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August 07 2012

22:35

Andrew Bolt Cuts Ties With Climate Science Denying Galileo Movement Over Alleged Anti-Jewish Conspiracy Theory

ANDREW Bolt is Australia's loudest and most popular climate science doubt-spreader who just loves to stoke the fires of environmental conspiracy theorists with his daily splurge of blog posts and his weekly radio and TV shows.

The blogger and columnist in the Murdoch-owned News Ltd press describes climate change as a "religious movement" and says climate scientists are part of a global conspiracy.

Bolt allows his commenters to refer to the United Nations as the "United Nazis" and regularly joins the "one world government" conspiracy theorists while pulling quotes out of context to insinuate "warmists" have ambitions of totalitarian "global management". He maligns solar power at every opportunity and claims wind farms are an "insult to the intelligence".

But there is at least one conspiracy theory which Andrew Bolt isn't happy to endorse. Up until last week, Bolt was listed as an adviser to one of Australia's most active climate denialist organisations the Galileo Movement. But then what happened?

In a report late last month in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Galileo Movement's project manager Malcolm Roberts, a former mining industry consultant, was asked if recent research led by US physicist Professor Richard Muller had swayed the group's thinking on human-caused climate change. The SMH report read

Mr Roberts said climate change science had been captured by ''some of the major banking families in the world'' who form a ''tight-knit cabal''. He said he understood that the group's views might sound strange, but claimed they were becoming increasingly popular.

''It does sound outlandish,'' Mr Roberts said. ''I, like you, was reluctant to believe it [but] there are significant things going on in Australia that people are waking up to. The UN's climate front is just a part of the overall UN 'Agenda 21', which is the sustainability program and the biodiversity program … But the biggest one's the UN agenda for global governance.''

The bit about "banking families" made its way to Bolt, who was apparently spooked and wrote Roberts an email saying his words "sounded very much like one of those Jewish world conspiracy theories that I despise". After getting a reply, Bolt wrote:

Your conspiracy theory seemed utterly stupid even before I knew which families you meant. Now checking the list of banking families you’ve given me, your theory becomes terribly, shamefully familiar.

Two of the three most prominent and current banking families you’ve mentioned are Jewish, and the third is sometimes falsely assumed to be. Yes, this smacks too much of the Jewish world conspiracy theorising I’ve always loathed.

Bolt then asked to be removed from the list of the Galileo Movement's advisers, which is a veritable who's who of climate science denial, listing the likes of Lord Christopher Monckton, Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer, Bob Carter, Ian Plimer and the Cato Institute's Pat Michaels. Popular Sydney radio host Alan Jones is Galileo's patron. Will any of them feel the need to follow Bolt?

In the comments section, Roberts claimed his words were not anti-semitic and that "Some of my friends and those who I respect, admire and value enormously for their achievements are Jewish." But Roberts then offered to educate Bolt on "major international banking families", "cabals" and pushes for "global governance".

Bolt's defection does put him in something of an awkward position, not least because one of the people who Roberts recommends to Bolt for more on his banking theories is David Evans, who is one of Bolt's favourite skeptics. For example, Bolt cites Evans here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and, well, you get the picture.

Evans, the husband of climate sceptic blogger JoNova, once outlined his thesis in a 2009 paper published by the Science and Public Policy Institute titled Manufacturing Money, and Global Warming. Naming the "Rothschilds", Evans writes

The banking families don’t work for a living in the normal sense, like the rest of us. They avoid scrutiny and envy by blending in and make themselves invisible. Since they own or influence all sorts of media organizations, it isn’t too hard. There are unsubstantiated rumors and conspiracy theories, but nobody can really credibly say how much wealth and influence they have.

One of Bolt's other favourite "experts" to cite is Christopher Monckton who, like Evans and Nova, is also an adviser to the Galileo Movement. Bolt cites Monckton enthusiastically  hereherehere and here and probably lots of other places.

Monckton has been pushing his various conspiratorial talking points around the globe for years. To add to his insistence that climate change is some sort of socialist plot to take over the world, Monckton has recently taken to questioning the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's birth certificate in a Tea Party-sponsored tour. Is Bolt happy to stick with Monckton, one wonders?

But is it fair to generalise that people who deny climate change science are all conspiracy theorists? Well no, but one piece of new research does suggest that people who reject the science are also more likely to entertain a whole range of whacky ideas.

Research led by cognitive psychologist Professor Stephan Lewandowsky at the University of Western Australia, to be published in the journal Psychological Science, found an important predictor for climate science denialism was a belief in free-market economics.

But the research also found a correlation between denial of human caused climate change science and "conspiracist ideation", such as acceptance of supposed CIA plots to kill Martin Luther King, faked Moon landings or how the US government let the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour so they could enter World War II.

Or the strongest correlation, plots to create world governments.

July 25 2012

02:07

Climate Science Denier Debunks Greenhouse Theory With Two Fish Cooler Boxes And A Roll Of Cling Film

SOMETIMES in the world of climate science "scepticism", things can become a little surreal. A bit odd, if you will, to the point where you need to inflict a sharp pain upon your person to confirm you've not drifted off into an alternate reality.

Like the time, for example, when Australian mainstream TV station Channel Seven chose a "climate expert" who once wrote a book called "Pawmistry" detailing how to read your cat's paws. 

Or the time when a Christian fundamentalist claimed the Victorian bushfires were his god’s revenge for the state’s “incendiary abortion laws which decimate life in the womb”. 

Then there was the time when US free market think-tank the Heartland Institute said "the people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen."

To me, the odd thing about these instances is not that they actually happened or that there are people with enough arrogance and ideology to believe their own fantasies. What's odd, is that people in positions of influence still associate themselves with them.

Ken Ring, the "pawmistry" guy, still gets slots on Channel Seven. He was on again just a couple of months ago.

The fundamentalist Christian Pastor Daniel Nalliah later hosted a lecture by climate science denier extraordinaire Lord Christopher Monckton, who is also favoured by the world's richest woman Gina Rinehart.

The Heartland Institute may have paid the price for its billboard campaign juxtaposing climate science and the unabomber but it didn't stop Australia's Institute of Public Affairs science fellow Professor Bob Carter concluding the campaign was a good idea.

And so with all this in mind, we come to the latest episode in this compendium of climate contrarian curios.

To fill you in, Queensland's ruling Liberal-National Party has overwhelmingly accepted a motion that climate science shouldn't be taught in schools. The proposer of the motion (which may not be taken up by the parliamentary wing of the party), is a Dr Richard Pearson, from the Sunshine Coast town of Noosa.

It now appears that Dr Pearson has been running his own climate science experiments at home, in his kitchen, with results that some may find remarkable.

Armed only with thermometers, two fish cooler boxes and a roll of cling film, Dr Pearson believes he may have disproved the greenhouse effect (you may now pinch yourself).

We know this because he wrote about his experiment on the website of the climate sceptic group the Galileo Movement (patron, popular radio presenter Alan Jones, with a cornucopia of climate contrarian advisers). What was Dr Pearson's conclusion after running his fish box test?

 The Greenhouse Effect theory is not confirmed by this experiment and may be disproved by it.

Now, even though the notion that a guy in his kitchen armed with two fish cooler boxes and a roll of cling film could disprove the greenhouse theory may seem a little fanciful (because I acknowledge that to some it may), I thought I'd waste the time of an actual atmospheric scientist.

Because after all, I don't presume to be a scientist even though I did once make one of those volcanoes from bicarb of soda, vinegar and food colouring. My experiment was a success and also falsified the outrageous claim that my mum's tablecloth was "stainless".

I guess though that there's an extraordinarily slim chance that a Nobel prize could be winging its way to Dr Pearson's residence (he could put it in his fish cooler box for safe keeping). 

So I asked Professor Steven Sherwood at the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre to review Dr Pearson's experiment. This is his response. Settle in.

This request falls at an interesting time, as I just finished lecturing about the greenhouse effect to students who have no background in science  - they're mostly arts majors.  At this point I would expect - or hope - these students have sufficient understanding to see why this "experiment" by Dr. Pearson did not work.  In fact I may use this as a test question or follow-up question to see if they understood the lecture. 
Also, if Dr. Pearson would spend even one hour studying the greenhouse effect he would learn why this test does not work. The greenhouse effect is determined by the difference in temperature between the added infrared absorber (in this case, CO2) and the surface.  Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere radiate to space at an average temperature of about 250K (-23C).  It is because they are so cold that they exert a greenhouse effect.  Absorbers at temperatures matching those of the surface would exert no greenhouse effect. In his film-covered boxes, the temperature is essentially uniform.  Thus there is no greenhouse effect, no matter what substance he puts into the box. 
Incidentally for a number of years I had students build such boxes(not filled with CO2) and they can be a good way to learn about radiation — for example, if he places this (air-filled) box outside at night he will see that the temperature falls below the surface temperature.  This is because of emission of infrared radiation which is not balanced by sunlight. In fact, Dr. Pearson could mimic the true greenhouse effect if he could build a several-layer system and put CO2 in the top layer, but thermally insulate it from the lower layer.  This would be quite a bit more difficult to build, and the performance could be severely compromised by diffusion of heat within the apparatus and to the outside, but in principle could begin to reveal the greenhouse effect.
By the way, the greenhouse trapping of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is not a theory as Pearson falsely claims but is directly observed by satellites.  It is an observed fact, and the warming follows from the principle of conservation of energy, which is as close to observed fact as one gets with theories in physics.

So there you go.  If only Dr Pearson had checked with an actual expert in atmospheric physics, then he could have saved himself some time and the cost of some Glad Wrap. If you bother to read Dr Pearson's "experiment" then it might well sound vaguely plausible to non-experts, which includes the vast majority of the general public.

At the end of his experiment, Dr Pearson recounts how his daughter then asked how a man bearing cling film could "disprove a theory that hundreds of climate scientists around the world say is true". A fair question. “That my darling is science”, was Dr Pearson's response.

Is it really? Professor Sherwood again.

When Dr. Pearson says,'that's science' he is I am afraid kidding himself. The way a real scientist interprets an observation is to write down the equations governing the system.  This is what my students have done.  They are not hard, and for the type of system Dr Pearson is putting together do not involve, for example, calculus - only the ability to solve a coupled system of linear equations.  Only then do you know whether you are interpreting it correctly.

Professor Matthew England, of the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre and also chairman of the Australian Climate Commission's science advisory panel, says the motion Dr Pearson succesfully proposed to the LNP could have broad ramifications, if only for the state's reputation.

If the proposal to remove greenhouse science from the school curriculum is enacted, Queensland's education system will become an international joke overnight.  Basic greenhouse gas physics has been established with around 200 years of scientific progress - any move to muzzle climate science facts from being taught at schools will be condemned as world's worst practice in scientific education.
So if the Queensland Education Minister John Paul Langbroek does act on the motion (campaigners are petitioning) from his party, then Prof England says the state will be a laughing stock.
 
Until then, we'll just have to settle for the majority of the members of the LNP.

 

February 14 2012

23:08
02:10

A Curious Tale of Monckton, Rinehart and Blaming God For Bushfire Deaths

IT was an extraordinary response, but then it was an extraordinary video revealing some extraordinary alliances.

Two weeks ago I posted a story on my blog about a YouTube video featuring one of the world’s least media-shy deniers of human-caused climate change - British hereditary peer Lord Christopher Monckton, the third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley*.

In the video, the Viscount was in the boardroom of the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, a free-market think-tank founded by west Australian mining magnate Ron Manners.

The video had been watched only 130 times when I clapped eyes on it following a Twitter post from journalist Leo Hickman, of the UK’s The Guardian. In the video, posted by Mannkal (but since removed… and then reinstated… but possibly removed again by the time you read this), Lord Monckton suggests a good way to get free-market, climate science-denying views into the mainstream media, is simply to find some “super-rich” backers to buy the mainstream media.

As I watched the video last Tuesday evening, news was just emerging that mining billionaire and Asia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, had bought $192 million worth of shares in Fairfax (the publisher of Brisbane Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and many regional newspapers and city-based radio stations) to take her share in the company to about 14 per cent. To me, these two events were intrinsically linked, and not just because Mr Manners is a personal friend of Ms Rinehart’s.

read more

February 03 2012

01:50

Australian Meteorology Bureau Corrects Record On Former Research Head William Kininmonth's Actual Climate Change Experience

WHEN it comes to climate change science, as with most things in life, it pays to listen to actual experts with a solid background in their field.

On Monday the Wall Street Journal and, later, The Australian newspaper, ran an editorial from a group of climate science contrarians which claimed global warming had stopped and that CO2 was food for plants, rather than a potential pollutant. 
 
In a scathing response in the WSJ, also published by The Australian, 38 genuine climate change scientists, explained the original WSJ 16 were "the climate-science equivalent of dentists practising cardiology."
 
"While accomplished," the response explained, "most of its authors have no expertise in climate science. The few who have are known to hold extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert."
 
The group also debunked the misleading notion that global warming had stopped. "Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade,'' the group wrote. "In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our planet is getting hotter."
 
Several journalists and bloggers, including Media Matters, have also investigated the expertise of the signatories to the original op-ed, which included members of free market think-tanks, climate science denial organisations and even a former researcher for Exxon.
 
One of the WSJ 16 in question, did appear on paper though to have some solid experience on his CV. William Kininmonth, a long-time sceptic of human caused climate change, was described in the WSJ editorial as the "former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology".

read more

November 18 2011

20:25

Monckton Reaches New Heights of Anti-Environmentalism

CLIMATE science denial think-tank the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow is flying a four-strong delegation to next week’s UN climate conference in South Africa, with a promise to engage in a “balanced, civil and genuine” dialogue.

But the chances of much civility appear to be somewhere between zero and naught, given their delegate Lord Christopher Monckton’s latest outpouring of bilious, conspiratorial anti-environmentalism.
 
During a video chat with The Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas, Monckton claims environmental groups “hate humanity”, that the UN process (which he is flying into at Durban) is to “set-up a world government” and throws around claims of fascism and communism like confetti. 
 
Never a man to understate his case, CFACT delegate Lord Monckton is fast becoming the Harold Camping of the climate science denial industry, claiming the global warming “scare” is an attempt to “shut down the West”, “stamp out democracy” and establish “a tyranny over the mind of man”.
 
The cleanest form of energy on the planet? Monckton tells host Ginni Thomas, it’s “coal”.
The fact is that if we allow our fossil fuels to be interfered with or priced out of the market, so as to subside futile, bird-killing, bat-slicing windmills, or these ridiculous solar panels, then all we do is cut of our nose to spite our face
Now the trouble with this is, that it’s actually fossil fuels that are receiving the bulk of subsidies. According to that famous left-wing environmental organisation, the International Energy Agency, fossil fuel industries received $409 billion in 2010 (up from $300 billion in 2009).
 
Monckton tells Thomas that he “likes to speak for freedom".  Actually, Monckton also likes to threaten to sue people who disagree with him, which isn’t quite speaking for freedom.
 
Monckton has issued threats to sue Guardian columnist George Monbiot, scientist professors Scott Mandia and John Abraham and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He also went to the UK’s High Court in an unsuccessful bid to have his own response inserted at the end of a BBC-commissioned documentary Meet the Climate Skeptics.
 
Lord Monckton also attacks plans being discussed in the state of Maryland for a more sustainable future. If implemented in full, Monckton says the plan will take the state “back to the stone-age but without even the right to light a carbon emitting fire in your cave.”

Alarmist, anyone?
 
Actually, caves as housing options aren’t mentioned in Maryland’s plan, but it does talk of the utter evils of a "range of housing densities, types, and sizes… for citizens of all ages and incomes”.
 
The plan also states how quality of life can come through “universal stewardship of the land, water, and air resulting in sustainable communities and protection of the environment”.
 
Elsewhere in Lord Monckton’s tirade, he says that raising CO2 levels “would hugely increase yields of crops - the extra carbon dioxide is tree food”. He adds that “if you want to green the planet, then what you want is more carbon dioxide and not less”.
 
I asked Associate Professor Ros Gleadow of Monash University and President of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists, about this common meme that CO2 is merely "food for plants" and that increasing it would just raise crop yields.
 
She told DeSmogBlog that under enhanced CO2, the nutritional quality and protein levels of most plants decreases. This could affect plants such as wheat, where protein levels are vital in bread making. Because protein levels would fall, this reduction could also affect the ability of humans to tolerate cyanide, which gets released when foods such as cassava – a staple in Africa - are eaten.
 
She added because plants grown in higher CO2 regimes need fewer leaves to grow, this would also impact on animals which ate those leaves.
 
For Australia, this means koalas. Just before Lord Monckton came to the land of koalas for a mining-industry sponsored tour earlier this year, he compared the country’s former climate policy adviser Professor Ross Garnaut to a Nazi and used a picture of a large swastika next to a quote from Professor Garnaut to ram his point home.
 
On arriving in Australia, Monckton issued an apology – of sorts – saying he had been “catastrophically stupid and offensive” and that he had written to Professor Garnaut to withdraw the comment “unreservedly”.
 
But in his interview with Ginni Thomas, Monckton now claims his previously “catastrophically stupid” statement was actually “very mild”.
 
You don’t actually hear Ginni Thomas at all during the interview, so at no point does she even attempt to restrain or challenge his stataments.
 
But perhaps the most conspiratorial part of the interview, comes when Monckton claims that Google had been paid “something like a quarter of a million dollars” to publish bogus pages on the internet in order to push a video of him down the search engine’s page ranking. Without this intervention, Monckton claim modestly the video would have "gone to 20 million" and been "unstoppable".
 
A Google spokesperson told DeSmogBlog
Google ranks websites to deliver the best possible results for users. We rely on a fundamentally algorithmic approach because this is the most scalable way to answer more than a billion search queries each day. Search rankings are completely unrelated to Google’s paid advertising services and other partnerships, and there is absolutely no way for a webmaster to pay money to increase search rankings.
According to research by MediaMatters, CFACT has received more than $2million in funding over the years from ExxonMobil and foundation’s chaired by Richard Scaife, the billionaire heir to the Mellon family’s oil, banking and aluminium businesses.
 
In addition, CFACT also received $160,000 in 2010 from the Sarah Scaife Foundation, according to the foundation’s latest annual report
 
For the record, SSF also gave $250,000 to the George C Marshall Institute, another promoter of climate science misinformation, and $600,000 to the Heritage Foundation, which heavily downplays the need to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and argues against scientific consensus. The Allegheny Foundation, also chaired by Richard Scaife, gave $1.25 million to Heritage last year.
 

Given their funding, CFACT can obviously afford to stick Lord Monckton on a plane to Durban to attend a UN conference. Let's hope he doesn't run into any more of those "Hitler Youth".

 

September 15 2011

16:21

How The Australian Newspaper Warps The World of Climate Science

THERE is a publication in Australia where for every one story you read which agrees society should take firm steps to combat climate change, there are four stories suggesting we shouldn’t.

When climate change is viewed through the pages of this publication, most of the world’s “experts” think it’s either not happening, not worth worrying about or not caused by humans.

Advocates for strong action on climate change are variously described as “prophets of doom”, “greenhouse hysterics” or “hair-shirted greenhouse penitents”. 

As extreme as these positions might appear, this publication is not a newsletter from a fringe group or a bulletin from the Tea Party.
 
This is the divisive state of climate change science in the pages of the nation’s sole national newspaper The Australian, according to a 115-page examination of the publication’s role in shaping how Australia thinks.
 
The essay – Bad News (paywalled) - is written by author Professor Robert Manne, one of the country’s leading political thinkers.
 
In an excerpt from his essay, published in The Age, Manne writes
 
As we shall see, what The Australian has contributed on climate change under editor Chris Mitchell's watch is a frightful hotchpotch of ideological prejudice and intellectual muddle
 
The Australian’s owner is Rupert Murdoch, who in 2006 said the planet deserved “the benefit of the doubt" and that it was now time to “take a lead” on the issue.
 
Manne analysed climate change articles printed by The Australian between January 2004 and April 2011 and found that 700 articles were “unfavourable” to action on climate change.
 
That is, they either disagreed with the consensus of climate science, didn’t support Australia’s ratification of the Kyoto protocol or didn’t support previous governments’ steps towards a carbon trading scheme. 
 
Balanced against these 700 articles, there were 180 stories and columns “favourable” to  action on climate change. 
 
Climate skepticism and denial also heavily dominated the newspaper’s columns and opinion articles, Manne found.
 
Dozens of articles were published by “scientists” which rejected the consensual view.  

Sceptics including Bob Carter, Ian Plimer, Christopher Monckton, Richard Lindzen, David Bellamy and John Christy were all given space in The Australian
 
In particular, Bob Carter wrote nine articles, Bjorn Lomborg penned 25 and two members of the Australian “free market” think-tank the Institute of Public Affairs, well known for dissemination of climate denial, wrote 16 articles. 
 
Contributions from recognised climate science experts, such as James Hansen and the immediate past president of the Australian Academy of Science Professor Kurt Lambeck, were outnumbered by ten to one.
 
Among The Australian’s in-house regulars, Manne documents the “comical degree of self-confidence” with which its writers disagreed with established climate science.
 
While in its official editorials, The Australian has said it accepts the science of climate change, Manne looks closer at the newspaper's record.

In its coverage of climate change, The Australian had failed to acknowledge the distinction between genuine expertise and “contrarians or cranks” and had “threatened the always vulnerable place of reason in public life”.
 
Manne's essay is just the latest to question The Australian's coverage of climate change.
 
Astrophysicist Michael Ashley recently documented on The Conversation the newspaper's questionable record and described its climate change coverage as resembling an “event horizon” where “our normal perception of reality is so completely overturned”.
 
In a long-running series, Tim Lambert’s Deltoid blog has been documenting The Australian’s “war on science” - a list of errors and misrepresentations - which is currently up to 70.
 
In a profile of The Australian’s editor Chris Mitchell, published in the August issue of magazine The Monthly, it was revealed that News Limited’s environment and climate change manager Dr Tony Wilkins had himself canceled his subscription to The Australian over its coverage of climate change.
 
When a former journalist at The Australian complained during a conference last year that writing on climate change for the newspaper had been “torture”, Mitchell threatened to sue academic Julie Posetti, who had tweeted the comments.
 
Legal letters went backwards and forwards in what became known as #Twitdef – the hashtag used by followers of the case on Twitter. The threat has not been withdrawn.

 

August 04 2011

18:20

Denial Down Under With The Galileo Movement

THERE'S a new climate denial lobby group on the block - bravely regurgitating previously debunked pseudo-science and making wild unsubstantiated claims that climate scientists are all corrupt.

Not happy with misrepresenting the science on climate change, The Galileo Movement has also misappropriated the name of the father of modern science who was persecuted for his insistance that the Sun, rather than the Earth, was the centre of the universe.

The Galileo Movement, launched in Australia, has stated its prime mission is to stop the Government's current efforts to introduce a price on greenhouse gas emissions and boasts a list of advisors resembling a who's who of international climate change denial.

Included on the group's advisory panel are Professor Fred Singer, Patrick Michaels, Professor Bob Carter, Professor Ian Plimer, Joe D'Aleo, Professor Richard Lindzen and Lord Christopher Monckton.

Galileo has been getting plenty of air-time and online exposure thanks to its patron, popular conservative radio host Alan Jones, and News Ltd blogger Andrew Bolt, who is also listed as an "advisor". 

Jones, a fierce and fearless host on 2GB who leads radio ratings with his breakfast slot in Sydney, has been on a relentless tirade in recent weeks attacking climate science and the federal government's plans to tax greenhouse gas emissions.

Since March, Jones has interviewed seven of the Galileo Movement's advisors and the project's coordinator. He's interviewed Professor Carter twice and Lord Monckton three times. Both are advisors at the US-based climate denial "think-tank" the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI).

He's also managed to squeeze in interviews with sceptics Lord Lawson, chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus.

During one slot, Jones claimed on-air that "human beings produce 0.001 per cent of the carbon dioxide in the air", prompting an investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority

Yet Jones is also an outspoken critic of the massive expansions to coal mining and coal seam gas development in rural and remote regions of Australia.

Galileo has also brought in the services of JacksonWells, a Sydney-based public relations firm with a client list that you might describe as diverse.

As well as providing PR advice to international brands including computer firm Dell, Warner Bros. Entertainment, British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco, JacksonWells also has The Church of Scientology and the closed religious group The Exclusive Brethren on its books.

JacksonWells also lobbies government officials on behalf of many of its clients. The firm appears on the federal government lobby register and similar registers in the states of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

Picking up the Galileo PR work is the well-travelled JacksonWells director Bob Lawrence, who also provided media advice and support to organisers of climate change denier Lord Monckton's 2010 Australia-wide tour.

In an article last year in the JacksonWells company newsletter, The Well, Lawrence explained how he had helped to gain positive media coverage for Lord Monckton.

He wrote the firm had employees "who agree that climate change is a major global threat and we have our skeptics" but he added "the firm itself takes no corporate position on political issues".

A political issue?

Disagreeing would be the world's acidifying oceans, warming climate, changing atmospheric composition, melting Arctic and the vast majority of its working climate scientists.

July 21 2011

21:42

Christopher Monckton is No Lord – Get Used to It


"Lord" Monckton - seen here tripping over his own egoHis officious, bumptious, arrogant demeanor makes Christopher Monckton one of the most easily recognizable climate cranks in the industry (and perhaps, in a sad, unintentional sort of way, one of the most humorous). Currently on tour in Australia demonstrating his non-scientist scientific prowess on climate, Monckton reminded ABC Sydney’s Adam Spencer that it’s Lord Christopher Monckton to the likes of you and me. When pressed by Spencer if he was really a Member of the House of Lords in the UK, Moncton testily replied:

“Yes, but without the right to sit or vote … [The Lords] have not yet repealed by act of parliament the letters patent creating the peerage and until they do I am a member of the house, as my passport records. It says I am the Right Honourable Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. So get used to it.”

Yes, m’Lord, whatever you say – and have been saying ad nauseum for years. Yawn.

Surely the House of Lords will welcome you with open arms as one of their own, then, right? 

In a letter written last week by David Beamish, clerk of the parliments, Monckton was told unequivocally to knock it off:

“You are not and have never been a member of the House of Lords. Your assertion that you are a member, but without the right to sit or vote, is a contradiction in terms.”

Well, okay, but Monckton’s former role as science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher meant he was a key figure in the Iron Lady’s climate policy, right? Well, that’s what he says. He appears to be the only one (that was there at the time) saying it.

What we can confirm is that Monckton has a penchant for invoking Hitler and Fascism on his opponents. Like calling young, idealistic climate activists at the COP15 climate conference “Hitler Youth.” His recent tour has been marred by cancellations after he called Ross Garnaut a fascist.

Even without his Hitler-baiting rhetoric, academics in Australia called for the the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle to cancel Monckton’s scheduled lecture because Monckton “stands for the kind of ignorance and superstition that universities have a duty to counter.”

“Lord Monckton propounds widely discredited fictions about climate change and misrepresents the research of countless scientists. With zero peer-reviewed publications, he has declared that the scientific enterprise is invalid and that climate science is fraudulent … Over the last month there has been a great deal of coverage in the Australian media of the death threats and abusive emails that have targeted Australian scientists working on climate change. These threats are fuelled by misinformation spread by figures like Lord Monckton and the distorted coverage that they receive in the Australian media. As academics, we expect our universities to support us against this kind of abuse. We expect our universities to foster academic standards of conduct and argument.

We all support academic freedom and the freedom to express our ideas and beliefs … [However] Notre Dame’s invitation to Lord Monckton makes a mockery of academic standards and the pursuit of evidence-based knowledge.”

So Monckton is no climate scientists and not a Lord, despite his claims to the contrary. There’s likely a lot more where that came from. Get used to it.

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June 29 2011

17:40

Climate Sceptic Group Reveals Strategy Document to Win Hearts and Minds

In December 2009 at a gathering of climate change deniers in Copenhagen, Dr Tom Harris was shimmering with enthusiasm for his latest project.

Dr Harris, executive director of the Ottawa-based sceptic group the International Climate Science Coalition, explained how he had managed to gather "hundreds" of signatures from "climate experts" who wanted to challenge "supporters of the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused climate change" to provide evidence.

Not only that, but it had taken him just "two weeks" to gather the signatures, which he then explained numbered 150 (so much for hundreds).

"This list is growing quickly," he said, "and we are going to maintain it as something called the register. We expect it eventually to be thousands."

With such a surge in supporters, how is the global register going a full 18 months on?

As detailed in a new ICSC strategy document released this month by ICSC, the organisation's register has expanded to… wait for it… 142.

The document, entitled Winning Hearts and Minds to Climate and Energy Reality, is a compendium of the coalition's recent activities and reads like part-annual report, part-fundraising document and part-instruction manual.

If the document is anything to go by, enthusiasm for the "register" continues despite the apparent implosion of support.

"Once it is more broadly known that many relevant scientists do not support the need for carbon dioxide (CO2) emission controls, public appetite for expensive programs "to fight climate change" will quickly wither,'' the document states.

"Politicians can choose to follow or eventually risk defeat. Mass media that are seen to be out of step with their readers will lose circulation and ratings. Businesses that promoted the scare will have difficulty regaining public trust. Climate campaigners will be increasingly discounted and the extremists in the environmental movement may be set back decades as their signature crusade, the quest to 'stop climate change', will be regarded as hopelessly misguided."

The document outlines how the ICSC places columns in newspapers and mentions successes in the New Zealand Herald, Washington Times, The Gazette (Montreal), The Australian, National Post (Canada) and The Epoch Times. They also expect to get a "Letter to the Editor" published once every two weeks.

On radio, Mr Harris has, the document explains, appeared as a caller more than 100 times on popular talkback radio shows in Canada and the United States.

But small community newspapers are where the real easy pickings are to be found. The strategy explains these publications are more likely to publish submissions because they're not swamped with offers like larger newspapers. Also, these publications might not yet have an editorial stance on "controversial, 'big city' media issues such as climate change".

To capitalise on this ripe fruit, the ICSC proposes to send "multiple submissions to newspapers in different locations". They'll also be targeting the "Letters to the Editor" pages where it is "generally easier" to get their views published. So easy, in fact, that it is worth sending their letters "to a number of papers simultaneously".

Under the heading "Other Educational Activities" the ICSC recommends astroturfing "prominent news and other web sites, blogs and other forms of popular social media". When climate change is in the news, "we may post several times a day".

According to the document, a central philosophy of the ICSC is to avoid "attacking our opponents" by avoiding "nasty ad homenims [sic]" and to be non-partisan.

The memo perhaps failed to reach Lord Christopher Monckton, a member of the ICSC policy advisory board, who in recent weeks branded the Australian government's climate change policy advisor Professor Ross Garnaut a Nazi.

Similarly, earlier this week in The Age newspaper the ICSC's chief science advisor, Australia-based Professor Bob Carter, collectively described Professor Garnaut, the Australian climate change minister Greg Combet, Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery and the country's chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, as the "four horsemen of the climate apocalypse".

The ICSC affiliate group in Australia includes such non-partisan advisors as Vivian Forbes and Professor Ian Plimer. Mr Forbes is a director of coal export business Stanmore Coal.  Professor Ian Plimer is a director of at least five mining companies, including Ormil Energy, which this week received state approval to drill near Sydney in search of coal bed methane.

June 24 2011

21:42

Lord Monckton Brands Australian Climate Advisor a Nazi

NEVER a stranger to controversy or a fossil-fuel funded think-tank, Scotland-based British peer Lord Christopher Monckton has been caught jumping the proverbial climate denial shark just weeks before a nationwide tour of Australia.

In a conference speech in Los Angeles earlier this month, Lord Monckton compared the Australian Government's climate change policy advisor Professor Ross Garnaut to a Nazi, saying his views were "fascist".

In order to ram his rhetorical point home into the darkened Californian conference hall, Lord Monckton displayed a very large Nazi swastika next to a quote from Professor Garnaut, whose reports have been informing the Government's position as it attempts to introduce a price on carbon.

News of the insult on ABC website The Drum sparked blanket newspaper and television coverage across Australia.

Labor Party leader and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard described the comments as "grossly inappropriate". Prominent politician and former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, of the conservative-leaning Liberal party, said Lord Monckton was "a vaudeville artist" with "no credibility, politically or scientifically".

Credibility or no credibility (given his lack of science qualifications, it is most likely the latter), the Nazi slur hasn't discouraged Lord Monckton's backers. At least part of Lord Monckton's trip is being paid for by the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, which has distanced itself from the comments but confirms he will still speak at it's annual convention on 30 June in Perth. Opposition and Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott, who has questioned the seriousness of human-caused climate change, is scheduled to open the convention.

Lord Monckton also toured Australia in early 2010, when it was revealed that mining magnate Gina Rinehart had donated funds and a member of staff to help co-ordinate the trip.

Ms Rinehart, chairman of Hancock Prospecting, was recently crowned as Australia's wealthiest individual with recent analysis suggesting she could soon become the richest individual on the planet. As the sole owner and chairman of the iron ore and coal mining company (a position inherited from her father Lang Hancock), Ms Rinehart is estimated to be worth more than US$10 billion.

Earlier this month, it was revealed in The Age newspaper that Ms Hancock had flown at least two members of Parliament to India on her private jet to attend the wedding of a member of the Reddy family. Ms Rinehart is reportedly hoping to secure a $2 billion deal with the Reddy's to purchase a stake in her coal mines.

After Lord Monckton's appearance at the mining conference, he will go on to deliver the "Lang Hancock Lecture" at the University of Notre Dame, near Perth, thanks to sponsorship from Hancock Prospecting. Then it's off for a dozen or so public talks, with tickets on sale from $25 to $60 each.

Presumably the Nazi slide will be left back at Lord Monckton's Scottish mansion, although at least one venue - a German Club in Adelaide in South Australia - is now understandably reticent, reports AdelaideNow.

Invoking Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies is something of an area of expertise for Lord Monckton.

In 2009 at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, he described one group of young climate change campaigners as the "Hitler Youth".

Interviewed through the shaky camera hand of DeSmogBlog's own Brendan DeMelle, Lord Monckton calmly explained: "The number of people being killed by this misplaced belief in climate change is if anything greater than the number of people killed by Hitler."

Oh Lordy. Strap yourself in, Australia.

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

August 05 2010

16:52

Monckton Watch: Lordly Phony Threatens Phony Suit

The British House of Lords has once again disavowed any association with the embarrassing Christopher Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, even as his Lordship has labored to earn even wider notoriety by threatening a lawsuit against yet another U.S. academic.

The Lordly disavowal came in response to a very funny letter of inquiry from the wonderful wiseacres at Friends of Gin and Tonic (temporarily the "Lords of Gin and Tonic" in faux tribute to the self-promoting Viscount).

Monckton himself launched the unconvincing legal threat against Scott Mandia, a professor at Suffolk County College in Seldon, New York. In addition to operating an excellent informational website on climate change, Prof. Mandia also runs his own blog, on which he had the impertinence to call out Monckton for his earlier ridiculous attacks on University of St. Thomas Professor John Abraham. <!--break-->

Mandia had encouraged his readers to write letters to mainstream media sources, urging them to look into the issue and, "Expose Monckton for the fraud that he is." Monckton chose to interpret that as an accusation that he had committed fraud, a topic on which much rich discussion could follow. For example, lying so frequently about being a member of the House of Lords that the House itself feels moved to take countermeasures might reasonably be interpreted as fraud.

But Mandia was so clearly saying that Monckton IS a fraud, a contention well-supported by the definition of that word in my Oxford English Reference Dictionary: "3. a person or thing not fulfilling what is claimed or expected of him, her, or it."

For clarity - and because Monckton seems to have difficulty understanding things on first reading - useful synonyms might include, "imposter, pretender, masquerader, mountebank, quack, charlatan, fake, phony, fourflusher, flimflammer, trickster, bamboozler or dissembler."

I personally like mountebank, as in, Christopher Monckton, Third Mountebank Monckton of Brenchley - although, like Monckton himself, such a title would dishonor the members of his family who actually earned the hereditary peerage in the first place.

July 15 2010

21:48

If exposing the climate deniers makes me a scumbag so be it

What do you get when you cross a retired weatherman with a wannabe British aristocrat?

No wait, that's not it.

A retired weatherman and a former political hack for Margaret Thatcher walk into a bar and the bartender tells them both that if they want a drink they have to stop pretending they're experts in climate science.

Oh, and they should stop calling people (like me) a scumbag, it just makes them less attractive to the ladies at the bar than they already are.

Enough with the joke metaphors.

Someone sent along a post written by the puzzling Christopher Monckton - the guy with a penchant for high-brow verbiage and accusations of Nazi-facist activities. The post was on Anthony Watts' blog - the retired weatherman and equally unqualified as a our Monckton when it comes to the science of climate change.

<!--break-->It looks as though Watts has taken to calling me a "scumbag." Here's the screenshot where "A" responds to one of his reader's comments:

Watts should know that I go ballistic at least 10 times a day about something or other (today it was my coffee cup lid leaking every time I took a sip). As for me being a scumbag... well I would say to that, grow up.

It must be getting frustrating for the likes of Watts and Monckton to be sliding back into obscurity now that the climategate scandal has been determined by no less than three different inquiries to be nothing more than manufactured hot air.

Watts and Monckton have both been breathless activists when it comes to using the stolen emails to fit their conspiracy theories around climate change and now that they have been proven incorrect they must be feeling a little bit hurt.

At least for Watts it looks like that has taken the form of name-calling.

 

 

July 13 2010

19:18

Monckton exposes his rebuttal: So much blather; so little substance

The motor-mouth Monckton - which is to say, Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley - has authored a 48,000-word Response to John Abraham (attached). It is a breathless and libelous screed that can lead to only one certain conclusion: the good Lord doesn't have a leg to stand on.

For those catching up, John Abraham is a professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, who some months ago released a detailed critique of an earlier Monckton presentation. Abraham found Monckton's work sadly lacking. Monckton misquoted or mislabelled sources; he promoted positions that were unsupported in his material; he bobbled his math; he manipulated or inadvertently misrepresented graphical information and he arrived at conclusions that were, in Abraham's own generally careful words, "absurd."

Monckton is outraged (which appears to be a permanent condition - either outraged or outrageous). In a response that goes on for 99 tiresome pages, he calls Abraham a liar, and accuses him of bad faith, malice and academic dishonesty. The Viscount then insists that Abraham and his unversity atone for their sins by paying $110,000 in "damages" to a charity of Monckton's own choosing. This is couched as some kind of libel action in the court of public opinion - the only court where Monckton dare step: he'd be laughed out of town (and found libel for costs) if he tried any of this nonsense before even the most sympathetic judge.

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Monckton's entire response is both too silly and too incredibly long to be picked apart piece by piece: that would take months. But here are a couple of representative outbursts. In a foreword, "signed" by the Science and Public Policy Institute (the SPPInstitute) Monckton (clearly the author; he screws up his first-person, third-person pronouns) says:

Abraham falsely stated that “Remember, Chris Monckton’s never published a paper in anything”
(37), when he knew or negligently and recklessly failed to check that – to take two examples –
Lord Monckton had published papers on the determination of climate sensitivity in the UK’s
Quarterly Economic Bulletin and in the American Physical Society’s reviewed newsletter, Physics
and Society ...

In context, Abraham's reference - an accurate one - held that Monckton has never published anything in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Monckton's riposte cites a bulletin in a Welsh business school not a particularly impressive standard for scientific peer review. Monckton also points to feature that he wrote for an APS newsletter. The latter is also NOT a peer-reviewed journal and Monckton has been scolded by people, including the then-president of the American Physical Society, Arthur Biensenstock, for misrepresenting this fact.

So, per Abraham's criticism, Monckton says something, he offers a vague source to back up his position, but when you go to the source, you find that he has said something that is quite incorrect. If you didn't already know Monckton - which is to say, if you hadn't come to expect this performance - you might have thought that someone who was calling someone else a "liar" would take greater care with his own facts.

My favourite set of criticisms, though, revolve around Abraham's general statements that Monckton had urged his audience to believe "The world is not warming;" "The ice is not melting:" "The ocean isn't heating;" and "Sea levels aren't rising at all."

Monckton says this is "a lie" and to prove it, he points to some of the graphs that he used to illustrate these issues. These graphs appear on slides labelled "The 'it's getting worse' lie;" and " ...so sea level has not risen for four years;" and "Arctic summer sea ice area is just fine; it's recovering from a 30-year low in 2007."

I find this fascinating. Monckton uses these slides in his presentation to argue that climate change is nothing to worry about and that the world scientific community is peopled by a pack of liars. Yet, when he's crticised for this idiocy, he notices that the graphs and science in his OWN PRESENTATION demonstrate the exact opposite. He puts up an image showing a steady increase in sea level and he draws a big red line across the only four-year period in which the rise pauses - declaring global warming at an end. And then he accuses John Abraham of lying! Monckton says that "Arctic summer sea ice area is just fine ..." and then bids us in a later defence to concentrate on the part where he mentions 2007 as a low point unprecedented in the history of Arctic sea ice record-keeping. Say whatever else you want about the guy, you have to give Monckton credit for having cast iron cojones and no sense of shame whatsoever.

Here's the bottom line: Monckton is a risible hack who burries fact in a lather of language, and who cares for nothing so much as the promotion of his own dubious reputation. If you doubt it, take the 90 minutes to watch Monckton's rude, sophomoric and objectionable presentation and then take another 80 minutes to watch John Abraham's remarkably respectful response. Then, if you're really, really determined, check out Monckton's latest epistle.

After such an exercise, preferably followed by some strong drink and a good night sleep, I believe that most people will conclude that John Abraham is a careful scientist and that the Lord Monckton is a belligerent and unapologetic polemicist, pushing an ideological viewpoint that is - in a way that he has noticed himself - quite directly in opposition to the evidence at hand.

 

 

AttachmentSize response_to_john_abraham.pdf5.38 MB

June 09 2010

22:44

Monckton bashing "left" and "right"

Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, attracts some pretty colorful criticism, but it's a bit stunning to see someone at the climate-skeptical London Independent call Monckton "a fantasist, a blethering popinjay useful only for amusement."

Unfortunately, you can't read that quote on the Independent website where blogger Tom Chivers wrote it in the first place. After a complaint from Monckton's own noble self, his allies in self-delusion have had it deleted. But the original piece is still available to all at Tenney Naumer's blog, Climate Change - the Next Generation. (Thank you, Tenney.)

Chiver's position, convincingly rendered, is that Monckton has made himself a goof, a paragon of "utter scientific illiteracy," and, as such, has become an embarrassment to the denier community.

That accords perfectly with the stuff that George Monbiot has been writing at the Guardian. Monbiot says,

"Lord Monckton is digging his hole ever deeper, and dragging down into it everyone stupid enough to follow him. Those of us who do battle with climate change deniers can't inflict one tenth as much damage to their cause that Monckton wreaks every time he opens his mouth."

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This agreement, across what we usually think of as the full spectrum of journalistic opinion in the U.K., is attributable to University of St. Thomas Engineering Professor John Abraham, whose devastating deconstruction of Monckton's silliness has been the subject of a couple of previous posts, 1, 2.

In pulling down Chiver's post, the Independent has done the only merciful thing that it could in the circumstance: it has looked away. It's a good start. The only thing better than a bunch of people all criticizing Monckton at the same time, would be an even larger group ignoring him entirely. Hurry the day.

May 25 2010

23:42

Christopher Monckton: Lies, damn lies or staggering incompetence

John Abraham's Critique Devastates the Florid Lord's Denier Diatribe

Christopher Monckton, the self-celebrating Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, toured Canada and the U.S. last year calling the world's best climate scientists and activists "liars" for setting out their concerns about the dangers of climate change. In his presentations and his PowerPoints, Monckton was graceless and taunting in tone, making fun of Al Gore's accent along with his science. The record now shows that Monckton was also wrong - and frankly, wrong is such a way that he himself must be found to be either a flagrant and shameless liar or the most incompetent compiler of information since church scholars gathered to argue for the flatness of the earth.

The new critique was assembled by John P. Abraham, an engineering professor at St. Thomas University in St. Paul Minnesota. A diligent - even painstaking - researcher, Abraham is also unreservedly respectful in his own presentation, giving Monckton the benefit of every doubt.

The facts, however, are less accommodating. As Prof. Abraham demonstrates time and again, Monckton has consistently misinterpreted, misrepresented or flat-out lied about his "evidence" arguing against the theory of human-induced global warming. He has mangled references, misrepresented findings, cobbled together unattributed graphs and staked his case to critically compromised scholars.<!--break-->

Monckton has already revealed himself as someone whose capacity to be antisocial goes well beyond mere rudeness. This new presentation should be required viewing for anyone who regards him as even vaguely credible on climate science. Take the time: you will find he is anything but.

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.

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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

18:39

Marc Morano: "He's the turd in the punch bowl ..."

" ... that's all he is and all he can be."

The amazing thing about Esquire's brilliantly written new profile on Marc Morano is that Morano himself probably loves it.

Per the quote above, Esquire writer John Richardson calls Morano a "turd in the punch bowl." He calls him a liar, referring to "the method Morano loves best, using the laugh value of satire to displace the truth requirements of journalism."

Yet Esquire still gives Morano 6,500 words of love and attention (the two are one and the same in Morano's denier circles). The magazine even introduces him in the subhed as the guy who "broke the Swift Boat story and effectively stalled John Kerry's presidential run." (C'mon, you guys. He didn't "break" it. He made it up.)<!--break-->

And that lifts Morano one notch further up the notoriety index. It throws another hundred thousand watts into the megaphone that Morano uses to overwhelm truth with "satire" - to spread fecal coliforms through all of America's punch.

Ah well. We can only hope it's a swan song - that the last six months will one day prove to have been the deniersphere's best, and last success. But while we hope - and wait - I have to recommend the article. It's very good reading.

 

March 25 2010

16:12

Monckton in Utah: Hitlerian hyperbole and deviations from the truth

Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of BullTwaddle, has been enriching himself on the speaker circuit in the last couple of days, enteraining a rump of science "skeptics" in the sparsely populated halls of Salt Lake City.

Monckton, who likes to scream out slanderous Nazi accusations, was at it again, accusing the world's foremost climate scientists of "wanting to impose the same kind of tyranny as Hitler."

At least some of the local media were not taking the bait. Salt Lake Tribune columnist Peg McEntee pointed out that Monckton began his speech with a fair warning, saying: "Do not believe a word I say."

She then closed her column by noting that the man continues to misrepresent himself as a member of the British House of Lords, a banal matter of fact that is easily debunked and establishes his (lack of) credibility beyond doubt.

But then, Robert Ferguson and his secret funders at the SPPInstitute aren't paying Monckton to tell the truth. They're paying him to deny global warming.<!--break-->

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