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.

Climategate in Perspective, Featuring Isaac Newton

Climate conspriricists pounced at the opportunity yesterday to draw grandiose conclusions from the illegal hacking of private emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. 

They wasted no time declaring global warming a vast science-wing conspiracy, orchestrated by a powerful handful of white-coats who, when not publishing in reputable peer-reviewed science journals, were (gasp) emailing each other to talk shop and vent about climate skeptic “idiots” (how un-PC).

The scandalistas say little about the fact that this breach of security and publishing of private communications is a crime, content to enjoy the opportunity to cherry-pick a few lines from these internal emails to push the skeptic theory of a sinister master plan by mainstream scientists to warn humanity that man has altered the climate in dangerous ways.

The Telegraph’s resident skeptic blogger, James Delingpole, immediately labeled this episode “Climategate,” pondering whether this is “the final nail in the coffin of ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming.’”

Big Pharma Lobbyists Script Speeches In U.S. Congress, Industry Fights Against Generic Drugs

While our focus here at DeSmogBlog is to expose the public relations and lobbying antics that hinder effective responses to climate change, we are always on the lookout for other examples of how lobbying and PR impede progress on critical legislative efforts to protect people instead of profits.

The health care reform bill in front of the U.S. Congress provides several noteworthy examples, perhaps none so appalling as that described in a front-page New York Times article this week about the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to script the floor speeches delivered by members of the House of Representatives.

The article, “In House, Many Spoke With One Voice: Lobbyists’”, describes how lobbyists working on behalf of Genentech, one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies, succeeded in having their ghostwritten talking points repeated, often verbatim, by over 40 lawmakers on the House floor - 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats.

Genentech also succeeded in getting many of its willing spokespeople in Congress to mention the issue of generic drugs, a critical item on the industry’s lobbying agenda in the health care reform debate.  Genentech no doubt hoped to drum up additional support for an amendment put forth by Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA), in whose district Genentech is located.  Rep. Eshoo’s provision would have granted pharmaceutical companies up to 12 years of monopoly advantage – and perhaps longer – to sell their profitable cancer, diabetes and AIDS drugs without competition from cheaper generic forms.

Fred Singer, lacking nobility, still claims the Prize

Climate skeptics are, not surprisingly, hitting the European speaking circuit in the weeks leading up to the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen. But what is surprising is that notorious global warming denier S. Fred Singer was described at a skeptic conference today as a Nobel prize winner, a flat out lie.

According to a Belgian journalist who alerted DeSmog to Singer’s appearance today at a skeptic conference in the European Parliament building, Singer was described in event materials as:

“a reviewer of IPCC reports, he shares the 2007 Nobel peace prize with Al Gore and 2000 others.”


The idea that Fred Singer shares any part in the IPCC/Gore Nobel prize is laughable, of course.  Other than Mr. Gore, the Nobel committee recognized only the IPCC authors, and they all received framed Nobel certificates.  If Singer can produce a framed Nobel, I’ll produce my Olympic gold medal (Singer must eat cereal too, I sure enjoy the prizes inside, although I’ve never seen a Nobel peace prize before).

U.S. Climate Envoy Slams Inhofe's Attempts To Influence Copenhagen

At the U.S. delegation press conference this afternoon on the final day of the Barcelona climate talks, I asked U.S. deputy climate change envoy Jonathan Pershing what effect, if any, Senator James Inhofe (R-Denial) might have on the process in Copenhagen, and whether GOP intransigence is hurting Obama’s ability to come up with a firm number on U.S. emissions reductions.

Monster List: Skeptics Have Touted "Global Cooling" Theory Anywhere They Could

As word spreads about the Associated Press blind test examining the global cooling theory, which I wrote about earlier this week, I began to wonder how many times skeptics have tried to push this global cooling myth recently on the Internets.

So I perused the first 10 pages of results on Google for the term “global cooling” and discovered plenty of examples of skeptics hawking their global cooling theory on the usual suspect blogs and media outlets (with a few exceptions like the much-ballyhooed BBC News article earlier this month). Here is a sampling of the results of the search:

[Editor’s note: this is just the beginning of the monster list. Our research team is adding a ton more over the next couple of hours]

Investor’s Business Daily | October 12, 2009
Title: “Three Decades Of Global Cooling”
“Earth’s climate is influenced by many things, the least of which is the internal combustion engine. We and reputable scientists have noted the earth has cooled during the last decade, a period in which the sun has grown very quiet with little or no sunspot activity.”

BBC News | October 9, 2009
Article title: What happened to global warming?
“This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998. But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.”

Christian Science Monitor | October 10, 2009
“The Earth isn’t warming right now, is why. It may even be cooling down somewhat. Five major climate centers around the world agree that average global temperatures have not risen in the past 11 years, according to the BBC. In fact, in eight of those years, global average temperatures dipped a tad.”


Statisticians Confirm: No Global Cooling Despite Skeptic Spin

In a massive blow to the climate skeptic movement, the Associated Press has conducted a blind test of statisticians that unequivocally confirms that no global cooling trend exists

Despite the best efforts of a small handful of climate skeptics, who argue that the globe has cooled rather than warmed since the record hot year of 1998, no such cooling trend has taken place.

The Associated Press conducted the blind test by sending global temperature data from NOAA and NASA to four independent statisticians who were not told what the data represented, but simply asked to perform a common statistical analysis to look for trends in the data.

The statisticians “found no true temperature declines over time,” and in fact identified “a distinct decades-long upward trend in the numbers,” the AP reports.

Several statisticians quoted in the AP piece slam the climate skeptics who “cherry-pick” data in a “particularly suspect” attempt to denounce global warming.  Efforts to portray a global cooling trend since the record hot year of 1998 are “not scientifically legitimate,” and are the result of “people coming at the data with preconceived notions,” according to David Peterson, a retired Duke University statistics professor who analyzed the data for AP.

“To talk about global cooling at the end of the hottest decade the planet has experienced in many thousands of years is ridiculous,” said Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford.

“Ridiculous” indeed, but that has not stopped the handful of loud-mouthed climate skeptics from spreading this false claim.  Their efforts have proven successful at confusing the public, thanks in large part to the Drudge Report, FOX News and lazy journalists who fail to fact-check the skeptic arguments, providing oxygen to their baseless claims.

The Associated Press conducted a simple exercise that any self-respecting news outlet concerned with the facts rather than the confusionist spin could duplicate easily.  Don’t expect this news to silence the skeptics, but if you are a journalist, please let the skeptics talk amongst themselves, rather than polluting the public discourse any further.  And if you are a concerned news consumer, please do hold accountable any news outlet that continues to ignore this starkly obvious fact: there is no global cooling.  There definitely is global warming. 

It really is that simple.  Now can we talk about the critically important matter of how to address climate change with just a few weeks left until the Copenhagen Climate Summit?

Mohawk Paper Joins Chamber of Commerce Exodus

Mohawk Fine Papers became the latest company to resign from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over climate policy disagreements, adding more embarrassment to an already rough week for the Chamber.

According to the Mohawk press release:

“We believe that our continued membership in an organization that vigorously opposes sensible climate change policies is detrimental to our position as a business leader with a strong record in the areas of environmental innovation and climate protection,” says George F. Milner, Mohawk’s Senior VP, Energy, Environmental, and Government Affairs.

“We understand that the U.S. Chamber’s job is to promote policies that represent the consensus opinion of its membership; but the Chamber also has a responsibility to shape that consensus with vision, guidance and leadership that looks beyond ideological divisions. That is particularly important in the area of climate change policies,” Milner wrote in a letter to the Chamber last week.

The Incredible Shrinking U.S. Chamber of Commerce Faces Intense Pressure Over Extreme Climate Position

It turns out that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce only has 300,000 members, not the “more than 3 million” it claimed to represent just a day ago, before Mother Jones magazine questioned the business lobby’s inflated numbers.

The Chamber has now “quietly backed off” the 3 million figure, according to Mother Jones, which reports today that:

Since 1997, the “3 million” figure has appeared in print more than 200 times in newspapers and broadcast outlets of all sizes…
By contrast, the 300,000 figure, which appears nowhere on the Chamber’s website, is cited in the news database Lexis-Nexis only three times–infrequently enough to be mistaken for a typo.”


Getting called out for such “semantic tricks” is the least of the Chamber’s problems these days.

The Huffington Post reports that MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, the holding company owned by multi-billionaire Ronald Perelman, is debating whether to leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its extreme climate position and recent “Scopes Monkey Trial” challenge to the EPA over the Clean Air Act.

The Chamber has been losing members – real members out of its actual 300,000 or less total – at a rate of several each week lately.  Apple was the most recent in a string of high-profile defections including Exelon, Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources, Nike, Levi Strauss & Co. and PSEG

The exodus has weakened the Chamber’s credibility on the Hill at a critical time when business leaders are descending on Washington to lobby Congress to pass strong climate and energy legislation. Pete Altman at NRDC’s Switchboard blog has compiled a running tally of editorials from around the country criticizing the Chamber’s intransigence on climate change in a post titled “The U.S. Chamber’s Continuing Climate Credibility Crisis.”

House Committee Hearing To Investigate Coal Lobby’s Fraudulent Letters to Congress

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming is holding an investigative hearing on Thursday to further probe fraudulent letters sent to Congress by the coal industry’s public relations machine in an effort to derail clean energy and climate legislation.

The committee, chaired by Rep.  Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), has uncovered more than a dozen fraudulent letters sent to several members of Congress by Astroturf specialists Bonner & Associates, who were operating under contract for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).

Markey’s committee hearing will feature some of the central figures in the controversy, including victims of the fraud.  DeSmogBlog has written extensively on Bonner’s Astroturf work for ACCCE, documenting the disgraced D.C. firm’s attempts to derail passage of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill.  Fraudulent letters originating from Bonner’s office were sent on behalf of groups representing senior citizens, women, minorities and veterans in a repugnant scam.

Beyond exploring the specific evidence of Bonner’s fraud on Congress at the behest of the coal industry, the hearing will look generally at the practice of Astroturf, a vile public relations tactic sullying current debates over health care and energy legislation.  Industry-funded Astroturf involves the creation of a false appearance of actual grassroots support – often orchestrated by former tobacco lobbyists and fossil fuel industry apologists.

Bipartisan Report Claims Solving the Climate Crisis “Depends on Tropical Forests”

The bipartisan Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests released an extensive report today calling on the Senate to consider tropical forest preservation as a central necessity in the climate bill in front of Congress.  The group suggests that solving the climate crisis will be “nearly impossible without urgent efforts to stem tropical deforestation.”

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