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Thu, 2011-02-10 19:57Richard Littlemore
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Harrison Schmitt Bails on New Mexico Energy Post

Ex-astronaut and current climate change denier Harrison Schmitt has withdrawn as the potential New Mexican cabinet secretary for the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

Schmitt, whose climate inaccuracies (and his refusal to correct obvious errors) have landed him in a pack of trouble of late, may have been telling the truth about his reasons for withdrawing. Or not.

Either way, Schmitt and his Heartland Institute fellow travellers are likely to think twice before again challenging someone with the credibility of Sandia National Laboratories physicist Dr. Mark Boslough, the scientist who revealed Schmitt’s most egregious recent false statement about climate change.

Wed, 2011-02-09 16:13Richard Littlemore
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"ArticGate" - When is a Mistake a Lie?

What did Harrison Schmitt Know? And When?

In the ongoing controversy over whether former astronaut and New Mexico Senator Harrison Schmitt intentionally misled NASA with his 2009 white paper on climate change, we come to the age old questions: What did Schmitt know? And when did he know it?

Schmitt says in that paper that “Artic (sic) sea ice has returned to 1989 levels of coverage.” When Dr. Mark Boslough, a physicist and computational modeler at Sandia National Laboratories brought to Schmitt’s attention that this was incorrect, Schmitt failed to correct it. Well, not everyone likes to admit making a mistake.

But was it a mistake?

Tue, 2011-02-08 14:44Richard Littlemore
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Oily Strategists Mint Another Silly Climate Petition

Update: Skeptical Science Debunks Petition Points

The public relations man and energy industry front group promoter Tom Harris has partnered with the Exxon-sponsored Idso family on a new petition dismissing the risks of climate change as “small to negligible.”

The petition is currently headlining at the WattsUpWithThat website, which probably shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that proprietor and weather guy Anthony Watts was one of the original signatories to one of the original silly climate petitions: the Leipzig Declaration.

These petitions are, in the most important ways, all the same. They feature the same cast of discredited characters (Pat Michaels, Fred Singer) and the same discredited arguments. The biggest such effort of the last 20 years was the Oregon Petition, which used a fraudulent National Academy of Sciences letterhead to solicit something in excess of 30,000 signatures from “scientists,” including a small handfull who had actually studied or practiced climate science.

But the point has never been to advance the science. The goal has been to give the impression that a legitimate scientific argument persists. And here we go again.

Tue, 2011-02-08 12:56Richard Littlemore
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Tim Ball Stands By His Slander

Facing a libel suit for an article slandering University of Victoria Professor Andrew Weaver as someone who “knew very little about climate change” and is therefore unfit to teach, Tim Ball has told the New York Times, “I stand by the story.”

The NYT also wrote: “The apology and retraction of the story by Canada Free Press ‘hung me out to dry,’ Dr. Ball added, saying he was in the process of hiring a lawyer to fight the lawsuit.”

Ball admits that he was incorrect in also saying that Weaver was “abandoning the sinking ship” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Weaver is, in fact, a lead author in the upcoming Fifth Assessment Report). But he dismisses this as “one small mistake.”

Ball’s “small mistake” may be in thinking that he can continue to say any darn thing he likes, about climate change or the people involved in legitimate research, and never have to account for its accuracy. Not for much longer ….

Tue, 2011-02-08 09:42Richard Littlemore
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"ArticGate" - NSIDC Confirms Schmitt, Heartland Misrepresented Data

Two scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center have written to the Santa Fe New Mexican to confirm that the wanna-be head of the New Mexico Department of Energy Minerals and Natural Resources was pontedly inaccurate when he claimed in a NASA white paper that “Artic [sic] sea ice has returned to 1989 levels of coverage.”

Walt Meier and Mark Serreze, who help manage and update the daily satellite measurements of Arctic ice, point out (with patience that Schmitt hardly deserves) that there was, indeed, a moment in 2009 when sea ice extent was greater than it had been - in the same week - in 1989, but that this was in no way a fair, accurate or helpful reflection of the state of ice in the Arctic, then or since. ( The graph at left shows the fully-year comparison of 2009 and 1989 and if you click on the NSIDC graphic for yesterday, you will see that extent continues to be at its lowest level in recorded history.)

Unlike the former astronaut and New Mexican Senator Schmitt, Meier and Serreze are in no way political players in this game. You would be hard-pressed to find their names on anything other than the dozens of excellent scientific papers emanating from the NSIDC. So their measured correction is itself extraordinary.

The bottom line is that Schmitt offered advice to NASA on the basis of an unrepresentative high point in ice extent. And he either picked that high point accidentally - in which case he has clearly lost any semblance of scientific rigour and should be denied any position that demands scientific expertise - or he picked it on purpose - in which case he should be denounced as a scoundrel and dismissed from candidacy for any public position.

Mon, 2011-02-07 10:23Richard Littlemore
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New Scientist Weasels Out of Apology

Update in BOLD below

New Scientist, a publication that is generally owed high regard, is apparently trying to weasel out of apologizing to NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt for an egregious misquote by the fallen science journalist Fred Pearce.

Pearce bungled the quote in his coverage of “post normal science” workshop in Lisbon, Portugal - really a denier fest dressed up as a reconciliation attempt. As Pearce reported in his original story, “The meeting was the brainchild of University of Oxford science philosopher Jerry Ravetz, an 81-year-old Greenpeace member who fears Al Gore may have done as much damage to environmentalism as Joseph Stalin did to socialism.”

If you haven’t already got a sense of the organizers’ bias, consider a guest list that includes “heroes of the sceptics such as statistician Steve McIntyre and economist Ross McKitrick, plus writers and bloggers such as Steve Mosher, the man who broke the Climategate story, and ‘heretical’ scientists such as Georgia Tech’s Judy Curry and Peter Webster.”

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