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Thu, 2014-08-21 14:00Graham Readfearn
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Advertising Watchdog Says Peabody Energy 'Clean Coal' Advert Was Misleading

CLEAN COAL, it's the two-word catch phrase the coal industry has used for years as it tries to convince the world its climate changing energy source has a future.

While the term “clean coal” is rightly met with ridicule and derision by many, up until this week it has been allowed to stand — at least in the world of advertising.

But now the UK’s advertising authorities have told Peabody Energy that it can no longer freely dangle its “clean coal” mythology in front of consumers without explaining itself.

The advert, devised by global PR agency Burson-Marsteller, claimed that Peabody was using “today’s clean coal technologies” to “improve emissions”.

In an adjudication, the Advertising Standards Authority said:

Notwithstanding the fact that “clean coal” had a meaning within the energy sector, we considered that without further information, and particularly when followed by another reference to “clean, modern energy”, consumers were likely to interpret the word ”clean” as an absolute claim meaning that “clean coal” processes did not produce CO2 or other emissions. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.

The ASA said that the complainant, environment group WWF, had argued the term “clean coal” was misleading and that it “implied that the advertiser's impact on the environment was less damaging than was actually the case”.

Wed, 2014-08-06 10:16Graham Readfearn
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Michael Mann's Opponents In Hockey Stick Defamation Case Regurgitate Half-Truths In New Court Filing

Michael Mann

Put up your hand if you’ve been a follower of news about climate change in recent years and haven’t heard of the “hockey stick” graph.

Nobody?  No, didn’t think so.

These graphs get their name because of their shape. 

They are reconstructions of the temperatures on Earth over several centuries to several millennia and they all have a repetitive tendency to turn sharply skyward showing the recent rapid warming of the Earth.

The most famous and first “hockey stick” came from research in the journal Nature in 1998 led by Professor Michael Mann, then of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Mann used historical data from tree rings and ice cores – known as “proxy records” - to determine what temperatures were like over the Northern Hemisphere over the 600 years or so before we had a reasonably well-dispersed network of thermometers.

When plotted on a chart… well, you know the rest.  It looked like a hockey stick.

Mann followed up that work in 1999, refining the research for a study in Geophysical Research Letters to give a full 1000-year history of the planet’s temperatures.

His work appeared in the 2001 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.  This is what it looked liked in that report (notice the red and blue colors - we'll come to that in a bit.)


  

Thu, 2014-07-24 18:15Graham Readfearn
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Australian Press Watchdog Criticises Climate Report From Rupert Murdoch's Flagship Newspaper

The headline on The Australian newspaper’s story about a leak of a major United Nations climate change report read “We got it wrong on warming, says IPCC”.

But an investigation by Australia’s press watchdog has found that in fact, it was the Murdoch-owned national newspaper that “got it wrong”.

The Australian Press Council has upheld complaints about the coverage, led by a story from the newspaper’s environment editor Graham Lloyd.

The council also found the newspaper’s attempts to correct its story had failed to meet the press standards.

Lloyd’s original story, published on page one in September 2013, was an echo of a story published the previous day by the UK Daily Mail’s David Rose.

The story claimed a leaked version of the fifth UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report into the scientific basis for climate change would state that “over the past 60 years the world has in fact been warming at half the rate claimed” in the previous 2007 report.

Rose and Lloyd seemed to want people to conclude that the IPCC didn’t know what it was doing, had shown to have got things badly wrong and that global warming was only half as bad as people had been making out.

Except as I explained in The Guardian at the time, the Daily Mail, The Australian and several other outlets that parroted the story had badly misread the numbers.

The rate of warming over the past 50 years declared by the two IPCC reports was in fact almost identical (a difference of only 0.01C) when you compared apples with apples, rather than comparing, say, a newspaper with a bowl of cheese.

The Australian Press Council adjudication, handed down this week, said:

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. 

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