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October 21 2013


Enviro News Wrap: LA Times Says NO to Deniers; Economic Impact of Climate Change; Challenges to EPA Carbon Regulation, and more…

The Latest Environmental News HeadlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up and comments on the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

  • The LATimes has decided to not publish any letters to the editor that contain factual inaccuracies regarding climate change. Not surprisingly, the conservative media freaked out and framed it as a repression of debate. Debate is healthy, but to be of any real value it needs to be based on fact. Ignoring facts makes a real debate impossible.
  • Climate change has an economic impact, and a large one at that. The Asian Development bank did a study and found that climate change could reduce the GDP of Asian countries.
  • Fighting climate change involves more technological development. We have the tools to do some mitigation, but the full effort to avoid climate change involves the continued development of technology. It seems like a trap though, the more we develop technology the more we can deal with the effects of past technologies, but the more we are able to hurt ourselves in the present. I hope its not a paradox that humans get caught in.
  • Environmentalists want the EPA to regulate carbon emissions as a pollutant thus allowing them to reduce carbon emissions. There is a challenge to the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon that will be decided in the Supreme Court.
  • SunPower produces the world’s most efficient commercially-available solar panel. They have been in business for 25 years and it has been a hard fight, especially with the rise of Asian manufacturers. SunPower is surviving and weathering the storm of low Asian prices. Now it is the Asian solar companies that are struggling to stay afloat.
  • The strength of an industry can be shown in the number of new patents it is creating. Solar is creating many new patents and hopefully the innovation will pay off with a future filled with inexpensive, well-built and efficient solar panels.
  • Nuns are allies to the environmental movement. Their voice should be elevated so church-goers are more sympathetic to the good cause.

The post Enviro News Wrap: LA Times Says NO to Deniers; Economic Impact of Climate Change; Challenges to EPA Carbon Regulation, and more… appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

October 03 2013


Debunking Efforts to Undermine the IPCC’s Latest Climate Report

IPCC report withstand a barrage of climate denialClimate deniers began working to undermine the fifth Climate Assessment from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) even before the first part of the report was released on September 27. A plethora of media outlets, politicians and business interests are employing a barrage of misinformation tactics to undermine the report.

A misguided article published in The Telegraph made that outlandish claim that, “There is no other evidence out there that global warming is any kind of problem. That it exists only in the imagination of the people who programme those computer models and the scientists who contribute to the theory that anthropogenic CO2 is a problem.”

Another piece of fiction was published in a The Daily Mail article which stated, “UN scientists said today they are ’95 per cent’ certain that climate change is man made, but still could not explain why the world has barely got any hotter in the last 15 years.”

Climate denying Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, proclaimed that “there has been no recorded warming since 1998″ and Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School said the report “shows that the IPCC’s predictions do not support alarmist predictions of global temperature rise.”

Contrary to statements made by The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Cruz and Lomborg, the IPCC report clearly indicates that global temperatures have increased. Since the 1950s, each successive decade has been hotter than the last, and the 2000s were the hottest decade since modern record-keeping began in 1880. Further, the report predicts that temperatures will increase 2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 4.5 Celsius) if CO2 levels are allowed to reach 560 parts per million (ppm) from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm (we are currently above 400 ppm).

What the IPCC report said was that there was slightly less heating than predicted by the previous assessment. The reason that land temperatures have not increased as much as some models had predicted is because the oceans are absorbing the heat.

The fossil fuel industry is also working feverishly to deminish the report’s credibility including promoting the fiction of a recovery of Arctic sea ice. To illustrate the point, the UK-based Daily Mail, ran the following headline:

“And now it’s global COOLING! Return of Arctic ice cap as it grows by 29% in a year.” The article went on to say, “Some eminent scientists now believe the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century – a process that would expose computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming as dangerously misleading.”

What the IPCC report actually says is that the rate of ice loss is huge and growing. The Arctic Ocean is now melting at an even faster rate than predicted in the previous IPCC report. Arctic sea ice surface extent has decreased by 3.5-4.1 percent per decade (9.4-13.6 percent during summer) and it further predicts that the Arctic will be ice-free during the summer by mid-century if we continue with business as usual.

The world has lost 303 billion tons of ice from glaciers each year since 1993. It also says the speed with which Greenland’s ice sheet is melting has increased substantially with 237 billion tons of ice being lost yearly from 2002 to 2011, up from 37 billion tons per year from 1992 to 2001. Antarctica lost 162 tons of ice per year from 2002 to 2011, up from 33 billion tons annually from 1992 to 2001.

Another compilation of psuedo-scientific lies was published in a report from the Heartland Institute which is funded by the infamous oil barons the Koch brothers.

Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist and one of the contributors to the IPCC report explained that nearly every time there is a scientific paper linking human activities to climate change, the “denial-sphere” tries to undermine the research.

Media outlets have falsely claimed that global warming forecasts were “wrong.”  However, these misleading reports have been dismissed by climate scientists as “error filled,” “unsubstantiated,” “completely ridiculous” and “an embarrassment to the serious reporting of climate change elsewhere.”

The IPCC report shows evidence of clear warming trends on land and in the sea, glaciers are melting, sea ice is retreating and ocean levels are rising.

The second IPCC assessment in 1995, said that “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” The fifth assessment has made the same point but with the highest levels of confidence to date.

The IPCC report indicates that scientists are 95 percent certain that it is “extremely likely” that humans are mostly to blame for temperatures that have climbed since 1951 (up from 90 percent in the preceding report in 2007). In science, 95 percent certainty is a gold standard. Further, there is a 97 percent consensus amongst climate experts that humans are causing global warming.

An article in The Washington Examiner said, “Why does the U.N. love consensus anyway? Because it sounds authoritative,” the truth is that the U.N. IPCC report is as authoritative as it gets.

The IPCC assessments are the definitive report on climate and no amount of subterfuge should be allowed to alter that fact. The science in the IPCC report is sound and with key findings from 9,000 scientific articles, it is the largest summary of peer reviewed climate data ever published.

As explained by the former IPCC chair Robert Watson, “The observational evidence for human-caused warming is overwhelming, compelling and irrefutable.”


The post Debunking Efforts to Undermine the IPCC’s Latest Climate Report appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

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January 27 2012


Will The Global Warming Policy Foundation’s Seed Funder Be Revealed?

Who is funding the shadowy front groups that represent the interests of polluters by sowing doubt about climate change? One of the most aggressive climate denial “think” tanks spreading misinformation in Europe is the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), founded in 2009 by former British Conservative politician Lord Nigel Lawson, who chairs the organization.

British investigative journalist Brendan Montague argued today in a tribunal that the UK's Charity Commission should release documents regarding the GWPF’s early funding. Specifically, Montague seeks to persuade a judge to compel the release of a bank statement provided to the commission by Lord Lawson that would reveal the name of the "well known" secretive donor who furnished Lawson with the initial £50,000 seed donation to launch the GWPF.

In his appeal to the Information Rights Tribunal to fulfill his Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the financial document, Montague argued that the public has a right to know who has bankrolled the GWPF to assess possible conflict of interest. The GWPF has promoted doubt about manmade climate change ever since its founding in 2009. It is essential to the public interest because it will help to understand the foundation’s motivations for continuously promoting political inaction on climate change, Montague argues. He seeks to confirm whether this wealthy donor is connected to the oil or coal industry.

NASA’s James Hansen and other scientists have publicly endorsed Montague’s inquiry. Climate denial front groups have long hidden behind the lack of a legal requirement to reveal their donors, a level of secrecy that is increasingly under the spotlight around the world. Greenpeace has worked diligently for more than a decade to compile information about funding from ExxonMobil and, more recently, the funding from Koch Industries for U.S. climate denial groups through its ExxonSecrets.org site and its reports on the Kochtopus network

But little is known about other sources of funding, particularly support from other polluter interests.

"The public should know who is funding climate denial so they can properly judge the information put out by organizations like the Global Warming Policy Foundation,” Australian ethics professor Clive Hamilton told Graham Readfearn, writing for the Brisbane Times.**

DeSmogBlog and others have repeatedly pointed out that the GWPF plays fast and loose with facts, and the funding sources behind Lord Lawson's group are thought to be another area in which the GWPF may not be telling the whole truth. 

Lord Lawson has claimed in a GWPF annual report:

… “we offer all our donors the protection of anonymity. However, in order to reassure those who might otherwise doubt our complete independence, our Protocol for the Acceptance of Gifts lays down that we do not accept donations either from the energy industry or from anyone with a significant interest in the energy industry.”

Montague wants Lawson to come clean about this to see whether it's true or not. Montague is a seasoned journalist who previously worked for the Sunday Times and the Daily Mail in the UK, and now serves as director of the Request Initiative, which files Freedom of Information requests on behalf of non-profits.

Montague's lawyer Robin Hopkins appealed to the judge today:

There is enormous public interest in transparency as to who that individual is. There is a pressing need to scrutinise whether or not that person has any ‘significant interest’ in the energy industry. It appears that the Charity Commission makes no attempt to address that issue – it is left entirely in the hands of the GWPF itself.

Further, it is important that the public knows which high-profile figure has this degree of influence within GWPF. Parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee has expressed this public interest and has pressed for transparency on the issue of GWPF’s donors. It has been stonewalled.”

Tribunal judge Alison McKenna is expected to reach a decision within four weeks. 

Read Montague’s witness statement to the UK Information Rights Tribunal [PDF].

**Graham Readfearn, a freelance journalist, is a DeSmogBlog contributor. The piece he wrote for the BrisbaneTimes.com.au describes in more depth how the UK inquiry has important ramifications in Australia and around the world. He notes that two prominent Australian climate change contrarians – Professor Bob Carter, of James Cook University, and Professor Ian Plimer, a mining company director and geologist at the University of Adelaide – are members of the GWPF's academic advisory committee. See Graham’s piece for more detail: Bid to out the money behind the voice against climate change.

AttachmentSize Brendan Montague GWPF Witness Statement.pdf365.85 KB

July 03 2011


DeSmogBlog's Brendan DeMelle on Ed Schultz Show and Ring of Fire Radio Discussing Denial-a-Palooza

DeSmogBlog executive director Brendan DeMelle appeared on the Ed Schultz radio show earlier this week to discuss the Heartland Institute's sixth International Conference on Climate Change - a.k.a. Denial-a-Palooza - and other aspects of the climate change denial machine.  DeMelle was interviewed by guest host Mike Papantonio, who is co-host of Ring of Fire radio, which also ran the interview on its Saturday July 2 edition.

Listen to the Ring of Fire version of the interview below:

July 01 2011


Musings of a Malcontent: Zombies and the Human Condition

The second installment of Musings of a MalcontentMusings of a Malcontent – Posting #2

“Musings of a Malcontent” is a new weekly op-ed by GlobalWarmingisReal contributor Carlyle Coash

I realize a little clarification might be helpful going forward.

From the trusted Oxford English Dictionary: malcontent

  • Noun
    - a person who is dissatisfied and rebellious.
  • Adjective
    - dissatisfied and complaining or rebellious.

What’s funny is that I am usually a positive, calm individual. I was raised, however, to be curious and to question. I thank my father for that, which I do on a regular basis.

What are the viewpoints and the facts? What is being said in the subtext? Just because it is on the news does not mean it is true. Read and know your history.

I mean let’s be honest. Given enough money, power and ability to bend the rules – most of us might make unsound decisions. The temptation prances about us – taunting us to give it a try. It is just who we are – and we have centuries of examples to prove it.

I have the ability to remove anyone who opposes me? OK – off with their heads! I have the opportunity to rob people of millions of dollars simply because they trust me? Here let me invest that for you. Storing this toxic material will result in me making less money for the company? Gee that river over there is not being used for anything.

We have made these choices again and again. We see if we can get away with it – and when we do we try it again. From there it just gets easier, until we get caught. Or executed. Or get a pass. Or get sent to a prison where Wolfgang Puck brings us our meals every day.

(It is here I would like to say that we are capable of great things too – just to be clear. I know we all have it in us.)

As humans we like to wait until the last minute. It is as the wave is cresting over the house that we go, “oops”. I’m sure even the Black Death had its detractors. “Black legions on your body? I am sure there is nothing to worry about. Those people ‘dying’ in the streets are just trying to scare you. Take three leeches and call me in the morning.”

For every fact supporting something, there is an equal amount against it. I have been reading the anti global warming sites and they all sound “plausible”, but frankly so can almost anything. Paris Hilton learning something from her stint in jail for example. I’m sure facts can even be used to prove I am Michael Jackson’s father.

I assure, however, that I am not.

The core practice is to truly pay attention and take action – and this is hard for us to do. Here is a case in point. Last week I was speaking to a friend who is from Japan. She was actually there during the recent earthquake and tsunami. I said to her that at some point I would love to go to Japan when things are a little safer (if that is ever possible).

She said, without pause, that everything is fine there.

“How about radiation levels?”

No problem apparently.

Huh! I figured dumping radioactive wastewater into the ocean might be a bad thing.

It was at this moment that the wacky malcontent rebellious nature kicked in. Worst event since Chernobyl and everything is dandy. My positive, calm demeanor took a needed vacation to Belize at that moment. It was clear she accepted the tale presented by officials, and why not? In the U.S. we do it almost everyday for things much more minor. Still it made me a little crazy – and sad. Where was the curiosity?

I pushed a bit only to find how pointless that was going to be. When she said – “you’re so funny” I knew that she would not be convinced. Even if I had soil samples that burned through the table like the blood from Alien, it would still be funny. Ah well. At least I tried.

As stated, my purpose here is to poke at things and maybe lighten the impending cloud billowing over us. Good to laugh, even as the zombies are circling the house. Created, of course, by certain rays now getting through the atmosphere because the ozone layer is shot. As they push against the doors and windows you notice the zombies are all the nay-sayers in your neighborhood who said global warming was a liberal hoax meant to fear us into compliance.

Oh the irony!

They are zombies now – so forget explaining to them that they are proving your arguments beautifully. Ugh!

The world can sure be funny sometimes.

Until next week…


June 30 2011


Senator Inhofe Sends His Regrets

The senator says he is under the weather and cannot join his fellow climate skeptics at their annual get-together.

Denial-a-Palooza 6: Heartland's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, Courtesy of Koch, Scaife & Exxon

The Heartland Institute is convening a who's-who of the global warming denial machine in Washington, DC over the next two days for the sixth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC6).

Seemingly content to let the world burn, the denizens of Denial-a-Palooza work year-round to sow doubt and confusion about climate change among the public - aided by Fox News and other friendly media outlets - so that no action is taken to limit heat-trapping gasses in the atmosphere. This event is attended by the best corporate front groups that polluter money can buy, and this year is no exception.

As in past years, the speakers and sponsors lists are dripping with oil money, and comprise nearly the full roster of groups who share a common interest - greenwashing dirty energy sources like oil and coal while simultaneously attacking the credibility of the world's top climate scientists. The presentations will misrepresent the state of climate science, while the real action will take place backstage, as these groups coordinate their ongoing efforts to smear the reputation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (Note the intentional naming of this "ICCC" to sound like the IPCC.)

Let's take a look at the funding of the sponsors of ICCC6:

17 of the 43 sponsors of the Heartland Institute's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, including the Heartland Institute itself, have collectively received over $46 million from either Scaife Foundations, Koch Foundations, or ExxonMobil and its foundation.

Most of these organizations, including many that choose not to disclose their funding sources, comprise the core of the industry attack on global warming science. See below for a complete breakdown of funding details:

Scaife Foundations (1998-2010): $28,557,000  ($12,205,000 more than 2010*) Koch Foundations (1998-2009): $11,330,980 ($6,241,230 less than 2010) ExxonMobil (1998-2010):   $6,276,900 ($311,350 less than 2010)       Total Funding (1998-2010):  $46,164,880

*The Heritage Foundation, notably absent from the 2010 ICCC, is a sponsor again for the 2011 ICCC. Heritage has received $14,873,571 from industry sources.


Here are the funding totals for organizations sponsoring Heartland's conference that are known to have received support from oil-fueled 'free market' foundations:

*= past sponsor. 

Accuracy in Media* 

  • $3,120,000 – Scaife Foundations, 1998-2010

Americans For Prosperity* 

Americans for Tax Reform *

  • $60,000 – Koch Foundations, 1998-2009
  • $575,000 – Scaife Foundations, 1998-2010
  • Total: $635,500 

Ayn Rand Institute*

  • $25,000 – Koch Foundations, 1998-2009

Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE)*

Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change*

  • $85,000 – Koch Foundations, 1998-2009
  • $100,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010
  • $100,000 – Scaife Foundations, 1998-2010
  • Total: $285,000 

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT)*

  • $12,285 – Koch Foundations, 1998-2009
  • $582,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010
  • $1,915,000 – Scaife Foundations, 1998-2010
  • Total: $2,509,285

Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)*

  • $421,746 – Koch Foundations, 1998-2009
  • $2,005,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010
  • $2,575,000 – Scaife Foundations, 1998-2010
  • Total: $5,001,746

Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) 

  • $27,592 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009
  • $90,000 – Scaife foundations, 1998-2010 
  • Total: $117, 592

George C. Marshall Institute*

  • $310,000 – Koch Foundations, 1998-2009 ($70,000 in 2009)
  • $840,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
  • $2,595,000 received from Scaife foundations, 1998-2010 ($230,000 in 2010)
  • Total: $3,435,310

Heartland Institute

  • $20,000 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009 (none in 2009)
  • $676,500 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
  • Total: $696,500

Heritage Foundation*

  • $3,708,571 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009 ($618,571 in 2009)
  • $670,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 ($50,000 in 2010)
  • $10,495,000 – Scaife foundations, 1998-2010 ($600,000 in 2010)
  • Total: $14,873,571

Independent Institute*

  • $50,000 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009 (none in 2009)
  • $85,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
  • Total: $135,000

Independent Women’s Forum (IWF)

  • $485,000 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009 ($150,000 in 2009)
  • $50,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
  • $1,850,000 – Scaife foundations, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
  • Total: $2,385,000

Media Research Center (a.k.a. the Business & Media Institute)*

  • $15,005 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009 (none in 2009)
  • $362,500 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
  • $3,667,000 – Scaife foundations, 1998-2010 ($250,000 in 2010)
  • Total: $4 044 505

National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA)

  • $500,000 – Koch foundations, 1998-2009 ($25,000 in 2009)
  • $645,900 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2010 (none in 2010)
  • $1,575,000 – Scaife foundations, 1998-2010 ($100,000 in 2010)
  • Total: 2,720,900

Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)*

  • $20,000 – ExxonMobil, 1998-2000

Many of the conference's other sponsors have been indirectly funded by industry, or are tied to "free market" foundations:

60 Plus Association* 

African Center for Advocacy and Human Development* 

  • No funding information.

Alternate Solutions Institute American Energy Freedom Center*

  • Received a $100,000 grant in 2008 from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which in turn has received over $1,080,000 from ExxonMobil, $153,000 from the Koch Foundations, and $2,270,000 from the Scaife Foundations.

American Policy Center*

  • No funding records.

American Tradition Institute

  • The ATI’s staff include Chris Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a leading force in climate denial.  Horner edits the Cooler Heads Coalition’s website.   The ATI has successfully sued the University of Virginia for Dr Michael Mann’s emails and are now attempting a similar legal action at NASA to get Dr James Hansen’s emails.  

Australian Libertarian Society*

  • No funding records.

Business and Media Institute*

Cascade Policy Institute*

Centro de Investigaciones de Instituciones y Mercados de Argentina 

  • No funding records. 

Cathay Institute for Public Affairs*

  • No funding records. 

Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation

  • According to a report by Think Progress, the Cornwall Alliance is a front group for the shadowy James Partnership. Both the James Partnership and the Cornwall Alliance are closely linked to the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), an anti-environmental group that is “funded by at least $542,000 from ExxonMobil, $60,500 from Chevron, and $1,280,000 from Scaife family foundations,

Energy Makes America Great Inc.

  • No record of funding from Exxon, Koch, or Scaife.

Freedom Foundation of Minnesota

  • No record of funding from Exxon, Koch, or Scaife.


  • No record of funding from Exxon, Koch, or Scaife.

Istitulo Bruno Leoni (Italy)

  • No record of funding from Exxon, Koch, or Scaife.

International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Instituto Liberdade*

  • No funding information. 

Instituto de Libre Empresa*

  • No funding information. 

Institute for Liberty (IFL)*

  • A Tea Party group in the United States founded by Andrew Langer, an ex-employee of the Competetive Enterprise Institute (CEI). 

Liberaty Institute (India)

  • No funding information. 

Lavoisier Group*

Mannkal Economic Education Foundation*

  • No funding information. 

DENIAL-A-PALOOZA MAP 2011: Sponsors, Speakers and Funders
(view interactive map at ExxonSecrets):
Denialapalooza Heartland ICCC6

Sources: Greenpeace, DeSmogBlog, Media Matters Action Network, ExxonMobil 2010 Contributions and Community Investments [PDF] and the Scaife foundations website (for 2010 grants and 2008 grants see the Carthage Foundation).

June 06 2011


TIME Names DeSmogBlog In Top 25 Best Blogs of 2011

DeSmogBlog is honored to be recognized by TIME magazine in the Top 25 list of The Best Blogs of 2011.

TIME reporter Bryan Walsh calls DeSmogBlog a "necessary corrective" and "the antidote" to the corporate smoke screen surrounding news coverage of climate change and energy issues. 

Here is the full blurb about DeSmogBlog from Bryan Walsh at TIME:

A corporate smoke screen surrounds much of the coverage of climate-change and energy issues. Fossil-fuel companies have spent millions funding anti-global-warming think tanks, purposely creating a climate of doubt around the science. DeSmogBlog is the antidote to that obfuscation. Started in 2006 by James [Hoggan], a Canadian p.r. guru, DeSmogBlog dissects the half truths and outright lies around climate change, acting as an aggregator for smart research and opinion on green issues. If it sometimes goes too far — as with its jihad against gas fracking — DeSmogBlog is nevertheless a necessary corrective. <!--break-->

DeSmogBlog is celebrating its 5th anniversary of clearing the PR pollution that clouds climate science, and this nod by TIME is a nice honor for all the hard work of our contributors over the years, especially our current line-up of writers and researchers whose investigations earned the award on this year's Top 25.

Of course, this is also an honor bestowed upon our amazing readers, whose tips, support and words of encouragement allow DeSmogBlog to keep leading in the battle against industry misinformation and confusion campaigns.

Head over to TIME.com to see the full list of The Best Blogs of 2011.
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May 18 2011


WPI Students Protest ExxonMobil Speaker at Graduation

After four grueling years of late nights studying and more Ramen noodles than any one person should ever consume, most students don’t find themselves protesting their own graduation. Yet on Saturday, a group of graduates from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) did just that as a row of seats towards the back were left empty for them. No, they weren’t protesting the abhorrent prices of graduation gowns they would never wear again or the absence of top-shelf champagne at the ceremony: they were protesting its speaker.

As soon as WPI announced Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, would be this year’s graduation speaker, many students suddenly were “left confused, even betrayed,” graduating senior Katrina Crocker told DeSmogBlog. It didn’t make sense that WPI, a school recognized as one of the greenest universities in the nation, would invite the CEO of one of the largest dirty energy companies on the planet to address the class of 2011. In contrast to WPI’s green priorities, ExxonMobil reaps billions in dirty energy profits while polluting the environment and contributing to global climate change, all while simultaneously funding front groups to attack climate scientists and confuse the public.
Since 2005, ExxonMobil has dished out over $100 million lobbying Congress to delay EPA action to rein in the pollution that is the chief driver of climate disruption.  ExxonMobil has spent $4 million over the same period filling the campaign coffers of Washington leaders. Deniers such as Patrick Michaels, Fred Singer, and Richard Lindzen had received funding from ExxonMobil in order to attempt to obstruct progress on climate change in the US by either denying that the problem exists or lobbying against government action needed to rein in the continual purge of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Perhaps the reason the WPI administration chose Tillerson stemmed from the fact that ExxonMobil has reportedly given $1.3 million to the school, according to some students’ research.  “The decision certainly doesn’t reflect the school’s mission statement and goals, which explicitly state how education should  ‘strive for excellence coupled with an examination of the contexts of learning so that knowledge is won not only for its own sake but also for the sake of the human community,’” Crocker told me.

That’s when one campus group, Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF), a group committed to finding solutions to climate change, stepped up and decided to engage the WPI community to find a way to take back their graduation ceremony. At their initial meeting, over 30 people from varying backgrounds and interests showed up to brainstorm ideas. “Students who had never been inclined to speak up about anything, political or otherwise, felt compelled to stand up on this issue,” said Guillaume Marceau, one of the members of SJSF.

“We really made an effort to reach out respectfully to the others and create opportunities for in depth discussion.”

At first students decided they would protest by walking out during Tillerson’s speech and additionally invited Dr. Richard Heinberg, a fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, to give an alternative speech. Momentum seemed to build up when several of the local newspapers picked up the story. The students agreed that they didn’t want to disrupt the ceremony for other graduates, but did not condone anything ExxonMobil stands for and wanted to provide a counterpoint for people to listen to that was based on science on not on political or financial agenda.

But the plan hit a snag when the school administration responded by announcing that anyone who left the graduation ceremony in protest would be locked out and not allowed to receive their diplomas on stage with their classmates. Apparently even 4 years of tuition won’t buy you first amendment rights to free speech and protesting.

Naturally when someone’s free speech rights are infringed upon, the media has a knack for sniffing it out. After the administration declared its intention to lock out the dissenting students, a larger, second wave of media hits, this time reaching out farther than just the local papers and even included a signed letter from the faculty. Community members, and even many WPI alumni caught wind of the story and decided to voice their opinion to the administration. After the vocal outpouring and threat of rescinding alumni donations, the administration decided it was willing to negotiate an agreement with the students.

As per the compromise that was reached, during Saturday’s commencement, eight students were allowed to walk in late to the ceremony, after Rex Tillerson spouted off his ironic pearls of wisdom, that included encouraging graduates to maintain “a firm ethical foundation of personal and professional integrity” in their lives.

The Telegram reports that Tillerson said, “Integrity is a commitment to do the right things the right way every time, whether or not someone is looking… enjoy the world around you.”

Hopefully he also told those students to enjoy it quickly because if ExxonMobil gets its way, the EPA’s mandate to protect the public from harmful greenhouse gas pollution would be eviscerated and the public would collectively be shoved down the path to runaway climate change.

Originally the WPI administration had cited “logistical issues” as the reason that the protesting students couldn’t walk out and come back into the ceremony. But at Saturday’s festivities, student activists noticed graduates continually getting up to leave for breaks of various kinds, causing them to wonder if the administration really was worried about “disruptions” during the ceremony of if they just wanted to squelch the students’ protests.

“It had become quite apparent that this was not true,” said Linnaea Palmer Paton of SJSF. “Not only did a graduation organizer say in our meetings with the administration that this could be arranged without being disruptive, at graduation many graduates were constantly walking in and out to go to the bathroom, get food, and talk to people. Clearly, not being able to cross the stage and get diplomas if we had walked out was a punishment for speaking out, not a matter of logistics.”

While the concerned students went out of their way to extend an olive branch, why couldn’t the administration do the same? The students attempted to negotiate and compromise in order to minimize disruption out of respect for the other attendees, while bureaucratic politics continued to stomp all over students’ rights to exercise the green ethic instilled in them by the very same institution. Why should they have been punished for that?

After the ceremony, over a hundred people attended Richard Heinberg’s speech. Crocker said of the speech, “It was exactly what I hoped for and more. It was educational, inspiring, and rightly drew attention to ExxonMobil’s global warming disinformation efforts.”

Dr. Heinberg also drew attention to the fact that students, just like the ones of SJSF, have been mobilizing all over the country, and it’s efforts like these that keep the energy alive for climate activists worldwide.

“In my darker moments, I fear that we have already waited too long and that it is already too late. I hope I'm not right about that, and when I talk to young people like you, I tend to feel that we can make this great transition, and that actions that have seemed politically impossible for the past forty years will become inevitable as circumstances change, and as new hearts and minds come to the table,” Heinberg said.

March 23 2011


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
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.

March 10 2011


The Consequences of He Said, She Said Journalism

For a long time, those closely watching the climate debate unfold have denounced “he said, she said, we’re clueless” journalism, in which reporters present a "debate" between those who accept the science and those who do not, and leave it at that. Let the reader figure out who’s right, the philosophy seems to be. It’s journalistic “objectivity” not to “take sides”—right?

Those criticizing this approach—myself emphatically included—are working under a key assumption: If journalists would take a stand on matters of fact (such as whether global warming is caused by humans), rather than treating them as un-resolvable, the broader political discourse would also shift onto a firmer footing. That’s because we would move towards having a shared factual basis for making policy decisions, rather than fighting over the very reality upon which policy ought to be based.

It’s in this context that a new study, published in the Journal of Communication, would appear to break new ground--by actually examining the psychological effect that “he said, she said” or “passive” journalism has on readers, and in particular, on their views of whether it's possible to discern the truth.<!--break-->

The study, conducted by The Ohio State University communications professor Raymond Pingree, did not focus on climate change but rather the U.S. healthcare debate—but the same lesson would seem to apply. Study subjects were asked to read fake news stories in which two disputes about the contents of a healthcare bill were either left unresolved, or factually adjudicated. In other words, sometimes the subjects were exposed to “he said, she said” coverage, and sometimes they were exposed to a breed of journalism that unflinchingly examines where the truth lies.

Then the study subjects answered survey questions about their confidence in whether it was possible to discern the truth in politics. For instance, they were asked how much they agreed that "If I wanted to, I could figure out the facts behind most political disputes." What kind of article they’d read had a significant effect: Those who’d read the “passive” story were more, er, postmodern in outlook. They were less sure they could discern the truth (if it existed).

Pingree, the study author, does not seem shy in discussing the implications of these results. "Choosing among government policies is simply not like choosing among flavors of ice cream," he has stated. "Policy questions quite frequently center on facts, and political disputes can and often do hinge on these facts, not only on subjective matters."

The context for discussing Pingree’s study is critical: The news business has changed vastly, and Pingree asserts that journalists are far less likely to plainly state where the facts lie than they were in days past.

This may be partly an economic issue: Journalists are stretched thinner and thinner and may not have time to adequately research their stories. There’s no doubt that “he said, she said” is the easier approach to take in a time of declining newsroom staff and increasing journalist multitasking—not just reporting, but also constantly blogging, making online videos about their reports, and much more.

If you combine together Pingree’s analysis of mainstream journalism with an analysis of the rest of the political opinion environment—where everyone is shouting their own facts all the time, and diametrically opposed blogs service irreconcilably different worldviews—then no wonder some citizens are pretty down on “truth.”

Pingree thinks our politics suffer as a result. "That may make it easier for people to just quit following politics at all, or to accept dishonesty in politicians,” he states. I would tend to agree.

Here's the study reference: 

Pingree, R. J. 2011. Effects of Unresolved Factual Disputes in the News on Epistemic Political Efficacy.  Journal of Communication.

February 14 2011


Enviro News Wrap: Climate Cranks in America; GOP at War with the EPA; the Long Reach of the Koch Brothers, and more

The lates environmental news headlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

January 31 2011


January 28 2011


Greenpeace Airship Hovers Over Secretive Koch Summit with Message "Koch Brothers: Dirty Money"

UPDATE: Video footage of the Greenpeace airship flight below this post.

A Greenpeace airship today flew over the secretive Rancho Mirage polluter strategy meeting hosted by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries. Wealthy elite interests and oil tycoons arriving at the posh resort to plot their anti-democracy agenda were greeted with the aerial message "Koch Brothers: Dirty Money."

Greenpeace also released information collected from tax records confirming that the Koch Family Foundations continue to fund climate denial organizations.  The most recent records available document that the Kochtopus dished out $6.4 million in 2009 to front groups and think tanks that spread inaccurate and misleading information about climate science and clean energy policies. That brings the Kochtopus's confirmed Dirty Money total to $54.9 million since 1997, with the majority, $31.3 million, spent since 2005.
Kert Davies, Research Director for Greenpeace USA, commented:

“David and Charles Koch used their dirty money to block progress on clean energy and climate change policies, and now they’re scheming to roll back the Clean Air Act and other critical health and environmental protections with their partners in Congress. Their agenda of increased polluter profits at the expense of people, our health, and environment must be exposed and stopped.”

According to the tax records reviewed by Greenpeace from David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation:

  • Top recipients in 2009 included The Institute for Humane Studies, the Mercatus Center, Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. 
  •  Americans for Prosperity has now received over $5.6 million in documented donations from the Koch foundations.

This new information updates Greenpeace's previous findings from the March 2010 report, "Koch Industries, Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine," which detailed Kochtopus funding of climate denial organizations, as well as lobbying and political contributions to block progress on climate and clean energy policies.

2010 marked the first widespread recognition of the secretive Koch brothers' efforts to elevate their polluter agenda above public health and environmental protection. Jane Mayer's blockbuster New Yorker magazine  investigation of the Koch Brothers' anti-democratic efforts put David and Charles Koch under the spotlight last summer, documenting the oil billionaires’ central role in founding and financing astroturf campaigns and think tanks to promote their oily agenda. 

Ever since, the Koch Brothers have had nowhere to hide from that spotlight, with college senior and Marine Corps veteran Joel Francis knocking on the front door at Koch Industries' Wichita headquarters with an invitation to debate Charles Koch on his hefty support for Prop 23, and David Koch being booed at the Nutcracker ballet in New York just before Christmas.

This Sunday, the Koch brothers will face protests by a diverse array of labor, environmental, consumer, and other groups gathering near the site of the secret Koch retreat at Rancho Las Palmas resort in Rancho Mirage, California.

Check out photos of the Greenpeace airship delivering the "Koch Brothers: Dirty Money" message today.

Update: Here is a video of the Greenpeace flight:

January 21 2011


Is Climate Denial Allowing China to Take the Lead on Clean Energy?

President Obama and Hu take time for a photo op. Where will discussions of clean energy policy between the two nations lead? The Weekly Mulch from the Media Consortium
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogge

President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao touched on energy issues in the bilateral summit between the two countries this week.

“I believe that as the two largest energy consumers and emitters of greenhouses gases, the United States and China have a responsibility to combat climate change by building on the progress at Copenhagen and Cancun, and showing the way to a clean energy future. And President Hu indicated that he agrees with me on this issue,” President Obama said during a Wednesday press conference.

But can the United States step up as a leader on clean energy? The proliferation of politicians whom The Nation‘s Mark Hertsgaard calls “climate cranks” suggests otherwise.

The biggest consumers

In international climate negotiations, the United State and China are the two key players, and if the world as a whole is to move forward on combating climate change, agreement between Presidents Obama and Hu would be a huge breakthrough. Mother Jones‘ Kate Sheppard notes that Hu also said the United States and China would work together on climate changes, but, she writes, “I can imagine, though, that the conversation on this subject wasn’t entirely as chummy as the remarks would imply, however. The US last month lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization about China’s subsidies for clean energy, arguing that the country is unfairly stacking the deck in favor of their products.”

At AlterNet, Tina Gerhardt and Lucia Green-Weiskel explain the background to those tensions and to the U.S.’s protectionist bent on clean energy projects. They write, “Energy Secretary Chu recently framed the new relationship between the U.S. and China as a ‘Sputnik Moment.’ Referencing the first satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, which demonstrated its technological advantage and led to the Cold War-era space race, Chu warned that the U.S. risks falling behind China in the clean technology race.”

Stumbling blocks

China’s motivations for growing its clean energy sector may not be leafy green; new energy sources feed the country’s rapidly growing economy. But at least the country is committed to green energy sources, unlike our climate change-denying Congress. As Mark Hertsgaard argues at The Nation, this brand of American has become so pernicious, it’s time to stop adhering to the protocol that dubs them “climate deniers” and start calling them “climate cranks.” He explains:

“True skepticism is invaluable to the scientific method, but an honest skeptic can be persuaded by facts, if they are sound. The cranks are impervious to facts, at least facts that contradict their wacky worldview. When virtually every national science academy in the developed world, including our own, and every major scientific organization (e.g., the American Geophysical Union, the American Physics Society) has affirmed that climate change is real and extremely dangerous, only a crank continues to insist that it’s all a left-wing plot.”

Climate cranks attack

Unfortunately, climate cranks continue to interfere with both climate scientists and forward-thinking energy policy. At Change.org, Nikki Gloudeman writes about the ongoing saga of climate scientist Michael Mann, one of the climatologists embroiled in the Climategate brouhaha, who is still being attacked by climate-denying groups for his work. Gloudeman reports that although Mann has been investigated and found innocent of any misdeeds several times over, a group with a bias against climate change, the American Tradition Institute, is trying to obtain access to his work.

And in New Mexico, the state’s new conservative governor, Susana Martinez, “has attempted to subvert her own state constitution in order to stop [a] plan to begin reducing her state’s carbon emissions,” reports Dahr Jamail for Truthout. The plan, executed through state rules, would have reduced the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 3%, from 2010 levels, each year. The rules should have been made public, but Gov. Martinez kept them from being published, according to Truthout’s report. A local group, New Energy Economy, is fighting to implement them.

Bright spots

In some states, however, the clean energy economy is moving forward. As Care2′s Beth Buczynski reports, Clean Edge, a clean-tech advisory group, has identified the top ten states for clean energy leadership. They include California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.

“Rankings were derived from over 80 metrics including total electricity produced by clean-energy sources, hybrid vehicles on the road, and clean-energy venture and patent activity,” Buczynski reports.

And, as David Roberts writes at Grist, there is important work to be done at the local and regional level to both prepare for and prevent climate change. His preferred term for this challenge is “ruggedizing”—strengthening a community’s ability to respond to challenges brought on by climate change, such as flooding, droughts, or food shortages. The solutions to these problem, Roberts writes, often have the welcome side effect of decreasing carbon emissions, as well:

“For instance, the residents of Brisbane are discovering that when disaster strikes, it’s not very handy to have everyone spread out all over the place and utterly dependent on cars to get anywhere. It’s more resilient to have people closer together, more able to walk or take shared transportation. It just so happens that also reduces vehicle emissions.”

The advantage of this type of work—building the clean energy economy, ruggedizing communities—is that leaders don’t necessarily have to agree on the reality of climate change to move forward. But these are only partial solutions, and to address climate change on an international scale, the cranks will need to be quieted.


This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets

Image credit: rebuildingdemocracy, courtesy Flickr

January 20 2011


New Congress Wastes No Time Undoing Climate Progress

We all knew that the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives wasn’t going to be friendly to the environment, but none of us expected the fight to start so soon. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich), the new Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced today that his committee will be taking on the EPA with gusto.

In a document making its rounds among Republican lawmakers, Upton claims that the EPA has put a “chokehold” on businesses by regulating their emissions and pollution. The Hill obtained a copy of the document, which contains the following:

“We believe it critical that the Obama administration ‘stop’ imposing its new global warming regulatory regime, which will undermine economic growth and U.S. competitiveness for no significant benefit…The EPA is regulating too much too fast without fully analyzing the feasibility and economic and job impacts of the new rules.”
Upton and his colleagues are working to dismantle the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions, which was granted to them by a Supreme Court ruling that stated that carbon was, in fact, a greenhouse gas. The energy industry was strongly opposed to this ruling, as it would hinder their ability to pollute without consequence, and reducing their emissions would take a small percentage off of their bottom line. And since Upton’s number one campaign donor is the energy industry, he’s not going to waste any time to grant their wishes.

The EPA is still in the process of outlining their new guidelines to deal with climate change, and regulations have been slow to begin. Businesses are currently sitting on record amounts of cash, and salaries and bonuses for executive once again beating the records set in pre-recession years, it is both irresponsible and completely untrue to blame the current jobs crisis on environmental regulations.

But Upton’s crusade against the environment wasn’t the only big climate news coming from DC today. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced today that his Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, of which he is the chairman, will not be investigating the so-called “Climategate” scandal, even after pledging a full review of the “issue” a few months back. Issa has recently found himself in an unwanted spotlight, as media has picked up on reports that he was frequently arrested during his late twenties for stealing cars; has at least one arrest for possessing an unregistered handgun; and was suspected of insurance fraud and arson a few years ago. With all of the attention he’s been receiving, I have to assume that he didn’t want to draw more attention to himself with a phony investigation into a conservative-created “scandal.”

January 12 2011


David Koch Denies Climate Change, Appears Bewildered When Asked About Citizens United by ThinkProgress

Lee Fang from ThinkProgress had the chance to conduct an impromptu interview with billionaire polluter magnate David Koch of Koch Industries last week in Washington.  Despite the best efforts of Americans For Prosperity president Tim Phillips to end the interview by pestering Fang and his cameraman continously, Fang succeeds in getting Koch to answer several questions.  In part one, Koch acknowledges there are "some extremists" in the Tea Party, but that most of them are "normal people like us" - where "us" equals the handful of people worth $21.5 billion or more.

In part two, when asked about Americans For Prosperity's work to confuse public understanding of climate change, and about his own grasp of climate change science, David Koch delivers a barely comprehensible response demonstrating his need to brush up on the usual climate denier arguments.

FANG: Why does Americans for Prosperity focus so much on the science of climate change? I’m just curious why they spread so much information that denies the existence of climate, of global warming?

KOCH: Well… I think it’s uh, regulating CO2 excessively is going to put — uh really damage the economy.

FANG: Do you believe in climate change yourself, Mr. Koch?

KOCH: Climate does fluctuate. It goes from hot to cold. We have ice ages.

FANG: But do you believe carbon pollution affects climate change? [Koch shrugs]


In part three, when asked by Fang about the Supreme Court's horribly flawed decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which granted corporations unlimited financial influence over political campaigns, Koch at first does not even recognize what Fang is talking about, appearing confused and turning to Tim Phillips to see if he knowhs what this "Citizens United" thingy is.

FANG: What do you think of Citizens United? Has it helped your influence?

KOCH: Citizens United?

FANG: The Supreme Court decision.

KOCH: Oh.. Hm… [...]

Isn't it nice to see how well-informed the billionaire Koch is about vital aspects of America's crumbling democracy?

Fang then asks Koch to comment about the secretive meeting that Koch Industries sponsored last June in Aspen which drew Glenn Beck, the Chamber of Commerce and other wealthy polluters.

At that point, Koch decides that it's time to find his escape vehicle and abruptly walks away.



December 04 2010


House Global Warming Committee Axed By GOP Climate Zombies

The GOP's anti-science climate zombies claimed their first victim late this week, with House Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-OH) announcing his intent to shut down the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming when Republicans take control of Congress in January.

Rep. Boehner claims he is wielding the axe in order to "save several million dollars" by shoving the climate issue back into the exclusive purview of the House Committee on Science and Technology.  In fact, Boehner is proving to the public that the GOP fails to recognize the serious consequences for America's economy, national security, public health and future generations posed by climate change.

While the Democratic leadership of the waning 111th Congress failed to get legislation passed into law to address climate change, the House global warming committee, led by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), convened dozens of important hearings and briefings featuring top climate scientists and national security experts to educate Congress and the public about the need for swift action to secure America's energy independence, create clean energy jobs and mitigate climate change emissions.  Markey's committee also played a key role investigating the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, demonstrating its role as an important polluter watchdog in Congress.

With climate issues now shoe-horned into the House Committee of Science, there is simply no way climate change will receive the critical focus it deserves, since climate science will compete with all other scientific matters for attention from Congress.<!--break-->

As Chris Mooney noted on DeSmogBlog this past week, the partisan divide over climate change science is set to severely undermine efforts to deal with the greatest threat facing humanity.  The GOP, Mooney says, "has drifted farther and farther away from the scientific community," with only a small number of moderate Republicans remaining who respect science, particularly the scientific consensus on climate change.

While incoming House Speaker John Boehner thinks he's saving millions of dollars with this move, the fact is the GOP's climate science denial could cost the U.S. economy billions, perhaps trillions, in lost opportunities to lead the clean energy future and in growing economic burdens created by climate disruption.

Rather than 'saving' us, the
GOP is setting the country on a dangerous course of inaction and active obstruction, leaving the rest of the world to wonder whether the U.S. is headed toward total scientific illiteracy and denial under Republican leadership.

November 24 2010


Have We Found the Real “Climategate” Scandal?

This is a guest post by Mike Casey, cross-posted from ScalingGreen.com.
Despite overwhelming evidence that anthropogenic climate change is real, potentially catastrophic, and accelerating, the theft of the East Anglia emails a year ago was turned into “Climategate” by the dirty energy lobby.  This non-scandal was nothing but a bunch of hot air, perpetrated by “deniers,” and to a large extend funded by the leading dirty energy (coal and oil) industries. (For more on this subject, see the superb book, “The Climate War,” by Eric Pooley.)

Congressman Joe “Apologize to BP” Barton of Texas was among those honking on the “Climategate” horn the loudest. The problem is that Barton lacks intellectual integrity of his own. As Salon reports:


A couple of years ago, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, asked a statistician named Edward Wegman to produce a report that would cast doubt on climate change science, because Barton -- then the chairman of the House energy committee -- is less a citizen legislator than the whims of the oil and gas industries made animate and elected to Congress.


The report criticized some statistics used to prove that the last century was the warmest one in centuries, which means it proved that global warming is pretend, in the eyes of most Republicans…


The only problem, other than the fact that the report is overwhelmingly without merit, is that it was largely plagiarized.<!--break-->


"The report was integral to congressional hearings about climate scientists," says Aaron Huertas of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C. "And it preceded a lot of conspiratorial thinking polluting the public debate today about climate scientists."


But in March, climate scientist Raymond Bradley of the University of Massachusetts asked GMU, based in Fairfax, Va., to investigate "clear plagiarism" of one of his textbooks.

Bradley says he learned of the copying on the Deep Climate website and through a now year-long analysis of the Wegman report made by retired computer scientist John Mashey of Portola Valley, Calif. Mashey's analysis concludes that 35 of the report's 91 pages "are mostly plagiarized text, but often injected with errors, bias and changes of meaning." Copying others' text or ideas without crediting them violates universities' standards, according to Liz Wager of the London-based Committee on Publication Ethics.


In other words, it appears that we’ve found the real “Climategate” scandal here -- the relentless, well-funded propaganda effort to discredit climate science and climate scientists.  The deniers’ new plagiarism problem is just the latest in the fast-and-loose, fact-free zone in which they operate.

We have a call in to the House Ethics Committee, inquiring as to whether plagiarism represents a violation of House Ethics rules, and will report back what we hear.  As we’re waiting for an answer, keep in mind that Rep. Joe Barton, who requested the aforementioned report, is the same individual who infamously apologized to BP for how it was treated after it created one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the country.


I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.


No, the real “tragedy” is that people like Joe Barton get to come to Congress at all, not to mention rise to powerful positions.

By Mike Casey, cross-posted from ScalingGreen.com.

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