This Is Global

One of the reasons global warming is such a compelling topic is that it exists at the intersection of politics, business, and the environment, a fact made abundantly clear by three major stories that have broken this week. The first story concerns the release of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "a top panel of international scientists," claiming that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal" and that the warming has "very likely" been caused by man. The second is news about an oil company: record profits of $39.5 billion, or about $4.5 million per hour, for ExxonMobil in 2006. And the third story, from the Guardian, is the one that has the blogosphere heating up:
Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

About a month ago, the news broke that according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, "ExxonMobil Corp. gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and 2005 in an effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming."

The latest news has liberal blogger Kevin Drum showing off his sarcastic side. "Seriously? These guys made $39.5 billion but were willing to pay scientists only ten grand each to whore themselves out writing reports and op-eds pretending there's some kind of serious doubt about the reality of human-induced global warming? Even though these scientists have kids to feed?," writes Drum. "That's insulting. For this level of simpering I recommend holding out for at least $50,000."

The flurry of warming news brings to mind Scott Pelley's comments to us after his Feb. 2006 piece on global warming, which largely excluded the perspective of global warming skeptics.

"It would be irresponsible of us to go find some scientist somewhere who is not thought of as being eminent in the field and put him on television with these other guys to cast doubt on what they're saying," said Pelley. "It would be difficult to find a scientist worth his salt in this subject who would suggest this wasn't happening. It would probably be someone whose grant has been funded by someone who finds reducing fossil fuel emissions detrimental to their own interests."

In another interview with us, Pelley compared airing the perspective of warming skeptics to airing that of a Holocaust denier to counter the perspective of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Former Senate environment committee chair James Inhofe, who has called the notion that humans are responsible for global warming the "greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people," cited Pelley's reports and his remarks to us as evidence of the media's biased coverage of the issue.