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The climate industry wall of money

Posted By JoNova On March 4, 2010 @ 3:44 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

This is the copy of the file I sent the ABC Drum Unleashed. I’m grateful they are allowing both sides of the story to get some airtime (though Bob Carter’s , and Marc Hendrickx’s posts were both rejected. Hat-tip to Louis and Marc). Unfortunately the updated version I sent late yesterday which included some empirical references near the end was not posted until 4.30pm EST. (NB: The Australian spelling of skeptic is “sceptic”)

Somehow the tables have turned. For all the smears of big money funding the “deniers”, the numbers reveal that the sceptics are actually the true grassroots campaigners, while Greenpeace defends Wall St. How times have changed. Sceptics are fighting a billion dollar industry aligned with a trillion dollar trading scheme. Big Oil’s supposed evil influence has been vastly outdone by Big Government, and even those taxpayer billions are trumped by Big-Banking.

The big-money side of this debate has fostered a myth that sceptics write what they write because they are funded by oil profits. They say, follow the money? So I did and it’s chilling. Greens and environmentalists need to be aware each time they smear with an ad hominem attack they are unwittingly helping giant finance houses.

Follow the money

Money for Sceptics: Greenpeace has searched for funding for sceptics and found $23 million dollars paid by Exxon over ten years (which has stopped). Perhaps Greenpeace missed funding from other fossil fuel companies, but you can be sure that they searched. I wrote the Climate Money paper in July last year, and since then no one has claimed a larger figure. Big-Oil may well prefer it if emissions are not traded, but it’s not make-or-break for them. If all fossil fuels are in effect “taxed”, consumers will pay the tax anyhow, and past price rises in crude oil suggest consumers will not consume much less fuel, so profits won’t actually fall that much.

But in the end, everyone spends more on carbon friendly initiatives than on sceptics– even Exxon: (how about $100 million for Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project, and $600 million for Biofuels research). Some will complain that Exxon is massive and their green commitment was a tiny part of their profits, but the point is, what they spent on skeptics was even less.

Money for the Climate Industry: The US government spent $79 billion on climate research and technology since 1989 – to be sure, this funding paid for things like satellites and studies, but it’s 3,500 times as much as anything offered to sceptics. It buys a bandwagon of support, a repetitive rain of press releases, and includes PR departments of institutions like NOAA, NASA, the Climate Change Science Program and the Climate Change Technology Program. The $79 billion figure does not include money from other western governments, private industry, and is not adjusted for inflation. In other words, it could be…a lot bigger.

For direct PR comparisons though, just look at “Think Climate Think Change“: the Australian Government put $13.9 million into just one quick advertising campaign. There is no question that there are vastly more financial rewards for people who promote a carbon-made catastrophe than for those who point out the flaws in the theory.

Ultimately the big problem is that there are no grants for scientists to demonstrate that carbon has little effect. There are no Institutes of Natural Climate Change, but plenty that are devoted to UnNatural Forces.

It’s a monopsony, and the main point is not that the scientists are necessarily corrupted by money or status (though that appears to have happened to a few), but that there is no group or government seriously funding scientists to expose flaws. The lack of systematic auditing of the IPCC, NOAA, NASA or East Anglia CRU, leaves a gaping vacuum. It’s possible that honest scientists have dutifully followed their grant applications, always looking for one thing in one direction, and when they have made flawed assumptions or errors, or just exaggerations, no one has pointed it out simply because everyone who could have, had a job doing something else. In the end the auditors who volunteered—like Steve McIntyre and AnthonyWatts—are retired scientists, because they are the only ones who have the time and the expertise to do the hard work. (Anyone fancy analysing statistical techniques in dendroclimatology or thermometer siting instead of playing a round of golf?)

Money for the Finance Houses: What the US Government has paid to one side of the scientific process pales in comparison with carbon trading. According to the World Bank, turnover of carbon trading reached $126 billion in 2008. PointCarbon estimates trading in 2009 was about $130 billion. This is turnover, not specifically profits, but each year the money market turnover eclipses the science funding over 20 years. Money Talks. Every major finance house stands to profit as brokers of a paper trade. It doesn’t matter whether you buy or sell, the bankers take a slice both ways. The bigger the market, the more money they make shifting paper.

Banks want us to trade carbon…

Not surprisingly banks are doing what banks should do (for their shareholders): they’re following the promise of profits, and urging governments to adopt carbon trading.7,8 Banks are keen to be seen as good corporate citizens (look, there’s an environmental banker!), but somehow they don’t find the idea of a non-tradable carbon tax as appealing as a trading scheme where financial middlemen can take a cut. (For banks that believe in the carbon crisis, taxes may well “help the planet,” but they don’t pay dividends.)

The stealthy mass entry of the bankers and traders poses a major force. Surely if  money has any effect on carbon emissions, it must also have an effect on careers, shareholders, advertising, and lobbying? There were over 2000 lobbyists in Washington in 2008.

Unpaid sceptics are not just taking on scientists who conveniently secure grants and junkets for pursuing one theory, they also conflict with potential profits of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, and every other financial institution or corporation that stands to profit like the Chicago Climate Exchange, European Climate Exchange, PointCarbon, IdeaCarbon (and the list goes on… ) as well as against government bureaucracies like the IPCC and multiple departments of Climate Change. There’s no conspiracy between these groups, just similar profit plans or power grabs.

Tony Abbot’s new policy removes the benefits for bankers. Labor and the Greens don’t appear to notice that they fight tooth and nail for a market in a “commodity” which isn’t a commodity and that guarantees profits for big bankers. The public though are figuring it out.

The largest tradeable “commodity” in the world?

Commissioner Bart Chilton, head of the energy and environmental markets advisory committee of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), has predicted that within five years a carbon market would dwarf any of the markets his agency currently regulates: “I can see carbon trading being a $2 trillion market.” “The largest commodity market in the world.” He ought to know.

It promises to be larger than the markets for coal, oil, gold, wheat, copper or uranium.  Just soak in that thought for a moment. Larger than oil.

Richard L. Sandor, chairman and chief executive officer of Climate Exchange Plc, agrees and predicts trades eventually will total $10 trillion a year.” That’s 10 thousand billion dollars.

Only the empirical evidence matters

Ultimately the atmosphere is what it is regardless of fiat currency movements. Some people will accuse me of smearing climate scientists and making the same ad hominem attacks I detest and protest about. So note carefully: I haven’t said that the massive amount of funding received by promoters of the Carbon Catastrophe proves that they are wrong, just as the grassroots unpaid dedication of sceptics doesn’t prove them right either. But the starkly lop-sided nature of the funding means we’d be fools not to pay very close attention to the evidence. It also shows how vapid the claims are from those who try to smear sceptics and who mistakenly think ad hominem arguments are worth making.

And as far as evidence goes, surprisingly, I agree with the IPCC that carbon dioxide warms the planet. But few realize that the IPCC relies on feedback factors like humidity and clouds causing a major amplification of the minor CO2 effect and that this amplification simply isn’t there. Hundreds of thousands of radiosonde measurements failed to find the pattern of upper trophospheric heating the models predicted, (and neither Santer 2008 with his expanding “uncertainties” nor Sherwood 2008 with his wind gauges change that). Other independent empirical observations indicate that the warming due to CO2 is halved by changes in the atmosphere, not amplified. [Spencer 2007, Lindzen 2009, see also Spencer 2008]. Without this amplification from water vapor or clouds the infamous “3.5 degrees of warming” collapses to just a half a degree—most of which has happened.

Those resorting to this vacuous, easily refutable point should be shamed into lifting their game. The ad hominem argument is stone age reasoning, and the “money” insult they throw, bounces right back at them—a thousand-fold.
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My reply to comments on the ABC post:

“References for scientific assertions would make the argument on those points look…well, more scientific, no?”

Actually I advised the ABC when I sent them that draft that I was going to add references, which I sent late yesterday, but the final version has not been posted yet unfortunately. I guess things were a little rushed presumably because they decided not to post Bob Carter’s article.

I’ve discussed many peer reviewed papers on my site. As it is, I went 500 words over the recommended length. Start here with the missing hot spot.

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“If you’re going to argue that amplification from water vapour “simply isn’t there”, you have to explain why these empirically and theoretically based results are all wrong, or at the very least mean something other than they appear to.

Go look at the radiosonde graphs:
Squint hard and pretend that the graph of the data and the model predictions are really the same. Radiosondes are calibrated to 0.1 of a degree. They are looking for something much larger. There’s no hint it was found.

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[A commenter claims a NASA link shows the models were right]

That NASA page refers to Dressler 2008. Spencer points out that Dressler focuses on only one part of the picture, and when Spencer studies the total SW and LW feedback his results showed  negative feedback (but that they wouldn’t publish Spencers more comprehensive work, even though the half-picture of Dressler was acceptable).

“The other half of the feedback story which Dessler et al did not address is the reflected solar component. This feedback is mostly controlled by changes in low cloud cover with warming. The IPCC admits that feedbacks associated with low clouds are the most uncertain of all feedbacks, with positive or negative feedback possible…although most, if not all, IPCC models currently have positive SW feedbacks.

But I found from the CERES data a strongly negative SW feedback during 2002-2007. When added to the LW feedback, this resulted in a total (SW+LW) feedback that is strongly negative.

Is my work published? No…at least not yet…although I have tried. “

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“McIntyre’s found nothing of significant consequence”

McIntyre destroyed the hockey stick graph — feed in random data and get the same shape. Hundreds upon hundreds of empirical studies show Mann was wrong as well.

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“It’s a lovely irony that almost the entire piece argues that skeptical science isn’t getting funded. And then it ends with…(unreferenced) claims referring to (presumably) published scientific work that disagrees on some level with the current consensus.

You don’t have to “be paid” to do published research (though it’s hard to get time for free at  say, the large hadron collider). McIntyre and McKitrick worked pro bono and were published for example.

I reference Lindzen and Spencer. So there are still two sceptical scientists who haven’t been sacked yet and this somehow disproves my point about the imbalance in funding? List the grants specifically available for people who are looking to investigate non-carbon causes for the recent warming?


But I can agree with Ms Nova on the broad point – more science is better than less. Science after all proceeds through skepticism (as distinct from what most AGW “skeptics” demonstrate). I look forward to Ms Nova calling for more government funding of climate science, and I will gladly join in.”

Yes, I want funding for climate science but not packaged in grants from a government department that wouldn’t exist if the results of the study go one way rather than the other.

Let’s fund research into solar-magnetic effects on the climate, or the PDO? It would help our farmers far more than throwing more money at falsified models which work from the assumption that carbon is very influential.

UPDATE:  Twawki has been asking questions about free speech, and protesting at the rejection of Carters article at the ABC and the Australian Press Council with interesting results.

UPDATE 2: More of my comments posted at #26 below


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