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Marketplace Morning Report

Wanted: Views questioning global warming. Will pay.

Sam Eaton Feb 2, 2007
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KAI RYSSDAL: I wish we could start with something more uplifting heading into the weekend. But predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are bleak. Rising global temperatures. More floods, droughts and hurricanes. Melting polar sea ice and damage to the climate system for a thousand years to come. Grim news for all of us. Worse, in the short-term at least, for those who make their money from fossil fuels. Including oil giants like Exxon Mobil. Which is why it’s interesting that an Exxon-funded think tank has been offering scientists and economists cash to question this morning’s report. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton reports.


SAM EATON: The conservative Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, sent letters last July offering scientists and economists $10,000 to write critical reviews of the U.N. Climate Change Assessment. AEI wanted them to “explore the limitations of climate models” that predict global warming scenarios. Steven Hayward, who wrote the letters, defends the think tank.

STEVEN HAYWARD: The idea that this is bribery is preposterous. I mean, it defies comprehension that senior scientists with a reputation on the line, with a long record of publications could be induced to change their mind or say something they don’t believe for $10,000. Boy, some people must have a pretty low opinion of scientists and academia if they think that’s what would do it.

KERT DAVIES: It’s a targeted action aimed at undermining the credibility of the findings of the IPCC. . . .

Kert Davies is research director for Greenpeace USA.

DAVIES: . . . because they know full well that the IPCC is the most important, most august body in the world around global warming science and policy.

Davies calls AEI’s actions a last-ditch effort by the “carbon club” to cast doubt on climate change. The think tank has close ties to the White House, and former Exxon Mobil head Lee Raymond serves on its board of trustees. But Purdue University atmospheric science professor Keven Gurney says that’s the least of his concerns when it comes to AEI trying to pay scientists.

KEVEN GURNEY: I would worry that policy makers will misunderstand what is and is not work that has the strength of peer review behind it.

Gurney says AEI’s solicited critiques would circumvent that time-honored, peer-review process, potentially misinforming the policy responses to climate change.

In Los Angeles, I’m Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

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