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Some Like It Hot

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  • Mike Neuman
    Some Like It Hot Forty public policy groups have this in common: They seek to undermine the scientific consensus that humans are causing the earth to overheat.
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 25, 2005
      Some Like It Hot

      Forty public policy groups have this in common: They seek to
      undermine the scientific consensus that humans are causing the earth
      to overheat. And they all get money from ExxonMobil.

      Chris Mooney

      May/June 2005 Issue WHEN NOVELIST MICHAEL CRICHTON took the stage
      before a lunchtime crowd in Washington, D.C., one Friday in late
      January, the event might have seemed, at first, like one more
      unremarkable appearance by a popular author with a book to sell.
      Indeed, Crichton had just such a book, his new thriller, State of
      Fear. But the content of the novel, the setting of the talk, and the
      audience who came to listen transformed the Crichton event into
      something closer to a hybrid of campaign rally and undergraduate
      seminar. State of Fear is an anti-environmentalist page-turner in
      which shady ecoterrorists plot catastrophic weather disruptions to
      stoke unfounded fears about global climate change. However
      fantastical the book's story line, its author was received as an
      expert by the sharply dressed policy wonks crowding into the plush
      Wohlstetter Conference Center of the American Enterprise Institute
      for Public Policy Research (AEI). In his introduction, AEI president
      and former Reagan budget official Christopher DeMuth praised the
      author for conveying "serious science with a sense of drama to a
      popular audience." The title of the lecture was "Science
      Policy in
      the 21st Century."

      Crichton is an M.D. with a basketball player's stature (he's
      6 feet 9
      inches), and his bearing and his background exude authority. He
      describes himself as "contrarian by nature," but his words on
      day did not run counter to the sentiment of his AEI listeners. "I
      spent the last several years exploring environmental issues,
      particularly global warming," Crichton told them solemnly.
      "I've been
      deeply disturbed by what I found, largely because the evidence for so
      many environmental issues is, from my point of view, shockingy flawed
      and unsubstantiated." Crichton then turned to bashing a 1998
      study of
      historic temperature change that has been repeatedly singled out for
      attack by conservatives.

      There is overwhelming scientific consensus that greenhouse gases
      emitted by human activity are causing global average temperatures to
      rise. Conservative think tanks are trying to undermine this
      conclusion with a disinformation campaign employing "reports"
      designed to look like a counterbalance to peer-reviewed studies,
      skeptic propaganda masquerading as journalism, and events like the
      AEI luncheon that Crichton addressed. The think tanks provide both
      intellectual cover for those who reject what the best science
      currently tells us, and ammunition for conservative policymakers like
      Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chair of the Environment and
      Public Works Committee, who calls global warming "a hoax."

      This concerted effort reflects the shared convictions of free-market,
      and thus antiregulatory, conservatives. But there's another
      factor at
      play. In addition to being supported by like-minded individuals and
      ideologically sympathetic foundations, these groups are funded by
      ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company. Mother Jones has
      some 40 ExxonMobil-funded organizations that either have sought to
      undermine mainstream scientific findings on global climate change or
      have maintained affiliations with a small group of "skeptic"
      scientists who continue to do so. Beyond think tanks, the count also
      includes quasi-journalistic outlets like Tech CentralStation.com (a
      website providing "news, analysis, research, and commentary"
      received $95,000 from ExxonMobil in 2003), a FoxNews.com columnist,
      and even religious and civil rights groups. In total, these
      organizations received more than $8 million between 2000 and 2003
      (the last year for which records are available; all figures below are
      for that range unless otherwise noted). ExxonMobil chairman and CEO
      Lee Raymond serves as vice chairman of the board of trustees for the
      AEI, which received $960,000 in funding from ExxonMobil. The AEI-
      Brookings Institution Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, which
      officially hosted Crichton, received another $55,000. When asked
      about the event, the center's executive director, Robert
      Hahn—who's a
      fellow with the AEI—defended it, saying, "Climate science is
      a field
      in which reasonable experts can disagree." (By contrast, on the
      of the event, the Brookings Institution posted a scathing critique of
      Crichton's book.)

      During the question-and-answer period following his speech, Crichton
      drew an analogy between believers in global warming and Nazi
      eugenicists. "Auschwitz exists because of politicized
      Crichton asserted, to gasps from some in the crowd. There was no
      acknowledgment that the AEI event was part of an attempt to do just
      that: politicize science. The audience at hand was certainly full of
      partisans. Listening attentively was Myron Ebell, a man recently
      censured by the British House of Commons for "unfounded and
      criticism of Sir David King, the Government's Chief
      Scientist." Ebell
      is the global warming and international policy director of the
      Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which has received a whopping
      $1,380,000 from ExxonMobil. Sitting in the back of the room was
      Christopher Horner, the silver-haired counsel to the Cooler Heads
      Coalition who's also a CEI senior fellow. Present also was Paul
      Driessen, a senior fellow with the Committee for a Constructive
      Tomorrow ($252,000) and the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise
      ($40,000 in 2003). Saying he's "heartened that ExxonMobil and
      couple of other groups have stood up and said, `this is not
      science,'" Driessen, who is white, has made it his mission to
      Kyoto-style emissions regulations as an attack on people of
      recent book is entitled Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death
      (see "Black Gold?"). Driessen has also written about the role
      think tanks can play in helping corporations achieve their
      objectives. Such outlets "can provide research, present credible
      independent voices on a host of issues, indirectly influence opinion
      and political leaders, and promote responsible social and economic
      agendas," he advised companies in a 2001 essay published in
      PR News. "They have extensive networks among scholars, academics,
      scientists, journalists, community leaders and politicians…. You
      be amazed at how much they do with so little."

      THIRTY YEARS AGO, the notion that corporations ought to sponsor think
      tanks that directly support their own political goals—rather than
      merely fund disinterested research—was far more controversial.
      then, in 1977, an associate of the AEI (which was founded as a
      business association in 1943) came to industry's rescue. In an
      published in the Wall Street Journal, the influential neoconservative
      Irving Kristol memorably counseled that "corporate philanthropy
      should not be, and cannot be, disinterested," but should serve as
      means "to shape or reshape the climate of public opinion."

      Kristol's advice was heeded, and today many businesses give to
      policy groups that support a laissez-faire, antiregulatory agenda. In
      its giving report, ExxonMobil says it supports public policy groups
      that are "dedicated to researching free market solutions to
      problems." What the company doesn't say is that beyond merely
      challenging the Kyoto Protocol or the McCain-Lieberman Climate
      Stewardship Act on economic grounds, many of these groups explicitly
      dispute the science of climate change. Generally eschewing peer-
      reviewed journals, these groups make their challenges in far less
      stringent arenas, such as the media and public forums.

      Pressed on this point, spokeswoman Lauren Kerr says that
      has been quite transparent and vocal regarding the fact that we, as
      do multiple organizations and respected institutions and researchers,
      believe that the scientific evidence on greenhouse gas emissions
      remains inconclusive and that studies must continue." She also
      hastens to point out that ExxonMobil generously supports university
      research programs—for example, the company plans to donate $100
      million to Stanford University's Global Climate and Energy
      It even funds the hallowed National Academy of Sciences.

      Nevertheless, no company appears to be working harder to support
      those who debunk global warming. "Many corporations have funded,
      know, dribs and drabs here and there, but I would be surprised to
      learn that there was a bigger one than Exxon," explains Ebell of
      Competitive Enterprise Institute, which, in 2000 and again in 2003,
      sued the government to stop the dissemination of a Clinton-era report
      showing the impact of climate change in the United States. Attorney
      Christopher Horner—whom you'll recall from Crichton's
      the lead attorney in both lawsuits and is paid a $60,000 annual
      consulting fee by the CEI. In 2002, ExxonMobil explicitly earmarked
      $60,000 for the CEI for "legal activities."

      Ebell denies the sum indicates any sort of quid pro quo. He's
      of ExxonMobil's funding and wishes "we could attract more
      from other
      companies." He stresses that the CEI solicits funding for general
      project areas rather than to carry out specific sponsor requests, but
      admits being steered (as other public policy groups are steered) to
      the topics that garner grant money. While noting that the CEI
      is "adamantly opposed" to the Endangered Species Act, Ebell
      that "we are only working on it in a limited way now, because we
      couldn't attract funding."

      EXXONMOBIL'S FUNDING OF THINK TANKS hardly compares with its
      expenditures—$55 million over the past six years, according to
      Center for Public Integrity. And neither figure takes much of a bite
      out of the company's net earnings—$25.3 billion last year.
      Nevertheless, "ideas lobbying" can have a powerful public

      Consider attacks by friends of ExxonMobil on the Arctic Climate
      Impact Assessment (ACIA). A landmark international study that
      combined the work of some 300 scientists, the ACIA, released last
      November, had been four years in the making. Commissioned by the
      Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum that includes the United
      States, the study warned that the Arctic is warming "at almost
      the rate as that of the rest of the world," and that early
      impacts of
      climate change, such as melting sea ice and glaciers, are already
      apparent and "will drastically shrink marine habitat for polar
      ice-inhabiting seals, and some seabirds, pushing some species toward
      extinction." Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) was so troubled by the
      report that he called for a Senate hearing.

      Industry defenders shelled the study, and, with a dearth of science
      to marshal to their side, used opinion pieces and press releases
      instead. "Polar Bear Scare on Thin Ice," blared FoxNews.com
      Steven Milloy, an adjunct scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute
      ($75,000 from ExxonMobil) who also publishes the website
      JunkScience.com. Two days later the conservative Washington Times
      published the same column. Neither outlet disclosed that Milloy, who
      debunks global warming concerns regularly, runs two organizations
      that receive money from ExxonMobil. Between 2000 and 2003, the
      company gave $40,000 to the Advancement of Sound Science Center,
      which is registered to Milloy's home address in Potomac,
      according to IRS documents. ExxonMobil gave another $50,000 to the
      Free Enterprise Action Institute—also registered to Milloy's
      residence. Under the auspices of the intriguingly like-named Free
      Enterprise Education Institute, Milloy publishes CSRWatch.com, a site
      that attacks the corporate social responsibility movement. Milloy did
      not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article; a Fox
      News spokesman stated that Milloy is "affiliated with several
      profit groups that possibly may receive funding from Exxon, but he
      certainly does not receive funding directly from Exxon."

      Setting aside any questions about Milloy's journalistic ethics,
      on a
      purely scientific level, his attack on the ACIA was comically inept.
      Citing a single graph from a 146-page overview of a 1,200-plus- page,
      fully referenced report, Milloy claimed that the document "pretty
      much debunks itself" because high Arctic temperatures "around
      suggest that the current temperature spike could be chalked up to
      natural variability. "In order to take that position,"
      Harvard biological oceanographer James McCarthy, a lead author of the
      report, "you have to refute what are hundreds of scientific
      that reconstruct various pieces of this climate puzzle."

      Nevertheless, Milloy's charges were quickly echoed by other
      TechCentralStation.com published a letter to Senator McCain from
      11 "climate experts," who asserted that recent Arctic warming
      was not
      at all unusual in comparison to "natural variability in centuries
      past." Meanwhile, the conservative George C. Marshall Institute
      ($310,000) issued a press release asserting that the Arctic report
      was based on "unvalidated climate models and scenarios…that
      little resemblance to reality and how the future is likely to
      evolve." In response, McCain said, "General Marshall was a
      American. I think he might be very embarrassed to know that his name
      was being used in this disgraceful fashion."

      The day of McCain's hearing, the Competitive Enterprise Institute
      out its own press release, citing the aforementioned critiques as if
      they should be considered on a par with the massive, exhaustively
      reviewed Arctic report: "The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment,
      despite its recent release, has already generated analysis pointing
      out numerous flaws and distortions." The Vancouver-based Fraser
      Institute ($60,000 from ExxonMobil in 2003) also weighed in, calling
      the Arctic warming report "an excellent example of the favoured
      technique of the anti-energy activists: pumping largely unjustifiable
      assumptions about the future into simplified computer models to
      conjure up a laundry list of scary projections." In the same
      the Fraser Institute declared that "2004 has been one of the
      years in recent history." A month later the United Nations'
      Meteorological Organization would pronounce 2004 to be "the
      warmest year in the temperature record since 1861."

      Frank O'Donnell, of Clean Air Watch, likens ExxonMobil's
      strategy to
      that of "a football quarterback who doesn't want to throw to
      receiver, but rather wants to spread it around to a number of
      different receivers." In the case of the ACIA, this echo-chamber
      offense had the effect of creating an appearance of scientific
      controversy. Senator Inhofe—who received nearly $290,000 from oil
      gas companies, including ExxonMobil, for his 2002 reelection
      prominently cited the Marshall Institute's work in his own
      of the latest science.

      TO BE SURE, that science wasn't always as strong as it is today.
      until fairly recently, virtually the entire fossil fuels industry—
      automakers, utilities, coal companies, even railroads—joined
      ExxonMobil in challenging it.

      The concept of global warming didn't enter the public
      until the 1980s. During a sweltering summer in 1988, pioneering NASA
      climatologist James Hansen famously told Congress he believed
      with "99 percent confidence" that a long-term warming trend
      begun, probably caused by the greenhouse effect. As environmentalists
      and some in Congress began to call for reduced emissions from the
      burning of fossil fuels, industry fought back.

      In 1989, the petroleum and automotive industries and the National
      Association of Manufacturers forged the Global Climate Coalition to
      oppose mandatory actions to address global warming. Exxon—later
      ExxonMobil—was a leading member, as was the American Petroleum
      Institute, a trade organization for which Exxon's CEO Lee Raymond
      twice served as chairman. "They were a strong player in the
      Climate Coalition, as were many other sectors of the economy,"
      former GCC spokesman Frank Maisano.

      Drawing upon a cadre of skeptic scientists, during the early and mid-
      1990s the GCC sought to emphasize the uncertainties of climate
      science and attack the mathematical models used to project future
      climate changes. The group and its proxies challenged the need for
      action on global warming, called the phenomenon natural rather than
      man-made, and even flatly denied it was happening. Maisano insists,
      how ever, that after the Kyoto Protocol emerged in 1997, the group
      focused its energies on making economic arguments rather than
      challenging science.

      Even as industry mobilized the forces of skepticism, however, an
      international scientific collaboration emerged that would change the
      terms of the debate forever. In 1988, under the auspices of the
      United Nations, scientists and government officials inaugurated the
      Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a global scientific
      body that would eventually pull together thousands of experts to
      evaluate the issue, becoming the gold standard of climate science. In
      the IPCC's first assessment report, published in 1990, the
      remained open to reasonable doubt. But the IPCC's second report,
      completed in 1995, concluded that amid purely natural factors shaping
      the climate, humankind's distinctive fingerprint was evident. And
      with the release of the IPCC's third assessment in 2001, a strong
      consensus had emerged: Notwithstanding some role for natural
      variability, human-created greenhouse gas emissions could, if left
      unchecked, ramp up global average temperatures by as much as 5.8
      degrees Celsius (or 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by the year
      2100. "Consensus as strong as the one that has developed around
      topic is rare in science," wrote Science Editor-in-Chief Donald
      Kennedy in a 2001 editorial.

      Even some leading corporations that had previously
      supported "skepticism" were converted. Major oil companies
      Shell, Texaco, and British Petroleum, as well as automobile
      manufacturers like Ford, General Motors, and DaimlerChrysler,
      abandoned the Global Climate Coalition, which itself became inactive
      after 2002.

      Yet some forces of denial—most notably ExxonMobil and the
      Petroleum Institute, of which ExxonMobil is a leading
      recalcitrant. In 1998, the New York Times exposed an API memo
      outlining a strategy to invest millions to "maximize the impact
      scientific views consistent with ours with Congress, the media and
      other key audiences." The document stated: "Victory will be
      when…recognition of uncertainty becomes part of the
      wisdom.'" It's hard to resist a comparison with a famous
      Brown and
      Williamson tobacco company memo from the late 1960s, which
      observed: "Doubt is our product since it is the best means of
      competing with the `body of fact' that exists in the mind of
      general public. It is also the means of establishing a

      Though ExxonMobil's Lauren Kerr says she doesn't know the
      "status of
      this reported plan" and an API spokesman says he could "find
      evidence" that it was ever implemented, many of the players
      have continued to dispute mainstream climate science with funding
      from ExxonMobil. According to the memo, Jeffrey Salmon, then
      executive director of the George C. Marshall Institute, helped
      develop the plan, as did Steven Milloy, now a FoxNews.com columnist.
      Other participants included David Rothbard of the Committee for a
      Constructive Tomorrow ($252,000) and the Competitive Enterprise
      Institute's Myron Ebell, then with Frontiers of Freedom
      Ebell says the plan was never implemented because "the envisioned
      funding never got close to being realized."

      Another contributor was ExxonMobil lobbyist Randy Randol, who
      recently retired but who seems to have plied his trade effectively
      during George W. Bush's first term. Less than a month after Bush
      office, Randol sent a memo to the White House Council on
      Environmental Quality (CEQ). The memo denounced the then chairman of
      the IPCC, Robert Watson, a leading atmospheric scientist, as
      someone "handpicked by Al Gore" whose real objective was to
      media coverage for his views." (When the memo's existence was
      reported, ExxonMobil took the curious position that Randol did
      forward it to the CEQ, but neither he nor anyone else at the company
      wrote it.) "Can Watson be replaced now at the request of the
      the memo asked. It went on to single out other Clinton administration
      climate experts, asking whether they had been "removed from their
      positions of influence."

      It was, in short, an industry hit list of climate scientists attached
      to the U.S. government. A year later the Bush administration blocked
      Watson's reelection to the post of IPCC chairman.

      PERHAPS THE MOST SURPRISING aspect of ExxonMobil's support of the
      think tanks waging the disinformation campaign is that, given its
      close ties to the Bush administration (which cited
      science as justification to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol), it's
      hard to see why the company would even need such pseudo-scientific
      cover. In 1998, Dick Cheney, then CEO of Halliburton, signed a letter
      to the Clinton administration challenging its approach to Kyoto. Less
      than three weeks after Cheney assumed the vice presidency, he met
      with ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond for a half-hour. Officials of the
      corporation also met with Cheney's notorious energy task force.

      ExxonMobil's connections to the current administration go much
      deeper, filtering down into lower but crucially important tiers of
      policymaking. For example, the memo forwarded by Randy Randol
      recommended that Harlan Watson, a Republican staffer with the House
      Committee on Science, help the United States' diplomatic efforts
      regarding climate change. Watson is now the State
      Department's "senior climate negotiator." Similarly, the
      administration appointed former American Petroleum Institute attorney
      Philip Cooney—who headed the institute's "climate
      team" and opposed
      the Kyoto Protocol—as chief of staff of the White House Council
      Environmental Quality. In June 2003 the New York Times reported that
      the CEQ had watered down an Environmental Protection Agency
      discussion of climate change, leading EPA scientists to charge that
      the document "no longer accurately represents scientific

      Then there are the sisters Dobriansky. Larisa Dobriansky, currently
      the deputy assistant secretary for national energy policy at the
      Department of Energy—in which capacity she's charged with
      the department's Office of Climate Change Policy—was
      previously a
      lobbyist with the firm Akin Gump, where she worked on climate change
      for ExxonMobil. Her sister, Paula Dobriansky, currently serves as
      undersecretary for global affairs in the State Department. In that
      role, Paula Dobriansky recently headed the U.S. delegation to a
      United Nations meeting on the Kyoto Protocol in Buenos Aires, where
      she charged that "science tells us that we cannot say with any
      certainty what constitutes a dangerous level of warming, and
      therefore what level must be avoided."

      Indeed, the rhetoric of scientific uncertainty has been Paula
      Dobriansky's stock-in-trade. At a November 2003 panel sponsored
      the AEI, she declared, "the extent to which the man-made portion
      greenhouse gases is causing temperatures to rise is still unknown, as
      are the long-term effects of this trend. Predicting what will happen
      50 or 100 years in the future is difficult."

      Given Paula Dobriansky's approach to climate change, it will come
      little surprise that memos uncovered by Greenpeace show that in 2001,
      within months of being confirmed by the Senate, Dobriansky met with
      ExxonMobil lobbyist Randy Randol and the Global Climate Coalition.
      For her meeting with the latter group, one of Dobriansky's
      talking points was "POTUS [President Bush in Secret Service
      rejected Kyoto, in part, based on input from you." The documents
      show that Dobriansky met with ExxonMobil executives to discuss
      climate policy just days after September 11, 2001. A State Department
      official confirmed that these meetings took place, but adds that
      Dobriansky "meets with pro-Kyoto groups as well."

      RECENTLY, NAOMI ORESKES, a science historian at the University of
      California at San Diego, reviewed nearly a thousand scientific papers
      on global climate change published between 1993 and 2003, and was
      unable to find one that explicitly disagreed with the consensus view
      that humans are contributing to the phenomenon. As Oreskes hastens to
      add, that doesn't mean no such studies exist. But given the size
      her sample, about 10 percent of the papers published on the topic,
      she thinks it's safe to assume that the number is
      "vanishingly small."

      What do the conservative think tanks do when faced with such an
      obstacle? For one, they tend to puff up debates far beyond their
      scientific significance. A case study is the "controversy"
      over the
      work of University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann.
      Drawing upon the work of several independent teams of scientists,
      including Mann and his colleagues, the Intergovernmental Panel on
      Climate Change's 2001 report asserted that "the increase in
      temperature in the 20th century is likely to have been the largest of
      any century during the past 1,000 years." This statement was
      by a graph, based on one of the Mann group's studies, showing
      relatively modest temperature variations over the past thousand years
      and a dramatic spike upward in the 20th century. Due to its
      appearance, this famous graph has been dubbed the "hockey

      During his talk at the AEI, Michael Crichton attacked the "hockey
      stick," calling it "sloppy work." He's hardly the
      first to have done
      so. A whole cottage industry has sprung up to criticize this
      analysis, much of it linked to ExxonMobil-funded think tanks. At a
      recent congressional briefing sponsored by the Marshall Institute,
      Senator Inhofe described Mann's work as the "primary sci-
      data" on which the IPCC's 2001 conclusions were based. That
      is simply
      incorrect. Mann points out that he's hardly the only scientist to
      produce a "hockey stick" graph—other teams of scientists
      have come up
      with similar reconstructions of past temperatures. And even if
      work and all of the other studies that served as the basis for the
      IPCC's statement on the temperature record are wrong, that would
      in any way invalidate the conclusion that humans are currently
      causing rising temperatures. "There's a whole independent
      line of
      evidence, some of it very basic physics," explains Mann.

      Nevertheless, the ideological allies of ExxonMobil virulently attack
      Mann's work, as if discrediting him would somehow put global
      concerns to rest. This idée fixe seems to have begun with Willie
      and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for
      Astrophysics. Both have been "senior scientists" with the
      Institute. Soon serves as "science director" to
      TechCentralStation.com, is an adjunct scholar with Frontiers of
      Freedom, and wrote (with Baliunas) the Fraser Institute's
      pamphlet "Global Warming: A Guide to the Science." Baliunas,
      meanwhile, is "enviro-sci host" of TechCentral, and is on
      advisory boards of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and the
      Annapolis Center for Science-based Public Policy ($427,500 from
      ExxonMobil), and has given speeches on climate science before the AEI
      and the Heritage Foundation ($340,000). (Neither Soon nor Baliunas
      would provide comment for this article.)

      In 2003, Soon and Baliunas published an article, partly funded by the
      American Petroleum Institute, in a small journal called Climate
      Research. Presenting a review of existing literature rather than new
      research, the two concluded "the 20th century is probably not the
      warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last
      millennium." They had, in effect, challenged both Mann and the
      and in so doing presented global warming skeptics with a cause to
      rally around. Another version of the paper was quickly published with
      three additional authors: David Legates of the University of
      Delaware, and longtime skeptics Craig and Sherwood Idso of the Center
      for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change in Tempe, Arizona.
      All have ExxonMobil connections: the Idsos received $40,000 from
      ExxonMobil for their center in the year the study was published,
      while Legates is an adjunct scholar at the Dallas-based National
      Center for Policy Analysis (which got $205,000 between 2000 and 2003).

      Calling the paper "a powerful new work of science" that would
      the timbers of the adrift Chicken Little crowd," Senator Inhofe
      devoted half of a Senate hearing to it, bringing in both Soon and
      Legates to testify against Mann. The day before, Hans Von Storch, the
      editor-in-chief of Climate Research—where the Soon and Baliunas
      originally appeared—resigned to protest deficiencies in the
      process that led to its publication; two editors soon joined him. Von
      Storch later told the Chronicle of Higher Education that climate
      science skeptics "had identified Climate Research as a journal
      some editors were not as rigorous in the review process as is
      otherwise common." Meanwhile, Mann and 12 other leading climate
      scientists wrote a blistering critique of Soon and Baliunas'
      paper in
      the American Geophysical Union publication Eos, noting, among other
      flaws, that they'd used historic precipitation records to
      past temperatures—an approach Mann told Congress was

      ON FEBRUARY 16, 2005, 140 nations celebrated the ratification of the
      Kyoto Protocol. In the weeks prior, as the friends of ExxonMobil
      scrambled to inoculate the Bush administration from the bad press
      that would inevitably result from America's failure to sign this
      international agreement to curb global warming, a congressional
      briefing was organized. Held in a somber, wood-paneled Senate hearing
      room, the event could not help but have an air of authority. Like the
      Crichton talk, however, it was hardly objective. Sponsored by the
      George C. Marshall Institute and the Cooler Heads Coalition, the
      briefing's panel of experts featured Myron Ebell, attorney
      Christopher Horner, and Marshall's CEO William O'Keefe,
      formerly an
      executive at the American Petroleum Institute and chairman of the
      Global Climate Coalition.

      But it was the emcee, Senator Inhofe, who best represented the spirit
      of the event. Stating that Crichton's novel should be
      reading," the ruddy-faced senator asked for a show of hands to
      who had finished it. He attacked the "hockey stick" graph and
      the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment for having "no footnotes or
      citations," as indeed the ACIA "overview"
      report—designed to be
      a "plain language synthesis" of the fully referenced
      report—does not. But never mind, Inhofe had done his own
      research. He
      whipped out a 1974 issue of Time magazine and, in mocking tones, read
      from a 30-year-old article that expressed concerns over cooler global
      temperatures. In a folksy summation, Inhofe again called the notion
      that humans are causing global warming "a hoax," and said
      that those
      who believe otherwise are "hysterical people, they love hysteria.
      We're dealing with religion." Having thus dismissed some
      scientists, their data sets and temperature records, and evidence of
      melting glaciers, shrinking islands, and vanishing habitats as so
      many hysterics, totems, and myths, Inhofe vowed to stick up for the
      truth, as he sees it, and "fight the battle out on the Senate

      Seated in the front row of the audience, former ExxonMobil lobbyist
      Randy Randol looked on approvingly.

      Chris Mooney is a senior correspondent for the American Prospect,
      where he helped create the popular blog Tapped. His writing focuses
      on the intersection of science and politics, and his first book, The
      Republican War on Science, will be published in September.
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