Portrait of an Environmental Hack Job

As the world-wide response to global warming builds, it’s bound to happen. The entrentched interests trot out their lackeys to muddy up the debate.

Some companies and industries have huge investments in keeping things the way they are. They want to slow down government regulation or citizen action that could impact their profits. The oil and auto industries, for example, could lose billions if new regulations impact their operations.

More than that, the individual and corporate investors behind these industries stand to lose. These are millionaires and billionaires who have huge sums of money on the line. And what has worked for them over the last 20-30 years has been the funding of ‘think tanks’ to publish ‘research’, ‘reports’ and ‘studies’ to influence public opinion in their favor.

And so we have the case of Michael R. Fox, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Science, Climate and Environment for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

In a recent essay entitled When Physics Trumps Hysteria in Global Warming, Fox argues against global warming being caused by CO2 or having any man-made cause. Certainly, he implies, there’s no reason to think that humans may have anything to do with global warming. According to Fox, “It seems more logical that natural forces are still at work with warming and cooling our climate.”

Oh. “It seems more logical” to Mr. Fox that human activities have no impact on global warming. With a laser-like intellect like his, who wouldn’t believe him?

In fact, his arguments are laughable. What is causing global warming? Well, according to Fox, it must be “cosmic rays”!

And do the millions upon milions of cars around the world every day burning oil and exhausting CO2 have anything to do with global warming? No! Of course not! Where is the source of global warming? Why, according to Fox, “the streams of cosmic radiation originate from deep space sources both within our galaxy, the Milky Way, as well as from galaxies more distant.”

Imagine that. Cars and powerplants pouring CO2 into the atmosphere have nothing to do with Global Warming. The actual source of global warming is cosmic rays that originated long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

In Fox’s defense, he does mention off-hand the Danish Researcher Henrik Svensmark whose recent book The Chilling Stars: The New Theory of Climate Change has proposed the solar activity and cosmic rays are potentially a cause of global warming.

But even Henrik Svensmark acknowledges that CO2 is one of the sources of global warming. In an interview in Discover Magazine, Svensmark was asked about it:

Discover Magazine: Do you agree that carbon dioxide is having at least some impact on Earth’s current warming?

Svensmark: Yes, but you have to give the sun a role. If you include the sun in the right way, the effect of CO2 must be smaller. The question is, how much smaller?

But the point is how Fox portrayed the issue. By taking Svensmark’s work and using it as a springboard to the idea that human CO2 emissions have nothing to do with Global Warming is simply a joke.

So, why would Fox do this? Why is he writing on global warming at all?

Fox works for The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, an organization whose goal is to “study, analyze, publish and aggressively pursue creative self-government centered solutions. The individual and his or her search for meaning and happiness in a civil society is stressed.”

These are basic libertarian values that reflect it’s founder and CEO/President, Dick Rowland.

And what does Dick Rowland know about climate science? Not much — his official bio states, “he was a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual for 26 years before co-founding Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.” He also ran for the US Senate twice as a candidate from the Libertarian party.

So Fox works for a retired life insurance salesman who is a staunch libertarian. Hardly the kind of background you’d expect from someone running an institute publishing on climate change.

Also, according to their website, the Grassroot Institute counts among their supporters:

These organizations fund research with the sole purpose of influencing public debate for the greater good of their financial supporters — which are among the richest individuals and corporations in the world. Literally, they push the agendas of billionaires.

And what is Fox’s background? Well, here is his resume in PDF from the Heartland Institute’s website. It says he is an expert in Nuclear Energy and is a former industry lobbyist. The phrases “global warming” and “climate” appear nowhere on his resume — which spans over 37 years of technical work.

His resume does, however, state that he “Provided consultation to Industry in Homeland Securities activities. In particular addressing the issues surrounding radiological Weapons Of Mass Distruction (WMD)”.

Here’s some more work from Dr. Fox — his Comments on the Third U.S. Climate Action Report (CAR) published in 2001. Here is one gem from this publication:

Comment 12: Another statement is made that “greenhouse gasses are accumulating in the Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activity, causing global mean surface temperature and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise”. That greenhouse gases are increaseing in the Northern hemisphere is true, and is about the only point uncontested. The rest of the statement is probably false, and certainly unknowable at this time, and is unsupported by the existing body of science.

[Ed. The emphasis added above was mine. Later in the document...]

“This raises the real possibility that the temperature increases CAUSED the increase in CO2, not the reverse.”

Hmm — yeah, that’s it. CO2 doesn’t cause global warming, global warming causes CO2! What a total dipshit!

He also spent time in this document complaining about the goverment banning DDT – even though that ban has been widely credited as being a primary reason for the resurgence of the American Bald Eagle. At the time he wrote this document he was employed by defense contractor Bechtel, according to his resume.

So what’s the point of all this? It’s that solving the problems we have with global climate change won’t be easy. There will be people discrediting the research and throwing roadblocks at us everywhere we turn. But we need to be ready. We need to have our facts together and make sure we aggressively research the individuals and money behind those who are working against us.

For us to win in this fight, we have to be aware — and document and share everything we find.

2 thoughts on “Portrait of an Environmental Hack Job

  1. One problem I have with this whole issue is the concept of ’scientific consensus’. Consensus is a political, not scientific, term. Science requires research, experimentation and debate. But ‘consensus” is never the goal.

    Here’s an interesting, albeit non-scientific, exercise: You know there’s lot’s of information to find out there by doing a Google search for ‘global warming’, and a lot of it is quite scary; but try adding ‘climatologist’ to your search terms and the results – the ‘consensus’, if you will – changes dramatically. It’s quite interesting how many actual climatologists are anthropogenic global warming doubters, compared with the doomsayers who are mostly in other fields like geology, biology, journalism, politics, fashion, and entertainment.

    Try it -

    http://www.google.com/ search?hl=en&q=climatologist+global+warming

    And then consider this question – What causes ice ages? They are cyclical, as you know; so doesn’t it seem logical that the warming periods between ice ages are part of the same cycle? Go ahead and do another Google search. Also, I found some interesting info on the causes of ice ages in my kid’s 6th grade science textbook.

    And then ‘consider the source’ when you hear something about global warming. Al Gore, for instance, is making millions of dollars selling ‘carbon offsets’. Oil companies aren’t the only ones with a monetary interest here.

    I have found a good rule of thumb is to disbelieve ANYTHING a politician or salesman tells me (and keep my hand on my wallet) until I’ve done my own research. And listening to rock stars and movie actors on science questions is just a plain ol’ waste of time.

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