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Sunday, August 13, 2006
New Conservative Global Warming Meme
Topic: NewsBusters

The anti-global warming folks -- apparently feeling a bit sensitive to charges that they are being funded by oil companies and other fossil-fuel purveyors -- have initiated a counterresponse: We don't get that much money from them, and anyway, it doesn't go toward countering the idea of global warming.

An Aug. 13 NewsBusters post by Amy Ridenour demonstrates this approach. Ridenour is CEO of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think-tank responsible for the conservative black group Project 21 and, thus, the hypocritical Mychal Massie (she is also one of the peripheral players in the Jack Abramoff scandal). In reproducing an exchange of letters between her and Long Beach News-Telegram columnist Tom Hennessy rebutting a column he wrote about the Al Gore movie "An Inconvenient Truth." In it, Hennessy had noted that one global warming skeptic, Tim Ball, "is promoted by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which has received funding from ExxonMobil." Ridenour's response:

This makes it appear as though Dr. Ball received cash from us, and by extension ExxonMobil, when in fact all we did was reprint a small amount of his writing on one of our websites.


As it happens, Dr. Ball has never received a penny from us, and our support from ExxonMobil amounts to less than one percent of our budget. This leaves Dr. Ball with zero percent of less than one percent. Not much! Yet, apparently, worthy of note in the press. 

This approach manages to be only slightly less head-in-the-sand that fellow NewsBuster Matthew Sheffield's skepticism that ExxonMobil funded the group that paid for an anti-Al Gore video posted to YouTube.

Ridenour also took issue with Hennessy's claim that Ball "is in high demand by the front groups sponsored by the fossil fuel industry":

A more factual description more likely is that, over a two-year period, a retired academic spoke once time each to two of Canada's most prestigious think-tanks, and co-wrote a paper for one of them. 

All of this, of course, is obfuscation. Ridenour hammers away at imprecise specific claims in an attempt to undermine larger assumptions that are essentially true. None of what Ridenour has said refutes the fact that fossil-fuel companies are funding conservative groups who promote global warming skepticism. And Ridenour's narrow definition of "in high demand" doesn't mean that Ball is not actively promoting his skeptical views with the help of conservative think tanks like Ridenour's.

Ridenour further attacked Hennessy for "intend[ing] to undermine Dr. Ball's credibility as an honest scientist," but there are some warning flags that Ridenour declines to mention. The DeSmog Blog notes that despite promoting himself as "the first Canadian PhD in Climatology," the record suggests a paucity of published scholarly research on the subject. Another entry makes the point clearer, claiming that "Dr. Ball has not published any research in a peer-reviewed science journal in the last 20 years."

The blog also notes that Ball "has been criss-crossing the country in a campaign to undermine public support for the scientific proof behind human-caused climate change," which suggests that he is in "high demand" by somebody.  

Posted by Terry K. at 11:13 AM EDT

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