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Tue, 2013-06-18 21:14Graham Readfearn
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Heartland Institute - the Keystone Cops Of Climate Science Denial - Strike Again

THERE’S a section on the Heartland Institute’s website pointing readers to “Stuff We Wish We Wrote”.

After events over the last year or so, the chaps at the fossil fuel-funded “think tank” might want to add a new section with the title “Stuff We Wish We Hadn’t Wrote”.

The Heartland Institute, for those who don’t know, is a Chicago-based group promoting any view or position that argues we shouldn’t do anything about human-caused climate change. They run campaigns, hold conferences, write op-eds in the media and pay contrarian scientists.

Right there on the think-tank’s homepage, the group proudly displays a quote from The Economist magazine describing Heartland as “The world's most prominent think-tank promoting scepticism about man-made climate change.”

Yet as is the case with most things Heartland says about climate change, things are not always as they seem. Heartland’s boastful quote is taken out of context and comes from this article in The Economist, documenting a spectacular own goal by Heartland.

Heartland, The Economist wrote, had lost an estimated $825,000 in funding after running a billboard campaign that equated acceptance of human-caused global warming to the values of serial killer Ted “Unabomber” Kaczynski.

So when The Economist was describing Heartland as a prominent think-tank promoting climate science denial, it wasn’t doing it in a good way. No wonder then that Heartland didn’t hyperlink the quote.

This brings us to Heartland’s most recent example of self-aggrandizing – implying the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) thinks they’re awesome because it translated two of Heartland’s reports, only to be told by aforementioned academy to apologise for misrepresenting what they had actually done. Here are the nuts and bolts of the story. On June 11, Heartland released a statement detailing how CAS had translated two volumes of its NIPCC reports  – Climate Change Reconsidered.

Thu, 2013-06-06 05:00Graham Readfearn
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The Campaigns That Tried To Break The Climate Science Consensus

So just in case anyone wasn’t sure, a major study of almost 12,000 scientific papers on global warming between 1991 and 2011 finds less than one per cent disagree that humans are the main cause.

Published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the study led by John Cook, the Australia-based founder of Skeptical Science, confirms the debate about the causes of global warming had all but vanished in the scientific literature by the early 1990s. Almost all the research says it’s mostly caused by humans.

For any followers of climate science in journals (the place where it actually matters) the finding wasn’t really news at all.

Yet survey after survey finds the public still thinks scientists are arguing over the causes of global warming and the media continues to attempt to resuscitate long-dead ideas.

Does it matter that people have a clear understanding of the main thrust of the science? A 2012 study in the journal Nature Climate Change found that people were more likely to accept human-caused global warming if they were informed that scientists were in broad agreement (which we know they are).

For decades, fossil fuel-funded groups, free market think tanks (some of which also qualify as fossil fuel funded groups) and the fossil fuel industry itself have known the importance of the public’s understanding of the state of climate science. A public that understands the state of the science is more likely to want something done about climate change. Doing something, means using a lot less fossil fuel.

But who wanted to tell the public that a consensus didn’t exist? Here are just some of the campaigns run over the years showing how breaking the consensus in the eyes of the public was a key strategy.

Sun, 2013-04-28 21:26Graham Readfearn
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UFOs, Sea Level Rise And The Magnetism Of Climate Science Denial

IF there was a prize for the most esoteric and stratospherically “out there” theory against human caused climate change, then surely Thomas Watson would be in line for this particular gong.

In an interview in January for the US-based internet radio show “It's Rainmaking Time”, this 83-year-old Australian from Victoria told presenter Kim Greenhouse that carbon dioxide had nothing to do with climate change and that instead, natural variations in “magnetism” were responsible.

Watson said: “The term gravity is - I won't say - an arrogant term, but it's a term that has been used because Newton saw an Apple fall down…I can show that that Apple is attracted to the Earth as the Earth is attracted to the Apple.” Later, he added: “CO2 is not the cause of climate change and for anyone to say it's trapping heat and expelling heat is in my opinion telling white lies.”

So “When did the lights go on for you that we are living in a magnetic field,” asked Greenhouse.

Tue, 2013-04-16 13:08Graham Readfearn
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Just How Many Climate "Sceptics" Are There?

A version of this post first appeared at RenewEconomy.

WHEN Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that former Woodside gas company executive and lobbyist Gary Gray was Australia’s new energy and resources minister, questions turned quickly to his position on climate change.

Fri, 2013-04-05 05:00Graham Readfearn
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Whistleblower Claims Australian Govt Censored Environment Concerns Prior To Approving Mega Gas Projects

A WHISTLEBLOWER has claimed approvals for two multi-billion dollar gas export projects in Australia were waved through government despite warnings that key information on a range of environmental impacts were either missing or inadequate.

Environment assessment specialist Simone Marsh, who had been on secondment to the Queensland Government's Department of Infrastructure and Planning when the projects were being assessed in early 2010, has spoken of a process where approval of the projects was never in question. Commercial and economic interests were put above environmental concerns.

“All the scientific arguments in the world wouldn't have changed things in that situation,” Marsh told the ABC's investigative journalism documentary program 4 Corners. “They had decided that they wanted to go ahead with the projects and there was nothing stopping it.”

Documents obtained by 4Corners under Right to Information laws in Queensland also reveal how a state government department tasked with assessing the environmental impacts of the projects were looking to provide the state's co-ordinator general with a “bankable outcome” on which to approve the projects.

The 4 Corners program looked at two major projects costing US$38.9 billion that would drill thousands of wells into coal seams in Queensland and, with the help of hydraulic fracturing and 6500 km of access roads, extract gas and pipe it to a new export facility at Curtis Island beside the Great Barrier Reef. Some 26 million cubic metres are being dredged from Gladstone harbour for the export projects.

Thu, 2013-04-04 12:22Graham Readfearn
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Climate Science Denier James Delingpole Calls For "Alarmists" To Face Court With Death Penalty Powers

I IMAGINE only a small percentage of people reading this have had any journalism training, but don't let that stop you from pondering the following ethical question.

If you read a newspaper story that included a direct quote from someone - let's say, for instance, UK climate scientist Dr David Viner - would it be acceptable to put quotation marks on the headline of that story and claim it was a quote from Dr Viner? You can have a minute to think about it.

It might help you to know that the headline was not written by the reporter who interviewed Dr Viner and wrote the story, and certainly not by Dr Viner himself. In short, a third person - a sub-editor - wrote the headline.

You don't need a minute? Of course not: it would be unprofessional, unethical and factually wrong to pass off a sub-editor’s made-up words as Dr Viner’s.

The Australian newspaper has just published a column from UK-based climate science mangler and anti-wind farm activist James Delingpole that tries to argue that Australia's recent unprecedented heatwave and hottest month on record wasn't all that hot and that global warming “alarmists” should be answering to a court with the power to issue a death sentence (no, I don't exaggerate, but we'll get to that at the end).

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