Former Astronaut in Bed with Big Oil?

Don’t be too surprised that former Apollo astronaut Harrison Schmitt publicly denounced the entire scientific community around climate science.

Schmitt provided Fox News another climate denier moment this week when he said, “I don’t think the human effect [of climate change] is significant compared to the natural effect.” Schmitt is also speaking at a climate denier conference next month sponsored by none other than the notorious Heartland Institute.

Desmog Blog readers will recall the hilariously unethical stunt pulled by the Heartland Institute last year when they produced a list of 500 scientists who apparently disputed climate change. The problem was that most of these individuals no idea that their reputations were being dragged through the mud by an astroturf group that has so far received almost $800,000 from Exxon.

Enter Harrison Schmitt. Most media coverage of this story has rather lazily reported Schmitt only as a former astronaut and one of the last people to walk on the moon. A lot has happened since 1972. It turns out that Schmitt was the Chairman and President of the Annapolis Center For Science-Based Public Policy between 1994 and 1998, and remains “Chairman Emeritus”.

This may be a lucrative gig given that the Annapolis Centre has received more than $860,000 in funding from ExxonMobil since 1998. But what does money have to do with anything?

Schmitt has also been keeping some very dubious company.

Sallie Baliunas is listed as a member of the Science and Economic Advisory Council of the Annapolis Center. She is described by ExxonSecrets as a “darling of the anti-climate movement, Baliunas has been a central scientist in the fight against action on climate change. She is used by virtually all of the Exxon-funded front groups as their scientific expert.

Baliunas is associated with a veritable constellation of industry-funded groups opposing carbon regulation including: the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the American Petroleum Institute, and of course the Heartland Institute.

The Annapolis Center also honored none other that Senator James Inhofe for “his work in promoting science-based public policy” – a distinction so absurd it almost deserves a laugh track.

Lastly, the Annapolis Center has also spent considerable effort calling into question the well-known link between air pollution and asthma, the impacts of mercury pollution, and the dangers of pesticide residue on food.

Why Schmitt has chosen to associate himself with such an organization since 1994 is of course for you to judge.

One thing is certain: the media coverage of his supposed revelation around climate science seems now much more like a PR stunt in advance of the industry-funded denier conference.

If only the media had access to the Internet…

This month we’re giving away FREE copies Nobel Laureate Dr. Andrew Weaver’s new book Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World.

Go here to find out more details about DeSmogBlog’s monthly book give-away.


I seem to remember that the Royal Society wrote to ExxonMobil:

“The Society welcomes open debate, underpinned by sound science, on the subject of climate change. In September 2006, the Royal Society wrote to ExxonMobil to express concern that some of its corporate publications were presenting a misleading view of the scientific evidence about climate change and were over-emphasising uncertainties about what we do and don’t know. This letter followed a meeting which had taken place at the request of ExxonMobil where the Society raised concerns about Exxon’s position on climate change and the company’s funding of lobby groups that misrepresented the science. At the meeting ExxonMobil indicated that it intended to stop funding these organisations. The letter asked for clarification as to when the company would carry out this pledge. Although we have exchanged further letters with ExxonMobil, it has still not addressed this issue…,”

ExxonMobil announced with some fanfare in 2007 that it was going to stop funding certain groups:

The ExxonMobil report says: ” In 2008, we will discontinue contributions to several public policy research groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner. Additional information about our U.S. contributions can be found on our Web site (”

Now I looked through their website [2009] and if such information exists, evidence of their de-funding of these groups wasn’t obvious, and I certainly failed to find it.

The question is did they actually stop, and if so who did they stop funding and who are they still funding?

This also begs the question: Who is funding the lying think-tanks and other astroturfing operations?

Two obvious candidates are:

  • Peabody Coal

  • Western Fuels

The IREA letter mentioned a number of further potential candidates:

  • Koch Industries

  • Ford Motor Co.

  • General Motors

  • AEP’ – could that be American Electric Power Company Inc.?

Perhaps it’s time to obtain copies of their IRS 990 tax statements and discover the truth about who they have been funding.


“Lastly, the Annapolis Center has also spent considerable effort calling into question the well-known link between air pollution and asthma, the impacts of mercury pollution, and the dangers of pesticide residue on food.”

And why is that a problem?

Certain groups have at various times grossly exaggerated health threats that were non-existent or neglible. The link between autism and mercury in vaccinations is one of them.

Another one, in Canada, is Toronto which has claimed for years that 1,700 people die from pollution-related deaths in the city each year.  But of course, the “science” behind these claims, and the “data”, is bogus.

Junk science doesn’t ony come from the “deniers” as certain environmental groups are notorious for inflating the dangers we face.


The problem is that the links mentioned above are scientifically proven.  Conversely, your examples are of a confused portion of the populace, who are actually contradicting science.  For example, science disproved the autism/vaccine connection.

So, in the example provided in the post, the Annapolis Center is questioning established scientific findings, which link a cause and effect.  In your example, confused lay persons are trying to link a cause and effect, which science has disproven.

“The problem is that the links mentioned above are scientifically proven”

Really? Please pass the Alar.

You nutcases really like to make stuff up as you go along.

Schmitt resigned [from The Planetary Society] after the group blamed global warming on human activity. In his resignation letter, the 74-year-old geologist argued that the “global warming scare is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making.”


So how does this work? Carbon emitters are required to buy credits, and somehow Yuri Sergeyevich Zamenov will be able to find out when you last had sex with that libertarian girl?


In addition to being an astronaut, Schmitt was a U.S. Senator (R) for six years from New Mexico, so it’s hardly surprising that science and ideology might be fighting for his allegiance.  When I see the quote, “I don’t think the human effect [of climate change] is significant compared to the natural effect,” I see an effort to split the difference.  He’s not saying anthropogenic climate change doesn’t occur, only that it isn’t significant (whatever that means….)

There is a place for skepticism in all these things, of course.  For example, even though air pollution aggravates asthma, it’s indeed odd that asthma has been growing as a problem, when air pollution levels have been dropping (in California, maximum levels are well below, roughly half, what they were in 1980).  Air pollution is likely not the primary cause of the growing asthma problem.  If Schmitt wants to talk about that, good for him.  We need to know the source of the asthma problem.  But when these positions dovetail so closely with economic interests, that’s where the trouble is.

Schmitt also needs to remember his expertise is in geology, not climate.  It is wiser not to say anything when you know little about it.

It’s pretty disgusting when a bunch of PR flacks (aka “losers”) resort to their usual tactic of sliming a genuinely great man like geologist Schmitt in a post underscored by a drooling reference to oceanographer Weaver. Neither is a climatologist but both are earth scientists and, as such, qualified to offer opinions on how things work on the old globe.

BTW, isn’t it a bit disingenuous to refer to “nobel laureate” Andrew Weaver in the context of his warmist treatise, thus offering the false impression that he was the recipient of a genuine Nobel Prize for his (very limited) contribution to science. Nobel Laureate my ass. Sleezy.

isn’t it a bit disingenuous to refer to “nobel laureate” Andrew Weaver in the context of his warmist treatise, thus offering the false impression that he was the recipient of a genuine Nobel Prize for his (very limited) contribution to science.

You mean, like referring to Schmitt as a “great” “geologist” when his “greatness” came mainly from his “Whole Earth” photograph?

Also, note that Weaver actually does original research relating to climate science, while Schmitt’s “understanding” of climate science is obviously culled from the usual book of talking points (medieval records show warm period, blah blah blah). If Weaver’s contribution to climate science is “limited”, then I suppose Schmitt’s contribution will be something like, um, zero?


Neat evasion, Bi. You say nothing about the sleazey deception of referring to Weaver as a Nobel Laureate. Even though I regard his modelling as more akin to astrology than to science, and by no remote stretch of the imagination “research”, I do believe him to be a sincere and ethical individual. Having that phoney distinction hung on him must be pretty damned embarrassing. 

You should learn to read. I didn’t describe Schmitt as a great geologist - above average, obviously, to be chosen for a moonwalk, but not “great”. No Tuzo Wilson he. I described him as a GREAT MAN, something with which you wouldn’t be even remotely familiar.  

Whereas Christopher Monckton who has falsely claimed to be a Nobel Laureate.

amongst other things

Monckton has a history of fabrication. For example, he falsely claimed to be a member of the House of Lords and to have won £50,000 damages from the Guardian.

These denialists are certainly always good for a laugh!

What does Christopher Monkton, who isn’t a scientist, and about whom I know very little and care less (I hadn’t heard the Nobel Laureate bit), have to do with Schmitt, Weaver, me or this post? You’re babbling.

Seems like Schmitt lost his brains when cold science conflicted with his politics or the oil-money, or both. I don’t know which, but it says a great deal about the man and what it says isn’t good and it certainly diminishes him severely, but that was his freely made choice.

However, because of his profile, his deliberate action knowingly and intentionally diminishes the science and that is completely unacceptable. For this action he must be condemned and anyone who acts like him is to be condemned likewise.

Nobody can justify dismissing world-class science because what it says is inconvenient; politically inexpedient; or incompatible with one’s pay-packet. But this is exactly what denialists do and it’s unacceptable and they need to be challenged and harried incessantly about it.

By all means, challenge the science honestly with solid science, but to challenge it by bringing in specious arguments – politics, ecomonics and all the rest is totally unacceptable!


“Seems like Schmitt lost his brains when cold science conflicted with his politics or the oil-money, or both. I don’t know which, but it says a great deal about the man and what it says isn’t good and it certainly diminishes him severely, but that was his freely made choice.”

TRANSLATION: I have nothing useful or intelligent to say, so I’ll just resort to the standard warmist tactic of trying to smear knowledgeable and competent people.

“Nobody can justify dismissing world-class science because what it says is inconvenient”

On that basis, the warmist cheering section should JSTFU.

Geologist, have you actually read what Schmitt has to say? I doubt it, either that or you are as completely ignorant of historical climate changes as Schmitt is.

Schmitt as been quoted as saying the following: “historical documents indicate average temperatures have risen by 1 degree per century since around 1400 A.D., and the rise in carbon dioxide is because of the temperature rise.” ( If you believe that comment do you realize what it means? Schmitt is essentially ruling out the Medieval Warm Period and the Littlle Ice Age in one sentence of rubbish. He is saying that it is now 6 degrees (notice he is so ignorant of how science is conducted that he does not say whether it is Celsius or Fahrenheit) warmer than it was in 1400.

Why do so many geologists have rocks for brains?

Is Geologist a Troll? Well, based upon past behaviour, it certainly looks like it. 

FYI the climate system is NOT influenced in any way by economics or by politics.

But there is a vast and growing amount of unequivocal peer-reviewed science that leads objective scientists to suspect strongly that the climate system is being adversely perturbed by human activities that release greenhouse gases, leading to an enhanced GH effect. 

There is a vociferous minority of individuals, including some scientists who dispute AGW. But there is good reason to believe that most, if not all of these individuals are linked to fossil-fuel disinformation campaigns and / or groups opposed for politico-ideological reasons. It is important to realise that their arguments are often fallacious, or scientifically specious. Upon closer scrutiny their arguments are clearly not supported by the overwhelming majority of objective science.

Genuine objective science is always welcome, whatever it says.

Since Geologist clearly either doesn’t understand what he’s blathering about, or is being economical with the truth, perhaps it is he that should STFU! Or he could start being honest about what the science actually says.

Let’s clarify the Nobel Laureate thing.  Gore and the IPCC won the Peace Prize, for drawing global attention to a HUGE threat to our peace, well-being, even survival.  It is not an award for science.  Satisfied? 

But now, Geologist, I would like to pursue the issue of whether Andrew Weaver is a climate scientist, better qualified than Schmitt to evaluate matters of climate science.  This is the URL for a page listing Dr Weaver’s publications: I invite you to peruse this list and compare it with Dr Schmitt’s bibliography.  If you can find one.  I have been looking and frankly I haven’t had much luck.  If you can provide me with a link to his scholarly publications – particularly in the area of climate change – I would be much obliged. In the interests of open-minded discourse, I would be very pleased to find out that he has a leg to stand on for taking the position he espouses.


Fern Mackenzie

In the seventies we were told of a coming new ice age, in the eighties it was freon depleting the ozone layer. We were forced at great expense to change our air conditioning. Freon became a black market item.Lies all lies at the expense of the American people. The mass media of today is our biggest enemy. ABC,NBC,CBS,CNN,MSNBC. NYT,LAT,Hollywood are all on the same page. Wake up people. Who runs the media and entertainment business today and has for the last fifty years?

John from websie development

Yes, it will cause pain to everyone to move away from fossil fuels, but does not mean it has to be at one time and now is a process and should be an enjoyable experience, not how they are doing now. China is not in a big hurry about it so why should we be?
Big Oil could have done it before, but killed at the beginning of the program and could have created a better economy, more jobs, etc.. Headquarters;
Who Killed the Electric Car mensagens

“…what does money have to do with anything?”

That depends on your view of human nature. If money absolutely corrupts then the $300 million that Al Gore provided for a media blitz in 2010 supporting his green investments must very corrupting compared to the mere $23 million ExxonSecrets (a Greenpeace project) claim were provided to skeptical think tanks I’ve never even heard of until recently.

I’m afraid you have three more Apollo astronauts to slander though, though that might be hard since all those fly boys are onto the scam. They hang out at the Oskosh experimental aircraft show where Burt Rutan, now a spaceman himself (oh! I must add him to my info-graphic!), gives lectures on climate alarmism from an engineer’s perspective.