Google is facing renewed criticism for its decision to make strange bedfellows in the form of climate change denying Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Seventeen researchers, who all visited the company as Google Climate Science Communication Fellows in 2011, have signed an open letter describing Google’s actions as “deeply troubling.”
In their letter, the fellows acknowledge that large companies sometimes face difficulties in balancing their core principles and their short-term business priorities. But, the group says, “Google’s recent support for Senator Inhofe forces us to question the company’s commitment to science communication and to addressing climate change.”
The writers hail from Duke, Stanford, Texas A&M and the University of California, among others, and also include World Resources Institute senior associate Kelly Levin. They are careful to point out that they speak only for themselves, not their institutions.
In a separate essay (carried on the New York Times website), three of the letter-writers back up a point that EL PRO made last month – that the company’s actions also threaten its carefully groomed reputation. They point out that Google has now painted itself as Apple’s less ethical cousin, since in 2009 the latter company quit the US Chamber of Commerce over the group’s opposition to power plant carbon limits.
And they make another fine point – that by blocking progressive climate policies, Sen. Inhofe and his ilk keep the price of clean energy technologies high, limiting Google’s return on investment. Political gridlock also makes it hard for companies to plan their energy investments over the long term, creating more risk. The reasons for Google to withdraw its support for Inhofe just keep building.
Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.