Saturday, September 17, 2011

Calgary Herald reports about starnge financial arrangements

who wonders what to think about these news published by Calgary Herald:

"Research accounts at the University of Calgary, funded mainly by the oil and gas industry, were used for high-priced consultants, lobbying, wining, dining, and travel with the goal of casting doubt on climate change science."

for complete text refer to:

Is it reliably researched? If true, would the report unethical and uncommon behavior?  Is this just what one would expect in a post-normal situation?

The newspaper continues:

"A pair of "research" accounts at the University of Calgary, funded mainly by the oil and gas industry, were used for a sophisticated international political campaign that involved high-priced consultants, lobbying, wining, dining, and travel with the goal of casting doubt on climate change science, newly-released accounting records have revealed.

The records showed that the strategy was crafted by professional firms, in collaboration with well-known climate change skeptics in Canada and abroad, allowing donors to earn tax receipts by channeling their money through the university.

All of the activities and $507,975 in spending were organized by the Friends of Science, an anti-Kyoto Protocol group founded by retired oil industry workers and academics who are skeptical about peer-reviewed research linking human activity to global warming observed in recent decades.

The spending also included:

- Separate donations of about $1,000 to support organizations that question climate change science in the U.S. and the United Kingdom that were co-ordinated by Fred Singer and Benny Peiser;

- Thousands of dollars in travel, dining and gift expenses for climate skeptics such as Tim Ball, Ross McKitrick, Madhav Khandekar from Canada as well as Sallie Baliunas from the U.S. to attend various meetings and events on behalf of the Friends of Science. ... "


Anonymous said...

The information in this short piece is consistent with what has been reported elsewhere, such as in James Hoggan's Climate Coverup and in numerous posts on DeSmog blog (with which Hoggan is affiliated). Also, probably some information has been posted on the Deep Climate blog regarding the situation at the University of Calgary.

This example illustrates how industry and increasingly conservative think tanks (Friends of Science is a key one in Canada) infiltrate universities and work to promote the small number of academics willing to deny climate change--while trying to hide their roles. It's very common in North America.

Hans Erren said...

Calgary is the oil capital of Canada and it is absolutely no surprise that research at Calgary Universtity is oil sponsored. It would be a surprise if it weren't.

Just as there are lobby groups that promote the climate scare (e.g. Greenpeace) there are also lobby groups that are opposing the climate scare. Again no surprise.

Also not surprising is the criminalisation of the opposition of the climate scare.

How much was again spent on the scientific greenpeace expedition to the arctic? Were any newspapers angry about that?

No court asks who pays the lawyer of an accused criminal. It is common to question who pays the defence of fossil carbon which has proven its benefits for mankind.

Werner Krauss said...

Hans Erren, you are definitively wrong. Alarmists and deniers are not two sides of the same coin. Greenpeace is more or less in accordance with mainstream climate science, while deniers are a very small minority. Skeptics are more complex, many of them are far from being deniers. They critisize for example Greenpeace for good reasons, without doubting the existence of anthropogenic warming.
Thus, equaling alarmists and deniers is a nice try, but they are not comparable.

Anonymous said...

Werner, with all due respect, Hans Erren's misdirection is much more grievous: the case at the University of Calgary relates to a foundation specifically started to allow tax-deductible contributions to a political lobby organisation. It was not set up to support research at the university.

Quite different from Greenpeace, which paid for the arctic expedition from its own funds, received directly from contributors. As far as I know, it did not pay this trip from money received from a foundation that was set-up to allow companies to give tax-deductible contributions to support one specific special interest (in this case "AGW alarmism").


Anonymous said...

@Werner Krauss

Do you really believe what you write?

If "Greenpeace is more or less in accordance with mainstream climate science" my belief in "climate science" falls below zero.

Greenpeace are pure activists and they are only in "accordance with" anybody or anything that share there (extremely exaggerated) beliefs. Everybody else is an ennemy.

Greenpeace were my heroes when I was young and there are very good reasons why I don't like there lies and hatred today.

Is that science? Activism is not science.

Best regards.


PS: If any scientist is paid for his work and only writes what he is paid for, he is in no way better than Greenpeace. Shall he pay for his sins and crimes.....

Hans von Storch said...

I thought comment #1 interesting. First, because it was anonymous, and it made rather broad statements.
Second, it noted " ... think tanks (...) infiltrate universities ... -- while trying to hide their roles". I also consider this a problem, but I would not say that this is a specialty of skeptical organizations. This is part of the post-normal conditions, climate science is confronted with in the years.
I published this comment as a kind of test, namely to see how many of the commenters would fall into the trap of seeing this as a manifestation of the other side's evilness - while not seeing the important challenge to climate science by the "infiltration" by think-tanks (etc.) in general.

Werner Krauss said...

Yes, I believe what I write. And you know what, yeph? They even pay me as a scientist!

you write:
"I published this comment as a kind of test, namely to see how many of the commenters would fall into the trap..."

That's what you did? Interesting.

Anonymous said...

Hans, do you have an example of "the other side" setting up a foundation at a university, so that tax-deductible money can be channeled to a special interest group?


Roddy said...

Werner, comment 3.

1 I can't see where Hans Erren uses the word denier, or equates alarmists and deniers, so the force of your criticism of his (partisan but not unreasonably expressed) comment is lost on me.

2 I am alarmed that you equate Greenpeace with mainstream climate science. Their naturally partisan activist role should forbid that, surely.

HvS - As to whether it is unethical for companies to lobby for their own interests, whether funding studies into, say, pesticide usage by a chemical company, or lobbying against regulations and taxes that hit them - what's the counterfactual?

I have the impression it's very normal in North America, compared to Europe. It's an adversarial system, viz their greater use of lawyers and courts.

And why might climate science be a 'special case'? (The moral outrage around the subject often makes me wonder whether the CS community thinks it is, or should be.)

Werner Krauss said...

#1 you are right.
#2 not equate, I wrote "are more or less in accordance with mainstream climate science", which might be true in respect to the statement that climate change is man-made and one should do something about it.

Hans von Storch said...

Bam, Roddy - I would expect that it is common -not only in the USA but also in Europe- that persons and companies, who want to support a certain policy or a certain scientific effort, give money, and try to deduct this from taxes. I have no objections against such a practice, which does not mean that I endorse the supported policy or the supported research. But my opponents are as much entitled to such practices as you and me.

Climate science is a "special case" because it is deeply embedded in a post-normal situation: high stakes, urgent decisions, values involved and afcts uncertain.

Zajko said...

I know a fair bit about this case, as I studied at the UofC and wrote an MA thesis dealing partly with the group in question - The Friends of Science (when Copenhagen and the emails happened I broadened my scope).
Elements of this case have been documented at Deep Climate, Desmogblog, and the University's student paper - The Gauntlet (see SourceWatch). What this article reports is some new information which was previously withheld from the results of a University audit, and the Herald provides a bigger news platform for the story.
While my focus was not on the nature of FoS funding or the results of the audit, what I can say is that the article doesn't seem to add much to the narrative other than some accounting details.
The money in the research account/"flow-through" fund was given by private donors (routed through the Calgary Foundation, a group which has managed to stay above criticism on this one), and for a time allowed the FoS to misrepresent its work as affiliated with the university (stopped following complaints).
The use of this university fund went well beyond its stated purposes, which is the problem here - violating university policies on a number of counts. Depending on where you stand, a bigger concern might be the university's reluctance to pursue this embarrassing case, as the internal audit was reportedly the result of significant prodding, and the findings has to be pried out through FOI requests.
It seems that the FoS remains the main node for climate skeptics in Canada. The group now has alternate channels for funding, but unless something has changed since I stopped paying attention, they're not exactly rolling in oil-money. In fact it doesn't look like they've done a whole lot since bringing Monckton for his 2009 N American tour - this seems like the most press they've had in a while.

Anonymous said...

Hans, I have to admit I have some problem following your narrative.

Sure, people and companies will find ways of giving contributions and make them tax deductible. But setting up a charity to fund political activities is not allowed anywhere (or at least heavily frowned upon). It certainly is not normal in Canada, where a charity is severely restricted in its political activism.

This has little to do with the beneficiary being a climate-related lobby group, and everything with abuse of a university.


Hans von Storch said...

Bam,"setting up a charity to fund political activities is not allowed anywhere". Maybe, I do not know what a charity is, can you explain what is special about it? is it a support organization, which is collecting money or providing resources, in favour of a cause. If so, which causes are allowed? Political, environmental, cultural, scientific ...?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

@Werner Krauss

I have no problem that Greenpeace pays you. My problem with Greenpeace is that they are worse than climategate, glaciergate, Al Gore and Rahmstorf together.

We talk and talk here and still nobody seems to realize WHY people become more end more sceptic.

I try to tell you again and again and the polls show you where all this leads. Is being honest really that difficult?

We laymen don't believe in politics amd science anymore. Lying seems to be the only solution for our problems.

"Wutbürger" is the result of all this crap.

What do we care about climate science when the whole society collapses. Virtual problems with virtual climates only become real problems in the future. People are starving and dying now, not only in 2100.

Mannmann ist es wirklich so schwierig? Und die ewige Alarmglocke schrillt in meinem Hirn, dramatisch, Klimakiller, Katastrophe ... und hört und hört nicht auf ... ;-)


Werner Krauss said...

Oh, you got me wrong: I did not say that Greenpeace pays me. I just said that I get paid for being a scientist (by the taxpayer). My fault, sorry.

yeph, you know what? I think you should be more careful in blaming other persons or organizations. You always hide behind clichés such as "Otto Normalverbraucher", "Wutbürger", "we laymen" etc; but you are not "the average guy". Instead, you are just an anonymous commenter who is afraid to sign with his real name.
So just stop whining and blaming each and everyone for your misery. Why not make an argument instead? I would highly appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

The Pirate Party Berlin (sometimes I think, in the beginning, the Pirate movement had the "Skull & Bones Society" in mind), in the meantime with 15 seats (ca. 9% of all voters) in a German state parliament, demands only a few things:

Among them: a free internet (Web accessibility, anonymity, etc.) a right to a say in decisions, transparency (remember "Skull & Bones" or the Bilderberg meetings etc.).

They also demand strongly free and open access for government funded science (to date not usual in Germany).

Could this "open access" have an impact e.g. on some articles given by Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group (Nature)?

PS: There are many more parties (and I don't know which one you could vote). Influential parts of the media call a lot of the German people "Wutbürger" (i.e. "citizens in rage"). (Exaggerated) Satire/Polemic/Rage (and/or charges (especially from famous or anonymous people)) even diminishes the chance for a dialog, I am afraid.

I hope we do not end up fearing each other. I want to believe. I like confidence. I hope it is not like the "Bürger-Dialog" with/from/of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany appears to be (only slightly exaggerated):

You can/should/must engage in dialog - but nimby

(Not In My Back Yard)


Anonymous said...

Namenlos, there is no way anyone can (or should have the right to) force Nature Publishing Group to provide "open access" to all articles: NPG is a private entity.