Ben Santer

Fri, 2012-02-17 13:40Richard Littlemore
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Climategate victims chide Heartland double standard

A group of top-tier climate scientists who were victimized in the email theft known as Climategate has written to the Heartland Institute, sympathizing that the Institute is reading its own confidential documents in the public press, but chiding the “think tank” for how irresponsibly it dealt with the stolen emails.

In a letter printed in The Guardian, the scientists say,

As scientists who have had their emails stolen, posted online and grossly misrepresented, we can appreciate the difficulties the Heartland Institute is currently experiencing following the online posting of the organization’s internal documents earlier this week. However, we are greatly disappointed by their content, which indicates the organization is continuing its campaign to discredit mainstream climate science and to undermine the teaching of well-established climate science in the classroom.

The signatories were Michael Mann, Kevin Trenberth, Ray Bradley, Jonathan Overpeck, Ben Santer, Gavin Schmidt and David Karoly, a relative who's who of climate science excellence.

They point out that when the Climategate emails were stolen, Heartland took bits and pieces out of context (and, we would add, advocated for punitive action against the scientists on the basis of these manipulations). At no time did the institute suggest that the hackers who breached the East Anglia University security system to steal the emails had been in the wrong to do so.

In the case at hand, (and as Heartland explains in its own press release) an anonymous “Heartland Insider” asked the Institute to mail the entire briefing package for its January board meeting - and Heartland complied. Having received that package, the DeSmogBlog checked the content against research we had in hand to confirm its authenticity. Then we published it - in its entirety, so there could be no doubt about the context - on our website on Valentines's Day.

Thu, 2011-04-28 06:48Chris Mooney
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"Listen to All The Facts"

I have great admiration for Ben Santer. Not only is he a top climate scientist, but the guy went through brutal and unfair political attacks concerning the IPCC report in 1995. (Some of that story is here.) I’m glad Santer is being honored this year by being elected as a fellow of the American Geophysical Union–a development that, predictably, Joe Romm hails and Anthony Watts mocks.

However, I must confess that I literally received a jolt reading the Lawrence Livermore National Lab press release about this. It goes like this:

Ben Santer is a man with a lot of accolades under his belt: A recipient of the MacArthur “genius” grant; an E.O.Lawrence Award; a Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Distinguished Scientist Fellowship; contributor to all four assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an organization that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore; and now an American Geophysical Union fellowship. 

But he’d give all the awards up if it meant he could present his research on human-induced climate change to a patient audience – an audience that would listen to all the facts before making judgments about reality of a “discernible human influence” on climate.

To which I’m afraid my first thought was: Like how the birthers sat back and carefully contemplated the new information when Obama released his birth certificate to them yesterday?

Fri, 2010-11-26 19:13Emma Pullman
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2010 In Review: Scientists and Journalists Take Stock and Share Lessons Learned

There’s no doubt about it. It’s been a challenging year for climate science and climate scientists, for journalists, and for the public. A string of legislative and regulatory disappointments coupled with dizzying political spin have left many more confused than ever about the overwhelming scientific consensus of climate change. 

It’s been a particularly grim year following the Citizens United decision that ushered in a new era of rampant electoral spending on climate change denial; the U.S. midterm elections produced a Senate filled with climate change skeptics and deniers; a failed climate bill or two, and after the Copenhagen talks failed to produce any real results.  In addition, many pundits and analysts are giving us good reason to believe the U.S. won’t see a climate bill for two years, and little reason to believe that real climate progress will be made in Cancun next week. It seems there’s a lot of reason to feel distressed.  

Last week marked a year since the so-called Climategate “scandal” sent climate change deniers into an echo chamber frenzy.  Bud Ward and John Wihbey aptly note that to even call it “climategate” lends it credence that is undeserved.  Yet it is imperative that we try to learn lessons from it.   This certainly won’t be the last difficult year for the climate change movement; an increasingly challenging political environment promises more interesting times ahead, both for the science and for the scientists who devote their lives to the subject.  In a nutshell, we’ve got our work cut out for us.

Tue, 2010-05-18 13:34Brendan DeMelle
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House Select Committee Hearing Thursday On Political Attacks Against Climate Scientists

The U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will hold a hearing on Thursday to examine the recent string of politically-motivated attacks against climate scientists.

Several prominent climate scientists will testify and field questions at the hearing, entitled “Climate Science in the Political Arena,” including some who have been targets of such political attacks themselves.

Look for plenty of questions from the GOP minority about the Climategate non-scandal that deniers remain obsessed with, despite the exoneration by the British House of Commons of the CRU scientists at the University of East Anglia targeted by the hackers.

Fri, 2010-03-26 10:01Jim Hoggan
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Greenpeace Releases 20-Year History of Climate Denial Industry

Greenpeace released a terrific report today on the 20-year campaign by polluters to mislead the public by creating the climate denial industry. 

The new report succinctly explains how fossil fuel interests used the tobacco industry’s playbook and an extensive arsenal of lobbyists and “experts” for hire in order to manufacture disinformation designed to confuse the public and stifle action to address climate change.

In the report, titled “Dealing in Doubt: The Climate Denial Industry and Climate Science,” Greenpeace provides a brief history of the attacks waged by polluting industries against climate science, the IPCC and individual scientists.

ExxonMobil deservedly gets special attention for its role as the ringleader of the “campaign of denial.”  As Greenpeace has documented meticulously over the years with its ExxonSecrets website, ExxonMobil is known to have invested over $23 million since 1998 to bankroll an entire movement of climate confusionists, including over 35 anti-science and right wing nonprofits, to divert attention away from the critical threat of climate disruption caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels.

The report, authored by Greenpeace climate campaigner Cindy Baxter, calls out by name a number of key climate skeptics and deniers who have worked with industry front groups to confuse the public, including S. Fred Singer, John Christy, Richard Lindzen, David Legates, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon, Tim Ball, Pat Michaels and many other figures familiar to DeSmog Blog readers.

Thu, 2010-02-04 08:24Richard Littlemore
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Douglass and Christy: Bad science; disingenuous commentary

David Douglass and John Christy (inset) are lousy scientists who flee from structured, peer-reviewed debate and then generously misrepresent the facts in opinion pieces published by ideologically driven websites; at least, that’s the inevitable conclusion from an open letter (attached) from Lawrence Livermore National Lab scientist Ben Santer.

Santer is more measured in his language and criticism. He doesn’t call Douglass et al “lousy scientists,” but he points out with great care that their science is lousy. In particular, a paper that they had written in the International Journal of Climatology with B.D. Pearson and S. Fred Singer was flawed by a statistical error so egregious that it should never have seen the light of day.

After a writing team led by Santer ripped the article apart – carefully, methodically – Douglass and Christy howled about imagined censorship and manipulation in scientific publishing, but made no actual effort to respond in the journal in question, preferring to take their complaints to websites where no one would double-check their facts.

Now, they have used the theft of the East Anglia emails to revive their complaints, wondering aloud on the right-wingy website American Thinker about whether there is A Climatology Conspiracy?

Wed, 2009-12-02 18:08Richard Littlemore
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Ben Santer Savages the CRU Email Thieves

Ben Santer, a climate researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, has written a long, but very worthy letter, blasting the thieves who hacked into the East Anglia Univesity’s Climatic Research Unit and defending its erstwhile director, Dr. Phil Jones.

Santer, who has made a global reputation by “mining” historical climate data to advance scientific understanding, says that in the wake of the email thefts, a different kind of mining is currently underway - a form that isn’t interested in advancing science in the least.

“This form of mining seeks to find dirt - to skew true meaning, to distort, to misrepresent, to take out of context. It seeks to destroy the reputations of exceptional scientists - scientists like Professor Phil Jones.”

The full letter is reproduced below:

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