On Global Warming: Follow the Money Indeed!

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It takes a certain kind of gumption to stand up to the status quo.

Folks who challenge the mainstream media and popular culture are subjected to some of the nastiest insults and character assassinations. And such retribution is nowhere more severe than for those who take issue with popular views about global warming.

There are a number of very bright climatologists and meteorologists out there who believe that this century’s warming trend is neither critical nor man made. Now you can agree or disagree with these folks. But you can’t pretend that these folks are crazies or ill informed or just in it for the money. They believe that the models used by the “We’re all going to die!” global warming worriers are far too severe and fail to take enough natural factors into consideration in their climate models. For their audacity to take on the status quo, they have been censured, excoriated and labeled as lackeys for the oil companies.

So who are these folks? Well, it turns out that on the whole they are just a bunch of number-crunching scientists who have been doing their work for years for the love of what they do, rather than the thrill of celebrity status. They include (but are by no means limited to) folks like Oregon State University climatologist George Taylor, Alabama State climatologist John Christy, Colorado State climatologist William Gray and Alabama meteorologist James Spann.

Mr. Spann was particularly upset with the charge that only those with ties to big oil could argue the way he and his colleagues do. In fact, he says, the truth is exactly the opposite: “Billions of dollars of grant money is flowing into the pockets of those on the man-made global warming bandwagon … Nothing wrong with making money at all. But when money becomes the motivation for a scientific conclusion, then we have a problem. For many, global warming is a big cash grab.” Click here to read the entire blog.

Mr. Spann’s suspicions were born out in a terrific bit of investigative journalism by two of my own colleagues here at FOX News, George Russell and Claudia Rosett. In the course of investigating a high United Nations official, one who has become something of a hero to the global warming worriers, they found that the official’s motivations may not have been entirely altruistic. Click here to read their full report.

Maurice Strong is a founding director of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP), a division of the U.N. that has grown into a bureaucratic monstrosity with an annual budget of $136 million. Mr. Strong left his post at UNEP in the 1970s but kept his ecological credentials and helped organize a 1992 environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro, which become the forerunner of the Kyoto Accords. While Strong has spent a lifetime parlaying his UN contacts into business associations, nowhere has he done so more successfully than with his ecological “credentials.”

Recently Strong has been spending most of his time in China, where he’s been linked, among other things, to planned attempts to market Chinese-made automobiles in North America. But his presence there raises some awkward questions for Russell and Rosett: “For one thing, China, while one of the world’s biggest producers of industrial pollution, has been profiting from the trading of carbon emissions credits – thanks to heavily politicized U.N.-backed environmental deals engineered by Strong in the 1990s.”

Could Mr. Strong be benefiting from deals that he helped put together while he was working at the U.N.? We don’t know. What we do know is that Mr. Strong is now on voluntary leave from the U.N. while questions are sorted out concerning a $1 million check that was passed to him by South Korean businessman Tongsun Park, who was convicted last summer in New York Federal Court of conspiring to bribe U.N. officials on behalf of Baghdad.

Now the Maurice Strong story, however it sorts itself out, is not to say that all or even most of the heroes in the global-warming-worriers network are spreading the message just to get rich. I’m sure that they are mostly good people who believe in their views just as sincerely as those on the opposite side. But the ad hominem charges hurled at global warming skeptics, particularly the charge that they’re just in it for the money, can just as easily be hurled right back at some very prominent proponents of the other side of the debate.

Billions of dollars have been invested so far in studying climate change ($20 billion from the Bush administration alone), and very little of that money has landed in the laps of those outside of the global warming orthodoxy. As weatherman James Spann says: “I would not listen to anyone that is a politician, a journalist, or someone in science who is generating revenue from this issue.” The only problem is that would leave out an enormous number of scientists who have already cashed in on it.

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David Asman is the host of "Forbes on FOX" which airs on the FOX News Channel, Saturdays at 11 a.m. ET.