Greenpeace revealed today that undercover work isn’t just for detectives. In an effort to illustrate how easily fossil fuel interests can buy off academics to create doubt about the effects of climate change, Greenpeace reporters asked professors from Princeton and Penn State to pen reports touting the benefits of carbon dioxide and bolstering support for coal burning in developing nations. As it turns out, it’s not difficult to get academic ‘research’ published that says whatever you’d like it to say, provided you have the dollars to back up the request.
The tactics Greenpeace reporters used for the sting operation were pretty straight forward. Pretend to represent oil and coal companies, and ask academics to write papers that encourage doubt about the harmful effects of climate change. In an announcement published today on its website, Greenpeace exposed that one leading climate change denier, scheduled to testify at Ted Cruz’ senate hearing today, fell for the trap. Princeton Professor William Happer agreed to write a report for a Middle Eastern oil company on the benefits of CO2 and to allow the firm to keep the source of the funding secret.
The best part – or worst, really – about this finding is that the academics who agreed to write such reports also said they would keep the financial deal a secret. According to the Greenpeace report, “The professors agreed to write the reports and said they did not need to disclose the source of the funding.”
Financing so-called “science” that denies the impact of carbon emissions serves only one real purpose: to create more favorable conditions for oil and coal companies to get ric. In addition to paying for research papers, oil companies are also known to make ‘donations’ to climate deniers in exchange for testimony that spreads the same message – all without identifying the sources of funding. The Greenpeace investigation revealed tens of thousands of dollars funnel from oil and coal companies into climate skeptic organizations, as well as a number of instances in which an academic was paid off for an unknown sum of money in exchange for false reports and phony science.