Google Faces Fresh Criticism for Hosting Inhofe Fundraiser

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This letter is from 17 scientists and researchers who in 2011 were Google Science Fellows. More at http:dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com and http://www.climatesciencewatch.org

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Google Faces Fresh Criticism for Hosting Inhofe Fundraiser

  1. 1. Eric  Schmidt  (Executive  Chairman)  and  Larry  Page  (CEO)   Google  Inc.   1600  Amphitheatre  Parkway   Mountain  View,  CA  94043  USA       August  1,  2013       Dear  Dr.  Schmidt  and  Mr.  Page,     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."     The  reality  that  human  activities  are  causing  major  disruptions  to  our  global  climate  and  that   these  disruptions  pose  serious  risks  to  society  is  accepted  by  virtually  every  climate  scientist   and  by  the  world’s  leading  scientific  organizations.    Yet  for  more  than  a  decade,  Senator  Inhofe   has  attacked  and  demeaned  the  very  scientists  who  have  worked  tirelessly  to  better   understand  the  threat  and  to  warn  us  of  the  risks  posed  to  the  environment,  our  communities,   and  our  children.     In  the  face  of  intensifying  heat,  rising  seas  and  extreme  weather,  corporate  leadership  and   private  sector  innovation  will  be  essential  to  developing  clean  energy  technologies  and   implementing  more  sustainable  business  practices.    So  too  will  be  political  dialogue,   bipartisanship,  and  cooperation.  That’s  why  we’re  strongly  supportive  of  the  outreach  efforts  of   former  Republican  Congressman  Bob  Inglis,  who  today  leads  the  Conservative  Climate   Coalition.       Yet  sadly,  over  the  past  decade,  the  polarization  and  gridlock  that  has  derailed  efforts  to   address  climate  change  owes  much  to  Senator  Inhofe,  who  by  relentlessly  attacking  the   scientific  community  has  undermined  efforts  at  cooperation  and  consensus  building.     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.”    
  2. 2. 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.”     In  2011,  as  participants  in  Google’s  science  communication  fellows  program,  we  witnessed  first   hand  the  company’s  unique  culture.    At  its  Mountain  View  headquarters,  we  were  introduced   to  new  communication  technologies  and  strategies  for  effectively  translating  climate  science  to   a  broad  audience.       At  the  time,  we  were  proud  to  be  part  of  Google’s  investment  in  science  education;  inspired  by   the  creative,  talented,  and  passionate  people  we  met;  and  eager  to  apply  new  tools  and   strategies  in  our  public  outreach  activities.    But  Google’s  recent  support  for  Senator  Inhofe   forces  us  to  question  the  company’s  commitment  to  science  communication  and  to  addressing   climate  change.     Nearly  every  large  company  must  –  and  should  –  work  with  policymakers  on  both  sides  of  the   aisle.  We  also  recognize  the  difficulty  that  corporations  sometimes  face  in  reconciling  their  core   principles  with  their  short-­‐term  business  priorities.     But  in  the  face  of  urgent  threats  like  climate  change,  there  are  times  where  companies  like   Google  must  display  moral  leadership  and  carefully  evaluate  their  political  bedfellows.  Google’s   support  of  Senator  James  Inhofe’s  re-­‐election  campaign  is  one  of  those  moments.     The  Signatories  were  all  Google  Climate  Science  Communication  Fellows  in  2011:     § Brendan  Bohannan,  Professor,  Environmental  Studies  and  Biology,  University  of  Oregon   § Julia  Cole,  Professor,  Geosciences  and  Atmospheric  Sciences,  The  University  of  Arizona   § Eugene  Cordero,  Professor,  Department  of  Meteorology  and  Climate  Science,  San  Jose   State  University   § Frank  Davis,  Professor,  Bren  School  of  Environmental  Science  and  Management,   University  of  California,  Santa  Barbara   § Andrew  Dessler,  Professor  of  Atmospheric  Sciences,  Texas  A&M  University   § Simon  Donner,  Associate  Professor,  Department  of  Geography,  University  of  British   Columbia   § Nicole  Heller,  Visiting  Assistant  Professor,  Nicholas  School  of  the  Environment,  Duke   University   § Brian  Helmuth,  Professor,  Department  of  Marine  and  Environmental  Sciences  and   School  of  Public  Policy  and  Urban  Affairs,  Northeastern  University   § Jonathan  Koomey,  Research  Fellow,  Steyer-­‐Taylor  Center  for  Energy  Policy  and  Finance,   Stanford  University  
  3. 3. § David  Lea,  Professor,  Dept.  of  Earth  Science,  University  of  California,  Santa  Barbara,  CA   § Kelly  Levin,  Senior  Associate,  World  Resources  Institute   § David  Lobell,  Associate  Professor  of  Environmental  Earth  System  Science,  Stanford   University   § Ed  Maurer,  Associate  Professor  &  Robert  W.  Peters  Professor,  Civil  Engineering  Dept.,   Santa  Clara  University   § Suzanne  C.  Moser,  Director,  Susanne  Moser  Research  &  Consulting  and  Social  Science   Research  Fellow,  Woods  Institute  for  the  Environment,  Stanford  University   § Matthew  C.  Nisbet,  Associate  Professor,  School  of  Communication,  American   University,  Washington  D.C.   § Whendee  L.  Silver,  Professor  of  Ecosystem  Ecology,  Department  of  Environmental   Science,  Policy,  and  Management,  University  of  California,  Berkeley   § Alan  Townsend,  Professor,  Institute  of  Arctic  and  Alpine  Research  and  Department  of   Ecology  and  Evolutionary  Biology,  University  of  Colorado  Boulder     Note:    Affiliations  are  for  identification  purposes  only  and  do  not  imply  endorsement  by  an   individual’s  institution  or  organization.        

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