Google’s climate scientists are not happy with the company’s political support for climate science denying Senator James Inhofe (R-OK).
In 2011, the search giant launched the Google Science Communication Fellows effort, “to help foster a more open, transparent and accessible scientific dialogue.” 21 scientists were part of group that included climate scientists such as Julia Cole, Frank Davis, Andrew Dessler, and Eugene Cordero.
The dialogue took an unexpected turn on Thursday, when 17 of those fellows wrote a letter to Chairman Eric Schmidt and CEO Larry Page, saying that though Google is a business and has to work with both parties to serve its interests, “there are times where companies like Google must display moral leadership and carefully evaluate their political bedfellows.”
They conclude: “Google’s support of Senator James Inhofe’s re-election campaign is one of those moments.”
Google announced a July 11, 2013, fundraiser for Senator Inhofe at their Washington DC office, which prompted over 150,000 people to sign petitions telling Google: “Don’t Fund Evil” — a play on the company’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto.
Several of the world’s top climate scientists have already let Google know that political action like that “is a rejection of principles of good corporate citizenship and increases risk to all society.”
The fundraiser went ahead as planned, with a Google spokesperson saying, that “while we disagree on climate change policy, we share an interest with Senator Inhofe in the employees and data center we have in Oklahoma.” Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently said during a speech at a company summit: “You can lie about the effects of climate change, but eventually you’ll be seen as a liar.”
Inhofe usually receives strong political support from oil and gas — aside from presidential candidates, he has received the fourth-most amount of contributions among senators from the oil and gas sector over his career.
More from the scientists’ letter itself:
Google has earned its reputation as one of America’s most innovative and forward-thinking companies, and has shown climate leadership by improving its own environmental performance and investing in clean energy technologies. That’s why it was deeply troubling for us, as Google Science Communication Fellows, to learn about Google’s July 11, 2013 fundraiser supporting Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe’s 2014 re-election campaign.
Among his most notorious statements, Senator Inhofe has outrageously claimed that climate change is “a hoax on the American people” and, in the absence of a shred of factual evidence, accused climate scientists of being “criminals.” …
Given Google’s commitment to educating the public about climate change, why would the company align its political efforts with Inhofe? In responding to criticism, a Google spokesperson acknowledged “while we disagree on climate change policy, we share an interest with Senator Inhofe in the employees and data center we have in Oklahoma.”
But Inhofe’s assault on the scientific community is not a difference in climate policy; it’s a strategy designed to promote dysfunction and paralysis; to destroy the reputation of scientists and the legitimacy of their institutions; and to undermine our ability to find common ground.
Such a strategy conflicts with the data-driven, problem solving culture that has enabled Google’s business success and is arguably contrary to its corporate philosophy of “Don’t Be Evil.” …
Google’s recent support for Senator Inhofe forces us to question the company’s commitment to science communication and to addressing climate change.
On Thursday night, the climate group Forecast The Facts will be crashing the launch party for Google’s new smartphone, the Moto X. In the meantime, Google has an awkward letter in its inbox from its own climate scientists.