The Oreskes Attack: Background on the Participants

Thu, 2007-09-06 11:16Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

The Oreskes Attack: Background on the Participants

Here is yet more background on the remarkably high-profile battle over a purported paper that has yet to be published, but nevertheless attracted a huge amount of attention from the denier press.

The new paper is said to “update” the excellent Science article by Dr. Naomi Oreskes who reviewed 928 randomly selected papers on global warming, and found that none questioned the consensus view that human-activity, through the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, is a major contributor the climate change we are now experiencing.

This study has been a sore point for the climate denial industry for a long time. But it seems that a new effort is underway to discredit Oreskes's seminal piece. The latest attack appears to come in collusion among an endocrinologist, a British Lord and a Republican, oil industry-friendly think tank operating in Washington, DC.

The endocrinologist is Mr. Klaus Martin-Shulte, who has prepared the paper that presumes to refute Dr. Oreskes's original findings. A consultant in endocrine surgery at King's College Hospital in the UK, Mr. Shulte seems to have spent his professional life comfortably under the radar.

That is, until an article appeared on a site called Dailytech about a soon-to-be published paper by Shulte finding that “less than half of all published scientists endorse global warming theory.”

Here's where the British Lord and the DC think tank come into play. The British Lord goes by the title of The Third Viscount Lord Monckton of Brenchley (inset), a well-know player in the attack on conventional climate science. Here's some more background on Brenchley.

Brenchley has another role as “Chief Policy Advisor” for a DC-based “think” tank called the Science and Public Policy Institute. In fact, in July of this year Brenchley published a paper in his role with the Science and Public Policy Institute panning Oreskes and her 2004 paper on the scientific consensus on the causes of climate change. A major focal point of Brenchley's argument is the yet-to-be-published article by Mr. Shulte.

So here's the time-line so far: Brenchley and the Science and Public Policy Institute release a report dated July, 2007, containing research findings from a paper that has not yet been published.

Now on the Science and Public Policy Institute's website you can also find “open letters” written by Shulte regarding his research. Seems like the Science and Public Policy Institute has a direct pipeline (no pun intended) to Martin-Shulte.

All starts to seem a little too cozy, doesn't it?

And once you start to look into the background of the Science and Public Policy Institute, the term cozy appears to be too much an understatement.

The Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) was founded by a long-time Republican staffer named Robert Ferguson. According to the SPPI website, Ferguson “has 26 years of Capitol Hill experience, having worked in both the House and Senate. He served in the House Republican Study Committee, the Senate Republican Policy Committee; as Chief of Staff to Congressman Jack Fields (R-TX) from 1981-1997, Chief of Staff to Congressman John E. Peterson (R-PA) from 1997-2002 and Chief of Staff to Congressman Rick Renzi (R-AZ) in 2002.”

Until recently, Ferguson worked for an oil-industry funded think tank called Frontiers of Freedom. The Frontiers of Freedom are one of the most active groups in the attack on climate science and have received over $1 million in grants from oil giant ExxonMobil.

Ferguson ran the “Center for Science and Public Policy.”

According to ExxonSecrets, “Ferguson set up the Center for Science and Public Policy in early 2003, after receiving a $100,000 grant from ExxonMobil in 2002. Exxon has continued to fund the Center each year since then, to the tune of at least $50,000 a year.”

So what is the relationship between Ferguson, the Science and Public Policy Institute and this new yet-to-be-published study by Mr. Shulte? Who paid for Shulte's research? Anybody?

Comments

Kevin, one of the quaint idiosyncrasies of the medical profession in the UK (and maybe elsewhere in Europe?) is that surgeons like to be called “Mr”. It is interesting since medical doctors in the UK are called “Dr” but they don’t get a doctorate. The medical degree in the UK is the joint degrees MB,ChB (bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery). The MD degree is an advanced degree awarded after excellence in research as well as medical practice. An interesting anecdote concerning this is that a friend of mine during undergraduate days was a med student. One summer he decided to work in a small rural hospital rather than one of the big ones in Edinburgh. One day he was asked by the surgeon to assist him in an appendectomy. After the operation he had to sign the log book. He had to sign as “Mr” since he had not yet graduated. After that some of the staff and nurses thought he was a surgeon.

Anyway, enough of the digression. It seems that Mr. Klaus-Martin Schulte is rather upset that his “paper” is all over the internet. I don’t know whether he is a naive fool who has been hoodwinked by some scumbags or is part of a well orchestrated attempt to smear Dr. Naomi Oreskes and to add to the right wing obfuscation.

Ian Forrester

Thanks Ian as always. I will edit the post to reflect this. 

Ian:

see the long thread in:

http://scienceblogs.com/strangerfruit/2007/08/oreskes_responds_to_schulte.php

Well: if he’s upset, he should be upset at Lord Christopher Monckton or E&E, not at Dr. Oreskes, but for reasons described in the thread above, I suspect that Schulte and “Chris” Monckton are close.

Observe that Mr. Schulte’s Kings College Hospital website is the 3rd hit from:
Google: endocrine surgeon nhs

and Lord Monckton is described a having an endocrine complaint requiring multiple operations.

I have no proof of a connection, yet, but it sure is a funny coincidence. Schulte is a well-published endocrinologist, which (as far as I know) is not rife with the politicized anti-science around climate change, so he may not have realized what he was getting into.

the connection also appears to to through Marc Morano (works for James Inhofe, Scientific American editor John Rennie once wrote of him as “Senator Inhofe’s Pet Weasel”,) as he pointed to Monckton’s piece about a week before the DailyTech piece. Then another Inhofe staffer pointed at the DailyTech piece, as though it added new information beyond the Monckton piece mentioned Morano.

Adopt The Atmosphere. I read this article in Newsweek a couple of days ago about major corporations and their plans to derail the efforts to fight global warming. I got pretty bent out of shape. My anger turned into a desire to do something.

This morning I was checking out Google's new “Google base” and came across this article: http://base.google.com/base/a/2560087/D6726493050951623104 The thing I found interesting was not so much the article itself, but the website it was referring to. I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences, with regards to that site, in a way that might move others to action. (BTW: The article in Google base is actually amusing and is worth a read) I spent my lunch break going through the entire website and, let me just say, these guys seem to have something here. They have a pretty extensive FAQ page that I found very informative.

At first, I thought that it was a joke or maybe even a scam, however, I was persuaded otherwise. In their F.A.Q. page they addressed the fact that there are scam artist that prey on the naive.

They actually gave links to the authorities, the FBI and their state's Attorney General's office, to use if participants feel they have been defrauded! I want it to be understood that I am a skeptic and pretty tight with my financial resources. I am also EXTREMELY environmentally conscious. That being said, I really felt that this might amount to something. Other green skeptics should browse though the F.A.Q. page as well as the rest of the site and see if they come to the same conclusions.

I showed the site to several of my co-workers and they all searched through the site, as well. At last count, myself and about 30 of my co-workers have taken part in their program. What this organization, the Adopt the Atmosphere Foundation or ATAF, offers is sponsorship or what they call “Adoption” of the Earth's atmosphere. They have divided the atmosphere up into “columns” that are each 400 Kilometers high with a 100 square Kilometer base. People can adopt or sponsor an atmosphere column and become a member of their organization for a nominal, and 100% refundable fee.

There are several graphs on their site that clearly explain what the fee is spent on. About 85% will go towards environmental charities, environmental lobbying, and environmental issue awareness campaigns . The rest is divided up in administrative office expenses. The thing I thought was so intriguing about ATAF was that they are hoping to eventually register the adoption/sponsorship of the entire atmosphere! I guess they plan to use the registry of adopters as a platform to be heard in the international community.

That's kind of interesting!

If the entire atmosphere is divided up and sponsored by environmentally concerned individuals and the concise, detailed records of these designated sponsored columns are kept by an organization in a database registry, the members of that organization would have some real clout.

Even if the only outcome of a massive registry of adopters is a raised level of environmental awareness, than I say, “Good on ya!” to those who've orchestrated such a thing.

FYI: The ATAF website is www.adoptatmosphere.com

I can’t recall where I saw this earlier in the day, so sorry no link, but it was noted that Monckton’s recent medical problems involved endocrine surgery. This could be a complete coincidence, but is Schulte Monckton’s surgeon?

Completely OT, Kevin, but I just saw this rather odd new statement (http://ice-glaces.ec.gc.ca/content_contenu/minArcticIce_2007.pdf) from Environment Canada on the current Arctic sea ice situation. What they say is actually pretty obvious since the multi-year ice likes to stick to and within the Canadian islands, so what’s the point of saying it now and in the way they did? It’s hard to be certain, but noting that the data in the study cuts off in mid-August, the statistics it sliced and diced to try to show that the Candian ice wasn’t already at a minimum were probably already out of date as of the 9/4 pub date of the statement; IOW likely the Eastern Canadian Arctic or the Western Candian Arctic and perhaps even both were at record lows on 9/4. But speaking of the WCA and ECA, probably the most peculiar thing is that the author(s) had to treat the two areas separately in order to find that they weren’t at record lows. Combine them and they would have been. So anyway, was this part of EC’s efforts to make the Harper regime happy? I really can’t think of any other reason for it.

Steve: Monckton/Schulte see the story in Observer/Guardian:
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0„2073267,00.html
The article is well worth reading, including note about Monckton chasing Oreskes already in May.

Nobody (so far) knows if this is the connection, BUT:

given all that’s happened so far, and Schulte’s posting on the same site as Monckton’s article …

What likelihood would you assign to the hypothesis “they have been cooperating on this”?

Kevin, I am sorry to say I think you and some others have been mugged again by those 'others'. My comments are here: http://fergusbrown.wordpress.com/ this isn't just me blowing my own trumpet; I have actually read the Schulte paper… regards,

Thanks, good piece you wrote… how did you get a hold of the study? I’ve heard that it hasn’t even been written yet, or at the least, it is only in rough draft.

Like many of your readers, I trawl around and sniff out stuff. On this occasion, unable to find the original, I emailed the author and asked him to send me a copy, so long as I didn’t release it. He did. We have had some interesting emails back and forth since, but they have now dried up.

All I will say is that I find his claim to be ‘neutral’ on this subject hard to believe in the light of some things he said in those emails. However, he is entitled to his own opinion, and a certain degree of privacy. Regards,

Fergus. Is this the email address you have for Schulte:

klaus-martin.schulte@kingskh.nhs.uk

I’ve found this one and one another. I’ve been running them through the search engines at some of the GW skeptics mailing lists/groups to see if any angry sounding endocrinologists are members. So far no luck. Presumably, this guy is new to the sport.

Not sure why it is relevant who paid for Schulte’s research, if anyone did. Don’t results speak for themselves?

Schulte says he did this study because he worried about the health impacts of alarmist statements about climate change on his patients. He wanted to see if the alleged concensus really exists. I shouldn’t imagine research of the type he did, which is essentially a literature review, is all that expensive – just time-consuming.

Anyway, Schulte says he never made any comments about Oreskes’ paper; he just quoted from it in order to compare her data with his own. Schulte says that if Oreske’s conclusions are correct for the period she studied that ended in 2004, the situation has certainly changed since then. Schulte says his paper has not yet been published and he denies that he leaked it and denies any relationship with anyone named Morano. His rebuttal to the Oreskes attack concludes:

“I am not a “contrarian” and have not made any attempt to “refute” Oreskes’ work. I have not had the pleasure of making Mr. Morano’s acquaintance.

The author of the statement (Oreskes) has been less than courteous, and less than professional, in having failed to verify the facts with me before thrice having used the word “misrepresentation” in connection with a draft of a paper by me which he or she cannot have read at the time. Worse, the author of the statement has used the word “foolish” about me when he or she had not done me the usual professional courtesy either of contacting me or even of reading what I had written before making haste to comment upon it. I should not expect any properly-qualified and impartially-motivated scientist to behave thus.

If the statement was indeed authored by Oreskes, I expect her to apologize for her professional discourtesy to me, and I invite the Chancellor of her university to enquire into the matter and then, if she be the statement’s author, to ensure that she apologizes promptly and unreservedly. If she was not the author of the statement that has been widely circulated in her name, then of course no apology from her will be necessary; but I shall expect her to make it clear that she was not the author of the statement, and to dissociate herself from it latae sententiae.”

Yours truly,
(signed) KLAUS-MARTIN SCHULTE

The results WOULD speak for themselves if they were actually published. As it is, the “results” are relying on people like th Viscount Monckton and Marc Morano - a few of the apparently small circle that is passing this too-much anticipated “science” paper around.

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Would you like to get his name right?
It’s not “Martin Klaus-Shulte” but Klaus-Martin Schulte.
I realize it’s not an English name, but in this internet day and age you can use copy-paste.

and corrected. Thanks for pointing it out.

Kevin, you are on thin ice when you state that Schulte presumes to refute Oreskes’ original paper. Schulte himself says he did no such thing so that is a motive attributed to him by others. His study examined the period from 2004 forward. Oreskes’ study examined the decade prior to 2004. So how could Schulte in any way refute her? Lots of other people have questioned Oreskes’ research but Schulte himself says that was not his intent.

On July 19, Monckton published a lot of the details of Schulte’s work on the SPPI website, where it remains today.

Schulte’s “Open Letter” to Oreskes/Fox, sent Sept 3, was then published on that SPPI website, under an SPPI logo, and labeled as an SPPI Reprint.

That lettter says, up front:

“My attention has been drawn …commenting on a forthcoming but not yet finalized paper of mine, an early draft of which was circulated without my authority.”

Really? If so, Schulte had 6 weeks to castigate Lord Moncton and SPPI for publishing something supposedly in review at E&E, and demand that the Monckton paper be removed, IF IT WERE INDEED UNAUTHORIZED. The Monckton piece was clearly the release route.

If I were a neophyte in a research area, claiming to be updating an existing bit of research, and especially if I were getting radically different results, the first thing I’d do would be to send it to the original author for comments. That would actually be courteous, and maybe save me from embarrassment. [Not theoretical, I’ve often done the equivalent.]

Instead, Schulte attacks Oreskes (but not Monckton/SPPI), and then publishes his Open Letter on the same SPPI website!

I used to think Schulte was an innocent sucked into this, and be a little sorry for him, but he’s clearly an active participant in this disinformation/harassment effort.

After that, the rest of the Open Letter is *irrelevant* quibbling, if amusingly out of touch with reality.

The next day (09/06/07), Bob Ferguson sends out a press release, via BusinessWire (!):

Researcher Demands Apology for Professional Discourtesy from Essayist Who Claimed Climate “Consensus,” Reports SPPI
http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20070906005790&newsLang=en

Note that Schulte is deemed a researcher, while Oreskes is merely an “essayist.” RIGHT.

Schulte may not know Morano or rest of EPW gang, but I bet Ferguson does.

I guess some people just never learned, or their mothers didn’t teach them, that you face down-wind when taking a leak. Now it is all blowing back in his face :-)

Ian Forrester