Oil interests skew climate change debate

Evidence is starting to emerge of the way in which the bad science undermining the debate over global warming is peddled.

The oil industry funds anti-green propaganda which is lapped up by pressure groups who think the word "free" should apply to markets rather than people.

According to a report in today's Independent, climate change sceptics at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in the US and the International Policy Network in the UK have received grants totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds from the multinational energy company ExxonMobil. The money is spent on undermining the climate-change debate, especially since the hack on the University of East Anglia's climate change data, itself a well-timed and destructive act.

The news comes as Professor Phil Jones, director of UEA's climactic research unit and heavily fingered in the leaked emails fiasco, is reported in today's Sunday Times to have considered suicide "several times". Jones said he has been taking sleeping pills and beta-blockers to calm his nerves and has been on the end of two death threats in the past week alone.

A vocal body is quickly mobilised and swings into force to attack climate science in the media, and any demonstrably dodgy utterance - such as the claim that the Himalayas would be ice-free by 2035 - is whipped up into a frenzy and held up as evidence that mankind has no influence on climate.

What is smart is the way the sceptics are even able to rally left-wingers to their cause by suggesting it's all a scheme to get the workers to pay more tax.

Professor Bob Watson, the chief scientific adviser to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and former chairman of the IPCC, told the Independent: "It does appear that there's a concerted effort by a number of sceptics to undermine the credibility of the evidence behind human-induced climate change."

ExxonMobil plays a key role in disseminating disinformation, according to the Independent The company sponsors The Atlas Foundation - to the tune of more than $100,000 in 2008 - to support more than 30 other bodies that promote climate change scepticism.

Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, told the paper: "A lot of the climate sceptic arguments are being made by people with demonstrable right-wing ideology which is based on opposition to any environmental regulation of the market, and they are clearly being given money that allows them to disseminate their views more widely than would be the case if they didn't have oil company funding."