How do you get an academic to sell their reputation? Ask. That was one possible implication from a sting operation carried out by Greenpeace. The organization says it had no trouble in finding scholars at two leading universities ready to write papers arguing in favour of coal and CO2 generally—while concealing the source of their funding, which they believed to come from fossil fuel companies.
Greenpeace says it sent two people posing as representatives of oil and coal companies to ask academics from Princeton and Penn State universities to write papers promoting the advantages of CO2 and of coal burning for developing countries.
“All my work is published as an independent scholar,” one professor who accepted the assignment assured his supposed sponsors. A second was scheduled to appear on Dec. 8 before a U.S. Senate committee hearing called by climate change-denying Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
According to the organization the sting also captured evidence in an audio recording of the Donors Trust (sometimes called the “dark money ATM” of right-wing thinking in the United States) confirming its willingness to funnel money from “a fictional Middle Eastern oil and gas company to U.S. climate sceptic organizations.