University of NSW Associate Professor David McKnight has written a petty mud-slinging article. He argues that oil corporation Exxon-Mobil is distorting the public debate over global warming by funding sceptical opinions. But those sceptical opinions get very little government support. So why shouldn’t Exxon give money to views that would otherwise be marginalised?
Let’s not forget that the government is the biggest corporation of them all. When public money funds climate science, it too “distorts” the debate by propping up viewpoints that other taxpayers disagree with. At least private money from Exxon – excluding any government subsidies it gets – has the advantage of being honestly acquired. The CSIRO’s budget, on the other hand, comes from taking the fruits of others’ labour through the force of the State.
Government money can also corrupt, just like private money. What about the incentives facing “Department of Climate Change” bureaucrats? If they exaggerate the threat of global warming, won’t their jobs become more secure? Indeed, public servants find it in their interests to be busy-bodies. The social-engineering required to “fix” climate change hands bureaucrats new powers and encourages the perception that they’re doing something worthwhile.
Instead of launching a one-sided attack on Exxon, McKnight should have simply said that corporate and government funded work should be judged on their individual merits. It’s anti-intellectual to try and discredit opinions because of the funding source: there’s no excuse for not putting in the hard yards and rebutting the substantive arguments.