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July 26 2012

18:52

Affidavits in Michael Mann Libel Suit Reveal Astonishing Facts About Tim Ball Associate John O'Sullivan

Affidavits filed in the British Columbia Supreme Court libel litigation brought by climate scientist Michael Mann against climate science denier Timothy Ball reveal that Ball's collaborator and self-styled "legal advisor" has misrepresented his credentials and endured some significant legal embarrassments of his own. 

The affidavits also reveal that Tim Ball was "aware of the charges against John O'Sullivan almost from the start" and has tried to distance himself from his erstwhile advisor and writing partner.

The affidavits [12] come from research of science and medical writer Andrew Skolnick, who documents O'Sullivan's misrepresentations, backtracking and questionable behavior.

Tim Ball and John O'Sullivan had a close working relationship, even before Mann sued Ball for libel in March 2011. For example, they co-authored the climate science denial book Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory, which was published in 2010.

Skolnick's evidence shows that O'Sullivan made a series of false claims, including:

  • that he was an attorney with more than a decade of successful litigation in New York State and Federal courts;
  • that he was employed by a major Victoria, B.C.(Canada) law firm that is representing Ball in the libel action;
  • that he is a widely published writer, with credits in Forbes and the National Review;
  • that he had received his law degree from the University College, Cork, Ireland and/or from the University of Surrey (O'Sullivan's actual legal accreditation, apparently obtained after the Mann-Ball action commenced, comes from an online degree mill, Hill University, which promises delivery in two weeks);
  • that he is a member of the American Bar Association.

One affidavit includes an online comment in which O'Sullivan says, "For your information, I am a retired academic and I have litigated personally or assisted others in pro se litigation at every level of court there is in New York State as well as Federal level, for over a decade and never lost." 

Although O'Sullivan admits in this particular comment that he is not, in fact, licensed to practice law, in the U.S. or the U.K., he adds, "I'm just some Brit with a brain who can go live with his American wife in her country and kick ass big time around a courtroom."

Certainly, O'Sullivan was successful in winning an acquittal when he was personally charged in England as a high school teacher accused of sending lewd text messages and assaulting a 16-year-old female. Given the acquittal, it would not generally be appropriate to bring up this sordid and unproven bit of history, except that O'Sullivan himself went on to write an "erotic" "novel" with a startlingly similar storyline: Vanilla Girl: a Fact-Based Crime Story of a Teacher's Struggle to Control His Erotic Obsession with a Schoolgirl.

Although eager to present himself as a science researcher of accomplishment - certainly Tim Ball's equal - Skolnick's research found that O'Sullivan is highly prone to error, whether intentional or not.

For example, O'Sullivan provided bogus contact information when registering as a member* with the New York County Lawyers' Association, an organization that apparently does not vet its members' qualifications (and does not, in any case, bestow the right to practice law). While O'Sullivan claimed to be with a firm named "Principia Scientific International," he provided the address of a construction company called Second Nature Construction; the phone number and fax number didn't belong to O'Sullivan or anyone connected to "Principia," either.

Principia certainly exists in some form. According to its website, O'Sullivan is its CEO, and Tim Ball is Chairman. Other members include climate deniers Paul DriessenPaul Reiter and more. Principia notes that it operates as a "private association rather than a charitable foundation. This is because PSI chooses to operate with the relative freedom of any start up association that has yet to determine whether it may fulfil its long term purpose as either a business with the private profit motive or a charity."
 

This information emerged, and became relevant to this most recent libel action against Tim Ball, in part because Ball himself, in his Response to Civil Claim, stated that his communications with O'Sullivan were subject to solicitor-client privilege.

Mann then filed a reply, pointing out the facts documented in Skolnick's affidavits. As Mann's lawsuit proceeds, the court will inevitably rule on Ball's claim for "solicitor-client" privilege.

In the meantime, Ball has not submitted any affidavit from O'Sullivan attesting to his qualifications as Ball's legal advisor. If he did, O'Sullivan would be subject to cross-examination by Michael Mann's lawyer.
  

* The original post mistakenly said O'Sullivan was registering as an 'associate' member; in fact he registered as a member and was granted membership, despite not having a valid law degree or Bar certification in New York. We regret the error.

AttachmentSize 2012 04 19 - Affidavit 1 of Skolnick.pdf11.96 MB 2012 05 29 - Affidavit 2 of A Skolnick.pdf2.69 MB

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.

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

April 15 2011

00:52

Lindzen Slipping from Ranks of "Credible" Scientists

Has the once-respected professor "gone emeritus"?

Richard Lindzen has long been the "skeptic" community's scientific poster boy. In a world stuffed with deniers for hire such as S. Fred Singer and Tim Ball, who lecture on the topic of climate change regardless that they bring little or no relevant expertise to the subject, Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT and has served (many years ago) as a lead author on a chapter in the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But increasingly, his trenchant denial that climate change is a concern is casting him further from the ranks of people who can be taken seriously - particularly as he shows increasing willingness to say things that are simply and demonstrably not true.

Take as an example this recent radio interview, in which Lindzen tells Australian commentator Chris Smith that his country's effort to tackle climate change by implementing carbon tax is "a bit bizarre."

Lindzen says a number of silly things (in more detail below), but he flat out lies about the state of polar ice in Greenland and Antarctica saying, "there is no evidence of any significant change."<!--break-->

Isabella Velicogna would disagree. In her most recent Geophysical Research Letters paper on ice mass loss calibrated by the GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite mission, she recorded losses on Greenland amounting to 286 giggatonnes a year between 2007–2009 on Greenland and 246 Gt/yr in 2006–2009 in Antarctica. Compared to a period five years earlier, the loss was accelerating by a trend that Velicogna described as quadratic rather than linear.

Most of Lindzen's comments in this interview amount to little more than advising children to play with matches. For example, he says that it is "bizarre" for people in Australia to try to rein in their carbon emissions because that action, "couldn't be justified by any impact that it would have on Australia or anyone." Lindzen doesn't make any effort to justify this view, leaving us to speculate that he might be arguing that any action taken by Australia's small population would be irrelevant, especially when both population and personal carbon emissions are growing quickly in the developing world.

It's the argument you might hear from Smokey the Bear's evil cousin, who advises not that "Only you can prevent forest fires," but: "What the hell, some guy in China might be starting a fire right now anyway; what possible difference can it make if YOU'RE reckless?"

Lindzen is only 71 years old, a little early to "go emeritus" in the sense of forgetting entirely the necessity to check your work before you open your mouth - and to restrict yourself to topics on which you have actually done some recent research. Then again, this is a guy who once testified that it was hard to make a link between smoking and cancer.

Toward the end of the radio interview, however, Lindzen said one thing that's hard to criticize. Asked to imagine what people will think when they look back on this time 40 years from now, he said, they "will wonder how science broke down." They'll wonder how, "in a period of technilogical advance that the public could be swayed by arguments that make no sense."

On that position, he is sure to be proved correct.

March 30 2011

00:22

Michael Mann suing Tim Ball for libel

Dr. Michael Mann, Director of the Earth Systems Science Center at Penn State University, is suing the climate change denier Dr. Tim Ball and the think tank/web site Frontier Centre for Public Policy for libel - and particularly for an interview in which, in answer to the question, "Do you think anyone will be prosecuted for fraud?" Ball responds, "Michael Mann at Penn State should be in the State Pen, not Penn State."

The Frontier Centre is a Canadian version of the Heartland Institute. The website was reportedly given an opportunity to apologize for the slight, which they declined - although they cleansed the interview of the quote featured above. (It originally appeared directly after the line: "There is a move amongst the Attorney Generals in the States to start prosecuting.")

The suits are also stacking up for Ball, who is already facing a similar action from the Canadian climate scientist Andrew Weaver.

Ball's last foray into the court ended badly. Ball attempted to sue another Canadian scientist, Dr. Dan Johnson, in 2006, complaining that a letter that Johnson had written to the Calgary Herald suggested that Ball had lied about his resume. When Johnson's Statement of Defence demonstrated that Ball HAD lied about his resume, Ball abandoned the suit.<!--break-->

February 08 2011

20:56

Tim Ball Stands By His Slander

Facing a libel suit for an article slandering University of Victoria Professor Andrew Weaver as someone who "knew very little about climate change" and is therefore unfit to teach, Tim Ball has told the New York Times, "I stand by the story."

The NYT also wrote: "The apology and retraction of the story by Canada Free Press 'hung me out to dry,' Dr. Ball added, saying he was in the process of hiring a lawyer to fight the lawsuit."

Ball admits that he was incorrect in also saying that Weaver was "abandoning the sinking ship" of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Weaver is, in fact, a lead author in the upcoming Fifth Assessment Report). But he dismisses this as "one small mistake."

Ball's "small mistake" may be in thinking that he can continue to say any darn thing he likes, about climate change or the people involved in legitimate research, and never have to account for its accuracy. Not for much longer ....<!--break-->

13:12

Climate Scientist Sues Skeptic for Libel

An article described an expert who served as a lead author of a crucial 2007 report as lacking a basic understanding of climate science -- and incorrectly stated that he would not take part in the next United Nations climate-change panel because of concerns about its credibility.

February 04 2011

19:53

Andrew Weaver Sues Tim Ball for Libel

University of Victoria Professor Andrew Weaver, the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis, has filed suit for libel against freelance climate change denier Tim Ball.

The suit (attached below) arises from an article that Ball penned for the right-wingy Canada Free Press website, which has since apologized to Weaver for its numerous inaccuracies and stripped from its publicly available pages pretty much everything that Ball has ever written.

In the article, Ball, a former geography professor at the University of Winnipeg with an indifferent academic record and a lifetime peer-reviewed literature output of just four articles (none of them in atmospheric physics), assailed Weaver as uninformed about climate, unqualified to teach and compromised by his lavish funding, accusations for which he offered no proof whatever.

Weaver, a member of the Royal Society of Canada who has authored more than 190 papers, was also a lead author on three of the four reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climage Change (IPCC), and is lined up as a lead author on the fifth. He's also won pretty much all the academic and teaching awards that are available to a Canadian professor who has not yet had his 50th birthday. Ball, famously slow to notice the obvious, apparently didn't realize that he was overmatched.<!--break-->

Of course, it's not the first time. Ball sued University of Lethbridge Professor Dan Johnson in October 2006 over imagined slights in a letter to the editor that Johnson had written to the Calgary Herald. When both Johnson and the Herald filed a devastating Statements of Defence, Ball turned tail and ran.

But regardless that the suit had exposed the numerous falsehoods that once coloured Balls resume - and regardless that a University of Calgary audit confirmed that Ball had been accepting money that had been sluiced through a university slush fund that had been set up to conceal the money's oil industry origins, Ball has continued to write and speak, claiming some higher knowledge of the workings of climate change - actually, of the lack of climate change.

Suddenly, however, he appears to have gone quiet.

AttachmentSize Weaver-Ball lawsuit.pdf820.57 KB

November 17 2010

23:44

ICSC Climate Scientists' Register: Usual suspects; usual tactics

The tired, old climate-change deniers who keep trying to get themselves taken seriously have launched another petition claiming that "having assessed the relevant scientific evidence, (they) do not find convincing support for the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global warming."

This new laundry list of paid skeptics and ideologues is yet another instalment in the periodic petition process that has confused the climate conversation since Dr. S. Fred Singer launched the first such stunt in 1992. In fact, usual suspects such as Singer, Richard Lindzen, Patrick Michaels and Sherwood Idso are on both lists.

Connoisseurs will recognize more names, perennial Canadian deniers like Tim Patterson and Tim Ball, both alumni of an evolving series of oil-backed astroturf groups including the Friends of Science and the Natural Resources Stewardship Project. The oily lobbyist and former APCO Worldwide PR guy Tom Harris, who was prominent in both of those organizations, is also the "brains" behind this effort.<!--break-->

For a sense of the degree of scientific expertise one needs to be welcomed into this crowd, you could look to weather forecaster "Art Horn, Meteorologist (honors, Lyndon State College, Lyndonville, Vermont), operator, The Art of Weather, U.S.A." For a measure of ideological fervor, you can check in with "Kenneth P. Green, Doctor of Environmental Science and Engineering (UCLA, 1994), Resident Scholar, Interim Director, Center for Regulatory Studies, American Enterprise Institute, Washington D.C., U.S.A.

The unfortunate thing is that, like the famous and famously plumped up Oregon Petition, this new edition could well be taken seriously by some unsuspecting reporter (and his or her badly served readers) who simply doesn't understand that science is not conducted on the weight of popular opinion - especially when, in the case of people like Michaels, Singer, Harris, Ball and Green, those opinions are so clearly for sale.

April 20 2010

01:13

Tim (C-A-B-A-L) Ball: Climate Science is All a Conspiracy!

A two-hour, 32-minute audio tape of a Tim Ball lecture (finally available here) features one of Canada's most compromised climate change deniers (see especially here, here or here) making sweeping and silly pronouncements, getting caught out in misrepresenting data and, finally, attributing all climate science to a socialist plot by an aging Canadian businessman and United Nations supporter.

The audio, recorded April 7, 2010 at a meeting of the University of Victoria Young Conservatives Club, is crackly and begins badly (most people will want to start around the nine minute mark). It starts with Ball going on at length about his bona fides as an environmentalist and touting his life-time total of "peer-reviewed" publications at 23. (This, presumably, would include the four [4] publications listed on the ISI Web of science and 19 others that were, perhaps, checked over by Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, before being typed up for printing in a journal, website or daily paper not generally read among diligent academics.)<!--break-->

Dr. Ball falls into his usual truthiness with comments like this (at around the 34:00 minute mark):

"These guys (the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) can’t tell you the weather 10 days from now but they’re telling you what it’s going to be like 100 years from now. How does that work? They try to argue that one is climate and one is weather, well I’m sorry climate is made up of weather, climate is the average of the weather. If you can’t get the weather right the climate isn’t going to be right."

... after which, he adds, in reference to the science contributors to the IPCC process, "They’ve been wrong on every single projection they have made since they brought out their first report in 1992."

Every single projection: can you imagine?

At around 1:02, Ball gets caught cooking his data, at first extrapolating ice core data from Greenland to argue that the world is cooling and then admitting that such a sweeping contention is unsupportable on this dataset. He says:

"Ice core from Greenland that shows you the variation in temperature over the last 10,000 years. … Here’s the current temperature over here and what you see is that for most of the last 10,000 years the world has been warmer than it is at the present. You could in fact argue that the world has cooled down for the last 3,000 years."

Student: "Is this a representative: does that say everything about the whole world?"

Ball: "That's a good question ... All you can say is that it is representative of Greenland and possibly the northern hemisphere. You really shouldn’t extrapolate this beyond the northern hemisphere."

Oops.

A geographer with no background in atmospheric physics, Dr. Ball has nevertheless distinguished himself as, at the very least, an avid hobbyist - as someone who has read enough about climate science to have begun to understand the overwhelming case for concern about anthropogenic warming. If you're looking for an explanation as to why he is not convinced, however, he's happy to explain..

First, he puts up a slide with a quote attributed to the one-time Petro-Canada CEO and longtime United Nations supporter Maurice Strong: “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”

(I have no idea as to the authenticity or this quote. It's all over the internet, but I have never seen it in context.)

At 1:11:00, Ball goes on to proclaim that Strong is the single-minded, single-handed leader of a world-wide scientific conspiracy. Ball says of Strong:

"He set up the United Nations Environment Program, out of which came the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the whole idea of climate as a vehicle for shutting down industrialization."

A couple of minutes later, at 1:14:46, a student challenges:

"So we have a lot of climate scientists graduating from UVic, so I’m just wondering at what point somebody comes up to you and says here’s your indoctrination to destroy all the industrialized countries in the world through promoting climate change. It seems a little crazy. That just sounds more like a conspiracy theory to me."

Ball: "Yes, of course, I have always been accused of being a conspiracy theorist. I prefer to call it a cabal. C-A-B-A-L: it’s a group of people who have a particular political agenda ... and they use a vehicle to achieve that. That’s certainly what’s gone on with the IPCC."

So, there you go: the entire world climate science community is populated by patsies who have been recruited by an 80-year-old former oil executive with a secret plan to shatter civilization. That explains everything, then, doesn't it?

 

 

 

April 13 2010

01:20

Tim Ball in Concert: Battered by the Facts

Canadian denier-in-chief, the retired geographer Dr. Tim Ball, got seriously (though not physically) roughed up last week in a presentation to the University of Victoria Young Conservatives Club.

Apparently expecting a room full of docile Stephen Harper fans, Ball found himself instead in front of a group of burgeoning climate scientists - young people who were quick to challenge him when he said things that were pointedly untrue.

For example, after describing the effect of Milankovitch cycles on climate, Ball told the students that these predictable changes in Earth's orbit and tilt are not included in modern climate models.

"None of this is included in the computer models that are used to tell you that the climate is changing.56:24 It’s not even included. The models they’re doing here on campus. They’re not in there. Sorry."

But at 1:01:25, a student responds: "We do include it, though. I am with the UVic climate lab and we do include it in our models. It’s a standard parameter."<!--break-->

The conversation, and the attached recording (NB: With my apologies, the record exceeds the DSB capacity; I will convene with the tech experts tomorrow and try to get it posted), went on for two-and-a-half painful hours, with Ball dismissing all climate science as a fiction promulgated by a small group of ideologues and the students - laptops in hand - challenging and dismissing his arguments on the basis of ready information.

At times, though, it ground down to the typical denier debate, with Ball saying things that aren't true, being correcting, but refusing to acknowledge his inaccuracy.

 

For example, beginning at 1:21:20, he launches into a whole disquisition about how real scientists have been hamstrung by the IPCC because the politicians involved drew terms of reference that were ruinously restrictive:

"When it appears that the politicians are doing the honorable thing and having an arms length not political investigation, well they’re not doing that at all," Ball began.

"Here’s what Maurice Strong did with the IPCC: he defined a changing climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity. Don’t look at what nature’s doing, only at what the human causes are."

Student: (unintelligible)

Ball: "Yes, but they don’t look at the natural climate variability."

Student sotto voce “not true, we look at natural variation”

Ball, offering a new slide: "This is the definition produced by the United Nations Environment Program which was then adopted by the IPCC. This is the definition of what they’re directed to look at. They’re directed to only look at climate change that is due to human activity."

Student: “What about that whole second half (of the definition printed on the slide): ‘in addition to natural climate variability.’”

Ball: "Yeah, but they don’t do that."

Student: "But it just says to do it."

Ball: "You look at the list of forcings they have; it’s only those forcings caused by human activity."

Student: "You’re saying that volcanoes are caused by humans?"

Ball: "Well exactly. The volcanoes is one and look at the thing I showed you with Milankovich."

Student: "Yeah, but the IPCC accounts for volcanic activity AND Milankovich cycles."

 

Ball: "They identify them, but they do not consider them in their models …."

Student: "They certainly do …."

Ball: "No then don’t …."

Student: "Yes they do: I run models … ((interrupted)"

It's worth noting that Dr. Andrew Weaver, who is the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis and whose models is one of the best in the world, works and teaches at UVic and employs some of his students to help run his models. If Tim Ball wanted to make up information about what is considered in computer models, he was doing it in the wrong venue."

Ball said many other silly things during the course of the "lecture." And many things that have previously been proved untrue. For instance, he said that it is "simply not true" that he has been paid by oil companies, regardless that time and again, people have tracked the source of his income to oil and gas companies or energy industry lobby groups.

But the most offensive moments come when Ball accuses OTHER people of irresponsibility.

"Don’t get me wrong, if you want to play with your models in the lab, that’s fine. But you have a scientific responsibility which I happen to think you’re not fulfilling. But when you go public with your models and say your model works and you have to base your whole policy for the world on this, that’s a whole different responsibility."

So, Tim Ball thinks it's okay to make public policy on the basis of uninformed criticism of models he has never studied. He argues that 17th century paintings are all the evidence he needs to demonstrate that current warming is natural and not a problem. He says things that are not true and then refuses to acknowledge his error when corrected. And he yet he feels confident to criticize the ethics of the best scientists currently working in the field.

It's appalling.

March 30 2010

05:20

Koch Industries' Extensive Funding of Climate Denial Industry Unmasked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 02 2009

20:16

Who Is Bankrolling the "Friends of Science"? (Part II)

The Calgary Foundation is at it again.

This prominent Alberta charity is once more shoveling money through their "Science Education Fund" to organizations and projects that seem specifically unfriendly to real science, but helpful to the Friends of Science.

The Foundation's latest relevant gift was in the amount of $142,685 paid to the Frontier Center for Public Policy.

The last time we heard of this fund was in 2006, when the Calgary Foundation was using it to channel petro dollars through the University of Calgary to the Friends of Science, with the assistance of Dr. Barry Cooper – long-time friend and mentor of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Friends of Science were at the time running a public campaigning against climate action while denying that their funding was coming from the oil and gas industry.

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When this scandal broke, the University of Calgary investigated accounting anomalies, The Calgary Foundation issued a public statement and was forced to take back un-spent funding. Elections Canada launched their own investigation, and that particular oily conduit of cash to the Friends of Science seemed closed off.

What to do?

Last year, the Calgary Foundation awarded their largest grant ever from the Science Education Fund to the Frontier Center for Public Policy. Who are they and what do they have to do with the Friends of Science?

It seems that Tim Ball is both a “Research Fellow” at the Frontier Center for Public Policy (FCPP) and member of the “Scientific Advisory Body” of the Friends of Science, along with notable climate change deniers such as Sallie Baliunas.

Ball also posts regular opinion pieces on the FCPP website, this month, claiming that “the Earth is cooling with record low temperatures everywhere, a contradiction with the IPCC hypothesis anyone can grasp without scientific understanding.”

(Thank God we don’t need to bother with scientific understanding…)

Tim Ball posted 15 such polemics for the Frontier Center for Public Policy since last March, with titles such as:

Climate Terrorism? World Held to Ransom with Contrived Climate Science.

Sea Level Rise - A Major Non-Existent Threat

Analysis of Alarmism: Ocean Acidification

C02 - Global Warming’s IPCC-Created Hobglobin

Bogeymen Of The C02 Hoax Losing Ground

Is this what the Calgary Foundation considers "science education"?

The FCPP also “co-sponsored” with the Friends of Science the recent speaking tour of Christopher Monckton, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (who is interestingly not a member of the House the Lords).

The Friends of Science and the FCPP appear on their websites to be sharing senior staff and co-funding high profile public events.

I am in the process of communicating directly with the FCPP and the Friends of Science to clarify the specific financial relationship between the two groups. I am also digging to find the source of money flowing into the "Science Education Fund". Stay tuned…

November 21 2009

21:26

Who Is Bankrolling the "Friends of Science"?

So where is all the money coming from?

In one of the worst non-profit fundraising environments in decades, how is that the so-called “Friends of Science” (FoS) who only months ago seemed to be begging for donations to keep the doors open are suddenly rolling out a national radio campaign and flashy new website likely worth more than a quarter of a million dollars?

Informed sources tell us that the FoS nation-wide radio “blitz” would cost on the order of $60,000 per week. It also seems they recently revamped their once bare bones website to a Cadillac version at a ballpark cost of around $30,000 or more.

The source of the massive infusion of mystery money remains unknown but rest assured, Desmog Blog will not rest until we get to the bottom of this.

It is also strange that an organization that is spending so much cash on paid media advertising, seems so reluctant to discuss their point of view, or supporters with the actual reporters.

We have had numerous reports of media outlets trying unsuccessfully to have FoS fess up on their curious funding windfall, or even answer the phone.

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The other big-ticket item on the recent FoS media blitz has been to bankroll a national speaking tour of Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley – a front-line spokesperson of the denier industry. For the record, “Lord” Monckton is neither a member of the House of Lords, or a scientist.

I had an opportunity to attend his hilariously inaccurate presentation at the Fraser Institute last month and documented some of many glaring inconsistencies in his talk.

That said, the public impact of all this highly irresponsible messaging is undeniable. Why? Because if it wasn’t working, the capable and well funded interests bankrolling such tactics might be less inclined to pay for it.

As detailed in the recent book, Climate Cover Up by DeSmog founder James Hoggan, the fossil fuel-funded PR campaign to confuse the public on climate change now dwarfs anything that Big Tobacco rolled out to muddy public debate on the well-know links between cigarettes and cancer.

While Mr. Hogan is not a scientist, his understanding of the PR business comes from more than thirty years of working in industry. The polling, focus groups and paid ads that typically comprise such a sophisticated Astroturf campaign all cost big money. So where might FoS have gotten theirs?

FoS were originally outed as a fossil fuel front group in 2006 by Desmog Blog. However, they managed  to conceal oil industry funding for years through creative accounting funneled through the University of Calgary.

An internal university audit revealed highly questionable practices that allowed oily donors to not only cover their tracks, but also pocket a charitable tax receipt for shoveling money at the FoS, which is obviously not a charity.

While no criminal charges were laid, another investigation was launched by Elections Canada into whether FoS violated the Elections Act by skirting restrictions on third party political advertising in the 2006 federal election.

There seems a stinking link as well between FoS and the oil-friendly federal Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. A political insider with close ties to Harper’s Conservatives was revealed in 2008 to be acting as a both spokesperson for the Conservative Party and the FoS - at the same time.

While their dodgy funding scam through University of Calgary has since unraveled, the question remains: is the FoS taking oil money again? We pledge to you that we will keep digging until we unearth the truth.

And if anyone out there has some confidential information to share, we are all ears...

November 18 2009

04:11

Globe and Mail: Ad campaign takes aim at climate change

Spurred on by a speech that Jim Hoggan gave to the Canadian Empire Club in Toronto (talking about our new book, Climate Cover-up), Canada's national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, started asking questions today about who is paying for the big Friends of Science radio ad campaign that has been annoying Canadians from coast to coast for the last week or so.

The Globe's Martin Mittelstaedt had no success finding a live representative from the Friends of Science to deny their oily connections, but Marty Ball told Mittelstaedt this about her infamous husband, the truth-challenged Tim Ball: “He's not paid by the oil companies. He's never had anything from them and neither [have] the Friends of Science."

Alas for the Balls' self-delusion, Mittelstaedt's own paper has reported quite the opposite in the past, quoting a Friends official, Albert Jacobs, as saying that the oil and gas industry is exactly where they got their money.

<!--break-->Ball, of course, went on to work for the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, which was established and financed by the energy industry lobby firm, the High Park Group. At some point, Ball is going to have to admit all this to his wife - and to the credulous character in the mirror.

In the meantime, we all should be demanding that these kind of disingenuous and politically motivated radio ads come with disclaimers stating the identity and the self-interest of the people behind the message. There is, otherwise, a risk that someone might take them seriously.

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