Brendan DeMelle

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Brendan DeMelle is Executive Director and Managing Editor of  He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in new media, politics, climate change and clean energy. He has served as research associate for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., researcher for Ring of Fire Radio, researcher for Laurie David and, law and policy analyst for Environmental Working Group, campus organizer for Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, environmental justice associate for EPA Region 10, among other positions in his career. DeMelle has provided writing and communications services on a wide range of topics, with a demonstrated ability to simplify complex and technical issues into concise, accessible language for general public consumption. 

His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, GristEnergyBoom, The Washington Times and other outlets, including a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Rural History about the social and ecological impacts of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project. He graduated from St. Lawrence University with a BA in Sociology and Environmental Studies in 1998, and lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Anne.

Denial-a-Palooza 6: Heartland's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, Courtesy of Koch, Scaife & Exxon

The Heartland Institute is convening a who’s-who of the global warming denial machine in Washington, DC over the next two days for the sixth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC6).

Seemingly content to let the world burn, the denizens of Denial-a-Palooza work year-round to sow doubt and confusion about climate change among the public - aided by Fox News and other friendly media outlets - so that no action is taken to limit heat-trapping gasses in the atmosphere. This event is attended by the best corporate front groups that polluter money can buy, and this year is no exception.

As in past years, the speakers and sponsors lists are dripping with oil money, and comprise nearly the full roster of groups who share a common interest - greenwashing dirty energy sources like oil and coal while simultaneously attacking the credibility of the world’s top climate scientists. The presentations will misrepresent the state of climate science, while the real action will take place backstage, as these groups coordinate their ongoing efforts to smear the reputation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (Note the intentional naming of this “ICCC” to sound like the IPCC.)

Let’s take a look at the funding of the sponsors of ICCC6:

17 of the 43 sponsors of the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, including the Heartland Institute itself, have collectively received over $46 million from either Scaife Foundations, Koch Foundations, or ExxonMobil and its foundation.

Most of these organizations, including many that choose not to disclose their funding sources, comprise the core of the industry attack on global warming science. See below for a complete breakdown of funding details:

Denial For Hire: Willie Soon’s Career Fueled by Big Oil, Coal and Koch Money

Willie Soon, the notorious climate denier who has made a career out of attacking the IPCC and climate scientists, has received over $1 million in funding from Big Oil and coal industry sponsors over the past decade, according to a new report from Greenpeace.

The Greenpeace report, “Dr. Willie Soon: a Career Fueled by Big Oil and Coal,” reveals that $1.033 million of Dr. Soon’s funding since 2001 has come from oil and coal interests. Since 2002, every grant Dr. Soon received originated with fossil fuel interests, according to documents received from the Smithsonian Institution in response to Greenpeace FOIA requests.

The documents show that Willie Soon has received at least $175,000 from Koch family foundations (Soon is a key player in the Koch brothers’ climate denial machine, as Greenpeace documented previously), $230,000 from Southern Company, $274,000 from the American Petroleum Institute, and $335,000 from ExxonMobil, among other polluters.

Scientists and Activists Issue A Call To Action To Stop Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

A group of eleven veteran U.S. and Canadian scientists and environmentalists today jointly issued a call to action for non-violent civil disobedience in front of the White House later this summer to stop the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  This proposed Transcanada pipeline, which must be approved by President Obama in order to proceed, would carry filthy tar sands oil from Alberta to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, and further solidify North America’s commitment to mutual fossil fuel addiction for generations to come. 

“This is one issue where the president has total control–he has to grant or deny the necessary permits. Congress can’t get in the way. It’s where Obama can get his environmental mojo back. But we need him to lead,” said Bill McKibben, author, DeSmogBlog contributor and signatory on the letter.

The letter ask citizens to come to Washington for a peaceful and dignified protest against the Keystone XL pipeline, which the authors describe as a “1500-mile fuse to the continent’s biggest carbon bomb.”

Manhattan Institute Op-ed Exemplifies Why NY Times Should Require Disclosure of Financial Conflicts

The New York Times ran an op-ed last week by Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute, a group funded by Koch Industries, ExxonMobil and other polluters to confuse the public about climate change and energy issues. Robert Bryce goes to great lengths to portray solar and wind power as land-hogging energy choices. He suggests that fracked shale gas and nuclear are somehow more environmentally preferable energy options.

This is a common argument from Bryce, who had a similar pro-fracking op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, and who has emerged as one of the loudest of a growing cadre of critics of clean energy. Most of these critics are, not surprisingly, affiliated with “institutes” (i.e., front groups) that get money from the dirty energy industries that solar and wind are starting to disrupt.

Bryce’s argument was quickly debunked by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which points out a number of factual errors and omissions in the Manhattan Institute representative's piece.  AWEA was correct to take on Bryce's misinformation and set the record straight. Climate Progress also picked apart Bryce's claims in detail.

But one important question remains - why does The New York Times print such misleading opinion pieces without revealing the clear conflict of interest that a Koch/Exxon-funded front group representative has on such matters? Did the Times’ even ask, and does it do so as a matter of standard practice? {C}

Bill McKibben's Recent Op-Ed On Climate and Severe Weather Remixed Into Video

Check out this excellent video version of Bill McKibben’s recent Washington Post op-ed “A link between climate change and Joplin Tornadoes? Never!”

Narrated and illustrated by Stephen Thomson of, the video is a great visual representation of McKibben’s widely-circulated op-ed.

Watch here, and share this widely:

TIME Names DeSmogBlog In Top 25 Best Blogs of 2011

DeSmogBlog is honored to be recognized by TIME magazine in the Top 25 list of The Best Blogs of 2011.

TIME reporter Bryan Walsh calls DeSmogBlog a “necessary corrective” and “the antidote” to the corporate smoke screen surrounding news coverage of climate change and energy issues. 

Here is the full blurb about DeSmogBlog from Bryan Walsh at TIME:

A corporate smoke screen surrounds much of the coverage of climate-change and energy issues. Fossil-fuel companies have spent millions funding anti-global-warming think tanks, purposely creating a climate of doubt around the science. DeSmogBlog is the antidote to that obfuscation. Started in 2006 by James [Hoggan], a Canadian p.r. guru, DeSmogBlog dissects the half truths and outright lies around climate change, acting as an aggregator for smart research and opinion on green issues. If it sometimes goes too far — as with its jihad against gas fracking — DeSmogBlog is nevertheless a necessary corrective.

DeSmog Interview with Curt Stager, Author of 'Deep Future' (Part 2)

Part 2 of my interview with Dr. Curt Stager, author of Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life On Earth.  Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of the interview from yesterday. Answer the trivia questions at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a free copy of Deep Future.

BD: On pgs 239-241 of the Epilogue, you talk about your discomfort with what you call “aggressive activist stances among prominent scientists,” but at DeSmogBlog we’ve heard from dozens of climate scientists who are simply fed up with lawmakers and the media ignoring the science or hiding behind “Climategate” myths.  In a world where about half the lawmakers in the U.S. completely reject the preponderance of peer-reviewed climate science confirming manmade global warming, how can a scientist remain silent and simply press on while being ignored? 

CS: Scientists are human beings who reflect a diversity of opinions and attitudes.  Of course most of us are fed up with this ridiculous situation, so it’s not surprising that you hear from so many who express those concerns.  I’m fed up, too, but I’m also not alone in my preferences for refraining from “aggressive activist stances.”   I do so because I value science itself more than any individual topic that it addresses. 

I consider science to be one of the most valuable inventions of human civilization, and I recognize how precious and vulnerable to corruption it is as one who believes in objective reality, the fallibility of human perception, and the need for objective methods of seeking truth. I also recognize that public trust in science itself depends heavily upon trust in the objectivity of those who pursue it.  We must walk a fine line between defending truth and trying to force it on other people, and I personally choose to take a cautious approach in walking that line. 

DeSmog Interview with Curt Stager, Author of 'Deep Future' - Answer Trivia Qs To Win A Free Book!

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Curt Stager, author of Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life On Earth.  Here is Part 1 of the interview, stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2. Answer the trivia questions at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a free copy of Deep Future.

Brendan DeMelle (BD): Your book is about the impacts of climate change far into the future, and as you point out, that means very far into the future, not a 5-year plan that seems far away in the lifespan of a human, but thousands, millions and billions of years from now.  What advice do you have for people who struggle to comprehend the time scale of these impacts? How can people alive today attempt to relate to the deep future?

Curt Stager (CS): We live our lives on short time scales, in which even the end of the work day can seem like “forever” in the future, and we rarely deal with extremely large numbers or quantities on an immediate personal level.  As a result, facing a legacy of climatic effects that stretches many thousands of years into the future can be mind-boggling, even for a scientist.  But that’s actually one of the important points to recognize in this amazing story; our ecological impacts on the planet are mind-boggling in scope. 

We can become more comfortable in handling large sweeps of time with practice, but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to grasp exactly what 100,000 years means in order to understand that the changes we’re setting in motion today are far larger than we once thought, any more than it’s necessary to know the exact weight of a bull elephant in order to realize that you’d better not mess with it.

Koch Brothers Exposed: Brave New Films Explains How Billionaires Could Profit From Keystone XL Pipeline

In the latest installment of its video series “Koch Brothers Exposed,” the Brave New Films team interviews concerned property owners and farmers whose land and water quality is threatened by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry filthy tar sands crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries. 

The short video outlines the various ways that the billionaire Koch brothers may stand to benefit from the Keystone XL pipeline - that is, if it is ever built. 

A diverse and fast-growing coalition of property owners, farmers, water quality advocates, ethics watchdogs and environmentalists is rising up against the proposed pipeline, citing the threat of devestating impacts on critical public resources, including water supplies such as the Ogallala aquifer, which sits directly in the path of the currently anticipated pipeline route. Then there are the property rights, economics, and climate change-related reasons why this pipeline is so controversial.

As the video makes clear, the decision whether to grant a thumbs up or down to TransCanada’s request for a presidential permit to build the 1,959-mile tar sands pipeline rests sqaurely with Secretary Clinton and the State Department. The video asks viewers to “Tell Secretary Clinton To Say No To The Kochs” and the Keystone XL pipeline.

Hillary Clinton's State Department Sued Over Failure To Reveal Contacts With TransCanada Tar Sands Lobbyist

Friends of the Earth, Corporate Ethics International, and the Center for International Environmental Law just filed a lawsuit against the U.S. State Department and Hillary Clinton (Friends of the Earth v. State Department) over the agency’s controversial handling of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal.

The suit follows an extensive effort by the environmental groups to seek information via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) about contacts between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Paul Elliott, a lobbyist for TransCanada Pipelines - the company seeking to build the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline to carry dirty tar sands crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas. Secretary Clinton’s State Department is mulling whether to grant a thumbs up or down to TransCanada’s request for a presidential permit to build and operate the 1,959-mile tar sands pipeline.

Elliott was the national deputy director of Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, assisting her efforts to win support of delegates and strengthening her ties with influential Democratic governors to win endorsements.

In his current role as a registered lobbyist for TransCanada, Elliott would obviously be in a good position to reach out to Secretary Clinton’s office to lobby for the Keystone XL pipeline.