George C. Marshall Institute

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George C. Marshall Institute, established in 1984, is a right-wing think-tank that conducts technical assessments of scientific issues with an impact on public policy. It maintains that “purely scientific appraisals are often politicized and misused by interest groups. The Marshall Institute seeks to counter this trend by providing policymakers with rigorous, clearly written and unbiased technical analyses on a range of public policy issues”.[1]

It started during the Reagan era to push for funding for Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative and the Star Wars programme, but whilst still working on defence issues has broadened out to be a leading think-tank debunking climate change.


  • Civic Environmentalism
  • Climate change
  • National Defence
  • Bioterrorism
  • Missile Defence
  • Public Policy


In the late nineties, the then George C. Marshall President Jeffrey Salmon wrote that “Since the Marshall Institute was founded in 1984, we have restricted our fund raising to private foundations and individual donors. Given our initial research interest - strategic missile defense - the Institute could easily have received grants from the defense industry, but the Board determined that it would try to avoid the charge of being corporate financed by refusing all donations from industry. When the Institute turned its attention to the science of global warming we could have changed our policy and appealed successfully to industry for financial support. But again, we wanted to keep the debate on the facts of the matter and escape the allegation - a red herring if there ever was one - that the Marshall Institute spoke for big business.

Over the summer our Board determined that the limitation we had placed on our sources of funding no longer made sense. Not only was it clear that nothing could be done to shake the lie of corporate sponsorship, but the positions we had taken over the last decade and a-half were so crystal-clear that it would be absurd to claim that the Marshall Institute was tailoring its position to fit the needs of some corporate interest … . From now on the Marshall Institute will accept grants for general program support from corporate foundations and in some cases directly from corporations. The Board has also determined that before we accept a grant it must be clear to us that the corporate foundation or corporation offering us funding must have a prior record of supporting well-known environmental groups, or groups with a record of opposing the deployment of ballistic missile defenses. This fall, the Institute received its first-ever grant from a corporate foundation-- the Exxon Education Foundation.[2]

The Institute then listed “recent” funders that included: Richard Lounsbery Foundation; Sarah Scaife Foundation; Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; American Standard Companies; Exxon Education Foundation; H.B. Earhart Foundation; John M. Olin Foundation; Gelman Education Foundation; Fieldstead Foundation; Historical Research Foundation and Charles and Jean Brunie Foundation.[3]

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the article on funding was removed on the 3 May 2001.[4]

We also know that the Institute has received $7,178,803 from 105 grants since 1985 from the following conservative foundations.[5]:

Since 1998 the George C Marshall Institute has received $250,000 from Exxon.[6]

Links to other right-wing groups

In July 2003 the George C. Marshall Institute, and Hoover Institution released the book Politicizing Science: The Alchemy of Policymaking. Present at the press conference were Michael Gough from the CATO Institute; Roger Bate from the AEI/ CEI / International Policy Network; and Henry Miller, from the Hoover Institution.[7] Also:


In 1989, the George C Marshall Institute released a report arguing that “cyclical variations in the intensity of the sun would offset any climate change associated with elevated greenhouse gases”. [8] Although it was refuted by the IPCC, the report was used by the Bush Sr. Administration to argue for a more lenient climate change policy. [9] It has since published numerous reports and articles attacking the Kyoto protocol and undermining the science of climate. It is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition.

The Institute has two main climate sceptics involved, William O’Keefe and Sallie Baliunas who works with a colleague Willie Soon. Baliunas argues that carbon dioxide is not the reason for global warming, but the sun.[10] She says:

“The scientific history drawn from nature and man's observations over the last millennium suggests that a strong trend of human-induced warming does not exist. The scientific facts indicate that costly policies to combat global warming are unlikely to mitigate any of climate's ever-present natural risks, but they could reduce society's economic ability to cope with them”.[11]

Baliunas is often reported in the media as an unbiased scientist.[12],[13] as an Astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and as a past Deputy Director of Mount Wilson Observatory. Whilst this is true she has clear political and corporate connections that undermine her scientific credibility. She is not an unbiased scientist at all.

Dr. Baliunas serves as Senior Scientist at the George C. Marshall Institute in Washington, DC, and chairs the Institute's Science Advisory Board.[14] Her colleague at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center,Willie Soon is also a senior scientist at the George C. Marshall Institute. [15] When asked by the press, Soon has declined to reveal how much he is paid to work at the Institute.[16]

As far back as a decade ago Baliunas went on a speaking media tour organised by a PR firm working for the corporate front group the Global Climate Coalition.[17] In 1993-94 Baliunas received the Robert Wesson Endowment Fund for Scholarship on Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy as the visiting scholar in residence at the right-wing Hoover Institution. Since then other “Wesson” Fellows have included known climate sceptic Fred Singer (three times) and biotech proponent Henry I. Miller.[18]

In 1996, Baliunas and Soon were listed as members of ESEF – the European Science and Environment Forum – a corporate front / Wise Use group in Europe (see below)

Baliunas is also on the Science and Economics Advisory Council of the Annapolis Center, along with Richard Lindzen another climate septic and Randall Lutter, from the American Enterprise Institute. Also on the board is Dr. Paul Reiter, Professor and Head of Insects and Infectious Diseases, Pasteur Institute, Paris. In the nineties Reiter was invited by the CEI on behalf of the Cooler Heads Coalition to address a conference in Washington [19][20][21] In 2003, he wrote a chapter in a book debunking climate change published in association with the International Policy Network (see below). The Annapolis Center has received $556,000 from Exxon since 1998.

Baliunas is also on the Board of Academic and Scientific Advisors of the Wise Use group, the Committee for A Constructive Tomorrow (see above). Other climate sceptics, industry apologists or right wing activists on the board include Robert C. Balling, Bruce Ames, Roger Bate, Hugh Ellsaesser, Michael Fumento, Sherwood B. Idso, Patrick J. Michaels, A. Alan Moghissi, Frederic Seitz, Gerd-Rainer Weber, and Elizabeth Whelan.[17][22] CFACT has received some $185,000 from Exxon since 1998.

Both Baliunas and Soon work closely with James K. Glassman from the American Enterprise Institute who is the host of Tech Central Station and Baliunas is a co-host herself. Willie Soon is the Scientific Director of Tech Central Station[18][23]. Both Baliunas and Soon are on Tech Central Station’s Science Roundtable[19][24]

She has worked with the Heartland Institute and Heritage Foundation, the Science and Environmental Policy Project, amongst others in the US and Spiked online. She is also on the Scientific Advisory Forum of the Scientific Alliance in the UK, a UK-based Wise Use type organisation set up by quarryman Robert Durward in 2001 (see below). The Forum includes some of the most vociferous pro-GM scientists and Philip Stott, a leading climate sceptic. (See Scientific Alliance.)[25] [26] [27][28]

In February 2002, The Institute re-released a study called 'Climate Change and Policy: Making the Connection'. The preface for the European re-issue was written by Philip Stott. The European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF) issued a news release listing Stott among the individuals to contact for further information and stated that the report was “based on the work of a group of science and policy experts convened by the American George C. Marshall Institute.” ESEF also thanked the “International Policy Network for supporting the publication of this report.” See IPN NEED REF

Baliunas is also on the Scientific Advisory board of the Greening Earth Society, along with Robert Balling and Patrick Michaels. The Greening Earth Society is a front organisation started and funded by Western Fuels and other utility companies.[29][30] Western Fuels funds Michael’s newsletter of which Baliunas is a past contributing editor.[31]

A Clear report in 1998 showed how “Greening Earth Society and Western Fuels are essentially the same organization. Both are located at the same office suite in Arlington, VA. They share the same leader, Fred Palmer, several WFA board members serve as the board for GES, and they have the same "manager of communications and governmental affairs," Ned Leonard. Leonard and Palmer are both registered lobbyists for Western Fuels Association[32]

Baliunas is also on the Advisory board of The Statistical Assessment Service (STATS), which “is a stealth PR operation of the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA)” according to PR Watch[33][34]. STATS claims to be a non-partisan education organization that "looks at the way that scientific and quantitative information/research are presented by the media, and works with journalists to help them convey this information more accurately and effectively." Actually, it's a right-wing affiliate of the Center for Media and Public Affairs whose true mission is to bash environmentalists, feminists and consumer groups. Its director of research, David Murray, is not a statistician. He's a former anthropology professor who first won the favour of the far right when he suggested that society should reaffirm the sanctity of family values by returning to the practice of referring to children of single mothers as “bastards”.[35].

The CMPA was started by Robert Lichter and his wife. According to FAIR: “From 1986 to 1988, Robert Lichter was a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Fund-raising letters for the launch of the Center for Media and Public Affairs contained endorsements from leading right-wing figures like Ronald Reagan, Pat Buchanan, Ed Meese (see CRC) and Pat Robertson.”[36] From 1986-2002, the CMPA received $2,500,000 in 43 grants from just five right-wing foundations, Sarah Scaife, Eahart, John Olin, Smith Richardson, Lynde and Harry Bradley, and Carthage.[37]

Baliunas has also appeared at events or other Exxon-sponsored institutes. In 2002, the Foundation for American Communications got $175,000 from ExxonMobil for its "science journalism programme”. In April 2003, Baliunas appeared at a FAC event giving a talk “Analyzing Environmental Issues: Tools for Journalists”. Baliunas’ session reported “techniques for journalists to use in reporting on risks and claims using global climate change as a case study”[38].

But these connections are rarely mentioned by the press. You even have GWC’s other climate sceptic William O’Keefe quoting Baliunas and Willie Soon in press articles as coming from the Harvard Smithsonian Center without mentioning that the two are both “senior scientists” of the same right-wing think tank that O’Keefe is the President of, that is funded by Exxon[39]. In January 2004, BBC Radio Four ran an 40 minute radio programme called “the Climate Wars” that gave an in-depth look at Baliunas’ and Hoon’s recent involvement in the climate controversy that mentioned that the two were “linked to the Marshall” Institute, without mentioning their other extensive links to industry or the fact that the think tank is heavily funded by industry.[40]

The study that the BBC referred to had been published in January 2003 by Baliunas and Soon which argued that the world was warmer in the Middle Ages than it is today. The paper was published in the journal Climate Review. Although the majority of funding came from government agencies, some $53,000 came from the American Petroleum Institute[41]

The paper generated a flood of complaints. In July, 13 scientists took the unusual step of publishing an extended rebuttal in the American Geophysical Union's house journal, Eos.[42] Three of the journal’s editors subsequently resigned arguing it should not have been published. But this did not stop the paper being used by the Bush administration to justify inaction [43]. The editor-in-chief of Climate Research, Hans Von Storch, also resigned after the publisher of Climate Research refused publish to the following editorial:

“The major result of the Soon and Baliunas paper ‘Across the world, many records reveal that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium’ can not be concluded from the evidence presented in that paper, even if the statement itself may be true. It is not a problem of different “opinions” but whether the methodology is adequate of not. Thus, the review process of Climate research failed to confront the authors with necessary and legitimate methodological questions which should have been addressed in the finally printed paper”.[44]

The Baliunas Study was also used by the White House to justify inaction on climate change. In the summer of 2003 the White House published a report on the state of the environment. But it emerged that White House officials had “tried to force the EPA to alter the scientific content of a report in order to play down the risks of global warming”. The editing eliminated references to studies concluding that recent warming is partly caused by human activity from burning fossil fuels. In its place the White House wanted to insert the Baliunas study. An internal EPA decision paper noted that White House officials were insisting on “major edits” to the climate change section. In a leaked internal paper, EPA staff warned that the report “no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change”. The EPA ultimately pulled the global warming section from the report to avoid publishing information that was not scientifically credible.[45][46]

But Senator James Inhofe, R-Okla., who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and a known climate sceptic himself, copied and distributed the work. At open hearings in July 2003 he praised it:

“The 1,000-year climate study that the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has compiled is a powerful, new work of science. It has received much attention, and rightfully so”, Inhofe said. “The powerful new findings of this most comprehensive of studies shiver the timbers of the adrift Chicken Little crowd”.[47]

Inhofe also said about climate change that the “the science is not there. This may go down as the greatest hoax ever perpetuated against the American people”.[48]

In 2003 Ada Consulting Services’ clients included Aures Energy and Edison Electric Institute for which Ada was paid $25,000.[42] According to Newsweek: “Few business leaders worked harder to see George W. Bush elected president than his old Yale classmate Thomas Kuhn. As chief of the Edison Electric Institute, the lobbying arm of the electric-utility industry, Kuhn led a parade of corporate trade groups that threw its support to Bush early in the 2000 campaign. Kuhn also wanted to make sure that the Bushies remembered who was generous when it counted. In a May 1999 memo urging electric executives to write $1,000 checks, he reminded them to include a special "tracking code" devised to "insure that our industry is credited" for its contributions. By Election Day, electric utilities had donated $12.4 million to Bush and other GOP candidates”[49].

Air Quality Standards Coalition: According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest it is a “coalition of more than 500 businesses and trade groups... Created specifically to battle the clean air proposals, the coalition operates out of the offices of the National Association of Manufacturers, a Washington-based trade group. Its leadership includes top managers of petroleum, automotive and utility companies”[50].

Superfund Action Alliance, which is a business coalition that has received financing from amongst others Chevron Corp, AT&T Corp, WMX Technologies, Union Pacific / Southern Pacific, Rail Corp, Boeing Co, General Electric, Gulfstream / Forstmann Little, United Technologies Corp, Zeneca Inc, Dow Chemical Co, General Motors, Lockheed Martin Corp, American Trucking Association, Browning-Ferris Industries, Amoco Corp, Chemical Manufacturers Association, Bethlehem Steel Corp, BP America Incorporated, Raytheon Co, and Westinghouse Electric Corp.[45][51]


Frederick Seitz | Fred Singer|Robert Jastrow


Board of Directors

  • Frederick Seitz - Chairman Emeritus (GMI); President Emeritus of Rockefeller University, Chair of the Board of SEPP and on the board of Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. Ex-Advisory board of TASSC (see below) (deceased)
  • William O'Keefe - CEO (GMI); President, Solutions Consulting, Inc., George C. Marshall Institute
  • Dr Bruce N. Ames - Professor of Biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley; Was on the Advisory board of the now defunct TASSC, and academic advisor to the Reason Foundation and Fred Singer’s SEPP.
  • Sallie Baliunas - Astrophysicist - George Marshall Institute Senior Scientist
  • Thomas L. Clancy, Jr. - Author
  • William Happer - Eugene Higgens Professor of Physics, Princeton University
  • Willis M. Hawkins - Senior Advisor to Lockheed Corporation
  • Bernadine Healy - Cleveland Clinic Foundation
  • John H. Moore - President, Grove City College
  • Robert Sproull - Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Rochester
  • Chauncey Starr - President Emeritus, Electric Power Research Institute
  • Charles Krauthammer - Syndicated Columnist

Roundtable Speakers


Former members of the Board of Directors



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