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The science and politics of climate change Ken Perrott Oct 05

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Michael Mann: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars – TAM 2013.

Have a look at this video for an excellent description of the history and science of climate change. It’s presented by one of the central figures.

Michael Mann has become a great popular science communicator – especially on climate science and the political attacks on science.

He was effectively forced into this public role by the political attacks on him He tells his story very well in his book  The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. It’s a great read – highly recommended.

Read “Good faith” science – and its enemies for my review of Michael Mann’s book.

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Michael Mann’s defamation lawsuit on track Ken Perrott Jul 21

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Anyone interested in the political struggles around the science of climate change will be aware of the attacks made on climate scientist Michael Mann. These go back a long time and are detailed in his book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines (see The truth about the hockey stick for my review of this book). Despite a number of enquiries clearing Mann of any wrong-doing these attacks have continued.

Screen-shot-2009-11-24-at-03.03.162

But the National Review and Competitive Enterprise Institute went too far when they accused him of illegal acts, (like manipulating data and outright fraud). Mann filed a defamation suit against them. This week the Washington DC Superior Court came down with its first ruling in the case – and it’s not good news for those attacking Mann. It refused to throw out Mann’s on the grounds that the plaintiff’s statements were protected speech under the First Amendment, mere “opinion,” “rhetorical hyperbole,” or “fair comment.”

The ruling said that CEI defendants had produced:

“numerous articles that characterize Plaintiff’s work as fraudulent, combined with the assertions of fraud and data manipulation”

and this went beyond free speech. It added

“ In Plaintiff’s line of work, such an accusation is serious. To call his work a sham or to question his intellect and reasoning is tantamount to an accusation of fraud (taken in the context and knowing that Plaintiff’s work has been investigated and substantiated on numerous occasions).”

The defamation case will now go ahead with the next hearing at the end of August.

It’s heartening to see this progress being made as many commentators were cynical about Mann’s chance of success.

As one commentator, Dan Satterfield, said - Wearing A Tinfoil Hat Is Getting Expensive

via DC Court affirms Michael Mann’s right to proceed in defamation lawsuit against National Review and CEI .

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Communicating climate science – Michael Mann comments Ken Perrott Jul 08

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Here’s a relatively short talk by Michael Mann talking about his own experiences in communicating climate science, and the political attempts to intimidate him. He is an interesting speaker and his story is important.

via AGU Chapman Conference — Climate Science: Michael Mann – YouTube.

Mann is the author of the book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. It’s very informative and easy to read. Essential reading for anyone interested in the science and politics of climate change.

See “Good faith” science – and its enemies for my review of Mann’s book.

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New “Hockey Stick” but same tired old denial Ken Perrott Apr 03

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Ian Wishart is on his climate change conspiracy high horse again (see New global warming scandal hits climate science). His fevered imagination has managed to produce a “scandal” out of the publication of a scientific paper. Of course the scandal is based entirely on his climate change denial echo chamber. His denier mates have ripped into this paper. They are obviously very upset by it – more so than normal. It’s worth asking why?

I think the simplest answer lies with the word “Hockey Stick!” This phrase, together with reference to Dr Michael Mann, usually gets them foaming at the mouth. And it’s amazing what rubbish they can spout once so provoked.

This time they are reacting to a new “Hockey Stick” presented in a recent Science paper by Shaun A. Marcott, Jeremy D. Shakun, Peter U. Clark and Alan C. Mix. (see “A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years.”) The earlier research had extended back roughly 1,500 years, and suggested that the rapid temperature spike of the past century, believed to be a consequence of human activity, exceeded any warming episode during those years. This new work confirms that result while suggesting the modern warming is unique over a longer period.

The new work compiled the most meticulous reconstruction yet of global temperatures over the past 11,300 years, almost the entire Holocene. They used indicators like the distribution of microscopic, temperature-sensitive ocean creatures to determine past climate. The plots below compare these new results with those found by previous workers

Hockeystick-Marcott_Mann2008

The temperature reconstruction of Marcott 2013 (past 11,000 years) and a collection of reconstructions (past 1800 years) as presented by Mann 2008. (Credit: The two epochs of Marcott and the Wheelchair).

Wishart says the new paper “claimed to have validated the discredited “hockey stick” graph and proven that modern temperatures were the highest in four millennia.” He then goes on to use the authors’ simple acknowledgement that “The 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust” to claim their “story is rapidly unravelling” and that this is a “new global warming scandal.”

Bloody hell – is that all it takes to produce a scandal? For a scientist to point out limitations in part of their data (an area already extensively covered by other work)? What does Ian think – that every piece of scientific work must repeat in depth all the previous work? That no existing information can be used?

No of course not. He is just being dishonest. Using anything he can get hold of to weave a story discrediting honest science – and honest scientists. We have seen it all before in the lies he and his climate change denial mates promoted about Dr Michael Mann’s work – the work producing the original “Hockey Stick.”

For example, Wishart’s reference to “the discredited “hockey stick” graph” is a lie he promotes in his book “Con Air” (see  Alarmist con for my review) and is repeated ad nauseum in the climate denial echo chamber. But it is just not true. Far from being discredited this work has been validated again and again. It’s the critics of this work who have been discredited. Been caught lying.

I summarised this several years ago in my article Climate change deniers’ tawdry manipulation of “hockey sticks”. Have a look at that if you want details.

The climate change denial movement worked extremely hard to discredit the work of Michael Mann which produced the original “Hockey Stick.” Mann has described this campaign in his book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines (see The truth about the hockey stick for my review of the book). Their campaign failed. This work has been discredited in one place only – the  biased mind of the committed climate change denier like Ian Wishart.

Meanwhile, if you wish to learn more about the Marcott (2013) paper and their work here are some links:

A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years.
Global Temperatures Highest in 4,000 Years
Response by Marcott et al.
Recent Warming Is Still Unprecedented In Speed, Scale And Cause: A Marcott Et Al. FAQ
Fresh Thoughts from Authors of a Paper on 11,300 Years of Global Temperature Changes

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The truth about the hockey stick Ken Perrott Feb 21

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I am spending some time dealing with family business so am reposting some of my past book reviews over the next few day.

I reviewed this book recently, but its worth repeating because it’s so relevant to today’s issues.


Book review: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines by Michael E. Mann

Price: US$18.22; Kindle US$9.99; NZ$33.34
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Columbia University Press (March 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 023115254X
ISBN-13: 978-0231152549

Most readers have watched nature programmes hosted by David Attenborough. So you are familiar with scenes where predators will work together to target a single animal in a herd. If they can isolate it they will usually make a kill. If not they will go hungry.

You have seen it with Arctic wolves attacking oxen and African lions attacking zebras. Over recent years we have also seen it with politicians attacking climate scientists.

Michael Mann calls this the “Serengeti strategy:”

It “is a tried-and-true tactic of the climate change denial campaign. The climate change deniers isolate individual scientists just as predators on the Serengeti Plain of Africa hunt their prey: picking off vulnerable individuals from the rest of the herd.”

Mann is an authority on this phenomena – he has seen it from the inside, as a victim, for over a decade. Now he has written up his experiences, and the lessons drawn from them, in this new book appropriately called “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.”

The “Hockey Stick”

In a sense Mann was a inadvertent victim of the climate denier campaign. His work had more to do with natural climate variation than human caused effects. As he puts it: “I felt that natural climate variability might be more important than some scientists thought. Indeed, it was that very assumption that motivated my Ph.D. research topic.” But in the process of researching the history of past climate changes, earth’s paleoclimate, he produced an “icon” of the climate change wars – the “Hockey Stick.” This research was included in the 2001 IPCC Report – and the “Hockey Stick” image, a record of the global and hemispheric temperature record over the last 600 years (in its original form), made it into the Summary for policy makers.

The personalisation of attacks on Mann over the “Hockey Stick” was also misplaced because he was not making any claim about human causes of global warming:

” I was always very careful not to claim that our work could firmly establish a human role in the warming. To draw such a conclusion based on our work alone would necessarily buy into the classic logical fallacy of “correlation without causation.” We had established correlation—the anomalous warming that we documented coincided with the human-caused ramp-up in greenhouse gas concentrations—but we hadn’t established causality.”

Mann’s record was based on proxy measurements (estimations of temperature from tree rings, ice cores, etc.), as well as, for more recent times, instrumental measurements. It did show changes attributable to natural events – which you would think would make the deniers happy. But it also showed very graphically, the global warming that has occurred over the last half century. This appeared to be quite anomalous over the last 1000 years. In fact, it was most likely to be greater than that which had occurred during the so-called “Medieval Warm Period.” The deniers could not forgive Mann for that finding – they had worked hard to convey the impression that global temperatures were actually higher then than they are today. (To some extent deniers have relied on regional temperature estimates – Mann’s estimate are for hemispherical and global temperatures). The iconic “Hockey Stick” threatened the climate denier’s icon – The Medieval Warm Period!

The McKittrick/McIntyre attack

The book describes controversy around The Hockey Stick – some of it based on genuine science, some derived from contrarian and denier attacks often financed by the fossil fuel industry.

One attack, much quoted by climate change deniers and contrarians, is that of right-wing economist Ross McKittrick and Stephen McIntyre (a self described “semi-retired minerals consultant” with close ties to the energy industry). Published in a then controversial journal Energy and Environment it claimed Mann had made fundamental mistakes in his statistical procedures. Their own analysis could not reproduce the “blade” of the hockey stick – that is no recent warming could be found in the data.

As Mann explained, this was a result of their own faulty analysis and their mistake was pointed out in subsequent published and refereed replies. Inevitably Mann’s description of the statistical analysis is technical and may be beyond some readers. But he has worked hard to make his description understandable and it is worth persisting because so much undeserved credit has been placed on McKintrick and MacIntyre’s paper. The scientific rejection of their work has of course not stopped the deniers who till this day claim that the M&M paper had discredited The Hockey Stick.

This work was used to denounce Mann’s work in the US House of Representatives. Republic Joe Barton, then head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, launched a specific investigation of Mann’s work. (Joe Barton became well known five years later for his infamous apology to British petroleum over the fact that the Obama administration was holding it accountable for the oils spill the the Gulf of Mexico).

Mann describes the political manoeuvring that went on around this House investigation. Particularly useful is his description of the Wegman report, set up by Barton to vindicate the work of McKintrick and McIntyre. It is constantly quoted by climate change contrarians – despite the fact that this report, and other work by Wegman and his students, has been criticised for plagiarism.

However Barton got a lot of political flack for his anti-science manoeuvring and Sherwood Boehlert, Republican chair of the Science Committee, commissioned the US National Academy of science to review the science behind the Hockey Stick. Their authoritative report Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years largely vindicated Mann. Of course, have a read of climate denial books like Ian Wishart’s Air Con and you will find no mention of National Academy Report – only the Wegman’s report is used to perpetuate the lie that Man’s work was found faulty (see my review of Wishart’s book - Alarmist con).

And, as Mann points out his work has been validated by over a dozen other independent reconstructions of the paleoclimate temperature record.

I have previously discussed the way climate change deniers have lied about the Hockey Stick in Climate change deniers’ tawdry manipulation of “hockey sticks”.

“Climategate” emails

Several times in this book Mann outlines the scientific approach to understanding reality. He uses the term “good faith science” – I think it is rather descriptive in this situation. Scientists welcome good faith criticism – doubt and scepticism are central to the scientific process. But the “scepticism” and attacks on climate science by vested interests and contrarians is quite different. It is not a “good faith” criticism. It is motivated, distorted, cherry picked and very often dishonest criticism. The so-called “climategate scandal” typifies this approach. Stolen emails between climate scientists were cherry picked in an attempt to discredit the science.

The climate denier frenzy, and the investigations which cleared the scientists involved of any wrong-doing are now history. But scientists in general were rather taken aback by all this. They started to pay attention to these and other anti-science campaigns and debated the need to be proactive in communicating their science and combating the distortions and attacks.

Cuccinelli witchhunt

I think the recent legal attempts by Virginia Attorney General, Kenneth Cuccinelli, to get correspondence and emails relating to Mann and his research are one of the worst acts of the climate denial movement. Because it smacks of McCarthyism. Cuccinelli was on a “fishing trip” – which required him to assert that Mann was guilty of fraud – without any evidence. Like the McCarthy persecution this sort of mud sticks and its aim was obviously to intimidate scientists.

After a prolonged legal battle the Virginia Supreme Court has now ruled that Mann’s documents cannot be subpoenaed by Cuccinelli (see The chickens are hatching). But his attempted precipitated action from scientific bodies in defence of Mann and other scientists victimised by such persecution.

A positive conclusion

This book concentrates on Mann’s story. His research and the resulting attacks and persecution by the climate change denial political machine. It has valuable information debunking the denier mythology created around the “Hockey Stick.” There are also interesting background details clarify things like the strange position taken by the Institute of Physics at the UK parliamentary investigation of the climategate email issue (see Institute of Physics in hot seat).

But don’t expect new information on the funding of the climate denial network and links with the fossil fuel industry and politicians. Mann relies on the excellent research of others here – and references the books Doubt is Their Product by David Michaels and Merchants of Doubt, by Oreskes and Conway.
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Apart from the valuable background history the book provides I think its main value is the positive spin it provides, particularly in the final chapters. These discuss the reaction of climate scientists, and scientists in general, to the attacks on the science and the profession. The final straw appears to have come with the McCarthyist political attacks on Mann and other climate scientists. As Mann describes it – the bear has awoken. Scientists are finally recognising they cannot continue to ignore these attacks,. They are starting to fight back.

“The attacks against climate scientists by politicians like Senator James Inhofe and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli were now being identified by prominent media outlets for the witch hunts they were. . . . I believe that the climategate attacks represented a turning point for my fellow climate scientist colleagues and how they viewed their role in the public debate. These latest attacks will fade from memory, and new ones will undoubtedly be launched to take their place. But I suspect that the change in heart among climate scientists regarding their role in the debate will be enduring.”

The book is also a good read. For anyone interested in the subject, with a bit of background knowledge, Mann’s reiteration of the public events, together with his knowledge of what was going on behind the scenes, makes the book a real page turner.

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A concise summary of climate change – science and politics Ken Perrott Oct 16

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Here’s a relatively short (26 min) video of a lecture by Michael Mann. I think it gives a very concise and accurate picture of the current science of climate change and the political attacks on climate scientists (Mann calls this the scientization of politics).

via The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars – Michael Mann Speaks at SOS 2012 on Vimeo.

From the video description:

Michael E. Mann- Director of the Earth System Science Center gives a very eye-opening presentation at the 2012 Sustainable Operations Summit. Mann’s presentation highlighted themes from his most recent book: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. In his talk, Mann discussed the “Hockey Stick,” a graph he created with his colleagues to depict changes in Earth’s temperature dating back to 1000 AD. The graph was featured in the Summary for Policy Makers portion of the 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and became an icon in the debate over human-caused climate change. Mann told the story behind the Hockey Stick, using it as a vehicle for exploring broader issues regarding the role of skepticism in science and the relationship between science and politics.

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Another anti-science attack on Mann fails – but the lies continue Ken Perrott Sep 19

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Michael Mann

Once again legal action by climate change deniers/contrarian/cranks has failed. In the US attempts by the  American Tradition Institute, a climate change denial think tank, to obtain personal emails and documents from  the University of Virginia. These documents belong to well known climate scientist Michael Mann and the court action was part of a fishing expedition by climate change deniers to repeat the “climategate” scandal. To obtain emails from which cherry-picked material could be used in the ongoing campaign to discredit climate scientists. See University of Virginia prevails against climate science attack groupfor further information on this case.

But Michael Mann is certainly the scientist that the climate change deniers/contrarians/cranks love to hate. Just recently I was assured by a local climate change deniers/contrarian/crank that Michael Mann had been thoroughly discredited. That his so-called Hockey Stick image, which had appeared in the 2nd to last IPCC review (AR3) had been dropped from the most recent IPPC review (AR4). This local denier/contrarian/crank asserted, for example:

“You’re going to have to come up with someone other than Mann, to be taken seriously.”

“I don’t need to prove Mann wrong, plenty of far better people have already done that.”

“Mann has been so often deprecated he is without authority.”

“The Mann saga is over, even the IPCC has dropped Mann’s hockey stick graph.”

This attempt to discredit Mann and his work is a lie – but its not a new lie. It’s one I had dealt with almost three years ago in my post Climate change deniers’ tawdry manipulation of “hockey sticks”. I am repeating that post here, with slight amendments. Hopefully this will at least lead to some climate change sceptic who may have accepted that lie getting some of the real facts.

The “infamous, discredited” hockey stick

The charge is:

“Mann’s hockey stick has been thoroughly discredited and the IPCC has dropped it from its reports.”

But it’s simple enough to check the IPCC reports – they are on-line for all to see. If you do check you will find this figure below in the 2007 reports. The original data from Mann (MBH 1999) is included with, of course, more recent data. Here is the reference for anyone doubting my claim - Figure 6.10, page 467,  Chapter 6: Palaeoclimate,The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), WG I The Physical Science Basis.

And far from this work being “thoroughly discredited” or abandoned, it has been expanded with more, recent, data. The graph below is from Mann’s 2008 paper (Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia).

National research Council report vindicates Mann

In this paper Mann was responding to suggestions made by the National Research Council in its report  Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years. This thorough and rigorous investigation formed part of US House of Representatives Committee hearings on Mann’s “hockey stick” figure arising from criticisms made by climate change sceptics. It is very authoritative.

Anyone who has ever had their work reviewed knows that a reviewer worth their salt will always find your weaknesses and suggest amendments, even though they endorse your work. And climate changer deniers/contrarians/cranks have hunted out the criticisms, taken them out of context and are usually well versed in those cherry-picked quotes. They must be repeated ad nauseum in those unreliable books deniers rely on as sources. But the fact is the National Research Council report basically supported Mann’s findings:

“The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on ice caps and the retreat of glaciers around the world, which in many cases appear to be unprecedented during at least the last 2,000 years.”

In fact the NRC produced their own “hockey stick,” using more than just Mann’s data, in the report (see figure below):

Lord Monckton’s lies about the “hockey Stick”

These false assertions on the “hockey stick” graph are, unfortunately, very common. It’s one bit of mudslinging that has found purchase with most deniers repeating the lie. Even some sceptics believe the story.

Lord Mockton has been a prolific propagator of this lie. He even appears in the infamous “climategate” emails saying of the “hockey stick”: “the US National Academy of Sciences has described as having “a validation skill not significantly different from zero”. In plain English, this means the graph was rubbish.”

Problem is – search through the NRC report and you just won’t find those words (“a validation skill not significantly different from zero”). Nevertheless this allegation has been repeated innumerable numbers of times in conservative newspapers and websites. Some of these also claim that the IPCC had abandoned the data (see for example the policy Brief from the Commonwealth foundation – Climate & Penn State – demanding a McCarthyist-style investigation of Mann). But even Mockton acknowledges that the UN continues to use the defective graph.”

I guess it just makes a good story so these conservative sources tack it on. But  where is the integrity in that?

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See also:
Journalist thinks world climate-science publications are controlled by cabal
Analysis of stolen CRU emails by NZ blogger shows tawdry manipulation of facts – Poneke’s credibility now in tatters — Hot Topic

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Give them enough rope . . . Ken Perrott May 22

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The last few years the climate change denier organisations have fooled themselves into thinking they are on a roll. (I am talking about deniers – not contrarians or sceptics). What with the “climategate affair,” the resulting investigations (which didn’t go their way) and the legal attacks on prominent climate scientists like Michael Mann (These have also failed). But really what they have been doing is feeding out the rope which will eventually hang them.

This is obviously the case with the US “think tank” The Heartland Institute. This rabid free market organisation had been trying hard to present themselves as purveyors of the “true” science on the climate. In particular, they have being sponsoring, together with a number of other dogmatic free market organisations, a conference they claim as “scientific.” But, they are not interested in finding facts, rather fighting facts. And that is the true purpose of their conference.

The Heartland Institute feeds out the rope with this billboard advertising there conference.

The most recent conference kicked off the other day (see Heartland Institute’s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change – ICCC-7). But its come at a bad time for them. Back in February there was the scandal of their leaked emails and documents. These revealed some details of their financial backers – as well as plans to subvert the educations system with climate denial propaganda  (see Heartland Institute gets mail and Heartland’s climategate — and Mann’s book). Then earlier this month  they really dished out the rope with a electronic billboard advertising this conference (see Heartland ignorant of public relations — let alone science).*

$825,000 gone – $1,430,000 to go!

This caused such a negative reaction that they pulled it within hours. But instead of effectively “fighting the facts” of climate science they were sawing off the branch they were sitting on. Within days they faced withdrawal of speakers from the conference, departure of staff,  and, more importantly, withdrawal of finance from some of their sponsors. See Guardian report Heartland Institute facing uncertain future as staff depart and cash dries up).

Have a look at Forecast the Facts – a webs site charting the decline in Heartland’s financial support. As of today $US825,000 of their projected 2012 Corporate support of US$2,225,00 has been pulled.

Presenting the facts and not fighting them.

And the climate reality project has responded with a public donor financed billboard giving some of the facts. This will be displayed throughout their conference. (You can make donations at Climate Reality | Donate).

All this has forced The Heartland Institute to fall back on other sponsors, both for their conference and for their own finances. Sponsors more directly and publicly connected to the fossil fuel industry (see Heartland Institute Hemorrhages Donors And Cash For Extremist Agenda, As Coal And Oil Step In).

“a coal lobby group has stepped in as one of its ‘gold’ sponsors. The Illinois coal chief praises Heartland for its work and ‘so we thought we would finally make a contribution to the organisation.’ He added, ‘In general, the message of the Heartland Institute is something the Illinois Coal Association supports.

In addition to the Illinois Coal Association, ExxonMobil, other oil companies, as well as Heritage Foundation have joined to sponsor the conference.”

Some of the Australian organisations cosponsoring Heartland’s conference

Mind you, have a look at their co-sponsors for this conference. A whole host of political, extreme right-wing, organisations. You will recognise some of the names. The George C. Marshall Institute (who denied tobacco was harmful), Institute for Private Enterprise, Australian Taxpayers Alliance (“fighting tax, regulation and waste”), Heritage Foundation, Ayn Rand Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, and so on.

By your friends we shall know you

Oh, by the way – the only New Zealand sponsor I could see was the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

Footnote:

*Even the climate change denial internet echo chamber was largely critical of the Heartland billboard. (Although local denier blog Climate Conversations couldn’t quite make up its mind. Richard Treadgold, poor guy, thought it was “a stupid, brave, heart-warming experiment.” Couldn’t quite bring himself to be critical, although most of his commenters were – see … is sauce for the gander). And the Heartland Institute is such a sensitive topic at Watts Up With That you need a special password to join in any discussion of the conference – see Protected: At the conference.

Update: Seems Watts Up With That was so excited about attending the conference they cocked up that post. So it’s no longer “protected.”

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Heartland Insitute gets mail Ken Perrott Feb 19

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The US “Think Tank,” The Heartland Institute has been getting some mail since some of its documents revealing plans to undermine climate change science and its teaching were leaked to the media. These documents also details some of the payments being made to climate change denial authors and blogs.

Of course they have cried foul – even claimed one of the leaked documents is not authentic. Then again, denial is hardly new for them – they have been doing it since their days denying the scientific facts showing dangers of tobacco smoking.

Now they have received a letter from some of the climate scientists they have in the past denigrated. these scientists express their condolences, having experienced something similar a few years back, but suggest that perhaps the Institute should learn from its mistakes, change tack, and start to play a more honest and constructive role on the issue of climate change.

An Open Letter to the Heartland Institute

Here’s the text of their letter:

As scientists who have had their emails stolen, posted online and grossly misrepresented, we can appreciate the difficulties the Heartland Institute is currently experiencing following the online posting of the organization’s internal documents earlier this week. However, we are greatly disappointed by their content, which indicates the organization is continuing its campaign to discredit mainstream climate science and to undermine the teaching of well-established climate science in the classroom.

We know what it feels like to have private information stolen and posted online via illegal hacking. It happened to climate researchers in 2009 and again in 2011. Personal emails were culled through and taken out of context before they were posted online. In 2009, the Heartland Institute was among the groups that spread false allegations about what these stolen emails said.

Despite multiple independent investigations, which demonstrated that allegations against scientists were false, the Heartland Institute continued to attack scientists based on the stolen emails. When more stolen emails were posted online in 2011, the Heartland Institute again pointed to their release and spread false claims about scientists.

So although we can agree that stealing documents and posting them online is not an acceptable practice, we would be remiss if we did not point out that the Heartland Institute has had no qualms about utilizing and distorting emails stolen from scientists.

We hope the Heartland Institute will heed its own advice to ’think about what has happened’ and recognize how its attacks on science and scientists have helped poison the debate over climate change policy. The Heartland Institute has chosen to undermine public understanding of basic scientific facts and personally attack climate researchers rather than engage in a civil debate about climate change policy options.

These are the facts: Climate change is occurring. Human activity is the primary cause of recent climate change. Climate change is already disrupting many human and natural systems. The more heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions that go into the atmosphere, the more severe those disruptions will become. Major scientific assessments from the Royal Society, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, United States Global Change Research Program and other authoritative sources agree on these points.

What businesses, policymakers, advocacy groups and citizens choose to do in response to those facts should be informed by the science. But those decisions are also necessarily informed by economic, ethical, ideological, and other considerations. While the Heartland Institute is entitled to its views on policy, we object to its practice of spreading misinformation about climate research and personally attacking climate scientists to further its goals.

We hope the Heartland Institute will begin to play a more constructive role in the policy debate.

Refraining from misleading attacks on climate science and climate researchers would be a welcome first step toward having an honest, fact-based debate about the policy responses to climate change.

Ray Bradley, PhD, Director of the Climate System Research Center, University of Massachusetts David Karoly, PhD, ARC Federation Fellow and Professor, University of Melbourne, Australia

Michael Mann, PhD, Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University

Jonathan Overpeck, PhD, Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona

Ben Santer, PhD, Research Scientist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Gavin Schmidt, PhD, Climate Scientist, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Kevin Trenberth, ScD, Distinguished Senior Scientist, Climate Analysis Section, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Thanks to The Guardian: Heartland Institute faces fresh scrutiny over tax status.

Heartland Climate Operation Deserves Scrutiny

Meanwhile, Republicans, well at least The Republicans for Environmental Protection, are calling for some detailed scrutiny of the actions of the Heartland Institute on the issue of climate science.

Here’s the text of their letter:

February 17, 2012

After a recent leak of internal Heartland Institute documents describing a purported campaign to sow doubt about climate change science, Heartland claimed one of the documents might be fake, threatened anyone who even comments on the leak with legal action, and vowed to seek compensation for damage to its reputation.

Such heavy-handed posturing should not dissuade journalists and commentators from thoroughly covering the leaked documents and reporting on the efforts of Heartland and others to manufacture a scientific controversy about climate change where none exists.

Heartland’s moral outrage about leaked documents this past week was glaringly absent following the 2009 release of hacked climate scientists’ e-mails that was dubbed ’climategate.’ In fact, it fully participated in a media campaign that misrepresented the e-mails and raised unfounded questions about scientists’ integrity.

Heartland, a PR and lobbying organization, runs well-funded campaigns that seek to persuade Americans that peer-reviewed scientific research regarding climate change is suspect and that the conclusions of such research should be ignored. Its efforts in the so-called ’climategate’ controversy were more of the same.

Subsequent investigations by independent experts, of course, showed that the sensational ’climategate’ allegations against scientists were groundless. The ’climategate’ brouhaha was a manufactured controversy–which, unfortunately, accomplished its goal of sowing public doubt and confusion about climate science.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, and if the leaked Heartland documents are authentic, they leave no room for interpretation.

Heartland’s strategy, and its reliance on funding from individuals who have a vested interest in undermining climate science, must be brought to the public’s attention to at least the same degree as the so-called ’climategate’ emails were. The opinions and knowledge of far too many Americans remain influenced by erroneous reporting about the content of those e-mails.

The Heartland documents detail plans to prevent earnest scientific research and opinions other than their own from gaining public exposure. They even go so far as to gin up a science curriculum designed to ’dissuade’ public schoolteachers from teaching science–a shocking plan to undermine education and turn our public schools into mouthpieces for agenda-driven propaganda.

While Heartland has done commendable work in other policy areas, such as risk management, its climate operation has become a public relations servant of special interests–sowing confusion, misrepresenting science, and spreading distortions that pollute what should be a robust, fact-based debate about climate change.

That’s not conservative. As William F. Buckley once said, ’Conservatism implies a certain submission to reality.’

Climate change is an opportunity for conservative organizations to actually be conservative, by acknowledging facts and laying on the table conservative policies for dealing with the climate issue.

If any of the released Heartland documents are not authentic, Heartland should be able and willing to provide solid proof. If, as the evidence seems to indicate, the documents are real, the media has an obligation to report on the plans they describe and their troubling implications for a democratic society.

Jim DiPeso

Policy Director

Republicans for Environmental Protection

Thanks to: Heartland Republicans call for Heartland investigation.

The tax man may also be interested

And The Guardian also reports there has been “complaint to the Internal Revenue Service about Heartland’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.” This may be based on evidence in these documents that the Heartland Institute has involved itself in political activity specifically prohibited by their tax-exempt status.

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Heartland’s climategate — and Mann’s book Ken Perrott Feb 17

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The blogosphere has been humming over the last few days with revelations contained in document leaked from the US Heartland Institute. Documents outlining strategy for the promotion of climate denial – both through the media and through educations programmes.

Have a look at Gareth Renowden’s post The real Climategate: Heartland’s hypocrisy on display for a good summary and many links to other coverage and the documents themselves.

For me – there are no surprises in these leaked documents. I have just finished reading Michael Mann’s – The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines so was familiar with all the dirty tricks, misrepresentation, political manoeuvering and the roll of the fossil fuel industry in financing the climate denial movement.

No surprises – but some of the details in the leaked documents were interesting. The fact that heartland actually has some of the well-known climate science critics on their payroll. That they are helping to fund some of the deniers blogs. and publications. And that they a consciously investing in a campaign to “teach the controversy” – that is discredit climate science – in the schools.

Have a look at The real Climategate: Heartland’s hypocrisy on display for the details.

Clearly these revelations are only the tip of the iceberg. Much more is going on behind the scenes. And Michael Mann’s new book gives an excellent coverage of these denier campaigns.

He’s been in the tick of it. He is still being victimized with McCarthyist attacks. The book outlines the political side of the attacks on climate science. But it also delves into some of the relevant science – especially around the so-called “Hockey Stick.”

Mann is an excellent writer and anyone interest in this area, especially if they have followed some of the political aspects, will enjoy the book. It is really an actually a page turner.

And it is positive.

I will review it properly in the next few weeks.

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