Big Oil Funding of Climate Denial – An Examination of the Thesis

It is a common them by those who most dogmatically support the climate change agenda that the opposition are funded by big oil and similarly evil companies. There are potentially a number of angles to this viewpoint.

  1. If money does influence outcomes then we should see that where money on one side is hundreds of times greater than a ragbag of critics, then the critics will be drowned out. This is clearly not the case.
  2. When political parties complain of a money bias, this often goes hand-in-hand of complaints of media bias. But in the global warming sceptics have the most grounds for complaint on the media front. For instance the policies of the BBC and Guardian Newspaper.
  3. Maybe then the sceptics are winning, despite the lack of funds and despite the strong media bias against them, because they are using inappropriate language. My belief is that it is the mainstream who are guilty of intolerant and misleading language.
  4. Maybe the outside money has led to sceptics having undue influence on decision-making, subverting the democratic process. Like the WWF has achieved with the IPCC process?
  5. Maybe the sceptics are guilty of campaigns to misrepresent the status of the science. Like the eco activists “cajoling” scientific organisations to make political proclamations?
  6. Maybe it is the source of funding that creates the greatest bias. In the case of big oil money, if they decided to fund both ways, there are two ways to go. Either, the credibility of both sides is forever tainted, or, if the money was loaded massively one way, then on one side is tainted far more than the other.
  7. Maybe it is because big oil funds climate denial that we should be most concerned. The alternative explanation is that public knowledge of the funding will lead to attacks by environmental groups. To support of attacks by environmental groups (and hence viewing the secrecy of “denial” funding) require two moral points to be maintained. The first is that the views supported are evil. Second, that character assassination, or blockading of premises, or physical attacks on opponents are legitimate ways of opposing those you disagree with.
  8. Maybe, big oil could be viewed by some as being immoral or evil. Others might view with suspicion funding from anyone who makes their money in the gambling industry (especially if they pleaded guilty to money laundering in connection to those activities). They may also view with suspicion currency market speculators, especially one who made over $1bn at the expense of UK taxpayers.
  9. Maybe it is only recent big oil funding that has tainted the policy outcomes. The alleged bad reputation of the oil industry was largely down to one individual in creating a virtual US monopoly in oil production in the late nineteenth century. I do not see a similar smearing of the activities of the foundation created with the ultimate in big oil money.

In short I can see no valid reason to base rejection of critical viewpoints on climate change simply because of unsubstantiated allegations of big oil funding.

I offer an alternative view of those who make these allegations. The belief in “evil funding” stems from a belief they are guardians of some fundamental and irrefutable truths. Furthermore, these truths are concerning a future apocalypse. By implication, those who have an unwillingness to accept that truth is due to out-right lying, or having being deceived by some evil entities, or because they are not right in the head. Historically, those who have maintained to be Truth Guardians, have never substantiated their arguments or allowed for error, or allowed the slightest deviation. Instead they have sought to discourage or prevent people exploring alternatives, knowing deep down that the process of questioning will lead to the understanding that their beliefs are either extreme or in many respects wrong.

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