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March 14 2012

16:02

Heartland Double Standard: Institute Tried to Scam Greenpeace for Internal Documents

A Heartland Institute front man* phoned a Greenpeace activist and lied about his identity in an effort to get her to turn over UN climate conference documents to which he had no legitimate access. Heartland senior fellow James Taylor then boasted about the scam in a press release decrying what he described as Greenpeace's preferential access to UN information.

Now, in a belated act of optimism, Greenpeace's Cindy Baxter has written a letter to Heartland (attached below) requesting an explanation for the double standard. Baxter is asking, in effect, why Heartland thinks it's completely okay for them to misrepresent themselves, repeatedly, and to celebrate the misrepresentations of others who are attacking climate scientists, but then gets all righteous when someone suckers them into handing over their entire budget and fundraising policy for 2012.

The Heartland misrepresentation about which Baxter is now complaining occurred in 2007 at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Bali. The Heartland caller phoned Baxter at four in the morning (Bali time), claiming to represent a U.S. environmental organization and asking if she would hand over the UNFCCC media list - which Heartland clearly had failed to secure through legitimate means.

Baxter demurred, after which Taylor sent out a press release, recounting the conversation, linking to a (possibly illegal) recording that Heartland had made of the phonecall, and "exposing" the fact that Greenpeace has a better working relationship than Heartland with just about everyone in the climate, diplomatic and scientific communities.

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February 22 2012

23:48

Evaluation shows "Faked" Heartland Climate Strategy Memo is Authentic

A line-by-line evaluation of the Climate Strategy memo, which the Heartland Institute has repeatedly denounced as a "fake" shows no “obvious and gross misstatements of fact,” as Heartland has alleged. On the contrary, the Climate Strategy document is corroborated by Heartland’s own material and/or by its allies and employees.

It also uses phrases, language and, in many cases, whole sentences that were taken directly from Heartland’s own material. Only someone who had previous access to all of that material could have prepared the Climate Strategy in its current form.

In all the circumstances – taking into account Peter Gleick’s explanation of the origin of the Heartland documents, and in direct contradiction of Heartland’s stated position – DeSmogBlog has concluded that the Climate Strategy memo is authentic. 

read more

February 14 2012

23:08

June 30 2011

18:12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 20 2011

17:37

The Fox News Effect: Sea Level Edition

Climate scientists--and other scientists--are always improving and updating their methods. That's how science works. And it's a very good and honorable thing--or at least, it is until conservatives catch on to some particular methodological change and argue that it's political, rather than part of the normal course of scientific events.

And until Fox News--whose viewers are far less likely to accept climate science, as well as various other well known facts--joins in.

In the latest case, a group at the University of Colorado at Boulder added a new correction to their estimates of global sea level rise. What they did is pretty technical, but before going further I’ll have to briefly explain it—more details can be found here.

A correction for glacial isostatic adjustment—or GIA—was recently added to the Colorado group's estimates of the rate of sea level rise. This was done because even as sea level is rising (due to the thermal expansion of the oceans and the melting of land-based ice), the land in some areas is also rising a bit, increasing the size of the ocean basins. Why is the land rising? It’s a “rebound” from the disappearance of massive land based glaciers since the last ice age.

Any questions so far?

So the Colorado scientists added a correction to take into account GIA, so that they could measure--in isolation--how much total water volume is being added to the ocean. Due to the rising of land, this cannot be simply inferred from measuring the sea level along the coastline.

Here’s a somewhat comprehensible explanation from the University of Colorado website:

…we have to account for the fact that the ocean is actually getting bigger due to GIA at the same time as the water volume is expanding. This means that if we measure a change in [global mean sea level] of 3 mm/yr, the volume change is actually closer to 3.3 mm/yr because of GIA….We apply a correction for GIA because we want our sea level time series to reflect purely oceanographic phenomena. In essence, we would like our [global mean sea level] time series to be a proxy for ocean water volume changes. This is what is needed for comparisons to global climate models, for example, and other oceanographic datasets.

Okay. Perfectly normal, perfectly justifiable.

However, as we know, climate science is watched closely by conservatives, who are looking for places where they can cry foul and object. And in this case, along comes the Heartland Institute's James M. Taylor, who says the scientists have “doctor[ed]” their data:

Faced with the embarrassing fact that sea level is not rising nearly as much as has been predicted, the University of Colorado’s NASA-funded Sea Level Research Group has announced it will begin adding a nonexistent 0.3 millimeters per year to its Global Mean Sea Level Time Series. As a result, alarmists will be able to present sea level charts asserting an accelerating rise in sea level that is not occurring in the real world.&

Note: Taylor himself admits that the consequences of this correction will only be “1.2 inches over the course of the 21st century.” In other words, if sea level rise is a big deal, then the correction in question certainly isn’t.

But we’re not done yet. Now comes Fox News and its reporter Maxim Lott, who does an “on the one hand, on the other hand” piece about whether the GIA correction is kosher. Suddenly it’s the scientists at Colorado vs. Taylor:

Steve Nerem, the director of the widely relied-upon research center, told FoxNews.com that his group added the 0.3 millimeters per year to the actual sea level measurements because land masses, still rebounding from the ice age, are rising and increasing the amount of water that oceans can hold. "We have to account for the fact that the ocean basins are actually getting slightly bigger... water volume is expanding," he said, a phenomenon they call glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA).

 

Taylor calls it tomfoolery.

"There really is no reason to do this other than to advance a political agenda," he said.

Actually, we’ve already seen the entirely non-political reason to do this.

But we’re still not done. Then Matt Drudge takes up the story, adds some more bias and some embellishment—“Climate change ‘researchers’ caught padding sea level data”—and off it goes. Another byte of misinformation about climate change is now in circulation.

What’s tragic about all of this? Sea level is really rising, and the rate is expected to increase—and adjusted or unadjusted, corrected or uncorrected, this is one of the most transformative aspects of climate change.

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