Reader's View: Beware biased sources of climate deniers

Reader's View.jpg

In a July 29 Opinion piece , Republican ex-Congressman Gil Gutknecht complained about Attorney General Keith Ellison’s lawsuit against leaders of the oil industry. He cited the Global Warming Policy Foundation as a source of information, which is a registered lobbying organization in the UK, is Britain’s major climate-denier group, and was cited by a government ministry as having breached rules of impartiality. He further relied on the Cato Institute, a deep-pocket conservative think tank and lobbying group in the U.S. funded by the resource industry. One wonders why he did not avail himself of the readily available observations and authoritative peer-reviewed conclusions of prominent scientific organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, or the American Meteorological Society, to name a few; they all make data available and publish policy statements.

Furthermore, Gutknecht laughably cast aspersions on two of the attorneys working in Ellison’s group because of connections to the Bloomberg Family Foundation, which supports “defending and promoting clean energy, climate and environmental laws and policies,” without explaining why these goals should be avoided. On the other hand, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, according to, is notoriously opaque about its own funding sources.

He concluded that although “all Minnesotans want a cleaner environment,” decreasing fossil fuel use “will only drive up the price of energy.” This may or not be the case, but he completely missed the real issue, which is that scientific consensus says that continued global warming will only lead to increased global economic stress and human misery.

What we do about climate change is a matter for informed debate. Gutknecht should at least get facts straight. Political broadsides may be legal free speech but must always be recognized as such and taken skeptically.

John Green, John Goodge, Richard Axler, and Byron Steinman



The writers are all affiliated with the University of Minnesota Duluth. Green is a professor emeritus of geological sciences, Goodge is a professor of earth and environmental sciences, Axler is a retired research limnologist and ecologist at UMD's Natural Resources Research Institute, and Steinman is an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences.

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