

The NIPCC's signature report, "Climate Change Reconsidered," disputes the notion that global warming is human-caused, insisting in its policy summary that "Nature, not human activity, rules the planet." Many of its assertions have been challenged by, among others, the scientists' blog RealClimate.

The report was released and promoted this summer by the Heartland Institute, a think tank that claims to support "common-sense environmentalism" as opposed to "more extreme environmental activism." It alleges that "Global warming is a prime example of the alarmism that characterizes much of the environmental movement."

"To call global warming a hoax is to question every scientific journal, every scientific academy, and buy into the most extreme conspiracy theories," Romm said.

Heartland has received at least $676,500 from Exxon-Mobil since 1998, the year Exxon launched a campaign to oppose the Kyoto Treaty, according to official documents of the two groups that have been compiled and reproduced by the website Also, the institute's self-described Government Relations Adviser Walter F. Buchholtz has been a lobbyist for Exxon-Mobil, the Washington Post reported in 2004.

The study's two principal authors and NIPCC leaders S Fred Singer and Craig D Idso are both associated with various organizations that have gotten generous funding from Exxon-Mobil.

Singer has researched and published for the Cato Institute, which has accepted $125,000 in grants from Exxon-Mobil since 1998. Other professional affiliations include the National Center for Policy Analysis, Frontiers of Freedom, and American Council on Science and Health -- which have accepted contributions of $540,000, $1.27 million and $150,000, respectively, from Exxon.

Although some praise him as a hero, Singer has been slammed by many fellow climate scientists as "a fraud, a charlatan and a showman" for his unorthodox views and research.

His co-author Idso is founder, board chairman and former president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, whose mission statement is to "separate reality from rhetoric in the emotionally-charged debate that swirls around the subject of carbon dioxide and global change." The organization has taken $100,000 in funding from Exxon since 1998, according to the oil company's reports.

Idso is also affiliated with the George Marshall Institute, which has reportedly won $840,000 from Exxon.

Exxon-Mobil has spent more money lobbying Congress in the last two years than any enterprise other than the Chamber of Commerce, dishing out $29 million in 2008 and over $20 million so far in 2009 to legislators. It's among the top 10 biggest spenders of lobbying cash since 1998, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

That is why I was not surprised when it was revealed earlier this summer that many anti-health care reform groups/lobbies were heavily funded by ... health care insurance and pharma corporations. Same thing with the dangers of cigarette smoking (disclosure: I am a smoker still trying to quit the habit).

Follow the money trail indeed ... along with the very same tactics, regardless of whether we are talking about climate change, health care, cigarette smoking, toxic dumping, etc., etc., etc. (adapted from here):
  1. Deny the problem.
  2. Deceive consumers about the true nature of the problem through marketing and PR.
  3. Damage the credibility of industry opponents.
  4. Direct advertising to maximize sales volume in the meantime.
  5. Defeat attempts to regulate the industry or fix the problem.
  6. Delay legislation if it can’t be defeated.
  7. Destroy legislation once it passes, either by trying to overturn the law in court, by disobeying the law, or by exploiting loopholes.
  8. Defend lawsuits filed against the industry.
  9. Develop new markets around the world in the meantime.
Which brings me back to this:
As I have stated before, I am all for a free market-based economy. Indeed, competition drives initiative and creativity, leading to better (or new) products as well as to better (or new) services, and henceforth to a better and greater choice for consummers. This in turn will usually translate well into job creation or maintenance, along with better salaries. And this in turn will usually translate into better individual spending powers and higher standards of living.

However, trusting in corporations to "do the right thing" with regards to the welfare of society, citizens, employees, et al., is pure nonsense. The reality is that companies and corporations live by one thing and one thing only: the bottom line. Hence, companies and corporations will do anything, regardless of whether they initially had good intentions or not, to keep profits not only high but also to increase them as well. In other words, companies and corporations will cheat, lie or steal, even go as far as to use spying, sabbotage and violence, as means to protect and increase their profit margins. This is simply the nature of the beast.

Therefore, just like societies need laws to place clear definitions of what is acceptable, non-criminal conduct for their citizens, so must there also be laws to place clear definitions of what is acceptable, non-criminal conduct for companies.

Some call these "regulations". I call these necessities, just like criminal laws for the citizenry. After all, laws serve to maintain the welfare, peace and prosperity of society overall.

(...) If anything, what has happened - and keeps happening - (with military contractors) constitutes the first and foremost argument for the need to have companies and corporations to obey laws, just like every citizens. As I said above, call said laws "regulations" if you will - nevertheless, laws on due process of contract awarding through an appropriately regulated submission process, as well as rigorous boundaries imposed for the fulfillment of contracts, in addition to codified acceptable behavior by companies and corporations (as in our case) and corporate responsibility, are a matter of necessity for the continuity of our democratic societies founded upon the Rule of Law.

Why? Because, once again, all that matters to a company or corporation in the end of the day is the bottom line.

No noble principles of patriotism, no social obligations, no moral imperatives, nor even basic human decency and compassion, can twart the nature of this beast.

For decades, we have been witnessess to this truism.

Tobacco companies lying about the dangers of tobacco smoking.

Corporations hiding fabrication or design flaws in products like tires, cars, and whatnot, and nonetheless selling them.

Insurance (life, health, fire, theft, etc.) companies always seeking any and all justifications to lower awards for rightful claims, if not actually deny them. Same thing with agreeing or denying life-saving medical treatments or procedures.

Companies and corporations raiding the retirement funds of their employees.

Companies and corporations always skimming on the production/construction costs of their contracts so as to maximize profits - often resulting in shoddy and defective products/services, sometimes with dangerous consequences.

Companies and corporations (such as airlines) cutting back on quality control, safety protocols, maintenance repairs, and inspection protocols - all in order to save more bucks, regardless of the tragic consequences.

And so on and so forth.

(...) When kept unchecked, the need for maximization of profits will inevitably lead to fraud and corruption, as well as to a blatant disregard and abuse of human dignity, human civil liberties and human rights. I repeat here: no noble principles of patriotism, social obligations, moral imperatives or even basic human decency and compassion can twart this.
The question is: where will all of these self-interest-driven corporate machinations ultimately lead us?

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