In a world where accusations like this fly by like pigeons in the park, it was about time someone but some work into research before making a claim such as this one. This is not some unsubstantiated assertion, or some crazy scientist’s statement – this is backed up by numbers. Let’s look at the matter in depth.

Climate change and gas giants

Exxon Mobil is not only the world’s largest private oil company, but also one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world, having been ranked either #1 or #2 for the past 5 years. They are also (of course) denying climate change, and there has been a rumour going on that they have been paying or offering some kind of reward to researchers who also deny climate change. But until now this was only an unconfirmed rumour.

A recent analysis conducted by Carbon Brief investigated no less than 900 published papers, all of which cast doubts on climate change, or even speak against it. After concluding this investigation, they found that 9 out of 10 of the most prolific ones had some sort of connection with Exxon Mobil. You can find a link to these papers at the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

The results showed that out of the 938 papers cited, 186 of them were written by only ten men, and foremost among them was Dr Sherwood B Idso, who personally authored 67 of them. Idso is the president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, an ExxonMobil funded think tank. The second most prolific was Dr Patrick J Michaels, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, who receives roughly 40% of his funding from the oil industry.

This goes in parallel with the ‘work’ of the Koch industries; even though you probably haven’t heard of them, Koch industries is the second largest privately held company in the US, and in the past 50 years, they have invested more than 50.000.000 dollars in spreading doubts about climate change, according to Greenpeace.

An old tactic that sadly, keeps getting good results

The thing is, you don’t have to convince people that climate change isn’t happening – all you have to do is cast some doubt on that, and people will no longer be certain, and this is a strategy that has been successfully tested by tobacco companies, almost at the same level, and coffee companies, at a much lower level. Basically, you keep the public confused about the idea, and a confused public is much, much better than a public who is against you.

Other prolific authors of climate-change denying include Willie Soon, John R. Christy and Sallie L Baliunas who are all associated with the George C. Marshall Institute, whose website asserts that “…efforts to reach agreement on inferences about human influence on the climate system that can be drawn from science and policy prescriptions for addressing the climate change risk have been controversial.”.

Of course, in order to be totally (and more) correct, you have to give them the benefit of a doubt; but the numbers are extremely suggestive in this case. In addition to this extremely active group of climate change deniers, three extremely respected and esteemed researchers have individually complained that their research has been misinterpreted and/or miscited by climate change skeptics in order to bolster their own beliefs. CarbonBrief also contacted a few of them, and here’s what they got from Professor Peter deMenocal, of the Earth Institute, Columbia University, told the Carbon Brief when asked about the inclusion of his paper on the list:

“I’ve responded to similar queries over the years. No, this is not an accurate representation of my work and I’ve said so many times to them and in print.”I’ve asked Dennis Avery of the Heartland Institute to take my name off [another similar] list four times and I’ve never had a response. There are 15 other Columbia colleagues on there as well … and all want their names removed.”

The thing is, a significant amount of these studies don’t focus on human driven climate change, which is why it’s extremely easy to misquote their results. If you take for example an article written by Professor Richard Zeebe, University of Hawaii, you’d find an interesting conclusion: feedbacks such as increases in other greenhouse gases were responsible for a substantial part of global warming, alongside the direct impact of carbon dioxide. Here’s what Professor Zeebe had to say:


“Using our paper to support skepticism of anthropogenic global warming is misleading.”

This kind of papers contributes to the general scientific treasure of the world; it has to be said, Earth has had significant climate changes throughout it’s 4.5 billion year history, and we are still broadening our understanding about how these long term climate changes occur. It’s a delicate problem to separate these natural tendencies from the anthropic driven changes, mostly carbon emissions. But climate skeptics didn’t only misinterpret this.

A paper by Meehl et al, also placed on the list, discussed the effects of the 11 year solar cycle on the tropical Pacific. The author of the paper, Gerald Meehl, of the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), said:

“It’s odd that our 2009 paper is on a site about global warming. Our paper addressed specifically the climate system response to the 11-year solar cycle. Thus it is about decadal timescale climate variability. “It said nothing about long-term warming trends, and in fact, in the last sentence of the paper, we state, ‘This response also cannot be used to explain recent global warming because the 11-year solar cycle has not shown a measurable trend over the past 30 years.'”.

Energy and Environment

So where does this lead us ? Let’s be fair.

There are a few researchers for which I have every bit of respect who are climate change skeptics; they wrote papers, they make some claims and back them up with scientific evidence, and overall, they greatly contribute to scientific progress. Richard Lindzen is one of them. Richard Muller is another great example – he set out to disprove human driven global warming, and surprisingly found data that backs it up. A great example of a researcher !

But what about the others, the one who get their funding from oil giants and then write dubious papers, misquoting other people’s work and misinforming the general public ? I may be out of line, but in my book, these are not researchers, they are puppets.

Let’s take a look at the citations given by the Energy and Environment journal, compared to the Journal of Climate, and you tell me which one is better (charts made by SCImago):

Citation statistics for Energy and Environment

Citation statistics for Journal of Climate



What does this tell us? CarbonBrief again puts it best:

It’s clear that E&E’s papers are cited relatively infrequently – suggesting the inclusion of a substantial number of them on the ‘900+’ list does not demonstrate widespread disagreement with the scientific consensus on climate change, but rather that these views are confined to a small climate skeptic lobby.

Via CarbonBrief

Like us on Facebook
Independent science reporting, always spot on. Join ZME Science's daily newsletter

You Might Also Like


  1. 2

    10 out of 10 of the top “Natural Climate Change DENIERS” are associated with the IPCC.

    So, it’s OK for government to fund natural climate change deniers, but it’s not OK for a business to promote science furthering an alternate theory?

    This is starting to sound like the plot from Orwell’s 1984…

  2. 3

    @ Roger G. Foster Actually, the IPCC does not deny non-human factors regarding climate change. It does state however that human activity has been a significant and primary driver of climate change.

  3. 5

    Republican factory owners killed your family and friends in the catastrophic blizzards, floods, tornadoes, massive wildfires and other climate change that has been wiping out the bible-belt. This is the Climate Change that their factories created. This is the Climate Change that the Republicans lie about not existing. This is the Climate Change that they program their constituents to deny exists. This is the Climate Change that killed people, destroyed homes, further destroyed the economy that the Republican factories emissions caused so they could make profits by killing those people. Republicans deny Climate Change at all costs in order to keep their factories from having to pay to stop it. The Climate Change that is destroying massive pats of our country can no longer be hidden or denied.

  4. 6

    And to think… Some people say that the environmentalists exaggerate…

    Poppycock! Poppycock I say…

  5. 7

    Hey… Wasn’t New York and Florida supposed to be under 20′ of water by now?

    Let’s ask Al about this…

  6. 9

    This nonsense has been refuted,

    Rebuttal to “Analysing the ‘900 papers supporting climate scepticism’: 9 out of top 10 authors linked to ExxonMobil”

    When confronted with the irrefutable fact that an overwhelming number of peer-reviewed papers exist supporting skeptic arguments,
    desperate alarmists like Christian will always turn to whatever smear
    they can come up with, in this case the tired old one that the authors
    were “funded” by oil companies. What is falsely implied is that these
    scientists are corrupt and oil companies are paying them to be
    skeptical. This is an easy argument to prove, you simply need to show
    that these scientists changed their position on AGW after receiving a
    monetary donation from an oil company. Alarmists never show this because
    they cannot. These scientists all held a skeptical position prior to
    receiving any monetary donations. Any monetary donations these
    scientists received was because the donor agreed with the scientific
    position that the scientist already held. Alarmists cannot comprehend
    this irrefutable logic because they emotionally refuse to accept that
    there are credentialed scientists who do not share their beliefs.

    Alarmist Challenge:

    claims of this article have not been shown to be true. It is falsely
    implied that if a scientist went to a meeting for coffee and donuts
    hosted by an organizati­on that in the last 20 years received a $5
    donation from a fossil fuel company that scientist is now “funded by the
    fossil fuel industry”.

    – Please provide actual documents irrefutabl­y demonstrat­ing direct fossil fuel company funding for any scientist.

    – Then prove that the same scientist has received enough energy company donations to sustain all their research over the years.

    Finally prove that the same scientist changed their scientific position
    regarding AGW due to a monetary donation and did not hold a skeptical
    position prior to the donation.

    Rebuttal to “Energy and Environment – “journal of choice for climate skeptics” Analysing the 900+ skeptic papers part III”

    from the Carbon Brief is back with round three of his nonsense. This
    time he repeats long debunked propaganda about the scholarly
    peer-reviewed journal Energy & Environment. Absolutely nothing is
    new here if he bothered to read the notes following the list,

    Correcting misinformation about the journal Energy & Environment

  7. 10

    Sorry if I’m pointing out the obvious, but
    It does seem to say that around 770 papers (82%) were written by scientists with no connection to the oil industry.

  8. 13

    It was the trusted and saintly scientists themselves that originally polluted the planet with their pesticides and cancer causing chemicals they created, making environmentalism necessary in the first place. Scientists were the enemy of environmentalism until the goose stepping neocons of CO2 environMENTALism started bowing to them like trained seals. The mindless grunt of “all the scientists agree.” after 25 years of condemning our children to death was nothing more than political correctness on steroids, considering that all American IPCC funding was pulled and Obama never even mentioned the “crisis” in his state of the union speech. So the “scientists” can study the effects of something that never happened till the cows come home but it won’t make the “crisis” real and it won’t make the “former believer” majority of voters reverse course and vote yes to personal sacrifice and taxing the air to make the weather colder. What the remaining glossy eyed climate blamers don’t know is that the CO2 theory promised that yes, there “will” be effects and they will range from either negligible to nothing, to out of control and unstoppable and runaway warming. So what’s not to agree with? Thousands of consensus scientists also produced cruise missiles, cancer causing chemical cocktails, land mine technology, nuclear weapons, germ warfare, cluster bombs, strip mining technology, Y2K, Y2Kyoto, deep sea drilling technology and now climate control. If the myth of “all the scientists agree” and scientific consensus were real and factual, wouldn’t we see these trusted leaders of science marching in the streets after Obama snubbed them in his state of the union speech and when IPCC funding for climate change research was pulled? REAL planet lovers, REAL liberals and REAL civilized people are happy and relieved the crisis was avoided. The rest are spineless car accident rubber neckers who take glee in condemning billions of children to a death by CO2. History is watching this insanity.

  9. 14

    Are Skeptical Scientists funded by ExxonMobil?

    In an article titled, “Analysing the ‘900 papers supporting climate scepticism’: 9 out of top 10 authors linked to ExxonMobil” from the environmental activist website The Carbon Brief, former Greenpeace “researcher”
    Christian Hunt failed to do basic research. He made no attempt to
    contact the scientists he unjustly attacked and instead used biased and
    corrupt websites like DeSmogBlog to smear them as “linked to” [funded by] ExxonMobil.

    To get to the truth, I emailed the scientists mentioned in the article the following questions;

    1. Have you ever received direct funding from ExxonMobil?

    2. Do funding sources have any influence over your scientific work?

    3. Has your scientific position regarding climate change ever changed due to a funding source?

    4. Please include any additional comment on the article,

    Their responses follow,

  10. 18

    One major problem with your analysis: you’re comparing apples to oranges. Journal of Climate is a peer-reviewed scientific journal, at least of sorts (Climate Change, Climate Dynamics, and Climate Research are all much more important journals in this field). Energy & Environment, meanwhile, is essentially a news aggregator for laypeople. It is not peer reviewed and most of what it reports does not even pretend to be “science.” That its articles are not cited by others is no surprise at all; nor is the fact that most of its reporting is not itself sourced to peer-reviewed articles because that’s not the purpose of E&E.

    Seriously, I’m well aware of the industry funded hacks involved in the “climate debate.” The various E&E publications (there are a whole series) are not anti-science propaganda, but rather non-technical news sources written for policy makers and a popular audience. The climate scientists I work with every day would never use them for any serious purpose, but they also feel fine recommending them to students seeking info on current events or background.

    Not everything that doesn’t fit a preconceived black hat/white hat worldview is part of the conspiracy.

  11. 19

    So, I guess you’re making the point that the 97 articles cited in Popular Technology are mostly non-scientific, non-peer-reviewed papers that have no weight in the scientific discourse on Climate Change. Well done! I think you managed to understand why claiming that 97 *peer-reviewed* papers refuting climate change is factually incorrect. News aggregators have their part to play, but not in actual scientific dialogue.

  12. 20

    You implicit suggestion is that the Government is conspiring through funding of scientists to defraud its citizens. Well done providing a conspiracy theory nut job example! Orwell’s plot, if written today, would be all about corporatism and its role in subverting democracy. Wake up.

  13. 21

    I’ll have a go for you:

    1) People lie

    2) People lie

    3) People lie

    4) Your comment is pretty irrelevant; any researcher receiving funding from the public, along with other criteria, is required to disclose their funding sources. Moreover, anyone supported by interested parties is required by journals to declare their interests, etc. People’s replies on this issue are not to be trusted unless there are substantial, readily enforceable penalties for lying.

    Also, the article above was not about the people in the papers, but the value of the cited journals. You utterly failed to address this issue in your reply. Also, you fail to rebut the clear example of mis-use of a citation, contrary to the published authors’ intent: you essentially lied about the conclusion of the paper, taking it upon yourself to instead come to a diametrically opposed conclusion. This is the worst and most execrable example of a failure of journalistic integrity and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    Finally, I have a question for you:

    Who funds Popular Technology and the author of the blog post here:

  14. 22

    Your unsubstantiated conspiratorial delusions are not evidence that anyone lied. The title of the article is “9 out of 10 top climate change deniers linked with Exxon Mobil” so my comments are directly relevant.

    The specific papers mentioned in this article do not even appear on the list or did you even bother to check?

    Citations are a determination of popularity not scientific validity. Regardless, various papers from Energy & Environment are widely cited; “Corrections to the Mann et al (1998) Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemisphere Average Temperature Series” is cited over 250 times, “Reconstructing climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years: a reappraisal” over 150 times and “The IPCC emission scenarios: An economic-statistical critique” over 125 times.

    Energy & Environment is has been cited 28 times in the IPCC reports. does not receive funding from anyone and never has.

  15. 23

    This is completely false, Energy & Environment is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal (ISSN: 0958-305X)

    1. Thompson Reuters Social Sciences Citation Index (ISI) lists Energy & Environment as a peer-reviewed scholarly journal

    2. EBSCO Publishing lists Energy & Environment as a peer-reviewed scholarly journal (PDF)

    3. Elsevier (parent company of Scopus) correctly lists Energy & Environment as a scholarly peer-reviewed journal on their internal master list. (Source: Email Correspondence)

    4. Scopus lists Energy & Environment as a peer-reviewed scholarly journal

    Energy & Environment is cited 28 times in the IPCC reports.

  16. 24

    The only one supporting conspiracy theories here is you as you failed to provide any evidence counter to the article I linked to that any of those scientists unjustly smeared as “funded by Exxon” lied about anything.

  17. 25

    It has already been irrefutably established that the papers published in E&E were peer-reviewed.

    Your reading comprehension problems are not surprising but the list does not claim any of the papers “refute climate change” rather that they all can support skeptic arguments against Alarmism.

  18. 26

    Sorry PopTech, I wasn’t replying to your comment, so my reading comprehension is unmarred; rather, your capacity to note that I was replying to Kawinda not you is the problem here: your lack of observation.

    Thanks for pointing out that E&E papers are peer-reviewed; I am not familiar with the journal in question. So, that being the case, Kawinda’s original point – apples vs oranges – is a specious argument, which leaves the original post’s point standing: the citations of E&E, on average, are far below other journals in the field; it is not in the Top 20 according to Thompson Reuters. That makes the articles far less worthwhile, on average, as they have been read and deemed unworthy of referencing.

  19. 27

    “The specific papers mentioned in this article do not even appear on the list”

    How interesting that the author of this article would cite papers in PopTech’s blog post that currently are not there. However might that have happened? It’s not as if someone couldn’t check…had they the time to go trawling through a list that is only browsable. Maybe Google has an archival page of PopTech with the list of papers cited so we can compare to that list to the articles to which the author is referring. My point obviously being that posts on the web are not written in stone.

    “Citations are a determination of popularity not scientific validity.”

    You have a saddening attitude to scientific citations, though given the usual attitude of Climate Change Deniers towards scientists in general, that’s not surprising. In fact, scientists – like me – look for papers that support their opening contentions, which then build towards the point the new paper is intending to demonstrate. This is not a popularity contest, but a measure of what published works contribute to the ongoing work of science. Thus, if a paper is never cited, it is generally not worthy of citation, because it is either a poor example of a citation, or is irrelevant. I’m picking that E&E papers are frequently both, from the data that the original post provided.

    Your cherry-picked examples do not prove that the publication, as a whole, is generally worthy and, as we are in the business of judging not isolated examples but a slew of papers, this seems the more relevant metric. As an alternative, you could provide the citation numbers for all 97 articles you cited in your refutation of the 97% consensus, versus a random selection of 97 papers from the journal of Climate Change, repeated 10,000 times to get a good population sample.

    Even in the case that paper citations were purely and simply a matter of popularity, like a prom king & queen’s brief rule, one would have to ask: why are they more popular? Maybe it’s not just because they have a pretty smile or bulging biceps. Maybe it’s something to do with the value of their character.

    I’m happy to hear that PopTech does not receive funding from the FF industry. Of course, we’ll all just have to take your word on that one, won’t we? Particularly as you post in the first person while running the title of your blog as your name.

  20. 28

    …Except that I wasn’t replying to you, PopTech, so maybe you were a bit befuddled and got your post replies mixed up. I don’t even know to which post of yours you are referring.

  21. 29

    Actually, you’re wrong about scientists not believing that other scientists could have opposing views. We get that most, if not all, of the time. You might have heard of the peer-review process? That’s where 2-3 scientists get the change to tell you all the things that were wrong about your work as described in your manuscript. So, ‘alarmists’ don’t have to prove that anyone’s position has changed as a function of being FF-funded.

    The issue of corporate financing of science is a bit like the issue of corporate funding of politicians, or the separation of Church and State. When the State funds scientists, it does so at arm’s length: the State does not decide what science gets done, which projects are funded. That is left to senior scientists, reviewing each other’s grant applications, the best of which receive funding from a common pool. Hard to understand, I know, this idea of self-determination for those working for the man, but science is a fundamentally socialist endeavour: by the people, for the people, in control of the people as the means of production (of information) is in the hands of those who produce it.

    Meanwhile, when Corporations fund science, they have a vested interest in the outcome in a way that the State does not; for the State, anything that advances the common good is of benefit, even if it takes a decade to happen. For a Corporation, the time-lines are measured in months, which is 100-fold shorter time frame. That makes a huge difference. Moreover, the pay of the CEOs of said corporations are frequently linked to performance – stock market price and dividends – so that means that companies have a vested interest in *suppressing* any results that run counter to their immediate best interests.

    This is exactly what it has now been show that Exxon did, suppressing scientific data on AGW for 4 decades. You wrote your reply to this post 5 years ago, so I will accept your humbled apology and retraction of your above comment for being so utterly, catastrophically wrong about the nature of Corporate funding of science.

  22. 30

    How interesting is it that you do not perform basic research before making baseless allegations? The list has been out and updated for many years and none of those authors ever contacted us about their papers. Why is that? Regardless they are using strawman arguments for why their papers would be listed.

    1. It is made quite clear on the list that it is a bibliographic resource for skeptics not a list of skeptics as stated explicitly in the Disclaimer:

    Disclaimer: Even though the most prolific authors on the list are skeptics, the inclusion of a paper in this list does not imply a specific personal position to any of the authors. While certain authors on the list cannot be labeled skeptics (e.g. Harold Brooks, Roger Pielke Jr., Roger Pielke Sr.) their paper(s) or results from their paper(s) can still support skeptic’s arguments against Alarmism.

    * deMenocal’s paper has been cited multiple times to support skeptic arguments about the Medieval Warm Period (Soon et al. 2003, Loehle and Singer 2010).

    * Meehle’s paper has been cited multiple times to support skeptic arguments about a solar influence on climate (Scafetta 2010, Scafetta 2012, Solheim et al. 2012).

    Your have a deranged attitude that science is a popularity contest but thankfully the great scientists like Einstein did not share your delusions. I have never met anyone that denies the climate changes.

    I have established that papers from E&E are well cited regardless. Are the IPCC reports worthy? Because either E&E is “worthy” or the IPCC reports are not.

    The list is not a refutation of the fraudulent 97% consensus talking point and never has been.

    Too bad I destroyed some conspiratorial hacks online delusions about funding. Prove me wrong and show we have ever been funded by anyone, come on you hack. Let expose you as the online clown that you are.

  23. 31

    Citations are a determination of popularity not scientific validity. Regardless, various papers from Energy & Environment are widely cited; “Corrections to the Mann et al (1998) Proxy Data Base and
    Northern Hemisphere Average Temperature Series” is cited over 250 times, “Reconstructing climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years: a reappraisal” over 150 times and “The IPCC emission scenarios: An economic-statistical critique” over 125 times.

    What a clown, please go tell all the journals not in the Thompson Reuters Top 20 that they are deemed unworthy of referencing.

  24. 32

    All that socialist ranting and you still failed to provide irrefutable evidence that a single author on the list was funded by Exxon. I will will accept your humble apology and retraction of your libelous smears.

  25. 33

    I was directing replying to you and your conspiratorial delusions. I am not surprised you do not remember any of the libelous smears you peddle.

  26. 34

    One of my favorite engineers, Burt Rutan, designer of more than 40 aircraft, put together this very
    dramatic assessment of the CAGW likelihood, Pay close attention to the end of his review of the dato, in which he shows that we are in a cooling period and likely to get into a even colder timeframe shortly.

  27. 35

    "Journal of Climate is a peer-reviewed scientific journal, at least of
    sorts "
    We've all seen just how poor/warped the Peer Review process is

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>