Red State: You’ll hear the banjoes

November 8, 2010

Somebody linked over to Red State.  What a creepy site.

First, it looks like those old ’50s school films about the creeping “Red Menace,” the way they paint every state Commie Red (no, I know they’re not conscious commies, but let’s call the color what it is).  It’s as if they have no knowledge of history over there, and they’ve never noticed.  It’s pretty clear that they have no desire nor need for white and blue, even to make “red, white and blue.”

Cover of record with "Dueling Banjoes"

If you have it on vinyl, you know what we mean.

Second, they brook no dissent at all.  Their terms of use (no open discussion) show the Red Staters get to decide whether you’re with the Red State Big Brother program — and if for any reason they decide you’re not toeing the party line, you’re vanquished.  No appeals.  “It’s not really an echo chamber, it’s unison singing.”

Third, there is the astonishing sucking sound where brains of skeptics should be.  Pick the stupid side of almost any issue, and it’s represented in spades there.  On the sciency front, for example, Red Staters have no use nor knowledge of Darwin, they think the warming temperatures of the climate are faked, probably by unholy, non-Red Stater weathermen, and they are convinced that the UN and others are using malaria for “population control” — so they favor massive amounts of DDT.

Remember Mr. Urquhart, the Delaware Tea Partier who, by the grace of God, lost the race for the state’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and his claim that “separation of church and state” was Hitler’s idea?  Urquhart appears to drift in the mainstream at Red State.

Try it.  Pick an issue, do a search at Red State to see if they don’t favor the stupid side, and see whether any real facts can get in.  Even the news that shows their positions wrong, say their position against more stimulus, they’ll spin to say it’s the other guy’s fault.

God save us.  It’s a new Red to fear, the new Red Scare.


Quote of the moment: Lewis Carroll on Republican politics, climate skeptics, DDT advocates and creationism

October 26, 2010

Alice and the Red Queen

Alice and the Red Queen - illustration by Sir John Tenniel

Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, writing under the name Lewis Carroll,
Alice in Wonderland, 1866

[Yes, the illustration is from Through the Looking Glass, 1871]


Texas Attorney General refuses to enforce the law

September 13, 2010

Here’s a good reason to vote him out this fall:  Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott officially notified the federal government he won’t enforce clean air laws.  (Rude letter that follows, here.)

Can you imagine the contretemps had he announced he won’t enforce federal immigration laws, nor support their enforcement by federal officials?

Abbott is once again putting politics far, far ahead of science, no matter how it damages Texas (Texas pays premiums in home insurance already because of damage from global warming).

If it’s something in the water that generates such craziness, I hope it enters the water systems well south of Dallas.

Abbott’s opponent is a well-respected, deeply experienced, honorable attorney named Barbara Ann Radnofsky.  Almost every big polluting corporation in America is supporting Abbott.  You may want to consider that as you contribute to candidates this week (hurry!), and as you vote this fall.

More information, more resources:

Hard shake of the old scrub brush to Texas Climate News.


Yet another blow against warming “skeptics”: Virginia judge quashed Cuccinelli’s witch hunt

September 2, 2010

Vivian Paige pulled together early reports and the actual court documents:  A judge in Virginia quashed the subpeona issued by Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to the University of Virginia, in a rather blatant attempt to silence a famous scientist working on global warming, Michael Mann.

Rosalind Helderman explained in the Virginia Politics blog of the Washington Post:

Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled that Cuccinelli can investigate whether fraud has occurred in university grants, as the attorney general had contended, but ruled that Cuccinelli’s subpoena failed to state a “reason to believe” that Mann had committed fraud.

The ruling is a major blow for Cuccinelli, a global warming skeptic who had maintained that he was investigating whether Mann committed fraud in seeking government money for research that showed that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming. Mann, now at Penn State University, worked at U-Va. until 2005.

According to Peatross, the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, under which the civil investigative demand was issued, requires that the attorney general include an “objective basis” to believe that fraud has been committed. Peatross indicates that the attorney general must state the reason so that it can be reviewed by a court, which Cuccinelli failed to do.

Peatross set the subpoena aside without prejudice, meaning Cuccinelli could give the subpoena another try by rewriting the civil demand to better explain the conduct he wishes to investigate. But the judge seemed skeptical of Cuccinelli’s underlying claim about Mann, noting that Cuccinelli’s deputy maintained in a court hearing that the nature of Mann’s fraud was described in subsequent court papers in the case.

“The Court has read with care those pages and understands the controversy regarding Dr. Mann’s work on the issue of global warming. However, it is not clear what he did was misleading, false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Peatross wrote.

Also, as suggested earlier here, the judge noted that Cuccinelli’s authority did not extend to four of the five grants questioned, because they were federal grants, not state grants.  (See here, too.)

Comments at Helderman’s article show the fault lines of division on global warming — purely political faultlines.

Since opponents of action against warming so frantically publicized stolen e-mails from researchers late last year, in official proceedings scientists have smacked down skeptics on almost every issue.

Which only means that scientists now sit in the position of Cassandra after Apollo’s curse.


NASA awards Global Climate Change Education grants

August 18, 2010

NASA announced a series of awards totaling $7.7 million to 17 agencies who will work to improve education on climate change. One of NASA’s goals and duties is to educate about NASA research.

These grants have been in the mill for a while, and should be welcomed by the winners of the awards. Wait for people convinced climate change isn’t happening or shouldn’t be prevented, to howl up a storm. 

Here’s the press release:

NASA Announces 2010 Global Climate Change Education Awards

WASHINGTON — NASA has awarded $7.7 million in cooperative agreements to 17 organizations across the United States to enhance learning through the use of NASA’s Earth science resources. The selected organizations include colleges and universities, nonprofit groups, and a community college. The winning proposals in the Global Climate Change Education Awards illustrated innovative approaches to using NASA content in elementary, secondary and undergraduate teaching, and lifelong learning. The proposals emphasized engaging students in NASA Earth observation data and Earth system models, and providing climate-related research experiences for teachers and undergraduate students. Each cooperative agreement is expected to leverage NASA’s unique contributions in climate and Earth system science. The grants support NASA’s goal of engaging students in the critical disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and inspiring the next generation of researchers and explorers. The 17 proposals will fund organizations in Washington, D.C., and 13 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Winning proposals were selected through a merit-based, peer-reviewed competition. The performance period is up to three years and awards range in value from $300,000 to $700,000. For a list of selected organizations and projects descriptions, click on “Selected Proposals” and look for “Global Climate Change Education” at: http://nspires.nasaprs.com For information about NASA’s education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education

- end -

Winning proposals came from organizations across the nation (home state listed in parentheses; last name of principal investigator after the dash). Selected proposals in Funding Category D/M: Using NASA Earth system data, interactive models and simulations to Strengthen Teaching and Learning about Global Climate

  • American Meteorological Society – Brey
  • Columbia University – Chandler
  • Cayuga Community College (New York) – Coughlin
  • University of Toledo (Ohio) – Czajkowski
  • University of California at Riverside – Droser
  • University of North Carolina – Gray
  • Florida Atlantic University – Lambert
  • University of New Hampshire – Martin
  • Colorado State University – Moore
  • University of Idaho – Mulkey
  • University of Minnesota – Roehrig
  • University of Massachusetts – Rooney-Varga
  • SRI International (California) – Zalles

Selected proposals in Funding Category R: Global Climate Change Science Research Experiences for Pre- or In-Service Teachers

  • Institute for Earth Science Research and Education (Pennsylvania) – Brooks
  • Harvard University – Ellison
  • University of Nebraska – Gosselin
  • Oregon State University – O’Connell

Details of the winning proposals can be found here.


Another blog, shocked — shocked! — at cold in Argentina in July

August 10, 2010

Unlike the blog discussed in an earlier post at first, this blog seems to understand that it’s winter in South America.  Still, the author can’t understand why record cold in one small spot doesn’t completely negate warming in the rest of the world:  Minnesotans for Global Warming.

One almost expects to find it has sister sites:  Minnesotans Love Cancer, Minnesotans for Child Abuse, and Self-Lobotomies R Us.

Maybe it’s not the concept of climate that confuses these people, but the entire notion of “average global temperature.”  People who spend their entire lives below average, probably expect that’s the way it is in temperatures, too.  (Is that nasty enough for today?  I’m feeling crabby about idiocy.)


Moral math of climate change, on Speaking of Faith

August 5, 2010

Speaking of Faith is carried on many public radio stations nationally, perhaps on one in your area.  If, as I do, you live in an area where the program is not carried, you can pick up a podcast or .mp3 at the program’s website.  (Here’s a list of stations that carry the broadcast.)

Host Krista Tippett posts a weekly message on the scheduled program — this week, an interview with Bill McKibben, whose book, The End of Nature, was a popular introduction to climate change, when it was published in 1989 (!).

Yes, this program is about woo and how we deal with it in our daily lives.  This particular program looks at how even woo followers may find it to their advantage to pay attention to the science, and act to protect their families and communities as a result.  This is a moral side of climate change that too many people simply deny.

Ms. Tippett wrote:

This week on public radio’s conversation about religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas:

The Moral Math of Climate Change

Bill McKibben’s first book, The End of Nature, was the first popular book on climate change, and he is one of the most insightful figures of our time on ecology and life. We’ll explore his hopeful sense that what is good for the environment also nourishes human relationship. And we’ll seek his perspective on knowledge we can trust as we orient our minds and lives to changing realities of the natural world.

Krista Tippett, host of Speaking of Faith

History Tends to Surprise Us
It’s been striking how, across the past few years, the environment has found its way inside my guests’ reflections on every subject, as they say, under the sun. And we do need fresh vocabulary and expansive modes of reflection on this subject that, we’ve come to realize, is not just about ecology but the whole picture of human life and lifestyle.

Here are some pieces of vocabulary and perspective I’ve loved and used in recent years.

Starting with the basics, Cal DeWitt — a scientist, conservationist, and Evangelical Christian living in Wisconsin — pointed out to me that “environment” was coined after Geoffrey Chaucer used the term “environing.” This was a turning point in the modern Western imagination — the first time we linguistically defined ourselves as separate from the natural world, known up until then as the Creation. This helps explain why the language of “creation care” is so animating for many conservative Christians — as a return to a sacred insight that was lost. But from quantum physics to economics, too, we are discovering new existential meaning in terms like interconnectedness and interdependence.

Many people, but most recently the wonderful geophysicist Xavier le Pichon, have made the simple yet striking observation that climate change is the first truly global crisis in human history. In other words, just as we make newfound discoveries about old realities, they are put to the ultimate test. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the signs that we are not up to this test as a species. So it was helpful for me to have Matthieu Ricard, a biologist turned Buddhist monk, remind me that evolutionary change, which is what we need now in our behavior, always comes precisely at the moment where survival — not just betterment — is at stake.

Such ideas can make the task of integrating, or reintegrating, environmental and human realities sound far away and abstract. But it’s not.

The most redemptive and encouraging commonality of all the people I’ve encountered who have made a truly evolutionary leap is that they have come to love the very local, very particular places they inhabit. They were drawn into environmentalism by suddenly seeing beauty they had taken for granted; by practical concern for illness and health in neighborhood children; by imagining possibilities for the survival of indigenous flora and fauna, the creation of jobs, the sustainability of regional farms. The catchword of many of our most ingenious solutions to this most planetary of crises is “local” — local food, local economies. Ellen Davis and Wendell Berry illuminate this with poetic, biblical wisdom, each in their way reminding us that the health of our larger ecosystem is linked to knowing ourselves as creatures — “placed creatures.”

There is so much in my most recent conversation about all of this with Bill McKibben that will frame and deepen my sense of the nature and meaning of climate change moving forward. Among them is an exceedingly helpful four minutes, a brief history of climate change that we’re making available as a separate podcast. But what has stayed with me most of all, I think, is a stunning equation he is ready to make after two decades of immersion in the scientific, cultural, and economic meaning of our ecological present. He points out that cheap fossil fuels have allowed us to become more privatized, less in need of our neighbor, than ever in human history. And he says that in almost every instance, what is good for the environment is good for human community. The appeal of the farmers market is not just its environmental and economic value but the drama, the organic nature, of human contact.

I also gained a certain bracing historical perspective from my conversation with Bill McKibben. He and I were both born in 1960. He was waking up to the environment in years in which I was in divided Berlin, on the front lines of what felt like the great strategic and moral battle of that age. He published The End of Nature in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell. And as I learned from that book, the science of climate change had already begun to emerge at the height of the Cold War. In 1957, two scientists at the Scripps Institution described their findings that humanity initiated an unprecedented “geophysical experiment” that it might not survive.

So I’ve been chewing on this thought lately: If humanity is around to write history in a century or two, what was happening with the climate in 1989 may dwarf what we perceived as the great geopolitical dramas of that time. Living through the fall of the wall and the reunification of Europe emboldened my sense that there is always more to reality than we can see and more change possible than we can begin to imagine. I draw caution as well as hope from the fact that history tends to surprise us. And I draw caution as well as hope from the knowledge that humanity often surprises itself on the edge of survival.

The End of Nature by Bill McKibben I Recommend Reading:
The End of Nature
by Bill McKibben

This was the first book to introduce the notion and science of climate change to a non-scientific audience. It is passionately and beautifully written. And while Bill McKibben’s updated introduction in recent printings adds relevant new knowledge, it also highlights just how prescient and powerful the original book remains.

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Lies, damned lies, statistics, and Steve Goddard’s computer animation

August 5, 2010

Add this to the Heights of Hoaxiness files:  Steve Goddard (go here if you need to catch up) has made an astounding discovery, which he reveals with a .gif and YouTube animation of the Earth at Anthony Watts’s blog, Watts Up With That? (WUWT).

Goddard discovered that, if one ignores warming of small amounts, and counts it as not warming at all, the colors on a color-coded map change a lot, and look a lot cooler.

Shorter Goddard:  Hide the increase in temperatures, and it looks like temperatures don’t increase nearly as much.

Steve Goddard's map of a warming Pacific Ocean, hiding the small increases

Steve Goddard's map of a warming Pacific Ocean, hiding the small increases in temperature. (This should be a .gif that changes as you watch; if you see no animation, click on the image)

Goddard's cooler Pacific 3

Steve Goddard's map of a warming Pacific Ocean, hiding the small increases in temperature. (Another version, trying to get the .gif to display.) This should be a .gif that changes as you watch; if you see no animation, click on the image

You couldn’t make up such denialism if you tried.  If you submitted this stuff as fiction, it couldn’t get published.

Here’s an object warning about turning angry monkeys loose with graphics software:  Goddard’s YouTube:

Key unanswered question:  If we ignore rising temperatures, do they stop rising?  If we ignore rising temperatures, can glaciers, oceans, plants and animals be convinced to do the same?

How many polar bears read Steve Goddard’s posts at WUWT?  Can they be persuaded?

Somebody exhume Benjamin Disraeli.  He needs to update his stuff.

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Warming deniers surprised by winter

July 27, 2010

Were you writing fiction, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

Another bastion of people misled by the lack of a Hemingway-brand Solid Gold Sh*t Detector™.

Another person proud as heck of her denial of global warming, points to cattle freezing in South America in July as proof that the Earth’s atmosphere is not warming.

At a blog called Frugal Café Blog Zone, “Where it’s chic to be cheap… Conservative social & political commentary, with frugality mixed in,” blogger Vicki McClure Davidson headlined the piece:

“Remember Al Gore’s “Global Warming” Hoax? People & Cattle in South America Are Dying from Extreme Cold in July”

Gee, how to break this news to her?

Vickie, sit down.  This is something you should have learned in geography in junior high:  In the Southern Hemisphere, winter starts on June 21It’s cold in South America in July, because it’s winter in South America in July.

Cold in winter.  They don’t expect it.  These warming denialists provide the evidence those crabs need, who wonder whether there shouldn’t be some sort of “common sense test” required to pass before allowing people to vote, or drive, or have children.

Oh, it gets worse:

Another site picked up the post.  No, seriously.  (Has Anthony Watts seen this yet?)

  • Voting Female [I am convinced that is a sock puppet site designed to insult women; no woman could be that stupid, could she?]
Earth at northern solstice

Earth at northern solstice - Wikimedia image


I get e-mail: Media Matters calls bluffs of climate change “skeptics”

July 10, 2010

Media Matters may be a site worth tracking more closely, not only on climate issues:

Media Matters: The greatest science “scandal” “in the history of man” predictably falls apart

In their never-ending quest to prove that they understand the intricacies of climate science better than actual climate scientists, conservative media figures routinely promote any ridiculous “evidence” they think undermines the scientific consensus about climate change.

This is a group that repeatedly points to snowstorms in February as proof that global warming is not real; claims that CO2 can’t be a pollutant because “we breathe” it; and ignores actual temperature data to baselessly claim that the Earth is really “cooling.”

Last year, conservative climate change skeptics, in the words of Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel, thought they had found a “gold mine.” Conservative media figures seized on emails stolen from climate scientists and proceeded to completely distort their contents. As we pointed out repeatedly at the time, this “scandal” relied on outrageous misrepresentations of the stolen emails and did not in any way undermine the scientific consensus about climate change.

Nevertheless, conservative media figures incessantly hyped the non-scandal with their usual overblown rhetoric:

  • Glenn Beck — who says he is not a conspiracy theorist, remember — suggested in the wake of “Climategate” that climate change is a “scam.” He also said that if the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report “had been done by Japanese scientists, there is not enough knives on planet Earth for hara-kiri.”
  • Noted climatologist Rush Limbaugh, who frequently decries the supposed global warming “hoax,” proposed that all of the scientists involved in “Climategate” should be “named and fired, drawn and quartered, or whatever it is.”
  • Andrew Breitbart called for “capital punishment” for NASA scientist James Hansen, because “Climategate” was supposedly “high treason.”
  • The Washington Times, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Investor’s Business Daily, The American Spectator’s Robert Stacy McCain, Rich Lowry, Newsmax’s James Hirsen, and Michael Ledeen all joined forces to smear the scientific consensus on climate change as a “cult.”
  • Fox News’ Mike Huckabee explained that “Jesus would be a truthseeker” while discussing the “revelation” that scientists had “cooked” climate change data.

The crew at Fox & Friends spent this year’s Earth Day promoting an important cause. No, not encouraging environmental consciousness — they devoted the show to pushing “Climategate” falsehoods in order to falsely claim that “scientists held back data that discredits theories on global warming.” They were joined by Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center, who was there to complain about non-Fox networks “dismiss[ing]” and “ignor[ing]” the story.

Last December, Bozell told Lou Dobbs that “Climategate” is the “biggest scandal in terms of science, finance, and politics … in the history of man.” After Bozell compared the climate science “cover-up” to “the craziness” of Dan Brown’s fiction, he actually managed to draw laughter from Dobbs. Unfortunately, contrary to Bozell’s suggestion that media outlets ignored the story, numerous non-Fox “Climategate” stories adopted conservatives’ dishonest framing of the non-story.

And now for the inevitable conclusion of this manufactured controversy.

As reported by The New York Times’ Andrew Revkin — who, by the way, Rush Limbaugh thinks should “just go kill” himself — the Independent Climate Change Email Review “cleared climate scientists and administrators” involved in “Climategate” of “malfeasance.” This follows several other exonerations of the scientists involved in the phony scandal. In response, Media Matters, joined by numerous progressive and clean energy groups, called on all outlets that reported on the original “Climategate” controversy to set the record straight.

So this leaves us where we were before the “Climategate” freakout: There is still overwhelming scientific evidence supporting the theory of global warming.

And once again conservative media proved that they don’t hesitate to rely on blatant distortions, outright falsehoods, and a complete disregard for reality to advance their political causes.

Mainstream media outlets would be doing everyone a service if they remembered that the next time they decide to report on whatever Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fox News, and the perpetual conservative outrage machine are yelling about.

Conservatives’ phony scandal of the week: The Obama Justice Department and the New Black Panther Party

While we’re on the subject of manufactured scandals that respectable media outlets shouldn’t take seriously, Fox News and its friends in the conservative echo chamber spent much of the week promoting phony, trumped-up allegations against the Justice Department.

In short, conservative media outlets have been aggressively promoting the charge by GOP activist J. Christian Adams that President Obama’s Justice Department engaged in racially charged “corruption” when it partially dismissed a case against members of the New Black Panther Party for allegedly engaging in voter intimidation outside of a Philadelphia polling center on Election Day in 2008.

As we have documented extensively, Adams should not be trusted. He is a long-time right-wing activist with extensive ties to the Bush-era politicization of the Justice Department. Adams himself has admitted that he lacks first-hand knowledge to support his accusations. Additionally, Adams’ charge that the DOJ’s action in the New Black Panther case shows unprecedented, racially motivated corruption is undermined by the fact that the Obama DOJ obtained judgment against one of the defendants, and that the Bush DOJ declined to pursue similar allegations against a group of Minutemen — one of whom was carrying a gun — in 2006.

Even the Republican vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights called the New Black Panthers case “very small potatoes” and said an investigation into the DOJ’s decision is full of “overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges.”

And yet again, the fact that this is a completely manufactured scandal didn’t stop conservative media figures from engaging in one of their time-honored traditions: attempting to obscure their own problems with race by accusing others of racism.

Radio host Jim Quinn — who once told “race-baiting” African-American “ingrates” to “get on your knees” and “kiss the American dirt” because slavery brought them to the U.S. — hyped the New Black Panther story by calling the civil rights community “race-baiting poverty pimps.”

Rush Limbaugh — who earlier this week announced that if Obama wasn’t black he’d be a “tour guide in Honolulu” and claimed Obama is using the office of the presidency to seek “payback” for the country’s history of racism — forwarded Adams’ charge that the case was dropped because of racially charged corruption.

Beck, who infamously called President Obama a “racist” with a “deep seated hatred for white people or the white culture,” declared that the Obama administration is “full” of “people that will excuse” the “hatred” of the New Black Panthers. He also relied on falsehoods to try to connect Obama to the New Black Panthers, and claimed today that the New Black Panthers are part of Obama’s “army of thugs.”

Of course, the New Black Panthers are a fringe hate group, and only a cynical race-baiter like Glenn Beck would claim they are somehow part of Barack Obama’s imaginary “army of thugs.”

But I’m sure they appreciate all of the publicity, courtesy of Glenn Beck and Fox News.

Bek Younuhvercity

This week also marked the launch of Beck’s latest attempt to grab money from “educate” his audience: Beck University.

As Beck described it, the online Beck University is an “academic program” that would be a “unique experience bringing together experts in the fields of religion, American history, and economics.” At the outset of the first “course” — Faith 101, with frequent Beck guest/promoter of historical misinformation David Barton — Beck announced that viewers “will learn more in the next hour than you’ve probably learned in your entire life about American history.”

Laughable hyperbole aside, as we pointed out this week, Glenn Beck is uniquely unqualified to found a university, considering he regularly traffics in bizarre conspiracy theories, distortions, and downright falsehoods on a wide variety of subjects.

The day after the first “course” at Beck University, Beck stood in front of his blackboard and labeled various historical figures “heros” or “villians.”

And lastly, by my count, between his TV show last night and his radio program today, Beck launched no fewer than four baseless charges that, by his standards, should get him fired.

This weekly wrap-up was compiled by Media Matters’ Ben Dimiero.

Whom the gods destroy, they first make mad, Euripides said (paraphrased).  With that ancient wisdom in hand, one might be well advised not to stand next to Glenn Beck or Fox News.

If Glenn Beck wishes to know the evils of Woodrow Wilson or Theodore Roosevelt, I can point him to sources.  In spite of those evils, however, they remain heroes of American history for the good things they did.  Beck criticizes them for those good things, however, and not for their failures (including Wilson’s patent racism, and Roosevelt’s failure to push for integration at opportune times — to Beck, those would be virtues, I fear).

Visit Media Matters here, sign up for Media Matters’ e-mail newsletter here.


Stolen e-mails report: Scientists in the clear, science solid

July 7, 2010

So far it’s a shut out against the “skeptics” of global warming.*

From Science Insider (the AAAS breaking news blog):

The fifth and, so far, most thorough major investigation into the published mails from the University of East Angia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) has given the CRU a relatively clean bill of health. (See the full report.) The independent inquiry into so-called “Climategate”, instigated by UEA and headed by former civil servant Muir Russell, examined the conduct of the CRU scientists following allegations sparked by the so-called “Climategate” e-mails. It looked at selective use of data, subverting of peer review, and failure to respond fully to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The report was unequivocal in its backing of the scientists in terms of research integrity, though it did criticize their openness. “Their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt,” it said. In response to the assertion that CRU had withheld data, the report found that it was mostly not theirs to withhold but was easily accessible in public databases. One of the report’s authors, physicist Peter Clarke of the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, told a press briefing today that they were able to download the relevant data “in a few minutes” and then process it in the same way as CRU had done, producing similar final results. “It took a couple of days of code writing,” he said. The authors found no evidence of bias by CRU in its selection of data. Allegations of misuse of tree ring data were also put aside.

Some of the 1000 e-mails that appeared on the Internet suggested that CRU Director Phil Jones had tried to influence peer review of papers he disagreed with and prevented them from being cited by reviews of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

On the subject of peer review, Russell said that expressing “robust opinions [about papers] was typical during peer review.” And after consulting with editors of the IPCC report, the panel concluded that the CRU scientists were “parts of teams and not individuals responsible for the wording of the reports,” Russell says.

Where the CRU scientists did fall down was in their openness to requests for data. “There was a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness,” Russell says. And the report criticizes UEA for failing to recognize its statutory requirements under the FOIA and also the risk to the reputation of the university and to the credibility of U.K. climate science. Panel member James Norton said that “now more than ever scientists need to be open. Scientists don’t own their own data and at most have a temporary lease.”

More:

_____________

*  They’ve complained about being called denialists — maybe we should start calling them “gullibles,” especially since they seized on the thin reed of these stolen e-mails to claim that the victimized scientists were the ones who had done something wrong, since they fell for the fourth-grade science project hoax, and since they fell for the Spanish bomb-in-the-mail hoax.


Michael Mann exhonerated again: E-mail thieves still at large

July 2, 2010

News from Pennsylvania State University.  The second investigation of Michael Mann, to determine whether he did not adhere to the high ethical standards of research scientists in activities revealed by e-mails stolen from East Anglia University late last year, concluded that Mann acted honorably.

Via Deltoid:

Penn State investigation concludes:

The Investigatory Committee, after careful review of all available evidence, determined that there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Professor, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University.

More specifically, the Investigatory Committee determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate 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.

The decision of the Investigatory Committee was unanimous.

The person or persons who hacked into the computers at East Anglia University remain at large.

More:


Skeptics noise broad; no deep effects on American opinions

July 2, 2010

A commenter with the handle Klem complained about my outlook on global warming issues, in a recent post about the desperation I see in the warming denialist world.  Klem finds my views not pessimistic enough:

Those purloined emails have ultimately destroyed the IPCC, it has no credibility with the public anymore. You seem like a smart guy but I can’t believe after this amount of time you still don’t understand this. And you say it’s the anti-warming camp which is desperate? Oops I think you’re in denial.

I’ve been involved in environmental issues since well before the first Earth Day.  Lack of understanding among the public at large is a constant issue, and not a recent development.  Lack of support for a clean environment rarely is an issue, however.  The old progressive era push for clean water, clean air, outdoor activities, and healthy living, continues probably stronger today than ever before.  No one defends smoking stacks as symbols of progress anymore.

Even petroleum companies spend millions in advertising to tout their “green” tendencies.  Big Oil doesn’t spend money like that if they don’t have clear indicators that it’s effective.

One indication of how deep is the desire for environmental protection is the mini-movement chronicled and maybe led by conservative writer Rod Dreher, known as “crunchy conservatism.” Dreher wrote about conservatives who, from most outward appearances — Birkenstock sandals, organic-food heavy diets, environmentally-friendly yards and homes — might be considered lefty environmentalists, but who adhere to conservative social and economic policies, and the Republican party (yes:  educated people who vote against their own best interests; go figure).

No matter how odd their views on economics, no matter how odd their views on their fellow humans, they recognize the basic benefits of the progressive movement on their own lives, and they would like to conserve those benefits.

Have the so-called skeptics changed those trends?  Did the stealing of e-mails convince most Americans that scientists are evil, conniving, and wrong?

Rather than take the denialists’ methods, the famous MSU technique*, how about we actually ask people what they think?

Recent polls with some depth on environmental issues show most Americans to be quite  level-headed about warming and other environment issues, and not so subject to the hot winds of talk-without-fact from Fox News, the Heartland Institute, or other paragons of science denialism.

Most Americans remain concerned about global warming

Pay attention to reality for a moment; the headline on the press release is, “Large majority of Americans still believe in global warming, Stanford poll finds”:

Three out of four Americans believe that the Earth has been gradually warming as the result of human activity and want the government to institute regulations to stop it, according to a new survey by researchers at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.

The survey was conducted by Woods Institute Senior Fellow Jon Krosnick, a professor of communication and of political science at Stanford, with funding from the National Science Foundation. The results are based on telephone interviews conducted from June 1-7 with 1,000 randomly selected American adults.

“Several national surveys released during the last eight months have been interpreted as showing that fewer and fewer Americans believe that climate change is real, human-caused and threatening to people,” Krosnick said. “But our new survey shows just the opposite.”

For example, when respondents in the June 2010 survey were asked if the Earth’s temperature probably had been heating up over the last 100 years, 74 percent said yes. And 75 percent said that human behavior was substantially responsible for any warming that has occurred. Krosnick has asked similar questions in previous Woods Institute polls since 2006.

“Our surveys reveal a small decline in the proportion of people who believe global warming has been happening, from 84 percent in 2007 to 74 percent today,” Krosnick said. “Statistical analysis of our data revealed that this decline is attributable to perceptions of recent weather changes by the minority of Americans who have been skeptical about climate scientists.”

In terms of average Earth temperature, 2008 was the coldest year since 2000, Krosnick said. “Scientists say that such year-to-year fluctuations are uninformative, and people who trust scientists therefore ignore this information when forming opinions about global warming’s existence,” he added. “But people who do not trust climate scientists base their conclusions on their personal observations of nature. These ‘low-trust’ individuals were especially aware of the recent decline in average world temperatures; they were the ones in our survey whose doubts about global warming have increased since 2007.”

According to Krosnick, this explanation is especially significant, because it suggests that the recent decline in the proportion of people who believe in global warming is likely to be temporary. “If the Earth’s temperature begins to rise again, these individuals may reverse course and rejoin the large majority who still think warming is real,” he said.

Ah, the Fickle Public — it appears only a small fraction of the public is fickle, after all.  Shifts in public opinion on the reality of warming were driven by weather, not weather men.

The poll also specifically addressed the effect of the computer break-in that exposed a few thousand e-mail messages from climate scientists under attack by anti-green critics:

‘Climategate’

“Overall, we found no decline in Americans’ trust in environmental scientists,” Krosnick said. “Fully 71 percent of respondents said they trust scientists a moderate amount, a lot or completely.”

Several questions in the June survey addressed the so-called “climategate” controversy, which made headlines in late 2009 and early 2010.

“Growing public skepticism has, in recent months, been attributed to news reports about e-mail messages hacked from the computer system at the University of East Anglia in Britain – characterized as showing climate scientists colluding to silence unconvinced colleagues – and by the discoveries of alleged flaws in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC),” Krosnick said. “Our survey discredited this claim in multiple ways. “

For example, only 9 percent of respondents said they knew about the East Anglia e-mail messages and believed they indicate that climate scientists should not be trusted, and only 13 percent said the same about the controversial IPPC reports.

That may explain why Anthony Watts’ logo for his Australian tour shows a kangaroo whose rear end has just been kicked (you can tell by the stars).

Climate skeptics butt-kicked in Australia logo

In cartoons, stars show where a character has been punched or kicked, right?

No agreement to control greenhouse gases came out of the Copenhagen conference last fall.  So-called climate skeptics patted each other on the back, claimed victory, and proceeded to send Christopher Monckton on his Bonnie Lies All Around the World Tour.  In cool light of morning, however, the facts can’t be silenced:  Warming continues, science shows the extremely high probability that humans cause it, official investigations show that climate scientists who had their e-mails stolen were victims of crime, not perpetrators, and climate skeptics failed to stop warming with their big-dollar, nice-banquet meetings with the Heartland Institute, or anywhere else.

If they are skeptics, they are pretty bad at it, falling like chumps for a story that fourth-grade science project made the case they have failed to make everywhere else, and for the story that one of their comrades was sent a bomb in the mail (it turned out to be a misdirected fuel filter).

No wonder Americans remain concerned about warming.

_____________

* Make S[tuff] Up

More, resources:


Desperation shows in the anti-warming camp

June 30, 2010

Willis Eschenbach, whose credentials I do not know, is back for another guest post at Watt’s Up With That.

Eschenbach contests conclusions drawn by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, about the effects of warming in New England.

In a probably-unintentionally humorous way, Eschenbach shows just how desperate grow the anti-warming camp.  The purloined e-mails show no wrong-doing, and worse for denialists, no significant errors in the case that global warming occurs and is problematic.  Legislation to fight climate change has a chance of passing this Congress.  EPA promulgated rules on measuring CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s resolution to stop EPA failed in the Senate.  There was the hoax about the fourth-grade science project claimed to refute Nobel-quality research, and then there was the bungled story that mistakenly claimed a solar-energy company sent a non-working bomb to an economics professor in Spain in revenge for his paper against government support of green energy.  One can see how such a string of losses might set back the hopes of even the most delusional denialist.

Either ignorant of Godwin’s Law, or so desperate he thinks it worth the gamble, Eschenbach quoted somebody (did he ever name who?) going on about the Big Lie technique attributed to the Nazis in establishing policy in Germany before and during World War II.

Mike Godwin, discoverer of Godwin's Law - Wikimedia image

Mike Godwin, discoverer of Godwin's Law - Wikimedia image

Is there a more plaintive or pitiful way to say one is over one’s head and has run out of argumentative gasoline?

Eschenbach’s case is not particularly strong — he pulled temperature data (he said) from the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) to make charts showing, Eschenbach claimed, there is no 4°F rise in average New England winter temperatures since 1970.

After a couple of skirmishes to see whether Watts’ watchdogs still prevent my posting, I offered a small rebuttal that, of course, slipped quickly into the abyss of Watts Moderation.  It may eventually escape that particular eddy, but in case it doesn’t, here’s the post:

Tim Neilson asks:

PS Ed Darrell – do you have any evidence refuting the post?

Most claims of someone practicing “big lie” tactics are self-refuting, the opposite of a self-proving document under the law. Is this any exception? Mr. Eschenbach offers no evidence to suggest that a committee of Congress publishes material it knows to be wrong for propaganda effect. (The quotes relating to Hitler comprise a grand rhetorical tactic known as “red herring.” The mere presence of that material, were we to apply Godwin’s law, refutes Mr. Eschenbach’s case.)

There is no evidence to refute.

Mr. Eschenbach offers a few jabs at data that show the effects of warming in New England, but he does not appear to bother to look at the data the committee used. This is a bait-and-switch tactic of argumentation that most rhetoricians would label a spurious. Does Eschenbach rebut or refute the committee’s data? How could anyone tell?

The site of the committee, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, offers several arguments to suggest changes in New England from warming might pose problems. So far as I see, Mr. Eschenbach addresses only one of those arguments, and that one incompletely.

1. The committee claims that average winter temperatures in New England have risen by 4 degrees F since 1970. Eschenbach offers a chart that, so far as I can tell, confirms the committee’s claim — but Eschenbach uses a chart that covers a much longer period of time, and offers it in a way that makes it difficult to determine what temperatures are, let alone what the trend is (IMHO, the trend is up, and easily by 4 degrees in Eschenbach’s chart). Oddly, he illustrates the chart by showing a surfer in a wet suit, surfing in winter in New England. Surfing is generally a warm-weather enterprise, and though the man has a wetsuit, and though the Gulf Current would warm those waters, the picture tends to deny Eschenbach’s claim, doesn’t it? If it’s warm enough to surf in winter, it’s warmer than the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

And look at the actual numbers — Eschenbach confesses a rise of 2.7 degrees, roughly 9/13 of the rise he intends to deny. Heck, that nearly-three degree rise is enough to cause concern, or should be.

2. The committee notes warmer temperatures would put more precipitation as rain, and not snow. Eschenbach offers no comment on this. Ski seasons in New England have suffered recently because it’s been too warm to keep natural snow, and too warm to make artificial snow (68 degrees F on January 6, 2007). (This is a national concern, by the way.) If the committee errs in this claim, Eschenbach offers no data.

And especially, he offers no data to back his “big lie” claim, that the committee knows differently from what it says.

3. The committee notes that warmer temperatures produce later autumns — a huge impact on tourist revenue in New England, where an enormous travel industry has built up around watching the changing colors of the trees. Such a change would be consistent with other long-term observations, such as those by the Department of Agriculture and Arbor Day Foundation, that the plant zones across America show warming (and some cooling).

Eschenbach doesn’t contest this in any way. Should we presume this is Eschenbach’s agreement that this claim is not a “big lie” claim?

3. The committee refers to warming oceans, and the potential effects on certain parts of the fishing industry, especially cod and lobster. This is caused by ocean warming, not atmospheric warming — so Eschenbach is again silent on this claim. The committee’s claim tends to undercut Eschenbach’s claim of a “big lie” here, and Eschenbach offers no support for his own argument.

4. The committee refers to greater storm damage due partly to rising sea levels. Eschenbach offers no rebuttal of any sort.

Eschenbach fails to make a prima facie case for his big lie claim, and his rebuttal is restricted solely to one measure of temperature that Eschenbach fuzzes up with an unclear chart.

May I ask, since you style yourself a skeptic, what evidence you found in the post that makes a case at all?

Will it ever see light of day at WUWT?

Update: Yes, it sees the light of day at WUWT.  Maybe all my kvetching had an effect.

Don’t let crabby blog moderators frustrate you; share the information:

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EPA posts greenhouse gas reporting requirements

June 29, 2010

What’s that racket, that squealing, that ‘stuck’ pig noise?

Orbitals model of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) - Wikimedia image

Space-filling model of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) - Wikimedia image. Sulfur hexafluoride is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases known, with "global warming potential" 22,800 times that of CO2. EPA proposes to measure SF6 emissions as a first step toward reducing emissions. Warming deniers propose to stop the regulations.

EPA published regulations for measuring greenhouse gases as part of its CO2 emission regulatory program — and the noise is the reaction of the anti-warmists.

Here’s EPA’s press release — notice the links to longer explanations, and note especially that the regulations are not final yet, but are instead open for public comment.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2010

EPA Issues Greenhouse Gas Reporting Requirements for Four Emissions Sources

Agency also to consider data confidentiality

WASHINGTON The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing requirements under its national mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program for underground coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems, industrial waste landfills and magnesium production facilities. The data from these sectors will provide a better understanding of GHG emissions and will help EPA and businesses develop effective policies and programs to reduce them.

Methane is the primary GHG emitted from coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems and industrial landfills and is more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere.  The main fluorinated GHG emitted from magnesium production is sulfur hexafluoride, which has an even greater warming potential than methane, and can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

These source categories will begin collecting emissions data on January 1, 2011, with the first annual reports submitted to EPA on March 31, 2012.

In a separate proposed rule, EPA is requesting public comment on which industry related GHG information would be made publicly available and which would be considered confidential. Under the Clean Air Act, all emission data are public. Some non-emission data, however, may be considered confidential, because it relates to specific information which, if made public, could harm a business’s competitiveness. Examples of data considered confidential under this proposal include certain information reported by fossil fuel and industrial gas suppliers related to production quantities and raw materials. EPA is committed to providing the public with as much information as possible while following the law.

The GHG reporting program requires suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial GHGs and large direct emitters of greenhouse gases to report to EPA.  Collecting this data will allow businesses to track emissions and identify cost effective ways to reduce emissions.  EPA is preparing to provide data to the public after the first annual GHG reports are submitted in March 2011.

There will be a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rules that will begin upon publication in the federal register.

More information on the final rule to add reporting requirements for four source categories:

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/remaining-source-categories.html

More information on the proposal on data confidentiality:

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/CBI.html

R227

These regulations are those complained about and proposed to be stopped by critics of the campaign to stop global warming.  Alaska’s pro-warming Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced a resolution to stop these regulations, with the support of junk science lobbyists including the National Center for Policy Research.  Fortunately, on June 10 the Senate voted 47-53 to reject a motion to consider the resolution, S. J. Res. 26, “A joint resolution disapproving a rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to the endangerment finding and the cause or contribute findings for greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.”

Both of Texas’s senators were suckered by the junk science.  Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison both co-sponsored the losing resolution.  Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott filed suit to stop the regulations.  Abbott’s opponent in the 2010 elections, Barbara Ann Radnofsky, probably the only one of these Texans who might understand sulfur hexafluoride’s role as a pollutant, criticized the suit and urged Abbott to spend his time protecting Texas oil fields from oil company sabotage.

Help control emissions from climate “skeptics,” and spread the good word:

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