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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

November 10 2011

13:23

Conservatives Attack and Misunderstand A Book They Haven’t Read…A Book About Flawed Conservative Reasoning

This would be sad, if it weren’t also so telling.

On Monday I announced my new book The Republican Brain, which will be due out next spring. And I provided a brief description, as well as layering on plenty of nuance, like a good liberal, to make sure it wouldn’t be misinterpreted.

So much for that!

Beginning with Roger Pielke, Jr. (not technically a conservative, but, well…), and then spreading to climate "skeptic" blogs like Watts Up With That and Marc Morano’s Climate Depot, conservatives are claiming that the book is a form of “new eugenics” and that it describes them as “genetically/mentally/psychologically inferior,” and so on.

All of this is completely without foundation, and in fact, contradicted by my own book announcement, which discusses the many strengths (as well as weaknesses) of the conservative psychology, and describes the left-right difference as a kind of necessary yin and yang. 

And none of the people saying these things (including over 100 commenters at Watts’ site) have read the book because it isn’t out yet, and won’t be for 6 months. In fact, it is still being edited.

Chalk up yet another example of conservative factual wrongness! Perhaps I can even fit it into the text.

But that’s not all. These conservatives have somehow gotten the idea that Pielke, Jr., “reviewed” the book, although he did nothing of the kind. Here’s Anthony Watts:

Chris Mooney has come up with new book to explain why people like you and I are “abby-normal” for not unthinkingly and uncritically accepting all aspects of global warmingclimate change climate disruption. I haven’t read it, though the cover itself speaks volumes. I won’t commit the same dumb mistake that Igor Peter Gleick committed when he wrote his bogus non-review of Donna LaFramboise’s IPCC book, so I’ll let somebody who has reviewed it speak about it. Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.

If this is not committing the "same dumb mistake," it is definitely pretty close. 

I won’t do any more to defend a book that isn’t even out yet, except to say two things: 1) It is based on solid science from psychology, political science, and other fields; 2) the sort of behavior we’re seeing here—jumping to conclusions based on heuristics ("judging a book by its cover"), misrepresenting opponents' views based on no evidence…well, it turns out that these are precisely the kinds of things I’m criticizing. For a tiny taste, see this study, about "traditionalists" vastly misrepresenting the views of those who challenge them, in this case about changes to the English literature curriculum.

Thanks for helping to prove my argument, guys—6 months early!

I’m sure I can count on you in the second round, too.

July 06 2011

14:57

Climate Skeptics Misunderstand Us, Too

So recently, I’ve watched a few videos from the Heartland Institute conference on “Restoring the Scientific Method”—and it has been a fascinating experience.

I point you, for instance, to this session on public policy, and especially the Q&A starting at minute 56. (Also watch Marc Morano from minute 38 to minute 56, the dude is nothing if not entertaining.) Once the audience questions start coming for the panel, I was rather surprised to hear that most were basically about…uh, communism. And in response, the panelists—and especially Christopher Horner—were quite affirmative that the real reason that we, the “left,” want to restrict greenhouse gas emissions is that we want to hobble economies, redistribute wealth, and restrict individual freedoms.

“You can believe this is about the climate, and many people do,” said Horner. “But it’s not a reasonable belief.” Horner went on to argue that “it’s probably about what they’ve claimed they really want.” For many “luminaries” of the environment movement, Horner continued, “economic growth is not the cure, it’s the disease.”

Now, Morano and Horner have various pieces of “evidence” that they use to support their assessment—including out of context quotations. But I, too, have heard some environmentalists attack growth, and say that it is the real problem.

However, I do not believe in any sense that this is the mainstream view of those who want a cap-and-trade bill, whether they are President Obama, or Democratic senators, or the many corporations who supported such legislation—like GE and Duke Energy. Without economic growth, these companies could not maintain rising share prices, nor could they keep reporting rising earnings and annual dividend increases for their stockholders.

I can also speak for myself. If there’s anything I don't like, it’s extremes—including on the left. I very much want companies to thrive and succeed—who else is going to create jobs?—but to me, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be regulated. I actually do believe that they should be regulated as little as is possible--so long as it is enough to preserve public health and the environment.  

Moreover, it’s not surprising that I think this way—people of my generation in the U.S. don’t even have any direct experience with communism. It hasn’t been a significant force on the U.S. left for quite a long time. It's something we've read about, certainly, but not something with which we associate.

So exactly what environmental left are Heartland acolytes talking about here? As far as I can tell, they’re simply shadowboxing.

I’ve often written about how those on my side do not understand the motivations of climate skeptics. They aren’t just driven by a quest for the corporate dole, for instance—they’re strong individualists who fear government control over choices and freedoms. I believe that ideology is therefore more powerful in driving climate skepticism than is money.

But it’s quite apparent that anti-environmentalists, like Horner, don’t understand us, either. We didn’t cook the science, and we don’t hate jobs, either. We just think that, because global warming is real, and because there are solutions to the problem will ultimately also help the economy, it’s a very good idea to kill two birds with one stone.

But now, having now cleared up the record, I’m quite sure that we won’t see this error any more in the future.

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.

March 02 2011

18:03

Global Warming and Snowstorms: Communication Nightmare, or Opportunity?

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a group I greatly admire, has held a press conference (with attendant media coverage) to air an argument that is already quite intuitive to me, but is probably precisely the opposite for others: Namely, that global warming could mean more mega-snowstorms, of the sort North America has seen in the past several years.

On a physical level, the case is sublimely simple. One of the fundamental aspects of global warming is that it increases the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, because warmer air holds more water vapor. From there, it’s a piece of cake—more snow can fall in snowstorms than before. <!--break-->In making this case, the UCS drew in part on the awesome weather blogger Jeff Masters:

“The old adage, ‘It’s too cold to snow,’ has some truth to it,” said Masters. “A colder atmosphere holds less moisture, limiting the snowfall that can occur.” He cited a study that found that a high percentage—as much as 80 percent—of all snowstorms in the United States of more than 6 inches during the 20th century occurred during winters with above average temperatures.

“If the climate continues to warm,” he added, “we should expect an increase in heavy snow events for a few decades, until the climate grows so warm that we pass the point where it’s too warm for it to snow heavily.”

So the science makes sense--but on a psychological level, it seems to me that getting people to accept this most counter-intuitive of analyses is likely to be one of the biggest sticking points of all. Why’s that?

Well, first, people confuse climate and weather endlessly. We already know that. But that’s just the beginning of the problem.

Psychologists studying climate communication make two additional (and related) points about why the warming-snow link is going to be exceedingly difficult for much of the public to accept: 1) people’s confirmation biases lead them to pay skewed attention to weather events, in such a way as to confirm their preexisting beliefs about climate change (see p. 4 of this report); 2) people have mental models of “global warming” that tend to rule out wintry impacts.

Perceptions of the implications of lots of snow for the existence of climate change are like the results from a Rorschach test,” writes Janet Swim, a psychologist at Penn State who headed up an American Psychological Association task force report on psychology and climate change.

Suggesting that he knows this well, Marc Morano is already blasting Jeff Masters and the Union of Concerned Scientists over the global warming-snow claim. Clearly, Morano feels he’s on strong ground here, tactically or otherwise.

I feel torn about this. On the one hand, winter snowstorms have drawn massive attention and have affected incredibly large numbers of people. They speak to everyone’s experience. Tying global warming to that would be incredibly powerful.

But at the same time, the hurdles presented are incredibly vast, and I’m not sure good scientific explanations, alone, can overcome them.

That doesn’t mean the UCS and Jeff Masters should leave this topic alone. Many people are open minded and want to know what’s going on with the climate system; and for the rest of the public, over time we may push them closer to a point where these ideas will go down more easily. 

And that's the ultimate takeaway: We need to move the public to a place where drawing a warming-snowstorm connection isn't so challenging. I don't think drawing the connection itself will get us there. Rather, I think other efforts, over time, will make people more willing to draw the connection.

July 26 2010

20:06

Marc Morano Manufacturing the Hype.... again

Marc Morano, spindoctor to the climate denial stars and former aid to Republican Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is breathlessly proclaiming in a large bold headline today that:

"Left-wing Env. Scientist Bails Out Of Global Warming Movement"

Took about 3 minutes on Google searching the name Denis Rancourt, who Morano is referring to in his post, to find that this is nothing even remotely new for Rancourt.

Rancourt  has been writing rants against the science of climate change for years.

Morano is trying to spindoctor this into a newsworthy story by making it seem like Rancourt is someone who was completely accepting of the scientific reality of climate change and then just woke up one morning last week and decided to jump ship.

What makes this all the more ridiculous is that Morano himself pushed the exact same story about Rancourt in 2009 when he worked for Senator James Inhofe.

Hopefully the mainstream media are smarter than that and take this story for what it is - pure hype.

<!--break-->

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.

 

December 06 2009

22:26

Marc Morano embarrasses himself on BBC

Marc Morano (backgrounder on Mr. Swift Boat here) has been watching way too much Fox News.

Watch him completely embarrass himself in an interview on the BBC:

<!--break-->

November 25 2009

00:55

For Balance: Let's Have Marc Morano's emails

The Deniersphere being alive with delight over the emails stolen from the UK Hadley Centre, my colleague Kevin Grandia has wondered aloud (see next post) about what a similar sampling of emails might look like if they were sourced from one of the most aggressive and least (climate) credible think tanks - the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Why stop there?

As a stunning amount of email traffic on this issue currently seems to be coming from uberDenier Marc Morano, why doesn't the former aide to Okalahoma Senator and Republican Denier-in-Chief James Inhofe volunteer to share his correspondence?

Kevin suggested a six-month supply from CEI. I reckon the last six days from Morano might significantly advance the question of who's credible on this issue. It might even show who hacked Hadley.

C'mon Markey. Show us what you got.

If yours is a reasonable assault on the scientists named in the CRU hacked emails, you should have no reservations about submitting to as quick second reading. Marc? Marc!!? Get your finger off that delete key!<!--break-->

 

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