From the alarmist conspiracy theory factory yet another plot is constructed, buried, unearthed and waved about triumphantly. A publication called Phys.Org hollers “Investigation examines fossil fuel industry influence at elite American universities”. They’ll need a pretty powerful microscope to find it. And they must have one, because they discovered “oil and gas companies have funded research to try to weaken messages on climate change, capture academia, and protect their interests, much like tobacco companies did half a century ago.” Given the state of academia, especially when it comes to rational debate on climate, we suggest they demand their money back… and send it to us.
According to the “About” link at the bottom of their website, Phys.Org is part of Science X (or vice versa) which:
“With a global reach of over 10 million monthly readers and featuring dedicated websites for hard sciences, technology, medical research and health news… is one of the largest online communities for science-minded people. Science X publishes approximately 200 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide.”
Also this nonsense in case you hate real news. We’re even skeptical that “Today’s report is thought to be the first systematic examination of fossil fuel funding influence across multiple elite campuses.” We’ll bet others have done very similar things. But with we hope a bit more rigour.
For instance, the story says “As one example, [author Paul] Thacker reports how a paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) helped alter American energy policy and kicked off a fracking boom.” What’s more, “One Stanford University student told The BMJ that climate scientists at elite universities have normalized financial relationships with oil and gas companies, and many students are now calling for their universities to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry.” And who among us wouldn’t draw massive conclusions from one Stanford student?
After yet another comparison to the stinking tobacco industry’s nefarious funding plots, which the author concedes is ironic given how badly that one flopped, the piece says “the movement on campuses against fossil fuel funding is growing.” So if oil companies did fund some research studies, with good motives or bad, the impact hasn’t exactly been overwhelming, has it? Other than that one MIT paper that supposedly kicked off the fracking boom, we mean.
Without noting the irony, the piece also says “Ben Franta, a Stanford student who is finalizing his Ph.D. on the history of climate disinformation, claims that professors began criticizing him for raising problems and possibly threatening their funding. As this article was going to press, Oxford University announced that Franta was joining their faculty to establish the Climate Litigation Lab.” Some career assassination attempt that was.
If a serious discussion were possible here, we would ask this intrepid researcher to assess how much money governments have given universities, on the climate file and generally, and to expose the manner in which it influenced research, hiring and teaching in precisely the direction the politicians and bureaucrats wanted. But of course government is free of any sort of moral taint, and capitalism devoid of virtue.
At least that’s what most of our professors told us.