06-25-07 by Simpson
Now I’m being compared to Joe McCarthy and Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels for pointing out that when a university takes Big Oil money it hurts the credibility of research done there.
Big Oil companies are pumping money into research projects at universities across the country, a trend we’ve dubbed “Big Oil U.” Stanford University’s Global Climate and Energy Project is getting $100 million from ExxonMobil.
I have suggested that as a result of that grant, energy research from the university is likely to meet with skepticism. Prof. Mark Jacobson recently published a study that found that there was unlikely to be much environmental benefit if all vehicles switch to E85 instead of gasoline.
While that study was not funded by the GCEP, an earlier Jacobson project was. I pointed out those facts and added that given the ExxonMobil – Stanford association, it is difficult to take energy research emanating from the school at face value.
Jacobson has responded by comparing me to McCarthy and Goebbels.
If a university isn’t to become a mere extension campus of “Big Oil U” four things need to happen:
- The university needs to maintain complete control of the research agenda.
- Any patented discoveries must be available for all comers on a non-exclusive basis.
- Proprietary corporate research should not be done on campus
- Any corporate advertising mentioning the program should be approved at the highest level of the university.
One can debate whether those safeguards are adequately in place at a particular institution. (They are not at Stanford.) One thing is certain, however, name-calling doesn’t shed any light on the issue.
But as my mother always said, “Sticks and stones will break my bones; names will never hurt me.”