Brendan DeMelle

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Brendan DeMelle is Executive Director and Managing Editor of DeSmogBlog.com.  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 StopGlobalWarming.org, 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.

ACCCE Hires New PR Firm With Bush Ties To Push Coal

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) has hired two new public relations firms to hock its message in the wake of the disastrous job done by Bonner & Associates. 

ACCCE has retained HDMK, a PR firm with very strong ties to former President George W. Bush and the Republican Party, to manage its national media efforts, while Dan Ronayne, a managing director of the Howard Consulting Group, was retained to work with regional reporters.

HDMK is run by Terry Holt, the national campaign spokesperson for George W. Bush in the 2004 election and the former spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner.  Other HDMK partners include Trent Duffy, a former deputy press secretary to President George W. Bush, Jim Morrell, former deputy chief of staff to the House Republican Conference and a speechwriter for former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL), and Chad Kolton, another long-time Republican communications operative who served in the Bush administration as press secretary at the OMB and FEMA.

Climate Skeptics Try To Spin Penn State Exoneration of Dr. Michael Mann Into “Whitewash”

Penn State University’s inquiry into climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann’s conduct surrounding the emails stolen from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University concluded there is no evidence to substantiate the claims made by the right-wing media against Mann.

The Penn State panel cleared Dr. Mann of any wrongdoing in three of the four areas it probed, recommending only that a separate panel of faculty members pursue a follow-up investigation into the allegation that Dr. Mann “engaged in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting or reporting research or other scholarly activities.”

Dr. Mann’s response to the outcome:
“This is very much the vindication I expected since I am confident I have done nothing wrong.

I fully support the additional inquiry which may be the best way to remove any lingering doubts. I intend to cooperate fully in this matter – as I have since the beginning of the process.”


Pete Altman over at NRDC’s Switchboard blog notes: “That’s about as close to a silver bullet as you are going to find in terms of shooting down the conspiracy theorists who are touting their ‘climategate’ nonsense.”

Altman notes that Professor Mann has “has been the victim of an extended vicious and unfounded smear campaign.”

But none of that seems to sink into the brain of the self-titled “Junkman,” Steven Milloy, who instead screams “whitewash” and accuses Penn State of ignoring allegations that were never under question.  Milloy would rather Penn State investigate whether global warming is real to suit his own fantasies that there is a debate on that question.  He just can’t stand the fact that a formal inquiry launched by a prestigious university didn’t end up the way he wanted it to.

CRU Hack Was A Highly Sophisticated Spy Job, Prominent British Scientist Says

Sir David King, the UK’s former chief scientist, strongly believes that the theft of hundreds of emails from the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia was carried out by highly-paid professionals, perhaps a foreign intelligence agency, and was deliberately designed to destabilize the Copenhagen climate talks last December.

The highly sophisticated hacking operation involved stealing more than 1,000 emails and some 2,000 documents from a backup server at the University which would have been difficult to access remotely. 

According to The Independent newspaper, King believes the hack “was carried out by a team of skilled professionals, either on behalf of a foreign government or at the behest of anti-climate change lobbyists in the United States.” 

“It was a sophisticated and expensive operation. In terms of the expense, there is the American lobby system which is a very likely source of finance. Right now, the American lobbyists are a very likely source of finance for this, so the finger must point to them,” he said.

When Corporations Rule The World (thanks to the Supreme Court)

With its ruling in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Supreme Court has granted corporations even further unfettered access to destroy the fundamental Constitutional protections against corporate control of government.  The Chamber of Commerce and ExxonMobil must be thrilled.

The title of David Korten’s excellent 2001 book about the rise of corporate control in  America popped into my head as I read the depressing news about the Supreme Court’s gift to corporate America (as if they need another handout from U.S. taxpayers). 

Corporations, Wall Street and other special interests can now spend as much as they want on commercials and literature to call for the victory or defeat of federal political candidates.  Unlike previously acceptable “issue ads,” candidates can now be mentioned by name, as long as there’s no coordination with the candidates or campaigns.

The decision, a 5-4 vote, overturned a 20-year-old ruling barring such ads.

Fossil fuel interests, rejoice.  Working American families, not so much.  Efforts to create good-paying green jobs, transition to a clean energy future and ambitiously address global warming just got a lot harder.

George Monbiot Unveils Winner of Annual Award For Most Distorted Climate Coverage

George Monbiot, the Guardian’s straight-shooting environmental columnist, today unveiled the winner of the second annual (and final, if Monbiot can resist the urge to dole it out next year) Christopher Booker prize, given to the “journalist” who most flagrantly ignores facts in favor of cramming the greatest number of thoroughly debunked climate denier claims into a single entry.  

This year’s winner, John Tomlinson, a columnist for the Flint Journal in Michigan, managed to cram an impressive 38 misleading statements into a piece only 805 words long, a rate of one misleading statement per 21 words.  All in direct response to Monbiot’s earlier criticism of Tomlinson’s distorted columns.

Tomlinson managed to beat “his own provisional world record for density: the ratio of falsehoods to words,” by cramming more climate denial into one piece than his previous effort earlier in the year which contained 18 errors in just 486 words, a rate of one error per 26 words. 

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.

Tucker Carlson’s 'Daily Caller' Website Bankrolled by Climate Change Denier

The primary funder of Tucker Carlson’s new website ‘The Daily Caller’ is climate change denier and GOP bankroller Foster Friess, and Carlson has reportedly lined up sponsorship from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Mining Association and Southern Company, all major opponents of meaningful action to curb climate change.

Friess donated $3 million to Carlson’s site, which is run out of an office a “stone’s throw from the White House” by a 21-person staff.  ‘The Daily Caller’ is the brainchild (if you can call it that) of Carlson and his college roommate Neil Patel, a former Dick Cheney aide.  The site’s opinion editor is former RNC press secretary Moira Bagley, immediately calling into question Carlson’s insistence that ‘The Daily Caller’ won’t cater to the right-wing crowd.

Murkowski Amendment To Protect Polluters Was Written By Dirty Polluter Lobbyists

Sen Lisa Murkowski (Photo credit: Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire)

The Washington Post is reporting that Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s amendment to gut EPA authority to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act was written by two Washington lobbyists known for representing some of the worst polluters in the nation.

Surprise, surprise!

Juliet Eilperin writes on the Post Carbon blog:
 “The Washington Post has confirmed that two Washington lobbyists, Jeffrey R. Holmstead and Roger R. Martella, Jr., helped craft the original amendment Murkowski planned to offer on the floor last fall. Both Holmstead, who heads the Environmental Strategies Group and Bracewell & Guiliani, and Martella, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, held senior posts at EPA under the Bush administration and represents multiple clients with an interest in climate legislation pending before Congress.”

The Post notes that Sen. Murkowski is now likely to postpone offering the amendment next week when Congress returns to tackle the subject of climate change anew. 

 “This Mukowski rider should be called the Protect Dirty Polluters amendment, especially since we now know that it was written by polluter lobbyists,” Kert Davies, Director of the new PolluterWatch project at Greenpeace, told me today.

“If this amendment passed, it would be a get out of jail free card for the worst polluters from Big Oil and Big Coal,” Davies said.

Climate Denier Rod Liddle Considered For Editor Position at The Independent

Rod Liddle

The Independent, one of the only progressive papers in the UK, especially when it comes to climate change coverage, is considering appointing a climate denier as its new editor. 

The Independent’s likely new owner, Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev, is apparently considering whether to make outspoken columnist Rod Liddle the new editor of the paper. 

Reader backlash against this decision is growing, and for good reason.

A Facebook group set up by outraged Independent readers, entitled ‘If Rod Liddle becomes editor of The Independent, I will not buy it again,’ has accumulated over 2,100 followers in just a few days.

The group page lists some of Liddle’s recent atrocious behavior on his blog at ‘The Spectator’:

Liddle has lately been using his blog at ‘The Spectator’ to indulge in the use of yawn-inducing, attention-seeking derogatory terms to insult ethnic minorities including decrying “Muslim Savages” here.

…and falsely accusing black men of being behind the majority of crimes in London while mocking the entire Black British community for contributing nothing but “rap music” and “goat curry”.

And just this weekend, Liddle had these choice words in his Spectator column: “F*** off back to where you’re from, then, you Muslims.

Liddle’s penchant for racist and sexist remarks isn’t the only reason for concern though. 

He’s also a climate change denier.

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?

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