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The oily operators behind the religious climate change disinformation front group, Cornwall Alliance

By Climate Guest Contributor on June 19, 2010 at 7:27 am

"The oily operators behind the religious climate change disinformation front group, Cornwall Alliance"

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Watch their absurdly paranoid video asserting environmentalism is “without doubt one of the greatest threats to society” today

Defenders of the dirty energy status quo, particularly the lobbyists and politicians associated with the oil and coal industry, have repeatedly trotted out a group of evangelical leaders known as the Cornwall Alliance to counter the growing sentiment in the evangelical community that anthropogenic climate change is a threat to God’s creation. Cornwall declares that true Christians believe “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming.”  In this repost, Wonk Room exposes the Big Oil funding behind the Cornwall Alliance

On Friday, at the polluter-funded Heritage Foundation, Cornwall rolled out its latest campaign called “Resisting the Green Dragon.” Billed as “a Biblical response to one of the greatest deceptions of our day,” the video series claims the entire climate change movement is a “false religion,” a nefarious conspiracy to empower eugenicists and create a “global government.” Watch the absurd trailer here, which portrays the idea of climate change as akin to the Lord of the Rings villain Sauron:

Thus far, Cornwall has been able to masquerade as a legitimate, independent group of pastors and religious leaders opposed to addressing climate change. However, ThinkProgress investigated the group and found deep ties to the oil industry, as well as with longtime right-wing operatives orchestrating the climate science denial machine.

The Cornwall Alliance appears to be a creation of a group called the James Partnership, a nonprofit run by Chris Rogers and Peter Stein, according to documents filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Rogers, who heads a media and public relations firm called CDR Communications, collaborates with longtime oil front group operative David Rothbard, the founder and President of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and Jacques Villarreal, a lower level staffer at CFACT, for his James Partnership group. In the past, Rogers’ firm has worked for the Bush administration and for the secretive conservative planning group, the Council for National Policy.

According to public records, the following entities are all registered to the same address, 9302-C Old Keene Mill Road Burke, VA 22015, an office park in suburban Virginia:

- Rogers’ consulting firm, CDR Communications
- Rogers’ nonprofit hub, the James Partnership
- The Cornwall Alliance
- The new “Resisting the Green Dragon” website

In late 2005, evangelical leaders like Rick Warren joined a drive to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying “millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors.” To counter this historic shift in the evangelical community, a group called the “Interfaith Stewardship Alliance” (ISA) was launched to oppose action on carbon emissions and to deny the existence of climate chance. One of the men guiding this group was Paul Driessen, a consultant for ExxonMobil, the mining industry, and for CFACT.

For “stream lining” reasons, ISA relaunched as the Cornwall Alliance in 2006. With the new name came a redesigned website, highly produced web videos, and an organized network of churches to distribute climate change denying propaganda to hundreds of pastors around the country. The branding for the Cornwall Alliance is derived from the “Cornwall Declaration,” a 1999 document pushing back against the creation-care movement in the evangelical community. The Declaration “stressed a free-market environmental stewardship and emphasized that individuals and private organizations should be trusted to care for their own property without government intervention.” CFACT President Rothbard has been hailed as the “driving force” behind the Cornwall Declaration public relations effort.

CFACT is a gimmicky right-wing organization that does everything it can to try to discredit the science underpinning climate change. For instance, staffers from the group traveled to the Copenhagen conference on climate change to stage silly press conferences with Rush Limbaugh’s former producer and stunts aimed at mocking Greenpeace.

Chris Rogers and David RothbardBut who is the “driving force” behind CFACT? According to disclosures, CFACT is funded by at least $542,000 from ExxonMobil, $60,500 from Chevron, and $1,280,000 from Scaife family foundations, which are rooted in wealth from Gulf Oil and steel interests.

CFACT and the Cornwall Alliance, according to disclosures filed with the Washington State Secretary of State’s office, share a common fundraising firm, ClearWord Communications Group. ClearWord has helped raise millions of dollars not only for CFACT and Cornwall, but also for infamous polluter front groups like FreedomWorks, the Institute for Energy Research, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Last year, Cornwall produced a video with former Sen. George Allen (R-VA) attacking clean energy legislation as part of a campaign by the ExxonMobil-funded “American Energy Freedom Center.”

In a call to the Cornwall Alliance’s media office Monday afternoon, spokesman Quena Gonzalez said Cornwall has no relationship to CFACT and said CFACT President Rothbard has no official capacity with his group. Gonzalez said that in “several years of working” at Cornwall, he has never heard any questions about working with CFACT, and instructed ThinkProgress to contact Calvin Beisner, the national representative for Cornwall. Incidentally, Beisner is a board member of CFACT.

Rothbard had a central role in sparking the founding of Cornwall and is currently a partner with Chris Rogers, the man who runs Cornwall and CDR Communications. Nevertheless, under his capacity as CFACT President, Rothbard’s anti-Greenpeace publicity stunts are reported regularly on the Cornwall blog as breaking news, without any acknowledgement of Rothbard’s relationship with Cornwall.

Gonzalez also said he had never heard of CDR Communications. But according to his own LinkedIn profile, Gonzalez works for CDR Communications as the “Director for Religion and the Environment” at the firm. ThinkProgress contacted Chris Rogers on Monday, who contradicted Gonzalez and said his firm CDR Communications provides “support” for Cornwall but did not clarify.

It appears that Cornwall attempts to carefully hide its backers. Not only did Gonzalez refuse to provide much information, but Cornwall’s website is registered with a special service to hide the identity of the person or group who purchased the domain address.

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34 Responses to The oily operators behind the religious climate change disinformation front group, Cornwall Alliance

  1. lizardo says:

    Well this is just sad. I live in a rural area where it’s not uncommon to see ads or flyers promoting dotto film or video programs about the end times, so there’s a market for media no matter how awful the content because it gets bottoms in seats.

    The current print edition of “The Nation” magazine has an article about another fossil funded (Koch etc.) front group called the American Legislative Exchange Council which has conferences to provide state legislators with model legislation: “Where bad bills come from.” 115 of 826 enacted in 2010 so far.

    http://www.alec.org

    The article is not online. But you ought to be a subscriber anyhow.

  2. mark says:

    from “The Tyranny of Oil” author Antonia Juhasz:

    “From it’s very conception to the present day, the oil industry has been plagued with massive, anticompetitive, undemocratic, socially, economically, and politically destructive practices. All the while, it has been coddled, subsidized, protected, and preserved by the US. government.”

  3. Raul says:

    I’m confused. I don’t know if I’m supposed to have
    an infatuation with colonial days or not.
    Back then, although hard to get at times,
    salt would preserve food but it was what
    was largely left when sea water was
    evaporated. Now,it is much easier to get
    salt from many sources. Yet, still many
    use the evaporation process to derive
    salt from sea water. Does Morton Salt
    still like the Gulf?

  4. Nick says:

    IOW,these End of Times cultists know the mind of God,and He said,verily,that Climate Change will not be sharing equal billing with The Rapture.

  5. caerbannog says:

    If this isn’t a case of “the Devil quoting scriptures for his own purposes”, then I don’t know what is…

  6. Peter Mizla says:

    This ‘Group’ of course has no validity- but still the media gives them power by giving them legitimacy. One thing I have learned- the USA has a great deal of misinformed people- who in a few years down the road will resemble rats trying to flee the ill fated Titanic.

  7. Leland Palmer says:

    The extreme amount of influence of these right wing “charitable” and “non-profit” astroturf organizations have on American politics is one of the saddest parts our society, IMO.

    The ultimate source of money for many of these groups comes from a few main sources: the Scaife (Carthage, Sarah Scaife, Scaife Family) foundations, the Bradley foundation, and the Koch (Charles Koch, David Koch, and Claude R.Lambe) foundations. These often fund in apparent coordination with ExxonMobil, IMO. Such foundations specialize in providing seed money for what later go on to become self-supporting propaganda operations, that raise money to support themselves as “non-profits” often, or sometimes as outright for profit astroturf businesses.

    From the Media Matters Action Network Conservative Transparency database.

    Funding for CFACT (Council For A Constructive Tomorrow:

    Funder : Purpose Amount Date
    Carthage Foundation $1,205,000 [One of the Scaife Foundations-LP]
    General operating support $100,000 1/1/2007
    General operating support $180,000 12/31/2006
    General operating support $80,000 12/31/2005
    General operating support $80,000 3/9/2005
    General operating support $80,000 12/31/2004
    General operating support $150,000 12/31/2003
    No comment provided $200,000 1/1/2002
    No purpose given. $50,000 1/1/2001
    No purpose given. $25,000 1/1/2000
    no description given $50,000 1/1/1999
    No description available $50,000 1/1/1998
    GENERAL OPERATING SUPPORT $35,000 1/1/1997
    GENERAL OPERATING SUPPORT $50,000 1/1/1995
    GENERAL OPERATING SUPPORT $25,000 1/1/1993
    GENERAL OPERATING SUPPORT $25,000 1/1/1992
    NO PURPOSE GIVEN $25,000 1/1/1991
    Exxon Mobil Corporation $467,000
    $40,000 1/1/2007
    $70,000 1/1/2006
    $90,000 1/1/2005
    $125,000 1/1/2004
    $72,000 1/1/2003
    $35,000 1/1/2002
    $35,000 1/1/2001
    Sarah Scaife Foundation $375,000

    Notice that two of the Scaife foundations acted in apparent coordination with ExxonMobil to fund CFACT over a number of years.

    Who is Richard Mellon Scaife?

    Scaife is one of the main funders of the Clinton impeachment effort, as documented in Joe Conason’s excellent book The Hunting of the President. He has given over a billion dollars, over several decades, to the funding of right wing (sometimes very far right wing) causes.

    I’ve sometimes speculated that the Scaife funding of conservative causes might be a CIA operation. I have no evidence of this. But their actions over decades seem to me to be consistent with a CIA run operation to fund causes that benefit our financial elites. Scaife has, however, funded CIA run propaganda operations in Britain, which helped destabilize the Wilson government there in the 1970′s, I think.

    One thing that causes me to speculate about this is that Richard Mellon Scaife was reportedly alone with his brother in law, when his brother in law decided to shoot himself in the chest with a shotgun. This incident reportedly occurred after an acrimonious series of arguments between Scaife and his brother in law, centering around Scaife’s sister Cordelia Scaife May.

    Scaife’s brother in law’s death is officially a suicide. Scaife has never been prosecuted in connection with the death. Scaife’s position as a pillar of Pittsburg society has never been compromised.

    Setting up the Scaife foundations as a CIA run propaganda funding operation might require that the CIA have a “lock” on Scaife- solid blackmail material that they could hold over his head. It might also require a CIA controlled person to manage the day to day operations of the covert operation. One candidate for such an operation might be Scaife’s long term employee Richard Larry – reportedly an ex Marine Special Forces commando.

    Just some speculation, some of it a little wild, maybe. But I wonder why someone who describes himself as a libertarian would voluntarily give away a billion dollars over a few decades. Perhaps it is voluntary political activism. Perhaps not.

  8. Christine says:

    While the video may appear absurd to those of us reading Climate Progress, beware of underestimating the power of the kind of language that it uses to reach its intended audience. Only an alliance between environmentalists and Christian organizations and churches that are truly grassroots and Biblical based will be effective in combating the Cornwall Alliance and its backers with deep pockets.

  9. prokaryote says:

    Isn’t this group a threat to national security?

  10. Dr. David Heinimann says:

    Cornwall — and all religious — is premised on the post hoc fallacy of God’s existence: it is not that God made man, but rather that man made God/the gods. Given that, Cornwall’s claims are fraudulent and self-serving misrepresentations. Jesus would be outraged over their fat greed and abuse of his message. Were their a Hell, they would enter it. Instead, they will make one on Earth. Shame on them.

    [Please correct typo in my reply (10.): "the God made man" should be "that God made man". The point is standard in mythography.]

  11. mike roddy says:

    Wealthy lunatics like Scaife and Koch have much more influence than their numbers would indicate. Ian Murphy used to say that if you hung around Scaife for a year and promised to publish his rants, he would give you a million dollars.

    Their form of Christianity is actually quite demonic. As Christine in #8 pointed out, progressives need to work with the true grassroots Christians to call these bizarre people out, and move forward with the real spirit of Christ.

    The weirdest ones are the End Times followers, who are apparently quite numerous. When catastrophic global warming is visited on their descendants, it’s a win-win: the dying Christians get whooshed up to Heaven in their rapture pods, to live happily ever after. Based on this hallucination, more rapid global warming is good, because Heaven will be less crowded, and their relatives will be easier to find. I kid you not, btw.

    Traditional religious leaders need to stand up to them, since they are really cult members. I suspect that the Kochs, Scaifes, and Exxon managers are so diabolically cynical that they exploit this kind of ignorance, and don’t even believe it themselves.

  12. Dan B says:

    Christine @8. is spot on.

    There are a number of mainstream Christian, evangelical Christian, and progressive Christian organizations working to “save” the planet. Their efforts are funded to the tune of a few hundred thousand dollars per year in total. Only a few groups, like Rich Cizik’s New Evangelicals and Matthew Sleeth, are focused on communication. The rest devote their efforts primarily to cleaning up woodlands and planting trees. While these are vitally important they stand little chance against a well funded and professional propaganda campaign.

    The twelve week course mentioned in the video is especially frightening. It’s organizing the next phalanx of religious brownshirts.

  13. J Bowers says:

    Note some of the names that regularly crop up in the climate debate: Prominent Signers of An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming

    Again, the signatories to this: A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming (PDF) (McKitrick, Spencer).

    Their pledge:

    “Therefore we pledge to oppose quixotic attempts to reduce global warming. Instead, constrained by the love of Jesus Christ for the least of these (Matthew 25:45), and by the evidence presented above, we vow to teach and act on the truths communicated here for the benefit of all our neighbors.”

    In all honesty, I don’t believe the likes of Spencer and McKitrick do anything in the name of big oil or corporations, but because of a genuine belief that more CO2 is beneficial, especially to food crops and therefore the poor. Unfortunately, the evidence is growing that extra CO2 has the opposite effect and crops will suffer greatly. Thankfully, there are those in the religious communities who do believe global warming is a threat to the poor.

    Another aspect is that there does seem to be a belief that stewardship of the Earth is a God given right, and even duty.

    I’m glad Joe has brought this up so openly, as I feel it often gets brushed under the carpet simply because of the religious element to the debate.

  14. prokaryote says:

    The Central Intelligence Agency is launching The Center on Climate Change and National Security as the focal point for its work on the subject. The Center is a small unit led by senior specialists from the Directorate of Intelligence and the Directorate of Science and Technology.

    Its charter is not the science of climate change, but the national security impact of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts, and heightened competition for natural resources. The Center will provide support to American policymakers as they negotiate, implement, and verify international agreements on environmental issues. That is something the CIA has done for years. “Decision makers need information and analysis on the effects climate change can have on security. The CIA is well positioned to deliver that intelligence,” said Director Leon Panetta.

    The Center will assume responsibility for coordinating with Intelligence Community partners on the review and declassification of imagery and other data that could be of use to scientists in their own climate-related research. This effort draws on imagery and other information that is collected in any event, assisting the US scientific community without a large commitment of resources.

    The new Center does more than bring together in a single place expertise on an important national security topic—the effect environmental factors can have on political, economic, and social stability overseas. It will also be aggressive in outreach to academics and think tanks working the issue. The goal is a powerful asset recognized throughout our government, and beyond, for its knowledge and insight.
    https://www.cia.gov/news-information/press-releases-statements/center-on-climate-change-and-national-security.html

  15. Elmo says:

    Cornwall? More like Stonewall. Maybe Cornhole. Look at their list of signers and it reads like a Who’s Who of “Conservative, Christian, right-wing, Republican, straight, white, American males.”

  16. Greenpeace recently did a report on Koch Industries, previously mentioned, and the Web of think tanks funded by foundations linked to its owners, Charles and David Koch. See http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/polluterwatch/koch-industries .

  17. Tim L. says:

    Pig Oil.

  18. Dan B says:

    I’m a non-religious activist from a family full of scientists and engineers. Since 2004 I’ve worked with progressive and mainstream religious leaders of all faiths. I handled the communication for a four day long multifaith conference on “creation care”. The outcome resulted in the launch of a 10 year effort by the Episcopal Church in America to halve their global warming footprint.

    Evangelical Christians did not attend this event but have been in contact with groups that are focused on organizing similar efforts among Christians. The leaders are comfortable with multifaith and interfaith (interactive / dialogue) while their followers are much less so.

    The Koch family (John Birch Society, and more) and the Scaife family have funded fundamentalist Christian groups for their own purposes. Their beliefs are close to extreme Libertarianism. They’ve helped create the impression that religious people are extremist. Their efforts are assisted by one key difference between progressive Christians and fundamentalists. (Note: A similar dynamic exists between secular progressives and ultra-conservatives.)

    Progressive Christians change their theology if it’s found to be harmful or to hurt a group. Fundamentalists believe you have no real beliefs if you change your theology. They believe that progressives have no moral core.

    On the other hand progressive Christians tend to resist modern modes of worship and shy away from modern media. The key here is a strong distrust of modern media and marketing. I can argue for a more gentle view of corporations and market economics with my progressive Christian friends but get nowhere when it comes to adopting modern marketing and communication techniques – even when they’re based upon the latest cognitive science. They feel it’s manipulative and destructive.

    Fundamentalist Christians are adept at the latest video / internet / viral strategies. Their music and worship services are in sync with much of society. They’ll probably be the first Christians to have 3D projectors.

    So, who gets the most MSM and new-media coverage per capita?…. And, more disturbingly, whose ranks are growing most rapidly?

    When Koch and Scaife come calling they see a ready market for their content and communities that will rapidly disseminate their videos and new-media content.

    In the meanwhile I’m attempting to persuade my progressive religious friends that marketing is simply a tool – a shovel can plant a tree and weed a garden – or – it can whack someone over the head and strip the earth.

    Because of the silence and lack of presence of progressive Christians in the MSM and new-media the majority of leftists and progressives associate Christianity with backwardness. The prominence of far right fundamentalist Christians in media produces a negative visceral reaction among most non religious people. (Myself included prior to a friend’s public outburst the day after the 2004 election.)

    Until there is substantial and regular funding for communications, marketing, and organization that will grow the membership of mainstream and progressive Christian churches we’ll see religion used increasingly as a tool to protect fossil fuel fortunes and the plunder that made them wealthy.

    We suffer from a divide, a yawning chasm, between secular and religious progressives. It bodes poorly for the future.

  19. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi prokaryote-

    The Central Intelligence Agency is launching The Center on Climate Change and National Security as the focal point for its work on the subject. The Center is a small unit led by senior specialists from the Directorate of Intelligence and the Directorate of Science and Technology.

    Yes, and they also know that there is a potential Saudi Arabia underneath our current polar sea ice. If that sea ice was to melt during the summer, that oil would be potentially accessible to deep sea drilling rigs.

    The CIA also knows that climate change will impact geopolitical rivals like China, and countries that refuse to curb their population growth like India, much more than it will impact the U.S., at least at first.

    Enjoy your posts

  20. Richard Brenne says:

    Climate change will disproportionately kill and cause suffering in probably unprecedented numbers – quite possibly in the billions in just the next century – among the poor Christ repeatedly said all need to help.

    So these teachings, whether through ignorance, willful cruelty or a combination of the two advocate the exact opposite of Christ’s teachings.

    By their own logic, if their efforts are the opposite of Christ’s teaching they are anti-Christian, and thus motivated by the Anti-Christ.

  21. prokaryote says:

    Leland Palmer, this video sums it up in a strange way.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUXGbMpEnV4

  22. John Mashey says:

    Good material, I’ll have to add some next update of:
    Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony.
    CFACT was covered, but Cornwall was only mentioned slightly, since it didn’t seem quite so involved in that one.

    For those interested in funding by The Kochs, Scaife, Exxoon, et al, you might just take a look at 3-page Table A.6.1, which maps funders versus fundees, like CEI, Fraser, GMI, SEPP, CFACT, etc, by amount.
    The major funders are describe in Appendix A.2, and the fundees in A.3.

    Cornwall isn’t the only one people will recognize, although they seem to have worked harder at the money-laundering aspect.

  23. mike roddy says:

    Hello Leland Palmer,

    Tell us more about the huge oil field under the Arctic ice. Is it theoretical, or well measured?

    If that much oil is there, we just found another great way to commit collective seppuku. We’re already doing it with coal:

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/06/10/china-india-global-warming-greenhouse-gas-carbon-dioxide-emissions/

    I agree about prokaryote. You’re pretty good too, Leland.

  24. prokaryote says:

    No way to clean up oil spill under Arctic ice: Expert

    The last company to drill an exploratory well in the Beaufort was Devon Energy in 2005. But that well was drilled only about 10 metres deep, whereas the BP and Imperial leases are at depths of several hundred metres.
    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/clean+spill+under+Arctic+Expert/3158005/story.html

  25. K. Nockels says:

    Hey Joe, just read the story of Anadarko turning on BP.What a con job, Anadarko has been in bed with Halliburton since 1959. In my opinion Halibuton has not taken the heat or responsibility it should have. I was wondering when the Chenney gang would unveil their strategy for coming out of this whole mess looking blameless.. It’s just another fairytale to go along with all the one’s we’ve had from BP. How many other wells that Halliburton worked on exploded? somthing like 5 or 6 I think and while they were cementing the casing HOW ODD!!

  26. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi mike roddy-

    About the oil under the Arctic sea ice:

    A guy named Scott Borgerson, a David Rockefeller visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has been promoting access to Arctic resources in a series of articles in appearing on the CFR website, in the official magazine of the CFR, in a series of op-eds in major newspapers including the New York Times, in interviews with Dan Rather on national televison, in testimony before the House Foreign Relations committee, and in a round table with Senators including John Kerry and Lisa Murkowski. In his testimony, he warns that the Russians might get there first, and warns about Russia’s aggressive attitude toward Arctic resources. He also talks wistfully about Russian icebreakers, and mentions that it sure would be nice if the U.S. were to fund a new generation of Arctic icebreaker ships, preferably nuclear powered ones, which run about 2 billion dollars each.

    It should be noted, by the way, that the Rockefeller family traditionally controls both ExxonMobil and the CFR. Oh, and they are deeply traditionally connected with the CIA. Both David and Nelson Rockefeller received “family jewels” briefings by the CIA, and Nelson served on secret cold war committees directing the CIA. Allan Dulles, one of the early heads of the CIA, was a brother in law of the Rockefeller family, and the investigative writers and historians Loftus and Aarons say that Allan Dulles was deeply involved in WWII collaboration between the Rockefellers and the Third Reich, and all sorts of nefarious dealings after the war. The involvement of the Rockefeller family with the CIA extends over decades, and could easily still be in force. Certainly, the lock that Big Oil has on our current politics suggests that the oil corporations and our Eastern financial establishment pretty much control our government, even more than the President and Congress.

    Here’s what Scott Borgerson of the CFR has to say:

    Arctic Meltdown
    The Economic and Security
    Implications of Global Warming
    Scott G. Borgerson

    Ironically, the great melt is likely to yield more of the very commodities that precipitated it: fossil fuels. As oil prices exceed $100 a barrel, geologists are scrambling to determine exactly how much oil and gas lies beneath the melting icecap. More is known about the surface of Mars than about the Arctic Ocean’s deep, but early returns indicate that the Arctic could hold the last remaining undiscovered hydrocarbon resources on earth. The U.S. Geological Survey and the Norwegian company StatoilHydro estimate that the Arctic holds as much as one-quarter of the world’s remaining undiscovered oil and gas deposits.

    Some Arctic wildcatters believe this estimate could increase substantially as more is learned about the region’s geology.The Arctic Ocean’s long, outstretched continental shelf is another indication of the potential for commercially accessible offshore oil and gas resources. And, much to their chagrin, climate-change scientists have recently found material in ice-core samples suggesting that the Arctic once hosted all kinds of organic material that, after cooking under intense seabed pressure for millennia, would likely produce vast storehouses of fossil fuels.

    The largest deposits are found in the Arctic off the coast of Russia.
    The Russian state-controlled oil company Gazprom has approximately
    113 trillion cubic feet of gas already under development in the
    fields it owns in the Barents Sea. The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources calculates that the territory claimed by Moscow could contain as much as 586 billion barrels of oil—althought these deposits are unproven. By comparison, all of Saudi Arabia’s current proven oil reserves—which admittedly exclude unexplored and speculative resources—amount to only 260 billion barrels. The U.S. Geological Survey is just now launching the first comprehensive study of the Arctic’s resources.The first areas to be studied are the 193,000-square mile East Greenland Rift Basins.According to initial seismic readings, they could contain 9 billion barrels of oil and 86 trillion cubic feet of gas. Altogether, the Alaskan Arctic coast appears to hold at least 27 billion barrels of oil.

    Oil corporations like ExxonMobil have paid access to stuff like deep radar data from satellites, so maybe they know more than what they are saying publicly. Similar deep radar scans found water a couple of kilometers below the surface of Mars, and on the Moon, I think.

    There are councils on Arctic resources, which I ran across while Googling one time – whose corporate members are interested in stuff like Arctic coal, oil, natural gas, and methane hydrate deposits.

    So, ExxonMobil, the CFR, and Borgerson are probably right about Arctic “resources”.

    Too bad that if we burn them, we risk igniting a methane catastrophe.

  27. prokaryote says:

    Renewable Energy Set to Explode…with Government Backing
    http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/energy-policy-renewable/330

  28. prokaryote says:

    What’s missing is the idea of carbon negative action. That means to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it inside the earth with biochar. And here is the 3rd world key for success.

  29. BBHY says:

    “be trusted to care for their own property without government intervention.”

    So, who exactly owns the air, anyway?

  30. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi prokaryote-

    What’s missing is the idea of carbon negative action. That means to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it inside the earth with biochar. And here is the 3rd world key for success.

    I agree with the carbon negative sentiment. Biochar is likely part of the answer. The problem with biochar is that you are asking people to bury charcoal, a potentially valuable fuel. Perhaps they could be paid to do so, or hired by governments directly to do so. Or, perhaps a system of compensation based on carbon credits would work. If the fertility enhancing effects of biochar become widely known, perhaps farmers will make profit based decisions to utilize biochar.

    I think that BECCS (BioEnergy with Carbon Capture and Storage) is also likely to work, especially if we are able to get in situ mineral carbonation of supercritical CO2 in fractured basalt layers going. That way, all you have to do is pump the supercritical CO2 into the right geological formation, and the CO2 ends up as carbonate, the most thermodynamically stable form of carbon, for true geological time scale sequestration of carbon.

    The Wikipedia article on BECCS has some good info.

  31. mike roddy says:

    Thanks, Leland, #26, and I also agree that the banks and oil companies run this country. That explains why Obama- who may be about as good as we’re likely to get- meekly accepted BP’s lies about the size of the spill for over a month, and also didn’t fight them when they gave EPA the finger over Corexit.

    As for your discussion with Prokaryote over biochar- yes, it’s a good way to capture carbon, but I’m not sure how practical the execution would be, especially since it’s labor intensive. Also, keep in mind that only about 20% of site carbon is emitted after a forest fire, as the soil naturally captures the biochar. This is the opposite of logging, whose products only capture about 15% of the carbon emitted during logging operations. Counterintuitive- most people assume the opposite.

    How about this idea instead: allow degraded forests worldwide to return to their former size and diversity. Be wary of offsets (which usually include plantations of leakage) or any “harvesting”. Adopt policies that discourage wood product consumption, to be replaced by inert materials and electronic media.

    The US and Canada each have deforested at a faster pace than Brazil in the last 10 years. That’s a good place to start.

    Globally, land and vegetation capture 450 billion tons of CO2 per year, and emit 439 billion tons via decay (IPCC IV), much of it caused by logging and other kinds of land degradation. Changes in these ratios would not only be a benign form of carbon geoengineering, but secondary benefits would be soil, water, and microclimate stabilization.

    The only reason this hasn’t been explored is that nobody can figure out a way to make money out of it. Maybe if governments placed a tax on wood products, instead of subsidizing them, we would see a change.

  32. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi mike-

    Lovely idea- forest fires as a negative feedback, leading to sequestration of charcoal.

    I’ve always assumed that logging was actually a carbon negative activity- wood used in houses can be out of the carbon cycle for decades. Apparently I need to rethink this.

    I’m still convinced that carbonate is the form of carbon that we want, though- geological time scale sequestration of carbon in its most thermodynamically stable form.

    One thing for sure- the climate change is happening way too fast, according to the recent temperature data.

    It’s so difficult to decide on what the right course of action should be, swimming as we do in a sea of commercially motivated lies put out by corporations, astroturf efforts, “charitable” foundations acting in ways that appear to lack all human charity, and so on.

    Energy Secretary Chu always seems to make sense. We’re lucky to have him, and Obama too. But their power is limited, I am convinced, and blunted by a financial elite with their own self-serving geopolitical agenda and by an effectively controlled corporate news media.

  33. Leland Palmer says:

    Thanks, mike.

    Very, very interesting. Lots of good info to think about.

    Question- If we transform the coal fired power plants to carbon negative BECCS power plants, can the forests be harvested sustainably (especially of dead trees) to provide carbon for such power plants?

    I think so. Traditional logging methods won’t work, though, that’s for sure. Clear cutting is likely to be counterproductive. We need to sneak into the forests, get the dead wood, cut firebreaks to help fire protect them, and sneak back out again, IMO. Energy expended for transport will need to come from the biomass itself, from gravity, or from renewable sources, I think.

    As we build non-fossil fuel based infrastructure, electric and hybrid vehicles, and so on, the carbon cost of transport will decline, IMO. As the carbon cost of transport declines, BECCS using forest biomass becomes more and more practical.

    River transport of biomass from higher elevations on the watershed to BECCS power plants located on the rivers themselves seems practical.

    Perhaps the BECCS focus should shift from getting carbon out of the forests to new biomass plantations using fast growing species, preferably located upstream of a converted coal fired power plant, on a navigable river for mass transport of biomass. Most of the authors proposing BECCS as a way to deal with runaway global warming do propose biomass plantations, by the way.

    The Wikipedia article on BECCS has some good references.