Climate Change Sceptic Changes His Mind

This actually happened last year, but I hadn’t heard about it, so maybe you haven’t either. Ronald Bailey is a science writer for a magazine that receives funds from ExxonMobil. In fact, he features on ExxonSecrets. Not strictly a climate-change denier, he’s been sceptical of some of the science, which can lend further assistance to those who – for whatever reason – out and out deny that manmade climate change is occurring.

It’s interesting to hear him say, “Actually, no one paid me to be wrong about global warming. Or anything else.

Just to bring my intellectual journey in reporting and opining about the global warming issue up to date, I reviewed former vice-president Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth for Reason. I agreed that Gore has “won the climate debate” and that “on balance Gore gets it more right than wrong on the science” though I argued he exaggerates just how bad future global warming is likely to be. However, I agree that the balance of the evidence pretty clearly indicates that humanity is contributing to global warming chiefly by means of loading up the atmosphere with extra carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.

ExxonMobil has been a supporter of the Reason Foundation. Folks at the foundation confirmed when I called yesterday that the company has donated a little over $250,000 since 2000. The company’s latest contributions were $10,000 in 2003 and $20,000 this past January. The last contribution poses a possible conundrum for hard-line corporate conspiracy theorists because it arrived about five months after I declared, “We’re All Global Warmers Now.” I would suggest that ExxonMobil supports the Reason Foundation because my colleagues robustly defend the free enterprise system. “Follow the money” is often pretty good advice when evaluating the source of information, but in the think tank and public policy magazine realm money tends follow opinion, rather than the other way around.

It’s no huge surprise, but he holds an attitude towards environmental problems similar to Rodney Hide’s.

Bailey: “I have long argued that the evidence shows that most environmental problems occur in open access commons-that is, people pollute air, rivers, overfish, cut rainforests, and so forth because no one owns them and therefore no one has an interest in protecting them. One can solve environmental problems caused by open access situations by either privatizing the commons or regulating it. It will not surprise anyone that I generally favor privatization.”

Rodney in an ’05 interview with me:

You say some things that don’t belong to anyone, don’t belong to private property – coastways and airways – can you list briefly those things that should belong in private property?

Well, as much as you can, because the more resources you have privately held, the better they’ll be looked after and, indeed, the better access you’ll have. I think the Department of Conservation does a disastrous job of looking after our environment.

You think that private-property owners would do better?

Yeah.

 

2 Comments Climate Change Sceptic Changes His Mind

  1. James Brown

    “Follow the money” is often pretty good advice when evaluating the source of information, but in the think tank and public policy magazine realm money tends follow opinion, rather than the other way around.

    Yeah, get it right – ExxonMobil didn’t pay him to deny global warming; they payed him because he denied global warming. They’re as different as chalk and some slightly different-coloured chalk.

    Reply

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