Monckton fights for Exxon's freedom of speech

Wed, 2006-12-20 10:51Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Monckton fights for Exxon's freedom of speech

Christopher Monckton, a well-known climate change “skeptic” and British aristocrat has fired off a response to U.S. Senators Snowe and Rockefeller for their letter this fall urging oil giant ExxonMobil to cease funding to US “think” tanks that are actively involved in the PR campaign to confuse the public about climate change.

In the letter, Monckton, who is far from being an expert on the science behind climate change, says of ExxonMobil, “that great corporation has exercised its right to free speech - and with good reason - in openly providing support for scientsists and groups that dare to question how much the increased concentration of C02 in the air may warm the world.” Monckton goes on to use the regular skeptic talking points, arguing that “warmer is better than cooler,” and saying there's “no evidence that today's temperatures are warmer than during the medieval warm period 1,000 years ago.”

Monckton's plea to take this as a freedom-of-speech issue is risible. Corporations, ExxonMobil included, have the right to defend their interests and should do so in an open and honest manner. Exxon is falling down on both counts.

Instead of being open in urging that people ignore climate change, Exxon is paying other people to say something that would be laughably self-serving if Exxon executives were to say it themselves. For example, how would the public view ExxonMobil and their “biodiversity conservation” program if the company also announced that it has no regard for the top scientists in the world on the most critical environmental issue of the day. In fact, how much faith would we all have in Exxon's ability to run a safe and profitable corporation if we really believed that Exxon took its scientific advice from “skeptics” who couldn't get their views published in any legitimate scientific journal?

Exxon's major competitors and the principal scientific bodies of the world's developed nations agree that, where climate change is concerned, black is black. Exxon pays a hard core of “think” tanks to argue that black is, in fact white. And Christopher Monckton agrees.

The problem is that this kind of speech is not “free.” In distracting us from addressing an issue that threatens the world in an unprecedented way, it is costing us all a price that we may never be able to pay.

Previous Comments

Of course speech is “free” and Exxon has as much right to it as we do. Considering the pittance that Exxon has forwarded to various groups, I don’t see how hey stand a chance against the army of environmental groups and supremely well-funded government organizations.

As complex beings, humans can handle multiple and contradictory viewpoints on an endless variety of subjects without being distracted from taking appropriate action where necessary. Whether it is climate change or any other subject, free speech must always be allowed. Regards,

Do you recognize the right of free speech on the subject of the Jewish “Holocaust”?
This is not about free speech, but about buying scientific research designed to favor a particular result. If Exxon Mobil and other oil companies were really interested in climate science, they could donate these funds to existing geological or meteorological societies to obtain new data or improve the way the results are being reported to congress and the media.
ExxonMobil just donated $6 million to Stanford, and over a 3 year period starting in 2005 will have donated $26 million to “existing” projects aimed specifically at reducing greenhouse gas emmisions. (http://www.exxonmobileurope.com/Europe-English/News/Eu_news_gcep.asp) Most large oil companies have similar funding programs. Oil companies are not the horned devil out to destroy the world, as is usually portrayed in the sensationalism surrounding the global warming question. Most of us have families as well as children that will live here after we are gone. It seems that many of the “deniers” are merely asking that the subject be looked at objectively. The response from various scientific and NGO organisations seems to be hysterical and not open to debate. Does working in the energy sector invalidate an scientists (or individuals)opinion? NGO’s and many scientific groups have expanded (i hesitate to use the word profit) as their funding increases. I often see the results of this expansion as they jet set around the globe in business class on their way to various conferences! I guess their opinion is valid…because it is funded by the taxpayer in many cases. I can see a contradiction, but maybe its the sprouting horns affecting my thinking!

The request of the Royal Society has been inappropriately branded by climate change appeasers as a free speech issue. The task of the Royal Society is to promote science. Suggestions about funding are part of that task. The Society did not request Exxon’s aassistance in shutting up the so-called “think tanks” involved.

It is quite clear that Exxon has thus far not been interested in promoting genuine climate research but in a PR-campaign to protect the trade in fossil fuels. The nature of that campaign comes out unmistakably in an internal memo of the American Petroleum Institute, an institute in which Exxon has a big stake. The New York Times did us all a favor when it revealed the existence of that memo in 1998 (it can be found under the following website address: http://www.environmentaldefense.org/documents/3860_GlobalClimateSciencePlanMemo.pdf.).

Under the guise of serving real science a program is outlined there that has nothing to do with science and everything with PR.

Some points in this memo are of particular interest.

Under the heading “Victory will be Achieved When”: it says, among other things:

. Average citizens “understand” (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the “conventional wisdom”.

. Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality.

The first point under “Strategies and Tactics” is this:

“Indentify, recruit and train a team of five independent scientists to participate in media outreach. These will be individuals who do not have a long history of visibility and/or participation in the climate change debate. Rather this team will consist of new faces who will add their voices to those recognized scientists who already are vocal.”

Now why would they want this? This is not hard to guess. The people designing this strategy were well aware that those they euphemistically called “recognized scientists who already are vocal” are seen as “the usual suspects” by the great majority of climate scientists.

It has been claimed that the American Petroleum Institute and Exxon did not actually follow this program. No – they chose to fund others for following it. So received for instance the Competitive Enterprise Institute, responsible for that hilarious line about Carbon Dioxide (“ Some call it pollution, we call it Life”) over the years 1998 – 2005 more than two million dollars from Exxon (Wikipedia).

A contributor mentioned Exxon’s donation to Stanford as a sign of its commitment to science in general. Well the most conspicuous Exxon gift here is that announced in 2002. Exxon was going to contribute one hundred million dollars over ten years to Stanford’s new Global Climate and Energy Project. This was a bit of a coup, because the name of this project and the new institute involved suggested Exxon’s commitment to genuine climate science. Yet Exxon’s own press release made quite clear that this was not the case. This stated, inter alia, “the project is not intended to further explore climate science, instead focusing on development of new energy technology and carbon sequestration technology” (see www.exxonsecrets.org under “Stanford”).

The report in the New York Times of 21st November 2002 announcing this Exxon-donation was also obviously based on this press release. It referred to the focus of the research involved as “methods for harnessing coal and other fossil fuels while capturing carbon dioxide”.

Though it is quite clear that Exxon’s funding of this research testifies to its interest in the continued use of fossil fuels the name of the new research institute has been bandied about as evidence of the company’s interest in genuine climate science. I dare say that its PR-specialists foresaw this result.

Arie Brand

This is not about free speech, but about buying scientific research designed to favor a particular result. If Exxon Mobil and other oil companies were really interested in climate science, they could donate these funds to existing geological or meteorological societies to obtain new data or improve the way the results are being reported to congress and the media.

Indiviuals, organizations and corporations all have the right to free speech. It is not contingent upon funding your pet causes, but is an inherent legal right we all have.

I for one, do not want to inhabit a world where we deny freedom of speech because others hold opinions contrary to my own; do you? Regards,

Don,

It appears that you are concerned that only those programs funded by oil companies might cause researchers to “salt” their results to please the funding group. The solution to this problem is blind funding where the researchers do not know who is funding their research. This would remove the incentives to try to tailor results to suit the funding group.

Removing funding for research, or only funding certain people who hold the “correct” views is not in the best interest of science. If it were, we would still be funding studies on how the earth is the center of the universe. That was the “correct” view for many thousands of years.

Brooks,

Tell me about the science that came out of the $2 million from ExxonMobil provided to the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Or the $1.6 million Exxon gave to the American Enterprise Institute.

You seem to think that it is scientists who are spreading the untruths about global warming. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most of these people are NOT SCIENTISTS and are not performing science. There are many good scientists funded by oil companies. The quality of their research is second to none. It is wrong to make the blanket statement “well if they are funded by the oil industry you will say that their results are tainted”.

The bad science is being called bad science because it is wrong and has no experimental backup just distortions, misinterpretations and cherry picking of data.

I can see where you, as a (probable) non-scientist, cannot differentiate between propaganda and good science but most honest scientists can see the difference quite easily even though their area of expertise is outside of climatology.

Oh my. De Smog Blog appears to have attracted a share of oil company trolls here. Must be doing the right thing.

To understand the limitations on free speech, please read the following sentence:

“Free speech does not give you the right to shout over the intercom of a burning building that there is no fire and that no one should bother to evacuate.”

I believe that clears this argument up. Thank you.

You are absolutely correct in that:

“Free speech does not give you the right to shout over the intercom of a burning building that there is no fire and that no one should bother to evacuate.”

The converse is also true in that free speech does not give you that right to shout over the intercom of a building which is not burning that there is a fire and that everyone should evacuate immediately.

In either event people would be needlessly harmed.

In either event people would be needlessly harmed.

You’re not saying that setting off a false alarm and evacuating a building due to a faulty smoke detector is equivalent to lying to people in their rooms about the evidence for the fire (“it’s just a cyclical variation; there’s always smell of smoke on Tuesdays”) so that they get trapped and burn to death, are you?

Since I am using the same logical argument as Goatchurch, your aim is off. If my logic is faulty, so is Goatchurch’s logic.
In case anyone else finds it hard to understand, the point is that although it is true that “in either event people [are] needlessly harmed”, the harm of one event is far, far, FAR more severe than the other.

Julian,

You may assume conditions in either situation which could cause serious injury. People are hurt frequently in evacuations, particularly if they believe that they are in serious peril if they delay. Although large fires (like 9-11) are devastating, smaller fires are frequently extinguished with little damage and no injuries.

It was certainly egregious for the Port Authority to tell people in the Twin Towers NOT to evacuate after the first plane hit. Although it may not be egregious, it is certainly unacceptable to evacuate a skyscraper because someone did nothing more than strike a match.

what was it Al Gore said about when your salary depends upon..? Monckton maketh the same meaning, albeit (he would hope himself perceived) at a higher level. Ask yourself why must he be the speaker of ExxonMobil’s freedom of speech.? Or its defender.? Unless.. remunerated in one way or another.. Though I should also be as fair as possible and suggest that his role is simply one of attention grabbing.. with best wishes
Maybe those who reject any possibility that climate may change because of greenhouse gas being added to the atmosphere by human activities should not really be called deniers. They started off denying, but lately they seem more inclined to bitterly complain that they are not allowed to jump to the head of the science line simply by stamping their feet and repeating disproved claims, over and over like a club chant. They spend a lot of time and text expressing outrage that their denying has been referred to as denying, or spinning the issue into hyperbole that has them denied the right to think (they already did that to themselves). The article below really brought it home again, for the umpteenth time. So, maybe they should be called something fairer, like “crybabies”. “Imagine living in a world where no one is allowed to think independent thoughts or take independent actions. Only pre-approved human response would be acceptable. To break the rule and engage in forbidden thought would result in terrible retribution, perhaps leading literally to ones destruction. That’s the kind of world apparently desired by the global warming Chicken Littles. It seems they are prepared to do anything to achieve it. Case in point is an outrageous letter to ExxonMobil…” etc., etc., etc. http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/1206/1206skeptic.htm or “Particularly objectionable is the use of the term climate change denier to describe dissenting voices: a deliberate attempt to draw a parallel with Holocaust” etc., etc., etc. , winge, winge, bluster, bluster. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20954347-31478,00.html

Moncton defends Exxon’s right to free speech. Does he now?
Perhaps this statement by George Monbiot on his blog (12/5)sheds some light on the stance of this champion of free speech.Monbiot answered the question why he hadn’t pursued the debate with Moncton any further as follows:

DPavett asks what happened to the debate with Christopher Monckton. A good question. So far my attempts to challenge him have been met with threats to sue for libel. While the Guardian can cope with this, I’m in a more exposed position when posting material on my own sites. This is why I have not yet posted my original article about his paper on monbiot.com, let alone any rejoinders.

Though I’m confident that I have said nothing defamatory, and have simply tried to expose what I consider to be his scientific mistakes, I don’t have the money to defend a case, and I am in the difficult position that anyone finds himself in when threatened with a suit under our ridiculous libel laws by someone much richer than himself: even winning a case would bankrupt me (and my family) if I could not recover the legal costs swiftly enough. I’m taking legal advice, and as soon as I can find a way through I will return to the fray.”

Arie Brand

Do you have a link aries?

Secondly, did Monbiot say things that could be considered libellous in The Guardian? Regards,

Bear in mind that Britain does not have an equivalent of the First Amendment. Moreover, an author accused of libel is obliged to prove the truth of each and every allegedly ‘libellous’ statement he has made. I think in the US the onus is on the plaintiff who has to prove that the alleged libel is wrong. That is at any case what I remember of Guttenplan’s book on Irving’s attempt to sue Deborah Lipstadt for libel.

You can find Monbiot’s statement, way down in the comments, under http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0„1963957,00.html

If Monbiot sticks to the science, there is no fear of a libel suit. If George instead wants to engage in public defamation and character assassination, then sure, he could be in libel trouble. So why doesn’t George stick to the science?

Something smells fishy here. Monbiot offers no proof of this so-called libel threat and instead appears to want to use this as an all too convenient excuse not to engage in debate. Why George? Regards,

Paul G.wrote: “If Monbiot sticks to the science, there is no fear of a libel suit.” How can you be so sure, Paul G.? Was Moncton your classmate or something? It appears to me that his fictions include wild fantasies about his possible success in court as well. Consider the following fact. A Wikipedia user page was apparently co-edited by a character who claimed to be Moncton’s clerk, James Rowlatt.

Since this page contains shocking revelations about Moncton’s use of references this James Rowlatt apparently wrote in this Wiki user page: “Though attempts have been made to correct the numerous scientific errors and libels against Lord Monckton that appear in this Wikipedia document, the author of the document appears determined to go well beyond fair comment and to persist in the libels. Therefore, readers are advised to regard these pages as unreliable, and to verify the scientific facts independently of any material which may appear here. Lord Monckton’s lawyers are currently attempting to identify the perpetrator of the libels, and may in due course issue proceedings against the perpetrator and against Wikipedia. - James Rowlatt, Clerk to Lord Monckton (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:KimDabelsteinPetersen/Apocalyse_Cancelled).

Now this might be a hoax but Moncton does appear to have a clerk called Rowlatt – and at any case he has, as far as I know, not put in a disclaimer here.

Whether or not someone sues for libel might have little to do with the truth or otherwise of the disputed statements, but a lot with the character of the plaintiff. It appears to me that this Moncton character defends the right to free speech of those who are in his camp and brings out the libel weapon against those who are not and who happen to be in his way. Who is trying to evade debate here?

Monbiot is completely realistic, Paul G. (why not come up with your full name, man?) when he claims that a libel suit might, even if he wins, still bankrupt him. Legal costs can be massive in such cases and Monbiot’s fear is that he might not recover his costs quickly enough.

Arie Brand

Oh, now the Widipedia entry might be a hoax. What a fine reference that is!

As I said before, this whole story sounds suspect. Why doesn’t Monbiot write a full article in The Guardian stating his claim he is being threatened with libel? The deep pockets of The Guardian will protect him, and if his story really is true, Monckton would have to reply. As it is, all we are left with is Monbiot’s hearsay. Sorry, but that’s not sufficient enough for me.

And as I said previously, if Monbiot sticks to the science, there is no libel fear. Regards,

“If Monbiot sticks to the science, there is no fear of a libel suit.”

Paul, I agree. However, if Monckton sticks to the science he hasn’t a leg to stand on as he is completely wrong on the science. That’s why Monckton hides behind “freedoms” rather than actually giving factual information which may further the discussion.

When science is brought into court it is at a distinct disadvantage over rogues who use the law as their ally. The two disciplines work in completely different ways. Anecdotal evidence is prized in legal cases and despised in science. Legal arguments are won by the “weight” of evidence” not on its accuracy, the “weight” usually being determined by hard cash outlays. Whoever spends the most money usually wins.

I was invited, as a scientist, to a legal symposium which was trying to ally the two disciplines (the lawyers saw lots of new clients in start up technology companies). I asked a simple question “What can you do when you are sued by a large company and they bring in scores of lawyers?”. The reply was “You should hire more lawyers too”. Nothing about the legal system becoming more scientifically literate.

Any scientists will have a hard time in any legal setting since the scientific method is just not understood by lawyers and judges. A good case in point is the case of Percy Schmeiser and Monsanto. The judge’s ruling in that case was distinctly “non-science” based.

Ian,

You are correct. Scientists and lawyers are on opposite ends of many spectra, not the least of which is their contributions to society.

I find it unfortunate that in the US we graduate way too many lawyers and far too few scientists. I believe that Canada has a bit more balance in its graduates.

In the US, I hold Hollywood accountable for glorifying lawyers and denigrating people who work in the sciences. This causes far too many bright students to work toward a law degree. After more than 8 years living in DC and many additional years living in or near other national capitals, my opinion of the legal profession is not very high.

Percy Schmeiser is a crook.

The Supreme Court of Canada said so. Schmeiser’s case was not about science…it was about theft. And he lost.

And despite your protests Ian, science has an extremely high standing in court. For example, DNA has convicted scores of guilty people and will continue to do so. Science and the legal system complement and strengthen each other. How you can see it otherwise escapes me.

In this case, Monbiot is alleging he is under threat of libel. But he can’t be, not if he sticks to the science. Regards,

Paul Gerard said: “Percy Schmeiser is a crook.

The Supreme Court of Canada said so. Schmeiser’s case was not about science…it was about theft.”

Show me the evidence for that potentially libelous remark. Monsanto could provide no evidence that Percy Schmeiser ever bought RR canola from anyone. Further, they could provide no evidence that he ever bought round up in sufficient quantities to make use of the RR canola growing in his fields.

The judge dismissed the claims that he misused Monsanto’s technology (knowingly growing RR canola AND spraying with round up). He was found guilty of having a patented product (RR canola) growing on his property and then harvesting it and replanting the contaminated seed the next year (something he had been doing for 50 years on his farm).

The judge said that it didn’t matter how the seed got there, falling off passing trucks, blown in by the wind or cross pollinating with nearby plants just the fact that he had a patented product on his land made him guilty.

Paul, how would you feel if a passing bank robber fleeing the police tossed their bag of loot in your back yard and you were taken to court and the judge found you guilty of robbery “because we found it on your property, how it got there is immaterial to this case”? This is exactly what happened in Percy Schmeiser’s case.

“If Monbiot sticks to the science, there is no fear of a libel suit.”

Again, Paul, I agree. However, if Monckton sticks to the science he hasn’t a leg to stand on as he is completely wrong on the science. That’s why Monckton hides behind “freedoms” (i.e. freedom of Exxon to speak on matters of climate change despite not having any scientific accuracy at all) rather than actually giving factual information which may further the discussion.

As for the Schmeiser case, the Supreme Court was wrong. GM canola seeds spread onto his farm (as seeds tend to do when winds are high). When they grew, he tried to kill with RoundUp (the Monsanto herbicide) thinking it was not genetically engineered to withstand herbicides, but it withstood about four high-level doses. As for it being a case of theft, there is no way Schmeiser would have stolen seeds from a neighbouring farm or from a dealer as it would have tarnished his organic farm, made it impossible to sell his crop as organic, which was his intention.

Ian, the Supreme Court of Canada found Percy Schmeiser guilty. Your reasoning for why the seed was found on his farm was rejected by the Courts. When you intentionally use something that you know is not yours, well, that makes you a thief. And in the dense legal terminology of the Court’s decision, that is what they said Percy Schmeiser is.

Stephen, since Monbiot can stick to the science with no libel fear, I fail to understand why Monbiot is hesitant to engage in further responding to Monckton.

As for Monckton being “completely” wrong on the science, how can you say that? You may disagree with how he interprets certain aspects of it, but unless peer-reviewed science is completely wrong, I don’t see how Monckton can be too.

Last comment on Schmeiser: Are you an expert in criminal/property/patent law Stephen? You defer to scientists, why not to the highest court in our land? Regards,

Paul, the process conducted by the Supreme Court of Canada is not a trial such as would be conducted by a lower court. What it does is to review the results of previous trials and either upholds the previous verdict or strikes it down.

Again , I reiterate that Percy Schmeiser was never found guilty of theft, either of intellectual property or of actual seed. If you read the various court documents you will see that no one has identified the source of the RR canola on his farm. Thus it is reasonable to assume that it was carried onto his property without his initial knowledge. Much has been made of the results of testing that showed that aprox 95% of the seed from his 1997 field was RR canola (which he used as seed for his 1998 crop on all fields). However, what was skipped over (and may never have been passed on to those who did the testing, then testified on Monsanto’s behalf at trial) was that the seed retained for seeding was from a 3-acre parcel of land, adjacent to a road, that he had sprayed with round up. Thus it is unsurprising that it showed a large percentage of RR canola.

The source for this 1997 RR canola was never identified. RR canola was only introduced into Canada in 1996, the previous year, and we know that Percy did not buy RR canola that year and he did not sign a TUA.

The Supreme Court (in a split 5 to 4) decision upheld the previous Courts’ findings that he was guilty of having RR canola on his property. However, they struck down the award of any monies to Monsanto. A bit of a Phyrric victory to Monsanto since now they are obligated to remove every RR canola plant that farmers find in their fields. Percy Schmeiser now has a lawsuit against Monsanto for further polluting his fields with unwanted RR canola.

Can you answer this question Paul, since you seem to know so much more about this matter than I do? If Percy Schmeiser deliberately introduced RR canola onto his property, why did he never make use of the one property that this canola had over all the other available strains, namely, round up resistance, since he never sprayed any of his fields with round up?

Of course Schmeiser is guilty.

The Supreme Court of Canada said so. Percy Schmeiser and his supporters always tried to portray him as some kind of organic-farming David challenging a multinational Goliath giant. Balderdash!

Using patented product knowingly and willingly and without payment is theft. All the spin in the world doesn’t change that.

========
Here are a few pertinent quotes from the SC decision:

http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2004/2004scc34/2004scc34.html

=60. Mr. Schmeiser is a conventional, non-organic farmer.

=72. The appellants cultivated 1030 acres of plants with these patented properties without paying Monsanto for the right to do so.

=87. However, he did not at all explain why he sprayed Roundup to isolate the Roundup Ready plants he found on his land; why he then harvested the plants and segregated the seeds, saved them, and kept them for seed; why he next planted them; and why, through this husbandry, he ended up with 1030 acres of Roundup Ready Canola which would otherwise have cost him $15,000.

======== Regards,

Paul, I will say it very slowly, PERCY SCHMESIER WAS NOT FOUND GUILTY OF THEFT AT ANY LEVEL OF JUDGEMENT.

He was found to have round up resistant canola growing on his property. Every farmer who is growing conventional canola (and the numbers get higher and higher each year once farmers see how they have been misled by Monsanto) is guilty of the same offence since Monsanto cannot control the spread of their “patented” product.

If you have read the complete SC decision you will see that the judges overruled the lower courts’ monetary award to Monsanto. Do you honestly believe they would have done that if they though that Schmeiser had actually stolen something?

This is a PR blog so I will ask some of the PR people how they view this decision. Most people seem to think that Monsanto lost big time since they were shown to be a big bad bullying company looking to take a bunch of farmers to the cleaners. Shades of Shylock me thinks since they are now being asked to remove any RR canola farmers find in their field but don’t kill any of my conventional crop.

One can doubt the sincerity of this Brit totally. Maybe he is just another of these bankrupts with a title who has a need for cash and no problems at all with dashing into the nearest available limelight to wave at the crowd. Ask what he is selling and follow the money. My guess: he is broke.

Thanks for your totally useless post, Garhane. No facts, no information, no insights, nothing. Please DO post again. ;( Regards,

Time to look in a mirror!

Mirror, mirror

“Mirror, mirror on the wall
Regarding AGW, whose the sanest of them all?”

;) Regards,

Paul, you’re so blinded by the smog of ideology you couldn’t possibly see yourself in a mirror.

To Richard Littlemore: I would think that Monckton has as much knowledge in climate change as the journalists and lawyers who make up the desmogblog group of authors. From the various bio links the group as a whole is “far from being an expert”. To Arie: I skimmed the 1998 pdf file. I didn’t see anything outrageous in it except for the rhetorical heading “Victory Will Be Achived When”. I wonder how many similar memos have been sent but with exactly the opposite point of view. I would guess many, however if they come from the “end is near” group…That’s ok?? Also, whats wrong with carbon sequestration technology? Might keep u flying to global warming conferences in business class a bit longer…before the airports are flooded by rising sea levels that is! To Kevin: the dollar amounts that u mentioned…$2 million and $1.6 million going to conservative think tanks is dwarfed by the amounts going to pure science and research. The trouble with ideologues such as yourself is that you do not recognise the basic fact that there can be more than one point of view. Conservative and liberal (deocrate/republican)are both valid points of view. To Airie, Goatchurch, Dan and others: In this blog, anyone with what I would call is a questioning point of view have been called: Trolls, deniers (with obvious allusion to the holocaust), crybabies, and appeasers. My question is this: Didn’t your parents teach you any manners?

Garry said:“The trouble with ideologues such as yourself is that you do not recognise the basic fact that there can be more than one point of view. Conservative and liberal (deocrate/republican)are both valid points of view.”

We are not talking about political programs and value judgments here. We are talking about science, you know that human undertaking that has truth as its guiding ideal. There is no such thing as conservative or liberal science, there is only science. Thus my question is this: did nobody ever inform you about the distinction between facts and values?

Paul G. apart from your usual quibbling about sources I could detect nothing new in your last post. Doggedly repeating an argument doesn’t make it any stronger.

To the gentleman who ‘skimmed’ the 1998 memo of the American Petroleum Institute and found nothing objectionable there: well,yes,I suppose if you don’t mind a clear PR-program to be dressed up and presented as a science program you wouldn’t find anything to object to there.

Arie Brand

Arie,

You are correct that climate change should only be an issue of science. Unfortunately, it has become politicized. Whenever science has been politicized in the past, the victim was science.

It was questions concerning science which got me involved in the climate change issue. Specifically I read David Parker’s article claiming that warm windy nights proved that there was no Urban Heat Island (UHI). I contacted Parker at the Met Office and we corresponded. His article is based on the assumption that windy nights are warm wich means that the warmth comes from outside the city and thus there is no UHI. There is a bit more science involved here then this rather simplistic model.

Wind causes mixing of the air. Since at night the land (and cities) cool by both convection and radiation, wind would tend to mix heat from air above a city and thus lead to warm windy nights. Cities would tend to enhance mixing because buildings cause turbulence. Clouds tend to hold heat above a city. Mixing of the air under a cloud layer would certainly cause warm windy nights. Parker did not correlate cloudiness into his data, thus we do not know if the windy nights were cloudy or clear. In my opinion, warm windy nights seem to support the existance of an UHI because the wind causes mixing of the air above the city. This is the opposite of Parker’s conclusion.

There is nothing negative about disagreements in science. Science advances through disagreement and discussion. This is the scientific method. Robert Pirsig, the philospher, said that the scientific method creates more questions, not answers.

Brooks, you neglect to mention that the UHI effect is negated to a great degree by windy days/nights because the UHI is blown away and the temperatures become much more similar to the rural areas surrounding the urban areas. As well, did you read or take a glance at articles his reference list? The ones by T.R. Oke and this one are especially good:

Peterson, T.C., Assessment of urban versus rural in situ surface temperatures in the contiguous United States: No difference found, Journal of Climate, 16, 2941-2959, 2003.

Stephen,

The negation of the UHI by warm windy nights is an assumption. My hypothesis of mixing is also an assumption. As I mentioned, I corresponded with Parker on his paper.

Parker’s unpublished data (which he sent me) showed clearly that the diurnal temperature variation has decreased over the past century. I have not seen a good explanation for this. I discussed this with Parker because he had used Tmin rather than Tmax for his analysis.

“There is nothing negative about disagreement in science”. Genuine disagreement among peers, fine. But it is a different matter when “disagreement” is due to ulterior motives (and unfortunately there is good reason to suspect that this is frequently the case with this particular issue)or the ignorance of those who are in cognate disciplines and fancy that they too are entitled to stick their beak in. In those cases disagreement becomes obstruction.

The previous contributor has already commented on the UHI issue.This provides a favorite argument for the climate appeasers. I understand that they claim that measurements there have unduly influenced temperature records and thus contributed to the “global warming hoax” to quote Senator Inhofe.

This claim is often accompanied by another one, namely that the number of weather stations has shrunk over the last fifty years - a fact that has reinforced the influence of urban weather stations.

As far as the first point is concerned: rural weather stations have pointed to the same temperature increase.

And as to the second point: I understand that satellite date have more than made up for the decrease in terrestrial weather stations.

But for a good discussion of the issues involved you should go to “realclimate” and/or the relevant Wikipedia-entry. We are merely dealing with the PR-smog here.

Arie,

I understand Parker’s assumption about warm windy nights. I explained my basis for my opinion. I base my opinion on my studies in heat, mass and momentum transfer.

The UHI issue remains because the keeper of the major instrument record claims to have adjusted the UHI out of his data, however he refuses to archive his raw data. Perhaps he has been able to remove the UHI effect, however we can not determine what he has done. Phil Jones resolutely refuses to archive his data so that his claims may be independently verified.

You state that there is a claim (by climate appeasers) that:

….the number of weather stations has shrunk over the last fifty years - a fact that has reinforced the influence of urban weather stations.

If you look at Jim Hansen’s GISS data web page, you will see that the claim is based on NASA’s own data. Look at the graph in the center of the page.

Link: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/

If you peruse the GISS station data, as I have done, you will probably reach the same conclusion that I have. I have downloaded a lot of the station data and I believe that most of the 60% reduction in stations over the past 30 years (from the graph) recults from closing rural stations.

I read RC and I use Wiki. Are you aware that RC was created by M. E. Mann et al to counter any questions about MBH98 and MBH99? Are you aware that, unlike this site, RC redacts and censors sensitive questions? Are you aware that William M. Connolly (an RC founder) is the Wiki editor for climate issues? I do read RC and use Wiki, but I do not assume that I am getting the whole climate story from either site. Going to RC and Wiki on climate issues is roughly the eqivalent of querying the RNC about the failures of the last Congress. You would get information in these cases, but in these cases it is wise to verify from other sources what you are getting is all the facts, rather than only some of them.

Brooks, you said “You state that there is a claim (by climate appeasers) that:

….the number of weather stations has shrunk over the last fifty years - a fact that has reinforced the influence of urban weather stations.

If you look at Jim Hansen’s GISS data web page, you will see that the claim is based on NASA’s own data. Look at the graph in the center of the page.”

You make it appear here that I had, somehow, denied that the number of weather stations had shrunk. I didn’t. But I said that the counter argument here is that this closure was made up for by the increase in satellite data. Did you deliberately overlook this?

As to the reliability of RC: I think it makes a very commendable effort to remain factual and to keep basing itself on ongoing research. If you know a better website to get your information from I would like to know the address.

Arie Brand

Arie,

this closure was made up for by the increase in satellite data.

Yes, that is true. Furthermore the satellite data is not consistent with the warming shown by P. D. Jones’ instrument graphics. This does not increase my confidence in Jones’ graphics, particulary when he refuses to archive his station data.

The issue is not RC’s reliability, but rather RC’s failure to abide by its own posting policy. If RC makes such commendable efforts to remain factual, then why do they feel it necessary to censor and redact legitimate scientific questions? This has happened to my own questions. Some of my posts do make it to RC, but others vanish without explanation.

Hello, Arie,

I notice you use “ulterior motives”, “entitled to stick their beak in”, “appeasers” (probably as in 1930s “appeasement”), “PR-smog”, and most of the supporters of the Anthropogenic Global Warming theory tend to prefer argumentum ad hominem or plain insults. The skeptics are guilty of this too, but that is what we can be expected from such shifty characters.

I have no qualifications in climate science so I cannot judge the arguments pro or contra AGW. Still, I don’t have to take the word of any of the two sides for granted, so I kindly ask you, or any of the more knowledgeable contributors to this blog, to answer to my questions:

1. How could oil companies lose if oil-based fuel consumption is limited ? As far as I can see, they would not mind: there are many other way petroleum is used besides making fuel and the only limiting factor is availability. Why would Exxon, for example, risk tarnishing their public image by manipulating scientific research results ?

2. Which scientists are in the pay of oil companies, which published research was found being flawed and how exactly did they skew the results of their research as a consequence of taking the bribes? with real arguments, please. What you did to Benny Peiser is unworthy of a good cause, and certainly undermines your position: stating that you did not find any link to oil industry then inviting Benny Peiser to confirm it by mail, as if there should have been a link, is … ugly. Don’t do this: you loose our confidence. And please, don’t use news reports as arguments. We, the ignorant majority you attempt to persuade, have seen this tactic already, and we don’t trust the newspapers much.

sincerely,
Emil P.

fcniahmn

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