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Wed, 2010-09-01 11:53Brendan DeMelle
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Washington Post Editorial Slams Ken Cuccinelli "Embarrassing" Witch Hunt Against Climate Scientist

The Washington Post penned an excellent editorial yesterday deriding Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s political attack against climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann, a former UVA professor whom Cuccinelli has targeted in a witch hunt.  

The Post editorial notes that “the overblown critique of climate science that emerged early this year continues to underwhelm,” citing several examples of the recent rash of politically-motivated attacks on climate science, including the much-ado-about-nothing ‘Climategate’ episode last winter, the repeated attacks against the integrity of the U.N. IPCC, and of course Mr. Cuccinelli’s witch hunt against UVA and Mike Mann. 

This week’s ruling by Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross confirming that Cuccinelli lacked “an objective basis” for his witch hunt “put a damper on a pernicious fishing expedition,” the Post says.

But that hasn’t checked “Mr. Cuccinelli’s zeal,” since he immediately announced plans to re-rig his fishing pole and try again to smear Dr. Mann, “thereby extending his assault on academic freedom,” says the Post.

The editorial closes with sharp criticism for Cuccinelli’s attempt to “embarrass Virginia”:

“We hope he rethinks his course. At this point all he can do is waste more taxpayer money, force the university to waste more of its money and embarrass Virginia in a way that can only harm its higher education system.” 

Check out the full editorial, 
A judge puts a damper on Mr. Cuccinelli’s U-Va. witch hunt.” 

Wed, 2010-07-14 08:02Kevin Grandia
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Hard for Crook to Climb Down on ClimateGate

A blog post penned by The Atlantic’s Clive Crook today highlights just how hard it is for some people to admit when they are wrong.

Maybe it’s a pride thing - the Chinese call it “saving face.” Maybe it’s something entirely different. After all, who knows what is running through anyone’s head?

Regardless of what it is called, Crook has it in spades on the issue of the infamous stolen emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at London’s East Anglia University. At the time of the controversy last November, Crook wrote column after column indicting climate scientists in the court of public opinion before any inquiry into the matter could take place.

Only 13 days after the stolen emails were made public Crook had already made up his mind writing that, “the stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering.”

But after three inquires into the so-called “climate gate” matter, one of them conducted by a bi-partisan UK government committee and two by academic boards, the overwhelming conclusion is that there was no wrong-doing.

Fri, 2010-07-02 12:35Kevin Grandia
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Fracked tap water in Texas is 99% PR spin

When you have lived in the same place for 20 years and all of sudden your hair turns orange after you wash it, you might be more than a little concerned.

But, of course, don’t blame the natural gas company that is pumping thousands of gallons of toxic sludge into the ground just up the street. That can’t possibly have anything to do with your hair turning orange or the chemically smelling sediment floating around in your water glass.

After all, the natural gas industry, in a process called hydraulic fracturing (also called “fracking”), says that 99-percent of the sludge they use is just water and sand.

The 1 percent that isn’t water and sand is chemicals like formamide, a “reproductive toxicant” that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says targets organs like the “eyes, skin, respiratory system, central nervous system, [and] reproductive system.”

Also in the 1 percent is something called Glutaraldehyde, a “developmental toxicant, immunotoxicant, reproductive toxicant, respiratory toxicant, skin or sense organ toxicant.”

Now when you consider that the average fracking operation uses more than a million gallons of fluid, that means this teeny tiny 1 percent of toxins is a whopping 10,000 gallons.

Mon, 2010-06-14 14:02Kevin Grandia
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The Inside Scoop on the "Climate War"

The first question I had for author Eric Pooley after I finished reading his new book, The Climate War, was whether he had set up hidden cameras all over Washington, DC.

He didn’t of course, but the insider information he weaves into his story about the ongoing battle for effective climate policy both in the United States and internationally will make even the insiders feel inadequate.

The Climate War puts you at the power-broker’s table, with much of the book following two main characters who have been at the center of the debate and the controversy around climate policy for more than a decade - Fred Krupp, Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund and Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy.

Both Krupp and Rogers are polarizing figures within the climate advocacy community, with Krupp being accused of “selling out” to the big corporate machine and willing to accept inadequate policy fixes and Rogers being accused of greenwashing the company he heads which is one of the largest electrical generation companies in the United States.

Krupp and Rogers act as the central characters and around them Pooley wraps the history of how we have gotten to where we are today on the issue of climate change, ending with the failure to come to an international climate treaty in Copenhagen, Denmark in late December, 2009.

We learn more about the “deniers” and the corporate flaks that back them, like Myron Ebell at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who toasted a crowd with Fiji Water because,

“It comes to you direct from Fiji, so it’s very energy inefficient: the only thing that could improve it would be to carbonate it.

Mon, 2010-03-15 18:25Jim Hoggan
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Stanford Study Confirms That “Balanced” Media Stories Quoting Skeptics Mislead The Public

Skeptics Skew Public Understanding of Climate Change

Providing climate skeptics a voice in “balanced” mainstream media coverage skews public perception of the scientific consensus regarding climate change, leaving viewers less likely to understand the threat of climate disruption and less likely to support government actions to address global warming, according to the results of a Stanford University research effort

The Stanford researchers probed the impact on public understanding of climate change when media coverage features a climate skeptic alongside a climate scientist.  Media stories featuring only a mainstream climate scientist “increased the number of people who believed that global warming has been happening and that humans have caused global warming.”

However, when media stories also include a climate skeptic, ostensibly to add “balance” to the story, the result is a “significantly reduced” number of people who understand the issue and endorse government action to address the problem.

“Watching a skeptic decreased perceptions of consensus among scientific experts, and this decreased perception of consensus led respondents to be less supportive of government action in general and of cap and trade policy in particular,” the researchers found.

Thu, 2010-03-04 18:42Brendan DeMelle
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Evidence Provided In UK Parliamentary Inquiry Into Climate Scientists Was Prepared By Oil and Gas Industry Consultant

The Guardian just broke the news that a consultant to Shell and other oil and gas interests was the source of ‘evidence’ provided by the Institute of Physics in the current UK parliamentary review of the controversy in England over climate scientists’ emails stolen from servers at the University of East Anglia.

The Guardian reports:

“Evidence from a respected scientific body to a parliamentary inquiry examining the behaviour of climate-change scientists, was drawn from an energy industry consultant who argues that global warming is a religion

The Guardian has established that the institute prepared its evidence, which was highly critical of the CRU scientists, after inviting views from Peter Gill, an IOP official who is head of a company in Surrey called Crestport Services.

According to Gill, Crestport offers “consultancy and management support services … particularly within the energy and energy intensive industries worldwide”, and says that it has worked with “oil and gas production companies including Shell, British Gas, and Petroleum Development Oman”.

Wed, 2010-02-03 17:51Brendan DeMelle
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Climate Skeptics Try To Spin Penn State Exoneration of Dr. Michael Mann Into “Whitewash”

Penn State University’s inquiry into climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann’s conduct surrounding the emails stolen from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University concluded there is no evidence to substantiate the claims made by the right-wing media against Mann.

The Penn State panel cleared Dr. Mann of any wrongdoing in three of the four areas it probed, recommending only that a separate panel of faculty members pursue a follow-up investigation into the allegation that Dr. Mann “engaged in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting or reporting research or other scholarly activities.”

Dr. Mann’s response to the outcome:
“This is very much the vindication I expected since I am confident I have done nothing wrong.

I fully support the additional inquiry which may be the best way to remove any lingering doubts. I intend to cooperate fully in this matter – as I have since the beginning of the process.”


Pete Altman over at NRDC’s Switchboard blog notes: “That’s about as close to a silver bullet as you are going to find in terms of shooting down the conspiracy theorists who are touting their ‘climategate’ nonsense.”

Altman notes that Professor Mann has “has been the victim of an extended vicious and unfounded smear campaign.”

But none of that seems to sink into the brain of the self-titled “Junkman,” Steven Milloy, who instead screams “whitewash” and accuses Penn State of ignoring allegations that were never under question.  Milloy would rather Penn State investigate whether global warming is real to suit his own fantasies that there is a debate on that question.  He just can’t stand the fact that a formal inquiry launched by a prestigious university didn’t end up the way he wanted it to.

Wed, 2010-01-27 16:30Jim Hoggan
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New Poll Results Reveal The Impact of Decades-Long Climate Confusion Campaign

A new report published jointly by Yale University and George Mason University finds that Americans are much less concerned about climate change than they were just a year ago.  Fifty-seven percent of Americans polled believe climate change is happening, compared with a figure of 71 percent in October 2008, a 14 point drop. 

The reason ought to be clear.  The climate confusion campaign - waged by the like of Americans for Prosperity, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Petroleum Institute and American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) - is alive and well, and obviously still inflicting damage.

Wed, 2010-01-20 12:51Brendan DeMelle
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Climate Denial Industry Blowing Hot Air On Himalayan Glaciers

The climate denial industry is once again trying to make a huge to-do about a tiny error by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 

With the Climategate Swifthack episode fading from the limelight, after a thorough debunking of far-fetched accusations that scientists made up global warming, the climate science attack machine now wants the world to focus on one paragraph out of a 938-page, three-year-old report.

The contrarians are questioning a single reference to Himalayan glaciers included in a 2007 IPCC report that does not meet the IPCC’s well-established evidentiary standards.

Here is their alleged smoking gun: The second of three 2007 reports from the IPCC included a statement that the likelihood of Himalayan glaciers disappearing “by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high.”

But the reference to Himalayan glaciers melting at that early date didn’t originate from a peer-reviewed study, meaning it should not have appeared in the IPCC report. 

Sure, that’s slightly embarrassing.  But it isn’t grounds to declare the entire library of climate science a fraud. The IPCC’s findings have been validated and substantiated by assessments conducted by leading scientific institutions the world over. 

The real news here is that a single ‘error’ was discovered in just one of the IPCC’s reports, collectively reams of paper thick, and the ‘error’ isn’t an error at all.  The Himalayan glaciers are melting.  There is no debate about that in the scientific community.

Tue, 2010-01-12 13:01Kevin Grandia
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Massey Energy running attack ads against "tree hugging extremists"

Massey Energy (NYSE: MEE), the 4th largest coal producer in the country is running political-style attacks in West Virginia claiming that “tree hugging extremists and self-serving politicians” are killing jobs, while the coal industry is “fighting hard for Appalachian jobs” and “what’s right.”

I am assuming that when Massey talks about fighting for Appalachian jobs they aren’t referring to the fact that earlier in 2009 they cut employee pay by 6% and then recently increased the performance bonus for Massey’s CEO, Don Blankenship, by $600,000.

And I think it’s also safe to assume that when Massey talks about fighting for “what’s right” they aren’t talking about the major environmental violations over the years culminating in a record $20 million settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA stated that Massey had violated its Clean Water Act permits “… more than 4,500 times between January 2000 and December 2006.”

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