Follow the Money? That’s Exactly What Rent-Seekers Do

by Iain Murray on January 11, 2010

in Blog

This fellow from New Zealand appears to think that Climategate proves that the big money is in climate skepticism. How does that work?

Here’s my attempt to follow his argument: The US Government has spent $79 billion in the past two decades on climate science. But Big Oil and Big Coal want a piece of this. They spend heavily on lobbyists to get it. They would be well served by certain provisions in bills and international treaties. [I agree with this so far…] But “the aims of the climate change lobby groups and the large industries they represent dovetail quite nicely with the arguments put forward by the sceptics.” So [he implies] therefore the skeptics have all the money.


Global warming skeptics don’t want carbon capture and storage. They don’t want targets for emissions reduction. They don’t want international treaties and thousand page bills that take money out of the productive class and spend it on vastly expensive ways of doing things we know how to do already. Global warming skeptics do not want “a seat at the table.” They don’t think there should be a table in the first place.

Our science blogger friend has confused skeptic with rent-seeker. We skeptics have a grudging respect for our ‘alarmist’ opponents. In most cases they have a sincere belief that there is a serious problem and want to solve it. (Part of the problem revealed by climategate was that many of them, however, want to solve the problem by any means necessary and are insincere in their methods). Rent-seekers, on the other hand, want to exploit such beliefs for personal/corporate gain*, at the expense of the rest of us. Therefore rent-seekers are a bigger problem than alarmists, because they do indeed bring the big bucks. That’s why rent-seeking businesses want carbon capture and storage, which they will be paid handsomely for. They want international treaties and thousand page bills that contains nice incentives for them, their executives and their shareholders. They want the free market distorted to their benefit. The ends they desire, however, are completely different from those desired by the skeptics. Their aims do not dovetail with the ends of the skeptics in the slightest.

That’s why the big money is with those looking to establish a regime for emissions reduction. Now those thieves have certainly fallen out, and there are still some honorable types who want no handouts to big energy companies at all, but the money is certainly on that side of the aisle.

If genuinely skeptical groups have gotten as much as $790 million total worldwide for global warming efforts since 1989 – 1 percent of that devoted to climate science – I’d be extremely surprised. A tenth of that amount is more likely in the right ballpark. You can’t change that by lumping rent-seeking industries in with skeptics. Rent-seekers really do follow the money.

* Rent-seekers are also only too happy to exploit belief in the free market, arguing for free enterprise up until they can see a benefit from government restricting market entry, and so on.

john drake January 12, 2010 at 8:31 am

How is the fossil fuel industry less evil than the nuclear industry that has hitched itself to the other side of this controversy, with their "clean" alternative.

Both sides have a long way to go to convince me of their standpoints.

The earth, and life upon it, will certainly outlive this nonsense.

She has a walk in closet full of t-shirts to prove it.

The fatalist view.

Paul January 12, 2010 at 9:59 am

Ah yes the old and thoroughly debunked argument that skeptics have a ton of money which implies the poor warmers (who are outspending skeptics 1,000 to one) are not funded at all.

As far as I can tell the only reason they use this augment is to discredit skeptics. Just like the name calling. It is pure nonsense and they know it. But, they keep repeating it because they think we do not.

In the process of spreading doubt supporters of AGW theory and climate science has thoroughly discredited themselves. The supporters of AWG theory have violated the basic principals upon which any science must be based in order to survive as a science. It is now clearly a public relations tool of special interests that do not care what the real world data shows as long as they can support their claims from the misinformation produced by their well paid former scientists who call themselves climate scientists.

Climate Science stopped being a science when they stopped releasing raw data and methods. One can make up anything if you do not have to tell how you got the information. No real science can survive without verification and skeptical analysis. Although political propaganda does nicely when they you can avoid skeptical analysis, science dies.

Climate Science stopped being a science when the peer review process became subverted. When no one objects to the world’s top climate scientists changing the peer review process to avoid the publication of papers which discredit their work, it is no longer a science.

Climate science stopped being a science when they did not express outrage over the criminal deletion of raw data by the premier (so called gold standard) climate lab in the world. The fact that no effort was made to recover the deleted data is also a crime. (To me that would be like destroying the Mona Lisa and replacing it with a photo copy with a mustache drawn on it and expecting no one to complain. It is insane.) No real science can survive which destroys their data and replaces it with unverifiable altered data. No mattered how explained the altered data is useless. Its only value is to support propaganda it has no value in science. It is not valid if it can't be verified by outsiders. When scientists no longer care about the integrity of the data it is no longer a science.

Climate Science stopped being a science when special interests took control of the grant process and specifically the subjects for which grants will be made. If your research does not support the propaganda your funding is cut off. No incentive for the honest science there. When the results of research are predetermined by special interest groups it is not science.

Climate Science stopped being a science when it began to make scary prophecies of future events which have little to no basis in history and researched data. When a scientist projects a volcano will erupt based on observed data that is one thing. But, when prophecies of doom are based on speculation and guess work with a bias towards scaring people that is not science. The fact that verification has consistently proven that the outrageous claims are seriously overstated had not even slowed the propaganda. Science should leave the prophecies to religion and propaganda to politicians. Both propaganda and religion are not science.

Climate Science stopped being a science when non-scientists at the IPPC took over the job of writing their reports. Science fiction is not science.

Perhaps someday the field of research called Climate Science will become a science again. I hope so. Until thne just keep this in mind. If you do not like the weather of climate waite a bit it will change. Wonder if things will get warmer or cooler. With so little valid science to base my guess on who can say?

william January 19, 2010 at 2:41 am

yay paul. the people proposing agw as a science have never proposed a method of testing their hypothesis. they had to know that their correlations might have no causal relation to global warming. in short at some level they had to know they were wrong. you are a far kinder person than i am. i think most of these scientists had to know in their hearts that what they have been doing is morally and ethically wrong.they were getting grants, prestige, promotions. and they sold out and lost their objectivity. there should be a reckoning and careers should be ended. william

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