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Thu, 2010-01-28 07:02Kevin Grandia
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The Commonwealth Foundation's Favorite Strawman

When it comes to the art of political rhetoric there is nothing more effective then the straw man technique.

It’s simple: instead of using sound logic and evidence to discredit an idea or policy, just brand an individual as representative of the idea and then knock them down.

On the issue of climate change, you can see this technique in action with the right-wing Commonwealth Foundation trying to discredit the work of a single climate expert, Dr. Michael Mann, as a means of discrediting the entire body of climate change science.

The Commonwealth Foundation recently published a “policy brief” called Climategate & Penn State, a 12-page attack that tries to frame Dr. Mann as the orchestrator behind some grand conspiracy, which is the key to a good stick man attack.

Sun, 2010-01-24 12:24Kevin Grandia
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Nature takes on stolen emails

There’s a great editorial in the most recent edition of the scientific journal Nature Geo Science that takes on the illegal hacking of emails at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.

The editorial is behind a firewall, so here’s a few of the main points for those who don’t have a subscription:

Amidst the calls for more caution in communication, it must be remembered that e-mails are an essential scientific tool when research groups span continents and schedules are tight. Yes, there is a limit to what should be put in writing. But in messages that are not meant for the public eye, there must be room for an open-minded and opinionated discussion, for example, of the quality of papers published by other authors. And when writing to someone who is familiar with the context, there is generally no need to choose every word quite so carefully.

And this:

“The alternative — making every private e-mail between scientists unambiguous and fit for public consumption — would seriously hinder the progress of science.”

Wed, 2010-01-20 12:51Brendan DeMelle
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Climate Denial Industry Blowing Hot Air On Himalayan Glaciers

The climate denial industry is once again trying to make a huge to-do about a tiny error by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 

With the Climategate Swifthack episode fading from the limelight, after a thorough debunking of far-fetched accusations that scientists made up global warming, the climate science attack machine now wants the world to focus on one paragraph out of a 938-page, three-year-old report.

The contrarians are questioning a single reference to Himalayan glaciers included in a 2007 IPCC report that does not meet the IPCC’s well-established evidentiary standards.

Here is their alleged smoking gun: The second of three 2007 reports from the IPCC included a statement that the likelihood of Himalayan glaciers disappearing “by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high.”

But the reference to Himalayan glaciers melting at that early date didn’t originate from a peer-reviewed study, meaning it should not have appeared in the IPCC report. 

Sure, that’s slightly embarrassing.  But it isn’t grounds to declare the entire library of climate science a fraud. The IPCC’s findings have been validated and substantiated by assessments conducted by leading scientific institutions the world over. 

The real news here is that a single ‘error’ was discovered in just one of the IPCC’s reports, collectively reams of paper thick, and the ‘error’ isn’t an error at all.  The Himalayan glaciers are melting.  There is no debate about that in the scientific community.

Tue, 2010-01-19 11:40Kevin Grandia
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Republican Candidate Scott Brown's Flip Flopping on Climate a Loser for Clean Energy and Green Jobs

What a difference a year makes for Republican candidate Scott Brown. Just last year Brown voted to support a regional greenhouse gas emissions trading plan and now he saying he’s not even sure climate change is a problem.

While uncertainty remains about what a Republican win in Massachusetts means for health care reform, there seems little doubt that it would be bad for the clean energy package making it’s way through Congress.

Just over a year ago Brown voted in favor of a regional greenhouse gas cap-and-trade initiative in his capacity as a state legislator.

Tue, 2010-01-12 13:01Kevin Grandia
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Massey Energy running attack ads against "tree hugging extremists"

Massey Energy (NYSE: MEE), the 4th largest coal producer in the country is running political-style attacks in West Virginia claiming that “tree hugging extremists and self-serving politicians” are killing jobs, while the coal industry is “fighting hard for Appalachian jobs” and “what’s right.”

I am assuming that when Massey talks about fighting for Appalachian jobs they aren’t referring to the fact that earlier in 2009 they cut employee pay by 6% and then recently increased the performance bonus for Massey’s CEO, Don Blankenship, by $600,000.

And I think it’s also safe to assume that when Massey talks about fighting for “what’s right” they aren’t talking about the major environmental violations over the years culminating in a record $20 million settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA stated that Massey had violated its Clean Water Act permits “… more than 4,500 times between January 2000 and December 2006.”

Fri, 2010-01-08 11:48Brendan DeMelle
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BBC Trots Out Skeptic Benny Peiser To Question Global Warming In A Snow Storm

The BBC used Britain’s recent snowy cold snap to trot out the climate skepticism of Dr. Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist at Liverpool’s John Moores University with absolutely zero scientific expertise in climate change. 

In a segment titled “How the big freeze fits theories of global warming,” exploring “how one of the longest cold snaps for a generation fits in with theories of a warming planet and global climate change,” the BBC oddly shoehorns Peiser’s climate change denialism into an otherwise decent piece explaining the difference between weather and climate and why the existence of snow and cold weather does not in any way negate the realities of climate change.

So what could Dr. Peiser - whose greatest achievement in science is getting an asteroid named after him – have to offer on the subject of climate change?

Fri, 2009-12-18 03:51Brendan DeMelle
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Breaking: LEAKED final draft of Copenhagen treaty declaration

[Update: I’ve added in analysis of the key text]

With only hours left in the Copenhagen climate treaty talks we have obtained an early version of the final agreement’ draft text.

President Obama’s speech wrapped up a few minutes ago with nothing new announced. But as long as this session continues there remains hope that world leaders can deliver a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal.

Things continue to evolve and according to the draft version of the agreement, the major issue of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions cuts by what year, remains unanswered.

As it stands, the text states:

Annex I Parties to the Convention commit to implement, individually or jointly, the quantified economy-wide emission targets for 2020 as listed yielding in aggregate reductions of greenhouse gas emissions of X per cent in 2020 compared to 1990 and Y per cent in 2020 compared to 2005…

Based on the best scientific research these numbers should be 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80-95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Mon, 2009-11-30 19:54Jim Hoggan
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Who’s Killing the Copenhagen Climate Treaty? The Chamber of Commerce

us chmaber of commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has already done everything it can to kill the chances of a legally binding agreement emerging from the Copenhagen climate change summit.

Now it can sit back, relax and watch the action from a coffee shop outside the United Nations conference, content that its efforts to derail U.S. climate policy have effectively hamstrung the international negotiations.

As explained clearly in “The Global Climate Change Lobby,” an excellent new report from the Center for Public Integrity, corporate lobbyists and trade associations focus their attention on tampering with domestic legislative efforts, and then stand by and watch as their positions and talking points contaminate international negotiations indirectly.

Business interests (or BINGOs as they’re called in U.N. speak) “can have very little effect at these meetings,” according to Nick Campbell, a European industry lobbyist who has represented the International Chamber of Commerce at U.N. climate talks since the early 1990s when the global effort to fight climate change began with the Rio Earth Summit.

If the Chamber or other lobbying groups send any staff to international summits like the upcoming Copenhagen conference, their goal is to “loiter” in the coffee shops and collect business cards from delegates they can target later on legislative matters back home.

Fri, 2009-10-30 11:21Kevin Grandia
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Laurie David, will you marry me?

I really don’t know what to make of this video. At the least, it’s very entertaining, but I don’t know if it will woo the likes of Laurie David to the alter!

Wed, 2009-10-28 17:28Jim Hoggan
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Astroturf King Jack Bonner's Long History of Deceitful "Grassroots" Lobbying

As you’ll recall, Bonner & Associates – the D.C. Astroturf shop busted for mailing at least a dozen forged letters to Congress this summer prior to the House vote on climate and energy legislation – has found itself under the media spotlight lately, struggling to defend its sullied brand.

Tomorrow morning, Rep. Edward Markey’s Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will hold a hearing on the Bonner and Associates forged letter scandal and it can’t come soon enough.

But the forgery scandal is just one example in a long career of anti-democratic Astroturf jobs for which Jack Bonner’s firm is responsible.

Public relations firms like to try to shape the news, not appear in the headlines themselves. Jack Bonner knows this as well as anyone in the business, and is rarely quoted in news stories, preferring to keep a low public profile. But when his firm was caught sending forged letters to Congress this summer while working on contract for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) and its parent company the Hawthorn Group, Jack Bonner ended up in the uncomfortable position of defending his own firm rather than the interests of his corporate clients.

The gaffe appears to have cost Bonner a great deal of business, including the lucrative contract with Hawthorn.

Sources close to Bonner’s operation say that the firm furloughed several key staffers in the wake of the ACCCE scandal, informing them that there is currently not enough business to keep them on staff. And Jack Bonner’s much-anticipated appearance before the Congressional committee to answer questions about his firm’s role in the forgery scandal will not likely help the Bonner firm’s portfolio, either.

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