Saturday, March 24, 2012

Climate Change Scientist Michael Mann Appears on Russia Today...Finally!

Why are these little rascals laughing?

Last week, the great and much maligned climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann appeared on the Kremlin-financed Russia Today (3-17-12) English-language satellite TV. This channel is part of the Russian government’s RIA Novosti news agency. In the past, Russia Today has hosted climate change denialists and  has trashed real climate scientists. Perhaps the party line has changed. 

I didn’t have any problems with what the renowned Dr. Michael Mann said about climate change, and I thought that it was great that he was able to appear on Russia Today (RT); but I thought some facts should have been acknowledged by Russia Today. I have a problem with pointing the finger only at Americans, Western denialist politicians such as Senator Inhofe, and the denialist Heartland Institute, as the program's host did.  

The RT host Mr. Hartman told the truth, but it was only a half-truth: he failed to mention that his employer Russia Today has often provided a platform for climate change denialists such as Lord Monckton, John O’Sullivan, Piers Corbyn, and Pat Michaels. Some really old Russian scientists have been trotted out on Russia Today, but not young Russian climate scientists–as far as I can tell.

Russian scientists such as Sergei Kirpotin do study climate change, but they do not always have access to the media. In addition, Russian climate scientists have reason to be circumspect. After all, the Russian climate scientist Vladimir Alexandrov vanished in 1985. Some say he defected, but others say he was kidnapped by the KGB. The KGB reportedly claims the CIA kidnapped him. I guess we will never know what that was all about. 

Mr. Hartman rightly criticized those contemptible paid liars, the Heartland Institute; but he failed to mention that the Heartland Institute has spread denialist propaganda that first appeared on the pages of RIA Novosti, the owner of Russia Today.

The Heartland claims they were quoting Alisher Usmanov's business daily Kommersant, but this is not entirely accurate. Heartland was actually citing an an edited version of Kommersant that appeared in the English version of RIA Novosti. I have written about the infamous RIA Novosti and Kommersant articles here.

When Virginia's Attorney General Cuccinelli cited this same RIA Novosti article in his petition to the EPA, his brief didn't even quote what the Russians said correctly. It may be that others who petitioned the EPA made the identical mistake. I need to look this up again to be sure, but my recollection is that some petitions to the EPA looked like everyone was copying the same mistake from someone else's homework.

I am glad that the Russians are allowing great scientists like Dr. Michael Mann on Russia Today instead of denialists, but this Russian government channel seems to have amnesia: they have spread the same disinformation that they are now blaming exclusively on American denialists and the Heartland–which quotes RT’s owners, RIA Novosti. The Russian government media did not admit that they were wrong or deceptive. It’s pretty hypocritical to criticize Heartland when their own government propaganda against Western climate scientists is quoted by Heartland. Instead, the leaders of the Russian government and United Party should apologize to the climate scientists for the smears that appeared in their government media; they shouldn't just scapegoat the admitedly despicable American denialists such as the Heartland Institute and Senator Inhofe.  

It’s nice that the Russian propaganda agencies have thrown the Heartland Institute and denialists who previously appeared on their channel----Lord Monckton, John O’Sullivan, Piers Corbyn, and Pat Michaels---under the bus. I thought this would happen sooner or later because the Russians often denounce their own anti-science conspiracy theories: Khrushchev denounced Stalin's "Doctor's Plot," and KGB Chief Primakov admitted that the KGB had spread the lie that Pentagon scientists made the AIDS virus.

Evidently the Russian government cares about its scientific reputation and doesn't want to look as stupid and mendacious as Virginia's Grand Inquisitor Ken Cuccinelli, who hypocritically quotes Russia's official press agency instead of real scientists who work for the "big government" he denounces---America. Still, I think the Russian government should take some responsibility and admit that it has broadcast and printed the very propaganda they now piously denounce. 

American government agencies support climate science, with the possible exception of the FBI, which has posted a ridiculous smear of climate scientists called a "white paper." It turns out that the FBI gets its climate science from a journalist's book about the KGB defector Sergei Tretykov, who was a spy, not a climate scientist. Why is the FBI spreading disinformation about climate scientists? The FBI is a member of the National Intelligence Council, which studies climate change, so how did this "white paper" come to be published? Who is behind this white paper? It sounds as dumb as the nonsense cooked up by Cuccinelli. The FBI, like Cuccinelli, can't even cite their Russian source accurately in their so-called white paper.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Heartland Institute Tried to Trick Greenpeace into Turning Over Internal U.N. Climate Conference Documents

Richard Littlemore at DeSmogBlog (3-14-12) reports on the Heartland Institute's hypocrisy:
[ In 2007, at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Bali, a] Heartland Institute front man* phoned a Greenpeace activist and lied about his identity in an effort to get her to turn over UN climate conference documents to which he had no legitimate access. Heartland senior fellow James Taylor then boasted about the scam in a press release decrying what he described as Greenpeace's preferential access to UN information.
Now, in a belated act of optimism, Greenpeace's Cindy Baxter has written a letter to Heartland (attached below) requesting an explanation for the double standard. Baxter is asking, in effect, why Heartland thinks it's completely okay for them to misrepresent themselves, repeatedly, and to celebrate the misrepresentations of others who are attacking climate scientists, but then gets all righteous when someone suckers them into handing over their entire budget and fundraising policy for 2012. [See the attachment and full text.]

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Climate Scientist Dr. Michael Mann Addresses Bishop O'Connell High School

On Friday, March 16, 2012, the famous paleoclimatologist Dr. Michael Mann spoke to all the students and faculty at Bishop O’Connell High School, a very large Catholic high school in Arlington,VA. Dr. Mann explained the science of climate change and the possible consequences of not addressing the problem. He showed pictures from his book Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming.

The students, who are studying climate change in science, asked a lot of questions that impressed Dr. Mann. The science teachers were really proud of the thoughtful questions the kids asked.

The Ecology Club all had their pictures taken with Dr. Mann. They were smiling like they were standing next to a rock star!

Just so everyone knows, Catholic educational institutions teach the peer-reviewed science about climate change and follow the lead of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which includes scientists who have helped write the IPCC Assessments.

UPDATE: See the full story and a photo of the aspiring scientists at Climate Science Watch (3-17-12).

P.S. Thanks  to the courage of Dr. Mann and the University of Virginia, Bishop O’Connell students will have the freedom to continue studying peer-reviewed climate science should they choose to continue their education at one of Virginia's state universities. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fallout from the Heartland Caper: Time Magazine Reports on the Escalation in the Climate Wars

"If there's anyone who knows how nasty the climate fight can be, it's Penn State climatologist Michael Mann. Mann, who has been involved with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for over a decade, gets regular death threats at his office. He's been the target of a lengthy — and, critics say, politically motivated — investigation by the attorney general of Virginia. His private emails to colleagues have been hacked and published, and he's become a major public target for Heartland and like-minded groups."--Time (2-28-12)

On February 20, 2012, a renowned water expert named Dr. Peter Gleick admitted that he had tricked the Heartland Institute, a "charity" that spreads anti-scientific propaganda to confuse people about the science of climate change, into emailing him internal documents intended for board members. Gleick claims that he decided on this course of action in order to authenticate an anonymously-sent Heartland strategy memo he received in the mail. Gleick published his account of his caper in an article titled The Origin of the Heartland Documents (2-20-12). The documents are linked at Desmogblog (2-14-12).

When Heartland's Joe Bast claimed the strategy memo was a fake, DeSmogBlog's Richard Littlemore (2-16-12) responded:

The DeSmogBlog is committed to accuracy. Joe Bast says the document is a fake, a statement we take with a grain of salt given the Heartland Institute’s previous dissembling on the subject of climate change and its discredited position on the safety of second hand smoke.  In the circumstances, if the Heartland Institute can offer any specific criticism of the Climate Strategy or any evidence that it was faked and not, actually, written on Joe Bast’s laptop, printed out and scanned, we would be pleased to consider that evidence.

When the Heartland's lawyer demanded that DeSmogBlog remove the documents, Desmogblog (2-19-12) refused, and cited the Heartland's demands alongside their observations. DeSmogBlog doesn't sound scared to me.

So far, Dr. Gleick has not been charged with any crime, but his reputation is damaged. Some people are claiming that he fabricated the anonymous strategy memo he says he received in the mail. The FBI say they are looking into the matter; but so far, they are very non-commital.

On Valentine's Day, the same day that the Heartland documents were published on DeSmogBlog, a computer expert named John Mashey sent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) documented allegations that Heartland and other climate change denialist organizations were violating their charitable status. I am only speculating, but I think that Heartland may be in more trouble than Dr. Gleick, although it seems to me that he should not have tricked the Heartland out of those documents. Time will tell; but at the moment it seems that Dr. Gleick gave his mendacious enemies, who are always claiming that scientists are dishonest, ammunition. I wish Dr. Gleick had not risked his career and had let Dr. Mashey's report make the case against the Heartland Institute. Still, when the government fails to investigate the activities of these fake charities, some scholars might decide to defend themselves---as well as ordinary teachers---from their vicious propaganda.

Bryan Walsh of  Time Magazine has published an excellent article about two "climate warriors," scientists Dr. Michael Mann and Dr. Peter Gleick. The article is titled A Climate Warrior Puts It All on the Line — Including His Life (2-28-12):

The climate war — the public opinion battle between skeptics of man-made global warming and those who believe in the scientific consensus — escalated to a new level of ferocity this past month. First a series of memos allegedly from the Heartland Institute — a libertarian think tank that has long supported climate skepticism — surfaced on the Internet, detailing the group's previously anonymous corporate funding and outlining its plan to fight action on global warming. Then came the news last week that the Heartland memos had been fraudulently acquired by the environmental advocate and scientist Peter Gleick, who — after allegedly being sent an initial memo by a person he identified as a Heartland insider — impersonated as a Heartland board member via email in order to obtain several additional internal documents. Worse, Heartland now claims one of the memos was doctored — while nonetheless confirming that it plans to push global warming skepticism in the nation's schools, opening up one more, very impressionable front in the seemingly endless climate war.

If there's anyone who knows how nasty the climate fight can be, it's Penn State climatologist Michael Mann. Mann, who has been involved with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for over a decade, gets regular death threats at his office. He's been the target of a lengthy — and, critics say, politically motivated — investigation by the attorney general of Virginia. His private emails to colleagues have been hacked and published, and he's become a major public target for Heartland and like-minded groups. "I guess over the years I've experienced quite a few adventures," says Mann, who is about to publish book on his experiences, called The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. "It's given me not just a solid understanding of the problem of man-made climate change, but also the campaign — largely funded by the fossil fuel industry — to deny that science." [See the full text.]

Following the Money: FBI Forensic Accountants

Balance sheet with magnifying glass
The FBI (3-9-12) has posted an article on its site about the role of forensic accountants.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Climate Crocks: Michael Mann Explains the Hockey Stick Issue and Debunks George Mason's Ed Wegman

Gareth Renowden at the New Zealand blog called Hot Topic (3-8-12) has posted the latest Climate Crocks video. The video is also posted at Skeptical Science (3-10-12). Head on over to see the video and these informative blogs.

Renowden at Hot Topic (3-8-12) observes:

The latest video from Peter “Climate Crocks” Sinclair in his new series at The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media is an extended interview with Michael Mann about his new book (reviewed by Bryan here), and gives an excellent overview of the hockey stick issue — including the Mashey/Deep Climate discovery of plagiarism in the Wegman Report. Michael Mann, the Hockey Stick … and the Climate Wars is well worth watching, if only for the frankly incredible way that Wegman answers a question about carbon dioxide.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Water Expert Dr. Peter Gleick Takes the Fall!

"Joe Bast says the document is a fake, a statement we take with a grain of salt given the Heartland Institute’s previous dissembling on the subject of climate change and its discredited position on the safety of second hand smoke.  In the circumstances, if the Heartland Institute can offer any specific criticism of the Climate Strategy or any evidence that it was faked and not, actually, written on Joe Bast’s laptop, printed out and scanned, we would be pleased to consider that evidence."---DeSmogblog (2-16-12)

On Valentine's Day (2-14-12) confidential documents from the Heartland Institute were posted on the Internet. A scientist named Peter Gleick soon admitted that he had duped the Heartland into emailing him the documents. Gleick claims that he pulled this stunt in order to authenticate a Heartland document he received anonymously in the mail. Heartland is claiming that this document is a total fabrication. The story, with all its legal implications, is discussed by the Columbia Journalism Review (3-1-12) and by DeSmogblog (2-19-12).

If the Heartland wants to prosecute Dr. Gleick, they might have to turn their computers over to law enforcement experts. Denialists are always saying that we are entitled to see what is in other people's computers. Still, the not-very-sincere Joe Bast may not want the authorities to see what is tucked away in his computer. Somehow, DeSmogBlog seems pretty sure about that.

Dr. Gleick may go down; but if he does, he might take the mendacious Heartland Institute down with him, just like Sherlock Holmes vanquished his nemesis Moriarty by taking him over Reichenbach Falls in "The final Problem."

[Update #1: official Chicago FBI statement]
I emailed the Chicago Media Coordinator for the FBI, Special Agent Royden "Ross" Rice, and asked him to send me the FBI's most recent statement about this case. Here is the FBI's most recent statement (2-24-12), which was sent to me on 3-5-12 and used with Mr. Rice's permission:

Representatives from the Heartland Institute contacted our office, earlier this week, to report what they felt was a criminal act committed against their organization.

We are currently working with the Institute and the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago to determine if the incident in question was a possible violation of criminal law, which would be under our jurisdiction.

[Update #2 (3-9-12)]

The climate change denialist John O'Sullivan (3-4-12), who claims he is a legal expert, has fabricated a statement and attributed it to Chicago FBI Special Agent Royden Rice. I know this is a fabricated quote because official FBI statements for the media don't make partisan attacks or speculate about charges. No FBI official would ever say anything so ludicrous. Not only that, Mr. Rice sent me what he states is his most recent statement (above) on March 5, 2012. That is why I know that Mr. O'Sullivan fabricated the quote he attributes to Mr. Rice in his March 4, 2012 article. Notice that Mr. Sullivan does not provide a link to Mr. Rice's apocryphal statement.

The lunatic John O'Sullivan (3-4-12) writes:

Other experts share my opinion that there is sufficient probable cause to follow through with a thorough in-depth federal investigation into the Gleick ’Fakegate’ case to see how far the 'post-normal' climate cancer has spread. Certainly, Peter Gleick should be offered a plea bargain deal if he rats out the other racketeers.

Apologists for climate criminals will not be curbed until the leaders of this 'post normal' academic cult are jailed. But whether the Obama government has the stomach to follow through and permit such prosecutions remains to be seen, as Chicago FBI agent, Ross Rice hinted:
“Whether Gleick, a member of the U.S. intellectual elite and a former student and coauthor with John Holdren, Obama’s Science Adviser, is ever charged is a different issue than whether his acts meet the elements of 18 USC 1343.”
[Update #3] It appears that the Chicago FBI is getting a little taste of what climate scientists have to deal with every day, although Mr. O'Sullivan seems to have decided to remove the fabricated claim that Agent Rice made this statement from one of his mendacious websites, Slaying the Sky Dragon (3-1-12)The statement is still there, but it is no longer falsely attributed to Agent Rice. A person has to be really stupid to fabricate a quote and attribute it to an FBI spokesman. The falsely attributed statement has still not been removed from this site, and has been repeated by other bloggers.

[Update #4] It appears that the Canadian denialist Steve McIntyre (2-28-12) said these words which "legal analyst" John O'Sullivan falsely attributes to FBI Special Agent Royden "Ross" Rice:

Whether Gleick, a member of the U.S. intellectual elite and a former student and coauthor of John Holdren, Obama’s Science Adviser, is ever charged is a different issue than whether his acts meet the elements of 18 USC 1343. [Near the end of the post.]

Meanwhile, Dr. John Mashey has mailed the Internal Revenue Service a report alleging that the Heartland Institute and other climate change denialist organizations may be violating their tax exempt status. Dr. Mashey mailed this information on Valentine's Day (2-14-12), the same day that the story about Dr. Gleick's escapade hit the news. Dr. Mashey's report is titled "Fake Science, Fake Experts, Funny Finances, Free of Tax SEPP, Heartland, CSCDGC, Allies and Donors."

Cavalier Daily: Cuccinelli Barred from Accessing University Documents

“[The inquiries are] a coordinated assault against the scientific community by powerful vested interests who simply want to stick their heads in the sand and deny the problem of human-caused climate change, rather than engage in the good faith debate about what to do about it.”--Dr. Michael Mann

The University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson. UVA's student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily (3-4-12) has posted this story about UVA's victory over the tyrannical, corrupt stooge of the fossil-fuel interests Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli:

The Virginia Supreme Court handed down a decision yesterday denying Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s claim that he has the right to review former University Environmental Sciences Prof. Michael Mann’s research produced during his time at the University. The Supreme Court ruled that state agencies, such as the University, cannot be considered ‘persons’ under the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act and accordingly cannot be the subject of a Civil Investigative Demand such as the one Cuccinelli issued.

University President Teresa Sullivan issued a statement yesterday thanking the University’s faculty and the faculty at other universities for their support.

“This is an important decision that will be welcomed here and in [the] broader higher education community,” Sullivan said. [See full text.]

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Columbia Journalism Review: "Heartland, Gleick, and Media Law"

The scientist Dr. Peter Gleick has admitted that he duped the Heartland Institute into sending him internal documents after he received a Heartland document from an anonymous sender.

The Columbia Journalism Review (3-1-12) has posted an article titled "Heartland, Gleick, and Media Law." The article opens by asking the question: "When, if ever, are deceptive tactics legally or ethically permissible in journalism?" The answer was more complicated than I had imagined.

Climate-Change Denialist Ken Cuccinelli Rebuffed by Virginia Supreme Court

"I'm pleased that this particular episode is over," Mr. Mann said in a written statement. "It's sad, though, that so much money and resources had to be wasted on [Virginia Attorney General] Cuccinelli's witch hunt against me and the University of Virginia when it could have been invested, for example, in measures to protect Virginia's coastline from the damaging effects of sea-level rise it is already seeing."---The Chronicle of Higher Education (3-2-12)

On Friday, March 2, 2012, the Virginia Supreme Court delivered a smack-down to the climate denialist Ken Cuccinelli. Legal Newsline (3-2-12) explains the Court's legal opinion. For a history of Attorney General Cuccinelli's persecution of Dr. Mann, see the Union of Concerned Scientists' Timeline: Legal Harassment of Climate Scientist Michael Mann and their statement on the Supreme Court's ruling: Virginia Supreme Court Rejects Subpoenas of Climate Scientists’ EmailsCuccinelli sought the emails of Dr. Mann, his research assistants, administrative staff or secretaries and 39 other climate scientists.

The National Academy of Sciences, the academies of science in all the developed nations, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the CIA, the National Intelligence Council, the United Nations, all the U.S. scientific government agencies (NASA, NOAA, EPA, etc), and the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences are telling the American people that climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels and that climate change is a threat to our national security.

Catholic schools teach students the scientific consensus about climate change. Catholic schools use books that present students with the peer-reviewed scientific consensus on climate change. The mendacious climate change denialist Cuccinelli and his crew have hijacked the high office of Attorney General on behalf of their fossil-fuel sponsors in order to persecute climate scientists and undermine the scientific consensus on climate change. Cuccinelli and his crew are are subverting our children's future and America's national security by confusing our people about the reality of man-made climate change. 

The program manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Scientific Integrity Program Michael Halpern (3-2-12) observed:

“We applaud the high court for reaffirming that Mr. Cuccinelli didn’t have a legal leg to stand on in his pursuit of Mann’s and other scientists’ private correspondence. The university should be commended for its courage in standing up to the attorney general to ensure Virginia will remain a safe place for scientific research, even when elected officials don’t like the results.

“Academic institutions have the responsibility to protect their faculty’s ability to discover new things about our world without fearing harassment. Nobody should expect the rough drafts of their work to be subject to the same level of scrutiny as their published research.

“Now, it’s time for leaders in Virginia to move on. The attorney general’s fishing expedition represents a failure to govern. For two years, the attorney general has joined a small but vocal minority in a pointless and costly investigation that has done nothing but distract Virginia from the real challenge: mitigating and adapting to climate change.”