Former Astronaut in Bed with Big Oil?

Don’t be too surprised that former Apollo astronaut Harrison Schmitt publicly denounced the entire scientific community around climate science.

Schmitt provided Fox News another climate denier moment this week when he said, “I don't think the human effect [of climate change] is significant compared to the natural effect."

Schmitt is also speaking at a climate denier conference next month sponsored by none other than the notorious Heartland Institute.

Readers of Desmog Blog will recall the hilariously unethical stunt pulled by the Heartland Instituteastroturf group that has so far received almost $800,000 from Exxon. last year when they produced a list of 500 scientists who apparently disputed climate change.

The problem was that most of these individuals no idea that their reputations were being dragged through the mud by an astroturf group that has so far received almost $800,000 from Exxon.

Enter Harrison Schmitt. Most media coverage of this story has rather lazily reported Schmitt only as a former astronaut and one of the last people to walk on the moon.

A lot has happened since 1972. It turns out that Schmitt was the Chairman and President of the Annapolis Center For Science-Based Public Policy between 1994 and 1998, and remains “Chairman Emeritus”.

This may be a lucrative gig given that the Annapolis Centre has received more than $860,000 in funding from ExxonMobil since 1998. But what does money have to do with anything?

Schmitt has also been keeping some very dubious company.

Sallie Baliunas is listed as a member of the Science and Economic Advisory Council of the Annapolis Center. She is described by ExxonSecrets as a “darling of the anti-climate movement, Baliunas has been a central scientist in the fight against action on climate change. She is used by virtually all of the Exxon-funded front groups as their scientific expert.

Baliunas is associated with a veritable constellation of industry-funded groups opposing carbon regulation including: the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the American Petroleum Institute, and of course the Heartland Institute.

The Annapolis Center also honored none other that Senator James Inhofe for “his work in promoting science-based public policy” – a distinction so absurd it almost deserves a laugh track.

Lastly, the Annapolis Center has also spent considerable effort calling into question the well-known link between air pollution and asthma, the impacts of mercury pollution, and the dangers of pesticide residue on food.

Why Schmitt has chosen to associate himself with such an organization since 1994 is of course for you to judge.

One thing is certain: the media coverage of his supposed revelation around climate science seems now much more like a PR stunt in advance of the industry-funded denier conference.

If only the media had access to the Internet…

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