Myth of the climate science gravy train: scientists studying Greenland forced to pay their own airfares

One of the more absurd claims made by the denialists is that climate science offers scientists a veritable “gravy train” of funding.  

I’ve always found it a curious argument: after all do biomedical researchers need to “make up cancer” in order to obtain funding? Do biologists make up evolution in order to get grants?

How about those wacky physicists over at CERN who managed to scare up nine billion US dollars to build an atom smasher?  

That’s your tax money being scammed by leftist-pinko-scientists who believe in relativity!

Did they fabricate quantum physics in order to get some hot grant money? I mean, who has actually seen a sub-atomic particle?  

Andrew Bolt, the Herald Sun’s resident denialist-in-chief, typifies this kind of thinking in a article from last year:

PSST. Want a surefire way to get a grant – maybe $300,000, or even more – for your university research? Then gather around, my dear professors, and say these magic words.

Climate change.

You scoff? You say it’s too crazy to work, given that your expertise is actually in Bible studies, Aboriginal history, ceramics or sorghum?

More fool you.

After listing various grants and the amount scientists and researchers received, he ends his article in typical Bolt fashion:

But what might less fussy folk conclude from this farce, as they figure how to get a piece of the action, too?

And how about you? Are you surprised, now, that sceptical scientists can seem hard to find?

Are you at last wondering what’s in the carpetbags of those less rebuttable followers of the warming faith – the pay-per-speech preachers, the carbon traders, the windfarm moguls, the insurance salesmen, the offsets merchants, the solar panel makers, the Prius peddlers; the bio-fuel farmers and the whole hooting, hollering and repent-repent! gimme-cash crowd?

I’m surprised Bolt didn’t label scientists with his favourite insult-du-jour, “barbarians!”.  

According to the standard “conspiratorial” world view scientists are exaggerating – or fabricating – global warming in order “scare up grants and funding”.  

But is that really the case?  

Let’s look at what is happening in Greenland right now and how scientists have “taken advantage” of funding for research.  

Scientists studying Greenland miss out on the climate change gravy train…  

Recent reports indicate the Greenland ice sheet is a perilous state.  

As noted in this article in the Guardian, Greenland’s ice sheets may reach a dangerous “tipping point” within 10 years:

Greenland shed its largest chunk of ice in nearly half a century last week, and faces an even grimmer future, according to Richard Alley, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University

“Sometime in the next decade we may pass that tipping point which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive,” Alley told a briefing in Congress, adding that a rise in the range of 2-7 °C would mean the obliteration of Greenland’s ice sheet.

The fall-out would be felt thousands of miles away from the Arctic, unleashing a global sea level rise of 23 feet (7 metres), Alley warned. Low-lying cities such as New Orleans would vanish.

“What is going on in the Arctic now is the biggest and fastest thing that nature has ever done,” he said.

The article continues to describe how changes to the Greenland ice sheet are exceeding scientists worst fears:

Andreas Muenchow, professor of ocean science at the University of Delaware, who has been studying the Petermann glacier for several years, said he had been expecting such a break, alt

hough he did not anticipate its size.

You would expect such information to trouble most people: it certainly concerns me.  

We should be throwing money at this problem! How fast, how soon, what are the impacts!  

However, I can guarantee that at this point most “deniers” will stop reading those facts and head off to blogs such as “What’s up with that?” for some information that will soothe their anxiety. 

They may also make themselves feel a little better by throwing a few insults at scientists and bloggers such as myself (a.k.a killing the messenger).  

My advice to the deniers: good luck with that strategy fellas.  

While you’ve got your heads stuck in the sand, others will be working on how our societies can adapt to climate change. Just remember to thank us later when we (just barely) work out how to maintain the necessary infrastructure to support a technologically advanced civilisation.  

Oh, where was I? That’s right… the climate science gravy train.  

The same article highlights the reality of research funding. More often the not there is a critical lack of funding:

Muenchow told the briefing that over the last seven years he had only received funding to measure ocean temperatures near the Petermann Glacier for a total of three days.

He was also reduced, because of a lack of funding, to paying his own airfare and that of his students to they could join up with a Canadian icebreaker on a joint research project in the Arctic.

Climate change gravy train?  

Greedy scientists?  

Hardly.  

Perhaps Al Gore forgot to send these guys a cheque?  

What we really see are dedicated professionals working tirelessly to help inform the public.

That they are paying for expenses out of their own pockets is testiment to their dedication.

It also highlights the just how low “deniers” such as Bolt are prepared to go in their “war on science”.

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5 thoughts on “Myth of the climate science gravy train: scientists studying Greenland forced to pay their own airfares

  1. TheBrummell says:

    “The whole point is that multi billions are spent on a science that’s getting nowhere fast.
    Much of the grant money is wasted on unnecessary research and that’s an indisputable fact.”

    The science is “getting nowhere fast”? Since when? Well, I guess if you count the fact that no major changes to the conclusions – the Earth is warming, and it’s because of CO2 put into the atmosphere by human activities – has changed in 20 years counts as “going nowhere”. Is reinforcement and increasing certainty a sign of a lack of progress?

    And your facts are anything but. They are quite disputable: they’re bullshit.

  2. Joseph Seymour says:

    No one’s saying that individual scientists are getting rich out of funding.
    The whole point is that multi billions are spent on a science that’s getting nowhere fast.
    Much of the grant money is wasted on unnecessary research and that’s an indisputable fact.
    And that’s taxpayer’s money, yours and mine.

  3. […] Myth of the climate science gravy train: scientists studying Greenland forced to pay their own airfa… — One of the more absurd claims made by the denialists is that climate science offers scientists a veritable “gravy train” of funding. I’ve always found it a curious argument: after all do biomedical researchers need to “make up cancer” in order to obtain funding? Do biologists make up evolution in order to get grants? How about those wacky physicists over at CERN who managed to scare up nine billion US dollars to build an atom smasher?  That’s your tax money being scammed by leftist-pinko-scientists who believe in relativity! Did they fabricate quantum physics in order to get some hot grant money? I mean, who has actually seen a sub-atomic particle? […]

  4. Andy Russell says:

    I’ve often wondered why this argument of scientists making loads of money through climate change related grants doesn’t get shot down more often. Well done for tackling the issue!

    In fact, surely the opposite argument is much more likely to be true. By this I mean that it is much easier to make personal profit (e.g. from book sales) by jumping on the “sceptic” bandwagon.

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