Friday, April 13, 2007

Corruption, fundamentalism and Big Oil.

Some of the Greenie advocates of the Church of Anthropogenic Warming are sincere. Some are deluded. Some are stupid. Some are dishonest. Some are uninformed. Some probably know better. It would be impossible to mention a single motivation that covers them all.

But one thing I’ve notice is that these true believers would never have the decency to say the same thing about their opponents in this debate. Instead they pretty much have one reply: we are all in the pocket of Big Oil. And if there is anything these people hate more than industrialization it is industrialists.

There is, among these true believers, a maliciousness and viciousness that is typical of fundamentalists of all kinds. Anyone who dares disagrees with them is not merely wrong, he is evil, corrupt, or dishonest but never just wrong.

I recently read a moronic column that appeared in one of the San Francisco newspapers which claimed that AGW skeptics were pushing some sort of conspiracy theory claiming that the AGW theory is just a “liberal” (they meant socialist) plot. It was an incredibly simplistic misrepresentation of what skeptics think but then what skeptics think is always misrepresented by the Holy Inquisition. So we skeptics were clowns who advocated some sort of paranoid conspiracy theory.

Why do we do it? Ah, that was simple. It’s because we are stooges of Big Oil. See, it’s all a plot by the oil companies, except when the oil companies donate funds to the various environmental groups that is. We invent conspiracies because we are part of this vast conspiracy. We skeptics are corrupted by Big Oil money. (I’ve never seen a dime of it myself. I still think the mailman is pinching the checks. Hey, Exxon, sweetie, call me!)

Worse yet we are cheap, easily bought off for low sums of cash. If someone writes an article and sells it for a few dollars to any outfit that received some funds from an oil company than the reason we wrote the article is because we are paid off. I saw such a claim made about an author who wrote for Tech Central Station, an outfit that pays pathetically when it does pay. I guess skeptics are supposed to work for free or live off of welfare like some of the alarmists and “full time” activists on the Left.

A $50 payment here or $100 is enough to buy our souls. If a skeptic writes for a foundation which got $5,000 from anyone loosely connected to an oil company that means all the authors for that foundation, or think tank, are in the pockets of the oil company—even if they don’t know who funds the outfit or how much they give. It is surprisingly easy to buy us off according to this conspiracy theory.

No think tank I know about gets the bulk of its funding from Big Oil. Typically most donations come in smaller amounts from a vast array of donors. But assume that Big Oil donates 15% of the funding for a particular institute, which I suspect is quite high in fact. And assume the institute commissions an author to write an article for $500. So for 15% of $500, or $75, the author supposedly panders to Big Oil.

Now one thing about think tanks is that the material they produce sometimes corresponds with the wishes of donors and sometimes it doesn’t. Big Pharmaceuticals donate money to think tanks as well. Sometimes they get reports they like and sometimes they don’t. I sat in at one discussion with an author at a think tank. The author got some money from the pharmaceutical industry and I believe the think tank has as well. But the people associated with the think tank grilled the author quite heavily. He was under a rather strong intellectual challenge from the audience. If anyone was pandering they sure did a good job of disguising it.

I read a piece in the New York Times that implied that some authors who wrote articles defending Wal-Mart did so because they got paid for work they did by a think tank that received a few thousand dollars from a member of the Walton family somewhere along the line. In that case the donation was well under a fraction of one percent of the group’s budget. So literally, for a few pennies, the author, who didn’t even know about the donation, was bought off. What was ignored was that the same think tank produced essays critical of Wal-Mart for working with politicians who steal property under eminent domain. Wal-Mart got defended some of the time and attacked some of the time depending on what they did.

Nor should we forget that not many years ago Big Oil and the New Left were united in their opposition to deregulation of oil prices in the United States. The regulations were keeping prices above the world market price. And some of the very groups who advocated deregulation, against the interests of Big Oil, are the groups which the Left now saw are in the pocket of Big Oil. What is clear is that these groups advocate free markets even when Big Oil is hurt, just as the Left advocates controlled markets even Big Oil is helped. Neither is in the pockets of Big Oil. Each is standing for what they believe.

Where the skeptics are supposedly muddied by funding the the alarmists are pure as the driven snow -- well they would be if the snow hadn’t all melted due to the evil nature of capitalism. Skeptics have conflicts of interest while the alarmists don’t.

Al Gore hasn’t made a cent from his hysterical docu-horror film or his lectures or his “carbon off-set” company. Not one cent. He is selfless we are greedy.

And who benefits from the panic mongering? Big Government. What? I know, I know, I’m only supposed to use the term “Big” in front of private enterprises, all of whom are big since they are private.

Government, and those in government, benefit greatly with each new hysteria the environmentalists conjure up. They use it to expand their powers and their budgets. The use the panic to justify higher taxes which benefit them directly. And the more panic stricken the research or topic the more money government pours into that field. So if researchers scratch the back of government then government scratches their back in return. That apparently has no corrupting influence at all.

And what is the difference? Does that make it a draw? The skeptics may find that 5% of his funding comes from Big Oil, very few would find it being the majority of their funding. But the scaremongers work heavily with government. Many of their studies are 100% funded through tax funds. The IPCC is an intergovernmental body. Government pays for almost all the research of the warming alarmists and government will benefit from the “solutions” proposed.

Now what would happen to the alarmist who says he isn’t alarmed? Would he continue to receive funding? Apparently receiving state funds makes one a moral virgin untainted by the sin of profit. But the idea that government is not a profit-seeking body is absurd. It is based on only the narrowest definition of profit.

And what about the advocacy organizations for the alarmist campaigns (and there are many such campaigns)? Read their fund appeal letters. The planet is dying and the only way to save it is to send them $10,, $50, $100, no, $1000 immediately before it’s too late. In fact it could be too late already. Your children will die. And if not them then your grandchildren will die, or your great grandchildren, or some generation 1,000 years off the future. (And as an aside you may also get another fervent letter about how you have to help another panic mongering group to stop people from having children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.)

The funds they raise is directly linked to the hysteria they stir up. The greater the panic the greater the funding. But that doesn’t taint them one bit. They are pure we are evil. They are altruistic and we are greedy. They love humanity and nature and we hate life.

We have Greenies who own “organic food” businesses who stir up hysteria about genetic engineering. That isn’t considered a conflict of interest. Al Gore is part owner of a business that profits because people feel guilty about carbon emissions so they purchase off-sets from Gore. Gore makes them feel guilty and then profits when they seek absolution through the off-sets. That’s not a conflict of interest. But a writer who is paid by a group that gets 5% of its budget from someone who owns shares in a oil company is corrupted by those few shekels.

Now I don’t think that all panic mongers are corrupt. I don’t think all of them are after power. I don’t think all of them are stupid. I don’t think anything that applies to all of them except I do think they are wrong, some more than others. Some are corrupt, not most. Quite a few have a political agenda to expand state control across the board. Many do not. Most are not corrupted by the donations they receive. Many are legitimately concerned about whatever is their crisis d’jour. Some aren’t. There motives are as varied as they are.

That is the kind of decency that many of them are simply unwilling to grant us. It is the true hallmark of an out-of-control fundamentalism. It may not be Bible fundamentalism. It may not be Islamic fundamentalism. But it is fundamentalism. And it is ugly in all its forms.

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