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Merchants of Doubt: What Climate Deniers Learned From Big Tobacco

Peter Sinclair - Yale Climate Forum
Environment • Views: 2,168
“Doubt is our product”

Peter Sinclair from the Yale Climate Forum reviews a documentary that details how marketing doubt about science became profitable for multiple industries and their shills.

YouTube

In March 2015, Robert Kenner, the Director of “Food Inc” and other acclaimed documentaries, will debut his newest, “Merchants of Doubt”.
Based on the book by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway, the film follows the development of sophisticated methods for distorting science, used by the Tobacco industry to hide the poisonous nature of their products, and adapted by the Fossil Fuel industry to distort the science around climate change.

Note: the documentary has had limited showings in the UK and US at festivals and limited venues, the Official release is in March.

A Climate Change Denier’s Links to the Fossil Fuel Industry Exposed

Deliverables
Environment • Views: 21,758

Huge news on the climate change front, as one of the main climate change-denying scientist’s highly lucrative links to the fossil fuel industry are exposed: Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for a Doubtful Climate Scientist.

For years, politicians wanting to block legislation on climate change have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the work of a handful of scientists who claim that greenhouse gases pose little risk to humanity.

One of the names they invoke most often is Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who claims that variations in the sun’s energy can largely explain recent global warming. He has often appeared on conservative news programs, testified before Congress and in state capitals, and starred at conferences of people who deny the risks of global warming.

But newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon’s work has been tied to funding he received from corporate interests.

He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.

The documents show that Dr. Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as “deliverables” that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe testimony he prepared for Congress.

This is the exact same strategy the tobacco industry used for years to spread disinformation about smoking. And in many cases, it’s the very same people and organizations spreading disinformation about climate change.

Youtube Video

NOAA State of the Climate: 2014 Was the Hottest Year on Record Globally

Very bad
Environment • Views: 26,173
Global temperature time series: land and ocean components.From 2014 Global Report Supplemental Information.

We have big news on the climate change front today from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and it’s not bad — it’s terrible: 2014 Earth’s warmest year on record; December 2014 record warm; Global oceans also record warm for 2014.

Global highlights: Calendar Year 2014

For extended analysis of global climate patterns, please see our full Annual report.

  • During 2014, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.24°F (0.69°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all 135 years in the 1880-2014 record, surpassing the previous records of 2005 and 2010 by 0.07°F (0.04°C).
  • Record warmth was spread around the world, including Far East Russia into western Alaska, the western United States, parts of interior South America, most of Europe stretching into northern Africa, parts of eastern and western coastal Australia, much of the northeastern Pacific around the Gulf of Alaska, the central to western equatorial Pacific, large swaths of northwestern and southeastern Atlantic, most of the Norwegian Sea, and parts of the central to southern Indian Ocean.
  • During 2014, the globally-averaged land surface temperature was 1.80°F (1.00°C) above the 20th century average. This was the fourth highest among all years in the 1880-2014 record.
  • During 2014, the globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.03°F (0.57°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all years in the 1880-2014 record, surpassing the previous records of 1998 and 2003 by 0.09°F (0.05°C).
  • Looking above Earth's surface at certain layers of the atmosphere, two different analyses examined NOAA satellite-based data records for the lower and middle troposphere and the lower stratosphere.
  • The 2014 temperature for the lower troposphere (roughly the lowest five miles of the atmosphere) was third highest in the 1979-2014 record, at 0.50°F (0.28°C) above the 1981-2010 average, as analyzed by the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH), and sixth highest on record, at 0.29°F (0.16°C) above the 1981-2010 average, as analyzed by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS).
  • The 2014 temperature for the mid-troposphere (roughly two miles to six miles above the surface) was third highest in the 1979-2014 record, at 0.32°F (0.18°C) above the 1981-2010 average, as analyzed by UAH, and sixth highest on record, at 0.25°F (0.14°C) above the 1981-2010 average, as analyzed by RSS.
  • The temperature for the lower stratosphere (roughly 10 miles to 13 miles above the surface) was 13th lowest in the 1979-2014 record, at 0.56°F (0.31°C) below the 1981-2010 average, as analyzed by UAH, and also 13th lowest on record, at 0.41°F (0.23°C) below the 1981-2010 average, as analyzed by RSS. The stratospheric temperature is decreasing on average while the lower and middle troposphere temperatures are increasing on average, consistent with expectations in a greenhouse-warmed world.
  • According to data from NOAA analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the average annual Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during 2014 was 24.95 million square miles, and near the middle of the historical record. The first half of 2014 saw generally below-normal snow cover extent, with above-average coverage later in the year.
  • Recent polar sea ice extent trends continued in 2014. The average annual sea ice extent in the Arctic was 10.99 million square miles, the sixth smallest annual value of the 36-year period of record. The annual Antarctic sea ice extent was record large for the second consecutive year, at 13.08 million square miles.

This picture of a catastrophe in the making is not even all the horrible climate news today; a new analysis of data from hundreds of sources shows that we humans are on the brink of causing a mass extinction event in the world’s oceans.

I was going to post something snarky to close this post, but this is some really scary shit, people. And we have a political party in this country doing everything in its power to stop us from dealing with it — if it isn’t already too late. This is political malfeasance on a frightening scale.

US and China Announce Historic Agreement on Climate Change

Ice breaker
Environment • Views: 38,398
Image via Shutterstock

Some excellent news from President Obama’s trip to China: BREAKING: The US and China Just Announced a Huge Deal on Climate—and It’s a Game Changer.

So much for the conventional wisdom that China will never agree to reduce carbon emissions. Two of the world’s major carbon-producing countries have made an historic deal, and of course we can fully expect the Republican Party to freak right out over it.

According to the plan, the United States will reduce carbon emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, nearly twice the existing target—without imposing new restrictions on power plants or vehicles.

Tuesday’s announcement is equally remarkable for China’s commitment. For the first time, China has set a date at which it expects its emissions will “peak,” or finally begin to taper downward: around 2030. China is currently the world’s biggest emitter of carbon pollution, largely because of its coal-dependent economy, and reining in emissions while continuing to grow has been the paramount challenge for China’s leaders.

The White House said in a statement that China could reach the target even sooner than 2030. It “expects that China will succeed in peaking its emissions before 2030 based on its broad economic reform program, plans to address air pollution, and implementation of President Xi’s call for an energy revolution.”

Great Video: Bill Nye Helps You Refresh Your Understanding of the Basic Science of Climate Change

Stand up for reality
Environment • Views: 33,232

YouTube

Climate Change Denier James Inhofe to Lead Senate Environment Committee

Environment • Views: 32,989

The very last person you’d ever want to see in charge of the Senate Environment Committee will now probably be in charge of the Senate Environment Committee.

On handing Republicans control of the Senate on Tuesday, Americans effectively voted for the party’s hostile plans against President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy. Their votes also put the Senate’s environment and climate policy into the hands of the worst science-denier in national politics: Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who is almost certainly the next chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Inhofe claimed in 2003 that global warming might help humanity. “It’s also important to question whether global warming is even a problem for human existence. Thus far no one has seriously demonstrated any scientific proof that increased global temperatures would lead to the catastrophes predicted by alarmists. In fact, it appears that just the opposite is true: that increases in global temperatures may have a beneficial effect on how we live our lives.”

[…]

Inhofe refuted climate change science in 2012 by citing the Bible. “[T]he Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.’ My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”

Last Month Was the Hottest September Since They Started Keeping Records

The changes are accelerating
Environment • Views: 27,468

As the Republican Party sinks ever deeper into its denial of climate change (good luck finding a single GOP politician these days who doesn’t deny the influence of human beings on the Earth’s climate), NASA has reported that last month was the hottest September on record since the records began.

Last month was the warmest September globally since records began being kept in 1880, NASA reported Sunday. January through September data have 2014 already at the third warmest on record. Projections by NOAA make clear 2014 is taking aim at hottest year on record.

One Ebola death in this country and people are in a paranoid frenzy. But huge-scale disastrous changes in the Earth’s climate? Yawn. Who’s on Dancing With the Stars tonight?

The Wall Street Journal Trots Out a Former Chief Scientist for BP to Argue Against Action on Climate Change

Just roll over and go back to sleep
Environment • Views: 24,587

As hundreds of thousands of people demonstrate across the world to demand action on the growing threat of climate change, the Wall Street Journal trots out the former chief scientist of BP, one of the world’s top fossil fuel producers, to say Climate Science Is Not Settled.

And the argument boils down to this: roll over and go back to sleep, everyone.

Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do otherwise is a great disservice to climate science itself.

Did I mention that the person described by the Wall Street Journal as “leading scientist Steven E. Koonin” was previously the “leading scientist” for BP — the company responsible for one of the worst oil spill disasters in history? I did?

Dr. Koonin was undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during President Barack Obama’s first term and is currently director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. His previous positions include professor of theoretical physics and provost at Caltech, as well as chief scientist of BP, where his work focused on renewable and low-carbon energy technologies.

Well, you should also know that Koonin is not a climate scientist. He’s a computational physicist. And this “do nothing” strategy is just the latest in a long line of conservative chicanery.

Also see

Photos from the People’s Climate March in Manhattan

Mobilizing for action on climate change
Environment • Views: 20,121

A huge demonstration is taking place today in midtown Manhattan, expected to draw up to 100,000 people: the People’s Climate March, intended to focus the world’s attention on the need for action on climate change, as the disaster clock is ticking.

Here’s a good post at Think Progress on this event and the other events planned for the coming week: Everything You Need to Know to Attend the Biggest Climate March in History.

Here’s the hashtag you can follow on Twitter for more info as it happens: #PeoplesClimate.

CNBC Climate “Expert” Compares “Demonization of Carbon Dioxide” to the Holocaust

The right wing war on climate science
Environment • Views: 19,033

Media Matters

Here’s today’s example of the absolutely horrible anti-science propaganda relentlessly pushed out there by right wing groups, as CNBC promotes an Exxon-funded physicist as an expert on climate change despite the fact that he has no demonstrated expertise on the subject, and he launches into a bizarre rant comparing the “demonization of carbon dioxide” to the Nazi holocaust. Arrrgh.

Physics Professor William Happer has published no peer-reviewed research on climate change, yet co-host Joe Kernen introduced him as an “industry expert” on the July 14 edition of Squawk Box. After a softball interview with Kernen, co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin challenged Happer for “not believ[ing] in climate change” — to which Happer responded by telling Sorkin to “shut up.” Sorkin then asked Happer about comments he made to The Daily Princetonian in 2009 comparing climate science to Nazi propaganda. Happer doubled down on his comments, stating that “the demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler. Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”

Sorkin also noted that Happer, who has suggested that people should be “clamoring for more atmospheric carbon dioxide,” is the chairman of the Marshall Institute, which received $865,000 from ExxonMobil from 1998 to 2011.

The influence of carbon dioxide on the “greenhouse effect” has been well understood by scientists for more than 100 years, by the way. This isn’t “demonization,” it’s scientific fact — and it’s incredibly irresponsible of CNBC to promote this kind of nonsensical bad craziness.

UPDATE at 7/15/14 11:34:15 am by Charles Johnson

Happer’s group, the Marshall Institute, was also one of the right wing think tanks that labored to create public doubt about the health risks of tobacco.

Naomi Oreskes states that the institute has, in order to resist and delay regulation, lobbied politically to create a false public perception of scientific uncertainty over the negative effects of second-hand smoke, the carcinogenic nature of tobacco smoking, the existence of acid rain, and on the evidence between CFCs and ozone depletion.

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 Frank says:

Kid's heads are filled with so many nonfacts that when they get out of school they're totally unprepared to do anything. They can't read, they can't write, they can't think. Talk about child abuse. The U.S. school system as a whole qualifies. -- Discussing the state of the education system in America - Playboy magazine, April 1993.