The Heat Is Online

ExxonMobil: The Skeptics' New Patron


ExxonMobil has become a major funder of the most visible "greenhouse skeptics", most of whom who have traditionally been funded by the coal industry -- including S. Fred Singer, Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling and Sherwood Idso.

ExxonMobil is the world's third largest corporation with annual profits of about $17 billion. The company is using some of those profits to confuse the public discussion of global climate change. ExxonMobil is sabotaging the work of more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries by funding the most visible "greenhouse skeptics" -- one of whom, S. Fred Singer, publicly denied receiving oil industry money as recently as February, 2001.

According to 1998, ExxonMobil documents, the company directly funds:

S. Fred Singer's institute, The Science and Environmental Policy Project as well as another foundation that promotes Singer's activities; and,

Craig Idso, Keith E. Idso and Sherwood Idso's institute: The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change.

ExxonMobil grants have indirectly funded Patrick Michaels and Robert Balling.

In its own documents, ExxonMobil is quite clear about why it funds the tiny handful of dissenting "greenhouse skeptics": "ExxonMobil provides support to selected organizations that assess public policy alternatives on issues with direct bearing on the company's business operations and interests."

S. Fred Singer:

On Feb 12, 2001, Singer wrote a letter to The Washington Post in which he denied receiving any oil company money in the previous 20 years when he had consulted for the oil industry.

According to ExxonMobil documents, the company gave a 1998 grant of $10,000 to Singer's institute, the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP). It gave another $65,000 to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Fairfax, Virginia which promotes Singer's work.

In its web page, "Atlas invites other institutes to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the proximity of SEPP. The organization's founding president, Dr. S. Fred Singer, is a well-known physical scientist who has been an active contributor in the battle against the 'politicization' of science. Singer, along with a handful of other prominent scientists, have dared to challenge claims of environmental apocalypse from global warming…Fortunately for those who believe that public policy should be based on sound science, Dr. Singer offers a wealth of information, credibility, and encouragement."

In his letter to The Washington Post, Singer wrote: "My connection to oil during the past decade is as a Wesson Fellow at the Hoover Institution; the Wesson money derives from salad oil."

In 1998, ExxonMobil gave $135,000 to the Hoover Institution -- the same year Singer published an article in the institution's publication, The Hoover Digest.

Singer's falsehood about industry funding in The Washington Post is the latest in a series of fabrications and untruths.

In 1997, Singer told the press that former IPCC Chairman Dr. Bert Bolin has changed his mind about climate change. According to Singer, Bolin had dismissed the connection between atmospheric warming and extreme weather events – and was distressed that the Clinton Administration was taking measures to reduce emissions.

Bolin subsequently denied making the statements. Bolin said it was "scientifically accurate" to note that extreme weather effects "are consistent with the predicted effects of climate change.

Referring to Singer's attribution of bogus statements to Bolin, the Swedish physicist dismissed them as "inaccurate and misleading."

Singer followed that misrepresentation with an attack on the integrity of the entire IPCC process in an interview last January in The New American, the magazine of the ultra-conservative John Birch Society.

Singer is also on the staff of the ultra-conservative Frontiers of Freedom institute. According to its mission statement, Frontiers of Freedom "is the antithesis to the Sierra Club and Vice President Al Gore's Earth in the Balance. Frontiers works to advance States' rights, protect property rights, privatize Social Security, defend first amendment civil liberties, and among other efforts to reform the federal tax code, the Endangered Species Act, and the Food and Drug Administration."


Frontiers of Freedom is funded by ExxonMobil among others, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While Singer loudly touts himself as an accomplished scientist, he has been unable to publish his work in any peer- reviewed scientific journal for at least 15 years, except for one technical comment.

Patrick Michaels:

ExxonMobil also funds The Cato Institute's Environment and Natural Resources program. In 1998, ExxonMobil gave a grant of $15,000 to the Institute's program. Patrick Michaels is a Senior Fellow in that Cato Program.

Michaels has been one of the most visible of the "greenhouse skeptics." In a critique of Michaels' work, printed in an appendix to The Heat Is On, Dr. Tom M. L. Wigley, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research wrote:

"Michaels' statements on [the subject of computer models] are a catalog of misrepresentation and misinterpretation…Many of the supposedly factual statements made by Michaels are either inaccurate or are seriously misleading." Wigley concluded that no only would Michaels' work not pass the scientific peer-review process, it is so deeply flawed it would not even be accepted for such review.

Michaels has received hundreds of thousands in industry funding from the German Coal Mining Association, the Western Fuels Association and Cyprus Minerals, a leading funder of the virulently anti-environmental "Wise Use Movement" of the early 1990s.

His newsletter, "World Climate Report" , was funded by The Western Fuels Association and sent free of charge to every member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Michaels is on the board of the Greening Earth Society, a creation of The Western Fuels Association

Dr. Robert Balling:

Exxon Mobil also funds The Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, which published "The Heated Debate," a 1992 book by Dr. Robert Balling, another prominent "greenhouse skeptic."

In a review of Balling's book, Dr. Michael MacCracken, director, U.S. Office of Global Change Research Programs, wrote: "Balling's book is frustrating. Despite its title, the book is clearly not a documentary of the debate that is taking place…Balling sets up a ‘straw man' catastrophist vision in which it is rather easy to punch holes. It would have been much more of a challenge had he taken on the authoritative report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."

Balling, based at Arizona State University, has received more than $300,000 in funding from the Western Fuels Association, the British Coal Corporation, Cyprus Minerals and OPEC. His research was funded in part by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research.

Balling is on the board of the Greening Earth Society, a creation of the Western Fuels Association.

Craig Idso, Keith E. Idso, Sherwood Idso

ExxonMobil funds the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, Tempe, Arizona.

This center, which has been closely affiliated with Western Fuels Association, has Craig Idso as president, Keith E. Idso as vice president and Sherwood Idso as its scientific advisor.

Sherwood Idso created a $250,000 video for Western Fuels in 1991 titled "The Greening of Planet Earth" which touts the virtues of global warming. The highly misleading video – which claims that global warming is good for humanity was paid for by the coal industry and was the subject of Congressional Hearings in the early 1990s.

Keith E. Idso has published the results of the center's work, among other places, in the John Birch Society magazine, "The New American."

While The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide has tried to distance itself from the coal industry and Western Fuels Association, a look at the Western Fuels website indicates otherwise.

Documentation for ExxonMobil's funding of the "greenhouse skeptics" was found on the ExxonMobil website.

In early fall, 2001, ExxonMobil removed this page from their website.

This is what it looked like before Exxon Mobil removed it.

For more information about ExxonMobil and global warming, visit the site of Campaign ExxonMobil.