Palaces For The People
Monday, May 31, 2004
Sallie Louise Baliunas is Enviro-Sci Host for James K. Glassman's Tech Central Station, and a astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Among other unusual beliefs, Baliunas denies idea of catastrophic global warming.
She sits on the boards or committees of:
* George C. Marshall Institute
* Greening Earth Society
* Scientific Alliance
* Statistical Assessment Service
A number of respondents took exception to my observation that most of the scientists presented by the Lavoisier Group as independent sceptics ''turn out to have links to the fossil fuel industry or to right-wing thinktanks'. One of my critics was even kind enough to provide his own list of independent sceptics. Googling quickly revealed that Patrick Michaels is a Senior Fellow at the (libertarian) Cato Institute, Sallie Baliunas is a director of the (pro-missile defence) Marshall Institute, Craig Idso writes for the (free-market conservative) Heritage Institute, and so on. Michaels and Idso are also funded by the fossil fuel industry. It seems that every right-wing institute has its resident greenhouse sceptic, and vice versa.
A Disgrace to American Science
...First of all, I think that sources of revenue are a valid concern in science as they are in other professions. If I hire a lawyer, and accountant, or a plumber, they are working for me. Yet why should the situation be any different in science? Many fossil fuel, automobile and energy corporations stand to lose a considerable amount of profit if regulations limiting fossil fuel emissions are mandated into law, and consequently they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to debunk the science they hate. Their generous financial support to a handful of climate skeptics is an important tool in their desire to maintain the status quo. Do you honestly think they are going to invest in scientists who will turn and stab them in the back? These scientists are, are Ross Gelbspan correctly observed, "interchangeable ornaments on the hood of a high powered engine of disinformation". Most importantly, if I wanted to retain credibility I would distance myself as far as possible from the charge that my opinions might be compromised by my sources of income. Wouldn't climate skeptics like Richard Lindzen, Robert Balling, Patrick Michaels, Sallie Baliunas and Fred Singer be smarter if they distanced themselves from industry funding? This would at least make them somewhat beyond reproach, but they are all at the front of the corporate funding queue, and it doesn't take much common sense to realize that they are speaking on behalf of their "clients". Most of them have had to admit before congressional testimony that they have received huge stipends from industries that benefit directly from reduced regulations on carbon emissions. When a memo from Joe Walker of the American Petroleum Institute leaked to the press in 1996 saying that industry had to "recruit independent scientists" to cast doubt over climate change, what he was effectively saying was that industry had to pay off scientists to espouse the corporate view, irrespective of the mounting scientific evidence for climate change.
Besides, science is not on the side of these climate skeptics. Tell me how many papers the likes of Baliunas, Balling, Singer, Michaels and Lindzen have published in peer-reviewed journals on the subject and you'll barely get a trickle. The first three scientists don't even do any research in this area; instead, they write columns and editorials for right wing newspapers, think tanks and web sites like Tech Central Station and thus seem to profit from their "defiance". ...
George Marshall Institute [ http://www.marshall.org ]
This conservative think tank shifted its focus from Star Wars to climate change in the late 1980s. In 1989, the Marshall Institute released a report claiming that "cyclical variations in the intensity of the sun would offset any climate change associated with elevated greenhouse gases." Though refuted by the IPCC, the report was very influential in influencing the Bush Sr. Administration s climate change policy. The Marshall Institute has since published numerous reports downplaying the severity of global climate change.
Spin: Blame the Sun. The Kyoto Protocol is fatally flawed.
Affiliated Individuals: Sallie Baliunas, an astrophysicist from Harvard; and Frederick Seitz.
Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine
The Marshall Institute co-sponsored with the OISM a deceptive campaign -- known as the Petition Project -- to undermine and discredit the scientific authority of the IPCC and to oppose the Kyoto Protocol. Early in the spring of 1998, thousands of scientists around the country received a mass mailing urging them to sign a petition calling on the government to reject the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was accompanied by other pieces including an article formatted to mimic the journal of the National Academy of Sciences. Subsequent research revealed that the article had not been peer-reviewed, nor published, nor even accepted for publication in that journal and the Academy released a strong statement disclaiming any connection to this effort and reaffirming the reality of climate change. The Petition resurfaced in 2001.
Spin: There is no scientific basis for claims about global warming. IPCC is a hoax. Kyoto is flawed.
Funding: Petition was funded by private sources.
Affiliated Individuals: Arthur B. Robinson, Sallie L. Baliunas, Frederick Seitz
Greening Earth Society [ http://greeningearthsociety.org ]
The Greening Earth Society (GES) was founded on Earth Day 1998 by the Western Fuels Association to promote the view that increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 are good for humanity. GES and Western Fuels are essentially the same organization. Both used to be located at the same office suite in Arlington, VA. Until December 2000, Fred Palmer chaired both institutions. The GES is now chaired by Bob Norrgard, another long-term Western Fuels associate. The Western Fuels Assocation (WFA) is a cooperative of coal-dependent utilities in the western states that works in part to discredit climate change science and to prevent regulations that might damage coal-related industries.
Spin: CO2 emissions are good for the planet; coal is the best energy source we have.
Affiliated Individuals: Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling, David Wojick, Sallie Baliunas, Sylvan Wittwer, John Daley, Sherwood Idso
Funding: The Greening Earth Society receives its funding from the Western Fuels Association, which in turn receives its funding from its coal and utility company members.
Greening Earth Society [ http://greeningearthsociety.org ]
The Greening Earth Society (GES) was founded on Earth Day 1998 by the
Western Fuels Association to promote the view that increasing levels
of atmospheric CO2 are good for humanity. GES and Western Fuels are
essentially the same organization. Both used to be located at the same
office suite in Arlington, VA. Until December 2000, Fred Palmer
chaired both institutions. The GES is now chaired by Bob Norrgard,
another long-term Western Fuels associate. The Western Fuels
Assocation (WFA) is a cooperative of coal-dependent utilities in the
western states that works in part to discredit climate change science
and to prevent regulations that might damage coal-related industries.
Spin: CO2 emissions are good for the planet; coal is the best energy
source we have.
Affiliated Individuals: Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling, David
Wojick, Sallie Baliunas, Sylvan Wittwer, John Daley, Sherwood Idso
Funding: The Greening Earth Society receives its funding from the
Western Fuels Association, which in turn receives its funding from its
coal and utility company members.
Greening Earth Society. (GES)
In what could be its largest event to date, Greening Earth Society is
releasing a new 30-minute video at Basin Electric's annual meeting on
November 13 1998. The sequel to Western Fuels' "The Greening of Planet
Earth" is creatively titled, "The Greening of the Planet Earth
Continues." The video release will be followed by a panel discussion
with four veteran global warming skeptic scientists, Patrick Michaels,
Robert Balling, Sallie Baliunas and Sylvan Wittwer, all of the
Greening Earth Society. The GES will provide a satellite uplink of the
event which will be beamed to reporters in the National Press Club in
Washington, DC. A spokesman for Basin Electric told the Bismarck
Tribune that they considered having scientists on the panel who would
represent the opposing view, but "decided having the media question
their panelists was [sic] sufficient."
Basin Electric is "a dues paying member" of the Greening Earth
Society, and a "Class A" member of the Western Fuels Association.
Corporate membership to Greening Earth starts at $1,000, and Basin
Electric has declined to disclose the amount of their support to
Greening Earth. (Bismarck Tribune, September 27, 1998). Basin Electric
general manager Bob McPhail also serves as the president of Western
Moreover, since its publication in 2003, the work of Soon and Legates has been
embroiled in controversy over its scientific legitimacy. After Soon's original
paper -- co-authored with fellow Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Sallie
Baliunas, who did not return calls for this article -- appeared in a small
journal called Climate Research, several editors, including Editor in Chief
Hans von Storch, resigned to protest deficiencies in the review process leading
up to the paper's publication. In a subsequent statement, journal founder Otto
Kinne agreed with critics that Soon and company's published conclusions "cannot
be concluded convincingly from the evidence provided in the paper" -- hardly an
auspicious start for Inhofe's "paradigm shift."
The Right in the Classroom
... What Facts, Not Fear leaves out is that many of its experts have ties to right-wing corporations and corporate polluters. Fred Seitz and Sallie Baliunas, for example, who review the chapter on ozone, have worked with the George C. Marshall Institute, which is funded by conservative foundations like Bradley and Scaife. M.B. Hocking, another of the experts, formerly worked for Dow Chemical. Donald Stedman has written for Heritage and worked for Ford Motor Company. The book, published by Regnery, also has ties to the religious right. ...
Deny, dupe and delay -- the underhand tactics of ExxonMobil
... Funding front groups
While ExxonMobil says it "takes the issue of climate change extremely seriously", it continues to fund climate sceptic front groups that are running an aggressive campaign against climate science and U.S. re-engagement in the Kyoto protocol.
Both Exxon and Mobil were founding members of the key industry lobby group set up to lobby against action on climate change, the Global Climate Coalition. When both BP and Shell pulled out of the GCC, Exxon and Mobil stayed on. ExxonMobil is the biggest fossil fuel industry donor to right wing front groups in Washington D.C. who both oppose the Kyoto Protocol and the conclusions of the IPCC.
One of the central arguments used by these front groups is that there is no proof of global warming. They cite, and prominently promote, a small group of "climate sceptic" scientists to back their argument, such as Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon. ...
George C. Marshall Institute
Headed by "scientists of international renown," it's a nonprofit hangout for pedigreed denial-science cranks, including Sallie Baliunas, Bruce Ames, Frederick Seitz, Chauncey Starr, etc. Interesting odd tie-ins with NASA rocket geezers == why, for instance, does something called the "George C. Marshall Institute" publish strident calls to colonize Mars? ...
"In contrast, in the ozone hearing, the Subcommittee heard testimony from
Dr. Fred Singer and Dr. Sallie Baliunas, the latter testifying in her
capacity as the chair of the Science Advisory Board of the George C.
Marshall Institute. The criticisms of the scientific consensus contained in
Dr. Singer's  and Dr. Baliunas'  testimony have not, to our
knowledge, been published in any original peer-reviewed research. "
"There is, of course, nothing wrong with scientists exercising their rights
as citizens to advise Congress on what they believe to be appropriate
policies. But such policy advice is nothing more than personal opinion which
is entitled to no more deference than that which should be afforded to the
opinions of other thoughtful citizens. Scientists have no special expertise
to judge the many economic and political issues involved in any regulatory
decision. Indeed, it is for that reason that scientists generally try to
limit their advice to scientific issues within their expertise, or at least
clearly distinguish between science and personal opinion. This is a standard
which "skeptic" scientists frequently fail to meet in their publications.