the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Independent Bloggers vs Corporate Environmentalists

Posted by Jeff Id on February 23, 2010

Article by Donna Laframboise reposted with permission.

Proprietor of the well thought out yet unrelated URL ; ) —

Click the title below for the original article.


Independent Bloggers vs Corporate Environmentalists

Another day, another smarmy accusation that people who are skeptical of climate change are being funded by a shadowy conspiracy connected in one manner or another to big oil, big coal, big tobacco or – horror of horrors – right-wing think tanks.

These accusations are tiresome. They’re ugly. They’re almost entirely unsubstantiated. Most of all, they’re a waste of time. They amount to shooting the messenger rather than addressing the bleeping message.

So why do they keep getting repeated? I think I’ve sorted out two reasons. First: the lavishly-funded corporate nature of the environmental movement circa 2010. Second: modern technological wonders such as personal computers and the Internet.

Environmental organizations today bear little resemblance to the shoestring operations of yesteryear. As a book published 14 years ago observed:

While Greenpeace used to be a pair of bell-bottomed blue jeans, today it is more like a three-piece pinstripe suit.

Indeed. In 1971, Greenpeace was an “upstart peace group from Vancouver” that held meetings in a Unitarian church. After it chartered a 30-year-old “creaking fish boat” to protest a US nuclear arms test, it could barely afford to pay for the boat’s fuel.

Last month, however, when The Guardian reported that Greenpeace had commissioned a brand new £14 million ($22 million US) mega-yacht, it observed that “cost should not be a problem for the group, which, with nearly three million supporters, is extremely wealthy.”

How wealthy? According to publicly-available figures compiled by, over a 12-year period Greenpeace raised $2.4 billion. That works out to $200 million a year in resources.

If you think that’s impressive, take a moment to ponder the fact that the World Wildlife Fund raised $3.1 billion in just six years (2003-2008). Which means that that organization has ready access to half a billion dollars annually.

When you’re that big – and that loaded – suddenly everything costs a small fortune. Want to start a new blog? That’ll require a series of meetings. You’ll need to invite web design folks, IT folks, a contingent of in-house PR people, an ad agency person or two, a corporate strategy person, and probably someone from legal. You’ll meet in shiny offices in a fashionable part of town and order-in sandwiches from the pricey, organic, fair-trade café at the end of the street.

Compare and contrast to how independent individuals of utterly modest means from all over the world currently behave. They sign up to a service like (which is owned by Google) and, within a few hours at most, for no cost whatsoever, have launched themselves as a blogger. Alternatively, for well under $10 in hosting fees a month, they can publish their own website.

For no money, therefore, climate skeptics in the early 21st century are in a position to theoretically communicate online with as many people as is Greenpeace. From their basements and their attics, in often non-trendy geographical locations, it isn’t their funding that matters – it’s their skill sets.

Many skeptical-leaning bloggers have scientific, mathematical, and statistical training – not to mention decades of real-world experience under their belts. Others have been professional communicators (I, myself, am a former print journalist). Some are speed-readers, others have photographic memories. Many, like the folks who rendered the Climategate e-mails fully searchable within a matter of hours, have impressive information technology skills. Some are retired, with plenty of time on their hands. Others devote as many hours to reading and writing about climate issues in a week as they’d otherwise spend on knitting or golf.

From the perspective of environmental organization staffers, research agency employees, and tenured university professors it must appear as though skeptics have access to deep pockets. In the universe those people inhabit, even the simplest tasks can end up as budget line items. There are layers of bureaucracy, paperwork, office politics, and regulations to consider.

For the small and growing army of skeptical climate bloggers, however, none of that applies. The equivalent of a battered fishing boat will do nicely, thank you.

Those vessels are now everywhere. They’re being sailed by real people and fueled by grassroots concern, outrage, and passion. And they’re not going away.

Fishing boat — desktop wallpaper version available here

40 Responses to “Independent Bloggers vs Corporate Environmentalists”

  1. Tom Fuller said

    My name is Thomas Fuller and I do not now and have never in the past received any funding from anyone at all for my writings about global warming.

  2. Tom Fuller said

    I do get paid for my traffic, though–pity it wasn’t more…

  3. Jeff Id said

    Come on Tom, we all know your middle name is Exxon.

  4. per said

    I was amused by an interview with Michael Mann the other day, where Mann spouted the same line you highlight. Yes, there was corporate-funded disinformation, and how could poor academics like him compete ? ” There’s an organized, well-funded effort to discredit us”- poor little Michael, “it’s not well funded in terms of public outreach in the way that climate change deniers are funded by the fossil fuel industry.”
    At which point the reporter pointed out that there are hundreds of millions of dollars of research funding for global warming science, so how could mann claim that he was not well-funded ? Even Mann had to admit that was true.


  5. Sonicfrog said

    Dammit! Where the hell is my Exxon money. Come on Jeff. What am I doing wrong!

    PS. The libel laws are much different in England than they are in the states. Steve McIntyre could, under their rules, probably sue the paper for this.

  6. Mark T said

    I would certainly like to be on that sort of gravy train.


  7. Sonicfrog said

    And we wonder why the MSM is dying…. Well, we don’t, but others do.

  8. Troels Halken said

    I used to ask in some om my posts (on a Danish site) if there wasen’t just a small oil company that would found me, cause I’ve heard that sceptics where paid by the oil industry. So far, no one has replyed.

  9. Tonyb said

    Anthony Watts makes things meet by selling weather instruments and contributions to the tip jar. Steve M supplements the tip jar with his pension. I spent around £1000 of my own money last year on supporting my web site/writing articles/buying technical papers.

    So Jeff, unless these reports are wrong, that must leave you as the main recipient of Exxon funds. How else can you pay your staff of 50 researchers and support your lavish lifestyle? I bet the staff at your local Exxon gas station even salute you as you fill up your Ferrari. 🙂

    Seriously, these reports of lavish funding are so absurd that you wonder how anyone who took a minute or two to look at the blogs concerned- and those behind them- can possibly believe the nonsense being spouted.

    Perhaps we need a roll call of sceptical blogs ‘just for the record’ which illustrates the funder-then we can have another one for the warmists-that WOULD be instructive!


  10. Viv Evans said

    Donna Laframboise got it spot on!

    I’m glad I’m on one of those small, rusty boats, not having to account for every keystroke, not having to ask permission all the way up the bureaucratic ladder when I want to fiddle around with my (very small and innocent) blog.

    And I am very glad that my previous training enables me to go on learning from the wonderful scientists one meets on the sceptic’ blogs.
    This previous training also enables me to sniff out the b.s., the atrocious ‘science’, the more than iffy stats – hey, I can tellya, it beats golf and knitting hands down!!

    (Thanks, JeffId, for your blog – just on general principle, from a little rust bucket blog!)

  11. Hoi Polloi said

    That’s why Jeff Id can afford a golf course near his mansion.

  12. That’s a great little piece Donna.

    Many skeptical-leaning bloggers have scientific, mathematical, and statistical training – not to mention decades of real-world experience under their belts. Others have been professional communicators (I, myself, am a former print journalist). Some are speed-readers, others have photographic memories. Many, like the folks who rendered the Climategate e-mails fully searchable within a matter of hours, have impressive information technology skills. Some are retired, with plenty of time on their hands. Others devote as many hours to reading and writing about climate issues in a week as they’d otherwise spend on knitting or golf.

    I’m proud to be with the army of Davids.

    Anyone here who’d like to help collect and polish those little smooth round pebbles that David used, and maybe make a sling or two, please feel free to wander over to Neutralpedia and help there.

  13. curious said

    “I bet the staff at your local Exxon gas station even salute you as you fill up your Ferrari.”

    Ok Jeff, if you’re in it for the gravy: I’ll match that with a free pushbike service if you are ever in the Uk! 🙂

  14. SamG said

    Two things which concern me about mass hysteria and its proponents:

    * When the movement eventually passes (no, not that movement!) its advocates go into anonymity

    *Our education system (broadly speaking) encourages cyclic cultural trends, in particular, ones which were proven not to work.
    Each successive generation savors the same fashions, albeit, with a different appearance or name.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I find this interesting. Isn’t historical knowledge meant to prevent future mistakes?

  15. Chuckles said


    “Isn’t historical knowledge meant to prevent future mistakes?”

    To quote Peter Cook & Dudley Moore:

    “Do you think you’ve learned from your mistakes?”

    “Yes, I can repeat them exactly.”

  16. Thanks so much for the feedback. There’s a great quote in a recent Walter Russell Mead post that applies, I think:

    “As the global greens move from the denial stage of the grief process, brace yourself for some eloquent, petulant and arrogant rage. Tears will be shed and hands will be wrung. The world is stupid, uncaring, unworthy to be saved. Horrible Republicans, evil Chinese, demented know-nothing climate skeptics have ruined the world and condemned our grandchildren to lives of sorrow and pain. Messengers will be shot; skeptics will be blamed for asking questions and the media (and the internet) will be blamed for reporting the answers.”

    That post is titled: “How Al Gore Wrecked Planet Earth”

  17. P Gosselin said

    You’re gonna like this. Says hanks to bloggers and talk radio…

  18. Anna said

    I think the sad truth is that the “Big Oil” accusation is used over and over again just because it is so efficient in fooling people who haven’t investigated the climate business themselves that all skeptics are evil.

  19. Craig Loehle said

    If you have both virtue and truth on your side, but are losing, the only possible explanation is a conspiracy, and it must be a well-funded to save your pride at losing. “Look, we are losing because of overwhelming odds, a huge conspiracy”. Never mind that the AGW proponents have governments in their pocket (UK voted unanimously I believe to decarbonize England, Calif voted in all sorts of restrictions), and most journalists. It is so silly it is really a self-parody, like a child who falls off the swing blaming the swing.

  20. mrpkw said

    As a skeptic, I have never taken a single dollar from any petro company, but I am trying to find any that will give me money !!!!

    It’s amazing as to how much evidenece there is that AGW promoters have collected billions of dollars vs how FEW dollars the skeptics have received and yet this myth/LIE continues.

  21. Jimchip said

    Just to rehash a few of my favorite emails:

    Here is the CRU et al search for Big Energy contacts. What I like most from that one is “We could probably do with some more names from the financial sector. Does anyone know any investment bankers?

    Here is one regarding a Shell Int’l “scenarios” expert managing a pre-meeting IPCC/SRES submission. (It turns out the meeting moved to the World Bank meeting room, leaving the modelers behind 🙂

    From: Ged.R.Davis

    Ged Davis SI-PXG
    Shell International Limited, London
    Scenario Processes and Applications

  22. brent said

    The Corporate Capture of the Earth Summit

    The business vision of this “new” path still centers around economic growth, with free trade and open markets as prerequisites. Meanwhile, business leaders envision linking environmental protection to profitability, through a system in which all of nature is priced and patented. This is “sustainable development” according to the global corporations. And in Rio, UNCED – made up of representatives of virtually every government in the world – came close to adopting this vision of free market environmentalism as its own.

    The Merchants of UNCED
    “The environment is not going to be saved by environmentalists. Environmentalists do not hold the levers of economic power.”

    -Maurice Strong, UNCED Secretary-General

    Confronted with the avalanche of green rhetoric that fell upon the Earth Summit, it was easy to lose sight of the fact that United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) Secretary-General Maurice Strong and his leading collaborator, Stephan Schmidheiny, chair of the Business Council for Sustainable Development, are businessmen first, environmentalists second

    Maurice Strong is the world’s leading environmentalist. Secretary General of both the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, which launched the world environment movement, and the 1992 Rio Environmental Summit, he was the first Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Maurice Strong has played a unique and critical role is globalizing the environmental movement.

  23. brent said

    Enron and the Politics of Influence

    Rent-seeking in Washington is a highly developed art-form and when really humungous amounts of money are involved, it is always the case that a Baptist-bootlegger coalition has been put together to get the necessary legislation through Congress.
    The Baptists provided the political cover and the bootleggers pocketed the proceeds

    Enviro orgs eg Greenpeace, Suzuki, WWF etc are the “Contemporary Baptists”

  24. Anand said

    If I walk over to an oil company, and tell them that I have been hammering on my keyboard at RealClimate, will they give me money?

  25. brent said

    A Big-Oil Man Gets Religion When John Browne broke ranks on global warming, he did more than shock the industry–he began to convert it.
    By Janet Guyon; John Browne
    March 6, 2000

    Foreign Affairs
    Beyond Kyoto
    John Browne
    July/August 2004

    John Hofmeister and Global Warming
    “I just watched Charlie Rose interview John Hofmeister, the outgoing president of Shell Oil Company. I have to say, I was impressed by his knowledge and passion on the issues of global warming and alternative energy sources, even on domestic oil production. Most times, people tend to brand oil companies as blood thirsty vultures that throw parties whenever oil prices increase, or who think global warming is all a myth”

    August 25, 2006 featuring John Hofmeister, President, Shell Oil Company, U.S.
    Energy SecurityThursday, September 21, 2006 12:30 PM
    Podcast of the forum held on August 25, 2006 featuring John Hofmeister,
    President, Shell Oil Company, U.S. Energy Security
    [audio src="" /]

    John Hofmeister
    Jun 27th, 2007


    Crispin Tickell
    A meeting of the Foundation was held on 26 February 1997 at the Royal Society on the subject “What After Gas?” It was chaired by the Lord Butterworth CBE DL and sponsored by Shell International Ltd and the Foundation’s Shared Sponsorship Scheme (BP International Ltd, Comino Foundation, Esso UK plc, Glaxo Wellcome plc and ICI). The speakers were Sir Crispin Tickell GCMG KCVO, Warden, Green College, Dr Robin Jeffrey FEng, Chairman and Chief Executive, Scottish Nuclear Ltd, and Mr Roger Rainbow, Vice President, Global Business Environment, Shell International Ltd.

    Click to access 1997_13_04.pdf

    brent’s comments below :

    Both Shell and BP are big supporters of the AGW scam.
    One shouldn’t get misled and believe they do this from the standpoint of altruism.
    They do it because they see it in their strategic (long term) “business interest” to support the scam.
    It’s a great PR coup to have the unwashed masses believe that the “evil” oil companies are “submitting”.

    The rationale for their position is IMO quite explicable but probably not obvious to the general public

    (a retired downstreamer who spent most of his career with an heavy involvement in optimization)

  26. BarryW said


    Early in my career, I was in charge of a software development team. After having worked on an earlier version of the software, I vowed I’d do it in a more professional manner than we had done the first version. After going through many struggles and having learned many lessons from the mistakes I made, a friend asked me to tell another group in the company about what I had learned. My suggestions were rejected because they didn’t apply to “that” project (without explaining why). They proceeded to make all the mistakes I had painfully learned to avoid and what’s even worse couldn’t see what they were doing was wrong.

    When people are emotionally convinced that the ‘theory’ is corrected they will continue to make the same mistakes over, and over and over….

    Who said “those who refuse to learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them”?

  27. SamG said

    Donna Laframboise @ No.16

    In other words, it will be revealed that the benevolent, holier-than-thou, left movement are what we suspected all along.

    neurotic basket-cases.

  28. David S said

    George Santayana. Not sure the quote is exactly as you have it, but close enough.

  29. Lady in Red said

    You guys done good! smile…. I saw that months ago, when I started this adventure. One does not need to ponder long to discern classy
    shoe string operations. They are my favorite. smile….

    On the other side, of course, there is the “volunteer” effort, Real Climate,
    sadly pale by comparison, possibly because the volunteers have to spend so much time at government and university jobs, they have little energy left…? Possibly….? smile…

    Of course Joe Romm is paid.

    I am curious about Deep Climate, a Canadian blog, I believe. The blogger claims to be a volunteer (he detests McIntyre enormously…!!) but the site smacks of more than an anonymous retiree. Does anyone know that pedigree?

    My twitching elbow tells me that all is not as it seems there. …Lady in Red

  30. Jeff Id said

    #29, I was snipped in my first adventure at Deep climate for suggesting (demonstrating) that CRU used a filter which hid the decline at the end of their plots. I’ve ignored Deep since then but you should try posting yourself.

  31. Mark T said

    he detests McIntyre enormously

    I would guess because he use to post over at CA and Steve, as well as several others, had a pretty easy time pointing out his numerous errors, often to the point of embarrassment. At least, that’s what I remember… 😉


  32. Lady in Red said

    …sigh…. He corresponded with me, briefly, but I have been “banned.”

    Messages are blown away, not even read by him.

    It is quite strange.

    He is smart, like Joe Romm. He researches sillinesses ad nauseum, like the Wegmen Report…

    Someone is behind this, I “feel”, but dunno.

    I like the “power” of the “feel” of Jeff and Anthony and Steve. ExxonMobile, eat your heart out! …smile. …Lady et al

  33. Julian Flood said

    What do the big green pressure machines spend their millions on? In their case I’d be putting pressure on the blogs, but, other than stuffing comment columns with sock puppets, what do they actually do with the bulk of it?


  34. Lady in Red said

    Talk about ….follow the money!

    This is astonishing!

    I had no idea what Pachauri’s “TERI” stood for!

    This is from The London Telegraph:

    By James Delingpole Politics Last updated: February 23rd, 2010
    196 Comments Comment on this article
    Heroic, monotesticular UKIP MEP Nigel Farage was bumped off the BBC Question Time panel at the last minute last week. Shame. That particular edition was broadcast from Middlesbrough and it would have been fascinating to hear the audience’s response to the choice things he was planning to say about the closure of their local steelworks.
    Here is how he describes it in a letter:
    Corus’ steelworks at Redcar, near Middlesbrough, “Teesside Cast Products”, is to be closed (”mothballed” is the euphemism). It is Britain’s last great steelworks and an essential national resource. Without it, we are at the world’s mercy.
    Corus is owned by Tata Steel of India. Recently, Tata received “EU-carbon-credits” worth up to £1bn, ostensibly so that steel-production at Redcar would not be crippled by the EU’s “carbon-emissions-trading-scheme”. By closing the plant at Redcar – and not making any “carbon-emissions” – Tata walks off with £1bn of taxpayers’ money, which it will invest in its steel-factories in India, where there is no “carbon-emissions-trading-scheme”.
    There’s more. The EU’s “emissions-trading-scheme” (ETS) is modelled on instructions from the “International Panel on Climate-Change” (IPCC) of the United Nations Organisation. The Chairman of the IPCC is one Dr Rajendra K.Pachauri, a former railway-engineer, who obtained this post by virtue of his being Chairman of the “Tata Energy-Research Institute” – set up by Tata Steel.
    UKIP’s leader in the EU’s “parliament”, Nigel Farage, revealed these data in a speech at Strasbourg, on 10th February, and was due to appear in the BBC’s “Question-Time” programme, from Middlesbrough, on 18th February, where the closure of the Redcar-plant was inevitably discussed. Almost at the last minute, his invitation to join the “Question-Time” panel was cancelled, without explanation.
    An article, on the subject, by Neil Hamilton, which was due to appear in this week’s Sunday Express, has also been “pulled”.
    Yours etc
    The Corus scandal has been covered before, of course, by Booker, North et al. What bothers me, though, is how remarkably little traction it has had in the MSM. The sums of taxpayers money being squandered are stupendous; the pointlessness of the exercise beyond all reason; yet somehow – a bit like the fact that thanks to EU regulations on landfill waste disposal we’re now all supposed to put up with having our stinking, rat-infested trash collected just once a fortnight – it’s being treated as yet another of those government impositions about which we’re merely supposed to shrug our shoulders and tamely accept as just another of those things.
    The mighty Booker reported on another example of this at the weekend. Gordon Brown has secretly blown another £60 million of taxpayer’s money the nation can ill-afford to spend on “buying carbon credits from the Third World for the use of government buildings and other official purposes – so that our civil servants can continue to benefit from the CO2 emissions needed to keep their offices warm and lit.”
    To acquaint yourself with the full grisly details read it here. Alternatively, just torture yourself gently by reading the conclusion:
    Thus we pay billions of dollars to the Asian countries for the right to continue emitting CO2 and other greenhouse gases here in the West, including the £60 million contributed by British taxpayers to keep our civil servants warm. As a result we enrich a small number of people in China and India, including Maurice Strong, who now lives in exile in Beijing, having been caught out in 2005 for illicitly receiving $1 million from Saddam Hussein in the “Oil for Food” scandal. He played a key part in setting up China’s carbon exchange, to buy and sell the CDM credits administered by the UNFCCC – of which Strong himself was the chief architect.
    The net result of all this trading and jiggery-pokery is that, after billions of pounds and dollars have changed hands, with a hefty commission for those bankers and other carbon traders along the way, there is no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions whatever. But at least our political class can continue to work in warm offices and fly righteously round the world on our behalf – while the rest of us foot the bill.
    Meanwhile our prospective next prime minister David Cameron has come up with a whizzo new scheme to make our inflated electricity bills even more painful than before:
    He said: ” We need to apply gentle social pressure on people to bring down their energy use.
    “So just as they’re doing in California, we will make each energy bill come with an illustration of how much energy people’s neighbours are using in comparison to their own usage, inspiring them to consume less in competition.”
    The Booker is right. With honorable exceptions – such as UKIP and, on the environment at least, the BNP – our political class seem to have absolutely no understanding of the grotesque injustices being inflicted on their electorate in the name of the non-existent threat of “Climate Change.”
    What will it take, I wonder, for these imbeciles to wake up and smell the coffee? Will a hung Parliament do? Or will it have to be bloody revolution?

  35. RomanM said

    #32 lady In red

    Deep Climate has established himself as another one of those scientifically clueless bloggers who seem so pervasive in the AGW crowd. A good example of his statistical “insight” is evidenced by his comment on an Open Mind thread on the (non)significance of a regression slope.

    Jim Bouldin, a UCDavis climate scientist(!) has made the remarkable statement:

    I’m not talking about Bayes’ theorem, although the language is similar. I’m saying that, given the data, you can compute the probability of the trend actually being zero. Since the discussion by deniers is often phrased in terms of “no warming” or “no trend”, this phrasing gives you the probability that such statements are correct.

    Deep Climate’s contribution to this is (bold mine):

    My understanding is that Jones calculated the 1995-2009 trend at 95% significance. The two tails are therefore 2.5%. The trend is significantly different at 90% (5% tails).

    So I would say for this interval, the part of probability of trend <= 0, is between 2.5% and 5%.

    I would say a one-tailed test might make more sense, if the goal is to ascertain if the trend is significantly greater than zero.

    This is the same guy who claims that he understood (and refuted!) Wegman’s analysis of Mann’s hockey stick, but can’t understand how a confidence interval is interpreted … and Tamino didn’t bother to weigh in on the topic.

  36. Lady in Red said

    I’m sure that others will appreciate this “joke;” I’m afraid it’s a bit above my head…

    I merely have a strong suspicion he is not an unpaid amateur, but I know nothing of the matter

    Thank you, for your help. ….Lady et al

  37. RomanM said

    This was not a “joke”. Both of the statements quoted are scientific nonsense. Anyone who has taken even an elementary statistics course would in particular understand that interpreting a confidence interval as a probability statement about the parameter being estimated (as Deep Climate did) is completely out to lunch.

  38. Jeff Id said

    Those are great quotes.

    #36, the trend is the trend. The confidence is a measure of confidence as to whether the short term variance created the trend.

  39. Jeff Id said

    It also is an argument Tamino made in a backhand way some time ago. He claimed backhandedly that there is no cooling because it’s not outside of the CI for a warming trend.

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