FOI email: science is only influenced by 'big oil' if they do it

University of Arizona

University of Arizona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 <>

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.

best, peck


Now, compare that ugly tone to this one about six months later, bold mine:



Fri Feb 10 11:55:39 2006


From: Jonathan Overpeck <>

Subject: nice to hear from you!


Bcc: X-Attachments:

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!

Best, peck

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.

Best regards,

Anthony Watts



 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

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.

How not to measure temperature part 24


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.


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Crispin in Waterloo

Where money talks, climate science walks.

Eric Dailey

Always follow the money (grubbers).

Well, we knew it all along, but this is sweet. I’m going to have to re-post this one!!! Kudos to Christopher Horner! Thanks Anthony!


Classic reflexive thinking. The author thinks in cliches. A demonstration of the inability to process information, but to make a pretense of doing the same with a auto-response. The military has been trying to rid itself of such types for 40 years, when they proved to be disastrous in Vietnam.
It is worth noting that ‘New Math’ and similar modern teaching techniques, which reward ‘creativity’ rather than knowledge were to bring an end to such. Instead we are burdened with ‘scientists’ that are without a broad science foundation and think in cliches.
I run into such morons all the time in my occupation.

Lady in Red

That is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo stunning, overwhelming. It’s like going into shock.
I reel at the hypocrisy. Joe Romm…. tell me where the bucks are coming from, eh?
This is not my America. …..Lady in Red


[snip over the top]

2013. He is on sabbatical for a whole year?

David L

It’s really amazing to the extent climatologists are full of Bull Siht. They are so impressed with themselves in their perceived ability to save the world that it boggles the mind.
The other striking thing I’ve found while reading the FOI material is the widespread inability of these geniuses to be able to write. The collective lot of them can barely push a noun at a verb at a junior level. I know emails are infornal but come on, it’s just stream of contiousness mental dumping all the time with these folks.
[Perhaps not even a typo. Is there any difference between the Team’s “infernal .. stream of contentiousness” and their “informal .. stream of consciousness”? 8<) Robt]

Crispin in Waterloo

Well said. I have to encounter/deal with the consequences of this sort of ‘thinking in cliches’ in my work though I had not given it that name. There are a set of responses: “If they say this say that and stand pat’. It is infuriating because many of the cliches are gross simplifications of reality and are very misleading if digested alone or in groups of three.
It goes without saying that much of the Team response to pointed, well presented and inviolable arguments about the state of the climate, now or in the past, is similar. The site ‘skeptical science’ is the place where science cliches are mounted for easy access. “If they say this, refer to that paper by so-and-so. That will stall them for a while as we pass the Grant Hat once more.” It is as if enough cliches will create global warming from all that server activity.
To create a balanced and knowledgeable person, creativity, the capacity to process information and to be a storehouse of knowledge are all necessary. We are quite capable of delivering this should we choose to, but not by blindly imitating our fathers.

David Ball

Makes me want to puke.


`Wish Oklahoma was on the Gulf Coast`
Always interesting, to see how the Climate Gods wish so fervently, for people to be in harm`s way.


The autoresponder msg says he’s on sabbatical until August 2013. Must pay pretty well to be a climate scientist these days if you can take an entire year or more off…

Anthony: Overpeck’s autoresponder says August 2013, not August 2012.
REPLY: Yes, that’s been caught within a couple of minutes and fixed right away. Refresh. – Anthony


Looks like he gets a very long sabbatical, he returns August 2013, that is still another year.

Nevermind. Looks like either I misread your post or you caught the typo on your own, regards.

Frederick Michael

Maybe he means, “2013” literally.

As most here probably know, Overpeck has been suggested as the “scientist” who told presumed fellow Team member Deming that they needed to “get rid of the Medieval Warm Period”, & has not denied the charge:

Maybe UA gets him out of the way until the FOIA dust settles.


but oil money isn’t dirty when it’s used to save the world


Two-faced, double-dealing…..
Hey! I just noticed something! Every time this fellow is on sabbatical, a major hurricane hits the oil producing areas of the Gulf Coast, driving up oil prices.
There is actually more evidence he is up to something than there is the World’s temperatures are rising.
Hmmm. But what is up to?
Where’s my tinfoil hat?


Maybe resend the email with Urgent since his email did say he would be gone until next August, not this August. I would love to hear his response.


Lady in Red says:
August 26, 2012 at 9:45 am
“I reel at the hypocrisy. Joe Romm…. tell me where the bucks are coming from, eh?”
From your recent comments I assume that you’re an Obama campaign intern, but anyway: Joe Romm’s bucks come from George Soros, in case you didn’t know.


Exactly who but university professors get sabbaticals at all, much less like the good prof has. It must be nice and certainly explains some of the 8% tuition increase each year. Obviously for a sweet job, go to university and never leave.

Kurt in Switzerland

Kurt in Switzerland

Man Bearpig

It kind of reminds me of Gollum from Lord of the Rings films, my precious.

Bloke down the pub

Now if only the rest of the Team would take a sabbatical we could make a start at getting the world back on the straight and narrow.


Just for context, university faculty usually do research or scholarly activities while on sabbatical leave that they could not do on their regular appointments. Often it involves overseas travel and a temporary appointment at another institution. It’s undertaken as a broadening experience and faculty bring back to their universities skills and ideas that can improve their teaching and other activities. It rarely, if ever, is just a paid vacation. The quality of the experience may vary, but every professional needs to interact with colleagues and learn new things if he/she is to continually improve. Sabbaticals provide an extended time for doing this. Typically, the opportunity for a sabbatical comes around every seven years or so.


I could have sworn that educating children with information that has been proven wrong was some kind of felony.

Berényi Péter

Big Oil has vested interest in promoting the climate scare, that much should be clear by now. When burning hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide emission is only half that of pure carbon for the same energy output. On one hand it is a simple fact of chemistry, however, on the other hand, if carbon dioxide can be sufficiently vilified, it grants hydrocarbons an undeserved competitive edge over coal through regulations, which help pushing up prices.
New coal fired power plants are already regulated out of business in the US this way. The only alternative available on large enough scale is, guess what, natural gas. One should of course forget “renewables” like solar or wind in this context and forget them fast, because they are unbelievably expensive and unreliable. The current “miracle” of decreasing carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. of A. is entirely due to natural gas resources made available recently by applying a several decades old technology (fracking) on large scale.
Current overproduction and extremely low price of natural gas is a transient phenomenon, it is for building market. As soon as enough facilities are driven away from coal and they can’t possibly return to it due to convenient regulations, there is almost no limit to rising prices. Exceptionally high profits are guaranteed in the long run.
However, it is only made possible through the unholy alliance of Big Oil & cAGW folks.
The anti-nuclear lobby was also a necessary ingredient, but that has already completed its job by blocking development of any advanced nuclear energy production technology beyond old fashioned Cold War Plutonium factories with energy as a byproduct.
This kind of hijacking of the (originally honest) environmental movement is one of the most detrimental developments in contemporary politics.


How about asking Exxon to respond?
It has always struck me that they and other “big oil” companies seem oblivious to the manner in which they are demonized by the people they are funding. That they don’t care seems unlikely, that they don’t know seems equally unlikely, yet they are silent on the issue.

Jim Clarke

“…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.”
Aaahhh….I doubt it! They don’t understand climate change, globally and certainly not regionally. They don’t really understand society, as they are too removed from it in their ivory towers. (Life at the university is unlike anything in the real world, where people don’t get to take long sabbaticals every other year.) Consequently, any input they have in decision-making will be counter productive at best; with a very high probability of being disastrous. The intelligentsia have a very long and consistent history in this regard.


“and also how interdisciplinary climate knowledge can be used to support improved decision-making in society. ”
And there you have the ugliest comment in the whole exchange. An arrogant assumption that what is best for society is known to this tiny group of busy bodies who will unashamedly use a combination of money from “big oil” and their own self importance to manipulate society (and “big oil”) into fulfilling their view of what is best for society.
I repeat my earlier question regarding seeking comment from Exxon. How do they feel about being both demonized and manipulated in this fashion?

Ian Stirling, renowned polar bear biologist, reported in the acknowledgements of his 2011 book (“Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species”), that he has been funded by Dome Petroleum and Esso Canada, as well as the World Wildlife Fund (both Canadian and International versions).
He considers this statement to protect him from accusations of bias:
“The opinions expressed in the book are my own however, and do not necessarily reflect those of Environment Canada, the University of Alberta, or any of the agencies that have supported my research.”
If it’s good enough for him, then it’s good enough for me, I say.

Mike M

Crispin in Waterloo says:
Where money talks, climate science xxxxxxx slithers.

Phil Clarke

milodonharlani says Overpeck has been suggested as the “scientist” who told presumed fellow Team member Deming that they needed to “get rid of the Medieval Warm Period”, & has not denied the charge:
Er, yes he has, in one of the illegitimately obtained emails….
” Hi Phil, Kevin, Mike, Susan and Ben – I’m looking
for some IPCC-related advice, so thanks in
advance. The email below recently came in and I
googled “We have to get rid of the warm medieval
period” and “Overpeck” and indeed, there is a
person David Deeming that attributes the quote to
an email from me. He apparently did mention the
quote (but I don’t think me) in a Senate hearing.
His “news” (often with attribution to me) appears
to be getting widespread coverage on the
internet. It is upsetting.
I have no memory of emailing w/ him, nor any
record of doing so (I need to do an exhaustive
search I guess), nor any memory of him period. I
assume it is possible that I emailed w/ him long
ago, and that he’s taking the quote out of
context, since I know I would never have said what
he’s saying I would have
, at least in the context
he is implying.

In fact Deming did not retain the email, and so there is no hard evidence that anyone ever actually used the phrase…..


DirkH says:
August 26, 2012 at 10:49 am

Lady in Red says:
August 26, 2012 at 9:45 am
“I reel at the hypocrisy. Joe Romm…. tell me where the bucks are coming from, eh?”

From your recent comments I assume that you’re an Obama campaign intern, …

She’s been a regular here for over a year and made many valuable comments. Her critique of the GOP’s abortion stance is one shared by many secular Republicans.

… but anyway: Joe Romm’s bucks come from George Soros, in case you didn’t know.

She knows that he’s backed by Soros, as that’s been said here often in the past year. What she was probably alluding to was Romm’s one-sided regular “oil-funded” smear when criticizing skeptics.


Nothing in this article makes me bat an eye…this is standard behavior and should be assumed by skeptics by this point. For instance, we already know that Phil Jones accepted money from Shell, right?
As an example, I’m a research scientist working at a state university. In a few weeks I’ll be starting work on a project funded by big oil. However, I’m also sort of the head of the group’s environmental research “subgroup”, so I’m the go-to person when talking to new graduate students (before they join the lab) on anything environmental. Well, last week I talked to a new graduate student who just kept repeating “I’m very environmentally oriented” in our conversation. She even went off about “all the oil spills” and how bad fracking was for the environment. Never mind she didn’t mention one specific example. I tried to explain to her that we weren’t studying environmental cleanup work and instead looking to improve the efficiency of oil extraction. Her response? “I’m completely fine taking big oil’s money” along with something about using it against them. Needless to say, I wasn’t at all impressed by this student. In my area of research, in a hard science, unbiased measurement and critical thinking is required…not a bunch of activist garbage.
Anyway, personal anecdote aside, this sort of behavior should be expected by skeptics at this point, and every commenter on this thread should be saying something like “Not surprised at all.”
All that said, why were these e-mails important to FOIA?


GRRRRRR. Okies are the realistic ones. They’ve been living with the smell and mess of oil for 100 years, and they’ve learned that the smell and mess are basically harmless. Oil also brings prosperity and jobs for actual people (i.e. people without PhDs who don’t get sabbaticals or trips to Germany). And that more than compensates for the smell and mess.

Phil Clarke,
So we have a situation where Overpeck admits his memory may be bad. But Dr Deming does remember, as he testified to Congress.
The incident is now in the Congressional Record, which should help jog Overpeck’s failing memory.


Anthony, I am sure that “Peck” will appreciate your letting him know that you were posting his emails at WUWT. I think that it would also be nice of you to send Pinar Yilmaz a similar heads up of your posting “Peck’s” email to Gabi Hegerl as well as “Peck’s” email to him (Yilmaz.) Afterall, fair is fair. 😉

For anyone commenting about Exxon and “Big Oil”. Remember that Exxon doesn’t have much in the way of oil reserves. The crude all owned by sovreign state oil companies and Exxon just refines it. Exxon reserves are in natural gas. The CAGW fear is a very good thing for them. The only pratical substitution of power from coal is power from natural gas. The issue is not the hypocrocy of Dr. Overpeck and other members of the climate science consensus but that he (they) are in fact a patsies for the likes of Exxon and other “Big Oil” companies who are positioning themselves to make a fortune on a switch to cleaner fossile fuels.


Time seems right for Iowahawk’s selected Readings From The Book of Barak:
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!

And I will keep you from tenure
and grants and the airwaves,
and condemn you to the bowels of internet.”
(read it all if dare via
Maybe you already know Iowahawk from his 2007 “Earn Your Eco-Salvation”:
“… Losing sleep over the long-term ecological damage resulting from those greenhouse gases constantly emitted by your family, your cars, your pets, and your shrubbery?….”
“…Carbon atonement is no longer the exclusive preserve of the Malibu set … the Iowahawk EcoPals Network …lets you, the average Joe planet rapist, cleanse your tortured psyche of the stain of enviro-guilt ….”


Climate scientists are like the police chief in Casablanca. “I’m shocked SHOCKED there is gambling going on here.” “Your winnings, sir” “Oh thank you.”


As Lenin said: “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”
Overpeck would rephrase that as: “The oil companies will give us the grants with which we will hang them.”

Phil Clarke

Smokey – Deming is not what you would call an uncontroversial figure and while his hearsay is in the Congressional record, that testimony dates from over a decade after the event actually occurred – and we all know that memory can play tricks.
So in the absence of the actual email, there is not a shred of hard evidence that anyone ever actually used the phrase, additionally the alleged quotee denies he said it, would ever say it or indeed any knowledge whatsoever of Dr Deming. Hardly a historical record.

davidmhoffer says:
August 26, 2012 at 11:07 am
It has always struck me that they and other “big oil” companies seem oblivious to the manner in which they are demonized by the people they are funding.
They know full well what is being said about them and by whom.
They know full well that it is cheaper to pay small token bribes to the eco ninnys rather than fight them head on in every case.
They butter both sides of the bread.

Phil Clarke,
Such a weak argument. First off, Overpeck does not deny anything; he says he can’t remember.
But Dr Deming remembers quite well. And his comment was only a side issue in his testimony to Congress. Unless you can provide verifiable evidence that Dr Deming tells falsehoods, then he should be be taken at his word – as should Overpeck, whose whiny apologia shows that he is not even sure what’s what.
The fact that Overpeck said the exact same thing that Mann and the rest of the climate charlatan crowd were saying fits the narrative. What would be surprising is if Overpeck went against the narrative, and correctly pointed out that the existence of the MWP has been confirmed in more than 100 peer reviewed studies. Now that would have been news.


Some college profs will do anything for money. Bunch of rotten hypocrites. And those that say they won’t are the ones who have secure teaching positions or very large grants funding them. Wait till they have to scrounge up money to justify their own existence and then you get to see who’s a hypocrite and who’s not.


At most universities, tenured faculty can apply for sabatticals every 6 years, so 2006 and 2012 makes good sense. Typically it’s one semester with full pay or one year with half pay. I am an American who has taken all of my sabatticals at European Institutes. Being able to work full time on research at exceptionally well-equiped institutes has make those sabatticals my most productive research periods. This has also meant that I have had to start and finish projects (except for publication) that my European colleagues would typically take twice as long to finish. The results of the sabattical research have often lead to very productive lines of research that I carried out back in the States. Being able to work with colleagues from around the world has been one of the most valued parts of my career.


Here is something I prepared earlier.
Here is the global warming alarmist, The Sierra Club, secretly taking $26 million from the natural gas interests.
Here is the Climate Research Unit (CRU) acknowledging funding from oil, gas and nuclear power interests.
Here’s Stanford Global Climate and Energy Project and Exxon funding to the tune of $100 million.