The quote comes from a Wall Street Journal article by Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT. Lindzen argues that there is a worldwide conspiracy of climate scientists, all fudging their data and condemning dissenters in a coordinated effort to get governments to spend more on climate change research. “Indeed,” Lindzen says, “the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today.”
That looks like a big number. But setting aside the profligacy of the current U.S. administration or the tendency of bureaucrats to gather up every aspect of weather-related spending and call it climate change research, let's put it into context.
While all the climate scientists in the country (along with their landlords, lab assistants, secretaries, suppliers and janitorial services) were divvying up $1.7 billion - during the whole course of 2006 - ExxonMobil was announcing third-quarter profits of $9.92 billion. And yes, that's third quarter; the largest amount of money ever “earned” by a company in just three months.
Things are going okay in the rest of the oil patch, as well. Royal Dutch Shell reported third-quarter net income up 68% to $9 billion; BP, $6.5 billion; ConocoPhillips, $3.8 billion; and ChevronTexaco, (an anticipated) $3.9 billion. The oily industry is on track to cream $96 billion this year — more than what the U.S.A.'s industrial and telecom companies will earn, combined.
Over in the coal room, Peabody Energy announced this year that it's sales in 2005 were up 11.8 per cent, but its profit was up a tiday 141 per cent to $423 million.
And all that during a year when General Motors spent more than $2.5 billion in advertising. Mark La-Neve, GM's vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing, says GM is trimming its ad budget this year, but will continue to direct it to areas where GM sees the most potential for revenue from the various vehicles. “So we're spending more on the (full-sized trucks) than we would on the (Pontiac) Solstice launch.”
At the end of the day, it would be easy to argue that we all have a “vested interest” in a sustainable world. But when you're making a billion dollars every three days, it must be easier to believe that you'll be able to buy your kids a comfortable place on earth, no matter how much the neighbourhood gets run down. It's also easier to divert a little cash to prop up the “scientists” and think tanks who will use any desperate argument available to deny that the status quo is, in fact, a big problem.
Finally, it's not clear - in this era of picking sides - why Richard Lindzen chose to throw his lot in with the deniers. Unlike hackers such as Tim Ball, or tobacco and oil company stooges like Steve Milloy, Dr. Lindzen is a scientist of significant accomplishment. But that doesn't excuse him from reason. That doesn't justify his calling all of the best scientists in the world liars, conspirators and frauds.
“A vested interest in alarm”? He should be ashamed.