Don't Be Fooled: Fossil Fools Fund Latest Climate Skeptic Petition

Sun, 2011-04-17 15:41Emma Pullman
Emma Pullman's picture

Don't Be Fooled: Fossil Fools Fund Latest Climate Skeptic Petition

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) recently published a flashy headline that reads, 900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism Of “Man-Made” Global Warming (AGW) Alarm’. The article links to a blog post on listing more than 900 papers which, according to the GWPF, refute “concern relating to a negative environmental or socio-economic effect of AGW, usually exaggerated as catastrophic.”

The “900+ papers” list is supposed to somehow prove that a score of scientists reject the scientific consensus on climate change. One might be persuaded by the big numbers. We’re not.

Oh, where to begin? First, a note of caution about the Global Warming Policy Foundation. It’s a UK group opposing climate change action. Sourcewatch’s digging reveals links to right-wing libertarian climate change deniers. According to the UK Charity Commission, GWPF’s mandate is to “advance the public understanding of global warming and of its possible consequences, and also of the measures taken or proposed to be taken in response to it”. Actually, they’re a heck of a lot more interested in sowing seeds of doubt than in disseminating knowledge. The GWPF’s director is the Heartland Institute’s* Benny Peiser, climate change denier extraordinaire. Other notable members include Canada’s Ross McKitrick of the Fraser Institute.   

Curiously, the GWPF was launched just as the Climategate emails were released. An op-ed by Chairman Nigel Lawson announced the GWPF, predicted the (hopeful) failure of the Copenhagen climate talks, and called for an inquiry into the content of the stolen emails.

Using a screen-scraping process to analyze the data on the “900+” list, the folks over at Carbon Brief dug up some pretty incriminating information. Turns out nine of the ten most cited authors on the list (representing 186 of the 938 papers) have links to ExonMobil-funded organizations. The tenth has co-authored several papers with Exxon-funded contributors. Anyone familiar with these kinds of lists (“More than 500 scientists dispute global warming” or “more Than 1000 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims”) knows that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.  Many familiar climate skeptic names appear over and over again.

Dr. Sherwood B Idso is the most cited author on the list, having authored or co-authored 67 of the papers. Idso is president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a think tank funded by ExxonMobil and the Sarah Scaife Foundation

The second most cited is Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, a well-known climate sceptic who admits that around 40% of his funding comes from the oil industry.

When you really crunch the numbers, all you really find is a small echochamber of the same individuals who pop up on every denier list and petition around. James W. Prall at the University of Toronto has put together a fantastic analysis of the names that appear on these lists, and shows how most of them share funding ties to the oil industry. 

Now a note on the most cited journals on this list. Articles from trade journal Energy and Environment are cited 137 times on the list. Energy and Environment is edited by Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen and Benny Peiser. Numerous known climate skeptics sit on the editorial staff including Sallie Baliunas, Patrick Michaels, Ross McKitrick, and Richard Lindzen.  The journal has become a go-to resource for policymakers and politicians who are skeptical of the scientific consensus of climate change. 

Michael Ashley of the University of New South Wales has described it as “the climate sceptic’s journal of choice”. The Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge is considered a key resource for establishing the credentials and influence of key academic journals. It does not list Energy and Environment.  

A further 24 papers come from the journal Climate Research which is perhaps best known for publishing a 2003 paper by Sallie Baliunas and Willy Soon that received funding from the American Petroleum Institute. In response to the paper’s publication, the editor in chief, Hans Von Storch, and five of ten members of the editorial board, resigned in protest.

Let’s contrast this “900+ list” with the real facts. Expert Credibility in Climate Changewhich appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examines over 2,400 climate scientists and authors who have signed public statements on climate change. Their research says that 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field believe that global warming is happening, and that we must respond to it.

A note to deniers: if you keep publishing these lists, we’ll keep debunking them. Long lists might look convincing, but they’re no substitute for research that is free of fossil fuel industry bias and is taken seriously by the scientific community. 

*Updated: Peiser is listed as one of the global warming ‘experts’ by the Heartland Institute, but does not work there.

Image Credit: Prospect Magazine


Amazing that you should quote the “survey” Expert Credibility in Climate Change. This ridiculous piece of trash is only of use in instructing students how NOT to conduct a survey, its results have zero validity. Have you actually had a look at the selection criteria these clowns used, or th questions they asked? - they were so vague 97 percent of skeptics would have agreed. And they chose to report only those who called THEMSELVES “climate scientists”, without any check whatever on their qualifications, publications or anything else.

There are debunkings of this garbage all over the web, perhaps you should check them out before ruining your own credibility. You could start here

Oh, that’s right, 97% of the skeptics would have agreed that it is warming and that it is greenhouse gases that are responsible. Yes? Gee, that certainly does not seem to fit with the Wattsians, where it is anything BUT greenhouse gases that must be responsible for any temperature increase (if there even has been any, of course).

Even funnier is that the survey you attack actually went AT LENGTH into the question of publications and qualifications. It’s in fact exactly the number of publications on climate science that resulted in the conclusion that climate science experts mostly agree.

How can you get it so wrong? Ah, there’s the rub that makes Peter Wilson manage to confuse things completely and utterly.

Due to the inability of the students who did this “research” to use Google Scholar properly, their assessment of qualifications was, like everything else in the paper, worthless.

And the questions were, basically, has the world warmed (of course it has, since the little ice age), and is mankind contributing SIGNIFICANTLY to this warming. Many skeptics, myself included, think man is contributing one way or another - not just through CO2 emissions- and many would consider that contribution significant.OK, maybe not quite 97 percent, but plenty. The questions simply fail to distinguish skeptics from believers.

Utterly worthless, you embarrass yourself trying to defend it

The use of Google Scholar WAS proper. There has already been plenty of research that shows Google Scholar generally finds more than other databases, and even if it contains overcounting, this is almost always proportional. Of course, quite a few of the ‘skeptics’ got themselves a few climate-related papers exactly because Google Scholar was used. Several other databases would not have found all those papers in Energy & Environment…

And you might want to actually read the paper before you dismiss it with false claims. The inclusion criteria for CE were: “We defined CE researchers as those who signed statements broadly agreeing with or directly endorsing the primary tenets of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report that it is “very likely” that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for “most” of the “unequivocal” warming of the Earth’s average global temperature in the second half of the 20th century (3). We compiled these CE researchers comprehensively from the lists of IPCC AR4 Working Group I Contributors and four prominent scientific statements endorsing the IPCC.”

Next your telling us you are actually endorsing the IPCC, Peter Wilson?

Oh no it wasn’t. That paper was completely bogus and as Google Scholar illiterate as the so called “analysis” at Skeptical Science.

Google Scholar illiteracy in the PNAS

Google scholar does find more erroneous results.

If you believe it to be accurate, please provide the reproducible method that obtained 724 results for Phil Jones.

Overinflation is for both sides. If you use any other database, the proportions don’t change appreciably.

Your claim is incorrect as both sides are not being “evaluated”. Regardless no meaningful conclusion can be reached using Google Scholar search results due to the inability to properly verify the results to remove the erroneous ones.

Using another database would run in to similar problems already mentioned,

(a) Any search for the search phrase “climate change” or “global warming” would not mean explicit endorsement of “Anthropogenic Global Warming” theory. Explicit endorsement would require the inclusion of that phrase. However inclusion of this phrase can also mean criticism of the theory. The context of the phrase can only be determined by reading each and every result.

(b) Every single result needs to be checked that it is a peer-reviewed paper and not simply in a peer-reviewed journal. As these databases makes no distinction between non-peer-reviewed content that appears in peer-reviewed journals from peer-reviewed content.

…considering your list contains several non-peer reviewed papers (such as Editorials, Opinions, Commentaries, and such more)

There are a handful of editorials which can be peer-reviewed.

Only if you redefine peer review you might call some of them “peer reviewed”, as in another Editor, or an Editorial assistant, reading the Editorial and clearing up some language. Unlike you, Poptech, I actually have direct experience with Editorial work for scientific journals.

You do not have direct experience with the peer-review process of all scientific journals. If you can prove a paper on the list was not peer-reviewed let me know.

YOU made the original claim, and hence have to provide the evidence.

I made the original claim that papers on my list were not peer-reviewed but I counted them anyway? ROFLMAO!

Wilson, I think you meant to refer to yourself as a “skeptic”, without those quotation marks you are not being honest to people here.

And again, this is about science and physics, not “beliefs”, well, maybe for you it is…

Bishop Hill has responded to this article:

Bishop Hill is a non player in this. You guys take yourselves way, way too seriously.

Now here is a credible science site which has addressed this irrelevant list:

And I encourage everyone to note Andrews/poptechs behaviour on the ensuing thread when confronted with many inconvenient facts… finally died after 787 comments

That post was completely and utterly destroyed,

Google Scholar Illiteracy at Skeptical Science

Please provide the 1001 result for any of Rob’s Google Scholar searches.

You still dont get it do you, Andrew. This is beyond amazement. Its not a matter of providing the detailed results. Its just a matter of establishing a statistically significant sampling that represents the sheer size of the denominator.

Youre trying to quibble that all the grains of sand on the beach havent been counted. Im saying, scoop up a cup of sand and make an estimate of how much sand there is.

PT, get used to it. Your list is flawed and meaningless.

Please provide the 1001 result for any of your Google Scholar searches.

Congratulations. I have thought for years that there was something strange about Labour peers Baroness Nicholson,Lord Barnett and Lord Donoghue. You have confirmed my suspicions by outing them as Board Memebers of the right-wing libertarian- controlled GWPF. Definitely a scoop that will cause your name to resound round the blogosphere.

Just how is the GWPF right wing? And how is being libertarian right wing anyway - as a card carrying libertarian, I hate conservatives almost as much as liberals (joke, I dont actually hate anyone for their political beliefs, unlike some around here). These are after all LABOUR peers, and Labour is not generally considered right wing.

Is it that GWPF actually takes notice of the science surrounding this issue that qualifies them as right wing? I think that must be it.

As for “outing” these guys, are you suggesting that their membership of the GWPF board is some secret, of which they are ashamed? I strongly doubt that!

Apart from the reference to the PNAS paper, the author has failed to note ANY reason why the 900 papers on this list should not be considered part of the climate change debate. Not a single argument or fact is presented, just a series of innuendos based on who people work for, or are supposedly paid by. Of what relevance is that to their research or conclusions?

Of course, it might be enlightening to enquire where all the “climate specialists” you revere so much draw their incomes from - how many of them would have a paycheck at all if AGW disappeared as an issue? If you believe skeptics are so eager to sell their souls for money, what makes you think the ethical standards of climate scientists are so much better? (hint - since Climategate, we know they arent)

Clearly you are well out of actual arguments if this is the best you can do

Peter Wilson, whether CO2 is causing climate change or not, this would not change anything for the work of the vast majority of climate scientists. How climate behaves, what impact climate change has, and what controls climate will always be important scientific questions, as they have an impact on our society.

Oh, and if you want something funny, read the Zeebe et al paper that is on the list. That paper has something you may think about:
Based on Zeebe’s et al interpretation of the results, climate sensitivity is either MUUUUUCH higher than 3 degrees per doubling, or there is another amplification factor that can cause significant increases in warming, one that we have not identified for the PETM yet.

Yup, you read that right. Poptech managed to put a paper on there that actually suggests that climate sensitivity is either MUCH higher than most think, or that there are additional amplification factors (beyond those known for the enhanced greenhouse effect).

So if climate sensitivity is as high as you claim, why are temperatures not increasing in step with the very large increases in co2 levels in the past 15 years? At some point, it is necessary, in science at least, to refer to the real world (that is, the one outside of computer models) to see if your hypothesis stacks up. Clearly this one is currently failing the test,and is well on the way to nullification.

And it is laughable that you have clearly misunderstood the point of the Zeebe paper. He uses a high sensitivity (the “accepted values” from the IPCC), but even using this he is unable to account for past warming periods by co2, implying other forces are at work, and are more improtant. The high sensitivity is not a claim, its an assumption, and it is unsupported by the results of the research. Check it out for yourself

If you calculate the expected rise from GHG alone over the last 15 years, you would indeed expect a larger increase in temperature. However, that is when you ignore any and all other influences, such as aerosols, as well as short-term natural variations. You’ll need to look at short periods to come with this supposed claim of failing the test.

And Zeebe’s point is not misunderstood by me, but clearly by you. The paper discusses ONE past warm period (the PETM), and based on THEIR analysis of the increase in CO2 (others have found larger increases), there isn’t enough to explain the temperature increase even with the high climate sensitivity, indicating yet another factor also at play. If you make the claim CO2 has low climate sensitivity, good luck finding factors that have an even higher effect than those Zeebe et al already speculate.

Actually the correlation between co2 levels and temperature is very weak in the century timescale as well.

The fastest increase came in the early part of the twentieth century, when emissions were relatively minor. Just as co2 output did start to rise rapidly, in the late 1940s, temperatures entered a 30 year downtrend that lasted until the 1970s. There was then a 25 year period when both co2 and temperatures rose quite rapidly, until about 2000, since when there has been no trend whatever, despite rapidly rising co2 levels (although it is still warmer than the 90s, so you can keep saying “9 out of the 10 hottest years etc..” for ages yet, even if it starts cooling).

So by my count there has been one period of 25 years (approx 1975-2000) which had a high correlation between co2 emissions and temperature, out of last 110 years. And 85 years during which the correlation was either weak or negative.

In other words, no significant correlation at all.

…that’s what you just did. Unlike some simplistic arguments from deniers, climate science does not take into account a single forcing only.

And please, that focus on short time periods is just plain silly, a Wattsian-type argument.

Please show me one point in geological history where CO2 increases preceded temperature increases. One time in history please. This has NEVER happened, but all of a sudden we must conclude that we are special in geological times. Bull cocky.

Pure and unadulterated speculation on anyone’s part that concludes that CO2 is a principal driver of temperature. Temperature has been steady warming for the last 12,000 years since the last small ice age. At what point did this increases stop being nature forces and suddenly become AGW????

Use your brains everyone.

Maybe it should tell you something that we are seeing a CO2 increase that precedes a temperature increase

And it stopped being only natural forces when we (yes, “we”) started adding huge amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere

What people like you clearly do not understand is the concept of Milankovitch cycles, and the associated CO2 feedback in those cycles. 12,000 years ago the orbital changes of earth around the sun resulted in warming, which was exacerbated by natural CO2 release due to that warming. Without that natural CO2 release, the earth would have cooled much faster. But that stopped about 6,000 years ago. We are currently in a ‘cooling’ phase of the Milankovitch cycles, and the earth should thus be COOLING, not warming.

Use your brain, Darren, and try to learn something about Milankovitch cycles, CO2 feedback, and how the current period is completely anomalous.

Zeebe’s paper, “Carbon dioxide forcing alone insufficient to explain Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum warming” is included because up to 89% of the observed warming in the time period studied cannot be explained by CO2 forcing. The paper explicitly mentions that other forcings would have to account for the discrepancy,

“If the temperature reconstructions are correct, then …forcings other than atmospheric CO2 caused a major portion of the PETM warming.”

Obviously for the skeptic argument it would be some other forcing not higher CO2 climate sensitivity.

is if you take the lowest climate sensitivity.

And yes, the ‘skeptics’ will just say “see, another forcing!” without telling us which one that could be. For the PETM it is obvious we are rather limited in our knowledge of the forcings at that time. For the present day, we are not nearly so unknowing.

And AGW proponents will always claim a different CO2 forcing no matter what the evidence shows. That paper can clearly support skeptic arguments.



This list is not fully exhaustive, but we would like to acknowledge
the support of the following funders (in alphabetical order):

British Council,
British Petroleum,
Broom’s Barn Sugar Beet Research Centre,
Central Electricity Generating Board,
Centre for Environment,
Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS),
Commercial Union,
Commission of European Communities (CEC, often referred to now as
Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC),
Department of Energy,
Department of the Environment (DETR, now DEFRA),
Department of Health,
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI),
Eastern Electricity,
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC),
Environment Agency,
Forestry Commission,
Greenpeace International,
International Institute of Environmental Development (IIED),
Irish Electricity Supply Board,
KFA Germany,
Leverhulme Trust,
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF),
National Power,
National Rivers Authority,
Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC),
Norwich Union,
Nuclear Installations Inspectorate,
Overseas Development Administration (ODA),
Reinsurance Underwriters and Syndicates,
Royal Society,
Scientific Consultants,
Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC),
Scottish and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research,
Stockholm Environment Agency,
Sultanate of Oman,
Tate and Lyle,
UK Met. Office,
UK Nirex Ltd.,
United Nations Environment Plan (UNEP),
United States Department of Energy,
United States Environmental Protection Agency,
Wolfson Foundation
and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

Thanks for that, matthu. In case readers dont realise, this is a list of funders for Hadley Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. BP and Shell are among the more notable contributors.

Like our host says, there is “no substitute for research that is free of fossil fuel industry bias”

Hoist by their own petard…


Because you guys have failed to note for what purpose those funds were used. They were not used in an orchestrated disinformation and anti-science campaign for goodness sakes. One only has to go to the CRU to expose the “skeptics” cherry-picking, failing to provide context and distorting the facts, again– you guys are truly shameless:

“From the late 1970s through to the collapse of oil prices in the late 1980s, CRU received a series of contracts from BP to provide data and advice concerning their exploration operations in the Arctic marginal seas. Working closely with BP’s Cold Regions Group, CRU staff developed a set of detailed sea-ice atlases, covering estimates of data quality and climate variability as well as standard climatological means, and a series of reports on specific issues, such as navigation capabilities through the Canadian Archipelago.”

While you have failed on every level,

Prove that the list is dominated by scientists who actually receive money from fossil fuel companies. That has not been done here. It is falsely implied that if a scientist went to a meeting for coffee and donuts hosted by an organization that in the last 20 years received a $5 donation from a fossil fuel company unrelated to science that scientist is now “funded by the fossil fuel industry”. Please provide actual documents irrefutably demonstrating direct fossil fuel company funding.

Then prove that the few scientists on the list who have received small direct donations from energy companies over the last 20 years have received enough energy company funding to sustain all their research over this time period (make sure to divide by 20).

Finally prove that a single skeptical scientist changed their scientific position regarding AGW due to a monetary donation from anyone not just energy companies.

Come on Andrew, this is not a court of law. Can you prove that smoking causes cancer? No. You are framing the argument in a ridiculous manner.

I am not the one making libelous claims against respected and credentialed scientists. The burden of proof is on you and you have failed to remotely support your allegations.

For example, you claim that those making climate models are not “computer scientists”, unlike yourself (denigrating climate modelers, many of which likely know much, much, much more about computers and coding than you do). You also smeared the realclimate folks (all legitimate scientists), as well as William Connolley, who you called a “propagandist”. In fact, you smeared the realclimate people in essentially the same way (guilty by supposed association) you attack here when it comes to your apparent heroes. Hypocrite much, Andrew?

And that’s just after 2 minutes of reading some of your stuff.

I have forgotten more about, computers, computer science and programming then all of them combined.

William Connelley is a proven propagandist,

How Wikipedia’s green doctor rewrote 5,428 climate articles

William Connolley CORRECTED a lot of articles. That’s not the same as a propagandist. Unless you are a believer and consider any facts that contradict your belief as “propaganda”. I guess that does fit your profile…

And I see you decided to come with unsubstantiated claims to continue your libelous remarks. Why are you such a hypocrite, Andrew?

Only in your delusional mind. Saying Dr. Singer believes in Martians is not correcting anything but intentionally spreading propaganda.

What I have stated is irrefutable.

What you have stated is only irrefutable in your own ideological and illusionary world.

The claim you repeat comes from Lawrence Solomon, who is not a reliable source. He has made a lot of incorrect claims about William Connolley, which Connolley has refuted (there, used your own line of argumentation, let’s see if you follow it for once). Of course, since you are supposedly so good at computer science, you would be able to refute much of what Solomon claims yourself. Heck, actually reading what the Wikipedia article on Singer (still!) states about Martians should get you thinking about the extreme spin Solomon has introduced. But I know you can’t be bothered, because it would conflict with your ideology.

Solomon is unreliable but Wikipedia is? You are a true computer illiterate. Please provide me with a PDF or even a legitimate citation for the quote in Wikipedia making that claim. Sad.

LOL! The direct citation is given in the Wikipedia article:

S.F. Singer, “More on the Moons of Mars”, Astronautics, February 1960, American Astronautical Society, page 16

And you call me a computer illiterate…I guess we have now thoroughly debunked the myth that you actually know anything about scientific publishing or are even any more computer literate than the average person here, considering your inability to find the citation in the Wikipedia article.

Please provide an actual copy of that article so it can be reviewed.

So when an alarmist outfit gets funds from Big Oil, thats all fine, but if a skeptic once worked for a thinktank which once got a few dollars from Exxon (they only ever give a very few dollars alas), their work is tainted forever?

Why should it matter what CRU used the money for, the whole point of this post is the proposition that ANY connection with industry funding is enough, in your eyes, to destroy a skeptics credibility. Why should it be any different for alarmists?

No double standard here, move along now.

I am also bemused by the assertion that “Many familiar climate skeptic names appear over and over again”

Indeed they do. Have you had a look at the citations in the AR4? A few names keep popping up there too. Strangely enough, the very same names that appeared so prominently in the Climategate scandal.

Perhaps you should remove the mote fro your own eye…



AN Australian Federal MP is planning to join some of the world’s noisiest deniers of the science of climate change at a conference in Las Vegas in a few weeks time.

George Christensen, the National Party member for Dawson in the coal-friendly state of Queensland, will be hanging around the Mandelay Bay Resort with a rag-tag bunch of mostly long-retired academics and well paid think-tank associates for the Heartland Institute ...

read more