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How Big Business Tries To Corrupt Science

How Big Business Tries To Corrupt Science

 

The oil and gas industry has long tried to cast doubts about climate change, just as the tobacco industry tried for years to put cigarette smoking in a good light. The infamous Koch Industries is one example of an oil company that gives great sums of money to climate change opposition groups. Greenpeace discovered two years ago that Koch Industries donated almost $48 million to climate change opposition groups from 1997 to 2008.

Besides giving money, there are other ways that corporations try to cast doubt about climate change. A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) describes five basic methods corporations use to influence the science and policy making processes:

  • Corrupting the science by suppressing research, intimidating scientists, manipulating study designs, ghostwriting scientific articles and selectively publishing results that suit their interests
  • Shaping public perception by exaggerating uncertainty, vilifying scientists, hiding behind front groups and feeding the media slanted news stories
  • Restricting agency effectiveness by attacking the science behind agency policy, hindering the regulatory process, holding corrupt advisory panels, exploiting the revolving door between corporate and government employment, censoring scientists and withholding information from the public
  • Influencing Congress by spending billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions
  • Exploiting judicial pathways by expanding their influence on the judicial system and then using the courts to undermine science

    Let’s look at an example of how a corporation tries to corrupt science. Dr. Willie Soon is best known, according to The Guardian, for his view that climate change is caused by solar variation and not human-induced. Although not a climate scientist but an astrophysicist, Soon has written about climate change. Last summer, Soon admitted to receiving more than $1 million in the past decade from major U.S. oil and coal companies, including ExxonMobil and (drum roll, please) Koch Industries.

    Now for another example: Open Secrets lists the amount of money that major U.S. oil and gas companies gave to Congress:

    • Exxon Mobil $958,373
    • Oxbow Carbon & Minerals $750,250
    • Koch Industries $655,400
    • Chevron Corp $550,246

    That’s a lot of money pumping into Congress from the very corporations who give money to climate change opposition groups.

    How science can be protected from corporate influence

    The UCS report lists five areas where the federal government needs to protect science from undue corporate influence:

    • Protecting government scientists from retaliation and intimidation
    • Making government more transparent and accountable
    • Reforming the regulatory process
    • Strengthening scientific advice to government
    • Strengthening monitoring and enforcement

      It will take more than just the government to protect science from the tentacles of companies like Koch Industries. The report also lists what corporations, nonprofits, academic institutions, scientific societies and the media need to do:

      • Promote honest scientific investigation and open discussion of research results
      • Refrain from actual or perceived acts of scientific misconduct
      • Embrace transparency and avoid conflicts of interest

      As oil and gas companies pump insane amounts of money into climate change denial campaigns, the planet and its people continues to suffer the effects of climate change. Clearly, it is time for the government and the American people to wake up to the fact that the biggest crisis this planet has ever faced is upon us. Perhaps it will take an effort as big and attention grabbing as the Occupy movement, and maybe, just maybe, that very movement is paving the way for such an effort.

       

      Related Stories:

      Leaked Documents From Climate Denialism Lobbyists Revealed

      Koch Bros. Desperate to Detach Themselves From Keystone Pipeline

      The Koch Brothers Cancer Connection

       

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      Photo credits: Flickr user, Thomas Hawk

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      124 comments

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      8:08AM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

      None of this is new or news. Those of us who are surprised by these issues have had our heads buried in the sand, or under our covers, or wherever we hide from those horrors that seem so great we can't stop them (mostly stemming from greed). That's why we can't stop them: we feel overwhelmed, and helpless; however, in the numbers available through care2 we have found power.

      1:02PM PDT on Mar 17, 2012

      Bayer, Monsanto Kellogg and many others both paid think tanks to generate papers and paid colleges for studies that either support them, or don't get published. In addition, Monsanto in particular is notorious for stopping studies at premature points where little can be accurately measured, plus setting up licencing agreements with all their buyers that will make them crushingly financially liable if any of the seeds are taken out to be used in a real study. That means that the seeds can only be donated for studies anonymously... when means the studies would not hold up in court.

      Dirty Birds

      12:35PM PST on Mar 1, 2012

      Well - if we really think about it - then this story is not that new.
      Maybe the church and big corporations should marry and live happily ever after on the planet of delusion, corruption and lies. They could kill their environment, enslave and destroy their resources. Deny health insurance, be cramped due to overpopulation, smoke big cigars and pet their fat bellies after each abundant meal of genetically engineered foods. They have my blessings!
      But as long as they live on my planet I will scream, write, petition, demonstrate and educate for as long as I draw breath and things are not the way they should be!

      2:46AM PST on Mar 1, 2012

      Setting aside the matter of it s business practices, how does Monsanto engage in the deliberate false teaching of Science?

      2:41AM PST on Mar 1, 2012

      How Big Business Tries To Corrupt Science -

      How did you forget Monsanto, the monster company?

      They think that it is their business to corrupt not only science but also everything and everyone else, because, human greed knows no bounds. We are willing to anything for the sake of money.

      11:06AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

      One hand washes the other has always influenced government and big industry. It's not surprising at all. What does surprise is the gullibility of the public. We have never been privy to true scientific information. It has always been controlled by the churches and Royalty and those with money. I do believe that climate change is inevitable as part of the earth's natural cycle. However, this does not mean that we should feel free to accelerate it. Some of the local colleges are the best places to hang out if you're interested in hearing independent thinking. These young students and professors are enthusiastic and not confined to a little cube of thought or controlled by money.

      5:01PM PST on Feb 28, 2012

      That, Mary, owes to Harper's interests laying with Big Oil, just as is the case for our Republicans down here.

      7:13AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

      While oil also somewhat controls scientists here in Canada, the scientists are being "muzzled" far more effectively by Harper's majority government than they are by any corporate interests. We need to keep our government from actively interfering in Science. The Scientists are (mostly) trying to do the right thing, but we the Canadian people, seem to have no legal right to read their findings, unless they conform to government policy.

      1:26AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

      Lih Y., could you please re-write that in distinctly separate and complete sentences so that we might understand your meanings?

      5:43PM PST on Feb 27, 2012

      Hopefully the truth will win. These corrupt companies need to be made accountable.

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