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Tom Steyer's donations are crippling and corrupting America

His events have nothing to do with "climate change"

Tom Steyer is worth $1.6 billion or so. He made his fortune through hedge funds 25+ years ago when it was still possible to extract lots of money from the inefficiencies of the markets. These days, the hedge fund industry belongs to the sector of lotteries – and the investors pay hefty service fees to be sure that in average, they will underperform the stock market.

At any rate, he is not only a billionaire but also a moron. The word "moron" understates what he is. He is not just a moron; he is – and I was afraid to say the E-word – an environmentalist. The San Francisco Chronicle told us about a new fund he is paying from his money:

Billionaire sets up fund for victims of climate change
His initial $2 million donation is supposed to grow and it should compensate victims of wildfires and other "extreme weather events". Additional funds should similarly go to victims of droughts, floods, and other natural disasters. All this stuff is painted as being linked to the "climate change". In reality, these events don't depend on any "climate change" at all. Precipitation, sunshine, wildfires, droughts, floods etc. are weather events that may be counted as business-as-usual weather that takes place in a normal, moderate, tropical, subtropical or almost any other climate. These phenomena have been the norm on our blue, not green planet for billions of years.

These donations are being presented as charity, something that helps the society. In reality, they contaminate and corrupt the society, make it dumber and less honest, and reduce the potential for the growth and prosperity in the future. These harmful effects occur because numerous sufficiently gullible people are being manipulated into believing claims that are patently false. And these claims are not just some academic questions. They influence policy in a way that costs hundreds of billions of dollars a year and this number may grow to trillions.

Each type of the weather-related phenomena would deserve a special discussion. For example, floods are really not growing. For example, as a percentage of the GDP, the U.S. flood damages have significantly decreased during the last 80 years. Lots of inconclusive data going in both directions exist concerning droughts, too. The Dusty Bowl – the Dirty Thirties – haven't really been surpassed by any more recent era. No clear trend may be found.

Some of the wildfire graphs show no trend; others display an increasing trend. However, has it anything to do with CO2 or at least with the global mean temperature? Aren't e.g. arsonists much more important for the number of wildfires?

If the increased wildfires were due to the warmer temperatures, you would predict that warmer years would experience a higher number of fires, wouldn't you? The climate fearmongers love to talk about the global mean temperature as the ultimate measure of the "catastrophe". Fine. So they predict that in the warmest years, more acres would burn due to wildfires than in other years, right?

What are the warm years? Two often quoted warmest years on the global record are 1998 and 2010. Surely they had to be exceptionally bad years for wildfires, right? Whether you like it or not, that's the prediction of the climate fearmongering – the pseudoscientific religion presenting small, sub-degree changes of the global mean temperature as something that is important for the life on Earth. It's time to check this prediction against the empirical data. Open this page on
2010 – fewest wildfire acres burned since 1998
Yes, no kidding. The warmest years 1998 and 2010 saw two lowest numbers of burned acres, at least in the U.S. The correlation of the wildfires with the global mean temperature seems to be negative here, not positive! I guess that it's mostly a coincidence. At any rate, these two pieces of data are enough to falsify the claim that there is a substantial positive correlation between the global mean temperature and the acres burned in wildfires.

This is one way of checking the possible hypotheses. There are many others. The theories attributing events such as wildfires to the global warming don't seem to work. Because even the global mean temperature doesn't seem to detectably influence the results, the CO2 concentration can't matter, either, because CO2 has at most some small influence on the global mean temperature; all the hypothetical effects of CO2 have to be exerted through the global mean temperature. Incidentally, CO2 is a product of burning and it doesn't burn well so it surely doesn't energize the fires by itself.

But detrimental dishonest morons of Mr Steyer's type don't care about any data. They are on a mission. A mission to brainwash and cripple the American – and perhaps human – society. The idea is that if you manage to brainwash the society, you will partly "own" it so it cannot be a bad investment. I was also stunned by the last paragraph in the San Francisco Chronicle's article:
Steyer, who made his fortune in hedge funds, recently pledged to spend up to $100 million in political campaigns this year against Republican candidates for governor and U.S. Senate who deny that climate change is occurring or oppose reductions in carbon emissions. He and Taylor have also contributed $40 million to establish a center for sustainable energy at Stanford University.
Wow, $100 million for an ideologically and pathologically biased purchase of votes just in one year, plus the $40 million funds needed to get some more defective, environmentalist, idiotic pseudoscholars to a prestigious Palo Alto school.

It's terrible. I may be an idealist but I tend to favor the world in which voters choose the parties and candidates according to the voters' own values and interests. I just don't think that the votes should be bought by some people who are ready to pay the money and get certain results. At least the bulk of the votes in democracy shouldn't be decided in this way. And if the society decides that it's OK to allow many votes to be bought, and yes, it's conceivable that one could find some arguments that this could help the society in some ways, everyone should clearly be told so and wealthy people in all parts of the political and ideological spectrum should be encouraged to compete in this new way – not just those who can stomach anything.

If an asshole pays for low-quality – in this case, climate alarmist – candidates' campaigns in order to increase the number of these šitheads who succeed in politics, it's something I call corruption, and because the "preplanned winners" belong to the šittier part of the political spectrum, it's not just corruption but it's corruption that is hurting the political process.

I find this corruption particularly ironic if it is compared with the extreme leftists', environmentalists' complaints about the Koch brothers' alleged funding for climate skeptics. This particular single nobody-moron, I mean Mr Steyer, is paying more in one year to distort the social discourse in the climate alarmist direction than the hypothetical "biggest offenders" on the climate skeptical side – the Koch brothers – have paid in their whole life.

And left-wing media such as the San Francisco Chronicle are close to praising Mr Steyer – for doing exactly the same thing that the Koch brothers are being criticized for, except that on a much more intense and much more corrupt basis. The hypocrisy of these environmentalists and similar scumbags is just stunning.

The silver lining or the good news is that this corruption doesn't really work too well. Even though the climate fearmongering liars beat the climate realists in funds reserved to push the society's opinions about the climate in a certain way by a 1,000-to-1 margin, the number of people who are skeptical about the climate alarmism doesn't seem to be dropping below 50 percent, at least not "safely" below 50 percent. People can't be bought too easily. Most people can't be paid to believe claims about the everyday life (something that they understand rather well) that are self-evidently false.

Mr Steyer is paying $100 million a year to distort political campaigns in the alarmist direction. It's a lot of money if you focus your eyes on this amount of money. But it's just $0.30 per American. You can't really turn an average American to an unhinged alarmist for $0.30. The government is paying the same thing as 100 Tom Steyers but $30 a year isn't really enough to remold an American to a climate fearmonger, either. Mr Steyer is wasting his money and – to remind you of a universal law – the government is wasting our money.

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snail feedback (28) :

reader Old Goat said...

These strange people will throw everything into their ideology. None of it is about climate change, whether it be global warming or cooling, but all about their dubious "cause", which is the total destruction of humanity (except for themselves, of course), having first gained control. It it costs billions, so be it - in their eyes it'll be worth every penny.

reader perfectinvesting said...

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reader Ann said...

Yes, their hypocrisy about dissing the Koch brothers is astounding. One can only hope the old adage rings true for Steyer: 'a fool and his money are soon parted'.

reader Jan said...

To me it looks like an attempt at improving PR. Granted, people may be stupid to fall for it. But if he knows people are stupid and will fall for it, then he's actually being smart!

reader HenryBowman419 said...

Jon Stewart's Daily Show spoofed big money in politics with this skit, Harry Reid's Vegas Placation.

reader Rathnakumar said...


Any comments on this recent opinion piece by Paul Steinhardt, Dr. Motl?

reader lukelea said...

"I may be an idealist but. . ." thank heavens!

reader John in L du B said...

Tom Steyer is quite different from the Koch Brothers. They are exactly what they say they are but Tom Steyer is everything he says he's not. The other big difference is that he's spending a lot more money in supporting the Democrat's and Obama's pointless, war-on-the-poor, job crushing CO2 emissions control than the Kochs are spending in opposing them.
Steyer is opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline. He and his hedge fund Farallon were heavily invested in Kinder Morgan which operates the Trans-Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby BC. As far as I know Farallon is still owning significant shares in Kinder Morgan although Steyer has sworn to personally swear off all these evil carbon things sometime in his greedy future.
Kinder Morgan has applied to more than double the capacity of the trans-Mountain. That's right folks. He opposes Keystone but would be happy to redirect all that Oil Sands bitumen away from North America to Southeast Asia.
Please stop calling him a leftist. He's completely devoid of ideals, ideology or, for that matter, significant morality. Right or left, he's just an elitist oligarch, like all the others in Obama's circle, like Goldman Sachs types such as the ambassador he just sent to Canada. We all know what that kind did to the economy in 2008 and got away with Scott free.
Is it any wonder that the GOP has been able to make Joe the Plumber their constituency. That used to be the Dems support base but they abandoned them for moneyed scruff like Steyer. Such Morons!!

reader Gene Day said...

Did you note that the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is to receive a $25 M gift from the Koch foundation? Bully for them. This gift may actually do some good, in contrast to the $40M from Steyer to Stanford, which will simply pressure Stanford into hiring more hacks.

reader Curious George said...

Don't call a billionaire a moron until you have seen his tax return. Charitable donations can make a difference. And there are indirect "gifts" - for example, everybody knows that there were no droughts, floods, hurricanes, or forest fires before the Holy Climate Change, but environmental lawyers will argue it ceaselessly and profitably.

I received an email from John Podesta, Counselor to the President. The first sentence reads "Power plants currently churn out about 40 percent of the carbon pollution in the air we breathe, and contribute to hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks and thousands of heart attacks." I asked the Counselor what exactly a "carbon pollution" means. No answer yet. Maybe he does not know.

reader NikFromNYC said...

"...the Hewlett Foundation decided to make a five-year, $100 million a year commitment, beginning in 2008, to ClimateWorks."

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Svik, I am at #3 right now (which would mean a couple of pennies if this were the final table) - now the improvement was in line with the average expectations. ;-)

There wasn't any real breakthrough, at least I no longer call it this way. Several clever ideas that I had considered a breakthrough didn't work in the past but now they were combined and each of them made about 10% of the improvement that I used to optimistically think. ;-)

reader Svik said...

Well you are up early at 6 am. And your first entry of the day got you to #3. You have 4 more chances.

It 12 am on this side of the planet. I expect to see 3.747 soon.

reader Gordon said...

Lubos: We all are victims of climate change (alarmists)...perhaps we should apply for some of that filthy lucre :)

reader Dilaton said...

What bet with whom ...?

reader Luboš Motl said...

LOL, Dilaton, a minor $100 bet about the final AMS score in the contest with a Finnish fellow participant:

Just to be sure, I made a bet below 3.8 due to several days of inability to raise the score substantially from 3.65 or so. I moved to 3.71 now which makes 3.8 a bit risky in reach.

At any rate, the position I took in the bet isn't necessarily reflecting some long-term values of mine - it was more of a several-days mood and impressions from about 5 attempts to "really bring the score to a new level" which hasn't worked so far. I still believe that it's getting really hard to go towards 3.8, and some of the scores around 3,7 may be due to good luck - which won't be repeated when the score is calculated from the remaining 82% of events.

reader OXO147 said...


Sadly Randall at XKCD has joined the wrong bandwagon..

reader Luboš Motl said...

Hi OXO, I know these things in detail. I am in several-times-a-week contact with Lisa and we've had semi-peaceful confrontations about that - even recently when weird AGW claims made it to a project I won't mention that shouldn't be about AGW at all.

reader Eugene S said...

Off-topic: Sadly, the title 'Weirdest Creature in the World' has been wrested from me... by a robot namesake.

However, turnabout is fair play and so I am going to dye my hair blond.

reader Cliff said...

The ambulance paper says they accounted for the extra degrees of freedom when they computed their likelihoods...

reader Luboš Motl said...

Yup, it sounds very intriguing.

reader Svik said...

What do you do for a living. How can you spend so much time in these blogs.

By the way if you have any interesting number chrunching to do call me at s.vik on hotmail.
Specially if it needs a GPU or two.

reader Svik said...

You are howering between 3rd and 4th place by a the 4th decimal place. Hope you still have some good ideas to hot 3.747.


reader Svik said...

It will be 5 years before Humpty Dumpty xx x i mean the LHC can be put back together and hopefully survive two runs at 14tev and actually analyze the data at the new super high luminosity.

Maybe they will see something.

What are you going to do Sven for the next 5 years.

Maybe at the same time tricept3 will confirm a small b signal which is inconclusive.

reader Buzzed Aldrin said...

Genuinely smart people don't seek to make money through deceit. They make money by providing value in excess of costs, i.e. adding value, thus generate a market-based (not government-colluded) profit representing net value (wealth) delivered to the market / society. Deceiving others does not support the survival and wellness of the species, thus is devolved by definition. Smart people are not devolved.

reader manicbeancounter said...

What surprises me is that those who have made huge fortunes by exploiting opportunities that others have missed do not do the same with the philanthropy. Although a few million dollars is a lot of money to an individual, in terms of compensation, or research it is very little on a global scale.

There are a number of large gaps available.

First, in comparing and contrasting projections from the scientific literature over time, whether of temperature, sea level rise, catastrophic weather, GHG projections, radiative forcings, or climate impacts. The UNIPCC reports from 1990 to 2014 are a good starting point. In economics, where there are similar diverse views, entire journals exist to summarize and compare the different views on a specific topic. Climate science seems to lack that.

Second, is to try to reconcile different trends. For instance, sea level rise (constant rate) with polar ice melt (nearly all studies show as accelerating).

Third is exploring how the quality of results has improved over time, or could be improved by drawing on other sciences, and the philosophy of science.

Fourth, where the academic community has become insular and unproductive, it might be worth funding opposing views. In meeting the challenge and engaging, the academics will better engage.

reader Jeff Id said...

He's paying for climate change victims so since there are no identifiable victims of climate change, his money is simply sitting in an empty room somewhere safe from harming society or helping capitalists like himself.

He's secretly investing in stopping inflation of pricing due to dollar devaluation.

Basically he invented the interest free two hundred year bond! -- genius I say genius!

reader Alistar Johnson said...

Great read - thanks for sharing! I've recently discovered this great fundraising article written by Tony Charalambides - you should check it out!