From the “In Bed With Big Oil” file, I was poking around the Royal Society website looking for the papers discussed in this news article – particularly the one that apparently advocates food and energy rationing as a response to climate change.

Those papers are here. And they have been conveniently published just as the Cancun climate conference gets underway. Which, all on its own, suggests that the Royal Society may be interested in more than pure science. Crass, worldly political considerations are perhaps not a million miles from this august organization’s mind.

In any event, I stumbled over an interesting tidbit. For 25 years – from 1974 to 1999 – there was something called the Royal Society Esso Energy Award. Consisting of a gold medal and a cheque for £2000, it was bestowed annually on people who had made:

outstanding contributions to the advancement of science or engineering or technology leading to the more efficient mobilization, use or conservation of energy resources.

A petroleum company, in partnership with a scientific organization, encouraging and celebrating efficiency in the energy sector. Sounds reasonable to me. But then I haven’t spent years declaring that if a person has taken one red cent from the petroleum industry that person is morally flawed beyond redemption. I haven’t spent years alleging that every second climate blogger is part of a “well-funded disinformation campaign” bankrolled by big oil.

Is this the same Royal Society that seven short years later, in 2006, publicly berated ExxonMobil – Esso’s parent company – for providing a modest amount of funding to those expressing climate skepticism? Is this the Royal Society that further decried what it considered the overplaying of “the uncertainties about the evidence for greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change” by skeptics? A science organization. Demonizing people for paying too much attention to uncertainty. How’s that for a shining moment?

As some divorced individuals have discovered, you can spend 25 years in an amicable partnership and then suddenly your reputation is being trashed from one end of town to the other.

(I’ve explored the red herring known as the big oil funding issue here, here and here.)


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