Climate Denier

You'll Never Guess Who Attended Britain's First Major Climate Denial Conference

DeSmog UK’s epic history series looks back at the conference that marked the first major event where climate sceptic views were promoted in England.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Britain's first major climate denial conference. You'll never guess who attended – and who paid for it.

In October 1995, John Blundell – the newly appointed director of free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) – opened his second major conference Environmental Risk: Perception and Reality at the four-star Stakis St Ermin's Hotel on Caxon Street in London.

The advertised speakers included Blundell’s old friend Fred Smith, the founder of the Koch-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), who had flown over from the United States along with the coal-funded sceptic scientist Dr Patrick Michaels.

Climate Deniers Help Tories Weaken Fracking Rules

Climate deniers Viscount Matt Ridley and Lord Nigel Lawson defended a controversial fracking U-turn by the Conservative-led government in the House of Lords last night that will reduce safety standards for shale gas exploration.

The Labour party tried to force through more stringent measures in the hotly contested Infrastructure Bill currently going through Parliament designed to protect groundwater which could supply homes and businesses. 

But the government’s counter-proposal, tabled by Baroness Kramer, the Liberal Democrat transport minister, watered-down the language around safeguarding groundwater supplies from fracking. It now allows the relevant Secretary of State to define what constitutes a ‘protected area’.

Not Just Public Lands: Defense Bill Also Incentivizes Fracked Gas Vehicles

DeSmogBlog recently revealed how Big Oil's lobbyists snuck expedited permitting for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on public lands into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015, which passed in the U.S. House and Senate and now awaits President Barack Obama's signature.

A follow-up probe reveals that the public lands giveaway was not the only sweetheart deal the industry got out of the pork barrel bill. The NDAA also included a provision that opened the floodgates for natural gas vehicles (NGVs) in the U.S.—cars that would largely be fueled by gas obtained via fracking.

The section of the bill titled, “Alternative Fuel Automobiles” (on page 104) lays it out:

NDAA of 2015 Natural Gas Vehicles
Image Credit: U.S. Government Publishing Office 

Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn

 Credentials

Mark Steyn attended the King Edward’s School in Birmingham, U.K., leaving in 1978, at the age of 18. Steyn does not appear to have a college education or any background in climate science.

Source: [1] , [2]

Ronald Bailey

Ronald Bailey

 Credentials

  • B.A. Philosophy, B.A. Economics, University of Virginia, 1976

Source: [1]

Rupert Darwall

Rupert Darwall

 Credentials

  • Economics and History, Cambridge University

Source: [1] , [2]

Obama Opened Floodgates for Offshore Fracking in Recent Gulf of Mexico Lease

In little-noticed news arising out of a recent Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas lease held by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the floodgates have opened for Gulf offshore hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).

With 21.6 million acres auctioned off by the Obama Administration and 433,822 acres receiving bids, some press accounts have declared BP America — of 2010 Gulf of Mexico offshore oil spill infamy — a big winner of the auction. If true, fracking and the oil and gas services companies who perform it like Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger came in a close second.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Lease Map August 2014
Map Credit: U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

On the day of the sale held at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, an Associated Press article explained that many of the purchased blocks sit in the Lower Tertiary basin, coined the “final frontier of oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico” by industry analysts.

“The Lower Tertiary is an ancient layer of the earth's crust made of dense rock,” explained APTo access the mineral resources trapped within it, hydraulic fracturing activity is projected to grow in the western Gulf of Mexico by more than 10 percent this year, according to Houston-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc., which operates about a third of the world's offshore fracking rigs.”

New "Frackademia" Report Co-Written by "Converted Climate Skeptic" Richard Muller

The conservative UK-based Centre for Policy Studies recently published a study on the climate change impacts of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for shale gas. The skinny: it's yet another case study of “frackademia,” and the co-authors have a financial stake in the upstart Chinese fracking industry.

Titled “Why Every Serious Environmentalist Should Favour Fracking“ and co-authored by Richard Muller and his daughter Elizabeth “Liz” Muller, it concludes that fracking's climate change impacts are benign, dismissing many scientific studies coming to contrary conclusions.

In an interview with DeSmogBlog, Richard Muller — a self-proclaimed “converted skeptic” on climate change — said he and Liz had originally thought of putting together this study “about two years ago.”

“We quickly realized that natural gas could be a very big player,” he said. “The reasons had to do with China and the goal of the paper is to get the environmentalists to recognize that they need to support responsible fracking.

The ongoing debate over fracking in the UK served as the impetus behind the Centre for Policy Studies — a non-profit co-founded by former right-wing British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1974 — hosting this report on its website, according to Richard Muller.

“They asked for it because some environmentalists are currently opposing fracking in the UK, and they wanted us to share our perspective that fracking is not only essential for human health but its support can be justified for humanitarian purposes,” he said. 

This isn't the first time Liz Muller has unapologetically sung the praises of fracking and promoted bringing the practice to China. In April, she penned an op-ed in The New York Times titled, “China Must Exploit Its Shale Gas.” 

John Abraham Slams Matt Ridley for Climate Denial Op-Ed in Wall Street Journal

This is a guest post by Dr. John Abraham, in response to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by British House of Lords member Matt Ridley.

How many climate errors in one article?

A recent error-filled opinion piece by Matt Ridley in the Wall Street Journal was so egregious that readers deserve a correction.  The article, “Dialing back the alarm on climate change”, was written by someone who has never researched anything in the field of climate change (literature search on September 14, 2013).  So what did Mr. Ridley have to say that makes a real scientist cringe? 

First, Mr. Ridley states that a forthcoming major climate change report (for which I was an expert reviewer) will lower the expected temperature rise we will experience in the future.  He also claims that the temperature rises will be beneficial. Since the report hasn’t been released yet, and reviewers promise confidentiality, my answer is based on available literature.  I can inform the readers that this isn’t necessarily the case.  What Mr. Ridley is focusing on is the lower bound of warming (the best case scenario for human society). What he doesn’t tell the readers is that regardless of which estimate of warming is correct, human society will be severely stressed.  Basically, he is arguing that the Earth may undergo a slow simmer whereas most scientists think it will be a faster boil.  Either way, the consequences are enormous.

Second, Mr. Ridley makes the unsubstantiated claim that warming of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit will result in “no net or ecological damage”. 

This claim could only be made by someone who is unfamiliar with climate science.  With a fraction of that warming, we are already seeing economic and ecological damage.  Among them are increased precipitation in some regions with consequent flooding, more severe drought in other regions, increased storms, heat waves, rising sea levels. 

Christopher Monckton Described as "Loose Cannon" "17th Century Pamphleteer" By UKIP, Party Cuts Ties With Him

The Guardian reports that the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has distanced itself from “Lord” Christopher Monckton, the crazypants climate denier who thinks President Obama's birth certificate is fake, compared youth climate activists to “Hitler Youth” and a litany of other crazy stunts well-documented here at DeSmog over the years. 

The Guardian's Leo Hickman reports today from Rio, where Monckton is pulling his usual shenanigans: 
  

As has become the norm at such international gatherings in recent years, the eccentric climate sceptic Lord Monckton has flown in to Rio to perform his party piece about how environmentalists are trying to establish a “world socialist government”, and such like. What is less clear these days is whether his colleagues at the UK Independence Party (Ukip) approve of such interventions.

Under Lord Pearson, the previous Ukip leader, Monckton was the party's deputy leader and was also variously the head of the party's policy unit, as well as its spokesman on energy and the environment. But ever since fellow eccentric climate sceptic Roger Helmer defected from the Conservatives to Ukip earlier this year, he has assumed the latter role. So what, if any, role does Monckton now have at Ukip?

Gawain Towler, Ukip's press spokesman, has confirmed to me this morning that Monckton “no longer has any formal role” with Ukip. Towler described Monckton as an “outlier” who is now “semi-detached” from the party, partly because he's “barely in the country these days”. (Before arriving in Rio, Monckton had been touring the US Tea Party circuit casting doubt on the origins of Barack Obama's birth certificate.) [See DeSmog's coverage of Monckton's birther tour]

I asked if there had been a falling out between Monckton and the current Ukip leader, Nigel Farage. Towler said not, but said that Monckton - whom he described as a “17th century pamphleteer” - was sometimes the source of “frustration” and was “very much Lord Pearson's man - they own contiguous shooting estates in Scotland”. Towler added that Monckton had been active in the party at a time when it was “not drowning in talent”, but the recent surge in popularity for the party had seen a fresh influx of personnel. Monckton was a “loose cannon”, said Towler, but Helmer is a “tied-down cannon, pointed in the same direction”.

With his political prospects looking increasingly bleak, “Lord” Monckton is slipping further into irrelevancy. Look for him to continue trying to outdo the Heartland Institute in increasingly insane stunts. Let's just hope he's given up skydiving because that was a scary sight

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