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GREENPEACE REPORT: Climate Change Denial Machine vs. Scientists

Written by Cindy Baxter, crossposted from Greenpeace: Dealing in Doubt.

Who likes being lied to by people paid by the oil industry who pose as “experts” on climate change?

Did you know it’s been going on for 25 years?

In a couple of weeks, the UN’s official advisors on climate change science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will update its global assessment on the issue. Yet in the background, more attacks on the climate science are underway

For the last quarter century, the climate science denial machine, its cogs oiled by fossil fuel money, has been attacking climate science, climate scientists and every official US report on climate change, along with State and local efforts – with the aim of undermining action on climate change.

Our new report, Dealing in Doubt, sets out the history of these attacks going back to the early 90s. These are attacks based on anti-regulatory, so called “free market” ideology, not legitimate scientific debate, using a wide range of dirty tricks: from faked science, attacks on scientists, fake credentials, cherry-picking scientific conclusions: a campaign based on the old tobacco industry mantra: “doubt is our product”.

We give special attention to perhaps today’s poster child of the climate denial machine’s free market think tanks, the Heartland Institute, which is about to launch a new version of its “NIPCC” or “climate change reconsidered” report next week in Chicago.

Unlike the real IPCC, with thousands of scientists involved from around the world, the Heartland Institute’s handful of authors is paid. Several of them claim fake scientific credentials. They start with a premise of proving the overwhelming consensus on climate science wrong, whereas the real IPCC simply summarizes the best science to date on climate change.

This multi-million dollar campaign has been funded by anti-government ideologues like the Koch brothers, companies like ExxonMobil and trade associations like the American Petroleum Institute.Big Oil funding of climate denial declines. "Anonymous" funding through Donors skyrockets. Interesting.

More recently, less visible channels of funding have been revealed such as the Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, organization that that has been called the “ATM of the conservative movement”, distributing funds from those who don’t want to be publicly associated with the anti-environmental work product of organizations like the Heartland Institute.

In the last week we’ve seen new peer-reviewed science published, linking at least half of 2012’s extreme weather events to a human carbon footprint in the atmosphere and on the weather and climate.

As the scientific consensus strengthens by the day that climate change is happening now, that carbon pollution is causing it and must be regulated, the denial machine is getting increasingly shrill. But today, while they are being increasingly ignored by a majority of the public, their mouthpieces in the US House of Representatives, for instance, have increased in number.

They’re still fighting the science – and they’re still being funded, to the tune of millions of dollars each year, to do it.

Dealing in Doubt sets out a history of these attacks. We show how the tactics of the tobacco industry’s campaign for “sound science” led to the formation of front groups who, as they lost the battle to deny smoking’s health hazards and keep warning labels off of cigarettes, turned their argumentative skills to the denial of climate change science in order to slow government action.

koch brosWhat we don’t cover is the fact that these organizations and deniers are also working on another front, attacking solutions to climate change. They go after any form of government incentive to promote renewable energy, while cheering for coal, fracking and the Keystone pipeline.

They attack any piece of legislation the US EPA puts forward to curb pollution. Decrying President Obama’s “war on coal” is a common drumbeat of these anti-regulation groups. One key member of the denial machine, astrophysicist Willie Soon from the Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics, has portrayed himself as an “expert” on mercury and public health in order to attack legislation curbing mercury emissions from coal plants.

This recent history, as well as the prior history of denial by the tobacco companies and chemical, asbestos and other manufacturing industries, is important to remember because the fossil fuel industry has never admitted that it was misguided or wrong in its early efforts to delay the policy reaction to the climate crisis. To this day, it continues to obstruct solutions.

The individuals, organizations and corporate interests who comprise the ‘climate denial machine’ have caused harm and have slowed our response time. As a result, we will all ultimately pay a much higher cost as we deal with the impacts, both economic and ecological.

Eventually, these interests will be held accountable for their actions.

Heartland Institute’s Achy Breaky Climate Denial Machine

Logic at it's most...illogical.

Written by Greenpeace Research Director Kert Davies, crossposted from Greenpeace Blogs.

No one would argue that Heartland Institute is in turmoil. The Guardian summed it up pretty well last night . The historic Joe Bast backfiring blunder of a billboard campaign featuring Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, the non-apology that followed, corporate funders running for the exits, the collapse of the Heartland DC office, former friends and colleagues jumping Bast's ship in his "hour of need"...

Desperate times indeed for climate denial central....

Before the billboard debacle, after their documents were leaked, they called another meeting - to challenge the prevailing consensus science on global warming (again...). It looked to us a lot like a circling of wagons. The co-sponsor organizations and speakers at the Heartland meeting this week in Chicago are the last remaining army bent on stalling action on global warming. The cosponsor orgs along with Heartland itself, received grants totaling almost $5.5 Million from ExxonMobil and $13.8 Million from the Koch brothers foundations since the late 1990s. Their work together goes way back. The interlaced connections between these groups and people is best illustrated by this ExxonSecrets.org map showing the meeting cosponsors down the left and some key speakers down the middle and all their other connections on the right. (Move them around on the map and explore their connections.) Marc Morano, Patrick Michaels, Myron Ebell, Fred Singer, Craig Idso, Willie Soon, Bob Carter and other speakers have long associations with multiple denial front groups The crowd assembled in Chicago this week at the 7th (not annual, but randomly occurring) Heartland Denial-Palooza meeting is a who's who of individuals and organizations that have actively conspired to derail global warming policy and science for the last two decades. Ever since the world woke up to the climate crisis, this mob has been working to delay action by distracting the public and policy arena with misinformation. Steve Coll's new book, Private Empire, gives an in depth account of Exxon's front group climate denial funding effort that accelerated after the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. These people and groups at Heartland's meeting are the very groups Exxon was funding to do their scut work a few short years ago.. Exxon Dumped Heartland The corporations fleeing Heartland now are slow learners. Exxon dumped Heartland years ago when it shed multiple front groups who they admitted "could divert attention" on climate change. Alas, Heartland is still diverting attention, Exxon money or not. Exxon did give Heartland a total of $676,500 from 1998 until 2007 they severed ties.

"In 2008, we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups, whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in a responsible manner." --2007 ExxonMobil Corporate Citizenship Report, published in May 2008

NOTE: Shareholder activists continue to try to hold Exxon accountable on climate change at their AGM May 30 in Dallas, including a resolution on greenhouse gas reductions. Reporters: go cover that meeting! Starting in 2006, Exxon dumped all (well almost all, see Heritage below) of the current co-sponsors of the Heartland meeting whom they had sent a grand total of $5.49 Million in grants from 1998 until they cut them off one by one. This year's co-sponsors include:

NOTE: Late comer to the Heartland party is the Illinois Coal Association. For years they bragged that these Denial-Palooza meetings were not funded by corporations, but alas times have changed. But the legacy of these groups is deeper and more detailed than just sharing money from Exxon. The Koch brothers Foundations sent the co-sponsors of the Heartland meeting a total of $13.8 Million from 1997 onward. Koch money receipts by Heartland co-sponsors

  • Americans for Prosperity, late conference co-sponsor, has received nearly $5.8 Million from the Koch foundation. David Koch is the Chair of Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
  • Heritage leads all Koch fundees having received over $4.4M since 1997
  • Reason Foundation has received at total of $1.8M
  • Capital Research Center hauled in $660K
  • CEI got $521K in Koch money
  • Frontiers of Freedom has received $175K
  • Ayn Rand Institute, Center for Study of CO2 and Global Change, Independent Institute and the John Locke Foundation all received Koch money.

Let's explore the history of this hardcore climate denial club a bit further: American Petroleum Institute Secret Plan Many of the people at the Chicago meeting and the organizations they represent were part of the American Petroleum Institute's Global Climate Science Communications Team (GCSCT), circa 1998. This leaked document revealed a multimillion dollar plan to train scientists for media and run a counter narrative to the prevailing climate science.

Greening Earth Society Craig Idso, a speaker at the conference, who we now know is on the Heartland payroll at over $130K this year, was one of the architects of the 1992 coal-funded Greening Earth Society which tried the non-denial approach: It's good for us, everything will be greener and warmer. Don't worry, burn coal as fast as you can!! Can you believe this guy still has a job? Recap The Peter Gleick master dupe of the century, revealed for all to see the Heartland 2012 Budget and Fundraising Plans. When DeSmogBlog released the documents on Valentines Day, we learned an awful lot about the Heartland mob and their plans. The Greenpeace Heartland investigation continues at PolluterWatch. Some of what we have learned:

  • Their climate denial lifeline over the past five years at least has been one "Anonymous Donor" who is managed by the random Mr Bast., who at times has accounted for over 60 percent of their operating budget.
  • Heartland is developing K-12 curriculum to teach our children their climate mythology.
  • They have moved uptown out of their "shabby" offices and wanted to raise more money working on fracking, presumably to keep up with the rent.
  • They hope(d) to increase their $20,000 2011 donation from one of the Koch Foundations to $200,000 and leverage the Koch network to expand their funding base. Wonder how those fundraising calls to the Kochs' are going now, after the billboard blowback?

This Heartland Chicago meeting might be interesting. The last one was a dud I hear. Oh to be a fly on the wall as the participants line up to rail on Joe Bast for dragging them into his cesspool.

Urban Heat Island – Favorite Skeptic Myth Debunked Again, This Time By Koch-Funded Science

This guest post was written by Brendan DeMelle, crossposted from DeSmogBlog.

Climate skeptics are once again proven wrong, and this time even Koch money can't skew the facts.

Have you heard the one from climate deniers that the “Urban Heat Island” effect has ruined all the weather stations and made the data they collect completely useless? The deniers claim any warming trend seen from these temperature recordings is from concrete buildings and asphalt roads – and that climate change is therefore a myth?

That would be false. Says whom, you ask?  How about a new Koch-funded scientific study?

An investigation by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project released yesterday once again thoroughly dispatches the skeptic myth about the “Urban Heat Island” (UHI) effect.

Many global warming skeptics have long claimed that the urban heat island effect is so strong that it has skewed temperature measurements indicating that global warming is happening. The skeptics argue that efforts to curb global warming pollution are therefore unnecessary, citing their pet theory that surface temperature stations were swallowed by, or moved closer to, cities, thus skewing surface temperature records on the whole.

The BEST papers – which still must go through rigorous peer review – confirm what climate scientists have correctly stated previously, demonstrating without doubt that “very rural” temperature stations miles from any new “UHI” towns or cities have also recorded warming at 0.9 degrees Celsius over the last century. 



To put it plainly, even the Kochtopus denial machine will have a tough time trying to twist this Koch-funded project’s findings. It looks like the Kochs backed the wrong horse here - one wonders whether they thought Hadley CRU would be proven wrong?


Notable skeptics like Anthony Watts have long pushed this bogus UHI theory. In fact, Watts admits that he basically became a climate skeptic when he heard that urban heat islands (UHI) had distorted the global temperature record. In November, Watts wrote on Watts Up With That: “UHI is easily observable. I’ve been telling readers about UHI since this blog started…” 

Mr. Watts isn’t quitting his fight just yet, complaining yesterday on his blog that the BEST studies must first clear peer review. Fair enough, sir, but in the meantime you might want to sharpen your flatware in preparation to dine on crow

After all, Watts said in March: “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.”

Brian Angliss over at Scholars & Rogues notes the sheer hypocrisy of Anthony Watts whining about BEST publishing the findings prior to peer-review, a sin Watts himself is guilty of:

This is the same Anthony Watts who published a paper with Joe D’Aleo titled “Is The US Temperature Record Reliable?” two full years before he published the associated peer reviewed paper. Oh, and the peer-reviewed paper came to the opposite conclusion of the Heartland paper.

And the BEST papers? Pre-release versions of the papers they’ll be submitting shortly for peer-review at real scientific journals. The Watts/D’Aleo paper? Published by the climate disruption denying Heartland Institute.

Watts has so much invested in the US surface station temperature record being wrong that he can’t seem to admit that his own research proved it was right, never mind accept that anyone else’s analyses might show the same.

Watts is by no means alone in embracing the Urban Heat Island theory to downplay global warming science.  John Christy, Roy Spencer, S. Fred Singer, Tim Ball and his “Friends of Science”, Ross McKitrick and Pat Michaels - to name a few - have all been proponents of the Urban Heat Island theory to explain away global warming data. Many of them excitedly praised the BEST study when it was first announced, apparently confident that it would confirm their theory.  

They should also sharpen their flatware for a feast of crow and humble pie.

Richard Muller and Judith Curry, the ringleaders of the BEST effort, have each received a significant amount of criticism for their own attacks on climate science, including on DeSmogBlog, and the lashings from Joe Romm at Climate Progress.  (Romm broke this story back in March, in fact, but now we have the full papers from Muller’s team to back up the claims.)

It now appears that the BEST effort confirms again what the, ahem, best climate scientists have told us repeatedly in the peer-reviewed science published on this issue over the past 20 years - that UHI is negligible and certainly doesn’t skew the conclusion that surface temperatures are rising.  In fact, a 2010 study indicated that stations identified by Watts and others as exaggerating warming actually indicated a cooling trend on closer examination. Oops.

Yes, the favorite arguments from skeptics griping about temperature station quality, selection bias and data correction all appear to be falling apart, thanks in part to $150,000 of their sugar daddy Charles Koch’s coin, no less.

Remember Climategate? Recall how Phil Jones was dragged through the mud chiefly due to the allegation that his landmark 1990 study on UHI - later cited by the International Panel on Climate Change – was allegedly plagued by flawed temperature data?

As it turns out, Jones and his colleagues at the Hadley Centre, who compile the HadCRU global temperature record are enjoying yet another exoneration today, since BEST data confirms the premise that the Urban Heat Island effect is not responsible for the extent of recorded global temperature rises.

But there’s little cause for celebration.  What the BEST papers clearly confirm (once again) is that global warming is real, and temperatures are rising quickly.

As Richard Muller writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece today:

When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections.

Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that.”

The hardened deniers will surely find something else to complain about now, as their attempts to paint man-made climate change as a myth grown increasingly desperate. But anyone who could be described as a “reasonable skeptic” must recognize this plain fact and stop misleading the public on this issue.  To do otherwise is dishonest and frankly unethical.

Related Profile(s) :

Anthony Watts

 

For more of Greenpeace's work on being transparency to the climate denial machine, check out ExxonSecrets and our ongoing case studies of Koch Industries.

Koch Brothers, Cuccinelli, Peabody and others Named "Climate Villains"

Similar to Rolling Stone's "The Climate Killers" article that was released at the beginning of the year, AlterNet has just profiled some of the most influential political, financial and popular enemies of the Earth's increasingly disrupted climate.

Snide comments aside, both reports nail some of the most influential staples: Koch Industries, an infamous engine of the climate denial machine; Warren Buffet, the filthy-rich investor who has placed his bets on coal; and Joe Barton, Big Fossil's purchased U.S. Representative (over 1.7 million dirty dollars over the last decade).

AlterNet's newer spotlight identifies Harold Lewis and Freeman Dyson, who are similar to the likes of S. Fred Singer and Patrick Michaels in their use of scientific credentials for corporate public relations rather than, say, active climate studies...or scientific study in general.  Also like Singer and Michaels, they have ties to prominent denier think tanks such as Cato, the Heartland Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, all of which are currently or formerly funded by Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.  Similarly, AlterNet mentions Anthony Watts, whose skeptic blog is the go-to hub for climate-solutions obstructionism, and whose credentials as a TV weatherman (not certified by the American Meteorological Society) fool people into thinking he's a climate expert.  Like the other junk scientists mentioned in the article, Watts has ties to the Heartland Institute.

In a contrasting look at university integrity, AlterNet also profiles Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's attorney general who has used the "climategate" nonscandal as grounds to continue harassing Michael Mann, the influential University of Virginia climatologist whose university research was a primary target of the hacked East Anglia emails.  While Mann was defended by his university and cleared of wrongdoing after investigations, the same can't be said for George Mason University's Edward Wegman.  AlterNet points out that Wegman is currently under formal investigation his George Mason for pushing bogus climate material for none other than Texas Rep. Joe Barton.

It is worth noting that George Mason University (GMU) is a known breeding ground for climate deniers and heavily supported by the Koch brothers; both the Mercatus Center and the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) operate out of the University have received millions of dollars from the Kochs.  There's also Koch Industries executive Richard Fink, who taught and filled various other positions at GMU, co-founded and directs GMU's Mercatus Center, directs the Institute for Humane Studies, is the president of two Koch family foundations that fund these groups, founded the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation (which became the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, of which Fink is a director)...Rich Fink pretty much lives up to his name.

Glenn Beck (who attended Charles Koch's secret election strategy meeting last June), Mitch McConnell, former BP CEO Tony Hayward, Peabody CEO Gregory Boyce, and others are also credited for their dirty work in the full article.

Check Greenpeace.org for more Koch Facts.

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