Climate Money: the Hewlett and the Packard
Nature Magazine – part-time climate pamphleteer and publisher of Mann’s trick, as expected, runs out of quality climate content every now and then. But the juggernaut must roll on – scientists everywhere must be kept reminded and the powers-that-be pacified that climate is on the agenda. This week, we are treated to the spectacle of not one, but two hurried hack-jobs on an area which is patently as removed from science as can be – but inadvertently very close to the heart of the climate issue – climate money. Nature is reduced to publishing press release write-ups for one piece and gives free reign to an economist-bureaucrat from the UN to peddle his pressure tactics in the other piece.
It is the the first article which concerns us. What is this doing in a science magazine?
Charities warm to climate Nature 464, 821 (2010)
Overall, the article attempts to pass off its utterances as wisdom by assuming stupidity on the part of its readers. It makes an honest beginning however.
Global steps to battle climate change might have faltered…
For those of us who may be still in the dark what kind of money climate money is, the article is helpful:
Donations jumped from the 2007 total of US$240 million to $897 million in 2008, according to a report from the Foundation Center, an organization that supports philanthropies, in New York.
If you having trouble processing those numbers, I would suggest looking at this graph, reproduced from the Foundation Center’s report. It is quite clear that there is a blue bar sticking right at the end, at 2008. It is this blue bar that creates the hockey-stick of climate charity money that is displayed in the Nature piece.
Now, the natural reaction to a sudden spike in something, to anything — should be to make you curious. Why is the Hewlett Foundation raining money on climate change and that too all of a sudden? How much is it? Who did they give all this money to? We are still helped by the Nature article:
The vast majority of the increase in 2008 came from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, California, which gave a total of $549 million. Hewlett’s donations included a one-time contribution of $500 million to ClimateWorks…
Thus we learn that the Hewlett Foundation and the Packard Foundation – presumably from the founders of Hewlett-Packard – are disbursing their funds in the direction of climate change, quite generously. The size of this generosity – $500 million (bears repeating) and all mainly to ‘Climateworks’ .
The workings of Climateworks
ClimateWorks is a ‘global organization’ freshly set up, which wants to establish ‘low carbon prospserity’. How does it plan going about it? By “pursuing aggressive and highly targeted campaigns, focusing resources on policies”. Incidentally ClimateWorks was founded by Hal Harvey who managed the environment program for the Hewlett Foundation right until 2008. Apparently while at Hewlett, Hal Harvey was ‘inspired’ to start ClimateWorks by this document – ‘Design to Win’ (edit)- put together by a certain California Environmental Associates in 2007. California Environmental Associates were paid for their efforts by – you guessed it – the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Packard Foundation and a certain Energy Foundation.We must note in passing that it was Hal Harvey who founded the Energy Foundation. Curiously Hal Harvey was himself a member of the steering committee that was responsible for the ‘Desire to Win’ report. Eric Hietz, current president of the Energy Foundation was in the committee as well. It is also funny a certain Heather Thomson and Andreas Merkl- both members of the project team that produced the ‘Desire to Win’ document- are also part of ClimateWorks, the organization they helped create.
So, who did ClimateWorks give all this money, or plan to give all this money to – that is our next question. ClimateWorks’ funds have presently been going to - the Energy Foundation (that’s right!), the China Sustainable Energy Program, and the European Climate Foundation. Since we are talking about all this founding and foundations, I should add that the China Sustainable Energy Program was founded by the Packard Foundation, the Energy Foundation and is being ‘sustained’ by the Hewlett Foundation as well since 2006.
The European Climate Foundation is listed as a sister program to The China Sustainable Energy Program. The European Climate Foundation is funded by SeaChange.org (among others), which was founded by Hal Harvey. The China Sustainable Energy Program has a San Francisco office, which curiously enough is the same as the address listed for Seachange.org.
Let me tell you what I think has happened here - in climate money – we’ve stumbled upon Immanuel Kant’s ‘the-thing-in-itself’.
The outcome of all this tantric climate cuddling is undoubtedly what is reflected in the logo of the Copenhagen conference – climate noodles! Everyone climbs into everyone else’s bed. In the process, the Hewlett and Packard foundations manage a massive transfer of funds – into its ‘own’ hands but across the seas and continents and into the land of China – all for the advancement of well-intentioned climate projects, no doubt. Hal Harvey gave his employee a funding idea based on a project report he helped shape and then founded an organization to benefit from the same funding idea. It is remarkable that he was sticking his neck out for Pachauri when Pachauri was in his self-inflicted glacier soup.
“There is no evidence that outside interests affected Pachauri’s leadership of the I.P.C.C. at all.”
The panel’s process is so “robust and transparent” that it could not be undercut by “personalities or errors,”
— Hal Harvey, New York Times, February 8, 2010
The benign grants of the Hewlett foundation are thereby transformed into a lobbying weapon for ‘aggressive pursuit of targeted policy changes’.
Somehow Nature magazine thinks that is an achievement and that it’s worth trumpeting on its pages. This is given that, wordcount issues prevented Nature from publishing a prominent skeptic’s contribution and knowing that most scientists young or old would sell their left testicle (or equivalent organ) to see a few of their words printed in Nature.
Even with this scant information we just reviewed, it would be safe to ignore its insipid and shopworn second-hand thesis as to why the floodgates of climate cash have opened up.
It is most certainly not because, as Nature tries to pull the wool over our eyes:
“A generational change may account for part of the sudden generosity. Baby boomers are showing more concern about climate change than previous generations…”