In December 2009 at a gathering of climate change deniers in Copenhagen, Dr Tom Harris** was shimmering with enthusiasm for his latest project.
Dr Mr. Harris, executive director of the Ottawa-based sceptic group the International Climate Science Coalition, explained how he had managed to gather “hundreds” of signatures from “climate experts” who wanted to challenge “supporters of the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused climate change” to provide evidence.
Not only that, but it had taken him just “two weeks” to gather the signatures, which he then explained numbered 150 (so much for hundreds).
“This list is growing quickly,” he said, “and we are going to maintain it as something called the register. We expect it eventually to be thousands.”
With such a surge in supporters, how is the global register going a full 18 months on?
As detailed in a new ICSC strategy document released this month by ICSC, the organisation's register has expanded to… wait for it… 142.
The document, entitled Winning Hearts and Minds to Climate and Energy Reality, is a compendium of the coalition's recent activities and reads like part-annual report, part-fundraising document and part-instruction manual.
If the document is anything to go by, enthusiasm for the “register” continues despite the apparent implosion of support.
“Once it is more broadly known that many relevant scientists do not support the need for carbon dioxide (CO2) emission controls, public appetite for expensive programs “to fight climate change” will quickly wither,'' the document states.
“Politicians can choose to follow or eventually risk defeat. Mass media that are seen to be out of step with their readers will lose circulation and ratings. Businesses that promoted the scare will have difficulty regaining public trust. Climate campaigners will be increasingly discounted and the extremists in the environmental movement may be set back decades as their signature crusade, the quest to 'stop climate change', will be regarded as hopelessly misguided.”
The document outlines how the ICSC places columns in newspapers and mentions successes in the New Zealand Herald, Washington Times, The Gazette (Montreal), The Australian, National Post (Canada) and The Epoch Times. They also expect to get a “Letter to the Editor” published once every two weeks.
On radio, Mr Harris has, the document explains, appeared as a caller more than 100 times on popular talkback radio shows in Canada and the United States.
But small community newspapers are where the real easy pickings are to be found. The strategy explains these publications are more likely to publish submissions because they're not swamped with offers like larger newspapers. Also, these publications might not yet have an editorial stance on “controversial, 'big city' media issues such as climate change”.
To capitalise on this ripe fruit, the ICSC proposes to send “multiple submissions to newspapers in different locations”. They'll also be targeting the “Letters to the Editor” pages where it is “generally easier” to get their views published. So easy, in fact, that it is worth sending their letters “to a number of papers simultaneously”.
Under the heading “Other Educational Activities” the ICSC recommends astroturfing “prominent news and other web sites, blogs and other forms of popular social media”. When climate change is in the news, “we may post several times a day”.
According to the document, a central philosophy of the ICSC is to avoid “attacking our opponents” by avoiding “nasty ad homenims [sic]” and to be non-partisan.
The memo perhaps failed to reach Lord Christopher Monckton, a member of the ICSC policy advisory board, who in recent weeks branded the Australian government's climate change policy advisor Professor Ross Garnaut a Nazi.
Similarly, earlier this week in The Age newspaper the ICSC's chief science advisor, Australia-based Professor Bob Carter, collectively described Professor Garnaut, the Australian climate change minister Greg Combet, Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery and the country's chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, as the “four horsemen of the climate apocalypse”.
The ICSC affiliate group in Australia includes such non-partisan advisors as Vivian Forbes and Professor Ian Plimer. Mr Forbes is a director of coal export business Stanmore Coal. Professor Ian Plimer is a director of at least five mining companies, including Ormil Energy, which this week received state approval to drill near Sydney in search of coal bed methane.
** Ed. note - Tom Harris is not a “Dr.” Our apologies for awarding him a degree he never earned (or claimed to hold).