That question begs an answer in light of a recent published paper by a noted professor. Michael Cocoran writes on truthout.org that how for more than 17 months, Robert Howarth, an ecology professor at Cornell, has had a Google problem. Howarth is the chief author of an important paper on the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial method of obtaining natural gas.
Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University, at the university in Montclair, New Jersey, April 9, 2011. (Photo: James Leynse / The New York Times)
The paper concludes that the practice is not a clean way to extract domestic energy, as many allege, and has an even greater carbon footprint than coal. The paper's conclusions poke holes in some of the most common talking points used by supporters of fracking and made major headlines, including a large and prominently placed article in The New York Times in April 2011.
What is so messed up about this story is that soon after the paper was released, Howarth and others noticed a disturbing phenomenon on Google. Every time Professor Howarth's name was placed into a Google search engine, the first thing that appeared was an ad from ANGA, devoted strictly to hampering the credibility of Howarth's research. The page was listed as an ad but at a quick glance, it simply looked like the top search result. As of this morning, 11-16-12, the ad still displayed that way.