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:

Run! The Glaciers Are Coming!

Another ridiculous propaganda effort just emerged from climate denial industry. Robert Felix of is writing US Senators urging them to vote against the Markey Waxman bill because not only is climate change a bunch of hooey, but we are actually on the verge a new ice age.

Who knew??

Felix trots out a laundry list of glaciers around the world that are racing towards us: “In May, Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier was advancing at the rate of seven feet per day - more than half-a-mile per year. And in Icy Bay, at least three glaciers have advanced a third of a mile in one year…More than 90 percent of the world’s glaciers are growing…”

Sounds like crap? It is. In fact virtually all glaciers in Europe, North and South America and Asia are in rapid retreat. A report released last week showed Swiss glaciers have declined 12% in the last ten years.

The Jakobshavn Isbræ glacier in Greenland started rapidly retreating in 2002 and is now losing 100 feet per day. 

In Antarctica, the massive Wilkins shelf disintegrated this April - a slab of ancient ice the size of Jamaica. A recent study found that one third of Antarctic sea ice could be gone be the end of the centrury.

The list goes on. However, Mr. Felix is instead urging US Senators to believe exactly the opposite.

George Monbiot's Troll Problem (and Ours)

George Monbiot has a great article this week citing DeSmog Blog, regarding the vexing issue of “trolls”. Not the kind that live under bridges, but those faceless cyberspace monikers that pop up frequently in comment sections of blogs likes this one, to repetitively froth away against climate science.

Are these real people? Or are they operatives in the employ of Big Oil?  “Paul S”? “Phlogiston”? I’m talking to you.

It seems that Monbiot has same problem that we do. On the Guardian website, a small minority of anonymous “skeptics” often dominate the discussion by regurgitating talking points from well-known climate deniers. Sound familiar?

When Monbiot challenged his trolls to reveal their identity, or even confirm or deny whether they are posting from a PR office, he has never got a straight answer.

Monbiot also names DeSmogBlog as one of the sites leading the charge in unmasking those behind the Big Oil’s PR campaign. We have accumulated our own collection of trolls and they do seem to have a lot of time on their hands…

So why wouldn’t the oil or coal industry hire trolls to undermine our work, or Monbiot’s? Clearly, they are already investing heavily in cyberspace.

We have already reported how Big Coal is spending more than $20 million on their on-line efforts to convince the public that coal is “clean”.

Valley of Death for Big Coal?

Is Big Coal getting worried? You bet. A desperate appeal went out this week from the website “Expose” to pitch in on their robo-fax campaign to kill the Waxman Markey bill.

The usual climate-denial hyperbole is now reached the shrill pitch of a dentist’s drill:

“The U.S. House – on a day that shall live in infamy – passed this so-called Cap-and-Trade legislation by the narrow margin of 219-212, with the help of eight Republican-in-Name-Only turncoats.”

There are few more howlers in this on-line appeal:

“Senators need to wake up and consider [Climate expert] Christopher Moncton’s common sense solution for the global warming fantasy that he identifies as a non-problem. It is, he says, “To have the courage to … do nothing.””

Christopher Moncton?

The skeptical brain-trust seems to have hit rock bottom. Otherwise known as the“3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley,” Moncton holds no scientific degree, instead having graduated with a diploma in journalism.

This does not stop him from hectoring the scientific community for their shoddy work, or appearing as an “expert” at events hosted by the Heartland Institute in the company of the likes of F. Fred Singer.

The folks behind the kill the Waxman bill campaign are also relying on the credibility of Senator James Inhofe, who famously called climate change “a hoax.”

Perhaps we should instead question the credibility of Mr. Inhofe, who accepted $662,506 in donations from oil companies between 2000 and 2008, and $152,800 in coal contributions during the 110th Congress alone. $94,500 of those dollars were from industry PACS.

"Suppressed" Climate Report Cribbed From Patrick Michaels?

The folks at Fox News were fuming this week that the EPA apparently suppressed an internal “scientific report” that questioned the rational for listing CO2 as a pollutant under the Clear Air Act.

The report, however, is neither secret nor scientific.

It’s not secret because it has been posted on the websites of the Heartland Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and several other think tanks with a record of using any excuse to deny climate change science. The full file is available here.

The person listed as the author of the report, Alan Carlin, is not a scientist, but an economist who works for National Center for Environmental Economics. But Carlin also had some help.

Several years ago, Ken Gregory of the Astroturf group Friends of Science compiled an eye-glazing compendium of pseudo science questioning climate change. Real Climate points out that Carlin has imported sections of this verbatim, crediting Gregory 20 times in the report.

Carlin also referenced Christopher Monckton and S. Fred Singer, a politician and a lapsed scientist, both of them darlings of the denial industry.

But what about un-referenced sources? Plugging Carlin’s report into Plagiarism revealed a whole series of unreferenced sections lifted verbatim from one of the deans of the denial industry, Patrick Michaels, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.

Republicans Cribbing from Big Coal?

It’s a small world after all. Turns out that a PowerPoint being trotted out by House Republicans to undermine the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill was apparently created by none other than dirty fuel giant Peabody Energy.

Grist broke this hilarious story by burrowing into the PowerPoint file properties, revealing the “author” was Peabody CEO Greg Boyce and their communications services manager Chris Taylor was listed as the file “manager.”


As if Republican clean energy opponents needed another hit to their already battered credibility, it seems the fossil fuel industry is now even writing their talking points for them.

The PowerPoint and related teleconference event was apparently intended to“highlight how the Democrats’ National Energy Tax will make it more expensive for rural Americans to fertilize the crops, put fuel in the tractor and food on the table.”

Such scare tactics are now in high rotation on the Hill as the battle heats up for the energy  future of America. Separate bills in the House and Senate are being assailed by vested interests in the powerful carbon lobby, as evidenced by this latest incredible fiasco.

Three Full-Page Whoppers from the Heartland Institute (Part Two)

The Heartland Institute has reared its hoary head again, this time fronting three full-page color ads in the Washington Post targeting lawmakers now debating the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) on Capitol Hill.

As I mentioned in my last post, it is not often the denial machine resorts to something as clumsy as buying media exposure. This indicates just how desperate their oily funders are to avoid meaningful regulation of filthy fuels.

That they have managed to dodge this bullet for so long, illustrates just how brilliant Big Oil has been at precluding pesky laws for their dangerous product.

I promised in my last post to pull apart some of the knee-slappers and nose-stretchers in these full-page propaganda pieces and I will try not to disappoint. There is plenty to work with…

Three Full-Page Whoppers from the Heartland Institute (Part One)

You can often judge progress by the reaction of those opposed to it. If that’s true, we may finally be getting somewhere.

The notoriously unethical Heartland Institute is blowing a bundle of cash in an all-out effort to derail climate change legislation moving through Congress. The Heartland folks have never been overly encumbered by either ethics or accuracy and their latest effort is no exception.

Heartland is fronting three full-page ads in the Washington Post, transparently targeted at lawmakers now horse-trading over the draft American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES).

So what does that kind of action cost? According the Washington Post website, close to $250,000. But that is pocket change for Big Oil and Big Coal, who stand to lose big if US climate policy moves into the 21st century.

The ads deadpan three hilariously audacious whoppers:

I’ll deal with the content of the full-page propaganda effort in a separate post but the first thing to note is the desperation of the tactics.

These are sophisticated players and such ham-handed lobbying techniques are typically a last resort in the public relations toolkit. This latest move illustrates just how isolated vested oil and coal interests have become in the climate change debate.

Carbon Capture Won't Solve the Tar Sands - Canada's Environment Minister

it’s official. Canadian Environment Minster Jim Prentice fessed up to what experts have been saying all along: that carbon capture and storage (CSS) is close to useless for mitigating the massive emissions from the Alberta tar sands.

Canadian Prime Minister Harper is no doubt pissed that his potential leadership rival has gone off message on such an important issue of spin.

In an editorial board meeting with Globe and Mail Prentice admitted: “CCS is not the silver bullet in the oil sands.”

Strange. That’s not what his boss said when he committed at least $650 million in taxpayer’s dollars towards this bitumen boondoggle. Harper is a big booster of CSS, stating that:

“This new technology, carbon capture and storage, when fully commercialized … will collect carbon dioxide emissions from oilsands operations and coal-fired electrical plants and seal them deep underground.”

It also obvious that Harper either didn’t read, or care about, the secret memo from his own scientists several months earlier stating exactly the opposite:

“Only a small percentage of emitted CO2 is ‘capturable’ since most emissions aren’t pure enough,” the notes say. “Only limited near-term opportunities exist in the oilsands and they largely relate to upgrader facilities.”

The Cato Institute and Patrick Michaels - It's a Small World After All

It’s not often the public gets to follow the money trail, so it was a treat this week when PR Watch revealed the Cato Institute has been bankrolling a consulting company owned by notorious climate denier Patrick Michaels to the tune of $242,900 since April 2006.

Michaels is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and according to tax documents uncovered by PR Watch for 2006 and 2007, Cato ponyed up almost a quarter million to Michaels’ firm New Hope Environmental Services for “environmental policy” services.

Small world eh?

MIT Researchers Unveil Climate Roulette Wheel

Scientists from MIT revealed the most comprehensive study so far on climate change and, as usual, the latest news is not good.

Projected warming of the planet will be at least twice as bad as previously believed, and could kill billions this century unless there is “rapid and massive action” on reducing global carbon emissions.

So freaked out are the researchers by these results, they resorted to using a roulette wheel to illustrate just how dangerous the do-nothing option is.

The MIT scientists published the peer-reviewed results in the Journal of Climate showing a 90% probability of global temperature will rise as much as 7.4 degrees Celsius, more than twice the previous projection from 2003.