Feeling confused about whether or not climate change is really a threat? Good. That’s exactly what they want you to feel. Confused.

I was having a conversation about this with a friend over lunch during the week and he explained to me how the big oil companies fund hundreds of small lobby groups who purport to be scientists and who put out misleading and contradictory evidence deliberately to confuse the general public.

Here’s an interesting statement I read tonight:

According to Ward’s own analysis of Exxon’s Corporate Giving Report, the company last year funded 64 groups conducting climate change research, of which 25 were in line with mainstream climate science and 39 were "misleading." The latter category included the Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, to which Exxon gave $25,000 in 2005, the Exxon website shows. The Centre’s website says: "There is no compelling reason to believe that the rise in temperature was caused by the rise in CO2."

This is from an article in Al Jazeera stating that The Royal Society, Britain’s national academy of science, is criticizing Exxon’s attempts to mislead the general public by confusing them with contradictory reports.

So, here’s how it seems to work. You give money to both the dodgy groups who make up their science off of the back of a breakfast cereal box but you *also* give funding to the real scientists so you can’t be accused of just funding the bad guys. You can say

"These organisations do not speak on our behalf, nor do we control their views and messages. They may or may not hold similar views to ours."

But what you *really* want to do is create confusion. It’s Alexander of Macedon’s old "divide and conquer" strategy updated for the 21st century corporation. Plausible deniability.

Now, when you read about the confusion in the newspaper, all you read is that Politician X said "Climate change is important and we need to do something about it now" but then you read that Politican B said "Such-and-such a group of scientists says it isn’t as big a problem as everyone is making out, go back to your Reality TV". Of course, what you *don’t* read is that the group Politican B quoted from was funded by Exxon.

Who has the responsibility to tell you this last fact? The newspaper? You would think so.