Planet Gore

Of Bucks and Biases

Planet Gore has frequently observed how climate alarmists love to point to (or merely insinuate) corporate funding underwriting the work of climate skeptics — holler “ExxonMobil!!” and warmists were sure their skeptical interlocutor’s arguments would be forever discredited. Meanwhile, the warmist side has been collecting far more cash from government, corporate, and foundation sources — so if grant recipients slavishly do a check-writer’s bidding, why should we trust them?
In discussing Climategate in the Financial Post, Kevin Libin notes not only the financial interests but the ideological blinders that can interfere with purely scientific inquiry.

[T]he events that have now been dubbed “Climategate” provide an important public service, reminding us that scientists, too, can be close-minded and crooked.

Environmental alarmists have long insinuated as much, baselessly smearing critical scientists — the esteemed MIT climatologist Richard Lindzen; former National Academy of Sciences president Frederick Seitz — as corrupt industry shills. James Hoggan, the chairman of the David Suzuki Foundation, calls skeptics “fake” scientists peddling “deception.” But having implied that scientists can be led astray, why assume only IPCC types are immune? The climate panic is, after all, rather big business itself (as Weaver’s publisher knows). The CRU alone lured $22 million in research grants; Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund raised almost a half-billion dollars last year; Al Gore made a mint investing in CO2-reducing firms.

It’s naïve to presume that nowhere could there be vested interests in this great slush of shekels. But it isn’t just money that can blind scientists to truth; they are, like us, mere emotional and fallible mortals. As David Resnik, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences bioethicist, has written, universities promote ethical research codes precisely because biases exist (though such codes are only as good as those upholding them). Bias happens, too, “when researchers fail to critically examine their work because they want to believe that their research is accurate,” Resnik notes. Or where they see only “what they want or expect to see.”

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