15Feb

Denial and the Heartland

Incase you hadn’t yet seen it, a right-wing think-tank has been reported as funding climate change denial on a massive scale:

The inner workings of a libertarian thinktank working to discredit the established science on climate change have been exposed by a leak of confidential documents detailing its strategy and fundraising networks…

The papers indicate that discrediting established climate science remains a core mission of the organisation, which has received support from a network of wealthy individuals – including the Koch oil billionaires as well as corporations such as Microsoft and RJR Tobacco.

Essentially, as these reports are suggesting, scientists (who are not climate scientists) are being paid to spread lies throughout the media and to even stop science being taught in schools, by rewriting various courses. Those who read environmental news all thought this kind of thing went on, but this appears to be the money trail that demonstrates it. The Guardian does a splendid job in revealing who gets paid what. This is making headlines all over the world, too, which is much needed – climate change denial tends to bleed into the US, Australian and British media.

I hope this gets back to the UK very soon. The BBC (which have not yet covered the news item) always wheels out Nigel Lawson, climate change denier extraordinaire, to talk about the environment. I’m not sure why, because he knows nothing about the environment. However, Lawson works for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which has connections to the Heartland Institute. That connection will be under scrutiny, I hope.

Always follow the money…

EDIT: The BBC has now reported this. Also, the Heartland Institute has also responded with the classic smoke and mirrors technique:

Those persons who posted these documents and wrote about them before we had a chance to comment on their authenticity should be ashamed of their deeds, and their bad behavior should be taken into account when judging their credibility now and in the future.

Bless.

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About Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

8 comments

  1. Am I the only one who believes these people should be charged with crimes against humanity?  Because in saying “it is our mission to discredit climate scientists and to pay scientists to say what we want,” they must, by that logic, believe said scientists are right — that climate change is, at the very least, true in a general sense.

    And if you take that as your baseline of thought processes, as the essential logic of your wish to see the climate community discredited, then you are essentially committing a crime against the human race precisely because in furthering an anti-climate agenda, you are contributing to (directly) the conditions which will lead to irreparable climate changes, much of which will mean a hell of a lot of us will die because foodstuffs will become scarce with reduced arable lands.

    So not only should these people have their organization defunded and shut down for fraud and their scientists stripped of all titles for selling their scientific expertise, now in question, to the highest bidder (and, therefore, their integrity), but they should all be charged with damage to the environment on a genocidal scale.

    But that’s what I believe, and I might be a little insane.

  2. No, I certainly think you’re onto something. It’s the same kind of punishment that should apply to those who tried to smear the science that linked smoking to cancer. People are, quite clearly, putting their profits before the lives of human beings. It’s ecocide. 

  3. Shaun, I take it you think it’s ok that Dr Gleik ‘impersonated a board member of the Heartland Institute, stole his identity by creating a fake email address, and proceeded to use that fake email address to steal documents that were prepared for a board meeting. He read those documents, concluded that there was no smoking gun in them, and then forged a two-page memo’? I take it you wont be wanting Dr Gleik charged with anything as he’s on your side?

    (Source: http://online.wsj.com/video/opinion-the-purloined-climate-papers/F3DAA9D5-4213-4DC0-AE0D-5A3D171EB260.html)

    Accusations of ‘damage to the environment on a genocidal scale’ by Shaun are emotive and not easily proven.An Mark, I’m surprised you’re giving tentative support for charges against people for what they are publicly saying, ie. speaking freely about. I vehemently disagree with your point of view on this topic but I would never consider or support you getting criminal charges for what you say and how you express it. That is totally wrong on free speech in countries that say they uphold free speech. It is the freedom to speak that will decide who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’ on any issue as the people listening will be able to hear more than the arguments but also the behaviour of both parties. If lies are told they will be found out; if behaviour is bad it will be noted and will affect the position of those committing said behaviour. If we want to be considered civilised we must act civilised. It is by no means easy but we must always strive toward it. 

  4. John, that link you mention is no longer available. Also, I can find no mention that he forged anything, but I’ve no problem with him releasing information that is better in the public domain. Anything that gives transparency to proceedings is a good thing. For years, corporations have influenced the media to try and spread doubt on what is sound science. It’s exactly the same as what happened with tobacco companies and evidence of smoking and cancer.   

    You mention free speech: what is going on here is a company influencing/corrupting free speech. In fact, it is profoundly undemocratic, surely? And climate deniers suddenly calling for politeness seems strange when they should, ultimately, be charged with ecocide for deliberately spreading harmful anti-scientific messages on behalf of corporations that will contribute to the death and agony of millions in the developing world. 

    Scientists have been engaging in civilised debate on climate issues for decades. That’s what peer-review is about. 

  5. My bad, it was the closing bracket that was the problem:
    http://online.wsj.com/video/opinion-the-purloined-climate-papers/F3DAA9D5-4213-4DC0-AE0D-5A3D171EB260.html
    ‘You mention free speech: what is going on here is a company influencing/corrupting free speech. In fact, it is profoundly undemocratic, surely?’  Their website says ‘Database of published research, primarily against environmentalist regulation’. Which I guess would make them lobbyists. Last I heard lobbying was legal. There are plenty of lobbyists on both sides. To argue for their removal (and criminal charges) purely on your opinion and perception of them is in my opinion undemocratic.I’ll defend your right to speak freely even though I don’t agree with it. In fact, as you are emotional and scare mongering in your expression I insist on it: because I believe how you are saying it is also an influencing factor in what you are saying. ‘And climate deniers suddenly calling for politeness seems strange when they should, ultimately, be charged with ecocide for deliberately spreading harmful anti-scientific messages on behalf of corporations that will contribute to the death and agony of millions in the developing world.’So you label me a denier? Demanding charges be brought is angry vindictiveness and is akin to the Ad Hom in that further debate cannot be thought of so it’s time to start chucking things such as insults and accusations and demanding things be done to stop the other side. And I know it comes from both sides. The sentence also seems to imply that I should be among those charged? Maybe you want me to keep my mouth shut on this subject so I don’t get charged with ecocide? Or perhaps I should just agree with you so I don’t get charged with ecoside? The ‘contribute to the death and agony of millions in the developing world’ is again emotive stuff and not provable, particularly as you are talking about the future.Anyway, as the environment is still working well enough to keep us alive, I think the best you would get would be attempted ecoside. Maybe G.E.H.. As I’ve mentioned before Mark, we (humanity) are not as tough as we think we are. We impact on the environment sure, but doing catastrophic irreparable damage to the Earth? The only way I see that is if the Earth were a person it might die laughing.’Scientists have been engaging in civilised debate on climate issues for decades. That’s what peer-review is about.’ I guess you didn’t hear the science is settled and the debate is over. How can you debate something with people who insist that the subject is settled? I’ve already mentioned that I don’t consider peer review valid in the scientific process. A main fault is they just reveiw a paper, not metholodgy or data.

  6. Hi John,

    I’m not sure that video actually counts as proof. Heartland have been laughable in their dealing of this debacle; I don’t think Gleik has admitted it yet. 

    “Database of published research, primarily against environmentalist regulation’.” Doesn’t that even sound wrong to you? Think about it – if it is balanced science, then it is neither for nor against anything. Science is science, apolitical. Having a corporation pay millions of dollars to influence public debate is anti-democratic. To have the economic decision makers become political decision makers – and that smacks of the USSR. 

    A denier, to me, is someone who cares to deny the tens of thousands of published climate papers that point to anthropogenic global warming. If that’s what you deny, then sure, that’s a denier. I’m truly sorry if you don’t like the word – but that’s what it is!

    “Demanding charges be brought is angry vindictiveness” – no, the charges ought to be against those who are willingly obscuring the truth, which does – whether you like it or not – affect millions of lives. 

    “again emotive stuff and not provable, particularly as you are talking about the future.”

    Unfortunately, it’s true and happening now, not just in the future, according to the World Health Organisation (who I’m inclined to trust on matters of health!): http://www.who.int/heli/risks/climate/climatechange/en/

    “I guess you didn’t hear the science is settled and the debate is over. How can you debate something with people who insist that the subject is settled?” Just because you accept the laws of physics hold true doesn’t mean you don’t apply them to other areas of science. 

    “As I’ve mentioned before Mark, we (humanity) are not as tough as we think we are. We impact on the environment sure, but doing catastrophic irreparable damage to the Earth?” Humans continually do that. But this time, and I don’t believe I’ve misled on this, it’s about human lives not the planet. Climate change affects – and is proven to affect – everything, from health issues to the availability of food and water. The basic fundamentals. Climate change is a humanitarian – and an economic issue, the costs of which have been explained by Nicholas Stern, the former head of the World Bank. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stern_Review

    “I don’t consider peer review valid in the scientific process” – does that mean you do not accept that smoking can cause cancer, or that HIV is connected to AIDS? Which are, of course, all part of the same peer reviewed process. 

     

  7. Mark, many thanks for taking the time to respond in depth on my post. 

    I’ll answer your last question first. I’m still undecided on man made climate change, which I take to be the real question you asked: obviously the climate changes  – I’m in Scotland and the climate can change four times a day! – but I think it highly unlikely mankind can change the climate to a catastrophic effect with a tiny trace gas. I still go back and forth, thinking it’s entirely possible we are changing our environment irreversibly and perhaps for the worse, but CO2 being the culprit seems very unlikely to me. To sum up, most of the time I don’t think it’s likely there is AGW, about ten to twenty percent of the time I think it’s possible but not ultimately dangerous to mankind and could be manageable by us if need be. At the moment I’m reading The Lives Of Ants and finding they’re as bad if not worse than us – but are better managers of their environment and don’t depend on technology (and they produce CO2 as well).
    I’m against peer review mainly because it’s passive, involving reading over other peoples’ work, and not validating any work by repeating it or experimentation. I simply find peer review lazy: the smoking, aids etc you mentioned would have been proven by other methods, mostly built from medical evidence.

    “Database of published research, primarily against environmentalist regulation’.” Doesn’t that even sound wrong to you? 

     

    Yes it sounds biased; but that’s what I expect of lobbyists.
    No clearer example than the current brou ha ha with the anti piracy laws. The entertainment
    industry in America is pushing for the most draconian laws they can get away
    with – look up ACTA, SOPA etc and you’ll see how draconian they are. (Soon it will be illegal too sing in the shower and you’ll have to give the
    record label every penny you have) This is how all lobbying works, get as much to
    your advantage as you can. The pro AGW side have been doing this for ages, now it seems there are other sides coming into it and are getting political attention – although I’ve never heard of Heartland until this story.

    ‘Think about it – if it is balanced science, then it is
    neither for nor against anything. Science is science, apolitical. Having a corporation
    pay millions of dollars to influence public debate is anti-democratic. To have
    the economic decision makers become political decision makers – and that smacks
    of the USSR.’

    I’m finding out there is no such thing as balanced science. Perhaps your statement should have read ‘Science is science, and should always aim to be apolitical.’ What’s the difference between religion and science? There’s more certainty in religion.
    A big problem with science is that it’s never settled. Even E=MC2 has been
    booted in the nuts recently with the reported faster than light neutrinos. Also, the CRU
    emails show they are biased toward their ’cause’. And re corporations paying see
    my comments on lobbying.

    ‘A denier, to me, is someone who cares to deny the tens of
    thousands of published climate papers that point to anthropogenic global
    warming. If that’s what you deny, then sure, that’s a denier. I’m truly sorry
    if you don’t like the word – but that’s what it is!’It’s never as simple as ‘denying’ and the D word is very politically and derogatorily used. What happened with
    climate gate made me NOT TRUST those papers, scientists and their conclusions,
    in the same way that I don’t trust bankers any more. (I’ve got a lot of my money
    in a credit union now.) It makes no difference to me if they’re right or wrong:
    I don’t trust them. Trust runs deep in the human psyche and broken trust can
    sometimes never be repaired. Also there could be ten million papers saying the
    same thing: that doesn’t mean it’s true. That is simply an appeal to authority.

    ‘”Demanding charges be brought is angry
    vindictiveness” – no, the charges ought to be against those who are willingly
    obscuring the truth, which does – whether you like it or not – affect millions
    of lives.’

    You might regret saying those words as I am ninety nine
    percent certain both sides are obscuring the truth. So both sides could be ‘charged’. As you know, human decisions are not always made on ‘truths’. We’re a lot more
    emotionally driven than we care to admit. Case in point: I like you a lot more
    now because of the quality of your writing, irrespective that we’ve never met,
    and your views on this subject.  We might
    even be totally opposite in political views too but it doesn’t matter as I’ve
    made an emotional choice about you not a ‘logical’ or ‘truthful’ one. Also humanity has argued since time immemorial what truth is and I doubt we’ll find it in this era.

     

     

    ‘Unfortunately, it’s true and happening now, not just in the
    future, according to the World Health Organisation (who I’m inclined to trust on
    matters of health!): http://www.who.int/heli/risks/…’

    I downloaded the pdf you link to. It clearly states that it
    is ESTIMATES by WHO sub region for 2000. No actual figures are given or any figures
    backed up and 2000 makes it more than ten years old.

     

    ‘”I guess you didn’t hear the science is settled and
    the debate is over. How can you debate something with people who insist that
    the subject is settled?” Just because you accept the laws of physics hold
    true doesn’t mean you don’t apply them to other areas of science.’

    Glieck himself said ten years ago the debate was over. The article
    below is by a journalist who backs up her statements with links to his quotes.

     

    http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2012/02/24/peter-gleick-then-and-now/

     

     

  8. Hi John,

    I’ve read through what you say and haven’t got the time to answer each of the points. Safe to say on the science, if you head to this site, it should very clearly give you an idea of the basic ‘misinformation’ out there in the media, and what the science is saying.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/

    It addresses the myths, basically. Seriously – if you have the time, please take a look at it.

    I’ll ask you very simply: what do you think the side of the ‘scientists’ and those who believe in man-made climate change is trying to achieve? 

    What, precisely, is their aim? A communist conspiracy?

    I’d like to point out that this is 97% of practicing climate scientists, British PMs from Margaret Thatcher through to Cameron, the former head of the World Bank, and even George W Bush (all admittedly latecomers to the supposed communist conspiracy). They all are convinced in the peer-reviewed evidence for the science on man-made climate change. They believe the 97% of climate scientists (not engineers or whatever, but people who study the field). They believe the tens of thousands of climate papers that are produced, refining what is obvious to the scientific community.

    Whilst it’s painfully obvious to see polluting companies benefit from trying to muddy the debate – they protect their profits, get off the hook and can continue to pollute – but what do all these supposed green groups, who donate their free time and have little else in the way of money – what is this great conspiracy? What do we hope to achieve? 

    Even if we’re all, somehow – and it’s rather unlikely, wrong – what do we get? A clean economy that doesn’t rely upon foreign imports? Cheaper, stable fuel in the long term? Cleaner air to breathe? Fewer respiratory illnesses/deaths? A boosted economy that harnesses natural energy? More jobs because of investment in the industry? Not precisely a difficult decision to make, is it?

    CO2 has been a known greenhouse gas for over a century. The climate – long term trends, not short term weather – changes due to certain forces upon it. This time, as the science so clearly shows, it is due to CO2. (You can even track what kind of CO2 it is – natural or, for example, form burning fuel.)

    So I can argue with people until I’m blue in the face, but sometimes whoever I’m debating with simply does not want to look at the facts. They come to the debate with preconceptions and look to bend whatever facts fit the reality. I would adore it if there was no climate change caused by CO2. What do I gain by trying to persuade people in the face of facts? 

    A lot of people don’t believe in evolution – no amount of arguing with them will change their minds, because they’re not looking to understand the world, they just want their current ideas reinforced… I’m always open to seeing evidence against climate change – the problem is, most of it is complete bollocks.