Kevin Grandia's blog

Fri, 2015-02-27 14:00Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Harvard-Smithsonian Profited as Much as Willie Soon with Fossil Fuel Funding

Willie Soon Harvard Smithsonian

Both Harvard and the Smithsonian Institute are trying to shake off the controversy surrounding Willie Soon, but these esteemed organizations should not be let off the hook easily.

Earlier this week, documents revealed by the Guardian and New York Times provide irefutable evidence that climate denier Willie Soon and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophyics received more than $1 million in funding from fossil fuel companies to deliver scientific reports that called into question the scientific conclusion that climate change is the result of burning too much oil, coal and other carbon-emitting fuel sources.

Harvard quickly tried to distance themselves from the Soon scandal telling the Guardian that “Soon operated outside of the university.” This, despite the fact that Soon “carries a Harvard ID and uses a Harvard email address.”

The Smithsonian Institute also reacted quickly announcing that they have tasked their Inspector General to look into the ethical conduct of Dr. Soon. 

“The Smithsonian is greatly concerned about the allegations surrounding Dr. Willie Soon's failure to disclose funding sources for his climate change research,” they said in a statement shortly after the scandal broke over the weekend. 

But who is going to probe the ethical conduct of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics?

After all, many of the documents include the organization's letterhead. Take for example this funding request to oil giant ExxonMobil to produce a paper on the understanding of solar variability and climate change:

Fri, 2015-01-02 05:00Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

2015 Might Be a Big Peak Year for Climate Change

While every year is crucial when it comes to reducing the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases polluting our atmosphere, 2015 is looking to be a super year and a possible turning point in which a few big decisions could make all the difference.

Here are five big things to watch in 2015:

1. Paris UN Climate Conference

Let's start at the end of 2015, when global leaders are expected to show up in Paris, France, in early December to negotiate a new global agreement on global warming pollution reductions. A preview of what is to come was on display in Lima, Peru, in early December when environment ministers and their delegations cobbled together the draft of what will be negotiated in Paris. The major sticking points in the negotiations were the same as they have been for a while now.

Wed, 2014-12-17 12:38Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Fracking Bans in Quebec and New York Should Give B.C. Premier Christy Clark Pause

New York Fracking Ban, Quebec

Two big blows to the natural gas industry have come in less than 24 hours, with both the province of Quebec and New York state effectively banning shale gas extraction over concerns with the process of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”). 

Fracking allows for the cheap extraction of natural gas from shale deposits that were previously inaccessible, and it is responsible for both the boom in natural gas production as well as the correlate controversy. 

Citing public health and environmental concerns, Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard announced yesterday that there would be no shale gas development in his province. The day prior Quebec's environmental review board released a report finding that there are “too many potential negative consequences to the environment and to society from extracting natural gas from shale rock deposits along the St. Lawrence River.”

Today New York State made a similar move imposing an outright ban on fracking.

Thu, 2014-12-04 09:29Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Crisis Consultant Says Environmental Activists In It For The Money

randal simonetti

In a newsletter to clients titled “Defending Your Company Against an Activist Attack,” Randal Simonetti from the consulting firm EFP Rotenberg, opines that in order to successfully combat an attack by an environmental group you must, “first consider the driving motive that supports the attacker's existence.” 

According to Simonetti that driving motivation is money. “Funding is a primary driver of any activist organization's behaviour,” writes Simonetti.

To be sure, any non-profit organization must pay some attention to money to keep the lights on and pay decent(ish) wages. But as a former director at the environmental group Greenpeace, I can tell you that activists don't occupy a logging company's offices, or lie down in front of a coal train, or march in the streets of New York for money. They do it because they genuinely believe in standing up for their principles and what they believe is right for the human race and the planet. 

To counter these supposed money grubbing activists and their campaigns-for-dollars, Randal Simonetti suggests that companies under attack look to find other companies who “operate in a similar fashion” and point them out. I know my mom would probably scold Simonetti on this point and ask him, “If everyone else wants to jump off a bridge, does that mean you have to as well?”

Pointing out that others are just as bad as you, does not excuse your behaviour. Even my 8 year-old knows that.

Wed, 2014-11-19 13:16Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Debunked Conspiracy Climategate Five Years Later

I am a little reluctant to remind everyone about the so-called “Climategate” incident that was sparked this day five years ago.

Many people, in the end, were embarrassed by this major attack on climate change scientists when it turned out to be nothing more than manufactured media hype. Nine independent inquiries by multiple agencies all arrived at the same conclusion that the Climategate conspiracy was nonsense

Interestingly enough, the only inquiry that was never concluded was the failed criminal investigation by the UK police into who hacked and stole the private documents.

The fact is that a small number of words (three to be exact) found in over 20,000 pages of stolen documents were taken out of context and spun for the media. All to fit the conspiracy theories of a small band of climate deniers who will never be convinced that climate change is happening and that burning fossil fuels like coal and oil is predominantly to blame.

Wed, 2014-11-12 15:56Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

U.S.-China Climate Pact Leaves Prime Minister Harper With Few Excuses Left Not to Act

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping

While on a visit to Bejing, U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday announced with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping a new bilateral agreement on hard reduction targets for climate change pollution in those two countries.

The United States agrees to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 per cent from 2005 levels by the year 2025 and China commits to levelling off its carbon emissions by 2030.

When China or the United States act on any major global political issue, other countries take notice. And when China and the U.S. work in partnership on a major global issue, other countries definitely take notice. Looking at early analysis of what these announced targets represent in terms of the impact on our climate, it is clear they don't go far enough. However, it is a grand gesture by two powerhouse countries and that will have big ripple effects.

This all leaves Canada and its Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a very awkward position.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Kevin Grandia's blog