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Mon, 2011-02-07 08:24Richard Littlemore
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"ArticGate" - Heartland Backs Schmitt in Climate Misinformation

Incompetent or Dishonest - Either Way They’re Wrong

The former astronaut and proud climate change denier Harrison Schmitt is not alone in making the false claim that “Artic [sic] sea ice has returned to 1989 levels of coverage.” He has been bolstered  by the smokey hacks at the Heartland Institute, and especially by the brittle letter writer and Heartland head honcho, Joseph Bast.

If Schmitt’s false statement had stood on its own (or if he had moved to correct it when it was pointed out), you could reasonably have dismissed it as an error made in good faith.  But when Bast stooped to the flagrant manipulation necessary to argue that Schmitt’s assertion could have some basis in fact, well, you have to wonder - especially when there is already an established relationship between Schmitt and Heartland (check the name on the podium in the Schmitt denier video).

It’s awkward always to trace climate denial back to the money trail. Some people - maybe even Schmitt - deny climate science out of ideological blindness, not greedy self-interest. But it’s interesting that Heartland’s two favourite projects are denying the science of climate change and arguing that tobacco is really not all that bad for you. It’s relevant, too, that before they started hiding their funding sources, Heartland used to acknowledge the generous support of the tobacco and oil industries in propping up the “think” tank’s operations.

Fri, 2011-02-04 15:31Richard Littlemore
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Kent Insists - Against the Evidence - that Canada has a Plan

Environment Minister Even Calls that Plan “Credible”

Postmedia reporter Mike De Souza has an amusing story about outrage in the office of Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent over coverage of a ministerial speech last week.

The Minister had told the Economic Club of Canada that “Canada has a credible plan for addressing our environmental challenges.” At the same time, his department was releasing a document with the graph at left, showing a vast gap between the government’s stated emission reduction targets and the continuing rise of those emissions.

De Souza gives the Minister’s office every chance to comment, clarify or correct his report. But at the end of the day, it sure looks like Canada’s plan is to blow off its commitments once again - woefully, just as everyone expected.

Fri, 2011-02-04 11:53Richard Littlemore
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Andrew Weaver Sues Tim Ball for Libel

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

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

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

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

Wed, 2011-02-02 09:45Richard Littlemore
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Wall Street Journal: Accurate 7% of the Time

93% of WSJ Opinion Pieces Misreport Climate Change

Scott Mandia, a professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College at Long Island, N.Y. has done a topline analysis (on Climate Progress) of Wall Street Journal Editorial and Op-Ed (the “Opposite Editorial” Opinion Page) coverage of climate change and finds that the paper tells the truth seven per cent of the time.

The WSJ’s defence for this performance would undoubtedly be twofold. First, the pages Mandia analysed are for opinion, not news. Second, there really ARE a couple of deluded “experts” out there who challenge the majority view on climate change: the Journal has a right and responsibility to give voice to those views.

Fair enough. But a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that the proponderance of climate scientists who are worried about global warming is 97 per cent - not seven per cent, so the Journal is a bit off the mark. And while the paper is entitled to its opinions, it is beyond irresponsible to be setting its wishful thinking forth as fact. Bullshit is still bullshit, even if it’s in an editorial.

Tue, 2011-01-25 10:21Richard Littlemore
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On Climate Change: Is Individual Action Pointless?

My friend Anna Atkinson asked recently whether I agree with Canadian author Gwynne Dyer, who in his fabulous book, Climate Wars, suggests that individual actions in the fight against global warming are next to useless - that we will only enjoy success if the world’s governments collaborate on big initiatives.

As it turns out, I agree completely. Nothing you or I do will make a spit of difference. Unless we all see some significant government action, we are helpless to overcome the problem of global warming and doomed to watch changes in our environment - in our lifetime - that NOBODY is going to enjoy.

But it doesn’t end there. Governments act because people want them to act. And people change their wants because they are nudged in one direction or another: by advertising (most often); by their conscience (not all that often); and by their paranoia that they may fall out of step with their neighbours - that they may, by their behavior, demonstrate that they are not aligning with societal norms.
 
This, I think, is the biggest driver.
Mon, 2011-01-24 11:53Richard Littlemore
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Waxman Asks if Pat Michaels Has Misrepresented His Funding

Rep Henry Waxman (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, has written to committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) requesting an investigation into whether Patrick J. Michaels misled the committee when he reported that only three per cent of his income comes from industry.

Michaels is a famous denier-for-hire who, as Waxman notes, has estimated previously that 40% of his income comes from the energy industry. As the only “scientist” who told the E&C committee that climate change is nothing to worry about, it should be interesting to question whether that opinion was bought and paid for - and by whom - especially when Pat Michaels’ personal accounting seems so casually inaccurate.

Given that Michaels hailed from Virginia, maybe that state’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli would like to join the investigation. He’s all about holding people accountable, isn’t he?

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