Why Is Microsoft Paying Climate Change Denialists?

So it turns out the Heartland Institute, a US think tank whose primary goal seems to be smearing the reputation of climate scientists, gets massive amounts of funding from corporate donors. So far, so predictable. But how did Microsoft end up giving it money?

The Guardian reports that Microsoft gave $59,908 to the Heartland Institute last year, as part of a scheme that provides free software licences to non-profit organisation. The software giant is unsurprisingly embarrassed by the connection, with a panicked-sounding spokesperson telling the paper:

Microsoft's position on climate change remains unchanged. Microsoft believes climate change is a serious issue that demands immediate, worldwide attention and we are acting accordingly. We are pursuing strategies and taking actions that are consistent with a strong commitment to reducing our own impact as well as the impact of our products.

Scientists, unsurprisingly, aren't impressed. University of Edinburgh senior lecture Dave Reay told the Science Media Centre:

If true, this confirms that the climate change denialist agenda is being pushed in a coordinated and very well-funded manner. The suggested involvement of Microsoft as a funder is especially shocking given the excellent work the Gates Foundation currently does in addressing the impacts of climate change in the developing world.

Indeed. Let's hope Bill Gates gets Steve Ballmer to get very angry at someone very soon. [The Guardian]


Comments

    Oops? :)

    I like how people and companies on both sides of the climate change debate are treated so equally. There's clearly no agenda here.

    If you fund climate change alarmists, your helping, if you fund climate change skeptics your evil. Also we use the term 'denier', like holocaust denier. Skeptic = pure evil.

    Good unbiased reporting here. Lol.

      +1 Giz and Lifehacker cater for pot smoking hippy uni students.

        Quick - someone give Corey some pot - STAT!

        "POT BAD 'CAUSE ILLEGAL DRUGS R BAD! + ONLY DROP-OUT HIPPIES SMOKE IT!"

        "ALCOHOL OK BECAUSE LEGAL LIQUID."

        That's how I imagine your brain works.

      Nice reply Fred. Just what I was thinking. Angus clearly has no bias himself

      It's simple, there are only two types of people who are clime change deniers:

      1. Those who have something to lose (big polluting businesses and the industries and people that rely on them).

      2. Those who have very limited understanding of the science involved and are conservative by nature so would rather stick with what they understand and oppose anything that tries to change it. (I'm being kind in my working here)

      Those two groups overlap quite often.

        And then there are people who realize:

        - that there are large climate cycles of dramatic change that have occurred entirely without human intervention http://www.daviesand.com/Choices/Precautionary_Planning/New_Data/

        - that there are many factors that affect climate http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/09/do-cosmic-rays-set-the-earths-thermostat.ars

        - and that CO2 may not be such a big influence on the climate as believed, which means the current state of the weather could be mostly part of a natural oscillation https://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/11/22/science.1203513.abstract

        Yet they are mislabeled as 'deniers'
        Which is a rebranding of the term 'heretic' and deliberately chosen to cause association to holocaust denial
        Welcome to the new religion!
        Believe or be burnt!

        Anyone who claims the 'science is settled' is a priest trying to sell you something

          Er, no, the people you describe would fall under the category of "Those who have very limited understanding of the science involved".

          Because a more thorough understanding of the science would reveal that climate scientists have been taking those factors into account for decades, and in fact use them to explain past climate change, which allows them to calibrate their models to predict climate response to human greenhouse emissions.

          In other words: Climate change when humans weren't around wasn't caused by humans (well, duh!), but we've got a pretty good idea of what *did* cause it. We also know that those same factors are *not* causing the current warming, which is pretty much in line with what we'd expect from human greenhouse gas emissions.

          - Yes, the climate has changed a lot in the past, sometimes even rapidly (due to meteor impacts). And when it does change this rapidly, we usually see a lot of extinctions, as countless species are unable to adapt quickly enough. Do we want to be the direct cause of another significant extinction event?

          - There are certainly other factors contributing to warming, but IPPC4 WGI concludes it is "very likely that [warming] is not due to known natural causes alone" (emphasis theirs).

          - Your third link suggests that warming from CO2 may not be quite as dramatic as first thought. It's possible they're right - we'll have to see how they reconcile their study with the other studies that indicate more significant warming. It does not suggest that the current weather could be "mostly part of a natural oscillation".

          Researchers like these are not labelled "deniers", because they produce evidence to back up their hypotheses.

          Those who insist that man-made climate change simply doesn't exist, in the face of all the evidence that strongly indicates it's happening right now, and without producing any convincing evidence of their own, are indeed labelled "deniers", and rightly so. I would also apply the term to those who cherry-pick only the evidence that supports their views while ignoring the much larger body of evidence to the contrary.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-WU0pV2AXE

        So anyone who disagrees with you must be either working for a big polluter, stupid, or both.

        It must be fun living in your world.

          Well, it is fun living in the real one. How's your fantasy one working for you?

      Denying climate science isn't anything like denying the Holocaust.

      Going by McMichael et al in Lancet - 160,000 extra deaths in 2000AD - there'll be more deaths from climate change within 40 years than Jews killed in the Holocaust. That number doesn't include impacts of droughts on food supply, resultant famines, force migrations and deaths from conflicts arising - the ones most likely to cause the most deaths.

      It's not deliberate killing of course, but on the other hand nothing anyone can do can change that horrific past death toll whereas the loss of life from unchecked climate change is, so far, mostly avoidable.

      Comparing those who are deliberately trying to prevent timely action to prevent that foreseeable future death toll to Deniers of The Holocaust barely rates as mild name calling. I think the true description is participants in a great crime against humanity.

    Sounds more like a loophole than active supporting them. "as part of a scheme that provides free software licences to non-profit organisation"

    So Microsoft didn't actually give them any money directly? The Heartland institute merely took advantage of a free software program for non-profit organisations.

    The headline is a bit misleading isn't it? All Microsoft is guilty of is not monitoring it's own NFP program well enough to prevent undesirable NFP's from using it. Hardly a damning indictement.

      Indeed, a bit unbalanced. This article, from the New York Times, is a bit more balanced: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/science/earth/in-heartland-institute-leak-a-plan-to-discredit-climate-teaching.html?_r=1

    No doubt Heartland is a not for profit company, Microsoft gives out thousands of copies in Windows and their other software for free to not for profit. They no doubt only saw a not for profit company. What that company does doesn't come into the decision of who gets what. Microsoft hasn't done a thing wrong in this, it's the media trying to make something out of nothing.

    You gotta love this. Isn't this article a perfect microcosm of the entire climate change debate? Blow insignificant things out of all proportion in order to push an agenda. Its pathetic and its exactly what keeps me on the skeptic's side of the fence.

    Oh FFS.
    Read the bloody article...

    "The Guardian reports that Microsoft gave $59,908 to the Heartland Institute last year, as part of a scheme that provides free software licences to non-profit organisation".

    They gave them money as part of a free software program, not to fund freaking climate change denialists. Ugh.

    Freaking sensationalism strikes again!

    59 thousand is chump change, and it was for software licenses. To try to conjure some sort of scandal out of this is ridiculous to the extreme.

    "Scientists, unsurprisingly, aren’t impressed."

    And then one scientist is quoted, but I'm sure his views reflect those of the Collective. Perhaps we should come up with a collective noun for them too; a climate of Scientists has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

    Never look for a conspiracy when human stupidity will suffice!

    I hope Angus Kidman reads these comments. This sensationalist nonsense reduces any academic deabte to mud-slinging and name calling. Apparently Kidman is not interested in even debate.

    How DARE microsoft fund research into an opposing view!

    BTW I believe climate change exists and is a threat, I just dont Fox News it on popular blogs when someone disagrees with me.

    "massive amounts of funding from corporate donors". According to the stolen documents, their budget is about $6.5 million a year. That wouldn't cover Al Gore's lunch or airline bill.

    Pay: to give money that is due for work done, goods received, or a debt incurred.
    Please change the headline, it's dishonest.

    Some of the comments here are tragic. There seems to be lot of 'Bolt Report' watchers or Alan Jones listeners here, who have never read a scientific paper in their life. How sad and embarrassing to be brainwashed by big corporations, shock jocks and right wing media without realising it.

    Rather than listen to the "collective" of thousands of climate scientists worldwide, you'd rather jump to the conclusion that its some kind of massive world wide conspiracy or hysteria, and you have the nerve to call yourselves "skeptics"?! Being a skeptic is a healthy state of mind, as long as you apply critical thinking to information you receive. It also generally means discounting the vast majority of stupid conspiracy theories out there for which there is no evidence, which just happens to include the suggestion that scientists are colluding and not producing hard evidence of climate change!

    Once a massive group of scientists produce peer reviewed papers, that match up with data collected by other independent scientists, that's the point when any reasonable skeptic should start to listen!

    The evidence is there people. Its not hard to find, providing you actually open your mind to it. If you simply don't want to believe, then you ARE a denier whether you think so or not. The debate on climate change has already been won by science.

    The only "is climate change real?" debate left is one that is perpetuated by commercial media, right wing politicians who value money over the truth, and clowns like "Lord Monckton" who is as corrupt and twisted as they come.

    You can see why Al Gore chose the clever title "An Inconvenient Truth" for his film. People just cant accept something so huge and terrifying, so they choose to deny the truth, rather than actually investigate the science and listen to the experts.

    Why don't you just call yourself "round earth skeptics" too? I mean those pictures of a spherical Earth from space could be faked right? And the curvature of the horizon could just be an optical illusion!

    What amount of evidence will it take before you deniers accept what is happening? Your city being under water once the polar ice caps melt, might wake you up.

    The only debate now should be "at what rate is climate change is occurring?" and "what do we do about it?". They are perfectly reasonable questions and the jury is still out on both.

    Don't be one of those archaic uneducated idiots that doesn't listen to scientists until its too late. You may as well just deny evolution and become a Creationist while you're at it.

      It's the sad truth Simon.
      It doesn't take intelligence or education to get ahead in this country which is why a lot of old, embarrassing attitudes not only continue to exist, but thrive!

      We have more than our fair share of clime change denialists, religious conservatives, racists, anti-muslim xenophobes, creationists, homophobes etc. You name it, Australia has got it in probably significantly higher percentage of the population than the US.

        Trying to deny that there are various views amongst scientists about what is causing the current change in climate and where it is heading/will head is disingenuous at best. Obviously the majority of climate scientists believe that global warming is occurring, and the majority of that majority believe that it is caused by CO2 and CO2e. As a result the overwhelming majority of research is in trying to verify this hypothesis using computer modelling and then trying to fit the model to the real world data; not an easy feat given the chaotic system. I personally have no issue with a scientist who thinks that something else, say solar activity for example, has more of an impact than CO2 and CO2e and tries to verify their hypothesis. Putting the majority of your eggs in one basket and then continually calling anyone who wants to try a different basket an idiot because clearly your basket has more eggs is dangerous to say the least; what if your eggs turn out to be rotten?

        Bad analogy is most likely bad, but hopefully my point is clear; restricting future research to the consensus view alone is bad for science. Global warming has been occurring and seems to have plateaued at a time when the majority of climate scientists expected it to be ramping up. Has it stopped or is it just a lull caused by something else. This is an opportunity for us to learn more about our climate system and try to better understand what affects it; not to pick a side and start throwing stones.

      Agreed. Let's call the climate change deniers what they really are: ignorant and/or plundering denialists. "Sceptics" - like hell!

        Namarrgon,
        I disagree 100% with what you say. You appear to have swallowed the Hockey Team's Climate Bible and ignored all analysis since the early 90's.
        And that's the trouble with bible bashers, they find a cause and do not wish to hear, read or see anything that might cause them to doubt the "WORD'. I ask you one question - show me evidence of a link between CO2 and Global Warming to match your alarmism. Please do not quote '98% of scientists' again, that has been proven to be a complete distortion of the facts.

      There is no argument. Listen to the collective. You are deniers. There is no argument. Listen to the collective. You are deniers. There is no argument. Listen to the collective. You are deniers. There is no argument. Listen to the collective. You are deniers. There is no argument. Listen to the collective. You are deniers. There is no argument. Listen to the collective. You are deniers.

      I have read through the comments and can only find one person denying climate change (MotorMouth). Everyone else is taking issue with the sensationalist tone of the article.

      Conspiracies are a fact of life, history is full of them, to think that you exist in the one era of time that is immune from conspiracy is sheer foolishness
      Also conspiracies by their very nature are hidden, and therefore do not offer a whole lot of 'evidence' until they are uncovered and written about in the history books

      I find your blind trust in expert consensus rather dangerous
      In galileo's time, if you were following the same pattern, you would have sided with the church, since the collective of priests agreed the earth is the center of the universe
      Tell me what evidence put forward in favor of human driven climate change has convinced you it is true

      What objections do you have against climatologists that do not agree there is sufficient evidence to say that human CO2 is causing climate change, and will you raise those objections logically rather than trying to attack the credentials of people you don't agree with by painting them as ignoramuses or paid shills

      It will be interesting to see what the history books write in retrospect

        Are you seriously implying that 98% of the many thousands of climate scientists are engaged in an enormous, hidden conspiracy, and that the remaining 2% who are unsure are the only honest scientists in the field?

        I don't imagine you've got any evidence to back that idea (it being hidden & all), so I won't bother asking you to provide any. But on the off-chance that you're genuinely interested in examining the evidence we've observed, then here is a well-referenced summary.

        Until you can produce equally strong observed data to the contrary, perhaps we should leave the conspiracy theories to Occam's Razor .

          In the scientific method, Occam's razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic, and certainly not a scientific result

          The world is infinitely complex, and the attempts by intellectual children using occam's razor to dismiss anything that doesn't fit into their tiny world views are incredibly silly

            Oh sorry, I thought we were talking about conspiracy theories.

            On the one hand, we have a proposed international conspiracy of thousands of climate researchers who have apparently fabricated huge amounts of observational data in exchange for a relative pittance in funding and moderate salaries. On the other, we have... some veiled accusations from the internet, and a distinct lack of evidence.

            I think Occam's Razor applies.

    This headline seems more accurate:

    Climate change deniers abuse Microsoft's philanthropic program

    denialists?!?!?! seriously can I report your heading for inappropriate comments?
    how disgusting and rude to draw similarities to the Holocaust!

      Oh for fuck's sake, Holocaust denialists don't have a monopoly on the term "denial". It's a general term used in plenty of other situations, you're looking for connotations that aren't there.

      There are certainly sensationalist elements to this article, but that isn't one of them.

    This always happens when climate change is brought up...
    two extreme views, no one ever changes their mind from these comments or posts...

    p.s. please don't sensationalise these stories, it is kinda very biased

    Would there be a witch hunt if Microsoft denied the climate sceptics not for profit licences of Windows? Or would that be perfectly fine?

    You people claim to not like sensationalised headlines, but AGW followers are so easily conned.
    The Heartland documents that were released were stolen, altered and faked.
    Keep up with the news.

    http://joannenova.com.au/2012/02/update-heartland-documents-stolen-and-key-one-is-fake-no-insider-leak/

    Skeptics dont resort to lies, theft and fraud to get their propaganda across and get government grants.
    If you think AGW is happening and if you think the life style restrictions and taxes truely are "for the good of the earth" then you really need to do some self education.

      Leaping to bad conclusions based on out-of-context quotes from "leaked" documents? No, climate "skeptics" would never do that.

        The difference there is. . .
        Heartland is a government/politically driven organisation and the leaked documents were found to be fake (forged by warmists).
        Climategate is actual IPCC scientists caught committing deceit and fraud in internal documents and emails to each other for the purpose of conning the public into believing their agenda.
        In both instances its the warmists who have been doing the swindling.

          Do you have links to show that the Heartland Institute is in any way related to the government? Incidentally, they only claimed one document was fake, and that the others "may" have been altered. The allegation that this document was falsified by "warmists" is of course only an assumption at this stage.

          And as for your claims that a few out-of-context quotes in "Climategate" somehow proves "deceit and fraud" (without of course providing any links to evidence of this), perhaps you missed the eight independent inquiries that each concluded that there was "no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct", and that "the scientific consensus that global warming is occurring as a result of human activity remain[s] unchanged"?

          I'm sorry; while you started off with some almost-reasonable points, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to take your ever-wilder accusations seriously, at least until you start providing some actual evidence to back them up.

            So we have entered Rathergate territory where you admit the document is a fake but what it says is true.

    Oh, and Id to refer you to this climate change funding list(in USD):

    Greenpeace $300m 2010 Annual Report
    WWF $700m ($524m Euro)
    Pew Charitable Trust $360m 2010 Annual Report
    Sierra Club $56m 2010 Annual Report
    NSW climate change fund (just one random govt example) $750m NSW Gov (A$700m)
    Heartland Institute $6.4m

    US government funding for climate science and technology $7,000m “Climate Money” 2009
    US government funding for “climate related appropriations” $1,300m USAID 2010
    Annual turnover in global carbon markets $120,000m 2010 Point Carbon
    Annual investment in renewable energy $243,000m 2010 BNEF
    US government funding for skeptical scientists $ 0

    Theres a lot of money to be made in climate 'science'.

    Exxon Mobil alone makes $100B more than all of those put together, every year. Shell makes even more. And I haven't even looked at the coal industry.

    But I note you're confusing "funding" with "salaries". Got any more useful figures? Salary range for an atmospheric scientist is US$40K-$127K.

    By way of contrast, Shell CEO Peter Voes collected a cool 10€, and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson raked in US$29M (his predecessor walked off with an incredible $400M).

    Clearly there's a lot more money to be made in fossil fuels than any scientist will ever see.

      Oops, typo - Shell's Peter Voser actually collected 10 million euros, as the link confirms.

    Namarron, I cant believe you are spinning the "98%" garbage.

    The 97%-98% number stems from a 2009 online survey of 10,257 earth scientists, conducted by two researchers at the University of Illinois. The survey results must have deeply disappointed the researchers – in the end, they chose to highlight the views of a subgroup of just 77 scientists, 75 of whom thought humans contributed to climate change.
    The ratio 75/77 produces the 97% figure that pundits now tout.

    The two researchers started by altogether excluding from their survey the thousands of scientists most likely to think that the Sun, or planetary movements, might have something to do with climate on Earth – out were the solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, meteorologists and astronomers. That left the 10,257 scientists in disciplines like geology, oceanography, paleontology, and geochemistry that were somehow deemed more worthy of being included in the consensus. The two researchers also decided that scientific accomplishment should not be a factor in who could answer – those surveyed were determined by their place of employment (an academic or a governmental institution). Neither was academic qualification a factor – about 1,000 of those surveyed did not have a PhD, some didn’t even have a master’s diploma.

    The survey was a 2 minute online survey. The second and key question was “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”

    About 1 in 3 of the 10,000 odd Earth Scientists bothered to do the survey. Of them 82% answered yes to question 2. By dropping out anyone who published more than half their papers in any other field than strict “climate science” the 3000 odd replies was whittled down to just 77. Only 2 of those didn’t say “yes”, so the 97% figure was born: 75 out of 77.

    So, according to warmists, 75 out of 77 out of 10,257 = 97%

      That survey was Doran & Zimmerman 2009, yes. They were endeavouring to determine the opinions of "climate experts", hence the restrictions on credentials. Are you implying that there's something wrong with their method, or only that their sample size could be bigger? You're certainly implying that climate scientists discount the sun & planets as a factor, which is provably false.

      And if you read the link I provided, you may have noticed references to Anderegg, Prall, Harold, and Schneider 2010, which surveyed the work of 1372 active climate researches, and concluded "97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC".

      And then there's Farnsworth & Lichter 2011, where they surveyed 489 scientists in the earth, space, atmospheric, oceanic and hydrological fields, and concluded that 97% believed global temperatures were rising, and "only 5% disagreed with the idea that human activity is a significant cause of global warming".

      Then there's also Bray & von Storch 2009 (2058 climate scientists, 373 responses), the Harris Interactive survey in 2007 (489 respondents), and Naomi Oreskes in 2003 (928 papers) - all showed clear (and growing) agreement from scientists that anthropogenic global warming is very real.

      I don't suppose you have links to papers from reputable statisticians that declare all of these studies to be "garbage"?

        And just to hammer the point home, here's a list of 42 scientific organisations in 19 countries that also endorse the conclusion of anthropogenic global warming.

        Notably, I can't find any (genuine) scientific organisations that endorse the opposite conclusion.

          Once again rathergate territory. You basically admit that the 97% study is garbage but then try and argue that its true anyways.

    I just wanted to thank Namarrgon for actually presenting hard evidence to support his view, something none of the deniers have yet bothered to do. The idea that all scientists are colluding to mislead the public is simply absurd. These people stake their professional reputations on following where the evidence leads - the scientific method demands that scientists be true skeptics, not stating anything until they can back it up. These are people for whom knowledge itself is their principal reward (they sure aren't getting rich), why would we distrust them? It's a bit like going to a doctor when you feel ill, and then arguing with him over your diagnosis. If we can't agree that formal education and qualification in a field increases knowledge of that field, then why take anyone's advice on anything ever?

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