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“Climate Skeptic” Thinktank Asked to Reveal Secret Funders

“Climate Skeptic” Thinktank Asked to Reveal Secret Funders

The world’s leading climate scientists have thrown public support behind a freedom of information request filed against the London-based conservative thinktank, The Global Warming Policy Foundation, the Guardian reports. The thinktank, chaired by former British chancellor and conservative politician, Lord Lawson (pictured above), is being asked to disclose the identities of its financial supporters. Brendan Montague, who filed the request with his organization, the Request Initiative, described Lawson’s thinktank as being “bankrolled by shadowy funders, [and] lobbying government for a change in climate policy that would affect the lives of millions of people.”

Montague is arguing in his request that release of this information will serve the public good. He was quoted as saying “The privacy of wealth has so far been valued above public accountability, even by our own civic institutions. The democratic principle of transparency is breached when a former chancellor can sit in the House of Lords influencing government policy on matters as important as climate change while accepting funding for his thinktank from secret supporters.”

Conservative thinktanks, even those specifically devoted to attacking the validity of climate science, are not new. They exist in the United States and elsewhere, usually being bankrolled by wealthy conservatives interested in arguing that climate change is not happening. Bjorn Lomberg, the former Danish environment minister who wrote The Skeptical Environmentalist, has been running a government-funded thinktank called the Copenhagen Consensus Centre for years, until it recently lost its funding.

Just Another Shot in the War on Climate Science

In late 2009, hackers broke into the computers of climatologists at the University of East Anglia in the UK, anonymously releasing the contents (which included private emails between scientists) online. Denialists quickly pointed to the emails as evidence of a widespread global warming hoax based on a few misunderstood scientific phrases.

One email referred to a “trick” of plotting data on a logarithmic scale instead of linearly in order to see a certain trend in the data more clearly. Deniers latched onto this, claiming scientists were trying to trick the world by misrepresenting data. Conservative pundits started referring to the hacked emails as “Climategate,” although there was nothing intellectually incriminating.

Michael Mann, an American climatologist figuring in some of the emails, was investigated by the National Science Foundation under conservative pressure, but was cleared of any wrongdoing. Though the whole event received an amazing amount of press on the Right for almost two years, no official body ever identified even the smallest example of fraud or inappropriate behavior as a result of the hacked emails, save the actions of the unknown hackers themselves.

Holding Deep-Pocketed Enemies of Science Accountable

I’m sure I’m not alone in suspecting the hackers had a right-wing or corporate agenda, perhaps even being commissioned by one of the many conservative thinktanks in the world battling against climate research. Much like religious groups lobbying against the teaching of the science of evolution, conservative thinktanks are a combination of PR firm, propaganda mill and political lobbyist. They have a specific agenda in mind from the start and truth is irrelevant. Since their claims are actually counter to science, they have to rely on smear campaigns, legal challenges and outright lies in lieu of evidence.

It’s nice to see someone holding one of these conservative thinktanks accountable, using the same legal machinery they themselves employ so masterfully in manufacturing controversy or discrediting honest scientists. It’s true that these organizations appeal to their base and are largely ignored by balanced news organizations, but we should be tackling them head-on more frequently. It’s a bit ridiculous that a group of conservatives can sit around and make stuff up, and yet politically challenge the hard-won facts of legitimate science. Let’s unmask these shadowy backers and ask them to explain themselves.

Related stories:

Climate Change Deniers Set School Policy, Forecast Weather

How “Climategate” Exposed Our Ambivalence About Science

Read more: , , , , ,

Photo credit: Lord Lawson Tucker321

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11:20AM PST on Feb 17, 2012

Every organization should be required to revel funders. Our legislators should have to wear jacket/suits with every funder listed. Transparency...what a concept!

2:38AM PST on Feb 2, 2012

Why would you want to pay the dude any regard at all? The only reason he hangs at c2 is to try and get a rise out of people. He's been doing this shit here for years.

6:41PM PST on Jan 30, 2012

Little doubt that the truth would prove "commercially sensitive."

6:30PM PST on Jan 30, 2012

It doesn't pay to be an environmentalist, unless everybody gets on board - but the corporate "figureheads" have decided that to "get on board" would mean a considerable loss to their wallets - so without any regard to the lives of future generations (even their own offspring) they continue to destroy the planet and disregard science, dumb down the next generation - so they won't know what the hell hit them - when the planet self destructs - which it appears to be doing exponentially - it may be already too late - back in Carter's day, he was the first to speak out about the country's need for better fuel and independence, no one listened - now there aren't enough ears, and the only ears have no money! Is greed a "deadly sin"? If it isn't it is the cause of the end of our species - pretty deadly I think!

5:27PM PST on Jan 30, 2012

thanks

5:24PM PST on Jan 30, 2012

Jeffrey W, who makes his money hiring women to beat homeless men to a pulp on video, once again sounds off as The Expert On Everything

Once again your wrong Jeffrey just like your imbecile George Bush was wrong when he led us into war in Iraq based on lies.

98% of the world's scientist agree that humans are causing Global Warming. Only ignorant republicans like you who watch Fox news all day disagree.

You remind me of the corporate tobacco company ceo's who came to Washington and lied about the effects of tobacco use under oath.

12:23PM PST on Jan 29, 2012

Climate skeptics are idiots.

10:59AM PST on Jan 29, 2012

I'm glad this is getting a public airing. In the UK, Freedom of Information Requests often get buried as "commercially sensitive" or "not in the public interest" unless they become big and public enough to create real embarrassment.
Nasty things that lurk in the dark don't like the light of public scrutiny shining on them.

7:58AM PST on Jan 29, 2012

Hopefully the request is honored and the backers become known instead of umpteen years fighting it in the courts.

11:37PM PST on Jan 28, 2012

Bleh

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