Is Masters champion Phil Mickelson unwittingly helping ExxonMobil greenwash its anti-science record?
I’m interested in your thoughts on how much greenwashing this is on a scale of 1 to 10.
I watch pretty much every major golf tournament. And that means that I saw some great golf played this weekend at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, especially by the winner, Phil Mickelson.
It also means I saw some heart-warming/green-washing commercials pitching the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, which is “designed to provide third- through fifth-grade teachers with the knowledge and skills necessary to motivate students to pursue careers in science and math.” ExxonMobil explains the rationale:
Today, in fields like medicine, computing and energy, the U.S. needs more brilliant young minds than ever before. Yet, as the need for brainpower grows, the number of our nation’s young people pursuing careers in these areas is decreasing. Fortunately, we believe this trend can be reversed, which is why we partnered with professional golfer Phil Mickelson and his wife Amy….
Yes, the second-biggest fossil-fuel funder of anti-science disinformation, ExxonMobil, whose goal is to convince the public that scientists and the scientific method cannot be trusted, is worried that young people don’t want to pursue science as a career.
Now, Mickelson is, by appearances and almost all press accounts, a very decent guy (although hagiography is rampant in every sport, including, as we now know, golf). I suspect he has no clue what ExxonMobil has been doing to help create a hostile climate for science and scientists.
So, Phil, in the exceedingly unlikely event you read this, it would appear your Academy is designed in part to help us forget that country’s biggest oil company has funneled millions of dollars to fund the disinformation campaigns of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, all of which continue to advance anti-scientific attacks as I have detailed recently (see posts on Heritage and CEI and AEI).
Chris Mooney wrote an excellent piece on ExxonMobil’s two-decade anti-scientific campaign a few years ago. Mooney notes that one anti-science disinformer, Paul Driessen, a senior fellow with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow ($252,000 from ExxonMobil) and the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise ($40,000 in 2003), said in 2005 that he’s “heartened that ExxonMobil and a couple of other groups have stood up and said, ‘this is not science.’ ” That’s the kind of science education ExxonMobil has been funding for a decade.
A 2007 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report looked at ExxonMobil’s tobacco industry-like tactics in pushing anti-scientific global warming disinformation (see “Today We Have a Planet That’s Smoking!”). Like the tobacco industry, ExxonMobil’s goal is to undercut real science and replace it with their phony science.
The oil giant said it would stop, but that was just another lie (see “Another ExxonMobil deceit: They are still funding climate science deniers despite public pledge“). Mickelson should read this excellent commentary by award-winning journalist, Eric Pooley, “Exxon Works Up New Recipe for Frying the Planet.“
ExxonMobil’s funding of virulently anti-science fanatics, carried to its ‘logical’ extreme by the extremists who the disinformation campaign is aimed at, leads to McCarthyism or worse:
- Sen. Inhofe inquisition seeking ways to criminalize and prosecute 17 leading climate scientists
- The rise of anti-science cyber bullying; Morano says climate scientists “deserve to be publicly flogged.”
- Glenn Beck: “There aren’t enough knives” for ‘dishonored’ climate scientists to kill themselves
So now ExxonMobil is shocked, shocked, that the number of our nation’s young people pursuing careers in science is decreasing. That reminds me of Leo Rosten’s famous definition of chutzpah: “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.”
Note to ExxonMobil: You should change your trademarked tagline from “taking on the world’s toughest energy challenges” to “creating the world’s toughest energy challenges.”
Mickelson, the “good guy” golfer who used to be wild, but now has his act together [unlike that other golfer in the news these days] has no doubt pursued this for the noblest of motives, and the Academy is no doubt providing valuable skills to teachers. But I don’t think that gives it a free pass from being greenwashing for ExxonMobil.
What do you think? How much greenwashing is this is on a scale of 1 to 10, with 9 being, say, calling gasoline from the tar sands with a little corn ethanol thrown in “Mother Nature’s Fuel”and 10 being pretty much anything that comes out of the mouth of Massey CEO Don Blankenship.
h/t to Brad Johnson for the video.