“STOP ACADEMIC CENSORSHIP” screamed the full caps headline on the half-page advert in the Murdoch-owned The Australian newspaper earlier this week.
Our DeSmog UK epic history series continues with a look at the creation of Michael Mann’s hockey stick graph and the counter-attack launched by the climate deniers.
Michael Mann was “still relatively fresh” out of graduate school when his work demonstrating the rise in global temperatures caught the attention of senior climate scientists. He was quickly selected as lead author for a new report on climate change.
The paper by Mann, and Professor Raymond Bradley and Professor Malcolm Hughes was titled Global-Scale Temperature Patterns and Climate Forcing Over the Past Six Centuries. It introduced into the scientific literature what would soon become known as the ‘hockey stick’ graph.
The DeSmog UK epic history series recalls how the war between the climate sceptics and the IPCC heated up as they tried to cast doubt over the science.
The climate sceptics were ever ready to attack the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) following its second report, released in 1995. They well understood the political dangers that confronted them.
Frederick Seitz, (pictured) then chairman of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) – which argues against the existence of climate change – demanded that IPCC chairman Bert Bolin draft a statement immediately saying that the IPCC had “not been able to quantify the magnitude of the greenhouse gas”; he even took the extra step of drafting the proposed letter, ready for Bolin to sign.
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.
So just in case anyone wasn’t sure, a major study of almost 12,000 scientific papers on global warming between 1991 and 2011 finds less than one per cent disagree that humans are the main cause.
Published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the study led by John Cook, the Australia-based founder of Skeptical Science, confirms the debate about the causes of global warming had all but vanished in the scientific literature by the early 1990s. Almost all the research says it’s mostly caused by humans.
For any followers of climate science in journals (the place where it actually matters) the finding wasn’t really news at all.
Yet survey after survey finds the public still thinks scientists are arguing over the causes of global warming and the media continues to attempt to resuscitate long-dead ideas.
Does it matter that people have a clear understanding of the main thrust of the science? A 2012 study in the journal Nature Climate Change found that people were more likely to accept human-caused global warming if they were informed that scientists were in broad agreement (which we know they are).
For decades, fossil fuel-funded groups, free market think tanks (some of which also qualify as fossil fuel funded groups) and the fossil fuel industry itself have known the importance of the public’s understanding of the state of climate science. A public that understands the state of the science is more likely to want something done about climate change. Doing something, means using a lot less fossil fuel.
But who wanted to tell the public that a consensus didn’t exist? Here are just some of the campaigns run over the years showing how breaking the consensus in the eyes of the public was a key strategy.
Over half a decade ago, Andrea Saul, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's press secretary, denied any link between Hurricane Katrina and climate change.
Working as a hired gun on behalf of ExxonMobil at the Washington, DC PR firm DCI Group, Saul was listed as the contact person on a press release that denied that global warming is intensifying extreme weather events:
“Coming off one of the most devastating hurricane seasons in recent memory, many are quick to blame the strength and frequency of these storms on global warming. Leading climate scientists, however, say there is no link between increased storm activity and a massive change in global climate.”
The 2006 Saul/DCI press release quotes the Koch-funded Cato Institute's Patrick Michaels, who stated, “There are many more factors determining hurricane frequency and severity, some of which (such as westerly wind strength) should become LESS conducive to hurricanes as the planet warms.”
Michaels is a notorious climate change denier who stated in August 2010 on CNN that 40 percent of his funding comes from the oil industry. As with Hurricane Katrina, Pat Michaels this week denied any connection between climate change and Hurricane Sandy.
Will Andrea Saul, speaking on behalf of team Romney/Ryan, be next to deny that global warming added the steroids that increased the devastation of Hurricane Sandy?
Many serious, thought-provoking post-mortems have ensued in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which recently tore through the heart of the financial capital of the world. The disaster will cost the city roughly $60 billion to repair, according to an Associated Press report.
Figures such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former President Bill Clinton, writer and activist Bill McKibben, environmental reporter Mark Hertsgaard, and numerous others all have connected the dots between the tragedy in New York City and its excerbation at the hands of climate change.
On the other side of the spectrum, no matter how bad the tragedy, it seems, climate change denial will continue apace by the “merchants of doubt.” Hurricane Sandy was no exception this time around.
Patrick Michaels of the Koch-funded Cato Institute - who recently authored a report described by Greenpeace USA's Connor Gibson as a “Counterfeit Climate Report to Deceive Congress” - denied any connection between climate change and Sandy, going so far as to raise the specter of “global cooling.”
A new chapter is being added to the ongoing Kochtopus saga. On March 1 the Washington Post, in a story sure to fill the airwaves for the weeks and months to come, revealed the Kochtopus is suing the Cato Institute for control of the recently deceased and former Cato Chairman William Niskanen's ownership share in the think-tank.
The Koch Empire was recently outed by DeSmogBlog as a key seed funder of the climate change denier think-tank, the Heartland Institute. Heartland's internal documents were recently leaked to DeSmogBlog (see “Heartland Exposed”).
Billionaire oil baron Charles Koch is now waging war against another entity that was created with Koch seed money decades ago: the Cato Institute.
The Post explained succinctly:
At the heart of the dispute is the fate of the shares owned by Niskanen, who died in October at age 78 of complications from a stroke. The Koch brothers believe that they have the option to buy Niskanen’s shares, while Cato officials believe that the shares belong to Niskanen’s widow, Kathryn Washburn, according to the complaint.
That said, Cato has also stood up for key libertarian principles in the past that do not fit a partisan framework. Among them: protection of civil liberties, opposition to imperialism, opposition to the war on drugs, opposition to the militarization of domestic law enforcement agencies, and support for gay rights, to name several.
A brief overview of the key movers and shakers behind Cato's ascendancy is important to understand the rise of the Koch Empire and the split between the faux-libertarians and the true libertarians.
Perhaps unsurpisingly then, the origins of the Heartland Institute – whose internal documents were recently leaked to DeSmogBlog – have a direct historical link to the rise of the Kochtopus's wide-reaching climate change denial machine.
It all began in 1977 in Wichita, Kansas, with the creation of the Cato Institute.
David Padden, Cato Institute, and the Rise of Heartland
It is known today for its libertarian policy stances on issues like the War on Drugs, anti-interventionist foreign policy, and support for civil liberties, and perhaps most notoriously for its climate change denial and pro-polluter stance in energy policy debates. Cato's most infamous talking head today is Pat Michaels, who serves as its “Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies.”
One of the key original members of Cato's Board of Directors was David Padden, a Chicago, IL-based investment banker and then owner of Padden & Company, which now also has a spinoff called Padco Lease Corporation. Padden passed away in October 2011.
In 1984, piggybacking off of his role at Cato, Padden founded the Heartland Institute, also serving on its original Board of Directors.
THERE’S a new climate denial lobby group on the block - bravely regurgitating previously debunked pseudo-science and making wild unsubstantiated claims that climate scientists are all corrupt.
Not happy with misrepresenting the science on climate change, The Galileo Movement has also misappropriated the name of the father of modern science who was persecuted for his insistance that the Sun, rather than the Earth, was the centre of the universe.
The Galileo Movement, launched in Australia, has stated its prime mission is to stop the Government’s current efforts to introduce a price on greenhouse gas emissions and boasts a list of advisors resembling a who’s who of international climate change denial.