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Wed, 2010-06-16 02:20Morgan Goodwin
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Sceptics On the Road: Watts in Australia

This week and next week, prominent climate sceptic blogger Anthony Watts is touring Australia to help promote the country’s newest political party, the Climate Sceptics party.  Single issue parties are not unusual in Australia, and the Sceptics have been working to create a “new centrist party” to push for a “truthful, common-sense approach to [climate change] and all issues.”

The Climate Sceptics turned heads in January when they had to beg their members for an extra $20,000 to pay Christopher Monckton’s stipend as part of $100,000 in tour fees.  This begs the question: where does the cash come from to pay for the speaking tours of Australia? 

DeSmogBlog asked the Australian Electoral Commission if the party had registered itself yet and reported on any income.  Unfortunately, as a new party, they do not need to file their finances until October.  Furthermore, the sceptics party website clearly lists all the rules about what donations need to be disclosed and which ones do not (donations less than $11,200 can be anonymous under Australian law.)

Watts’ tour is being billed as a tool to fight the Australian government’s weak and industry-friendly Emissions Trading Scheme, which it recently put on hold for about 3 years.  Leon Ashby, the president of the Sceptics party, says “these presentations will make you think hard about the gap between the facts, public perception and where our political leaders want to take us.”

Thu, 2010-06-10 19:00Morgan Goodwin
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Exercise in Denial: BP Still Claims No Oil Plumes

BP Executives Tony Hayward and Doug Suttles have repeatedly denied the existence of underwater oil plumes in recent weeks.  They cite expert evidence and studies, even as multiple other studies have shown the existence of plumes.  Just how deep is the culture of denial in this large oil company?

Energy Boom reported on May 31st that “Hayward said samples taken by the company show no evidence of large masses of underwater oil.  He said that oil’s natural tendency is to rise to rise to the surface, and any oil underwater is currently making its way to the top.”

Days earlier, on May 28th, the Wall Street Journal reported a University of South Florida research vessel discovered an oil plume 1300 feet below the surface.  Then on June 9th, a two-week research expedition on the Walton Smith (pictured above) found overwhelming amounts of evidence for plumes and large clouds of oil below the surface.  The samples, pulled from depths of up to 1200 meters “stank to high heaven,” researcher Smanatha Joye said. “They smelled like creosote, asphalt and diesel.”

Yet on June 9th BP COO of Exploration and Production told NBC’s Today show still defended Hayward’s statement, saying “we haven’t found any large concentrations of oil under the sea” and that it “may be down to how you define what a plume is here.” Watch the whole chilling interview:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thu, 2010-06-10 12:31Morgan Goodwin
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Scholars & Rogues Digs Deeper: Who Audits the Auditors?

[Update June 17th] Scholars & Rogues sparked a vigorous discussion about various tree-ring chronologies, and readers are encouraged to look through the discussions on S&R as well as McIntyre’s Climate Audit for all the juicy details.  We also wish to note a correction made by Angliss regarding which graph was in discussion, but that point was not quoted by Desmogblog here. 

Finally, we wish to highlight Desmogblog’s interest in the subject.  We distinguished below between “the new famous ‘hide the decline’ statement, which Fox News picked up as meaninghide the decline in all global temperatures’,” vs. the more subtle discussion points of specific pieces of climate evidence. 

Last week we mentioned a detailed analysis by Scholars & Rogues about how the stolen emails lack enough context to draw conclusions about climate science.  This week in part 2, Brian Angliss gets more into the nitty-gritty details, challenging statements made by self-appointed Climate Auditor and mining executive Steve McIntyre and others. 

Often McIntyre’s discussions are not commented on by climate scientists, because they aren’t worth replying to.  RealClimate.org does when a response is warranted, but most claims and assertions go unchecked, becoming memes within a small subsection of passionate climate scpetics.  Angliss has found numerous misrepresentations within McIntyre’s writing, calling him out on exactly the kind of thing he likes to accuse real climate scientists of. 

Thu, 2010-06-03 17:07Morgan Goodwin
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Putting Conspiracy Theories to Rest: Scholars and Rogues puts 'Climategate' in Context

As the stolen emails non-scandal from November retreats slowly in the rear-view mirror, it’s worth a quick re-cap of why it was so exciting in the first place.  Emails without context can be made to fit any story that someone wants to tell, which is one of the reasons we don’t like to release email correspondence that is inherently out of context.  Brian Angliss at Scholars and Rogues gives us an elegant run-through of how the stolen CRU emails are taken hopelessly out of context and cannot, in and of themselves, contribute to our understanding of climate science.

Given the demonstrated unreliability of electronic records that have been sorted or analyzed using automated tools, it’s unreasonable to make firm claims either of scientific misconduct, ethical lapses, or illegality based on only the published CRU emails. It takes full inquiries and investigations where the investigators talk with the involved parties to truly understand the details and the context surrounding claims like those made against the climate scientists mentioned in the published CRU emails. To date, three such inquires have been completed, and while there may be some areas where the inquiries can be fairly criticized, the fact that the results of all three agree with each other strongly suggests that Tim Osborn’s claim, rather than Geoff Sherrington’s, is closer to correct in this case – “It is impossible to draw firm conclusions from the hacked documents and emails.”

There is little that can dissuade someone who is convinced of a certain narrative, but fresh angles and a fresh perspective, such as Angliss offers, are an excellent part of the solution.  Check out the full article for interviews with both skeptics and scientists, and a fascinating look at how a study of computer bug fixes can be used to illustrate the incompleteness of the electronic trail.  See the full post at Scholars and Rogues

Tue, 2010-05-18 23:57Morgan Goodwin
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McIntyre Disappoints Denier Conference; doesn't call for jailing of scientists

Mining Executive and blogger Steve McIntyre, the darling of so many climate change deniers, surely disapointed the assembled ICCC crowd in Chicago with his dry and relatively reasonable keynote address.  The applause after McIntyre’s keynote address was significantly less than when he started because he didn’t call for Michael Mann and Phil Jones to go to jail.

Astronaut Harrison Schmidt (why is a former astronaut speaking at a climate conference?), who followed McIntyre, helped to steer the crowd back to the witch-hunt it was promised by conference organizers. Mark Sheppard, writing in the American Thinker, gave this account of Schmidt’s remark after McIntyre finished:

This is science, [Schmidt] retorted to a now cheering crowd, and if you want to play that game (tricks, non-disclosure, etc) then you can go somewhere else.  To which more than a few in attendance added:  “To Jail!”

I can think of no better analogy than the hilarious logic used by Monty Python’s King Arthur to impress an even more idiotic group of villagers, and magnificently prove that ‘she’s a witch!’.

Tue, 2010-05-18 22:42Morgan Goodwin
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Will Happer To Testify At Congressional Hearing on Climate Science

Will Happer, as chair of the George C. Marshall Institute, will testify Thursday before Rep. Ed Markey’s Select committee as the sole GOP witness arguing against the global warming consensus.  Even though Happer, a physicist, has published exactly one paper that discusses climate change, he is apparently the top choice of the GOP to discuss “the ability to present data and information that can guide global warming solutions in a sometimes fierce political landscape.”

Professor Will Happer augments his Princeton duties with high-profile climate denial.  Ever since he and Fred Singer claimed that ozone depletion was not happening, Happer has been willing to let his Princeton position and American Physical Union title serve the whims of ExxonMobil’s policy goals. 

Happer proudly says “I believe that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind.” 

He even falsely told a congressional committee: “We evolved as a species when CO2 concentrations were three or four times what they are now”.  Actually, you need to go back hundreds of millions of years to find CO2 levels this high.  Sorry Mr. Happer, your facts might be a bit muddled, but your motivations are clear.

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