Bios and research on Glenn Beck's global warming disinformation special

Wed, 2007-05-02 14:45Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Bios and research on Glenn Beck's global warming disinformation special

Rumour is that shock jock Glenn Beck will host the same old typical handful of global warming deniers on his CNN special tonight. They will no doubt spout the same old arguments like: “I remember when global cooling was all anyone would talk about.”

In what is becoming a perfect echo chamber, we see the same small group of mainly industry-funded “experts,” running from one ear to the next telling us that global warming is a hoax, and there is nothing to fear.

What this continuous recycling of the same 5 or 6 global warming deniers highlights more than anything is how very few there are left.

Here is the background on 3 of the known fossil fuel friendlies that will appear as “experts” on Beck's show. They are Tim Ball, Pat Michaels and CEI's Chris Horner.

Tim Ball bio
(click here for the bio's perma-link)

Ball and the oil industry
Ball is listed as a “consultant” of a Calgary-based global warming skeptic organization called the “Friends of Science” (FOS). In a January 28, 2007 article in the Toronto Star, the President of the FOS admitted that about one-third of the funding for the FOS is provided by the oil industry. In an August, '06 Globe and Mail feature, the FOS was exposed as being funded in part by the oil and gas sector and hiding the fact that they were. According to the Globe and Mail, the oil industry money was funnelled through the Calgary Foundation charity, to the University of Calgary and then put into an education trust for the FOS.

Ball inflates credentials
Ball and organizations he is affiliated with have repeatedly made the claim that he is the “first Canadian PhD in climatology.” Even further, Ball once claimed he was “one of the first climatology PhD's in the world.” As many people have pointed out, there have been many PhD's in the field prior to Ball.

Ball and the NRSP
Ball is listed as an “Executive” for a Canadian group called the “Natural Resource Stewardship Project,” (NRSP) a lobby organization that refuses to disclose it's funding sources. The NRSP is led by executive director Tom Harris and Dr. Tim Ball. An Oct. 16, 2006 CanWest Global news article on who funds the NRSP, it states that “a confidentiality agreement doesn't allow him [Tom Harris] to say whether energy companies are funding his group.”

DeSmog recently uncovered information that two of the three Directors on the board of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project are senior executives of the High Park Advocacy Group, a Toronto based lobby firm that specializes in “energy, environment and ethics.”

Ball's research history
Ball retired from the University of Winnipeg in 1996 and a search of 22,000 academic journals shows that, over the course of his career, Ball has published 4 pieces of original research in a peer-reviewed journal on the subject of climate change Ball has not published any new research in the last 11 years.

Ball sues researcher and Calgary Herald newspaper
On Sept. 1, Ball, launched a libel suit against Dr. Dan Johnson, a current Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Lethbridge and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Grassland Ecosystems. Here are the original Statements of Claim and Defence.

Patrick Michaels
(click here for the bio's perma-link)

Michaels and the fossil fuel industry
According to a January, 2007 report (pdf.) by the Union of Concerned Scientists called Smoke, Mirrors and Hot Air: how Exxonmobil uses big tobacco to manufacture uncertainty on climate science, Michaels is connected to no less than 11 think tanks and associations that have received money from oil-giant ExxonMobil to sow doubt about the realities of human-induced global warming. These include the George C Marshall Institute, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Heartland Institute.

Michaels and the Cato Institute
Michaels is particulary active with the Cato Institute, where he holds the title of “Senior Fellow.” The Cato Institute is a Washington DC-based “think tank” that has received funding in the past from ExxonMobil, as well well-known energy industry-money backed charitable foundations like the Charles G Koch Foundation.

Michaels and the IREA leaked memo
In August, 2006, DSBlog and ABC News uncovered a leaked memo written by the president of the Intermountain Rural Electrical Association. In the memo it is written that Michaels' consulting firm, New Hope Environmental Services, received $100,000 from the IREA and “other electrical cooperatives” in the past. Controversy ensued, with the Virginia governor's office voicing its concern over Micheals use of the title of “state climatologist.”

A Sept. 17, 2006 Washington Post article states: “Michaels, a professor at the University of Virginia, also moonlights as one of the country's most aggressive and, in some circles, most reviled skeptics about the scientific consensus on climate change. It was that role that landed Michaels in the center of a small controversy in Richmond last month, when the administration of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) asked him to be clear that he is not speaking for the state when discussing issues such as global warming.”

Here is the collection of DSBlog posts about or mentioning Pat Michaels.

Research and Background
Michaels is widely known as one of the most active and vocal global warming deniers. Michaels is a professor at the University of Virginia, and according to a search of 22,000 academic journals, Michaels has published 50+ original research papers in peer-reviewed journals, mainly in the area of climate.


Chris Horner

A Senior Fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington, DC-based “think” tank that has long attacked the science of global warming. Until recently the CEI has been receiving funding from oil-giant ExxonMobil. In total CEI has recieved over $2 million in funding from ExxonMobil.

Previous Comments

Glen Beck’s Flea Circus is in town
Just a question on the Flea Circus. Is this article about anything other than the source of funds? Or is there any chance we can actually nail down some issues in this ‘debate’. It amazes me the outcry for a simple program in the arena of ideas. Maybe there is some logic to the other side. Do you truly believe that you are absolutely correct in the Global Warming debate, or is there a chance we can argue it out and get to the bottom of things. I can’t help but notice that those claiming open-mindedness are quick at shutting the door to opposing viewpoints and reasonable arguments. Anyway, in a decade or less the Climate will shift in its never ending cycle of changes and we will find some other reason to attack the conservatives as ignorant. All the while forgetting they were right on the issue. By the way do we also forget that the Global Warming groups are getting rich off this too.
Tom, arguing by lay people is unlikely to “get to the bottom of things.” These shows are never a detailed explanation of the data and ideas with which the data interact. They are talking points, increasing polarization, pushing politics. The definitive word (from the IPCC) is that we should be 90-99% sure regarding anthropogenic global warming. No amount of overly-simplified pseudo-argumentation on a shock-jock’s tv special should even be considered relevant to the ‘debate’. Wanna resolve the debate? Deal with real questions of science. This tv special has nothing to do with those, and everything to do with PR, which is why it has been highlighted on this website.

This will be an interesting test for CNN (or any other news outlet that wants to respond) to see how good they really are at providing “both sides of the story”.

It seems that many media outlets are content with a quick “which most scientists believe is happening” to serve as “context” for a story on denial. The real context for a show like this would be an in-depth, point-by-point rebuttal to the specific arguments raised. That would be much more informative than yet another story about melting glaciers.

For that matter I wonder if Glenn Beck, as concerned as he is about getting to the bottom of things, will include a diversity of opinion in his show?

Or: why is a talk show host, whose only known talent is media hype, doing a show to denounce meida hype?

Good question to ask really, its this type of journalism that no matter the topic does a discredit to what media should be doing. In my opinion, media should be asking the tough question and getting to the bottom of things, not turn news into another reality show of stupidity.

When I saw Beck’s line-up of commentators, I figured Desmoggers would be collectively blowing brain gaskets. Why it was a virtual Demsogger rogues gallery of denieralists (or whatever). Have you considered you may have actually abetted Beck’s efforts by providing him with a ready-made list of knowlegeable people able to refute AGW hysteria? Wouldn’t that be rich.

Beck said up front his presentation would not be balanced, that his purpose was to tell the other side of the story. By taking this approach he actually helps provide some overall balance on this issue because most main stream media reporting on AGW is nothing more than IPCC cheerleading and the repetition of suspect computer modelling output. As Beck said, the debate is far from over; it has only just begun. Good on yah, Glenn Beck!

So, if cheerleading is the problem, then the answer must be…more cheerleading. It’s called obfuscation, FYI, if you’ve no intention of being part of the solution. On and on it goes…to Beck it’s just a game, and a lucrative one too.

I suppose all those people who accuse IPCC of “dogma” will be uncritically lapping this stuff up, cheering right along…

I am so thankful for this special. It’s just so refreshing to know there are some people willing to risk quite a bit to get to the bottom of this debate. And it is a debate mind you. You loser alarmists are the ones who are gonna be making me pay a tax on my, LOL, “carbon footprint”. The amount of money that is already being spent on this farce is utterly reprehensible. Absolutely disgusting. The oughta ship all you alarmists to your own little country and let you all do whatever the hell you wanna do, but do it to yourselves. I am seriously fed up. If i have to pay one cent in taxes…. Sorry for venting but this is getting ridiculous.
“You loser alarmists … are gonna be making me pay a tax….” Henry, have you heard of user-pay? The economy works largely on user-pay, except that users usually have to pay only to obtain resources, and user-pay has not been applied to the same degree to post-user waste. Why? Because the wastes are dumped into a commons. Believe me, I’m just as upset that I (and my kids) have to pay for your waste as you are that you might be forced to have to pay for some of it. And you won’t pay one cent? Not very responsible of you, I think.
A little dated, but I recently discovered this astonishing error by Michaels (and McKitrick).

global warming exists no doubt about it. the question is whats causing it? I believe it is due to natural variations in the earths climate and not due to human activity and i don’t think we should even give this issue the time of day. I don’t want to spend my money on useless green programs that will make no difference at all. and please give mr beck a break. Keith Olbermann is just as biased as beck is and no ones is busting him for misinformation.

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