Big Oil, the American Enterprise Institute, and their War on Science


2-5-07, 9:40 am

Have an opinion on global warming? ExxonMobil-funded right-wing 'think'-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) might pay you to smear a recent report published by a United Nations committee that points out what most people have long understood: not only is global warming real, but humans play a big role in causing it. You could get $10,000.

According to recent media reports, AEI, which has received $1.6 million from ExxonMobil and which is widely considered to be little more than a mouthpiece for Bush administration policies, sent a letter to a number of scientists and economists, offering the payment along with additional stipends for travel and other expenses to criticize the report.

The report, authored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's most respected collection of experts on global warming, closely links temperature increases in the recent decades to human activity such as the emission of greenhouse gases caused by the use of fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal.

The report also points out that severe weather patterns – heat waves, catastrophic flooding, intense hurricanes, etc. – are the result of current global warming patterns. If current trends are left unaltered, a general rise in the sea level is predicted to reach as much as two feet or more over the next few decades, seriously threatening coastal cities with severe flooding.

While the majority of the countries of the world and most scientists consider global warming to be a fact that can still be reversed, the Bush administration and its oil company backers continue to block efforts to reign in the emission of greenhouse gases.

It is clear that AEI’s offer of bribes to scientists or economists to dispute these generally accepted findings is part of the attempt to block policy changes that they feel will negatively affect their financial patrons at ExxonMobil.

AEI dupes will likely try to claim that the principle of the 'free market' is threatened by the findings of the international scientific community and its recommendations for protecting the future of humanity. The 'free market' to them means that oil companies like their patrons at ExxonMobil should be allowed to destroy the earth for profits. The alternative is tyranny or socialism or something like that.

Well, the plain fact is that human survival is too important to be left up to wonks at AEI, a discredited and repudiated Bush administration, or corporate bureaucrats at ExxonMobil or any other corporation looking to make a fast buck. It is the free market that got us into trouble on this issue, and we need rational thought, fast intervention, and global cooperation to solve the problem.

Any report bought and paid for by AEI and ExxonMobil is simply worth more on the bottom of your bird cage than as a contribution to public discussion on the matter.

--Joel Wendland is managing editor at Political Affairs and can be reached at