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August 01 2012

20:47

Victory Declared For The Climate Science Denialists

A VICTORY has been declared in the field of climate change but the lap of honour is not being run by research scientists or renewable energy bosses, or by coral reefs, drought-stricken farmers or the citizens of low-lying countries.

Rather, if you accept as valid this declaration of victory from one of Australia’s leading thinkers, then those popping the champagne corks are the fossil fuel lobby.

Standing by the track cheering this triumph, are the conservative think tanks and the free market ideologues that believe the world should be run on their terms. To follow the analogy through to the bitter end, the losers are everyone else.

Professor Robert Manne, a political philosopher at La Trobe University, is making this declaration in a 7000-word essay published tomorrow in The Monthly magazine – its cover screaming “Victory of the Denialists: How Climate Science Was Vanquished”.

Manne’s essay charts the decades-long effort to spread doubt and confusion about the science of human-caused climate change, focusing on the think tanks and corporations that created and backed a “relentless” campaign in the United States which has infected other parts of the western world, including Australia.

Manne draws on already published books and research papers about the climate denial industry, and so in that respect close watchers won’t find anything new. But it is his declaration that climate science denialists have won which will stick in the throat of many climate change campaigners and science communicators.

I asked Professor Manne why he had come to that conclusion.

I find it difficult to see how a reasonably objective observer could deny that this is what has happened—gradually at first but also dramatically since the end of 2009 due largely to the combination of the failure of Copenhagen and the impact of 'Climategate'.

 

The victory I write about is limited to the United States, although denialism is an important and almost certainly growing movement in Canada, Australia and the UK.

If climate change denialists are pleased [by the conclusion] then they have chosen to ignore the explicit claim of the article that they are part of an irrationalist movement that is placing the future of the Earth at risk. The role of analysis is to be as faithful to the truth as one can be, not to boost morale or to support delusion.

For the denialists to be “victorious” they do not need to "prove" that global warming is a "hoax". All they have to do is to "manufacture doubt", that is to say to create a substantial level of public doubt about the solidity of the science.


According to Manne, President Barack Obama has been “nobbled” by the denialist campaign and the Republican Party almost “entirely converted” to denying the science.

Manne concludes in his essay that the success of the denialist campaign is one that subsequent generations will look upon “as perhaps the darkest in the history of humankind”.

But just as Manne makes his declaration, a project funded by two of America’s greatest supporters of the “denialist” campaign has backfired spectacularly.

Professor Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California at Berkeley, led a project that accepted a $150,000 donation from a foundation controlled by the Koch brothers to study global temperature records (the Kochs have pumped millions into the global climate denial campaign).

Muller had previously stated that claims by skeptics that temperature records were unreliable merited a major investigation. He has also previously criticised the work of Pennsylvania State University scientist Professor Michael Manne, whose research gave birth to the now famous hockey stick graph showing a sharp rise in recent global temperatures.

After going through 1.6 billion records from 36,000 temperature stations, Muller’s team says the world’s temperature has risen by 1.5C in the 250 years since the start of the industrial revolution. More than half of this increase has occurred in the last 50 years.

What’s more, Muller now says that human activity, mainly burning fossil fuels, is to blame for practically all of that warming.

Muller’s study, which has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, has been widely reported not because of a novel approach to climate science research, or because it tells us anything new, but rather because of his reported “conversion” from being skeptical to accepting the science.  He now describes himself as a “converted skeptic”.

Presumably, the oil rich Koch brothers were so convinced the world’s temperature gauges were lying, that they were happy to provide a no strings donation to Muller’s project, which stipulated its donors  “have no say over how we conduct the research or what we publish”.

But in a chronology, Muller’s work has come to essentially the same conclusion as the rest of the climate science community, except they got there a good decade or so earlier.

In The Monthly, Manne defines “denialists” as “orthodox members of a tightly knit group whose natural disposition is not to think for themselves”.

But on the same spectrum is a group of individuals, lobbyists and think-tankers who hide their skepticism behind a charade of pragmatism. Professor Clive Hamilton, recently appointed to board of the Australian Government’s Climate Change Authority, describes them as the “luke warmists”.

Luke warmists, Hamilton wrote recently, accept the science but relentlessly and unrealistically emphasise uncertainties, play down the dangers and advocate for only tokenistic, low-impact policy responses.

But what about those world leaders who have accepted the science of human caused climate change and have articulated the risks? Even these have hardly covered themselves in glory.

Because after Kyotos, Copenhagens, Durbans, Cancuns and revisits to Rio for new earth summits, the world’s emissions continue to boom reaching an all-time record last year.

Even though Australia has introduced a price on greenhouse gas emissions on the heaviest polluters, the scheme will allow these emitters to buy carbon credits from overseas to offset as much as half their liabilities.

This means that Australia’s domestically generated emissions will likely rise for the next 20 years, although not nearly as quickly as they would have risen without the scheme altogether.

Bizarrely, this situation is seen by some as major progress.

The carbon price is an important step forward and will help drive the roll-out of renewable energy in the same way that decades of subsidies have helped the fossil fuel industry to retain its market dominance.

But then there is Australia’s hypocritical position of claiming to be concerned about climate change while at the same time becoming a world leader in the export of coal and gas to be burned outside the jurisdiction of any carbon pricing mechanism (although plans to price carbon in China could change things).

Research just published by not-for-profit group Beyond Zero Emissions suggests when Australia’s domestic emissions are added to those from the coal and gas we export, Australia becomes a major global emitter, ranking sixth globally.

The BZE Laggard to Leader report finds that by 2030, the emissions locked-up in Australian coal and gas exports would combine with domestic emissions to give the country an annual carbon footprint in the region of 2.2 billion tonnes.

In terms of exports, these emissions from Australian coal and gas exports will be almost double those coming from Saudi Arabia’s exports of oil.

And this is the position currently being advocated by Australia, whose Prime Minister Julia Gillard says that inaction on climate change is “ultimately threatening for our planet”. She is certainly no “denialist”.

Robert Manne says the denialist triumph might not be stable “in the long term”.“Who can tell?” he said in an email to me. “As Maynard Keynes once famously observed: in the long-term we are all dead."

March 30 2012

18:20

The Hockey Stick from the Source : Michael Mann’s Congressional Testimony


With all the talk, pontificating, and “controversy” surrounding the “hockey stick” climate graph that has made climate scientist Michael Mann famous, it’s now a good idea to go to the source. These videos are from  greenman3610′s “Climate Crock of the Week” channel.

February 17 2012

04:23

It’s a bird; it’s a hockey stick; it’s a faked document!

 

Heartland response would be a useful PR tactic

The Climate Strategy that was emailed to the DeSmogBlog with a package of material from the Heartland Institute’s Jan. 17 Board of Directors meeting is serving as an excellent distraction from the legitimate issues raised in the other documents and reinforced by the excellent research paper by DeSmogBlog contributor John Mashey.

The DeSmogBlog has no evidence supporting Heartland's claim that the Strategic document is fake. A close review of the content shows that it is overwhelmingly accurate (“almost too accurate” for one analyst), and while critics have said that it is “too short” or is distinguished by “an overuse of commas,” even the skeptics at weatherguy Anthony Watts’s WUWT say that a technical analysis of the metadata on the documents in question does not offer sufficient information to come to a firm conclusion either way.

But in the tradition of the famous, and famously controversial “hockey stick graph,” the challenge to the single document has afforded the DeSmogBlog’s critics – and Heartland’s supporters – something comfortable to obsess about while they avoid answering questions raised by the other documents.

In the case of the hockey stick, people such as Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit have led a chorus of criticism for years, alleging that a supposed statistical flaw in Michael Mann’s excellent and prescient work should be sufficient justification to dismiss not only Mann’s original graph, but all of climate science. This, notwithstanding the fact that dozens of other climate reconstructions have validated Mann’s conclusions and replicated the hockey stick shape of his graph. Thus, the hockey stick has been a convenient weapon for those (like Joe Bast, President of the Heartland Institute) who would like to take people’s attention from the legitimate science of climate change.

Now, we have a case where Bast admits that some dope on his staff emailed Heartland's whole board package to a stranger. Yet rather than praising the opportunity that this provides for independent observers to judge the performance of a taxpayer-subsidized body (Heartland is a registered charity), as Bast did when someone stole the so-called ClimateGate emails from leading scientists such as Mike Mann, the Heartland boss has attacked the veracity of the Climate Strategy and used that to attempt to dismiss the legitimacy of the other material (Heartland Institute Responds to Stolen and Fake Documents).

The deniergang echo chamber has since jumped on that chorus, with sites like Marc Morano’s Climate Depot, Steve Milloy’s Junkscience, and Anthony Watts at WUWT all sputtering in outrage, even as Watts confirmed that, well, the information in the document pertaining to him was, but for a rounding error, almost too accurate.

The DeSmogBlog is committed to accuracy. Joe Bast says the document is a fake, a statement we take with a grain of salt given the Heartland Institute’s previous dissembling on the subject of climate change and its discredited position on teh safety of second hand smoke.  In the circumstances, if the Heartland Institute can offer any specific criticism of the Climate Strategy or any evidence that it was faked and not, actually, written on Joe Bast’s laptop, printed out and scanned, we would be pleased to consider that evidence.

In the meantime, how about everybody take a moment to look away from the shiny penny in the magician's left hand and concentrate instead on the 100+ pages of damning evidence falling out of his right sleeve.

 

read more

August 22 2011

20:05

National Science Foundation vindicates Michael Mann

Carbon steel "hockey stick" stronger than ever

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of the Inspector General, having conducted a thorough review and investigation into all allegations of impropriety or scientific misconduct against Penn State University Prof. Michael Mann, has dismissed all of those allegations for lack of evidence and closed the case (attached and/or here).

As reported by Joe Romm at Climate Progress, Mann has been the target of a host of allegations and attacks, many arising out of the iconic status of a graph (inset) that he created in a 1998 paper with Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes, and others sourced in the emails that hackers stole in 2009 from the the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

As the NSF now reports, none of Mann's critics ever showed the courage or conviction of actually laying a formal complaint before Penn State, where Mann is director of the Earth System Science Center. But the allegations were so prominent in the blogosphere and in mainstream media that the university took it upon itself to conduct an investigation. The NSF then reviewed Penn State's exculpatory findings, duplicating some parts of the investigation in greater detail.

The result? No shred of evidence exists to impugn Mann's work.

As Romm points out, the central conclusion drawn from the Hockey Stick - that temperatures, stable for a thousand years, have spiked dramatically since humans began using fossil fuels - is also being confirmed with each new study. It appears that, unless you are willfully blind or directly in the employ of the fossil fuel industry, the evidence - of climate change, as well as of Mann's scientific bona fides - is undeniable.

This is not likely to stop people like David Legates from continuing to misrepresent the contents of the East Anglia emails, nor would it be profitable to expect newpapers like the National Post or Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal to actually apologize to Mann and others or to make any other effort to correct the record. But for anyone who clicks past the imagined reality peddled by those papers, the conclusion is clear - and is now confirmed by one of the largest and most credible funders of scientific research in the world. The Hockey Stick is unbroken.

AttachmentSize NSF Mann vindiction.pdf288.62 KB

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.

March 23 2011

04:39

PolluterWatch Memo to Koch PR Team: Ever Consider Making Your Astroturf A Little Less Obvious?

PolluterWatch is serving up a great tongue-in-cheek "memo to the Koch PR team" tonight, noting the obvious blunders from Koch Industries' astroturfing and attack squad lately. The Kochtopus keeps revealing just how highly coordinated its media and blogger network is, mysteriously generating defensive and offensive pieces in quick succession at the drop of a billionaire's hat.

If it weren't so blatantly obvious in slinging the same mud and honey around the media Koch-o-sphere, perhaps Koch's ever-ready defender squad might be worthy of compensation? Oh wait, New Media Services does get paid by Koch to blatantly and disastrously attempt to edit the Koch profile on Wikipedia. 

And even if Koch's friends in media claim to rush to the company's defense out of pure ideological zealotry and not for compensation, there are a few instances where that argument fails to impress.  As PolluterWatch points out, Koch's PR team recently posted on the company's Facebook page about a piece written by Steven Hayward that seemed to support Koch's anti-science position on climate change and predictably tooted the old Climategate dud.<!--break-->

Head over to PolluterWatch and then ClimateProgress to read about why that didn't work out so well for the Koch team.

Among the reasons, as PolluterWatch points out:

If ever there was a Koch-funded climate denial mouthpiece, it’s Steven F Haywood.  He’s a fellow at four of the Kochtopus-funded think tanks.  They’ve all had quite a bit of funding from your clients
1986-2009:
Reason Foundation ($2,536,521),
Heritage Foundation ($4,110,571),

Pacific Research Foundation ($1,515,800) and
American Enterprise Institute (only $150,000 from Koch but Exxon gave them $2.8 million). 

So the total Koch money to Hayward’s groups is $8,312,892.  Add Exxon’s $4,341,000 and that adds up to a massive $12.65 million of denial punch. 


PolluterWatch then points out the Koch Facebook goofs:

And finally, while we’re discussing your Facebook page, another word of advice: if you’re going to promote stories that you’ve managed to place in blogs, perhaps drip them out slowly? 

During the Wisconsin protests, Koch’s Americans for Prosperity group led the tea party in support of Scott Walker and Koch became a lightning rod for protestors. (Bet that got you going).

Nice work lining up all the bloggers to support Koch - but posting them all in one day on Facebook?   Six posts in just a few hours? 4th March was a busy day for you.  But seriously, if you’re going to go on the offense, maybe make it a little less obvious? 

We know you must be paid an awful lot by this client – are they really getting their money’s worth?  Or did you leave your Facebook strategy up to New Media Services?

But wait, there's more.

October 08 2010

22:17

Hockey Stick Basher Wegman Under Investigation

Is Talk of Lawsuit A Trick to Hide His Decline?

George Mason University has confirmed that it is investigating its Professor Edward Wegman, the statistician who was point man in the 2006 political attack on the so-called "hockey stick" graph.

Wegman, who was chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, was tapped in '06 by Republican representatives Joe Barton and Ed Whitfield to assemble a so-called "expert panel" to critique the famous hockey stick, a graph illustrating a thousand-year temperature record as reconstructed by climate scientists Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes. But Silicon Valley entrepreneur John Mashey has since demonstrated that, rather than convene a group of experts, Wegman tapped a couple of grad students and together they produced a report that was generously plagiarized from Bradley's own work and then twisted - or just misrepresented - to appear to undermine the hockey stick and its creators.

<!--break-->Now that the authorities are actually looking into this issue, Wegman himself seems to be suggesting that the charges against him are actionable. He told USA Today that "Some litigation is under way."

Well, none as it would apply to Mashey, who says he hasn't heard a peep from Wegman - or from anybody's lawyers - in response to his devastating critique.

Word is that that this is also just the first of several investigations in the offing. It's clear enough from Barton and Whitfield's own positions that they were hoping Wegman could wreck a few scientific reputations. As every new work seems to reaffirm the science behind the Mann, Bradley, Hughes hockey stick, it appears the reputation most at risk now is Wegman's own.

June 28 2010

17:14

Michael Mann says hockey stick should not have become 'climate change icon'

The scientist behind the controversial 'hockey stick' graph has said it was 'somewhat misplaced' to make his work an 'icon of the climate change debate'.

April 14 2010

13:52

'Hockey stick' graph was exaggerated

The 'hockey stick' that became emblematic of the threat posed by climate change exaggerated the rise in temperature because it was created using 'inappropriate' methods, according to the head of the Royal Statistical Society.

March 07 2010

10:31

Who are the people in your denial neighborhood?

Category: climate Posted on: March 2, 2010 9:51 AM, by James Hrynyshyn As regular readers will know, I prefer the term “pseudoskeptic” over “denier” when it comes to those who insist we needn’t be worried about climate change. This is because the common denominator among any set of such characters tends to be a misapplication of the [...]
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