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Heartland’s Big Book Of Lies About Climate Change cuts no ice, thanks to Don Easterbrook Gareth Renowden Nov 04

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Over the weeks since the release of the first section of the IPCC’s Fifth Report, the Heartland Institute — the Chicago-based extreme right wing and free-market propaganda outfit that has done so much to promote climate denial — has been trying to get media traction for its latest Not-the-IPCC report (NIPCC: the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), Climate Change Reconsidered 2: Physical Science. Heartland describes CCR2 as…

… an independent, comprehensive, and authoritative report on the current state of climate science.

The truth is somewhat more prosaic. CCR2, like its predecessors, is an extended effort in cherry-picking and misdirection designed to demonstrate that, as Heartland puts it:

…the human effect is likely to be small relative to natural variability, and whatever small warming is likely to occur will produce benefits as well as costs.

For a detailed take-down of the NIPCC’s main arguments, take a look at Graham Wayne’s Notes for Educators, prepared as a response to an effort by Heartland to push CCR2 to schools in the US. Wayne notes:

The NIPCC report is akin to a confidence trick. It is pseudo-science, badly presented, made difficult to assess or check, and depends on ‘blinding the reader with science’ that may look credible until you actually try to verify those claims against the peer-reviewed published literature.

Climate statistician Tamino was equally unimpressed, suggesting that the NIPCC would be better designated the ICP – for Intentional Cherry-Picking in service of a predetermined conclusion.

My interest in the latest NIPCC “report” was piqued by the discovery that Don Easterbrook, the retired geologist with a long track record of misunderstanding and misrepresenting the Greenland ice core temperature record, was the lead author of chapter 5, Observations: The Cryosphere [pdf]. The NIPCC is clearly not blessed with an overabundance of qualified authors if they have to rely on Easterbrook as an expert on the cryosphere. Worse, his co-authors are two other retired geologists with little or no domain expertise: Cliff Ollier from Western Australia, and Bob Carter, a marine stratigrapher and all-purpose climate denier who never saw an argument against warming that he didn’t like1.

My first reaction to a quick skim through the chapter was pretty much the same as everybody else: this was cherry-picking taken to an extreme. To make sure that I was on the right track, I asked two real ice experts — Greenland maven Jason Box, and glaciologist Mauri Pelto — to take a quick look. Their reaction was scathing.

Here’s Box:

Multiple independent lines of observation from satellite, aircraft, and ground surveys indicate a strong imbalance of land ice that results in the observed increasing rate of sea level. Easterbrook and co-authors lie about this fact among many others in the NIPCC report’s shameless mockery of earth science.

Pelto found a couple of amazing counterfactual statements:

NIPCC: “Research on mountain glaciers worldwide has failed to provide evidence for unnatural glacial retreat in the late twentieth century.” (p633)

Pelto: Twenty one consecutive years of global mass balance loss and the disappearance of so many glaciers, is hardly natural. See World Glacier Monitoring Service reports.

NIPCC: “Recent satellite-borne geophysical measurements suggest Greenland, like Antarctica, is in a state of approximate mass balance”. (p632)

Pelto: This is hardly borne out by Howat and Eddy (2011, pdf). “We find that 90% of the observed glaciers retreated between 2000 and 2010, approaching 100% in the northwest, with rapid retreat observed in all sectors of the ice sheet.”

So far, so bad. But what about Easterbrook? His fingerprints are all over several sections of the chapter, and many of the graphics. For example, Figure 5.12.1 (p709) bears a striking resemblance to earlier Easterbook efforts:

NIPCCice1

I first encountered that graph in an article of Easterbrook’s — Magnitude and rate of climate changes — posted at µWatts in January 2011. As I pointed out at the time, there are numerous errors in Easterbrook’s analysis of the GISP2 data — and one of them is made explicit in this two and half year old chart. If you want the full details, refer to my older post and its antecedents, but Easterbrook’s legend for the time series refers to “years before present (2000 AD)”. Unfortunately, the “present” in the time series he’s using is defined by long standing convention as 1950. This was pointed out to him at the time, both by me and in the comments under his article at µWatts. He can have no excuse, other than shoddy scholarship, for simply reusing the graph without correcting the error.

There are other interesting “parallels” between the µWatts article and the NIPCC report. Large chunks of the latter appear to be lightly edited versions of the µWatts “original”. Consider these two paragraphs:

µWatts 2011 original: The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was a time of warm climate from about 900–1300 AD when global temperatures were apparently somewhat warmer than at present. Its effects were particularly evident in Europe where grain crops flourished, alpine tree lines rose, many new cities arose, and the population more than doubled. The Vikings took advantage of the climatic amelioration to colonize Greenland, and wine grapes were grown as far north as England where growing grapes is now not feasible and about 500 km north of present vineyards in France and Germany. Grapes are presently grown in Germany up to elevations of about 560 meters, but from about 1100 to 1300 A.D., vineyards extended up to 780 meters, implying temperatures warmer by about 1.0 to 1.4° C (Oliver, 1973, Tkachuck, 1983). Wheat and oats were grown around Trondheim, Norway, suggesting climates about one degree C warmer than present (Fagan, 2007).

NIPCC 2013: The Medieval Warm Period (900–1300 AD) that followed was marked by global temperatures warmer than at present, as indicated by the flourishing of grain crops, elevation of alpine tree lines, and building of many new towns and cities as the European population more than doubled. The Vikings took advantage of the climatic amelioration to colonize Greenland in 985 AD, when milder climates allowed favorable open-ocean conditions for navigation and fishing. Wine grapes were grown about 500 km north of present vineyards in France and Germany, and also in the north of England (Oliver, 1973; Tkachuck, 1983). Wheat and oats were grown around Trondheim, Norway, suggesting climates about one degree C warmer than the present (Fagan, 2009).

The words highlighted in green are identical between the two pieces of text, and the exact sequence most of the other elements of the original are maintained in the NIPCC report version.

Most amusingly, given that the NIPCC is committed to presenting the Medieval Climate Anomaly as both global and warmer than at present, is Easterbrook’s change to his first sentence: in 2011 “global temperatures were apparently somewhat warmer than at present”, but by 2013 he has become much more certain.

However hard you look, you won’t find a reference to the µWatts original in the NIPCC report, only to Easterbrook’s 2011 remarkable2 Elsevier book, Evidence-Based Climate Science: Data opposing CO2 emissions as the primary source of global warming (Amazon listing), where the error-ridden graph appears as Fig 24 on page 24. A little later in the book, on page 26, we find the above text from Easterbrook’s µWatts article repeated in full3.

Apart from being too lazy to correct an error from the beginning of 2011 for his book published nine months later, or this year’s NIPCC report4, Easterbrook appears to be a serial self-plagiarist with little or no concern for the accuracy of the stuff he publishes.

Life is too short to dig much further into the NIPCC’s misrepresentation of the state of our knowledge about the earth’s cryosphere and its response to warming, but its reliance on the “work” of Don Easterbrook is a telling indication that it is far from being the “scholarly report” its publishers claim. It is a parody of the IPCC, an inversion of the scientific process. It is the Heartland Institute’s Big Book Of Lies About Climate Change, and will be deservedly ignored by the reality it so badly traduces.

[Thanks to Jason Box and Mauri Pelto for taking time to look over the NIPCC chapter. It's time they'll never get back...]

  1. Carter is also one of the lead authors of the full report.
  2. See my post from October 2011 on the contents and authors, who include Monckton and blogger Steven Goddard!
  3. See the Amazon listing for the book, then click on the “look inside” feature, and scroll down.
  4. Or even for a blog post published at µWatts today!

Denier cacophony escalates as IPCC release draws near cindy Sep 25

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Cartoon figures of leading climate deniers in the "Dealing in Doubt" report.

Cartoon figures of leading climate deniers in the “Dealing in Doubt” report.

As governments meet in Stockholm this week to finalise the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers for its Working Group 1 report release,  I wonder if they can hear the shouting match going on in the world’s blogosphere and in some media.

The bleating of deniers is reaching a cacophony. They are rolling out every single trick they possibly can ahead of the report release.

Global warming’s paused and nobody knows why!
The IPCC’s halved its prediction!
NIPCC report says global warming isn’t happening! 

But their strategy isn’t going that well:  the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Australian and Australian Telegraph were all forced to retract part of their claims, as they were simply wrong.

Setting aside the cherry-picked shrieking, what’s what’s actually in the draft IPCC report has been leaking out over recent weeks, with the majority of the coverage, undertaken by some of the world’s better science reporters, telling it how it is.  Here’s some of it:

  • Bloomberg: The ice at both poles is melting faster than thought.
  • Reuters: The “hiatus” in warming is unlikely to last
  • Reuters: New Colour Purple depicts worsening climate risks
  • BBC: Human role in warming ‘more certain’ – UN climate chief

Scientists are also jumping in to explain some of the cherrypicked hysteria, such as this great piece by NSW University climate scientis Dr Andy Pitman in The Conversation. Many others are fighting back as well.  But it’s still a debate. And the public is probably still confused.

Dealing in Doubt

I’ve just finished the latest version of Dealing in Doubt, written for Greenpeace, updated since 2010.   The report outlines a history of the attacks on climate science, scientists and the IPCC over the last 25 years.  It’s by no means a full account and there are many players and incidents missed.  But it gives a flavour of the doubt-dealing strategies, funded by the fossil fuel industry over recent decades.  The same tactics they’re rolling out right now.

Last week the Heartland Institute (see case study in report) launched its latest version of the “NIPCC” – the “Not the IPCC” report, written by deniers Craig Idso, S. Fred Singer, Australia’s Bob Carter and co-authored by Willie Soon, all part of the “continental army” of deniers who’ve been working together for years.  What does it claim? Of course, climate change isn’t happening, we’re not causing it, nothing to see here move right along now everyone (and, as the argument goes, stop government intervention to curtail our use of fossil fuels).

Heartland is rolling out its  report across the US in the coming months.  It claims it’s peer reviewed, but, as Dealing in Doubt outlines, it’s probably more like pal review, one of the ways that deniers are “faking it”.

Or maybe their “peer review” is along the lines of the claims made in the Heartland document where many of the scientists whose work they used to back their claims were outraged at the misrepresentation.

A colleague went and talked with  Heartland about their funding – somehow they were reluctant to talk about who’s backing them.

Yet the deniers are still fighting – largely because they’re still being funded. They’re using the same tactics they’ve always used to sow doubt on the climate science.  And while the attacks on the scientists are getting worse,  some of them are now fighting back.

But their impact is diminishing as people see – and experience – the impacts of climate change.   The IPCC’s report this week will confirm this, confirm the certainty and confirm the science.

The history set out in this report,  as well as the prior history of denial by the tobacco companies and chemical, asbestos and other manufacturing industries, is important to remember because the fossil fuel industry has never admitted that it was misguided or wrong in its early efforts to delay the policy reaction to the climate crisis. To this day, it continues to obstruct solutions.

The individuals, organizations and corporate interests who comprise the ‘climate denial machine’ have caused harm and have slowed our response time.  As a result, we will all ultimately pay a much higher cost as we deal with the impacts, both economic and ecological.

Eventually, these interests will be held accountable for their actions.

Prat Watch #8: Monckton’s folly, Carterist crap Gareth Renowden Jan 31

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I do — sometimes — enjoy a trip over to the other side, those dark corners of the web where people pretend that climate change isn’t a real and pressing problem. I looked in at µWatts this morning, and passed a most amusing breakfast perusing the latest offerings there from potty peer Christopher, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, and Robert, “Bob” Carter. When I say amusing, I mean that I found it almost impossible to get past the first paragraph of Monckton’s extended paean to Greek architecture without collapsing into my toast laughing.

It appears the good Lord is planning to build what he describes as a cottage orné, and the rest of us might think of as a folly, on his Scottish estate. This cottage will be a Greek-style pavilion, as the little image above shows. Quite why Anthony Watts thinks his blog is an appropriate place for this folie du grandeur remains obscure until very late in the piece, but Monckton never fails his loyal climate crank fans:

To make matters worse, there is now overwhelming evidence that climatologists all over the world have been tampering with temperature data, sea-level data, paleoclimate data, etc., etc.. The tampering always seems to be in the direction of making it appear, artificially, that there is more of a problem than there is.

Remember this when he turns up in Australia and New Zealand this year. Monckton expects to be able to libel every climate scientist in the world, and still be taken seriously. I hope he brings a model of his cottage, and displays it at every opportunity.

Not to be outshone by the verbose viscount, Bob Carter, Australia’s master of pompous prose, offers µWatts a classic example of his normal nonsense…

Carter begins by claiming comparable credibility to real climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe1, and therefore falls at the first hurdle. Carter is a well-published and somewhat respected geologist, but when it comes to climate science his credibility has been shot by twenty years of daft denial on behalf of US and Australian fossil fuel interests, not to mention by taking money from the Heartland Institute.

Carter attempts to show that a self-posed hypothesis — that CO2 induced warming is dangerous — doesn’t stand up to the evidence. Here’s his last “test”:

(v) The same computer models predict that a fingerprint of greenhouse-gas-induced warming will be the creation of an atmospheric hot spot at heights of 8-10 km in equatorial regions, and enhanced warming also near both poles.

Given that we already know that the models are faulty, it shouldn’t surprise us to discover that direct measurements by both weather balloon radiosondes and satellite sensors show the absence of surface warming in Antarctica, and a complete absence of the predicted low latitude atmospheric hot spot. Hypothesis fails, twice.

Nope. Because that’s a false test. If you were a credible climate scientist, Bob, you would know that a tropospheric “hot spot” is a “fingerprint” that would result from warming from all sources, not just greenhouse gases. And I wonder why you fail to mention the remarkable warming in the Arctic or the Antarctic Peninsula? Rhetorical question. We all know why Carter is misrepresenting the facts. It’s because he’s happy to misrepresent the truth on behalf of his paymasters.

More interesting than Carter’s arguments are where his piece first appeared — the web site of the “American Institute for Technology and Science Education“, a creationist lobby group based in California. Monckton is a birther and supporter of all sorts of wacky conspiracy theories (see above). Now we have Carter making common cause with creationists. How are the mighty fallen. Tell it not in µWatts, publish it not in the pages of Morano; lest the daughters of the warmists rejoice…

  1. The piece appears to be an attempt at a rebuttal of an earlier article by Hayhoe.

Signing up to nonsense: denialists plot letter to UN secretary general Gareth Renowden Nov 29

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People send me stuff. Imagine my surprise when this morning’s mail included the text of a round robin email from Tom Harris — the Canadian PR man who heads the Heartland-funded denialist lobby group the International Climate Science Coalition [full text here]. It gives an interesting insight to how these groups work behind the scenes. Here’s Harris appealing for signatures to a letter to UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon:

Time is short if we are to mount a significant counterpoint to the scientifically invalid assertions already being broadcast by the 1,500 journalists and 7,000 environmentalists attending the UN climate conference now underway in Qatar.

Please find below our “Open Letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations” to which we are inviting your endorsement. We have 61 qualified endorsers as of 9 pm EST, about 19 hours after we started to ask people.

Because we have an agreement with a major media outlet to publish the open letter on Thursday, I will need to know of your support within the next day if possible, please.

The denialist spin machine in action. The usual suspects queuing to sign up to a letter that’s going to be published — where? My guess would be the Wall Street Journal. Even more interesting is the nonsense these luminaries are so keen to endorse…

It’s worth noting that Harris is not giving anyone the chance to change his proposed letter. The usual suspects are expected to sign up without quibbling about wording. And they’re signing up to a thoroughly modern catechism of climate crank disinformation. Here are the key claims in the letter:

UK Met Office data shows “there has been no statistically significant global warming for almost 16 years”.

This is nonsense, based on a beat-up published by the Daily Mail a few months ago. Warming continues, as the World Meteorological Organisation points out.

Global warming that has not occurred cannot have caused the extreme weather of the past few years. Whether, when and how warming will resume is unknown. The science is unclear. Some scientists point out that near-term natural cooling, linked to variations in solar output, is also a distinct possibility.

“Some scientists”? I suspect only the signatories to Harris’s letter expect a “near-term natural cooling” caused by the sun1.

The “even larger climate shocks” you have mentioned would be worse if the world cooled than if it warmed.

A remarkable (and unsupportable) assertion. I will allow that an ice age might be an inconvenience, but as our emissions have effectively postponed the next one for the foreseeable future, that’s the least of our worries.

The incidence and severity of extreme weather has not increased. There is little evidence that dangerous weather-related events will occur more often in future.

The letter goes on to quote from last year’s IPCC special report on climate extremes (SREX), but ignores the key findings of that report: that increased extremes of hot weather and rainfall are being recorded, and are “virtually certain” to continue as the climate warms.

We also ask that you acknowledge that policy actions by the UN, or by the signatory nations to the UNFCCC, that aim to reduce CO2 emissions are unlikely to exercise any significant influence on future climate.

Harris and his tame signatories can ask, but to expect the UN secretary general to reject the advice of his own organisation and the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists on the basis of an error-ridden screed put together as a stunt by PR flacks for fossil fuel interests is a bit of stretch, I’d have thought. Harris’s letter will be just as effective as all the other letters he’s sent to UN secretary generals at climate conferences, and that is not at all.

  1. The phrasing recalls similar pronouncements by NZ’s very own Bryan Leyland, a veteran of several climate science coalitions. I wonder if by any chance he had a hand in the letter?

A Short Introduction to Climate Change Bryan Walker Sep 30

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Tony Eggleton’s A Short Introduction to Climate Change is an excellent account of climate science for the general reader. The author is a retired geology professor from the Australian National University. Two widely read climate change deniers, Ian Plimer and Bob Carter, are also retired Australian geology professors, but Eggleton is not of their ilk. He comes at the subject from a concern about climate change and a wish to explain to readers who are uncertain about the topic why there is reason for concern.

The book is grounded in the careful science which has contributed to our understanding of the danger in which we now stand. Eggleton has not worked in the field of climate, but recognises the authenticity of the findings of climatologists. His opening chapter, The Spirit of Enquiry, offers a clear account of the process by which science across all its fields advances. He highlights the fact that most climate science is done by groups, all of whom need to be confident of the reliability of their colleagues. He explains the rigorous process of peer reviewed papers and the comprehensive scrutiny from fellow scientists which follows their publication. He ponders the fact that some hypotheses are of the type that involves a choice between only two possibilities. If one is not true the other must be so. How will the theory of climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels be viewed in 100 years from now? “Interpretations evolve, change and sometimes settle into accepted fact: the Sun is at the centre of the solar system, the continents have drifted and smoking does damage the lungs.”

The course the book follows is logically developed and well marked by summaries and frequent recapitulations. The evidence of warming is comprehensive: spring timing is earlier; winters are milder; land and sea surface and atmospheric temperatures are rising; extreme temperature events are more frequent. This warming is driving the fundamental climate change which underlies changes in weather, and it is caused by the increasing level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since 1750. Not that the author rushes to this conclusion. He leads the reader through all the thinking and observation which builds towards it, introducing a host of considerations such as the Milankovich cycles, the Keeling curve, water vapour, clouds, feedbacks and much else, all carefully explained.

The theme of climate change is pursued into all its manifestations in droughts and changed rainfall patterns, the loss of ice cover, the changes to the acidity of the world’s oceans and sea level rise. Again these are all patiently explored with frequent sourcing of the scientific findings to the work of particular scientists and their colleagues.

At this point Eggleton looks back in time, on geological time scales, detailing the lines of evidence from which the changes in temperature and CO2 and the eras of glaciation can be mapped out over the past 400 million-year period. “The connection between climate and CO2 is quite evident in the geological record, and that evidence – the coal, glacial drop-stones, types of shellfish fossils – tells us that when atmospheric CO2 falls, so does the temperature; when CO2 rises, so does the temperature.” More recently, over the past 2000 years, he notes the various studies which confirm Mann’s ‘hockey stick’, the rapid and now steepening rise in global temperature since 1800. He comments that what is special is not the temperature, nor even that it is changing, but rather the speed of the change.  At its very fastest, at the end of the last ice age the world warmed at a rate of 1°C every 1000 years. “As far as palaeontology and geology can discover, temperature change as fast as 1.5°C a century has not happened in at least the past 2 million years; it has not happened over the time of Homo sapiens.” The ominous rapidity of the changes we are seeing is a recurring theme in the book.

Lest there be any uncertainty as to where the increased CO2 is coming from, the book traverses the evidence that it comes from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities such as cement manufacturing and deforestation. The global carbon cycle receives attention here.

Before moving on to discuss what we can do to remedy the threatening imbalance we have caused Eggleton devotes a chapter to what he calls the road block – influential and vociferous people who deny that climate change is happening or is of any consequence. He imagines a reader asking why the body of science that surely underpins contrarian views has not been represented in this book. “The answer is because there is no such body of knowledge. I looked. I searched extensively.” He turns his attention to the two prominent retired Australian geologists, Plimer and Carter, who deny that warming is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, maintaining that if there is any current change in climate we must look to natural causes. Eggleton points out that climate scientist always include the natural causes of climate change in their research and that the burning of fossil fuels has augmented a process of natural climate variation. Plimer is wrong to deny that we can change the normal planetary processes. Eggleton is patient and exhaustive in his treatment of the views of the two geologists, not dismissive but thoroughly rebutting their claims.

What lies ahead? Eggleton’s tone in talking about the predictions is cautious and he certainly can’t be accused of overstatement. But as he explains the implications, and includes mention of the fears of scientists such as Hansen who are very aware of the possibility of runaway climate change, it is very clear that the risks for our grandchildren are very substantial indeed. His focus on what change is likely to mean for Australia is a valuable one for readers in this part of the world.

Finally he reaches the question of what we can do about it and begins by saying that whereas in the rest of the book he has been careful to report quality scientific results, he now moves beyond his scientific comfort zone. I found this short closing section less positive than much I have read on the ways in which we can switch to renewable energy if we have the mind to, but if that’s a flaw it’s a minor one in the context of the book as a whole.

The book takes an impressive body of science seriously and explains it thoroughly for the non-scientist reader. Although many commentators say inaction on climate change is not due to lack of understanding I continue to think that a grasp of the scientific reality by a wide sector of society is an essential element in our preparedness to recognise that there is a crisis and to address it.

The voice of reason may not always be listened to, but I don’t know where else hope lies. Eggleton’s presentation is marked by its reasonableness and one hopes many readers will be appreciative of that.

[Support Hot Topic by purchasing this book through our affiliates: The Book Depository (UK, free shipping worldwide), Amazon.com or Fishpond (NZ).]

NZ Herald’s turn to offer propaganda as opinion – De Freitas’ links to cranks hidden from readers Gareth Renowden Sep 12

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The new “compactNZ Herald has taken a downmarket tabloid approach to informing its readers by running an opinion piece about the recent courtroom defeat for NZ’s climate cranks by prominent climate sceptic and Auckland University geographer Chris de Freitas, without explaining de Freitas’ long history of association with the cranks he’s defending. In the article, de Freitas overstates the uncertainties associated with temperature records, even going so far as to imply that the warming trend over the last hundred years might be “indistinguishable from zero”1. He also overplays the importance of temperature series to policy-makers — a line straight out of crank litigant Barry Brill’s playbook, and self-evident nonsense.

Despite this transparent partiality, the opinion editors at the Herald credit him like this:

Chris de Freitas is an associate professor in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland.

But, as the Herald opinion team well know, de Freitas is much, much more than a mere associate professor in the School of Environment. He has a track record of activism against action on climate change that stretches back two decades. Here, for the poor misled readers of the new Herald‘s opinion pages is a handy, cut-out-and-keep guide to de Freitas’ long history of climate denial activism.

This long list is far from complete — not least because it doesn’t include all the sceptic nonsense he’s presented as opinion at the NZ Herald and National Business Review over the years3, but it should serve to give a flavour of the man that Herald readers might think was a humble and respectable geographer at the University of Auckland.

The Herald has no excuse for failing to explain de Freitas’ interests in this issue, and should print a clarification as soon as possible. Carrying a good piece by Brian Rudman may “balance” CdF’s effort in some eyes, but the paper really needs to do better. What next? An opinion piece criticising the Labour party by prime minister John Key, where he is described as “a retired banker”?

[Updated 13/9 to add CEI link, and CdF's publication record.]

  1. “Temperature trends detected are small, usually just a few tenths of one degree Celsius over 100 years, a rate that is exceeded by the data’s standard error. Statistically this means the trend is indistinguishable from zero.”
  2. It didn’t.
  3. A rough count suggests that since 1990 he has published around 77 opinion
    pieces about climate change – with 32 in NBR and 27 in the Herald – partial publication record here.

Big coal coughs up for climate denial ’conference’, takes NZ sceptics along for the ride Gareth Renowden May 16

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As US corporate donors step away from the Heartland Institute following their ad campaign likening climate change believers to mass murderers and terrorists, big coal — in the shape of the Illinois Coal Association, supported by all the major US coal companies — has stepped in as a “Gold Sponsor” to support Heartland’s climate “conference” next week. In other heartwarming news for the ultra-conservative lobby group, the big guns of New Zealand’s climate denial movement, the Heartland-funded NZ Climate “Science” Coalition, have also sponsored the conference, thereby endorsing Heartland’s disgusting ad campaign.

Here’s what Heartland’s president Joe Bast says about the Unabomber billboard campaign:

’The leaders of the global warming movement have one thing in common: They are willing to use force and fraud to advance their fringe theory.’

Can we assume that Barry Brill, Bryan Leyland, “Heartland expert”1 Chris de Freitas and the other members of the NZ CSC all support Bast’s statement? Only Bob Carter has made a public statement, telling The Age that:

“the usual ‘liberal’ media sources” had been “amazing, immediate and over-the-top”, and that he would still speak at the conference.

Given that Heartland are happy to pay Carter a monthly retainer, it’s perhaps not surprising he supports their tasteless little publicity stunt. Money may not be able to buy you love, but it can certainly buy support, as Carter and the CSC crew prove.

  1. It’s worth following Big City Lib’s polling of other Heartland experts, to find out how many have asked for their names to be withdrawn following the Unabomber stunt. There’s no sign (yet) of de Freitas following suit.

How Heartland lied to me and illegally recorded the lies cindy Mar 15

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4 a.m. Bali, December 2007, the first Tuesday of the two-week UN climate talks. My phone rings, waking me up. Blearily, and a little crossly, I answer it.

I was in Bali to run Greenpeace International’s media for the meeting. The caller was someone called “John” who said he was an intern for a US NGO that I had never heard of. It was a small NGO, he said, who couldn’t come to the meeting, but “john” asked me for a copy of the UNFCCC’s media list for the meeting.

I confirmed I had a copy but refused to give it to him – he appeared a little suspect. The conversation ended when I put the phone down – the caller clearly wasn’t bothered that he had woken me at 4 am, which was odd, as an NGO colleague would have apologised and hung up immediately.

Three days later I was again woken by the phone, with the information that the right wing think tank the Heartland Institute had just issued a press release slamming the UN for working with environmental NGO’s. Heartland’s press release posted a link to a recording of the 4 a.m. conversation earlier in the week.

Hang on, let’s get this clear:

Someone from the Heartland Institute:
 – called me at 4 am, lied to me saying they were an intern for a US environmental NGO 
- recorded that conversation without my knowledge or my permission, and released the audio of the telephone conversation to the media, again without my permission.

Sound familiar?

This calls into question Heartland’s bleatings about being misled by climate scientist Peter Gleick, and its threats to sue him for using false credentials to obtain information. They seem happy to use underhand tactics to get information for themselves, yet slam Gleick for doing similar.  CEO Joseph Bast called it a “serious crime”.

So I’ve written to Joseph Bast reminding him of this incident:

To recap, the Heartland Institute used a false organizational identity in order to obtain an internal document. It also surreptitiously recorded a telephone conversation (illegally, I believe, if it was done from your home state of Illinois) then posted it online to attack me in the same sort of privacy invasion you’ve been complaining about.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should, not only because your organization did all this, but it recorded itself doing exactly what you’ve been howling about was done to you. I’m calling on you to show the same level of post-action forthrightness of Dr. Gleick, admit what you did, and re-post the audiotape of the full conversation.

I haven’t yet heard back from Bast.

DeSmogBlog has more examples of Heartland’s history of deception, including leading someone to believe that a video they were being interviewed for was for the Discovery Channel rather than a climate denial video.

Given my first-hand experience of Heartland, and having also witnessed the theft of thousands of emails between climate scientists and Heartland’s thousands of words about them (often willfully taking them out of context) in Climategate, I find it breathtaking that Heartland has suddenly become all ethical about the leaks of its documents.

These are documents that show plans to mislead children about the science of one of the most important issues in their future: climate change.

Also attending the Bali meeting was the right wing think tank, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), that had brought its crack team of climate deniers, including Lord Christopher Monckton, whom I’d seen hectoring journalists in the media centre.

Monckon was registered on the CFACT delegation but the UN media list itself confirms Monckton’s attempts to register himself as a journalist, listing his email contact as Tom Swiss (Heartland’s PR man), as with another denier, Will Alexander, whose email contact was another Heartland email address.

CFACT has received a total of $2,509,285 from fossil fuel funders ExxonMobil, the Koch Foundations and the Scaife Foundations since 1998.

We now know that Heartland had paid for a number of the deniers who were part of the CFACT team. Heartland money went to the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition that year, and NZCSC members, Owen McShane, Bryan Leyland and Vincent Gray were also on the CFACT team, along with a number of Australian deniers, Prof Robert (Bob) Carter, David Evans and Joanne Nova.

Desperate for the attention they weren’t getting, CFACT even offered free Balinese massages to people who attended their event.

Why didn’t I sue Heartland at the time?  Simple: they would have loved the attention – and I had better things to do with my time, as the 192 governments who had already accepted the science of climate change worked towards agreeing the Bali Mandate.

As it was, no media covered Heartland’s outraged press release and the whole incident served as an opportunity for me to talk in detail to a number of journalists about the climate denial industry and its funding by the fossil fuel industry.

My one failing is that I cannot recall the name of the NGO that the caller pretended to be an intern for.  I didn’t write it down at 4 am and, given that I’m not from the US, I didn’t recognize the name the caller gave me. But he definitely didn’t tell me he was from – or acting on behalf of -  the Heartland Institute.

And given that I am one of the co-founders of Greenpeace’s Exxonsecrets website, launched in 2004 to track money going from ExxonMobil to think tanks including the Heartland Institute for their campaign to promote climate denial, every alarm bell would have gone off if I’d received a telephone call from The Heartland Institute, no matter what time of day or night it was. I knew this organization and its peddling of climate denial very well.

I would certainly have remembered if they said they were taping the call, let alone agreed to that – and its subsequent broadcast.
This blog has been cross-posted from Polluterwatch, where Greenpeace is conducting a series of ongoing investigations into the Heartland documents. My letter to Bast is available here.

The Carter Controversy Gareth Renowden Mar 01

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The strange case of the cranks who think that suing scientists is the way to make warming go away — or the New Zealand Climate “Science Education Trust” versus the National Institute of Water and Atmosphere Research (NIWA) — grinds on like a modern day Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The NZCSET (being Barry Brill, Terry Dunleavy, Bryan Leyland, all leading members of the Heartland-funded NZ Climate “Science” Coalition) have helpfully put their submissions to the High Court on their web site, and I stumbled on something interesting. Bob Carter provides a sworn affidavit in support of the NZ CSET case, in which he says:

I, Robert Merlin Carter, of Townsville in Queensland, Australia, research professor, make oath and say:

2. […] I receive no research funding from special interest organisations such as environmental groups, energy companies or government departments.

The Heartland Institute’s budget document, as presented to its January board meeting and recently made public, includes the following table of payments slated for key players in Fred Singer’s Not the IPCC project:

BudgetNIPCCCarter

Bob will receive US$1,667 per month in his role as a co-editor of the next NIPCC report, due out in 2013. A cynic might ask if Bob’s sworn statement to the High Court is entirely compatible with his Heartland funding. I am sure that Professor Carter did not intend to mislead the Court by representing himself as a disinterested commentator on climate matters. But he did swear his affidavit a month before the Heartland budget document was made public…

The real Climategate: Heartland’s hypocrisy on display Gareth Renowden Feb 17

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It’s been a bad week for the Heartland Institute — the US lobby group recently shown to have funded New Zealand climate denialists. Documents leaked this week expose Heartland’s fund-raising and climate strategies to the cold light of day, and a major new piece of research by John Mashey demonstrates that Heartland has been acting outside of the rules governing the tax-exempt status it claims for itself.

Documents relating to a Heartland board meeting held in January were sent to a number of bloggers earlier this week, and have been made available by DeSmogBlog. The papers give a very full account of Heartland’s budget and plans for 2012, right down to individual staff salaries, and provide details of funding streams from players big and small. The largest — described as the “anonymous donor” — provided Heartland with $8.6 million over 2007-11 for its climate campaigns (see pps 20 and 21 of this document).

Key points from the documents:

  • Heartland plans to create a “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Schools” that “isn’t alarmist or overtly political”, and plans to pay Dr David Wojick $25,000 a quarter to develop the materials.
  • Heartland is planning to fund Fred Singer’s Not the IPCC project to the tune of $1.5 million over 2010-13, and is budgeting monthly payments of $11,600 to Craig Idso, $5,000 to Singer and $1,667 to Bob Carter during 2012.
  • Anthony Watts (of µWatts fame) is being funded to the tune of $88,000 to develop a web site featuring US temperature data.
  • Current funders include tobacco companies, fossil fuel interests, and even Microsoft.

Heartland claims the documents were stolen, and that one — relating to their strategy on climate denial — was faked, even though the main points in that “confidential memo” are corroborated by the other documents. The Heartland response includes threats of legal action against web sites and media carrying stories based on the documents, and says:

…honest disagreement should never be used to justify the criminal acts and fraud that occurred in the past 24 hours. As a matter of common decency and journalistic ethics, we ask everyone in the climate change debate to sit back and think about what just happened.

Those persons who posted these documents and wrote about them before we had a chance to comment on their authenticity should be ashamed of their deeds, and their bad behavior should be taken into account when judging their credibility now and in the future.

Back in 2009, when the emails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia first hit the web, Heartland president Joseph Bast wrote:

The release of these documents creates an opportunity for reporters, academics, politicians, and others who relied on the IPCC to form their opinions about global warming to stop and reconsider their position. The experts they trusted and quoted in the past have been caught red-handed plotting to conceal data, hide temperature trends that contradict their predictions, and keep critics from appearing in peer-reviewed journals. This is new and real evidence that they should examine and then comment on publicly.

The hypocrisy burns…

Meanwhile, the news that Bob Carter is retained by Heartland to undermine the work of mainstream science through the NIPCC is making waves in Australia (Graham Readfearn, SMH), but hasn’t yet been picked up in New Zealand. Carter’s role as a “science advisor” to the Heartland funded NZ Climate Science Coalition and its ICSC spin-off, as well as to Nigel Lawson’s secretive Global Warming Policy Foundation raises serious questions about just how lucrative denial can be, as well as illuminating the international web of climate denial.

See also:

Richard Black at the BBC

New York Times

LA Times

And [List updated17/2 - courtesy of Adam Seigel]…