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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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Climate Hustle

Climate scientists would make more money in other careers

What the science says...

Climate scientists could make far more money in other careers - most notably, working for the oil industry.

Climate Myth...

Climate scientists are in it for the money

In truth, the overwhelming majority of climate-research funding comes from the federal government and left-wing foundations. And while the energy industry funds both sides of the climate debate, the government/foundation monies go only toward research that advances the warming regulatory agenda. With a clear public-policy outcome in mind, the government/foundation gravy train is a much greater threat to scientific integrity.

-Henry Payne, National Review

If you are reading the comments on basically any climate change related article, it won't take long to get to one (or more!) commenters boldly claiming that "climate scientists are only in it for the money". This will often be accompanied by outrageously high $ amounts to really get anybody's hackles up but without any real evidence for their statement.

In a video as part of her Global Weirding series with PBS, Katharine Hayhoe comprehensively debunks this myth.

Richard Alley makes some relevant points in this interview snippet:

Many of the scientists interviewed for Denial101x also explain why they do what they do and it doesn't have anything to do with money (big surprise!). All those expert interviews are available in the Wakelet-collection Denial101x Expert Interviews.

John Timmer also tackled this myth at ArsTechnica in 2011 and 2012:

So, are there big bucks to be had in climate science? Since it doesn't have a lot of commercial appeal, most of the people working in the area, and the vast majority of those publishing the scientific literature, work in academic departments or at government agencies. Penn State, home of noted climatologists Richard Alley and Michael Mann, has a strong geosciences department and, conveniently, makes the department's salary information available. It's easy to check, and find that the average tenured professor earned about $120,000 last year, and a new hire a bit less than $70,000.

As did Scott Mandia on his blog:

Are scientists getting rich from grant funding?  I will use myself as a case study in this post and, in Part II, I will write about others’ experiences.

I recall a lecture I gave on climate change back in April 2009.  After I was finished, a gentleman told me that he though[sic] the whole thing was a hoax so that we scientists could get rich from funding.  Before I even had a chance to reply, a voice from the crowd (my wife) yelled out, “Trust me, I can tell you, he isn’t making any money from this. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing!”  The truth hurts, doesn’t it?

Last updated on 25 November 2017 by dana1981. View Archives

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James Hansen & money

James Hansen is second only to Al Gore as far as personal attacks go. A latest attack accuses him of receiving up to $720,000 from the Open Society Institute. Here is James Hansen's reply

 

Karin Kirk Yale Climate Comm.

Karin Kirk tackled this myth in an article for Yale Climate Communication on Sept. 5, 2018:

Climate change science comeback strategies: 'In it for the money'

It comes with two cartoons drawn by John Cook:

Cranky Uncles Money 01

Cranky Uncle Money 02

Comments

Comments 1 to 7:

  1. The denier myth begins with...

    In truth, the overwhelming majority of climate-research funding comes from the federal government and left-wing foundations.

    In truth, climate-research is conducted by scientists throughout the world who are not being paid by either the US government or US foundations.  

  2. Thank you for posting!!

    Scientists are important for our world. Because of climate change that we made it happen. Many countries tried to solve this problem. The government gave the budget for science companies to research. Causes somebody to think that climate scientists are in it for the money. In my opinion, science project and research need money and time. Money that government gave could be running out easily. Some country didn't support science field so much. Sometimes it made people don't want to be scientists because science work is very tough work and the scientist isn't high salary career. So I think scientists aren't in it for the money.

  3. Thank you for posting!!

    Scientists are important for our world. Because of climate change that we made it happen. Many countries tried to solve this problem. The government gave the budget for science companies to research. Causes somebody to think that climate scientists are in it for the money. In my opinion, science project and research need money and time. Money that government gave could be running out easily. Some country didn't support science field so much. Sometimes it made people don't want to be scientists because science work is very tough work and the scientist isn't high salary career. So I think scientists aren't in it for the money.

    What would make science project become more famous? 

  4. Wow, thank you for posting this wonderful article. For me, scientists are playing really important roles. Without them, how can we know what is going on in this world. Especially about climate change which we should concern the most. If be a scientist is that easy and rich, it is going to have a billion of scientists out there! It is a really hard job. I appreciate all of them a lot. Thank you for hard working! Anyway, I still have a question;

    Do scientist need to belong to a company? 

  5. Recommended supplemental reading:

    Climate change science comeback strategies: 'In it for the money' by Karin Kirk, Yale Climate Communications, Sep 5, 2018 

  6. Hello, this is my first post, as I just discovered this site. Great work, thanks.

    I frequent some online investor fora where I encounter a lot of right wingers (some of the extreme fringe). Their mainline attack on climate scientists is more sophisticated (and fundamental) than "they're in it for the money" (as in, to get "rich"). The general lines of attack go more like "the groupthink in the climate science community is such that: 1) only pro AGW theory proponents will even fund climate research, 2) the only way to get any funding (whether it makes you "rich" or not) is to be an AGW theory proponent, and 3) of course the peer reviewers are going to support anything that bolsters the AGW theory and attack anything that doesn't.

  7. AFT, these claims are popular among people sharing a certain ideology. They amount to slightly more than conspiracy theory but not much, and they do not hold up to scrutiny. Virtually nobody arguing that way ever spends the time and effort necessary to determine how much reality underlies these claims.

    1) A large amount of research comes from NASA, and it continues to point in the same direction. Another body of research is from the military, i.e. Navy and Air Force. It shows the same as the rest of the evidence, some of it was very early on. Repeated attempts at silencing scientists or suppressing their work have been reported during the Bush administration, it has reached rdiculous proportions under Trump, so the problem is actually the other way around: anti AGW (whatever that may mean) actors actively try to silence researchers and do not fund research because they know that it will show the opposite of what they want to see. The BEST project was a shining example, look it up. Exxon did fund research and it showed the same thing as the research from other sources (see appropriate thread); it is not very surprising that they stopped funding it now, is it? Why would these actors continue to fund research that they know will show exactly the opposite of what their financial interests demand? How much have they actually funded, then suppressed, because it did not serve their interests?

    2) The only way to get funding should be to propose quality research that advances knowledge. That is the case for the vast majority of it. Denial motivated research in virtually all the publicized cases ends up of such poor quality that it generates questions on the review process that allowed it through. Multiple cases have been shown to be the results of intentional, organized peer-review hijacking, or the publicity was owed to gross misrepresentation of results, or press releases advertised conclusions that were not supported by the paper. A while ago, it was the infamous Soon-Baliunas, Legates, and a few others are there for your examination. The stream has dried up somewhat lately. Prominent denial voices (Spencer) still can not come up with research that truly supports their publicly voiced opinions.

    3) Exactly why would that be? Reviewers are often anonymous, what interest do they have to allow poor quality papers? Scientists tend to try to undermine each other's work far more than people realize. There is seldom better satisfaction than proving a competitor wrong.

    These arguments are neve accompanied by specifics. They simply don't hold up. Those who want to be convinced by them simply assume that they are true because it make sense to them, flatters their already held beliefs, and they never bother digging or just exploring the logic of it, as for the first argument. The real problem is this: nobody has a real financial incentive in climate science being correct, including scientists themselves. The effort that societies will have to produce to deal with it, whether they try to mitigate, remediate, or any combination will be enormous. Ask any any climate scientist if they wish climate science was wrong and see what their answer are.

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