Who hides behind the sceptics?

Mother Jones has tallied some 40 ExxonMobil-funded organizations that either have sought to undermine US mainstream scientific findings on global climate change or have maintained affiliations with a small group of “skeptic” scientists who continue to do so. Beyond think tanks, the count also includes quasi-journalistic outlets like Tech CentralStation.com (a website providing “news, analysis, research, and commentary” that received $95,000 from ExxonMobil in 2003), a FoxNews.com columnist, and even religious and civil rights groups. In total, these organizations received more than $8 million between 2000 and 2003.”

So begins a timely report from this classy American magazine. Here in Australia we are constantly bombarded by Green scepticism dressed up as reasoned debate. This anti-Green hysteria is defeated by mountains of fact but the self-appointed conservative commentators create a left-wing conspiracy and routinely dismiss the evidence. Much easier to laugh at environmental damage than actually examine the facts.

As Mother Jones discovers, the political and financial affiliations of these sceptics should always be considered and investigated. Besides, ever wondered why virtually all Green-sceptics hang onto every word of the genre’s master, Bjorn Lomborg? Professor Ian Lowe, emeritus professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University, explains the true reasons behind his following:

“Propaganda units like the Institute of Public Affairs fund the travel of people like Lomborg to muddy the water and obscure the harsh reality that we are not using our natural resources sustainably. The facts show that we desperately need a new approach. Trusting business and the magic of markets has caused the problem; it cannot solve it, even in principle.”

UPDATE: The UK Independent provided a useful summary yesterday of why the environment should feature prominently in the current election campaign and beyond. We should take note:

10 of the hottest years in the world on record have occurred since 1990

3.5C predicted rise in average UK temperature by 2080. For every one degree rise, Spring advances six days

1.5 per cent rise in UK carbon dioxide emissions in 2004

In its 2001 manifesto, Labour reaffirmed its pledge to cut greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels, by 2010. They are currently 12.6 per cent lower than in 1990

8.6 months is the estimated reduction in lifespan of average European due to pollution

434,000,000 tons of waste is produced in Britain each year – enough to fill the Albert Hall every two hours

50cm average distance between pieces of litter on UK beaches. Levels of rubbish on beaches have increased 82 per cent in a decade

Rubbish is dumped illegally in UK every 35 secs

22m tons of rubbish from British homes sent to landfill sites every year

10 species of wild flower are believed to be disappearing from each county in Britain each decade

21 native flowering plants have disappeared from Britain in the past 150 years

50 per cent fall in the population of birds living in agricultural fields since 1970 (with tree sparrows down by 87 per cent )

95 per cent of our important, wildlife-rich lowland peat bogs have been destroyed in the past half century

97 per cent of our flower-rich lowland grasslands have disappeared since 1930

17 per cent of household waste was recycled last year. The target is 35 per cent by 2015

19 per cent of municipal waste recycled last year

50 per cent of household and municipal waste is recycled in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands

97m passengers flew between the UK and the rest of Europe in 2003 – almost double the 51m in 1993

32.26m vehicles were on Britain’s roads last year, a rise of 3.2 per cent on 2003

100 tons of CO2 will be released by each of the main party’s helicopters during the campaign, say the Greens

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