ExxonMobil (XOM) gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and 2005 in an effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming, the Union of Concerned Scientists asserted Wednesday.So says USA Today, treading the fine line between truth and propaganda in "Group: ExxonMobil paid to mislead public"
The report by the advocacy group mirrors similar claims by Britain's leading scientific academy. Last September, The Royal Society wrote the oil company asking it to halt support for groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change."
ExxonMobil called the scientists' report Wednesday "yet another attempt to smear our name and confuse the discussion of the serious issue of CO2 emissions and global climate change."It's a wonderful illusion, is it not? For only -- what? a tiny fraction of their profits over the same period.
ExxonMobil lists on its website nearly $133 million in 2005 contributions globally, including $6.8 million for "public information and policy research" distributed to more than 140 think tanks, universities, foundations, associations and other groups. Some of those have publicly disputed any link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists' strategy and policy director, said in a teleconference that ExxonMobil based its tactics on those of tobacco companies, spreading uncertainty by misrepresenting peer-reviewed scientific studies or emphasizing only selected facts.
Dr. James McCarthy, a professor at Harvard University, said the company has sought to "create the illusion of a vigorous debate" about global warming.
The company said its financial support doesn't mean control over any group's views.... or even if it can prevent (or forestall) such decisions ... And of course there is "value" to ExxonMobil in "the debate". Because as long as the debate rages there are potential excuses for inaction.
"We find some of them persuasive and enlightening, and some not," ExxonMobil spokesman Dave Gardner said. "But there is value in the debate they prompt if it can lead to better informed and more optimal public policy decisions."
And all this for only 16 million over 7 years? How pathetic!