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: http://mitchellanderson.blogspot.com

Alberta Lobbying Hard in Washington on Cap and Trade Bill

Posteriors are puckering throughout the Alberta oil patch as long-overdue climate and green economy legislation moves through the US Congress. The provincial government has responded by hiring Washington lobbyists at $500,000 per year to try and ensure whatever bill gets passed is so watered down that does not impact the dirtiest oil on Earth.

Premier Ed Stelmach of course frames it differently: “There’s so much at stake for Alberta, and we’ll be applying a full-court press not only on elected officials but also on the U. S. administration. It’s important that Alberta has a way of ensuring the right information gets to the policy-makers and the decision-makers.”

What he is worried about is that meaningful cap and trade legislation would further undermine the already marginal economics of the massive tar sands operation.

The foreign market for synthetic crude includes only one country: the United States. Who knew that one day America would move price carbon emissions? Apparently not the operators that have invested billions into the bitumen boondoggle only to see oil prices collapse and cap and trade legislation that will hit the tar sands like a two by four.

Saying this colossal capitial project is exposed on carbon pricing is a mild understatement. Synthetic crude produces at least three times the emissions as conventional oil. These emissions will increase as shallow deposits are exhausted and production moves to non-mining methods. Tar sands emissions already exceed those of 145 nations on Earth.

Any way you slice it, the cap and trade carbon pricing system moving its way through Washington may turn the tar sands into an investment quagmire.

Climate Change a Hoax After All - Who Knew?

We’re sorry. What more can we say?

It was just revealed that so-called climate change actually is a hoax, perpetrated by that fiend Al Gore.

Numerous luminaries in the scientific community owned up with their own mea culpas when the gigantic ruse was revealed on this day, April 1, 2009.

With the exception of a few visionaries, virtually every scientist on Earth was taken in by the former Vice President’s compelling power point presentation. The humiliation was palpable.

I am deeply ashamed for having unwittingly perpetuated such a massive fraud on the governments of the world,” said Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, calling the grand climate hoax a “cunning deception spanning decades”.

I have to admit, Al got me good,” said NASA’s Dr. James Hansen as he packed up his personal belongings at his office at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. “Despite my decades of experience in climate modeling and satellite meteorology, I would just get mesmerized whenever Gore started showing me all those fancy charts and tables. The man is a real Svengali.”

Our Friend CO2

One of the stupider arguments making the rounds in the media is that “carbon-dioxide-is-not-pollution– it’s life”.

In fact, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) produced a hilarious commercial saying just that.

Friendly footage shows how CO2 comes from little girls blowing dandelion seeds, and prancing gazelles. Then cue the ominous music: “now some politicians want to label carbon dioxide a pollutant – imagine if they succeed. What would our lives be like then?

Perhaps a bit of back-story is in order. The CEI has received a whopping $2,005,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. Their point person on climate change is the notorious Myron Ebell who is so pathologically pro-oil he once claimed that good gas mileage is a mass killer.

So what are the CEI (and their funders in the fossil fuel industry) so worried about? After decades of the atmosphere being used as a free dumping ground for astronomical amounts of carbon dioxide, the federal government is finally considering putting some regulations on our friend CO2.

It is no surprise that this proposed policy is about as popular with Big Oil as a fart in a diving bell.

NASA Reneges on Transparency - Still No DSCOVR Documents

It was welcome news last month when Congress committed $9 million to refurbish the long-overdue Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). Good start. So how about some information to go with it?

Desmog blog readers will recall the long and fruitless quest to wring documents out of NASA about the bizarre story of the DSCOVR spacecraft. This $100 million instrument was fully completed eight years ago yet has been sitting in a box in Maryland ever since.

DSCOVR was designed to directly measure climate change for the first time ever by observing our warming planet from the unique vantage of the Lagrange Point - one million miles towards the Sun.

The climate denial industry has been regularly harping on the unreliability of low Earth orbit satellite data for years. Strange then, how the very experiment that could resolve such issues was mothballed – over the strenuous objections of dozens of leading researchers.

I struggled for over a year to extract any kind of internal documents from NASA using the Freedom of Information Act and got nowhere. After 11 months of stonewalling, the space agency elected to withhold an unknown number of documents due to some very bizarre rationales. I appealed later in 2007 and was also turned down.

Then Barack Obama was elected President of the United States….

David Bellamy Gets It Completely Wrong on Climate Change Science

There’s another strong contender for the Christopher Booker Prize for Bullshit Reportage of Climate Science.

The latest challenger is David Bellamy, a former BBC broadcaster who has been holding forth on his rather hostile views on climate science.

In a video interview with a British newspaper, he calls peer-reviewed journals as “the last thing I would use now.”

Huh?

If Bellamy has indeed written off the entire scientific community, where is he getting his information to back up his remarkable claims that carbon emissions are not driving climate change?

Hard to say… George Monbiot does an admirable job of trying to unravel Bellamy’s convoluted arguments in an article last week. Let’s try and follow the faint trail of breadcrumbs dropped by the UK’s leading climate change denier.

The Heartland Institute's Skeptic Handbook - Get Out the Shovel...

Most climate denial material is all over the map so it is a pleasant change to have a nice clear target.

I am talking about the “Skeptic’s Handbook” that the notorious Heartland Institute is helpfully printing 150,000 copies of for distribution across the US including 850 journalists, 26,000 schools, “19,000 leaders and politicians”.

The mass printing of this climate propaganda piece is being funded by an “anonymous donor”. It is odd that “someone” feels strongly enough to shell out that kind of money but also wants their identity concealed. We do know that the Heartland Institute has been bankrolled to the tune of $676,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. Nuff said.

It is also interesting that this latest product of the denial machine is washing over the nation less than a month after the US government released their Climate Change Literacy brochure – cosigned by 13 federal agencies and 24 educational and scientific partners.

Membership in the supposed climate change conspiracy now includes such well known eco-freaks as the Department of Defense, the Department of the Interior and the US Forest Service.

The handbook itself is hilariously illogical. It coaches “skeptics” to avoid talking about the evidence of changing climate - for obvious reasons presumably. According to them, something may be heating things up, its just not carbon dioxide. Independent thinkers are instead counseled to follow these four cookbook points:

  • The greenhouse signature is missing
  • Ice Cores do not support carbon as a driver of climate change
  • Temperatures are not rising
  • Carbon dioxide is doing almost all the warming it can do.

All of these points are either entirely wrong or grossly misleading. Lets get out the shovel and start unloading this pile of manure.

Death to the CBC!

Lorne Gunter recently vented his spleen about the CBC, and the National Post blowhard is clearly feeling a little threatened by the beleaguered national broadcaster.

“The CBC will never be able to exorcize its left-wing missionary zeal – for global warming, for Islam, for big government, Barack Obama, multiculturalism, public health care, human rights commissions and so on. And it could never survive on private donations or ad revenues. So the only thing to do with Mother Corp is to pull down its office buildings and stations and pour salt in their foundations.”

Besides the other perceived sins of zeal for Islam, Obama and public health care, Gunter has the gall to call for the abolition of our seventy-three year old national network due to their comparatively impeccable coverage of climate science.

I am flummoxed by my inability to describe just how dishonest and absurd Gunter’s argument is. Bear with me as I struggle to scale this seemingly insurmountable peak.

Desmog Blog readers know well how we feel about the monotonously inaccurate coverage by the National Post about our scientific understanding of climate change. I struggled to itemize all the factual errors in one single article by Gunter and could not do the subject justice in under 800 words.

On the suggestion of a Desmog Blog reader, I happily nominateChristopher Booker Prize d Mr. Gunter for the Christopher Booker Prize for Bullshit Reportage of Climate Science, sponsored by George Monbiot and the Guardian. Godspeed Mr. Gunter – I am rooting for you.

His employer, the National Post felt it important to send reporters to the climate deniers conference in New York, sponsored by the hilariously unethical Heartland Institute. In contrast, they neglected to send correspondents to either the UN Climate conference in Poznan Poland, or the recent gathering of 2.500 of world’s leading climate scientists in Denmark.

I could go on but you get the point. I make no claim of being a brilliant researcher, but I must say unearthing the abundant errors in the work of Mr. Gunter and other staffers at the Post has been like shooting fish in a barrel with a RPG.

Now why would that be? Professional journalists are typically superb at research, fact checking and correctly citing sources – assuming they want to. In deference to their obvious skills as media veterans, one can only ask the pregnant question: are they instead willfully misleading their readers?

Saying Sorry is Hard to Do (Maybe We Can Help)

Lorne Gunter was wrong.

How can it be? For someone that has spread such a load of manure about climate science, it was interesting he owned up to two token errors in an otherwise typical anti-climate rant last week.

It was such a minor mea culpa however, we thought we should help him with bigger stuff. After all, the National Post has become such a sad excuse for a newspaper they don’t belong to any press council in Canada. This means that the reading public doesn’t even have a professional body to complain to.

So here we go Lorne – a quick jaunt through some of the whoppers in a single column earlier this month. If you or your editors want to take a crack at fact checking or properly citing your sources, there is something called the “internet” that might help. Maybe you can try this on your own next time, assuming that’s something you want to bother with.

On March 9, Gunter proclaimed that William Happer was not a climate denier but an expert on “the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases”. Sounds like he has some valuable expertise on climate change.

Wrong. Happer is not a climate scientist at all. He even said so himself. His main research focus is using MRIs to image lungs.

Is he a climate denier? You be the judge. In spite of having no apparent peer-reviewed publications on climate science, he felt qualified to give testimony to the US senate on the subject.

Real climate scientists were not amused. Dr. Bill Chameides, the Dean of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Duke University wrote an excellent rebuttal to the load of dung dished out by Happer in his testimony to US lawmakers.

Another significant citiation point conveniently omitted by Gunter is that Happer is also Chair of the George C. Marshall Institute, which has received more than $700,000 from ExxonMobil. Of course, a ten second Google search by Gunter might be too much to ask of a professional journalist like himself.

Harper Handout for Friends at National Post?

Readers of Desmog Blog know very well what we think of the outrageously inaccurate editorial position of the National Post on climate science.

We have often wondered, “Why would a paper on the verge of bankruptcy consistently print articles so clearly wrong about such a high profile issue? What’s in it for them?”

Well the murky waters are becoming slightly more clear. CanWest Global Communications, the parent company of the National Post has been bleeding red ink for years. Their crushing debt now tops a whopping $3.7 billion and the latest deadline to make a massive loan repayment is early next month.

What to do? Now comes word that CanWest has hired Ken Boessenkool to lobby the government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for concessions to keep the doors open.

Boessenkool is not just any old lobbyist. He a close confident of Harper and the reclusive Harper doesn’t have many of those. Boessenkool worked with Harper since 2000 and was his chief policy advisor in the 2004 election. He recently was with enormous PR firm Hill and Knowlton in Calgary.

Boessenkool is also registered lobbyist on behalf a number of fossil fuel and tar sands giants including Suncor, Enbridge and TransAlta. TransAlta also has an interest in Harper’s favourite climate panacea – carbon capture and storage.

Climate Clowns Grumpy Over New Learning Resource

Climate change “skeptics” are feeling a little down today.

The US government under the umbrella of 13 federal agencies and 24 educational and science bodies just published a brochure called “Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science”.

Guess what? They all agree that climate change is not a hoax.

This 17-page document will be distributed across the nation and covers the basics of climate science, how the energy budget of our planet works and the well-known dangers of climate change.

It is also a calculated counter-attack by the US government on the campaign by the fossil fuel lobby to keep the public confused about climate change.

“There is so much misinformation about climate,” said Tom Karl, director of the government’s National Climatic Data Center. “We want to provide an easily readable document to help everyone make the most informed decisions. Having one product endorsed by the nation’s top federal science agencies, as well as leading science centers and associations, makes this document an essential resource.” Karl said.

Amen to that Brother.

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