Here’s a stunning juxtaposition of two emails (released under FOI request and supplied by Christopher Horner to me) from the University of Arizona’s climate scientist Dr. Jonathan Overpeck regarding ‘big oil’ and influence in the climate debate.
First let’s look at Overpeck’s ugly email about Inhofe and big oil, plus a death wish for Oklahoma residents, bold mine:
Thu Sep 22 00:12:22 2005
From: Jonathan Overpeck <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Fwd: Inhofe activities
Cc: TomCrowley Bcc:
Re: Fwd: Inhofe activities
Hi guys – Being on sabbatical, I’m missing more of this kind of stuff than usual. Quite interesting, however, so thanks for sending. Looks like I got it too, but I read your email first.
I did buckle under and read Crichton’s book. It’s pretty amazing. The sad thing is that I’ve talked peers (e.g., Mo Raymo – another Brownie like me and Tom) who they are climate savvy scientists, who actually got fooled by his very selective use of science.
If someone had time, it would be useful to post (e.g., on real climate – must already be there, but I haven’t looked) a foot-note, by foot-note rebuttal of his book. Shocked to see it is getting this kind of traction.
Wish Oklahoma was on the Gulf Coast – then these guys might have a more realistic view. Until then, they’ll just do what the oil industry wants them to do, I guess.
Now, compare that ugly tone to this one about six months later, bold mine:
Fri Feb 10 11:55:39 2006
From: Jonathan Overpeck <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: nice to hear from you!
Hi Pinar – it was great to hear that you were coming to UA, and that you were interested in meeting with this Overpeck guy. I was just in Alaska and ran into Stan Foo in the airport (first time I’ve seen him since Hamilton days), and ditto for Greg Maynard at GSA. Both are doing very well in the minerals side of things. And now you… wonderful.
Bad news is that I’m on sabbatical (actually, this is nice for me and my family that includes two young boys). Moreover, wife (and UA prof) Julie Cole is enroute to Germany for up to a month (! – yes, my fraternity experience should come in helpful as I single-parent two boys). This means, unfortunately, that I can’t fly down to be on campus for your visit. I’m really sorry about this.
However, maybe there is a way to move things forward anyhow?
In addition to seeing and catching up w/ you, I’m also quite intrigued by what Exxon- Mobil and the University of Arizona could do together on the climate change front. As you’ve probably figured out, we have one of the top universities in this area, and lots of capability, both in understanding climate change at the global scale down to the regional scale, but also in terms of understanding how climate variability and change impacts society, and also how interdisciplinary climate knowledge can be used to support improved decision-making in society. On these two latter fronts, UA is arguably the best in the nation.
Perhaps we should talk on the phone and figure out what would be best for your UA visit. I could then help line up a mtg for you w/ the relevant people (including Joaquin Ruiz, who is very interested in climate-related activities), and I could also try to be on a phone link w/ this meeting. After Julie gets back from Germany in mid-March, I would be happy to fly down to Texas to meet with you and your colleagues face-to-face. I’d certainly like that instead of just hearing your voice on a phone. So, would you like to chat on the phone next week? Monday is looking tough w/ visitors and a big deadline, Tues a bit better, and Wed-Friday pretty much wide open.
Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks for looking me up too!
Jonathan T. Overpeck
Director, Institute for the Study of Planet Earth
Professor, Department of Geosciences
Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences
Mail and Fedex Address:
Institute for the Study of Planet Earth
715 N. Park Ave. 2nd Floor
University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721
The hypocrisy is stunning.
Where potential money is involved (translation – grant), Dr. Overpeck doesn’t display any concerns about being associated with ‘big oil’, in correspondence with a person at Exxon-Mobil, and in fact welcomes some sort of collaboration and goes on to sell the university’s stature to the Exxon-Mobil representative.
The next time somebody calls you a “shill for big oil”, show them this email.
UPDATE2: Here is the entire original email thread: Overpeck Exxon and Mann (PDF)
UPDATE: To be fair, I sent Dr. Overpeck this email shortly after this story was published:
Dear Dr. Overpeck,
This is just a note to inform you that your FOI obtained correspondence with Exxon-Mobile is on display here:
I provide you this notice should you wish to defend yourself against the apparent stunning hypocrisy on display. I will print any response you care to offer.
I immediately got this autoreply back:
Professor Overpeck is on sabbatical out of the country until the beginning of Fall term, August 2013 and will not be in good constant email contact until then. If your message is urgent, please resend with “URGENT” at the beginning of the subject line, but note that there may still be a delay before he can get back to you. If you have an urgent need related to the UA Inst. of the Environment, please contact IE Project Coordinator Lesa Langan Du Berry at email@example.com
Another sabbatical? Must be nice.
This might be a good time to remind everyone of how they measured temperature (in a parking lot) at an official USHCN climate station at Dr. Overpeck’s University of Arizona Atmospheric Sciences Dept.
The plaque on the fence reads:
You can bet that station wasn’t in a parking lot in 1867, and thus this speaks to the temporal inhomogenity of station siting. That station has been modified and removed from the United States Historical Climatological Network, since we brought it’s shoddy siting to the attention of the world.