Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

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 24 2012

07:56

What passes for a Brain Trust at Heartland?

Has beens, also-rans, deniers-for-hire on retainer at "think tank"

The Heartland Institute maintains a stable of 13 scientists on retainer for the express purpose of attacking the work of the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), according to budget information released last week in the Heartland document dump.

The scientists, ranging from one of the world's least credible deniers-for-hire (Dr. S. Fred Singer) to a sessional lecturer on the evolution and history of the domestic dog (Susan Crockford), include no top climate scientists currently publishing in the peer-reviewed literature.

The best paid "expert" on the Heartland list is Craig Idso, a former Director of Environmental Science at Peabody Energy (the largest coal company in the world). Heartland pays Idso $11,600 a month through his Center for the Study of CO2 & Global Change, which like the Heartland Institute, has charitable status and therefore operates with an effective subsidy from the American taxpayer. (Funny how quick libertarians are to fleece old Uncle Sam when THEY get to kick the money back to their rich friends.)

read more

February 14 2012

23:08

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

July 19 2011

18:41

Students Get Lobby Group Material From Chris de Freitas in Climate 101 Lectures

New Zealand-based academic and climate sceptic Dr Chris de Freitas has been caught using material from US lobby groups in lectures to first year university Geography students.

Students who listened to the "Geography 101" lectures on climate from Dr de Freitas, an associate professor at The University of Auckland's School of Environment, admitted to being "quite convinced" that a scientific debate was still raging over the causes of global warming.

A report in the New Zealand Herald highlighted how Dr de Freitas had ignored key texts, ignored recent extreme weather events and argued that climate change was almost entirely down to natural variations.

In the lecture notes, published by author Gareth Renowden on his Hot Topic blog, one student wrote in the margins that "CO2 has a lot of beneficial effects… don't believe the propaganda".

Renowden pointed out:

De Freitas is presenting material prepared by US lobby groups and bloggers — stuff that’s been deliberately designed to confuse the issue, not provide educational material for use in university foundation courses.

Renowden discovered that Dr de Freitas was using material from retired meteorologist Joe D'Aleo and Christopher Monckton - both advisors to a number of climate denier think-tanks with links to fossil fuel funding.

Both are advisers to the Science and Public Policy Institute. Also an advisor to the SPPI is Dr David Legates, who was recently asked to step down as Delaware's state climatologist.

Dr de Freitas came to prominence when the journal Climate Research, for which he was an editor, published a controversial paper in 2003 by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas which argued contemporary climate change was not happening.

Some 13 of the editors cited in the paper complained they had been misrepresented. The paper prompted the resignation of three members of the editorial board, including editor-in-chief Hans von Storch, who said the research was flawed.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Dr Soon's entire research income since 2002 had come from fossil fuel interests, including the American Petroleum Institute and Southern Company.

July 14 2011

17:01

David Legates Asked To Step Down As Delaware State Climatologist

David Legates announced this week that he was asked to step down as Delaware State Climatologist, a position he held for seven years. A long-time denier of the human contribution to climate change, Legates’ tenure as State Climatologist has always been a controversial one.

Back in 2007, because of his stance on climate, then-governor Ruth Ann Minner insisted that Legates stop using the formal title in any public statements on climate change policy. Minner wrote to Legates:
"Your views on climate change, as I understand them, are not aligned with those of my administration. In light of my position and due to the confusion surrounding your role with the state, I am directing you to offer any future statements on this or other public policy matters only on behalf of yourself or the University of Delaware, and not as state climatologist."
Legates maintained the title, however, which is designated by the Dean of the public university’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.
But this week, according to Legates himself, the Dean asked him to “step down.”
Legates sent the following note to his email list:
From: David R. Legates
Date: Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 10:48 AM
Subject:  New State Climatologist
Dear All,
  I want to notify you of a change in the Office of the Delaware State
Climatologist.  I have been asked by our Dean's office to step down and
the former Deputy Dean, Dr. Daniel J. Leathers, will be reassuming the
title of the Delaware State Climatologist.  He will be representing the
Office in Asheville and I hope you will welcome him.
  I thank you for the opportunity to serve as the Delaware State
Climatologist for the last seven years and to work alongside each of you.
Sincerely,
David R. Legates
The obvious question becomes: why now? Legates had endured as a denier in the role of official Delaware State Climatologist through seven years under Democratic governors who openly support action on climate change.

I placed multiple calls to both the University of Delaware and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), and was unable to find anyone willing or able to go on the record to explain why Legates was asked to step down from the position. 

The timing could indicate that it had something to do with Legates’ close ties to Wei Hock “Willie” Soon, another prominent denier who has recently found himself embroiled in controversy. Late last month, Greenpeace released documents acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request, and these documents reveal deep financial ties between Soon and many oil and gas companies, including ExxonMobil. The most startling takeaway from the Greenpeace report was that Soon has received more than $1 million from the oil and coal industries since 2001, and that “since 2002, every new grant he has received has been from either oil or coal interests.”

Soon, who is not a climatologist, but an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has made a living over the past decade by taking an outspokenly skeptical stance to man made climate change. Soon’s name is also often linked to Legates’: the two co-authored the notorious and mightily-debunked “polar bear study” paper in 2007, the two are both listed as “ "experts" for the George C. Marshall Institute, a Washington, DC-based think-tank that has received over $700,000 in funding from ExxonMobil, and Soon has referred to Legates as a colleague during Congressional hearings.

Further, buried in Greenpeace’s report is an eye-opening email sent by Soon in 2003 that anticipates the release of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, and more than hints at an overt and calculated plot to discredit the report’s findings. The email was sent to five recipients, including a “Dave,” that Greenpeace analysts say is “most definitely Legates.”

Finally, Soon and Legates were the only two “experts” featured in an Idea Channel video that portrays current warming as part of a “natural solar cycle.”

Cindy Baxter of Greenpeace US’s Research Department believes that the University’s decision to replace Legates as Delaware State Climatologist likely involved his close ties to the controversial Soon. "When we were investigating Willie Soon, it became clear that David Legates was deeply involved in many of his fossil fuel industry-funded attempts to undermine climate science,” said Baxter. “It's heartening to see that the University of Delaware has finally seen the light."

July 08 2011

17:49

RealClimate Reveals Willie Soon’s “Scientific Sleight of Hand”

Willie Soon has been an individual of significant interest lately in climate circles. Last week, he spoke at the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate change, or as we like to call it, Denial-a-Palooza. A recent Greenpeace report found that Soon accepted over $1 million in funding from fossil fuel interests, including Koch Industries

To top it off, RealClimate released a report yesterday revealing new issues with Soon’s 2007 paper on polar bears. The non-peer-reviewed paper has been cited extensively before, notably by Sarah Palin, as proof that polar bears are not endangered by global warming. The paper includes skeptical co-authors M.G. Dyck, R.K. Baydack, David Legates, Sallie BaliunasTim Ball and L.O. Hancocks.

While the paper's central claims have already been disproven, the remaining issue is what appears to be Soon's willing disregard for data. RealClimate found that Soon had cherry picked data showing the highest level of Arctic Oscillation (AO), a natural variability that he blamed for any increases in temperature in the Hudson Bay area:

“The evidence of the cherry-picking of data for the sake of an (irrelevant) higher correlation from the files is a very clear black flag.”

More importantly, RealClimate found evidence that Soon had access to more relevant data but chose not to use it. Rather than use data from Churchhill which borders the Hudson Bay (an area that experienced little impact from Arctic Oscillation), Soon examined an area over 1000 miles away:

“So, the picture here is quite clear. Soon knew that the relevant data series for discussing the AO influence on Western Hudson Bay temperature (and by proxy, sea ice) was from Churchill and despite being reminded of the fact by the first set of reviewers, nonetheless continued to only show the AO connection to a site 1000 miles away, which had a much higher correlation without any discussion of whether this other data was at all relevant to Churchill or the bears nearby.” 

Although it is worth mentioning that the paper was funded by Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, and ExxonMobil (see the paper's "Acknowledgements" section), it is what RealClimate describes as Soon's "scientific sleight of hand" that most tarnishes his credibility. 

When it comes down to it, the quality of the science is what matters. And skeptical science regularly resorts to misdirection and junk science as a mode to influence popular opinion. That is why we need scientists like those at RealClimate to break through the skeptical static and reveal the truth.

July 03 2011

16:39

DeSmogBlog's Brendan DeMelle on Ed Schultz Show and Ring of Fire Radio Discussing Denial-a-Palooza

DeSmogBlog executive director Brendan DeMelle appeared on the Ed Schultz radio show earlier this week to discuss the Heartland Institute's sixth International Conference on Climate Change - a.k.a. Denial-a-Palooza - and other aspects of the climate change denial machine.  DeMelle was interviewed by guest host Mike Papantonio, who is co-host of Ring of Fire radio, which also ran the interview on its Saturday July 2 edition.

Listen to the Ring of Fire version of the interview below:

June 30 2011

18:12

Denial-a-Palooza: Where Are All the Scientists That Deniers Love To Talk About?

Wake up and smell the fossil fuel funding. That's right, it's that time of year again: the Heartland Institute is hosting its Sixth (annual?*) International Conference on Climate Change over the next two days in Washington D.C.

DeSmogBlog already revealed some of the oily sponsors behind the event. Now it's time to take a look at the so-called scientists Heartland has rounded up to accomplish this year's theme of "Restoring the Scientific Method."   

As in past years, Heartland's speakers list is dominated by economists, engineers, TV weathermen, and representatives from right wing think-tanks. DeSmogBlog has researched the speakers at this year's event: 

DeSmogBlog also added new names to the disinformation database this year (some long overdue):

Scott Denning, who also spoke at last year's Heartland Conference, is notably absent from this list. The reason being that Denning actually acknowledges man-made global warming (see his presentation at last year's conference). Denning is a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, and appears to be one of a small handful of legitimate climate scientists in the crowd. 

Why then, you might ask, has the Heartland Institute not only invited Denning back this year, but also featured him prominently on the ICCC6 home page? Apparently Heartland actually scheduled a debate between Denning and Roy Spencer

Whether he recognizes it or not, Denning serves as a false stamp of legitimacy for this non-scientific conference.

Brian Angliss over at Scholars & Rogues has more to say about the dearth of actual climate scientists attending Denial-a-Palooza this year.

*This will be Heartland's sixth conference in the past four years: the first was in March 2008, the second in March 2009, third in June 2009, fourth in May 2010, fifth in October 2010, and now the sixth in June 2011.

** Senator James Inhofe, who was set to be the opening key note speaker, sent his regrets this morning claiming he is "under the weather."  Perhaps he was referring to the brutal drought conditions affecting his constituents back in Oklahoma, as Joe Romm from ClimateProgress postulates.

June 28 2011

13:03

Denial For Hire: Willie Soon’s Career Fueled by Big Oil, Coal and Koch Money

Willie Soon, the notorious climate denier who has made a career out of attacking the IPCC and climate scientists, has received over $1 million in funding from Big Oil and coal industry sponsors over the past decade, according to a new report from Greenpeace.

The Greenpeace report, “Dr. Willie Soon: a Career Fueled by Big Oil and Coal,” reveals that $1.033 million of Dr. Soon’s funding since 2001 has come from oil and coal interests. Since 2002, every grant Dr. Soon received originated with fossil fuel interests, according to documents received from the Smithsonian Institution in response to Greenpeace FOIA requests.

The documents show that Willie Soon has received at least $175,000 from Koch family foundations (Soon is a key player in the Koch brothers’ climate denial machine, as Greenpeace documented previously), $230,000 from Southern Company, $274,000 from the American Petroleum Institute, and $335,000 from ExxonMobil, among other polluters.

Dr. Soon is perhaps most well-known for his work with fellow astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas attempting to challenge the “hockey stick” graph of temperature records, first published by Dr. Michael Mann.  



But the documents reveal that he also fancied himself a ringleader of a coordinated effort to sully the IPCC’s fourth assessment, plotting with Exxon staffers years in advance about how to attack the 2007 report.

A letter that Dr. Soon wrote in 2003, uncovered by Greenpeace, states:

“Clearly they [the AR4 chapters] may be too much for any one of us to tackle them all ... But, as A-team, we may for once give it our best shot to try to anticipate and counter some of the chapters, especially WG1---judging from our true expertise in the basic climate sciences ...   

Even if we can tackle ONE single chapter down the road but forcefully and effectively ... we will really accomplish A LOT!   

In all cases, I hope we can start discussing among ourselves to see what we can do to weaken the fourth assessment report or to re-direct   attention back to science …”

Soon has served on the roster of many oil- and coal-funded front groups over the past 15 years, from his role as “Scientific Adviser” at the coal-funded Greening Earth Society in the late 1990s, to his affiliations with a variety of Koch-Exxon-Scaife funded groups like the George C. Marshall Institute, the Science and Public Policy Institute, the Center for Science and Public Policy and the Heartland Institute.

Dr. Soon is among the speakers at the annual Denialapalooza climate denier meeting hosted by the Heartland Institute in Washington DC later this week. Since the theme of that Heartland junk science junket is “Restoring the Scientific Method,” perhaps the attendees will query Dr. Soon about the ethics of accepting a million dollars from polluter interests while claiming that climate change is nothing to worry about.

 

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

May 19 2010

05:42

Will Happer To Testify At Congressional Hearing on Climate Science

Will Happer, as chair of the George C. Marshall Institute, will testify Thursday before Rep. Ed Markey's Select committee as the sole GOP witness arguing against the global warming consensus.  Even though Happer, a physicist, has published exactly one paper that discusses climate change, he is apparently the top choice of the GOP to discuss "the ability to present data and information that can guide global warming solutions in a sometimes fierce political landscape."

Professor Will Happer augments his Princeton duties with high-profile climate denial.  Ever since he and Fred Singer claimed that ozone depletion was not happening, Happer has been willing to let his Princeton position and American Physical Union title serve the whims of ExxonMobil's policy goals. 

Happer proudly says "I believe that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind." 

He even falsely told a congressional committee: “We evolved as a species when CO2 concentrations were three or four times what they are now”.  Actually, you need to go back hundreds of millions of years to find CO2 levels this high.  Sorry Mr. Happer, your facts might be a bit muddled, but your motivations are clear.<!--break-->

Happer has been on the board of the George C. Marshall Institute since at least 2002, and is currently its director.  The institute receives a sizable portion of its funding from ExxonMobil.  Out of an operating budget of about $800,000, an average of $91,428 per year from 2001-07 comes directly from ExxonMobil.  They also receive $250,000 per year from the Scaife oil fortune, and we see almost half of the Institute is funded by oil money. 

Global warming policy is the institute's largest advocacy program, spending over $200,000 in 2007 and over $300,000 in 2006 on the program.  That program employs former registered Exxon lobbyist William O'Keefe, who previously served as CEO fo the American Petroleum Institute.  Also on the team, Sallie Baliunas who co-authored a paper on climate change with Willie Soon which was sponsored directly by the API, and then refuted by 13 of the authors she cited.

As the chair for the organization Happer has stepped into a central role in the global warming denialosphere.  While some organizations like Competitive Enterprise Institute have renounced funding from ExxonMobil, GMI has been unabashed in its acceptance of oil money.  Consequently, Exxon connections form a tight circle around GMI and Happer.  See this map of connections.

Will this week's climate tesimony be as hilarious as previous weeks?  I doubt Happer will match the absurdity of Hitler-Youth-Monckton at the previous congressional hearing earlier this month, but it will be interesting to see if he makes up more on CO2 levels or pretends to be baffled as to how a mere gas can effect the climate.  Stay tuned.

May 13 2010

19:15

Denial-a-palooza Round 4: 'International Conference on Climate Change' Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries

In what has become an annual non-event, the Heartland Institute will gather the who's-who of the global warming denial network together in Chicago this weekend for the fourth International Conference on Climate Change

As in years past, the event is expected to receive very little mainstream media coverage.  The deniers like to think the reason is some liberal media conspiracy.  In reality, the lack of interest stems chiefly from the fact that this denial-a-palooza fest is dripping with oil money and represents a blatant industry effort to greenwash oil and coal while simultaneously attacking the credibility of climate scientists.

Despite the lack of press interest, the show must go on.  After all, the Chicago meet-up will provide deniers and industry front groups a chance to coordinate their ongoing efforts to smear the reputation of the IPCC, and they can reminisce about the Climategate non-scandal like boys in the schoolyard kicking around a rusty old can.

For insight into the underlying aim of the Chicago denier conference, let us take a look at the funding sources for the sponsoring organizations.

<!--break-->

Funding:

19 of the 65 sponsors (including Heartland itself) have received a total of over $40 million in funding since 1985 from ExxonMobil (funded 13 orgs), and/or Koch Industries family foundations (funded 10 orgs) and/or the Scaife family foundations (funded 10 orgs).  See below for a full funding break-down.

 

ExxonMobil (1998-2008): $6,588,250 ($389,250 more than reported in 2009) Koch Foundations (1985-2008): $17,572,210 ($13,133,290 more than reported in 2009) Scaife Family Foundations (1985-2008): $16,352,000
($20,516,640 less than reported in 2009*) Total Funding 1985-2008: $40,512,460

*The Heritage Foundation sponsored the 2009 conference and is notably absent from sponsoring the 2010 ICCC. Heritage has received $23,096,640 from Scaife, $2,417,000 from Koch and $565,000 from Exxon between 1998-2006.<!--break-->

ExxonMobil has backed off funding many of the groups who have sponsored global warming denial, thanks in large measure to the relentless work of ExxonSecrets.org, a project of Greenpeace USA.  However, the funding gap has been filled by the private oil fortunes of the Koch and Scaife families, who continue to pump funds into the network of climate denial and "free market" groups.

"These same anti-regulatory 'free market' organizations are hell-bent on keeping us addicted to dirty oil and coal.  They’ve pushed for more offshore drilling, fought improvements to fuel economy standards and stalled action on global warming through denial and deception," says Kert Davies, Research Director of Greenpeace USA.

According to the Media Transparency project, the Scaife Family of Foundations is "financed by the Mellon industrial, oil and banking fortune. At one time its largest single holding was stock in the Gulf Oil Corporation. [Scaife] became active in funding conservative causes in 1973, when Richard Mellon Scaife became chairman of the foundation."

The Koch foundations' money comes from the profits generated by oil conglomerate Koch Industries, the "nation's largest privately held energy company, with annual revenues of more than $25 billion. ... Koch Industries is now the second largest family-owned business in the U.S., with annual sales of over $20 billion." The Koch brothers, David and Charles, control the three family foundations that have "lavished tens of millions of dollars in the past decade on 'free market' advocacy institutions in and around Washington."

The Koch connections are the most interesting because of the lengths they go to attempt to deny their involvement.  DeSmogBlog asked a Koch spokesperson if they were involved in sponsoring the ICCC and received this reply:

"In response to your question as to whether Koch is supporting the ICCC - no, Koch Industries and the Koch foundations are not supporting the International Conference on Climate Change."

The claim is similar to the pre-emptive response that the same Koch spokesperson sent to DeSmogBlog, CrooksAndLiars and others in April before the Tax Day Tea Parties:

"Koch companies value free speech and believe it is good to have more Americans engaged in key policy issues. That said, Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch and David Koch have no ties to and have never given money to FreedomWorks. In addition, no funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties. Thanks for your consideration."

In both cases, Koch denies responsibility by hiding one degree of separation from the event.  They claim their hands are clean, yet huge amounts of Koch money are funneled into the organizations doing the lion's share of work to organize the tea parties and the ICCC denial-a-palooza.  Americans For Prosperity and its sister organization FreedomWorks (formerly united as Citizens for a Sound Economy) have received a total of over $17 million from Koch foundations between 1985 and 2008.  That works out to 64% of the major funding for FreedomWorks/CSE, and 90% of the major funding for Americans for Prosperity. (Based on totals from 'major funders' compiled by MediaMatters.)  The totals for 2009 aren't out yet, but there is little reason to believe funding has decreased, meaning millions more dollars have likely been pumped into this network. 

All this oily funding begs the question: if the Koch brothers aren't funding FreedomWorks and AFP for the purpose of organizing tea parties and conferences attacking climate science, what are they paying for?  

Climate denial is a central facet of AFP's work. Consider AFP's Hot Air tour with its Carbon Cops protesting the EPA's move to put a price on climate-changing C02.   Or AFP's participation in the Energy Citizens Alliance, the Astroturf group set up by the American Petroleum Institute to fight national legislation on climate.

Offshore Drilling

23 of the sponsor organizations behind denial-a-palooza are actively promoting offshore drilling or attempting to paint the drilling disaster as 'not that bad'.  Americans for Prosperity wrote on April 27th, a week after the drilling disaster began to unfold: "AFP called for the opening of New Jersey's coast to exploration and drilling, which would be part of a comprehensive strategy to both boost the state's economy and help achieve energy independence."

The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (C-FACT) wrote on May 7th, "Should we stop drilling offshore? We can hardly afford to. We still need to drill."  Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute joined in: "If we seek to reduce these risks by banning offshore drilling, as some now demand, we will undoubtedly raise the price of energy."  See more from JunkScience's Steve Milloy, or Americans for Tax Reform and their national blitz for more drilling. 

For a history of the ICCC event, see DeSmogBlog coverage from 2009 and 2008.  Also see commentary from RealClimate and WonkRoom.


Here are the funding totals for organizations sponsoring Heartland's conference that are known to have received support from oily and 'free market' foundations:

Alternate Solutions Institute

  • Received a $100,000 grant in 2008 from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (see below).

American Conservative Union

Americans for Prosperity

Americans for Tax Reform

  • Received 60,000 from Koch Foundations (Claude Lambe Charitable Foundation) in 2007.
  • Received $700,000 from Scaife (Carthage, Sarah Scaife) Foundations between 1998-07.

Atlas Economic Research Foundation

Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise

Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change

Centro de Investigaciones de Instituciones y Mercados de Argentina (CIIMA-ESEADE)

  • Received $100,000 from Sarah Scaife Foundation from 1999-2003.

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (C-FACT)

  • Received $542,000 from ExxonMobil from 1998-2006. 
  • Received $1,580,000 from Scaife (Carthage and Sarah Scaife) Foundations from 1991-2008.

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Freedomworks

George C. Marshall Institute

  • Received $840,000 from ExxonMobil between 1998-2008. 
  • Received $170,000 from Koch Foundations (Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation) between 2004-08. 
  • Received $3,592,000 from Scaife Foundations (Sarah Scaife Foundation) between 1985-2008.

Heartland Institute

  • Received $676,000 from ExxonMobil from 1986-2008.
  • Received $77,578 from Koch (Claude R Lambe, Charles G Koch) from 1986-2008
  • Received $335,000 from Scaife (Sarah Scaife, Carthage) from 1986-2008

ICECAP

Illinois Policy Institute

  • No funding records from Exxon, Koch, or Scaife.
  • In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute.[2]

The Independent Institute

Institute of Public Affairs (Australia)

  • From The Age in 2004: "The Institute of Public Affairs, which receives funding from companies such as ExxonMobil, the most sceptical of the world's fossil fuel giants, also engages in the debate, scouring the web and email groups for evidence that climate change is natural."

John Locke Foundation

Junkscience.com

Lavoisier Group (Australia)

Media Research Center

National Center for Public Policy Research

Science & Environmental Policy Project

Science and Public Policy Institute

 


To re-cap, the International Conference on Climate Change is sponsored by organizations that have received over $40 million from just these three oil interests.

ExxonMobil (1998-2008): $6,588,250 ($389,250 more than reported in 2009) Koch Foundations (1985-2008): $17,572,210 ($13,133,290 more than reported in 2009) Scaife Family Foundations (1985-2008): $16,352,000
($20,516,640 less than reported in 2009*) Total Funding 1985-2008: $40,512,460

Sources: US 990 Tax forms*, ExxonSecrets, SourceWatch, MediaMatters Transparency.

*Note: Some additional funding info has been added from 2008 tax forms that is not yet reported by MediaMatters, Sourcewatch or ExxonSecrets.

Additional reporting by Morgan Goodwin.

March 30 2010

05:20

Koch Industries' Extensive Funding of Climate Denial Industry Unmasked

Koch Industries has “become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition,” spending over $48.5 million since 1997 to fund the climate denial machine, according to an extensive report today by Greenpeace. 

The Greenpeace report reveals how Koch Industries and the foundations under its control spent far more than even ExxonMobil in recent years to fund industry front groups opposed to clean energy and climate policies.  Koch spent over half the total amount -nearly $25 million - funding climate denier groups from 2005 to 2008, a period in which Exxon only spent $8.9 million.

Greenpeace’s attempt to lift the veil of secrecy inherent to a private company like Koch Industries is no easy task.  Because it remains privately owned, Koch faces few of the disclosure requirements designed to increase transparency among publicly-traded companies.
<!--break-->
That intentional secrecy allows Koch Industries, the second-largest privately-held company in the United States, to fly largely below the public’s radar.  Few Americans have likely heard of Koch, even though it operates crude oil refineries and pipelines across North America and owns such well-known consumer brands as Dixie cups, Brawny and Quilted Northern paper products, Stainmaster carpet, CoolMax and Lycra.

The company’s founder, Fred Koch, who once earned $5 million building oil refineries in the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin’s reign, was a co-founder of the libertarian John Birch Society.   Charles G. and David H. Koch, two of Fred’s four sons, each now own 42% of the company’s stock.  According to 2009 Forbes rankings, the Koch brothers are tied for the 19th richest person in the world, and for ninth richest American, each worth between $14 and $16 billion, more than George Soros or the founders of Google.

The Koch brothers use three foundations to spread Koch Industries’ influence, including support for roughly 40 organizations that doubt or downplay climate change or otherwise oppose policy solutions to build a clean energy future.  Greenpeace also notes that Koch Industries has been the largest oil and gas industry contributor to electoral campaigns since the 2006 election cycle, and its done its fair share of lobbying as well.  During the 2008 elections, Koch Industries contributed over $1.8 million, 88% to Republican candidates. Koch’s political action committee (PAC) also spent more than $2.5 million on contributions to federal candidates for that period, more than any other oil-and-gas sector PAC.

Koch Industries has bankrolled Americans for Prosperity to the tune of over $5 million since 2005.  AFP – known primarily for its role in organizing the tea party movement in the U.S. – brought notorious climate denier Lord Christopher Monckton to the Copenhagen climate summit as its guest speaker.  Despite Lord Monckton’s reprehensible behavior in Copenhagen – where he repeatedly compared college students advocating for a clean energy future to “Hitler Youth” and “Nazis” – Americans for Prosperity continues to host Monckton at its events in the United States, including a recent appearance in Wisconsin

While in Wisconsin on AFP’s dime, Monckton booked a side gig at a GOP fundraiser where he described President Barack Obama as a “monster.”  I wonder if David Koch – the second richest man in New York behind Michael Bloomberg - is even aware that Koch’s funding of AFP is in part providing support for Monckton to run around the world labeling American college students “Hitler Youth” and calling the President of the United States a “monster”?

Koch was also one of the funders of the 2007 polar bear junk science “study” authored by prominent climate deniers (including Sallie Baliunas, David Legates and Tim Ball) that claimed to prove that polar bear populations were not affected by anthropogenic climate disruption in the Arctic.  Dr. Willie Soon, one of the non-peer-reviewed paper’s authors, disclosed in the acknowledgements section that he had received direct corporate funding for the work, stating “W. Soon’s effort for the completion of this paper was partially supported by grants from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, American Petroleum Institute, and Exxon-Mobil Corporation.”

Although the paper was thoroughly debunked by actual experts on Arctic sea ice and polar bears, many of the front groups funded by Koch and Exxon rebroadcast the study widely, creating public confusion.  The matter came to a head when Sarah Palin and her officers in the Alaskan government referenced the Soon/Baliunas polar bear paper before it was even published in Alaska’s formal protest of efforts to protect the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.  Both Soon and Baliunas have served as spokespeople, advisors and/or board members of multiple Koch-funded climate denial groups over the past decade.

The Greenpeace report notes Koch’s role in funding the Institute for Energy Research, which was behind the Danish study that attacked the viability of wind power.  Greenpeace also points out the role that Koch’s web of climate denier groups played in supporting, disseminating and promoting the Spanish study attacking green jobs, including AFP, IER and the Heritage Foundation.

Greenpeace has helped to shed some much-needed light on Koch Industries with this report, providing several case studies, a detailed look at lobbying and campaign expenditures, and other little known facts about the Koch Brothers’ web of front groups. 

If you thought you knew everything about anti-science front groups from hearing about ExxonMobil’s efforts over the years, think again.  This expose of Koch Industries serves up a heaping pile of unsavory evidence that the climate denial industry is alive and well-funded, even with the scaling back of ExxonMobil’s support.

More attention needs to be paid to Koch Industries, and this report will hopefully encourage deeper investigation into the Koch web’s confusion campaign.

March 26 2010

17:01

Greenpeace Releases 20-Year History of Climate Denial Industry

Greenpeace released a terrific report today on the 20-year campaign by polluters to mislead the public by creating the climate denial industry. 

The new report succinctly explains how fossil fuel interests used the tobacco industry’s playbook and an extensive arsenal of lobbyists and “experts” for hire in order to manufacture disinformation designed to confuse the public and stifle action to address climate change.

In the report, titled "Dealing in Doubt: The Climate Denial Industry and Climate Science," Greenpeace provides a brief history of the attacks waged by polluting industries against climate science, the IPCC and individual scientists.

ExxonMobil deservedly gets special attention for its role as the ringleader of the "campaign of denial."  As Greenpeace has documented meticulously over the years with its ExxonSecrets website, ExxonMobil is known to have invested over $23 million since 1998 to bankroll an entire movement of climate confusionists, including over 35 anti-science and right wing nonprofits, to divert attention away from the critical threat of climate disruption caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels.

The report, authored by Greenpeace climate campaigner Cindy Baxter, calls out by name a number of key climate skeptics and deniers who have worked with industry front groups to confuse the public, including S. Fred Singer, John Christy, Richard Lindzen, David Legates, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon, Tim Ball, Pat Michaels and many other figures familiar to DeSmog Blog readers.
<!--break-->
A number of the key “think tanks” at the forefront of the attacks on climate science - including the Heartland Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Enterprise Institute, George C. Marshall Institute, Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute – are also examined for their climate denial work on behalf of oil and coal interests.

Greenpeace explains how the network of denial was created in the early 1990s to dissuade politicians from taking action to prevent climate change.  Chief among these early groups were the Global Climate Coalition, the Climate Council and the Information Council on the Environment (ICE). 

The report also provides a brief history of the attacks launched against each of the IPCC’s scientific assessment reports dating back to 1990, noting the key players involved in each successive attack leading up to the present day attempts to tarnish the IPCC’s reputation and to falsely suggest that a debate still exists among climate scientists.

Personal attacks endured by climate scientists, especially key contributors to the IPCC reports, are also discussed in some detail, including the virulent attacks by the climate denial industry against reputed scientists like Michael Mann, Ben Santer, and Kevin Trenberth.

Greenpeace also calls out Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and other members of Congress who are beholden to polluting industries through campaign contributions, and who regularly aid and abet the climate denial industry by promoting the false and misleading claims of deniers and skeptics on Capitol Hill.

Finally, “Dealing in Doubt” notes the escalation of the denial campaign during the administration of George W. Bush, when key White House and regulatory agency positions were filled with polluter lobbyists. 

The placement of Philip Cooney, a lawyer and lobbyist who spent 15 years at the American Petroleum Institute before he was picked as chief of staff in the Bush White House Council on Environmental Quality, serves as a key example.  Days after the New York Times broke the story that Cooney had made extensive edits on government scientific reports on global warming, Cooney resigned to go work for ExxonMobil.  

“Dealing in Doubt” is recommended reading for anyone looking for a brief primer on the history of the denial industry’s relentless campaign against science and reason.  It should be required reading for members of Congress, the mainstream media, and others who continue to be duped by the climate denial industry.

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl