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Posts Tagged David Evans

Fairfax and Stuff.co.nz: presenting propaganda as opinion and lies as fact Gareth Renowden Aug 02

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This morning the Sydney Morning Herald published an opinion piece by well-known Aussie climate denier David Evans, and later in the day the Fairfax New Zealand news web site Stuff.co.nz decided to feature the Evans article in their science section. Two small problems for Fairfax: Evans “opinion” piece is nothing more than propaganda masquerading as opinion, and contains straightforward lies about our understanding of climate.

We last met Evans back in April, when he unleashed on an unsuspecting world a risible political analysis of those who want action on climate change. Even so, the SMH, for reasons best known to themselves, chose to let him loose on their pages to present a “scientific” argument. The problem? Evans scientific understanding is as weak — if not weaker — than his political analysis. His deliberate misrepresentation of the state of scientific understanding of the climate system renders his “opinion” on the matter worthless, and calls the editorial judgement of the SMH and Stuff.co.nz into question.

One point will suffice to demonstrate just how blatant Evans’ lies are. Here’s an early section of his piece:

We scientists can calculate how much warming results directly from an increase in CO2 levels. We know how much CO2 levels and temperature have risen since pre-industrial times, but the warming directly due to CO2 is only a third of the observed warming. The theory assumes no other major influence on temperature changed, so the effect of the CO2 must have been amplified threefold, presumably by changes in the atmosphere due to humidity and clouds.

There is no observational evidence for this amplification, but it is nonetheless built into all the models. Sceptics point out that if the extra humidity simply forms extra clouds, then there would be no amplification.

The amplification Evans finds so troubling is a straightforward result of an extremely well understood phenomenon: a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour. The link between the two is described by the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship. Moreover, there is direct evidence — observational evidence, even — of an increase in atmospheric water vapour over recent decades. That increase in water vapour means that more and heavier rain can fall, and again, that’s something that’s being observed around the world.

Unpacking all the untruths and misrepresentations in just these two paragraphs would take an article as long, if not longer than Evans’ original, but it is quite clear to anyone who understands the first thing about climate science that Evans is playing fast and loose with the truth, and doing so in order to advance a political viewpoint.

So why did the SMH choose to run Evans’ propaganda, and why were the editors of the science section at Stuff.co.nz so quick to follow their lead? The Sydney Morning Herald must surely appreciate Evans background as one of Australia’s noisier climate deniers, prominent in the campaign against the carbon tax. In recent months, much has been made of mining billionaire Gina Rinehart’s investment in Fairfax, and her demands that the newspaper company should “teach the controversy” on climate1. Did that influence the editorial decision making at the Sydney Morning Herald?

Meanwhile, the editorial team at Stuff.co.nz clearly have a problem with their science section. If there is no-one there who understands climate science — not exactly one of the more obscure corners of human endeavour — then perhaps they should just shut the section down and concentrate on providing platforms for propagandists. They seem to be quite good at doing that already.

  1. Rinehart secured a seat for a crony on the Fairfax board, but he seems to have been unable to attend any board meetings.

Prat watch #6: My coup runneth over Gareth Renowden Apr 04

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Courtesy of the ever-helpful NZ Climate “Science” Coalition — you know, the guys who take money from American think tanks and found “charities” to sue scientists — I stumble on a remarkable exposition of the world view to which they subscribe. Apparently, “Climate criminals almost took control of the whole world by deception, a grand fraud. Money has changed hands on a vast scale due to a bunch of easily-dispelled untruths.” Really? Here’s another sample:

The supporters of the theory of manmade global warming are […] an intellectual upper class of wordsmiths, who regulate and pontificate rather than produce real stuff. There is little demand in the economy for their skills, so they would command only modest rewards for their labor in the marketplace. Arguably they are a class of parasites enriching themselves at the expense of producers, because they are rewarded out of proportion to the value they create–value as determined not by themselves, but by voluntary transactions in the marketplace.

Yes folks, those of us who would like some meaningful action on climate change are the “regulating class” according to a penetrating new analysis by Australian denialist Dr David Evans. And we’re bent on world domination…

Evans’ report, Climate Coup – The Politics, is a follow-up to his earlier Climate Coup – The Science [PDF], which purports to destroy the scientific case for action to reduce carbon emissions. It does no such thing, of course1, but it sets the stage for Evans’ political argument2. And what an argument! Here’s Evans on the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009:

Never in the field of human administration would so much power have been transferred by so many to so few. This was a narrowly averted global coup, an attempt to seize a great deal of power by stealth without the knowledge or explicit consent of the world’s people. It can only have been kept silent with the active support of the world’s media.

Positively Moncktonian, that analysis, and just as barmy. Here’s his array of the forces lined up in the argument:

Believers: UN (including the IPCC), Western governments, major banks and finance houses, NGO’s and Greenies, totalitarian leftists, government-funded scientists, academia, renewables corporations, mainstream news media

Doubters: Independently-funded scientists, private sector middle class, amateurs (from amore , the Latin for love)

How strange that he couldn’t find room in his list of doubters for the big oil companies that did so much to kick start the campaign against action on climate change, or the mining companies that funded so much of the opposition to Australia’s emissions legislation. He finds no place to mention the Murdoch media, always keen to present the “doubters” views3, or to ruminate on Fox News in the USA.

In the end, Evans assures us, everything’s going to be all right:

While there will be warming due to our emissions of CO2, the climate models exaggerate and the warming will only be mild. In the tropics it will have almost no effect, while elsewhere it will be equivalent to moving a few tens of kilometers closer to the equator. There are much larger natural forces on our climate at play, and it is they and not our puny CO2 that drives the planet’s temperature.

There’s no danger from warming, only from “the grab for absolute power by those who already govern [and] have grown tired of democracy and would like to do away with it.”

The whole thing is, of course, risible4, but I think it should be taken at least slightly seriously as an example of a worldview common amongst those who do not believe in the need for action on climate change. Worldview is an important determinant of attitudes and how facts are evaluated, but when it is as extreme and as divorced from reality as that portrayed by Evans, then there can be little hope of any constructive dialogue. There is no “debate” to be had with a propagandising ideologue, however much they might clamour for one.

[Perry Como]

  1. It’s composed mainly of misdirection, misrepresentation and cherry-picking: I leave it as an exercise for the reader to spot the flaws.
  2. One wonders if they would not be better presented the other way round, because it would seem likely that politics is driving his view of the science.
  3. For a recent example, see this piece by Neil Perry at The Conversation. But then what else would Evans expect from “academia”…
  4. Which is exactly what Evans would suggest I would say.

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.

How to be a denier: lesson #1 (shrivel and die) Gareth Renowden Nov 17

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One of Hot Topic’s favourite sceptics is NZ C”S”C member Roger Dewhurst, best known for turning up from time to time to unload links to the denier meme du jour (and for his carefully cultivated grumpy old man persona). Yesterday morning he sent me a link to this “interesting” document prepared by Dr David Evans, one of Australia’s more active cranks (he’s Joanne Codling aka Nova‘s partner, for a start). Evans’ latest assault on reason is a series of papers asking Is the Western Climate Establishment Corrupt? His answer’s easy to guess…

Let’s ignore the main paper (it’s nonsense) and examine Evan’s promotion of his conclusion. In an email to a climate sceptic list he wrote:

The climate corruption paper is finally finished:

http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/corruption/climate-corruption.pdf

It’s simple and pictorial, with a minimum of words, perfect for lay
people. It answers the usual objections of warmists, and focuses on the
corrupt behavior of the climate establishment.

Actually it makes heavy use of pictures of US weather stations culled from Anthony Watts “Surface Stations” project, and pretends that they prove the temperature record’s being fiddled. It isn’t, of course, and Watt’s own data proves it (pdf).

A “breakthrough”, says Ray Evans of Australia’s Lavoisier society.
Christopher Monckton: “trenchant paper saying exactly what needed to be
said about the corruption of the scientific process”.

Trenchant? More of a trencher, I’d say…

If this material gets widely distributed, support for man-made global
warming would shrivel and die within a year because no one will trust
the climate “scientists”.

Now there’s a hostage to fortune. Within a year, eh? But Evans has the perfect get out of jail clause — his paper will not (conceivably under any circumstances) have been widely enough distributed to have had its full effect. I am therefore pleased to aid his cause, because, well, it would be great if global warming would shrivel and die. Nobody would want to “support” that, would they?

There is also a “what you can do”, instigating an email campaign, at

http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/corruption/climate-emails.pdf

If you like it, please spread it around.

And Dewhurst duly did his bidding. Now we’re getting to the crux of the matter — Evans wants the world to send his falsehoods to politicians. The NZ C”S”C offer more from the author explaining his motivation for publishing this magnum opus.

To win the political aspect of the climate debate, we have to lower the western climate establishment’s credibility with the lay person. And this paper shows how you do it. It simply assembles the most easily understood points that show they are not to be entirely trusted, with lots of pictures and a minimum of text and details. It omits lots of relevant facts and is excruciatingly economical with words simply because the lay person has a very short attention span for climate arguments.

The strategy of the paper is to undermine the credibility of the establishment climate scientists. That’s all. There is nothing special science-wise, and there is nothing in it that most skeptics haven’t heard before. It’s aimed squarely at lay people, and answers the usual objections they have to listening to us or believing us.

In other words, it’s a straightforward smear campaign. No science involved. No reasoned argument. Pure, unadulterated PR, with lots of willing little Dewhursts out there to spread the message. One year on from the release of emails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, it seems that the stooges of inaction are not afraid of revealing their true face.

Politics is everything. The truth is worth nothing to the ideologues of denial. I hope the ghost of disasters yet to come haunts them all this Christmas.

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