AGU Continues to Take Money from Oil Companies


Guest opinion by James Wanliss

When I first attended the Fall American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in 1995 it was undoubtedly one of the goals of many of the PhD students and postdocs at the meeting to land a job at a corporation involved in earth science and mineral exploration.

How times have changed.

Today those who work for, say, an oil company may have to cover their conference badges to hide their affiliation. Although an oil company like ExxonMobil contributes over $400 billion annually to the global economy, and employs over 80,000 people, it is considered by many to be part of the problem.

And what is the problem? The supposed problem is global warming and climate change.

From my perspective, the problem is rather that the AGU is in danger of becoming a one trick pony, incapable of remaining neutral in the face of environmental activism that threatens to overwhelm the organizational brand.

I received in my email today an apologetic letter, written in an embarrassed tone, explaining that the AGU Board will continue to accept money, if offered, from ExxonMobil. The letter, addressed to AGU membership, is in response to a demand sent by climate activists within the membership that the union sever ties of any kind with “climate deniers”. The epithet “denier” is a typical ugly attempt to tattoo anyone who disagrees with their opinion on the climate as guilty or immoral, in the Nazi sense.

Once again, how times have changed.

When I began attending AGU meetings climate science was just at the start of massive infusions of government funding but not yet enough to dominate discussion. For the next ten years or so I faithfully attended meetings, presenting my research to colleagues, and enjoyed the thrill of the scientific pursuit.

That all changed in 2006 when former U.S. Vice President Al Gore presented his theory of global warming at the annual Fall AGU Meeting. Up to that point I had studiously avoided politics. Geophysical data was far more exciting. I was (and still am) a member of no political party and had voted only once for anything in my life.

But Gore rocked my world. I was shocked that he was asked to deliver a plenary speech. It suggested AGU leadership was cynically jettisoning a prime commitment to science in favor of a commitment to the politicization of science.

Gore did not disappoint. He begged the audience – all scientists — to become activists in his crusade against global warming, to use their influence and position to get his message out in schools, in the media, to shout it from the rooftops, particularly to politicians and decision makers. Scientists, he said, have a responsibility to communicate the global warming ecopalypse “in ways that arouse appropriate alarm that can motivate changes in behavior.”

Many scientists have been eager to oblige and the $1.5 trillion-a-year climate industry now only lubricates the path, making it awfully difficult to question the Pied Piper of global warming. The global warming industry offers environmentalist activists a path to pecuniary enrichment but also a peculiar sense of moral superiority.

Dare to promote a view different from these “scientists”? Then be warned that you are spreading misinformation and misleading the public. It seems anyone who doesn’t agree with ideas of catastrophic warming is at once found guilty or immoral. Threats of jail time are increasing in frequency.

Such threats are not without teeth; ExxonMobil is now under investigation by the New York and California Attorneys General. The crimes – uncomfortably close to Orwell’s thoughtcrime — are acts of holding beliefs or doubts that oppose or question the ruling party. A recent Rasmussen poll reports, “Just over one-in-four Democrats (27%), however, favor prosecuting those who don’t agree with global warming.”

And that possibility, the possibility that others might think they hold incorrect thoughts, is what causes the AGU board to agonize about what to do if ExxonMobil or another oil company offers them money for a student breakfast.

While the AGU has for decades enjoyed sponsorship from geophysical companies, such as ExxonMobil, the union now walks a fine line between the laudable wish to encourage real science and the desires of many who have captured leadership to be an environmentalist advocacy group.

The desire to use science as a blunt instrument against political foes is nothing new, but for AGU to pursue political activism promises to be devastating to its former mission of promoting science.

The irony is that all climate models simulate two to three times observed warming and that none predicted that for about 20 years there’s been no warming trend in NASA’s satellite records. One whistleblower, Dr. Kiminori Itoh, had this to say: “Warming fears are the worst scientific scandal in history.” Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu, a legendary space scientist, and Founding Director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks said, “When people know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.”

James Wanliss, Ph.D., is Professor of Physics at Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC. He is a Senior Fellow and Contributing Writer for The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, and author of  Resisting the Green Dragon: Dominion, Not Death. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed physics articles, has held the NSF CAREER award, and does research in space science and nonlinear dynamical systems under grants from NASA and NSF.

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April 25, 2016 5:12 pm

…BenBen will be here any minute now complaining that you used the word ” N.A.Z.I. ” !

April 25, 2016 5:19 pm

..” A recent Rasmussen poll reports, “Just over one-in-four Democrats (27%), however, favor prosecuting those who don’t agree with global warming.””
…OMG..Doesn’t that make them all ” Climate Change D’nyers” ??

Bryan A
Reply to  Marcus
April 26, 2016 12:16 pm

not necessarily but it does place them on a more level playing field with other extremist groups like ISIS/ISIL Al Qaida/Al Qaeda in that they avow to try to Punish those who disagree with them.

Reply to  Marcus
April 27, 2016 2:31 am

In all seriousness, anyone trying to shut down oil and coal right now seems to me to fit the definition of a terrorist: someone wanting to see a lot of people they are not formally at war with dead, and taking steps to make that happen.

April 25, 2016 5:26 pm

“Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu, a legendary space scientist, and Founding Director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks said, “When people know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.””
Absolutely. IMHO, the damage done to ALL sciences will take decades to repair !

Reply to  Marcus
April 25, 2016 7:34 pm

Agreed. I feel exactly the same way. I even distrust the exciting science things I learned as a child. I hate that.

David Smith
Reply to  Marcus
April 26, 2016 4:40 am

I think there are two areas that will suffer when the truth comes out: science and environmentalism. Both areas have been misdirected to focus on one non issue while neglecting other issues. Between natural climate variations and real pollution issues there is more than enough to occupy their time.

April 25, 2016 5:43 pm

It appears that Gore himself didn’t hear the shouting from the rooftops as he has not been motivated to change HIS bahaviour, or has he traded in his 20 room Nashville mansion for a 1,200 sq. ft bungalow? It’s always the same with the elite – do as I say, not as I do.
Gore’s equivalent here in Canada is Dr. David Suzuki, geneticist turned climate expert. He loves to parrot to Canadians that we use too many resources and have too many children. He claimed recently that Canada, the second largest country in the world, is full and can’t take any more people. Suzuki owns four (4) homes and has helped whelp five (5) children. Suzuki also, by his own admission, loves to jet to Australia once or twice a year – just for fun. In one of his recent visits Down Under he appeared before a panel of Australian scientists who made a fool of his ignorance not only of climate science but of GMO research.

Reply to  3¢worth
April 25, 2016 5:54 pm

..That was the funniest, and at the same time, most embarrASSing, videos I have ever witnessed !

Reply to  3¢worth
April 25, 2016 11:16 pm

@ 3 cents, As a young guy in the early 70’s I went to a lecture given by Suzuki, at that time he was at the beginning of his career as a warmist although he disguised it with painting Canada becoming a third world nation by doing nothing but selling resources ( lumber/mining/oil etc) and no manufacturing ( secondary industries) at that time Canada had a very strong manufacturing sector in every province and infrastructure was being build everywhere from highways to hydro dams.
Looking back at that prediction he was right but then he became CBC’s ( and the government left wing) “I can do no wrong” advocate. He was the “Nature of Things” director and presenter and he weaved in the global warming mantra as it grew in popularity with the masses. the last ten years he has contradicted himself, made himself look silly and has been so hypocritical he has become a joke, that in a way is sad to see but to me most narcissistic people are sad human beings. To be honest back then I thought he really had a point. The other thing I see in this is for how long the socialists and progressives have planned this, it has been decades if not longer. ( sorry for the rant).

Reply to  3¢worth
April 26, 2016 3:25 am

They’re all the same. Consider Obama. I reckon he has held the view that climate change is an urgent problem of the ‘OMG, we’re all going to die’ type since at least 2007. Yet there was this exchange during a debate with Romney:
Romney: In the last four years, you cut [drilling] permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters in half.
Obama: Not true, Governor Romney.
Romney: So how much did you cut them by?
Obama: It’s not true.
It was true, of course. Yet Factcheck tells us that up to that point the Obama administration had issued 1,304 new offshore leases and approved 515 new permits. Given what he is supposed to believe, I would ask why the Obama administration had granted a single new lease or a single new permit? And why was he denying to Romney something which he should regard as a good thing?
No doubt some of those leases and permits were granted to Exxon. What did Obama know and when did he know it, AGs? He awaits your subpoena.

Bob Burban
April 25, 2016 5:46 pm

“AGU Continues to Take Money from Oil Companies” .
Unlike the complainers who give money to the Oil Companies in exchange for fuel for their cars, plastics for their daily lives and most of the electricity delivered to their homes and offices. To be philosophically beyond reproach, these folks should cease using all the products of ‘fossil fuels’ immediately. So why don’t they?

Tom Halla
April 25, 2016 5:49 pm

Some of the members of the AGU are making a dangerous bet that the government will continue to sponsor CAGW studies, excuse me, climate science of a particular bent.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 25, 2016 6:37 pm

Hopefully the smart ones left.

Reply to  A.D. Everard
April 25, 2016 10:32 pm

The problem with leaving is that soon the AGU will be able to say that all of their members agree with their mission statement regarding climate change. They should be fighting from within to effect change.

Reply to  A.D. Everard
April 26, 2016 10:10 am

I agree with you Jeff, you are right. I guess I was hoping that “all their members” would number about three and put them to shame.

April 25, 2016 5:54 pm

Some people, like historians and geologists, are able to understand the planet’s climate over long (for historians) and really long (for geologists) time scales. It is unsurprising that such people are often CAGW skeptics.
The behaviour of the AGU is in keeping with the composition of its membership.

April 25, 2016 6:11 pm

We have been interviewing a lot of people for jobs at our biotech company. One guy had a degree in climate change, and after one interview he was escorted from the building.

Stewart Pid
Reply to  Ktm
April 26, 2016 7:27 am

What the heck qualifies as “a degree in climate change”?

george e. smith
Reply to  Stewart Pid
April 26, 2016 10:25 am

Well I can do an experiment in ” climate change ” at any time by just calling an uber driver, and having him drive me ten miles down the road.
Well it is much more eco-friendly, if I just drive my own car, and not have somebody come and pick me up in a Detroitosaurus Maximus.

April 25, 2016 7:25 pm

From the article: “Dare to promote a view different from these “scientists”? Then be warned that you are spreading misinformation and misleading the public. It seems anyone who doesn’t agree with ideas of catastrophic warming is at once found guilty or immoral. Threats of jail time are increasing in frequency.”
That is standard operating procedure for the Left. The Left always assumes *they* have the moral highground in any argument, which means that if you don’t agree with them, you are not only wrong, you are immoral. If you are deemed immoral in their minds (you don’t agree), then they feel free to attack you in any manner, ethical or unethical, that is necessary to keep you from spreading your “immoral” viewpoint.
The Left is always “Holier than Thou”. That’s their attitude. They look down their noses at the regular folk.
So how do you argue with a person like that? You can’t. They won’t listen because they think you are immoral and have nothing to offer them. They just want you to shut up and go away, if you don’t agree with them. There is no compromise. Their opponents have no moral standing, in their opinions. What’s to talk about?

April 25, 2016 7:35 pm

To pay for the “indulgences” of Peter Gleick, James E. Hansen and Michael E. Mann and others, the AGU must draw from membership dues and divert monies from corporate sponsorships. After all the indulgences of Gleick, Hansen and Mann among others are very … weighty. And the Executives and President of the AGU, are …. reluctant … to …. disappoint.

Henry Bowman
April 25, 2016 7:50 pm

I’m a long-time AGU and SEG (Society of Exploration Geophysicists) member. I rarely ever heard an AGU member who wanted to work for a corporation, especially one involved in petroleum R&D. Most wanted an academic job, though most also realized there were enough such jobs to accommodate their desires.
In contrast, at SEG, most who attend the annual conventions (roughly 10,000 such folk) are employed directly or indirectly by the oil and gas industry, plus academics who may be funded by such.
To me at least, AGU has become an embarrassment. When a few years ago it selected an English major and a political hack for one of its board members, I knew its standing as a respected scientific society was over (thankfully, this fellow is no longer on the board of AGU). AGU has become, like many other so-called scientific societies headquartered in DC, a whore for government money (note that, in contrast, SEG is headquartered in Tulsa, OK).
I remain a member of AGU because I can get some good journal articles at a very reasonable cost. But, for the most part, its public face has nothing to do with science.

Henry Bowman
April 25, 2016 7:51 pm

That should be “not enough jobs”, btw.

Gary Pearse
April 25, 2016 7:57 pm

Oil companies invented geophysics so the AGU disowning Exxon would be like dog food companies dissociating themselves from dogs! Actually, the fact there is so much pressure by the membership to disconnect form oil companies tells me that most of the members aren’t geophysicists, but rather are activist science-lite types. It seems that half the posts these days are Friday Funnies or Saturday Silliness because of the increasing lunacy of the anti-civilization crazies. It used to be that it was the job of a single or small group of solemn placard brandishers announcing “The end is nigh”. Somehow they have morphed into of millions of self-loathers.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gary Pearse
April 25, 2016 8:01 pm

Oh and James, for goodness sake vote!!! Vote for big change before it’s too late.

April 25, 2016 8:38 pm

Before the AGU vs Texaco case over “fair use copyright infringement” the AGU was a Union of Geophysicists for the promotion of geophysics. Today, the AGU is a circus of clowns, a side-show of freaks pandering to the Federal Government for favors.

April 25, 2016 8:48 pm

SHADES OF GREEN, Dec.9, 2013
“Mapping environmentalism’s road ahead’
An in-depth examination of five groups that are driving the agenda in Congress and the nation.
Environmental Defense Fund/EDF
Sierra Club
LCV/League of Conservation Voters
NRDC/Natural Resources Defense Council
Click on the chart of The Interconnected Web of Enviros.
It’s doubtful that most Americans even know what’s taking place.

Donald Kasper
April 25, 2016 10:39 pm

You don’t want that oil company job, have them give me a call. I could care less what others think.

April 26, 2016 12:52 am

“I was (and still am) a member of no political party and had voted only once for anything in my life.”
Professor Wanliss
Being member or not of a political party is not particularly relevant to course of a particular government’s attitude towards many issues, including environmental policies.
However, I think that not voting in elections of the people who determine these policies is not an example to be followed.

Reply to  vukcevic
April 26, 2016 10:06 am

I have never been able to understand the attitude of so many people who seem to take pride in never having voted.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  vukcevic
April 26, 2016 10:49 am

In my view, voting is the act of renewing your license to bitch. Maximum allowable interval is 4 years. If during the course of a political discussion I find the other person doesn’t vote I lose all interest in what they have to say, because they don’t matter.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
April 26, 2016 4:11 pm

“license to bitch”
Exactly! 🙂

Bruce Cobb
April 26, 2016 4:54 am

When AGU climbed aboard the CAGW bandwagon, it ceased to be a scientific organization, becoming a political one instead. It decided to back something that was, in fact, anti-science and in the realm of fantasy-land. Now it, along with all True Believers suffers from a severe case of cognitive dissonance. So it bargains and backpedals, hoping to appear sincere, honest, and fair to “both sides”, but ends up merely exposing their illogical and irrational position even more. It is laughably pathetic.

April 26, 2016 5:01 am

Believe it or not, Microsoft has been promoting the oil industry lately. Shell was featured in a video at Microsoft’s Build conference in San Francisco a few weeks ago. I can’t locate the video but I did find other examples:

Reply to  garymount
April 26, 2016 5:19 am

I found the Shell video part of the Microsoft developers conference, day 2 keynote about 32 minutes in :

April 26, 2016 5:53 am

I sent a note of “thanks” to the AGU president , Margaret Neinen , as a non-member last Thursday . saying in part :

Re :
It’s unfortunate that such a defense of honest independent science has become an act of courage .

Hopefully the politically motivated anti-scientific demonization of the molecule which is the source of carbon to carbon based life will be quashed soon . Youall have , perhaps as a serendipitous positive externality , take a great stand for science , liberty and independent minds .
Peace thru Freedom ,

I got a note back yesterday :

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on AGU’s engagement with ExxonMobil. We take feedback from our community very seriously, and you can be assured that your comments will be shared with AGU’s leadership. Should you have any ideas on how the engagement with Exxon could be structured moving forward, please share then with us by sending an email to
Margaret Leinen

I think they appreciate and can well use support in what has , as I said , become an act of courage .

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Bob Armstrong
April 26, 2016 7:22 am

It can hardly be called “an act of courage”. It’s a PR move, nothing more. They are merely hedging their bets, and playing both sides.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 26, 2016 11:07 am

Better they play both sides than just knuckle under to the eKoStatist juggernaut .

George Devries Klein
Reply to  Bob Armstrong
April 26, 2016 2:41 pm

Looks to me you got a [boiler] plate reply.
George Deries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA

April 26, 2016 9:32 am

We have let the alarmists usurp the term “climate change”. When did the climate not change? We need to return to AGW and similar “old” terminology to re-focus the discussion.

April 26, 2016 9:56 am

Anyone who takes money from an oil company is a defacto shill for the oil companies.
Unless it’s us doing the taking.

April 26, 2016 9:57 am

Under the funding system that Gore set up in his eight years as President Clinton’s “climate czar” anyone who does not toe the alarmist “consensus” line is cut off from all government funding henceforth (which is almost all climate science funding). But that isn’t enough for the alarmists. They at the same time work feverishly to insure that all private funding is also directed to themselves. Any skeptic who takes ExxonMobile money is ostracized as a paid shill, liable to be included in the jihad lawsuits now being launched at “deniers,” while the alarmists have been collecting ever increasing “greenmail” protection money from the fossil fuels industry for many years. How’s that working out for you ExxonMobile? They should have listened to President Reagan: “If once you pay the Danegeld you never get rid of the Dane.”

Reply to  Alec Rawls
April 26, 2016 10:08 am

Link to Reagan reading Kipling’s Danegeld to National security meeting:

“So, no Danegeld.”

April 26, 2016 10:27 am

And yet, Algore was so utterly, completely, and comically wrong. Reality will win…it always does in the end.

Raymond S. Kraft, Attorney (retired)
April 26, 2016 1:20 pm

The ONLY way to begin to begin to clear this problem is to get it into the courts where ALL the evidence must be heard and considered, it can’t be cherry-picked and censored by Algorians who are the real “DENIERS,” who deny that the climate has been changing, naturally, all the time for hundreds of millions of years, and that the trivial climate change of the last century is well within historic parameters, since the climate has in the past been as much as 15 degrees warmer and 30 degrees colder than now,
A mere 20,000 years ago, a blink of an eye in geological time, it was 20-30 degrees colder with so much glaciation that sea level was 400 feet lower than now. But few people know this, because the Algorians have been busy denying it, covering it up, us lawyes call it “a fraud by omission,” by omitting to present relevant information, relevant evidence.
I hope EXXON gets prosecuted, they have the resources to go to trial and blow the Algorians out of the water.
“Assumptions” and “Speculations” are not admissible evidence. The “evidence” for Anthropogenic Global Warming / Climate change is based on computer modelling, which is by its nature Speculation based on Assumptions, i.e., it is not empirical evidence, and thus should not be admissible evidence at trial.
Without the computer modelling “evidence,” the Algorians have nothing.
EXXON wins.

April 28, 2016 1:17 am

True deNYErs hate the debate

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