In some ways, science is a lot like democracy—there is no received wisdom, only people examining data and different ways to interpret that data in an effort to determine what really is happening. Because no two people are exactly alike, you cannot guarantee that everyone will interpret the data in the exact same way. But when the vast majority of scientists agree that a thing is a thing, then you can rest assured that it is, in all likelihood, a thing. Where they differ in the details is where more research needs to be done.
Climate Change Denial and Dark Money
So when the vast majority of the world’s scientists agree that climate change is real and that it is caused by human activities, I don’t doubt it. But there are always politicians of a certain stripe who will point out that handful of scientists who disagree, and then claim that climate change isn’t real, isn’t caused by human activity, or isn’t a danger. (That politicians don’t understand the meaning of “consensus” doesn’t surprise me.)
Last week, The New York Times revealed that one of those scientists, Wei-Hock Soon, has received over a million dollars from the fossil fuel industry while publishing papers that deny climate change, while failing to reveal that conflict of interest:
The documents show that Dr. Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as “deliverables” that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe testimony he prepared for Congress.
Of course, this should not come as any surprise, since a little over a year ago, Scientific American reported on a Drexel University study that reported that many of the organizations that deny climate change are funded with “dark money”:
A Drexel University study finds that a large slice of donations to organizations that deny global warming are funneled through third-party pass-through organizations that conceal the original funder