Skepticgate: Revealing Climate Denialists for What They Are

Greenpeace USA's lead researcher just broke the story about a congressional investigation requested by Rep. Waxman that may finally put the climate denial machine under the microscope.
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UPDATE 2/1/11: More news on the Koch Brothers
New information released by Greenpeace shows that various Koch foundations continued their anti-climate spending spree in 2009, and one of the largest recipients was the Cato Institute, where Pat Michaels is a senior fellow in environmental studies. The Koch brothers organized a strategy and fundraising retreat near Las Vegas last weekend, and protesters were on hand -- on land and in the air -- to shine a light on their activities. In tandem with the event, Sierra Club launched a new campaign to "dislike" the Koch Brothers.

Greenpeace USA's lead researcher Kert Davies just broke the story about a congressional investigation requested by Rep. Waxman that may finally put the climate denial machine under the microscope.

This by all reckoning is a real "climategate" - a genuinely scandalous story in which a scientist who testified before Congress hid the fact that he was funded largely by corporate interests. But will it get the same airplay that the now debunked "climategate" story enjoyed?

Maybe timing is everything. The hackers who broke into the computers of the University of East Anglia did so just weeks before the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December 2009. So when the denial machine went into overdrive the press fell for it hook, line and sinker. Despite several independent reviews exonerating the fundamental science, a number of newspaper retractions and various public apologies to people whose names were dragged through the mud, many people were left wondering whether climate change was really as much of a threat as it had been made out to be.

Compare that to the dog days of last summer. When much of the northern hemisphere was on vacation and concerns about climate tended more towards the cost of running an air conditioner, this far more explosive story barely escaped the blogosphere. Prominent climate skeptic Pat Michaels admitted on CNN that an estimated 40% of his funding came from petroleum industry sources:

In and of itself, this was hardly news. Desmogblog has revealed that since 1998 ExxonMobil has contributed $25 million to 35 anti-science nonprofits while oil giant Koch Industries has doled out more than $48 million to efforts that attack climate science.

Dr. Michaels, according to Rep. Waxman may have knowingly misled Congress into believing that only around 3% of his income came from the energy sector when he appeared before a congressional subcommittee hearing on the climate crisis the previous year. Waxman is now calling to have Michaels brought before the committee to clarify the sources of his funding.

In his letter to the new Republican Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Waxman points out that "Among the scientists who testified before this Committee on the issue of climate change in the last Congress, Dr. Michaels was the only one to dismiss the need to act on climate change."

I say it's time to give the skeptics a taste of their own medicine. Borrowing a term first tweeted by Andy Revkin of the New York Times, let's officially call this "Skepticgate" - a new synonym for the cynical, profit-motivated efforts of the Kochs and Exxons of the world to keep the public disinformed about the real and present dangers of unabated fossil fuel consumption.

Google "climategate" and you get 895,000 results. It's high time we expose the real "gate" in the room. So today I present a challenge:

How many results can we get on "Skepticgate" by the year's end?

Leave your thoughts, questions and comments about climate skeptics and what you think we can do to overcome their destructive influence on the media. If you've written blogs on the subject, please include the links below. And make sure to tweet about #skepticgate as this important story unfolds.

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