The oily echo machine behind "climategate"

Thu, 2009-12-03 17:50Jim Hoggan
Jim Hoggan's picture

The oily echo machine behind "climategate"

The most vocal organizations around the University of East Anglia hacked email story (aka. “climategate”) have been involved in a decade-plus campaign to delay action on climate change.

The goal of this campaign, which began around the time of the first Kyoto Protocol negotiations, was to assemble a group of like-minded “free-market” think tanks and pseudo-experts that would bring into question the scientific realities of climate change, create doubt with the public and politicians and effectively delay the introduction of clean energy policy in the United States.

It’s no coincidence that the groups pushing this story the hardest have a long history of taking money from oil and coal companies to attack the conclusions made by climate scientists.

What I wouldn’t do to have a few of these organizations private emails over the years!

Here’s a few of the groups I’m talking about and a very brief background on their previous activities, as well as funding sources:

Center for a Constructive Tomorrow: owns and operate ClimateDepot.com, which has been a main clearinghouse for the right-wing climategate echo chamber. ClimateDepot.com is managed by Marc Morano, former aide to Republican Senator James Inhofe. CFACT has received grants from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and well-known right-wing foundations like the Carthage Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.

American Enterprise Institute: Offered to pay “experts” $10,000 to write papers that countered the IPCC reports. AEI has received close to half a million from oil-giant ExxonMobil, former Exxon Chairman Lee Raymond sits on AEI’s board of directors.

Media Research Center: run by Brett Bozell, this group also operates the popular right-wing blog, Newsbusters.org. The Media Research Center has received over $257,000 from oil-giant ExxonMobil since 1998.

Cato Institute: Is the main front group for the most prolific climate denier, Patrick Michaels. Cato is the second largest recipient of funding the foundations run by Koch Industries Inc. (the largest private energy company in the United States).

Heartland Institute: Organizes a “denier conference” every year for the past three years. Used to receive funding from ExxonMobil, still recieve grants from tobacco companies and are also a major recipient of grants from the foundations run by Koch Industries Inc. (the largest private energy company in the United States).

Heritage Foundation: Heritage is massive and operates on about $50 million a year. They have received significant funding from ExxonMobil, Koch Industries and other fossil fuel companies.

National Center for Policy Analysis: the NCPA is a small, but very vocal Dallas, Texas-based freemarket think tank and has received over $540,900 from oil giant ExxonMobil since 1998.

Competitive Enterprise Institute: The CEI is well-known for its public efforts to aggressively counter the scientific evidence for human-induced climate change, especially after their infamous set of television ads with the tag line “C02, We Call it Life.” Since 1998, the CEI has received over $2 million in funding from oil-giant ExxonMobil.

While these are some of the most vocal, there are more. So please leave a comment below if you think there’s anyone else who should be added to this list and we’ll do the research.

 

Comments

Here from “Climategate is an email from Mann to one of his co-conspirators, Briffa.
He is is trying to pursuade Briffa to give evidence to support him, adding that the NAS Panel was in fact “loaded” in his favour.

>> Hi Keith,
>>
>> I think you really *should* do this if you possibly can. The panel is
>> entirely legititimate, and the report was requested by Sherwood
>> Boehlert, who as you probably know has been very supportive of us in
>> the whole Barton affair. The assumption is that an honest
>> review of the science will buttress us against any attempt for Barton
>> to continue his attacks (there is some indication that he hasn’t
>> given up yet). Especially, with the new Science article by you and
>> Tim I think its really important that one of you attend, if at all
>> possible.
>>
>> I’m scheduled to arrive Thursday March 2rd, and give a presentation
>> friday morning March 2nd. I believe Malcolm is planning on
>> participating, not sure about Ray. I would guess that Tom C and
>> Caspar A have been invited as well, but haven’t heard anything.
>>
>> The panel is solid. Gerry North should do a good job in chairing
>> this, and the other members are all solid. Christy is the token
>> skeptic, but there are many others to keep him in check:

>>Mike

In the end it did no good, Mann was shown to be a charlatan.

North (NAS Panel Chair) and his panel were then also called before the Senate
subcommittee, together with Wegman. The members of the NAS panel were
then asked under oath if they wished to dispute the Wegman findings,
and this interesting dialogue ensued:

CHAIRMAN BARTON. Dr. North, do you dispute the conclusions [about the
Mann papers] or the methodology of Dr. Wegman’s report?
DR. NORTH. No, we don’t. We don’t disagree with their criticism. In
fact, pretty much the same thing is said in our report.
DR. BLOOMFIELD [statistician to the NAS Panel]. Our committee reviewed
the methodology used by Dr. Mann and his co-workers and we felt that
some of the choices they made were inappropriate. We had much the same
misgivings about his work that was documented at much greater length
by Dr. Wegman.

Speaks for itself doesn’t it?

And the Mann is still called a “scientist”! It makes me retch.

Phlogiston’s comment indulges in the usual misrepresentation of this whole matter by the ClimateAudit crowd.

What are the facts:

In 2006 two reports were brought out on the politicized “hockey stick”. The earlier one, drawn up at the request of the US House Committee on Science, was drafted by a broadly based 12-member panel of the US National Academy of Science under the chairmanship of Professor Gerald North, and released on the 22nd of June of that year. The later and shorter one, for which the House Committee on Energy and Commerce took the initiative, was composed by a 3-member panel of the Academy’s Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics under the chairmanship of Professor Edward Wegman and was brought out in July.

For the whole debate on global warming the two vital questions were:

1. Is the research of Mann et all. leading to the hockey-stick graph essential for the hypothesis that the planet is currently undergoing a process of global warming that is at least in part caused by human activities?

2 Does the idea behind the hockey stick graph that the last few decades have been the hottest of the millennium have any validity?

Answer by the North Report to question 1:

The North-committee answered this question as follows:

“Surface temperature reconstructions for periods prior to the industrial era are only one of the multiple lines of evidence supporting the conclusion that climate warming is occurring in response to human activities, and they are not the primary evidence”.

Answer by the Wegman report to question 1:

The answer in the Wegman-report does not contradict this:

“In a real sense the paleoclimatic results of MBH 98/99” (that is the original hockey stick article by Mann et al. – AB) “are essentially irrelevant to the consensus on climate change. The instrumented temperature record since 1850 clearly indicates an increase in temperature.”

Answer by the North report to question 2:

Though the North-committee was not very happy with Mann et al.’s statistical method it nevertheless held that a whole array of evidence had confirmed Mann et al.’s original result and that on the whole the idea that the last few decades had been the warmest of the last millennium (thus including the so-called ‘medieval warm period’) was ‘plausible’ (a term panel members further elucidated by saying in the press conference following the release of the report that the odds for this having been the case were 2: 1) though one can have more confidence about this for the last 400 years than for the earlier period.

Here are the relevant statements from the North report:

“As part of their statistical methods, Mann et al. used a type of principal component analysis that tends to bias the shape of the reconstructions. A description of this effect is given in Chapter 9. In practice, this method, though not recommended, does not appear to unduly influence reconstructions of hemispheric mean temperature; reconstructions performed without using principal component analysis are qualitatively similar to the original curves presented by Mann et al. (Crowley and Lowry 2000, Huybers 2005, D’Arrigo et al. 2006, Hegerl et al. 2006).”

And:

“The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes the additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and documentation of the spatial coherence of recent warming described above (Cook et al. 2004, Moberg et al. 2005, Rutherford et al. 2005, D’Arrigo et al. 2006, Osborn and Briffa 2006, Wahl and Ammann in press), and also the pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators described in previous chapters (e.g., Thompson et al. in press). Based on the analyses presented in the original papers by Mann et al. and this newer supporting evidence, the committee finds it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium.”

Answer by the Wegman report to question 2:

Wegman et al. did not deny that the hockey stick graph could possibly give a valid indication of the change in temperature over the last millennium – they merely denied that this graph was adequately supported by Mann et al.’s original statistical analysis. In this context part of Professor Wegman’s oral testimony before the House committee on Energy and Commerce is revealing: “I am baffled by the claim that the incorrect method doesn’t matter because the answer is correct anyway. Method wrong + Answer correct=Bad science.” (It has been argued that the Wegman committee merely showed that Mann et al.’s analysis could produce spurious results, not that it actually did).

At any case for the wider community the basic question was not about Mann et al.s competence as statisticians, it was whether the hockey stick graph gives a reasonably correct indication of the change in temperature over the last millennium. We saw that the answer of the North-committee was that this was ‘plausible’ and that the idea was at any case supported by a whole array of evidence from other authors, also those using other statistical methods than Mann et al. The answer of the Wegman-committee contained nothing that is at odds with this conclusion.

Press reactions:

After the release of the first report reputable newspapers such as the New York Times and the Boston Globe concluded that the hockey stick graph had been vindicated. The NYT of 22nd June said: “A controversial paper asserting that recent warming in the Northern hemisphere was probably unrivaled for 1,000 years was endorsed today, with a few reservations, by a panel convened by the nation’s pre-eminent scientific body”. The Boston Globe said a day later: “A signature piece of evidence for global warming – a compilation of data showing that a sharp rise in temperatures made the late 20th century the warmest period in 1,000years – is probably true, a national panel of scientific specialists concluded yesterday.”

As to the charge that Mann et al. had ‘cherry picked’ the data to fit a pre-conceived graph the NYT also reported that the statistical expert of the North-committee, Professor Peter Bloomfield of North Carolina State University, stated during the press conference following the release of the report; “I saw nothing that spoke to me of any manipulation” and that his impression was that the study was ‘an honest attempt to construct a data analysis procedure.”

Perhaps I should add here that Pielke Jr., a scientist the ClimateAudit crowd likes to quote when it suits it, said at the time that the NAS-report amounted to an almost complete vindication of Mann et al.

In view of all this one is baffled by assertions that these two reports have “discredited” or “broken” the hockey stick, that Mann et al. had not merely used the wrong method (in arriving at the right result) but had deliberately picked out certain data to fit a pre-conceived thesis – claims one can only ascribe to an elaborate and devious PR-campaign.

To provide this all with a shred of evidence the purveyors of this nonsense have seized on a particular statement in the North as well as the Wegman report, namely that one could not have confidence in Mann et al.’s suggestion that it was likely that the nineties were the hottest decade of the millennium and 1998 the hottest year. The argument of the North committee here was that the data didn’t allow such precise indications from year to year and the Wegman-committee stated in general that such an assertion was not supported by the statistical method used by Mann et al.

It is clear that we are dealing here with a subsidiary thesis and that this does not detract from the claim by the North committee, that, overall, the graph provides a plausible indication of the changes in the average global temperature during the last millennium (one may add that the North committee was super-cautious here because if it is ‘plausible’ that the last few decades were the hottest in the millennium why wouldn’t it be ‘likely’ (the word used by Mann et al.) that the decade and year that according to the thermometer were the hottest of these decades would also be the hottest in the millennium?).

When I saw how this report was misrepresented on ClimateAudit I had taken the measure of that blog.

If you saved the electricity used to type your post you could have lowered the global temperature by 2 degrees. Still Phlogiston’s origional comments remain intact and accurate. You have to see the other side of the coin to adequately greenwash the issue.
Nonetheless still good to see that your fingers are getting a workout.

… you might actually learn something. It was an excellent review.

It appears that you and Phlogiston have a habit of not reading anything that comes from scientific reports and reply purely on your preconceived opinions.

“Answer by the North Report to question 1:

The North-committee answered this question as follows”

If you go to Climate Audit you will see Mr North shot down in flames, by his own words, actions, and his science.

Sorry, but the truth is it is he is a disgrace to science.

Really? You actually see a conspiracy here?

This is an email from Michael Mann to his colleagues arranging for them to be part of Republican-led attack on his research that in the end was exonerated by the National Academy of Science.

In fact, a story out yesterday on AP, reiterated this exact point, and quotes Gerald North, the chairman of the Academy of Science Panel that looked into this. North said:

“”The conclusions that we came to were essentially the same as the hockey stick” theory that Mann proposed.”

By the way, North also said: “even if Jones, Mann and others had done no research at all, the world would still be warming and scientists would still be able to show it.”

‘And the Mann is still called a “scientist”!’

No. Mann is a scientist. And like all scientists he appreciates that the science is not settled and there are a number of unknowns and that more research is needed as in the precise role of water in the atmosphere.

However the science is solid enough to show that an increase in the lapse rate causes warming.

‘It makes me retch.’

No, again!

Such a statement makes you appear to be an ill-informed wretch.

‘However the science is solid enough to show that an increase in the lapse rate causes warming.’

I am still waiting for phlogiston to correct me on that statement which is not exactly correct. Sure it is the increase in something to do with lapse rate (and of how increased CO2 will exacerbate the effects of a change in lapse rate) rather than an increase in the lapse rate proper.

Hopefully ol’ flogy will exposing himself to some real science to answer that.

Still, when you add all the money together, it still amounts to pennies in the real world. The level of skepticism (not denial) is far larger in the general public then any campaign could produce, especially considering the vast sums spent by governments and assorted NGO’s.

So, the question remains as to why large swaths of the public remain on the sidelines. Have scientists done a poor job of explaining the science? Is it because scientists don’t have a track record for predicting climate 100 years hence? Or does much of the public judge the cost of action to be too high?

Rather then chasing pennies, I think these are more relevant questions concerning the issue and what action (or not) we should take.

So, I guess we should let tobacco companies off the hook for denying smoking causes cancer all those years, because, after all, a large percentage of the general public still smokes. Were the scientists and surgeons general of various countries trying to warn people of the dangers of smoking doing a poor job when public information campaigns weren’t able to overcome the meager publicity budgets of the large tobacco firms, which, when you added all the money together, still amounted to pennies in the real world?

When it comes to fossil fuel use and climate change, large swaths of the public remain on the sidelines because it is tough to admit that for years your socially acceptable, legal behaviours have been causing damage to the environment. It is also difficult to kick the habit when your entire lifestyle has been built around fossil fuel use.

I am encouraged by the growing numbers of people who have been listening to the overwhelming scientific evidence, rejecting the feeble analysis of climate change deniers, and coming up with ways of greening their lifestyle. We need energy companies to help by investing in greener technologies, not wasteful and dangerous deceptions.

One of the prominent deniers of climate change and an aggressive part of “climategate” is Christopher Booker , who wrote the book Scared To Death: From BSE to Global Warming, How Scares Are Costing Us The Earth.

He was interviewed on CBC a couple of days ago attacking scientists who believe that climate change is occurring and saying that “climategate” proves that climate change is a hoax.

Booker is a favourite expert for the Chrysotile Institute, previously called the Asbestos Institute, which is a lobby group for the asbestos industry and is funded by the Canadian government, who also sit on its board.

On the Chrysotile Institute website http://chrysotile.com, under News & Updates, there is a promotion of his book, denying global warming, harm caused by chrysotile asbestos (which Canada exports), lead in gasoline, etc.

We Canadian taxpayers are the key funder of the Chrysotile Institute and are funding this promotion of climate change denial.

Why are we as taxpayers funding climate change denial and junk science? We have given the Chrysotile Institute over $20 million and together with funding from the Quebec government (where the last operating asbestos mine is located)taxpayers have given this disreputable lobby group $50 million. The rest of their funding comes from the asbestos industry.

How do we, as tax-payers, stop supporting this pro-industry junk science denying climate change and the harm caused by asbestos?

Asbestos kills Europeans - but obviously not North Americans. Asbestos is banned in Europe for mechanically causing cancer of the lung tissue. This was well established in the early 80s, when I did my mineralogy undergraduate, and possibly long before.

Mr. Booker should take a bath in chrysotile needles, then hang out in a sealed room, filled with CO2. CO2 is life, isn’t it?

This would get rid of the problem.

Asbestos? If you’re doing demolition work in Canada, there are all sorts of safety precautions taken. Rooms are sealed. Mandatory properly rated filter masked are used. We’re also careful with lead and mercury…. oh and Canadians live longer than Germans - a full year longer - you’re not doing something right.

And then we sell asbestos to poorer countries which do not take all those precautions. It’s just as immoral as selling guns to oppressive regimes.

I was surprised to see that. Just checking now, I see that asbestos mining is reduced to one mine in Quebec, quite a productive mine too. I read that as politics over health because asbestos mining is shut down in every other province.

Two organizations to add to your list that have been active lately are the Fraser Institute and Friends of Science. DeepClimate has been examining both on his blog. You will recognize some of the funding sources.
http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/02/in-the-beginning-friends-of-science-talisman-energy-and-the-de-freitas-brothers/ http://deepclimate.org/2009/11/12/understanding-climate-fraser-institute-chernoff/

The Sierra Club has called for a criminal investigation into the stolen emails and the posting of them on websites in Canada

“…Sierra Club Canada has identified one such web site believed to be hosted in Canada where the stolen emails are posted, and suspect there may be several more. The request to police cites the Friends of Science, a climate denier group, whose server is based in Calgary and provided by the internet service provider Enmax Envision…” http://www.sierraclub.ca/national/media/item.shtml?x=3020

The FoS are killing me - they put a zipped file package on megaupload - like illegal file sharers. The package has been removed.

CBC Radio Calgary briefly interviewed chairman Doug Leahey, who must be in his late 80s according to his voice.

Who is behind this email (apparent) theft? While U of East Anglia likely has less security on computer systems than NASA (which is beaten against by hackers all over the world daily), the operation presumably required more skill than the old duffers in FOS. How many institutes worldwide did they try and fail to penetrate? Then somebody read through 3000 emails written over 16 years of time to find something distortable. Including computer code. Seems like either an investment in $$ (rather than an obsessed nut).
I hope the authorities one day figure it out. Curious.

who is e boom?

To dismiss climate change sceptics on the grounds that they lack scientific credentials is about as pointless as criticising a bunch of thugs, hired to break up a town-hall meeting, on the poor quality of their debating skills.

Well. Looks like the CRU is not averse in garnering support from BIG OIL.

http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=171&filename=962818260.txt

http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=156&filename=947541692.txt

So get off the big oil bulldust. You people are a Joke!

Yesterday I received a phone call from a Chem prof at a community college:

“Do you know who a guy named Monckton is?”

“Potty peer? Yep.”

Seems a student sought to enlighten the Prof, who presents global warming in a beginning Science course (overview of physics, chemistry, ee, etc. for freshman who may never take another science course). Global warming isn”t real. She pitched Monckton”s spiel, even though she admitted he isn”t a scientist, as well as other standard denier cant. She even played a CD for the prof, featuring some “wacko” whose name Prof doesn”t remember, but was ?a nuclear physicist associated with Ball State and Indiana?. The Prof showed the data from NASA web pages, but it didn”t convince the student.

I asked, “How did she get onto this? What was her motivation?”

“I think she is religious.”

“Oh.”

Now, I recently attended an interfaith 350 event in a church. Beautiful and educational service, led by a rabbi, a priest, and three ministers from protestant faiths. The National Council of Churches, and many evangelical churches are promoting “Creation Care” and urging good Christians to preserve our earth.
But there is a subset of fundamental evangelicals who follow an organized effort to deny global warming to their faithful. And they are effectively diffusing the message. Several years ago, a committee called the “Interfaith Stewardship (sic) Alliance” was given $50 K seed money by – would you believe Exxon Mobil?
It included the late Jerry Falwell, ?Dobson? and a rabbi etc. Falwell preached a sermon dissing global warming – we should spend our time in devotion to Jesus and not to a distraction like AGW and besides any warming is due to solar variation. Falwell was promptly recalled to God – I wonder how he explained preaching the Gospel according to Exxon and encouraging the destruction of the planet God created for us to Him.

This morphed to the “Cornwall Alliance” which has a full web page. Supported by who now? I don”t know. It provides lots of misinformation, as well as sermons for good and faithful pastors to preach on Sunday.
Our dear Phlogiston sometimes quotes as “research reports” printed in “Answers in Genesis”. This organization (Ken has an anti-evolution “museum” in Cleveland to help educate the children of Young Earth Creationists with.

I don”t know how many fundamentals churches in Canada lean into this stuff, but here in the U.S. a significant number of people are reached by the deniers, and the congregations are particularly credible. And they are told their faith requires them to disbelieve AGW.

Cornwall Alliance: http://www.cornwallalliance.org/

I chat with my old geog 130 prof from time to time, we’re both convinced the effects of global warming have been vastly exagerated for political considerations. That should be obvious to everyone now with the hacked e-mails and computer code seeing the light of day.

Well you have the emails now, so show us where all of the world’s goverments (and the opposition parties) sign up to this vast conspiracy.

Certainly some of Harper’s Ministers are creationists; Stockwell Day, Gary Goodyear (the Minister for Science, who when asked if he believed in evolution said he was not going to discuss religion.) Harper and others may be as well, I’m not sure. Maybe they should be accused of attacking other religions because they cut funding to Kairos, a social justice group run by the mainstream churches, which has been funded since 1973, and which has expressed concern about climate change, the oilsands, aboriginal peoples and migrant workers there, and the practices of Canadian mining companies in other countries.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/091202/national/church_funding_cut http://www.kairoscanada.org/en/worship-reflections/reflection/archive/2009/08/article/kairos-calls-for-apocalyptic-living/?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=41&cHash=0c5258397f

Here’s a link about Goodyear:

“Canada’s science minister, the man at the centre of the controversy over federal funding cuts to researchers, won’t say if he believes in evolution.

“I’m not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,” Gary Goodyear, the federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail…” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/article320476.ece

According to whois, the Cornwell Alliance website was created Jan 2, 2007. (that’s cornwallalliance.org) Whois doesn’t have much information that I understand about cornwallalliance.org; it’s on a server in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. But cornwallalliance.com is registered to E. Calvin Beisner of Burke, Virginia, who lives at the same address as the contact address at cornwallalliance.org.

There is an Exxonsecrets page about him up to 2006, with links; http://exxonsecrets.org/html/personfactsheet.php?id=231

Desmogblog has much information about him, more recently: http://www.desmogblog.com/calvin-beisner

I am going to start using the term Exxon Climate Science to distinguish it from the other kind.
Or how about Exxonometrics to describe a sub-discipline?

We hear this mantra that AGW deniers are shills for big oil all the time. This is
actually incorrect, and misleading

The Climate Research Unit (CRU) in the UK was set up in 1971 with funding from Shell and
BP as is described in the book: “The history of the University of East Anglia, Norwich;
Page 285)” By Michael Sanderson. The CRU was still being funded in 2008 by Shell, BP, the
Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and UK Nirex LTD (the nuclear waste disposals people
in the UK)

I think this is important to know, for two reasons.
Firstly, the key institution providing support for Global Warming theories and the basis
for the IPCC findings receives funding from “Big Oil” and the nuclear power industry.

Secondly, the research from the institution which is perceived to be independant publicly
funded research, is actually beholden to soft money, CRU is in fact a business.

The funders of the CRU are on the bottom of this page from their website: http://web.archive.org/web/20080627194858/http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/about/history/

You missed Greenpeace, the Royal Society, and a whole bunch more. But so what?

[x]
Michael Mann

Put up your hand if you’ve been a follower of news about climate change in recent years and haven’t heard of the “hockey stick” graph.

Nobody?  No, didn’t think so.

These graphs get their name because of their shape. 

They are reconstructions of the temperatures on Earth over several centuries to several millennia and they all have a repetitive tendency to turn sharply skyward showing the recent rapid warming of the Earth.

The most famous and first “hockey stick” came from research in the...

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