Decades ago, big tobacco tried to claim that smoking was safe. They had scientists and doctors who would publicly testify that smoking was not harmful. Hell, there were “doctor-recommended cigarettes.” Though it’s clear now that these “medical and scientific experts” were nothing more than people who had been paid by big tobacco to use their scientific and medical backgrounds to support their “smoking is safe” propaganda.
Of course when looking at it today, after big tobacco has been hammered with massive fines and smoking has been rightfully labeled as extremely unhealthy, most people would laugh at anyone who would try to claim that smoking isn’t dangerous.
Well, in my opinion, that’s exactly what we’re seeing today when it comes to climate deniers. Big oil and energy companies are pumping billions of dollars into campaigns built on pure propaganda and finding any random “experts” who have legitimate credentials in the scientific community to give them a guise of “legitimacy” to their “climate change is a hoax” rhetoric.
Just like those “experts” did for big tobacco decades ago.
Now comes news that one of these “leading experts” against human-made climate change, Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, has been exposed by Greenpeace for accepting around $1.25 million over the last 14 years from various oil and energy companies like Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute, which is a foundation of the Koch brothers.
The documents reveal that almost all of Soon’s funding for “research” had been provided by the fossil fuel industry.
“The question here is really: ‘What did API, ExxonMobil, Southern Company and Charles Koch see in Willie Soon? What did they get for $1m-plus?,” asked Kert Davies, a former Greenpeace researcher.
“Did they simply hope he was on to research that would disprove the consensus? Or was it too enticing to be able to basically buy the nameplate Harvard-Smithsonian?,” he continued.
Which is exactly what they did. They found someone with decent credentials who would take their money and say pretty much what they wanted him to say. Being that the fossil fuel industry would stand to lose out on untold billions of dollars if this planet ever truly became mostly dependent on wind and solar energy, it’s blatantly obvious that these companies are doing everything they can to push the idea that human activity isn’t leading to climate change.
And it’s worked because Soon has been used and quoted by Republicans in Congress to help perpetuate the lie that climate change fueled by humans is a hoax. For the record, he believes climate change is caused by the sun, not humans.
It still baffles me that there are people who distrust scientists who have almost nothing to gain by making up data about climate change (they could always study another field) – yet trust big oil companies spending billions of dollars trying to discredit these scientists all because they would stand to lose out on obscene amounts of money if humans ever moved away from fossil fuels as our primary source of energy.
That’s like believing a burglar who says they never broke into someone’s home instead of a large group of independent witnesses who claim that they saw them break into the house.
But, sadly, millions of conservatives have been ignorant enough to fall for the lies being pushed by these big oil companies and the billions of dollars they’ve spent trying to discredit overwhelmingly accepted science.