Oily Chorus Includes Everything But Science

A recent piece by the Business and Media Institute (BMI) raises the question: have these oil-money backed “think” tanks finally run out of accommodating “scientists”?

The BMI is an arm of the Media Research Centre, founded in 1987 by right-wing activist Brent Bozell. BMI and MRC tout themselves as watchdogs of the “liberal-bias” media, in which pursuit they receive generous support from oily backers such as the Scaife family of foundations ($1.6 million).

In this most recent article, Ken Shepard discusses an interview in which CBS failed to challenge “alarmist” author Mike Tidwell on his contention that climate change has increased the intensity of hurricance activity.

Shepard turns immediately for support in his views to Dr. Pat Micheals, whose credentials have been the source of considerable recent controvery (see here and here). Shepard's second source is Iain Murray, who's not a scientist at all, but a Senior Fellow at the Scaife-backed( $1.3 million ) policy hothouse, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (famous for their much-mocked “C02 is good for you” TV ad campiagn). To be fair, Shepard also quotes Christopher Landsea, a darling of the climate change denial community since he quit the IPCC last year in protest over what he claimed was increased politicization.

This whole piece illustrates a slick little PR trick used by the climate change denial lobby called the “echo chamber,” in which one group echos another group and so on and so on, until their message is repeated often enough that it starts to sound true.

For those interested in a quick and easy primer on hurricanes and climate change, here's a good recent link. For those seriously interested in the science (which may or may not include Ken Shepard, Iain Murray or even Pat Michaels), the attached peer-reviewed article from the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Science is informative on the scientific side and extremely thoughtful in its analysis of media attention to this issue.

PDF icon BAMS paper.pdf509.04 KB


Michaels really is a spineless bastard.  Here is a nice little primer for hurricanes and global warming: