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August 27 2012

10:00

For Climate Change, a Possible Trial Could Echo the Scopes Monkey Case

The scientist Michael Mann has threatened to sue National Review for defamation, setting up the potential for an interesting jury trial on climate change and the hockey stick graph.

July 20 2012

15:30

On Our Radar: The Failed Climategate Inquiry

The British police said it was closing the e-mail theft case because there was no realistic chance of prosecuting anyone before a three-year statute of limitations ran out this November.

February 29 2012

23:59

How Heartland-style Climate Sceptic Campaigns Play "Hide the Deniers" Using Secretive Fund

A LOW-PROFILE funding organisation acting as a middleman for wealthy conservative businesspeople has been quietly backing climate denial campaigns across the US.

The Virginia-based Donors Capital Fund and its partner organisation Donors Trust has been giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups blocking attempts to limit greenhouse gas pollution and undermining climate science.

Yet the structure of the funds allows the identities of donors and the existence of any vested interests to remain hidden from public view.

Step aside the fakery of “hide the decline”. Say hello to “hide the deniers”.

During the 2009 unlawful release of the private emails of climate scientists, the phrase "hide the decline" became a catch cry for the denial industry as it tried to convince the world that global warming was some kind of hoax.

Sceptics, fake climate experts, conservative politicians and right-wing commentators latched onto the phrase contained in an email from British climate scientist Phil Jones.
 
Sceptics claimed it was evidence scientists were trying to manufacture global temperature records. In fact, Professor Jones's email said nothing of the sort. 
 
Jones, as he explained to many, including the BBC, was referring to data taken from tree rings that, up to the 1960s, had correlated well with global temperatures.
 
But “removing the incorrect impression given by tree rings that temperatures… were not rising”, as Jones explained, just didn’t have the same ring to it as “hide the decline”.
 
The most high profile case involving climate sceptics since that non-scandal of “Climategate” is the ongoing unmasking (or for some, confirmation) of the methods the free-market Heartland Institute think-tank deploys to confuse the public about the dangers of fossil fuel emissions.
 
But the case also gives an insight into how Heartland and other ideologically aligned groups gather their funding while preserving the identity of their wealthy backers.
 

read more

February 17 2012

21:40

Climategate victims chide Heartland double standard

A group of top-tier climate scientists who were victimized in the email theft known as Climategate has written to the Heartland Institute, sympathizing that the Institute is reading its own confidential documents in the public press, but chiding the "think tank" for how irresponsibly it dealt with the stolen emails.

In a letter printed in The Guardian, the scientists say,

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.

The signatories were Michael Mann, Kevin Trenberth, Ray Bradley, Jonathan Overpeck, Ben Santer, Gavin Schmidt and David Karoly, a relative who's who of climate science excellence.

They point out that when the Climategate emails were stolen, Heartland took bits and pieces out of context (and, we would add, advocated for punitive action against the scientists on the basis of these manipulations). At no time did the institute suggest that the hackers who breached the East Anglia University security system to steal the emails had been in the wrong to do so.

In the case at hand, (and as Heartland explains in its own press release) an anonymous "Heartland Insider" asked the Institute to mail the entire briefing package for its January board meeting - and Heartland complied. Having received that package, the DeSmogBlog checked the content against research we had in hand to confirm its authenticity. Then we published it - in its entirety, so there could be no doubt about the context - on our website on Valentines's Day.

read more

February 03 2012

01:06

Coal-Powered PAC Runs Harassment Campaign Against Climate Scientist Michael Mann

by Brad Johnson, cross-posted with permission from ThinkProgress.

A coal-industry astroturf group is running a public campaign to harass Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann for his “radical agenda” of climate science. The Common Sense Movement/Secure Energy for America Political Action Committee (CSM/SEAPAC) has established a website asking people to criticize the Penn State Speakers Forum for allowing Michael Mann to speak about the climate change challenge. “Join us in calling on the administration to disinvite the disgraced academic,” the group says on its Facebook page.

On the webpage, CSM/SEAPAC accuses Mann of “manipulating scientific data to align with his extreme political views on global warming”:

On February 9th, the Penn State Forum Speaker’s Series is featuring Professor Michael Mann in a speech regarding global warming. This is the same professor who is at the center of the ‘Climategate’ controversy for allegedly manipulating scientific data to align with his extreme political views on global warming. Join us in calling on the administrators of Penn State to end its support of Michael Mann and his radical agenda.

The suggested text for the letter to editor says Mann is “conspiring with his left-wing cronies to intimidate and silence those who would dare to question his intentions,” tarring Mann with “questionable ethics” and “extreme political activism.”

read more

January 02 2012

16:39

December 16 2011

11:59

Climategate: police raid home of blogger in UEA 'stolen' emails probe

Police investigating the alleged theft of thousands of emails from the university at the centre of the "climategate" scandal have raided the home of a Roger Tattersall in Leeds.
00:18

More Climategate Patter

The British police say they raided a property and confiscated some computer equipment in pursuing their inquiry into the hijacking of e-mails between scientists.

December 15 2011

22:08

Signs of Action On Climategate Hacker Investigation: DOJ and UK Police Probe Denier Bloggers

Fantastic news for a change - the Guardian reports that the UK police are finally making some concerted attempts to identify the hacker behind the criminal invasion of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit.

The Guardian reports:

On Wednesday, detectives from Norfolk Constabulary entered the home of Roger Tattersall, who writes a climate sceptic blog under the pseudonym TallBloke, and took away two laptops and a broadband router. A police spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday that Norfolk Constabulary had "executed a search warrant in West Yorkshire and seized computers". She added: "No one was arrested. Investigations into the [UEA] data breach and publication [online of emails] continues. This is one line of enquiry in a Norfolk constabulary investigation which started in 2009."

Tattersall posted on his own TallBloke's Talkshop blog that:

"I got the feeling something was on the go last night when WordPress [the internet host for his blog] forwarded a notice from the US Department of Justice."

What excellent news to hear that the Justice Department is getting involved with this investigation, it's about time. Perhaps this came in response to the remarks by Rep Ed Markey (D-MA) last month?

Either way, it is reassuring to know that the investigation into the criminal hacking of climate scientists' emails is, in fact, ongoing.  Last month, we reported about troubling indications that the UK police effort seemed inadequate given the tiny expense reports divulged after a Freedom of Information request by a UK journalist. 

It will be interesting to learn what the investigation uncovers, if anything, from this week's actions. Since TallBloke's blog was one of the first that the hacker "FOIA" commented on when revealing the stolen goods, there may well be something of interest to investigators.

It's also interesting that Tattersall's first move after welcoming the police into his flat was to log out of his email. He writes on his blog:

"I managed to log out of my email on the big lappy as they sat down, to the annoyance of the Computer expert.

(Funny statement coming from a guy who has trumpeted the criminal hacking of the email accounts of climate scientists?) 

Only time will tell what investigators might learn from reviewing Tattersall's computers. Has he been in direct contact with the hacker? If not, has he communicated with any middlemen who might have relayed information that could lead to the hacker's identity? Perhaps they'll find an unlocked copy of the 220,245 encrypted emails that "FOIA" has teased the existence of, but so far have not been published online?

DeSmogBlog's Richard Littlemore has previously written about TallBloke's seemingly cozy relationship with the hacker FOIA. In his announcement about the release of the Climategate 2 batch, TallBloke refers to "our old friend FOIA". But later in the same post, he suggests he doesn't know the hacker's identity:

Message to ‘FOIA

Thank you, whoever you are, freedom of information is a principle worth upholding.

Tattersall is not the only target of the investigation by the UK Metropolitan Police, Norfolk Constabulary, Computer Crime Division and the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division. There are other denier bloggers whom the investigation is focusing on as well.

More from the Guardian:

"Both Tattersall and a US-based climate sceptic blogger known as Jeff Id said they had received a "formal request" via the blogging platform WordPress from the US Department of Justice's criminal division, dated 9 December, to preserve "all stored communications, records, and other evidence in your possession" related to their own blogs as well as to Climate Audit, a climate sceptic blog run by a Canadian mining consultant called Steve McIntyre. All three blogs had received messages from "FOIA" last month pointing to the link hosting a second tranche of emails first taken from the UEA in 2009.

During an interview with the Guardian last week before the seizing of his computers, Tattersall said that he had been questioned by Norfolk police "some two months" after the initial breach in 2009, but had heard nothing since. A number of climate scientists and bloggers are known to have been questioned by the police."

Brad Johnson at ThinkProgress points out that "Jeff Id" is the online name of climate denier blogger Patrick Condon who runs "No Consensus" a.k.a. the Air Vent.

Peter Sinclair caught wind of the DOJ action first, see his post: Has Denier Karma finally Run over its Dogma?

If you're interested in following the real-time reaction to this news, check out this Twitter action on hash tag #climategate

The right-wing and climate-denier echo chambers seem to be freaking out that the police are actually doing their job to identify the criminal hacker. 

Chris Horner seems particularly verklempt over this, bizarrely expressing sympathy for the criminal hacker in his op-ed today, as Media Matters For America points out:

"It speaks to the twisted pathology of climate science deniers that they'll condone, even defend, this sort of behavior."

Of course, we've seen this behavior repeatedly in our five years covering climate denial on DeSmogBlog, but it's absolutely still shocking to see the lows that they'll go to, and Chris Horner provided another example today.

 

Image credit: Elnur/Shutterstock

December 14 2011

21:02

DeSmogger "Caught" in Climategate Emails

The heretofore anonymous blogger Tom Nelson REVEALED today that even the DeSmogBlog has been caught in the talons of the DenierMobsters who are responsible for stealing the Climategate emails (two years ago) and retreading the bumptious "scandal" this year.

The (partial) quote now making the rounds (see also Mark Morano's fantasymill at Climate Depot), is from an email I sent to Michael Mann in 2007. It goes like this:

I'm a DeSmogBlog writer [Richard LIttlemore] (I got your email from Kevin Grandia) and I am trying to fend off the latest announcement that global warming has not actually occurred in the 20th century.

It looks to me like Gerd Burger is trying to deny climate change by "smoothing," "correcting" or otherwise rounding off the temperatures that we know for a flat fact have been recorded since the 1970s, but I am out of my depth (as I am sure you have noticed: we're all about PR here, not much about science) so I wonder if you guys have done anything or are going to do anything with Burger's intervention in Science.

I'd like to confirm that this quote is accurate - that Gerd Burger WAS playing fast and loose with his analysis, that I am NOT a scientist and that, accordingly, I check my facts with people who are reputable, knowledgeable and widely respected in the scientific community (thank you Mike).

I'd also like to say that getting so fleeting a mention in the Climategate emails ranks down there with the deepest-discount cheap thrills. I cherish the moment … seriously. (Okay, not.)

November 30 2011

14:00

Skeptics Prefer Pal Review Over Peer Review: Chris de Freitas, Pat Michaels And Their Pals, 1997-2003

Imagine for a moment that climate change skeptics actually submitted their anti-science arguments for publication in a credible peer-reviewed journal. Now imagine that, after thorough examination and debunking by their peers, these skeptics finally admitted their many false claims and assumptions, and perhaps some or all moved on to contribute meaningfully to the vast body of science confirming manmade climate change?

Ok, back to reality.

Instead, the skeptics' greatest and most-often cited (by them) "peer-reviewed studies" appeared in the journal Climate Research between 1997-2003. This journal has been considered credible at certain points in its history, and many fine papers have appeared there.

But according to my new analysis [PDF] of the papers published in Climate Research, there is a very clear gap in credibility during the years 1997-2003 when Chris de Freitas served as one of the journal's editors. During this time, de Freitas oversaw the publication of 14 papers from notorious skeptics - half of them authored by fossil fuel industry pal Pat Michaels - many of which would not have survived rigorous and honest peer review at any other credible journal. 

A few months ago, another journal's editor resigned over a paper that should not have been accepted due to a poor peer review process. It reminded many of us of the more drastic case of Climate Research (CR), where several editors resigned in 2003 in the wake of a colossally poor paper by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, accepted for publication by none other than Chris de Freitas.

It was certainly not the first de Freitas-endorsed paper to pass weak editorial processes at Climate Research, but when incoming Editor-in-Chief Hans von Storch suggested the paper should not have been published, he endeavored to fix editorial processes to prevent such problems.  The publisher did not agree, so von Storch and other editors resigned.

At the time, climate scientists were rightly concerned that CR had become a magnet for poor science. When the hacked CRU emails appeared in 2009, climate skeptics tried to invert reality, claiming that several widely-published climate scientists had conspired to subvert peer review. 

The skeptic echo chamber lauded Chris de Freitas as a noble martyr, a cry that has grown louder this month in the aftermath of the so-called "Climategate 2.0" illegal release of more of the CRU scientists' emails.

This isn't a novel experience when it comes to skeptic "science" efforts. Recall The Wegman Report for example, which attempted to criticize legitimate climate science for "bad" peer review, although it had no such peer critique itself.  A follow-on article, which also had bypassed peer review, ultimately earned a retraction for plagiarism.  

If there seems to be a pattern here, there is. Reality bites back, and it appears set to do so again now.

Last June, Pat Michaels wrote "Pal Review and Peer Review…" This inspired me to revisit the Climate Research episode in a more detailed fashion, and I began checking 700+ papers published there.

As it turns out, the problem was more pervasive than climate scientists had suspected at the time.

My analysis of the Climate Research papers shows that:

  • From 1990 to 1996, CR published zero papers from any of the pals:
    Sallie Baliunas, Robert Balling, John Christy, Robert Davis, (Chris de Freitas), David Douglass, Vincent Gray, Sherwood Idso, PJ Knappenberger, Ross McKitrick, Pat Michaels, Eric Posmentier, Arthur Robinson, Willie Soon, and Gerd-Rainer Weber. DeSmogBlog readers may recognize these names, since most appear in the DeSmogBlog Research Database. They have long histories of cooperation in climate anti-science.
  • Chris de Freitas became an editor and then accepted 14 papers from the pals between 1997-2003. With de Freitas as an editor, Climate Research provided a platform which the pals would quickly embrace to sneak through anti-science papers.
  • After the mass resignation of CR editors in 2003, no more pals’ papers were accepted via de Freitas. After a few more papers via others, the pals published no more in CR.
  • But clearly the Climate Research + Chris de Freitas combination presented a skeptic-friendly opportunity to publish questionable papers, while it lasted.

Not all papers were bad, but some others were dubious.  Even reasonable-looking pals papers often included mesages that might not be justified by the text, but that might make nice quotes for doubt-production.

Michaels authored 7 of the 14 papers, about half of his total "peer-reviewed" production during that period.  Perhaps Michaels might fairly be called "King of the Pals."

The attached PDF analysis shows the chronologies and social networks of the pals, followed by summaries of the papers in the context of Michaels' and de Freitas' publications.  The Excel spreadsheet lists the papers and their attributes.

The scientists were defending peer review from abuse, as was their responsibility to science. de Freitas a martyr for good science?  I don't think so.

 

Image credit: John T Takai / Shutterstock.

AttachmentSize pal.review.papers.xls184.5 KB Pal-review-by-John-Mashey.pdf1.58 MB

November 26 2011

06:23

Did UK Police Quietly Sideline ‘Climategate’ Hacker Investigation?

The UK police force tasked with investigating the hacking of emails and documents from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (the debunked "Climategate") seems to have quietly de-prioritized its investigation earlier this year, according to documents released under the UK Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The Norfolk Constabulary police force’s responses to FOIA requests indicate that the amount spent on attempts to identify the hacker in the last year was just £5,649.09 - with all but £80.05 spent on invoices for work carried out previously by private companies, suggesting police work on the investigation has ground to a halt.

Earlier this week, the hackers (ironically calling themselves “FOIA”) illegally released a second set of hacked material consisting of 5,349 emails and 23 documents from UEA. The university and independent reviews suggest these are leftovers from the initial November 2009 theft – in the words of one climate scientist, “two-year old turkey.” 

While nine independent inquiries have cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing in the wake of the baseless ‘Climategate’ episode, the person (or persons) responsible for the hacking has gotten off scot-free to date. The FOIA documents seem to indicate that the police investigation was derailed and perhaps dropped earlier this year.

The grand total spent by Norfolk police on the UEA hacker investigation since the November 2009 theft is just £80,905.11.

To illustrate the vast gap between this figure and the expenditures reported publicly about other UK police investigations, see the infographic below.

 

Norfolk Constabulary invoked an exemption under the FOIA rules to refuse to confirm or deny whether other UK security services such as MI5 or MI6 have worked on the investigation. A statement from Norfolk police did confirm it is receiving "ongoing assistance" from the UK’s domestic terrorism agency, the National Domestic Extremism Coordination Unit, and that it was helped early in the investigation by London's Metropolitan Police. But the current status of their involvement – and how high a priority this investigation is for these agencies – is unclear.

While the Guardian reports that police say the latest leak could produce more leads and claim their investigation is ongoing, the FOIA documents show that the last time any money was actually spent on this case was in February 2011, when the £80.05 in "officer expenses" were filed. 

In response to the publication of the tiny £5,649.09 annual expenditure, a Norfolk police spokeswoman told the Guardian it is "relevant to note that the figures relate only to additional expenditure and do not include officer and staff time on the investigation, which is not routinely recorded."

It is entirely plausible that British security agencies have spent millions and are poised to make an arrest. But the budget certainly indicates that it hasn’t been a high priority for the Norfolk police force.

If there is a serious investigation underway, surely the officers would incur more expenses than the cost of a few boxes of paper and doughnuts?

One FOIA response from the Norfolk Constabulary in September 2011 was particularly troubling, and it doesn’t exactly square with the police force’s statement to the Guardian this week:

"There are currently no police officers or police staff, within Norfolk Constabulary, working full time on the investigation into the acquisition of data from the computers at the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. The Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) and the Deputy/SIO retain responsibility and resources are allocated if and when necessary."

There is a vital public interest in confirming that the UEA emails were criminally hacked and in turn, identifying those responsible and their connections.

Among many reasons for continued police diligence, climate scientist Phil Jones said he contemplated suicide after the initial email theft in 2009. So it is important for investigators to get to the bottom of this crime in order to mete out at least some justice for this baseless attempt at character assassination of climate scientists.

The ongoing harassment of climate scientists – including death threats in several cases – cannot be ignored by law enforcement agencies. If police were able to confirm the identity of the UEA hackers and bring them to justice swiftly, it would hopefully have a chilling effect on the vicious smear campaign against climate scientists.

If in fact there is a robust police investigation ongoing, then the public needs to have confirmation about that. Investigators can provide some indications of their progress without compromising the investigation, and they owe at least that courtesy to the public.

As it stands now, these FOIA results showing very little expenditure on the investigation indicate that the Norfolk police effort is completely inadequate.

If the investigation was sidelined for much of 2011, as the FOIA documents indicate, then a formal review must commence immediately to determine the reasons for that lapse in judgment.

British officials should also seriously consider the suggestion from Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Edward Markey that the U.S. intelligence community should assist in the investigation.

Markey explained the significance of this investigation in a statement:

"This is clearly an attempt to sabotage the international climate talks for a second time, and there has not been enough attention paid to who is responsible for these illegal acts. If this happened surrounding nuclear arms talks, we would have the full force of the western world's intelligence community pursuing the perpetrators. And yet, with the stability of our climate hanging in the balance with these international climate treaty negotiations, these hackers and their supporters are still on the loose. It is time to bring them to justice."

Whatever the reason for the low UK police expenditures, it is clearly time for a more coordinated international investigation into this crime. 

View the FOIA documents: [1][2][3][4][5][6]

Image credit: Richard Peterson/Shutterstock

AttachmentSize UK-Govt-Expenses-on-ClimateGate.jpg193.36 KB

November 22 2011

23:38

Real 'Climategate' Scandal: UK Police Spent Measly $8,843 In Failed Attempt to Identify Criminal Hacker

Richard Black at the BBC points to the real 'Climategate' scandal that needs further investigation - why the UK police have done such an astonishly poor job investigating this criminal hacking, as evidenced by their tiny expenditures to date this year. From Climate Emails, Storm or Yawn?

I have it from a very good source that it absolutely was a hack, not a leak by a "concerned" UEA scientist, as has been claimed in some circles.
 
The Norfolk Police clearly see it as a criminal act too, a spokesman telling me that "the contents [of the new release] will be of interest to our investigation which is ongoing".
 
Groups like UCS are, however, beginning to ask where that investigation has got to.
 
I have been passed information stemming from an FoI request to Norfolk Police showing that over the past 12 months, they have spent precisely £5,649.09 [US$8,843.64] on the investigation.
 
All of that was disbursed back in February; and all but £80.05 went on "invoices for work in the last six months".
 
Of all the figures surrounding the current story, that is perhaps the one that most merits further interrogation.

Stay tuned for more information when Black writes further about his (real) investigation into the incompetent police effort to identify the thieves behind the East Anglia CRU hack.

Image credit: Patrick Hermans / Shutterstock

17:41

Climategate Hackers Slither Again in the Night

Steal More; Reveal Less

The Climagegate hackers appear to be at it again, spraying the internet with dozens of out-of-context quotes from a new batch of stolen emails - in a transparent attempt to disrupt the climate talks starting next week in Durban, South Africa.

The emails, from a source that denierblogger Tallbloke identifies as "Our old friend 'FOIA'," appeared with the same serendipitous timing - and in the same devious way - as last year's more-devastating tranche: accordig to the Guardian, they were "leaked" on a Russian server and then sprinkled into the denieresphere through the usual suspects: Wattsupwiththat, ClimateAudit, AirVent and the already mentioned Tallbloke. We can undoubtedly expect a fresh round of breathless "mainstream media" coverage from the Murdoch empire.

These emails are even more ridiculous than the batch released last year. First, the hackers didn't have the decency to release the emails in context - rather they just pulled the quotes they thought would be effective in casting doubt. Second, the thieves mined only 5,000 of more than 220,000 emails they say they have in hand. This strains credulity: if there was anything in the remaining emails that was even vaguely incriminating, you can bet they would have found and released it. Third, the "best stuff" that they actually released is worse than trivial:

Take this for example: "<0813> Fox/Environment Agency: If we lose the chance to make climate change a reality to people in the regions we will have missed a major trick in REGIS."

This is apparently a reference to the Regional Climate Change Impact and Response Studies being conducted out of East Anglia University in the U.K. And the apparent intent of the quote is to say that scientists believe that their work will be wasted if they don't find a way to get people's attention with the considerable evidence that they have discovered that climate change is, in fact, a devastating threat.

It's clear enough that governments like Canada's own are committed to ignoring the climate threat - at least as long as their oily buddies can continue to cash in by making matters worse. It's also clear that Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre are desperate to portray themselves as clever contrarians, and they will make whatever allies are necessary to keep up the facade.

But really, is this all there is? They have 220,000 stolen emails and they can't find a single out-of-context quote that would overtake the so-successfully misused "hide the decline" line from 2009?

Mike Mann, quoted in the Guardian story above, is right. This is pathetic.

November 17 2011

22:15

Climate Change Spin A Growing Problem For Fox News

When it comes to climate change denial, a new study shows that the folks at Fox News are leading the pack. Through politically-charged news segments and commentary, Fox News personalities are helping spread misinformation about climate change while convincing their viewers that scientists are torn on the issue.

The International Journal of Press/Politics has published a new study titled “Climate on Cable: The Nature and Impact of Global Warming Coverage on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC,” [PDF] which details the ways in which the major American news outlets are reporting stories on climate change.

From the report:

National surveys reveal that many Americans do not believe that scientists are in agreement over this issue. More troubling, the number of Americans who believe that global warming is happening and that it is a result of human activities has declined in recent years: In April 2008, 71 percent of Americans perceived solid evidence for global warming, relative to only 57 percent in October 2009. And while President Obama has pledged that passing legis- lation to curb pollution that contributes to global warming is a priority of his admin- istration, in January 2009, Americans ranked global warming last in a list of twenty policy issues that they felt were important for the president and Congress to address. These surveys also point to stark partisan divides in global warming perceptions, with Democrats far more likely to accept the evidence for the human causes of global warming and to consider environmental protection a policy priority than Republicans.

The views that many Americans have towards climate change are clearly reflected in the cable news arena. Fox News, sadly, has the highest ratings of any other cable news organization, and the study shows that their viewers are for more likely to believe that manmade climate change isn’t happening. More from the study:

Of the three networks, Fox News was simultaneously the least likely to be accepting and the most likely to be dismissive of climate change. Nearly 60 percent of Fox News broadcasts were dismissive of climate change, whereas less than 20 percent were accepting of climate change. On the other hand, more than 70 percent of CNN and MSNBC broadcasts were accepting of climate change. Not a single MSNBC broadcast took a dismissive tone toward climate change and just 7 percent of CNN broadcasts did so.


The fact is that at least 97% of credible scientists believe that climate change is not only real, but that it is the result of human activity. But that fact hasn’t prevented Fox News from reporting that there is no scientific consensus on whether or not climate change is actually happening.

And, as Media Matters for America pointed out recently, this isn’t just biased news coverage or the opinions of Fox anchors: The network’s climate change denial is part of a broad agenda by network management to prevent the truth from reaching their viewers:

As an internal email revealed, Fox's Washington managing editor Bill Sammon directed Fox journalists in December 2009 to cast doubt on the basic fact that the planet has warmed.

That same month, Fox News was aggressively promoting the false claim that the so-called "Climategate" controversy showed scientists "doctoring" data — a claim that the network continues to repeat to this day.

Fox has also tried to manufacture a number of pseudo-scandals by distorting climate science research, misrepresenting or disavowing the temperature record, and seizing on any opportunity to distract from what the National Research Council has called "a strong, credible body of evidence" supporting manmade climate change.

The study also found that Fox hosted "a higher ratio of climate change doubters to believers as interview guests." These guests often don't know what they're talking about but are presented as climate experts. And Fox, a network that has made an annual tradition out of mocking global warming during winter storms, reveals its bias through both what it chooses to cover, and what it chooses to ignore.


This is quickly becoming a systemic issue with Fox News. As the new report points out, Fox’s coverage has actually become more aggressive in recent years in their efforts to paint climate change as a hoax. Even as former skeptics of climate change are coming forward admitting that they were wrong on the issue, Fox continues to push their misinformation campaign on the American public - a public that is eating this news up, bringing a false sense of security to millions who no longer believe that climate change is something that we need to worry about.

August 02 2011

05:16

Global Temperature Data Released by "Climategate" Researchers

TEMPERATURE data from more than 5,000 weather stations used to compile a key global record of surface temperatures has been released to the public.

The raw data, sent from weather agencies across the world to the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in England, was released after an order from the UK's Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham.

CRU scientists were at the centre of the so-called "climategate" affair when hundreds of emails and some data were hacked and released on the internet.

The release follows a successful freedom-of-information challenge from academics Professor Jonathan Jones, a physics professor at the University of Oxford, and Dr Don Keiller, a biochemist at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. Professor Jones has decribed himself as a "climate agnostic".

The data from the CRUTEM3 database is used by the UK Met Office and CRU to compile HadCRUT3 - a global record of surface temperatures going back to January 1850.

The original request for the data was made in August 2009. Professor Jones told the BBC

It was very much a matter of principle. This dataset wasn't particularly interesting, but we thought the data in general should be available, and we thought people shouldn't have to make FoI requests for it.

Professor Trevor Davies, UEA Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, repeated concerns expressed in the long-running case before the Information Commissioner, that the release of data could damage future research efforts.

We remain concerned, however, that the forced release of material from a source which has explicitly refused to give permission for release could have some damaging consequences for the UK in international research collaborations.

Speaking to NewScientist, Thomas Peterson, chief scientist at the US National Climatic Data Center, echoed Professor Davies' concerns.

If countries come to expect that sharing of any data with anyone will eventually lead to strong pressure for them to fully release those data, will they be less willing to collaborate in the future?

Dr Gavin Schimdt, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, added:

One can hope this might put an end to the interminable discussion of the CRU temperatures, but the experience of GISTEMP – another database that's been available for years – is that the criticisms will continue because there are some people who are never going to be satisfied.

July 22 2011

18:13

Could News Corp. Double Agent Neil Wallis Be Behind Climategate Hacking?

As if this week's Rupert Murdoch Phone-Hacking Scandal wasn't enough, it now appears that the University of East Anglia CRU email hacking scandal (a.k.a. Climategate) might actually be the work of the same News Corp henchman who helped to feed insider information from a Scotland Yard police investigation directly to Murdoch's News Corp.

Neil Wallis, one of the key figures in the hacking of the phones, voicemails and electronic communications of anywhere from 4,000 to over 12,000 people, was essentially a double agent working by day as Executive Director of News of the World, and simultaneously as a public relations consultant during the police investigation into the scandal. Wallis conveniently reported back to News Corp on Scotland Yard's investigation. 

While Murdoch's henchmen were getting the skinny on the police investigation, the police were convincing other news organizations not to cover the story.

After the November 2009 hacking of the computer server at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, the victimized climate science unit sought public relations guidance to help fight back against allegations of scientific misconduct.  

Guess who they hired - Neil Wallis and his PR firm Outside Organisation.

And what of Wallis' work in restoring the reputation of climate scientists? Well, the myth that the emails disprove climate change is still circulating. Fox News and other Murdoch-owned news channels were among the earliest and most vocal mouthpieces working to establish the myth, and continue to promote it to this day.

Neil Wallis' role in the original CRU hacking is still unproven, but if his involvement in the NOTW phone hacking scandal is any indication, there is reason to question his interest in Climategate. 

News Corp's allies at Fox and Friends are telling us that the scandal is overblown that we should move on, but let's hope Fox News doesn't have the last say in this. Joe Romm is calling for an independent investigation into the scandal - one that does not involve the possibly compromised Scotland Yard. Perhaps the first step should be to see whether any climate scientists' phones were hacked?

Head over to ClimateProgress to read Joe Romm's coverage and to Daily Kos for Keith Olbermann's thoughts, and check back for more on this 'metastasizing' story.

Here is Romm on Keith Olbermann's show discussing the Neil Wallis scandal:

See video

June 13 2011

15:05

Rush Limbaugh Seizes--and Freezes?--on "ClimateGate"

For some time, it has been clear that “ClimateGate” has a dramatic meaning for the political right in the U.S. Somehow, “ClimateGate” gave those conservatives who had long been resistant to dealing with global warming a new license to dismiss the problem entirely. As a non-conservative, it’s hard to wrap your mind around how this could have occurred—after all, “ClimateGate” wasn’t a real scandal--but recently, I've come up with what may be a better understanding.

The inspiration came from checking in on Rush Limbaugh and noting, in more detail than I usually do, the particular flavor of his dismissiveness. Limbaugh took a call recently from one Michael Hillinger, a New Hampshire resident who had made news by asking GOP candidate Mitt Romney a question about whether he accepts the science of climate change (Romney said yes). Based on these statements, Limbaugh bade “Bye By Nomination” to Romney; he also had this "exchange" with Hillinger:<!--break-->

CALLER: …First of all, I wanted to specify the difference between policy and science… And I specifically quoted from a 2010 National Academy of Sciences report, and two quotes here. The first is, they concluded — and, by the way, the National Academy of Sciences, as you know, is considered the Supreme Court of science in this country. It was founded in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, and it’s charged with giving the Congress unbiased scientific information. Now, their conclusion was, quote, “A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”

RUSH: Then they’ve lost all credibility. It’s a bogus claim.

CALLER: Let me go on. They then went on to say, “Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found wrong is vanishingly small. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities. And then I asked my question, so that’s the context of the question. Your response was that there was evidence even in the last year that established this whole premise of manmade global warming is a hoax.

RUSH: Right.

CALLER: I don’t know where you’re getting the hoax from, sir. I mean I’m looking at –

RUSH: It’s called the University of East Anglia in England and the Hadley Climate Center where they basically made it all up, pure and simple. It’s a hoax. There’s nothing true about it.

END TRANSCRIPT

It's a truly extraordinary and revealing exchange--and you’ll notice that Limbaugh is nothing if not sure he’s right. “Bogus claim,” “hoax,” “there’s nothing true about it”—these are categorical statements, not admitting of shades of gray. And thus no wonder Limbaugh's exchange with Hillinger went no further--if you're absolutely sure you're right about something, then you don't want to be contradicted or have a big debate about it.

Based on this exchange and, indeed, his own words, it would appear that Limbaugh’s mind is made up--he can't really consider the possibility of global warming being real and human caused. And how did he (and others who share his mindset) get that way? I sounds like the answer may well be "ClimateGate."

Remember what things were like before it happened. We were coming off 2007, when Al Gore and the IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize. We’d just elected President Obama, who was backing cap-and-trade legislation and a Copenhagen deal. The science—and the policy—of global warming had all the momentum behind them. If you didn’t believe that the problem was real and needed to be addressed, you were in a pretty difficult position.

ClimateGate was a true blessing in this regard for climate skeptics and deniers. It furnished a brand new excuse to dismiss it all. It was all a scam! Now of course, I am well aware that the evidence about what happened in “ClimateGate” doesn’t actually support this—that the scientists involved were vindicated, and so forth--but that’s still how ClimateGate was interpreted by many…including, it seems, Limbaugh.

So “ClimateGate” was seized upon—and then, to borrow a term from psychology, after “seizing” “freezing” may have occurred for some. Minds were made up, and no new evidence was admissible—because “ClimateGate” proved it was all a hoax. Thus, whenever global warming comes up, we now hear “ClimateGate” cited endlessly, as a way of shutting down further consideration--as a vindication, even. And it's completely baffling, if you know (as we all do) that the science of climate is as strong as it ever was, the issue didn't go away, and "ClimateGate" doesn't really have any substantive significance.

If I’m right, what it all suggests is that at least until there is some dramatic new event that upends the climate discussion, “ClimateGate” will continue to be cited as the reason that there’s no reason to think further about global warming.

April 17 2011

22:41

Don't Be Fooled: Fossil Fools Fund Latest Climate Skeptic Petition

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) recently published a flashy headline that reads, '900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism Of "Man-Made" Global Warming (AGW) Alarm'. The article links to a blog post on Populartechnology.net listing more than 900 papers which, according to the GWPF, refute "concern relating to a negative environmental or socio-economic effect of AGW, usually exaggerated as catastrophic."

The "900+ papers" list is supposed to somehow prove that a score of scientists reject the scientific consensus on climate change. One might be persuaded by the big numbers. We're not. <!--break-->

Oh, where to begin? First, a note of caution about the Global Warming Policy Foundation. It's a UK group opposing climate change action. Sourcewatch's digging reveals links to right-wing libertarian climate change deniers. According to the UK Charity Commission, GWPF's mandate is to "advance the public understanding of global warming and of its possible consequences, and also of the measures taken or proposed to be taken in response to it". Actually, they're a heck of a lot more interested in sowing seeds of doubt than in disseminating knowledge. The GWPF's director is the Heartland Institute's* Benny Peiser, climate change denier extraordinaire. Other notable members include Canada's Ross McKitrick of the Fraser Institute.   

Curiously, the GWPF was launched just as the Climategate emails were released. An op-ed by Chairman Nigel Lawson announced the GWPF, predicted the (hopeful) failure of the Copenhagen climate talks, and called for an inquiry into the content of the stolen emails.

Using a screen-scraping process to analyze the data on the "900+" list, the folks over at Carbon Brief dug up some pretty incriminating information. Turns out nine of the ten most cited authors on the list (representing 186 of the 938 papers) have links to ExonMobil-funded organizations. The tenth has co-authored several papers with Exxon-funded contributors. Anyone familiar with these kinds of lists ("More than 500 scientists dispute global warming" or "more Than 1000 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims") knows that if you've seen one, you've seen them all.  Many familiar climate skeptic names appear over and over again.

Dr. Sherwood B Idso is the most cited author on the list, having authored or co-authored 67 of the papers. Idso is president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a think tank funded by ExxonMobil and the Sarah Scaife Foundation

The second most cited is Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, a well-known climate sceptic who admits that around 40% of his funding comes from the oil industry.

When you really crunch the numbers, all you really find is a small echochamber of the same individuals who pop up on every denier list and petition around. James W. Prall at the University of Toronto has put together a fantastic analysis of the names that appear on these lists, and shows how most of them share funding ties to the oil industry. 

Now a note on the most cited journals on this list. Articles from trade journal Energy and Environment are cited 137 times on the list. Energy and Environment is edited by Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen and Benny Peiser. Numerous known climate skeptics sit on the editorial staff including Sallie Baliunas, Patrick Michaels, Ross McKitrick, and Richard Lindzen.  The journal has become a go-to resource for policymakers and politicians who are skeptical of the scientific consensus of climate change. 

Michael Ashley of the University of New South Wales has described it as “the climate sceptic’s journal of choice”. The Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge is considered a key resource for establishing the credentials and influence of key academic journals. It does not list Energy and Environment.  

A further 24 papers come from the journal Climate Research which is perhaps best known for publishing a 2003 paper by Sallie Baliunas and Willy Soon that received funding from the American Petroleum Institute. In response to the paper’s publication, the editor in chief, Hans Von Storch, and five of ten members of the editorial board, resigned in protest.

Let's contrast this "900+ list" with the real facts. Expert Credibility in Climate Changewhich appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examines over 2,400 climate scientists and authors who have signed public statements on climate change. Their research says that 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field believe that global warming is happening, and that we must respond to it.

A note to deniers: if you keep publishing these lists, we'll keep debunking them. Long lists might look convincing, but they're no substitute for research that is free of fossil fuel industry bias and is taken seriously by the scientific community. 

*Updated: Peiser is listed as one of the global warming 'experts' by the Heartland Institute, but does not work there.

Image Credit: Prospect Magazine

April 05 2011

02:04

Paul Krugman's Must-Read NY Times Op-Ed On Immoral Climate Denial

New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman has a must-read piece today noting the "cynical careerism" of climate deniers who won't even acknowledge the truth when one of "their own" discovers that climate science is sound.  Singling out Anthony Watts as an example of this head-in-the-sand approach, Krugman notes that Watts and other climate skeptics changed their tune about the Koch-funded Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project when its lead researcher testified in front of Congress last week that climate change is real and man-made.  It wasn't what the skeptics - or the anti-science GOP - wanted to hear.

UC Berkeley physicist Richard Muller - whose reputation as a climate skeptic and funding by a Koch foundation the Republicans likely assumed made him one of "theirs" - instead shocked the hearing by reporting that his group’s preliminary results find a global warming trend “very similar to that reported by the prior groups.”

Krugman notes that Anthony Watts had recently "praised the Berkeley project and piously declared himself 'prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.'"

But then of course when Professor Muller announced the preliminary results of his study upholding the scientific basis of climate disruption, Watts ridiculed the hearing Muller attended as “post normal science political theater.” <!--break-->
Krugman notes that the skeptic camp's decision to ostracize Professor Muller provides further evidence of the divisiveness of the political discussion about what we must do as a society to fight global warming.  This polarization, Krugman warns, "has probably ensured that we won’t do anything about climate change until catastrophe is already upon us." 

Read the rest at NYTimes.com: "The Truth About Climate Change, Still Inconvenient".

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