Mitchell Anderson

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Mitchell Anderson is a Vancouver based researcher and writer.

He worked for eight years as a staff scientist at Sierra Legal Defence Fund and has written extensively on environmental and social policy issues for a variety of national and international publications.

His blog is found at:

Assessing the Midterm Damage in DC

As the dust settles on DC, many are now wondering what toll the midterm results will take on climate science and energy policy. The initial signs are ominous.

Rep. Joe Barton of Texas is angling for chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee where he could further favor his friends in the fossil fuel industry. Barton strongly apposes Congressional efforts to cut carbon emissions, telling NPR last week, “There will be no cap-and-trade bill … It’s not just endangered, it’s extinct.” He also accepted almost $400,000 in contributions last year from electrical utilities and the oil and gas industry.

Barton embarrassed even some of his Republican colleagues when he apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward during his testimony to Congress after the Gulf oil spill. If the optics of Barton chairing the energy committee are too odious, the runner up will likely be Fred Upton of Michigan - perhaps not a major improvement.

Both men voted against clean energy legislation. Upton has also vowed to kill the Congressional Select Committee on Climate Change, saying “the American people do not need Congress to spend millions of dollars to write reports and fly around the world. We must terminate this wasteful committee.”

But is Congress considering the implications of climate change really such bad investment? The climate committee cost about $8 million per year. This is less than one percent of what scientists believe climate change could cost the US economy - about $1.8 trillion per year - if we chose to ignore it.

Mars - Graveyard for Billionaires?

NASA has just trotted out their latest astronomically expensive plan to put people on Mars. This scaled down scheme will only cost $10 billion but there’s a catch - you can’t come back. Instead the space agency is planning to send a select few on a one way trip to establish a permanent colony on the Red Planet, bankrolled by the world’s wealthiest humans.

Glaciers Disappear in Namesake Park

Glacier National Park might soon need a new name. The northern Montana refuge just lost another two of its namesake ice fields to climate change and park officials warn the remaining twenty-five could be gone by the end of the decade.

A glacier needs to be at least ten hectares to qualify for the title and so far one third of glaciers in the park have slipped below that threshold. Of the 12 that have melted away, 11 have done so since 1966. Overall glacier acreage in the park in 2005 has sank 18 percent since that time.

The latest two to drop off the list lost 55% of their area since the mid 1960’s and the rest are going fast. “When we’re measuring glacier margins, by the time we go home, the glacier is already smaller than what we’ve measured,” said Dan Fagre, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The exodus of ice also threatens a $1 billion tourism industry in the area. Disappearing glaciers and warmer temperatures will lower stream flows, impacting fishing and rafting outfitters.

Harper Government Stifles the Truth

The scandal is growing at Environment Canada of how Canadian climate researchers are being “muzzled” by draconian policies of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

This week the Montreal Gazette reported on a leaked document showing that the information restrictions brought in by the Harper government have severely restricted the media’s access to government researchers.

“Scientists have noticed a major reduction in the number of requests, particularly from high-profile media, who often have same-day deadlines,” said the Environment Canada document. “Media coverage of climate change science, our most high-profile issue, has been reduced by over 80%.”

The Mythical Tuvalu Pineapple

First there were sunspots. Then cosmic rays. Now comes the latest “proof” being trotted out by the climate denial crowd… pineapples.

Swedish Scientist Nils-Axel Morner is claiming that sea levels in the island nation of Tuvalu are not rising there, or anywhere else. Why?

According to memo submitted by Morner to the Britsh House of Lords, “the truth seems to be that a Japanese pineapple industry had subtracted too much freshwater by that forcing saltwater to invade the subsurface.”

To recap, sea is not rising- the land in Tuvalu is instead sinking due to inept irrigation by Japanese pineapple companies and local farmers who want to cover up their blunder. This is apparently proof that the largest peer-reviewed exercise in scientific history is in the measured words of Morner, the “greatest lie ever told”.

There’s one small problem with this line of thought. There have never been pineapple plantations on Tuvalu. This tasty tropical fruit cannot wipe away decades of peer-reviewed scientific research since it was never grown on the tiny South Pacific islands.

Canadian Government Doubts Climate Science?

Ever wonder why the government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is such an international pariah on climate change? Maybe its because they don’t believe in science.

A former minister and current member of Harper’s government penned a letter this week lauding Canada for its inaction on reducing carbon emissions because he believes climate science is hooey.

Maxime Bernier, Canada’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs stated in the French language daily La Presse:

“Every week that goes by confirms the wisdom of our government’s modest position…There is, in fact, no scientific consensus. What’s certain is that it would be irresponsible to spend billions of dollars to impose unnecessarily stringent regulations to resolve a problem whose gravity we still are not certain about. The alarmism that often characterized this issue is no longer at stake. Canada is right to be cautious.”

Bernier went on to opine that the sun might be responsible for temperature changes and that the Earth might actually be cooling.

Who Hacked the CRU?

More evidence is being unearthed on the sophisticated cyber-burglary of more than 1,000 emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) that sheds light on who did the stealing and why.

An interesting post on IT-NETWORKS picks apart what is currently known about the hack job and what it can tell us about the identity of the hacker and their motivations.

Forensic data analysis reveals that the hacker was in a time zone somewhere in the eastern US or Canada. Rather than a single breach of security, the hacker was also able to access confidential CRU on four different occasions over a six-week period.

The IT-NETWORKS analysis also points out that only a small portion of the emails stolen was actually released. The hacker took the trouble of sifting out all the routine messages about holidays and fire alarms and possibly much more.

Why Won't Monckton Join the Scientific "Debate"?

Lord Christopher Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is again sharing his pearls of wisdom on climate change. His latest offering is an “original paper” produced for the non-peer reviewed, and mysteriously funded front group called the “Science and Public Policy Institute”.

A real scientist named Dr. Andrew Glikson at the Australian National University took the time to rebut Monckton’s arguments, which is available here.

I would point out that “Lord” Monckton is not and never has been a member of the British House of Lords, having received zero votes in his latest bid to be included in that body. Nor is he a scientist, instead receiving an undergraduate degree in classics and a diploma in journalism studies.

However, he does have quite a bit to say on the subject of climate science, referring variously to researchers in the field as “liars”, “frauds” and “bed-wetters”.

It is strange that someone that spends so much time hectoring scientists never seems to attend scientific conferences, or have his material published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

It is like someone bragging that they are a better golfer than Tiger Woods without ever entering a tournament.

Urban Heat Island Myth is Dead

Another climate change denier myth - this one a favorite of Anthony Watts and his Watts Up With That” blog - has just bit the dust.

Many skeptics for years have sought to explain away decades of climate research by showing slides of weather station thermometers sited next to heating vents or surrounded by asphalt.

This much-touted “urban heat island effect” was supposed to trump all those fancy graphs and equations that egghead scientists were fixated on. Except it’s not true.

A recent peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research looked at data from 114 weather stations from across the US over the last twenty years and compared measurements from locations that were well sited and those that weren’t.

They did find an overall bias, but it was towards cooling rather warming.

According to the authors,

the bias is counter intuitive to photographic documentation of poor exposure because associated instrument changes have led to an artificial negative (“cool”) bias in maximum temperatures and only a slight positive (“warm”) bias in minimum temperatures.”


The Latest Smear Campaign Against Michael Mann

The climate denial echo chamber is again in high gear trying to assassinate the character of respected scientist Michael Mann of Penn State. Their latest ruse is to squawk that Dr. Mann is the indirect recipient of federal stimulus dollars.

That is not at all surprising since last year $3 billion in federal stimulus funds was provided to the National Science Foundation in addition to their normal budget of about $6 billion. That means that about one third of all research grants from the NSF nation-wide benefited from stimulus money.

Lets drill a little deeper into this smear campaign. Penn State and the University of Hawaii both shared a grant of $770,000 for a research project called “Improved Projections of the Climate Response to Anthropogenic Forcing: Combining Paleoclimate Proxy and Instrumental Observations with an Earth System Model”.

Of this money, Dr. Mann received $57,000 (or 7.5%) over a three-year period, or $19,000 a year. Clearly these climate scientists are in it for the money…