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Tue, 2014-06-24 23:28Graham Readfearn
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The Millions Behind Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus Center US Think Tank

Bjorn Lomborg

In early 2012, it seemed like the future of Bjørn Lomborg’s influential think tank was in serious doubt.

The Danish Government had changed its political stripes and the millions in public funds that had poured into his Copenhagen Consensus Center had come to an abrupt halt.

Lomborg told The Ecologist magazine he was worried there would be a limited pool of donors willing to part with cash to support his work.

“We have to make sure that that funding, if it’s going to go forward, is unassailable,” Lomborg said.

The impression back in 2012 might have been that Lomborg’s think tank was struggling for cash, but a DeSmogBlog investigation suggests the opposite.

The nonprofit Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) has spent almost $1 million on public relations since registering in the US in 2008. More than $4 million in grants and donations have flooded in since 2008, three quarters of which came in 2011 and 2012.

In one year alone, the Copenhagen Consensus Center paid Lomborg $775,000. 

Thu, 2014-06-12 07:50Graham Readfearn
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Australian MP George Christensen Heading To Las Vegas For Heartland Institute Climate Denial Conference

AN Australian Federal MP is planning to join some of the world’s noisiest deniers of the science of climate change at a conference in Las Vegas in a few weeks time.

George Christensen, the National Party member for Dawson in the coal-friendly state of Queensland, will be hanging around the Mandelay Bay Resort with a rag-tag bunch of mostly long-retired academics and well paid think-tank associates for the Heartland Institute conference, starting on 7 July.

The Heartland Institute, funded over the years by fossil fuel corporations and conservative philanthropists, is itself one of America’s loudest climate science denial organisations. This will be the organisation’s ninth gathering of climate sceptics, denialists and fossil fuel apologists.

Before its 2012 conference, Heartland took out a billboard advertisement with a picture of terrorist and triple murderer Ted “unabomber” Kaczynski next to the words: “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”

Just to push the envelope further, the institute issued a press release stating: “Of course, not all global warming alarmists are murderers and tyrants.”

Glad we got that one cleared up.

Christensen has put his own “sceptical” views on climate change on the record in the past.  He is not sure that humans can cause climate change.

In his maiden speech to Australia’s Parliament, Christensen said: “Despite what the political and media elite tell us to think, the truth is the science on climate change is not settled.”

In November 2013, Christensen told Parliament that his doubts about climate change came from “the well-publicised antics” of climate scientists when thousands of private emails were illegally hacked from Britain’s the University of East Anglia and then published. 

Numerous investigations into the so-called “climategate” affair found there had been no scientific misconduct, but this news obviously had not reached Christensen.

Christensen also promoted Heartland's climate change reports which he said were from “real climate scientists” and showed “the science is nowhere near to being settled”.

In Parliament in February, he downplayed a spate of “so-called record heat waves” by saying other parts of the globe had experienced “record cold”. In fact, according to the US National Climate Data Center, January 2014 was the globe’s fourth hottest since records began in 1880 and was the “347th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average”.

I wanted to know more about Christensen’s trip to the Heartland conference and his views on climate change, so I emailed his press officer. Here’s what I asked.

Fri, 2014-05-30 09:51Graham Readfearn
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Richard Tol's Attack On 97 Percent Climate Change Consensus Study Has 'Critical Errors'

Professor Richard Tol

One of the most consistent of all the attacks from climate science sceptics and deniers is the one which tries to convince the public that expert scientists are divided on the causes of climate change.

Those attacks have come from ideologically motivated think tanks and the fossil fuel industry, often working together. Only last week, the Wall Street Journal published a polemic to try and mislead the public that a consensus does not exist.

In 1998, the American Petroleum Institute was developing a campaign with the explicit aim of convincing the public that “uncertainties” existed in the science of climate change and its causes.

In 2002, Republican pollster Frank Luntz wrote that: “Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly.”

Several studies have surveyed the views of climate science experts or the scientific literature and have come to the same conclusions — the number of studies and the number of scientists who reject the fact that humans are causing climate change remains vanishingly small.

The latest and most high profile study to survey the scientific literature was led by John Cook, of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute and founder of the Skeptical Science website, and published in the journal Environmental Research Letters in May 2013.

Cook et al analysed close to 12,000 global warming studies from 1991 to 2011 to see how many accepted or rejected the fact that human activities are causing climate change. The researchers also asked scientists themselves to look at their own papers and confirm whether they endorsed the scientific consensus.

The central finding, reported widely and even Tweeted by Barack Obama’s campaign team, was that 97 percent of the scientific papers on climate change found that humans were causing it.

Since that study was published, Professor Richard Tol, an economist from the University of Sussex, has been planning to attack Cook’s paper. 

Sun, 2014-05-18 23:08Graham Readfearn
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Environment Journal Editor Responds To Conservative Media Storm Over Rejected Climate Manuscript

Lennart Bengtsson

THERE’S an old proverb that suggests it’s always the lie that gets half way around the world while the truth is still pulling its boots on.

But if evidence from the latest conservative media beat-up on climate science is anything to go by, even if the truth is only a couple of blocks behind, the myth can just keep on running.

We’re talking about a story that sprinted out of the blocks from the offices of The Times newspaper in Britain.

The newspaper’s environment editor Ben Webster was writing about the University of Reading’s Professor Lennart Bengtsson (pictured), who had a research manuscript rejected by the prominent Environmental Research Letters journal earlier this year. 

Webster’s front page story claimed Bengtsson’s research had been “deliberately suppressed” because it didn’t sit well with the views of the vast majority of climate scientists.

Bengtsson’s manuscript had reportedly concluded that the sensitivity of the climate to added carbon dioxide was on the lower end of projections, a conclusion one reviewer of the paper said “substantially underestimated the committed [global] warming”.

As DeSmogBlog and several others have written, as mainstream media outlets were following-up on The Times the story’s two main actors – Bengtsson and the journal’s publisher IOP – were making it clear that the story was highly questionable. After publishing one of the reports from the reviewer of Bengtsson's paper, now IOP has released the second reviewer's report which described the manuscript as showing “troubling shallowness in the arguments”.

The UK’s Science Media Centre (UK SMC), a service for journalists, issued a bulletin of statements from experts responding to the story.  One of those was from Bengtsson, who amongst other things said:

I do not believe there is any systematic “cover up” of scientific evidence on climate change or that academics’ work is being “deliberately suppressed”, as The Times front page suggests. I am worried by a wider trend that science is gradually being influenced by political views. Policy decisions need to be based on solid fact.

The Times followed-up their story and included a quote from Bengtsson, but left out the bit where he said he didn’t believe the main thrust of The Times’ story. Funny that.

The statement from IOP Publishing included the full report from the reviewer of Bengtsson’s manuscript.  The statement made it clear that Bengtsson’s work had been rejected on scientific grounds.

In the Mail on Sunday, climate skeptic reporter David Rose wrote as a statement of fact that “Environmental Research Letters had rejected his paper because it would be seized on by climate ‘sceptics’ in the media” even after this had been demonstrated to be false.

I asked Environmental Research Letters’ Editor-in-Chief Professor Daniel Kammen, of the University of California, about the saga.

Fri, 2014-05-16 23:38Graham Readfearn
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Environmental Research Letters Journal Debunks Conservative Media Claims It Suppressed Climate Research

Some are calling it the new Climategate,” said Fox News' Washington reporter Doug McElway.

McElway was reporting on a story published in the UK’s The Times newspaper that claimed climate change research had been “deliberately suppressed” by a leading journal because it “wasn’t helpful”. 

While the central claim in the story now lies in shreds, the way it was treated by the conservative media shows that McElway has a point; just not in the way he meant it. 

A key feature of the Climategate saga was how conservative media around the world cherry-picked quotes out of context to spin a conspiracy story that simply wasn’t there.

But this time, instead of it taking several months for inquiries to find no scientific or academic misconduct, the latest non-climate scandal should be killed dead in its tracks by the gnashing teeth of reality.

Tue, 2014-05-13 16:58Graham Readfearn
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Is Hector the Lump of Coal The World's Most Inappropriate Mascot For Kids?

With his thumbs pointing almost permanently skywards, the copyrighted mascot Hector the Lump of Coal wants to talk to kids about the arts, dental hygiene, bullying, sun safety and pretty much anything else the PR people at one of the world’s biggest coal export facilities can think of.

In one segment of his own mini-TV series, Hector’s sidekick presenter tells kids* how to save energy at home to “save the environment” and how you shouldn’t leave the tap running when you’re cleaning your teeth because “water is precious.”

His TV slots are screened on the popular Seven free-to-air Australian television network in the Mackay region of Queensland where kids have been served The Hector Show sandwiched between segments of Saturday Disney.

There is not a sliver of irony or sarcasm in sight but, then again, this is the state of Queensland that — according to its Premier Campbell Newman — is “in the coal business.”

Hector is the property of Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal (DBCT) which last year enabled the export of more than 60 million tonnes of coal used for energy and making steel.

DBCT is one of two facilities at Hay Point, one of the world’s biggest coal ports. Coal combustion, as if this needs pointing out, is the world’s biggest single contributor to climate change.

Not only did the state export 192 million tonnes of coal last year, but it has been revealed that a coal company employee is actually writing the environment policy for Newman’s Liberal National party.

Perhaps this is why Hector sports a permanent grin on his Facebook page where he is pictured at community events, sports games, schools, libraries and inside any building with a door wide enough to fit his considerable girth. It seems wherever there are children and families, there's a grinning six foot lump of coal in a high-visibility vest. 

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