Richard Littlemore

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Co-author (with Jim Hoggan) of the award-winning Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, Richard has been Editor of the DeSmogBlog since its inception in 2005. Originally a newspaper reporter (the Ottawa Citizen, the Winnipeg Tribune, the Vancouver Sun), Richard has, since 1995, split his career between magazine journalism, activism and politics and corporate communications. On projects specific to climate change, he wrote the David Suzuki Foundation’s first public information package on global warming in 1996, was vice-chair of the Greater Vancouver Regional District's Air Quality Committee in 1996 and 1997 and sat as a delegate to the Canadian government's (failed) Kyoto Implementation Process from 1997 to 1999. Richard is a regular speech writer for many business and academic leaders.

Reviewers trash Monckton's Congressional testimony

A group of top climate scientists have provided Congress with an exhaustive and devastating review (attached) of the professional denier Christopher Monckton’s May 6, 2010 testimony before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

In his usual style, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley parlayed his notoriety into an invitation to testify before the committee and then assured its Members that the world’s best climate scientists are completely mistaken about climate science - an assurance that he feels free to give regardless that his own thin academic credentials relate exclusively to journalism and classics.

In response, five actual scientists (led by the indefatiguable Dr. John Abraham of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota) contacted more than 20 world-class climate experts and requested critiques of nine specific assertions that Monckton had made before Congress. For Monckton watchers, the result is predictable. And if Monckton had a capacity for embarrassment, he would be humiliated by the content.

Fool Me Once: Thorough - and devastating - explanations

Those in search of clear, accessible explanations that debunk the latest denier talking points will be delighted to discover Wellesley College postdoc Alden Griffith and his website, Fool Me Once.

The site’s subtitle is perfect and perfectly accurate - “What climate change deniers fear most: thorough explanations” - and Griffith provides two such explanations, so far. They’re in the form of PowerPoint-style presentations with a voice-over and they categorically destroy the notion that (in Christopher Monckton’s mendacious phrase) “Arctic sea ice is just fine” or that “global warming has stopped.” I only wish that I had wallet-sized copies of Griffith’s graphs so I could flash them at annoying relatives who parrot these lines as if they have some validity.

Arctic Sea Ice Taking a Turn for the Worse

The National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Co., has posted an update on the state of Arctic ice, saying that current conditions point to a bad year, but not a record-breaker.

“If the daily rate of decline this August follows the average August rate of decline for 1979 to 2000, the daily sea ice minimum in September would be 5.00 million square kilometers (1.93 million square miles), considerably higher than the record minimum of 4.13 million square kilometers (1.59 million square miles) observed for September 16, 2007.”

But if you look at the current graph, the ice is NOT following “the average August rate of decline.” And if you look closely at the inset illustration showing the distribution of multi-year ice, and then read the NSIDC analysis under the heading, “Older, thicker ice melting in the southern Beaufort Sea,you will see the threat of long-term ice collapse.

Clive Crook: Atlantic columnist libels Michael Mann - again

The Atlantic columnist Clive Crook has taken yet another unconscionable swipe at Penn State climatologist  Michael Mann, throwing evidence to the wind in a column that Crook himself might describe as “splenetic hyperventilation” or even “operatic ranting.”

Crook’s principal crime is to accuse Mann “of groupthink, a preference for data that point in the right direction, efforts to deflect or neutralize opposing points of view, and the selective packaging of findings for public consumption ….” In trying to justify that accusation, the “senior editor” at The Atlantic has patched together an unconvincing and (as Joe Romm of ClimeProgress demonstrates here) inaccurate batch of quotes and other clumsy misinformation.

Crook’s secondary crime is his effort to pass himself off as someone who is “open-minded,” who stands with the “sensible critics” and who is “of moderate opinion.” Alas for what passes as moderation at The Atlantic these days. Crook painted himself into a corner with an untenable position and an incorrect accusation against Mann. If he had any grace, he would have apologized and corrected the record. His immoderate and increasingly desperate campaign to malign Michael Mann surely excuses him from the ranks of the sensible.

Monckton Watch: Lordly Phony Threatens Phony Suit

The British House of Lords has once again disavowed any association with the embarrassing Christopher Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, even as his Lordship has labored to earn even wider notoriety by threatening a lawsuit against yet another U.S. academic.

The Lordly disavowal came in response to a very funny letter of inquiry from the wonderful wiseacres at Friends of Gin and Tonic (temporarily the “Lords of Gin and Tonic” in faux tribute to the self-promoting Viscount).

Monckton himself launched the unconvincing legal threat against Scott Mandia, a professor at Suffolk County College in Seldon, New York. In addition to operating an excellent informational website on climate change, Prof. Mandia also runs his own blog, on which he had the impertinence to call out Monckton for his earlier ridiculous attacks on University of St. Thomas Professor John Abraham.

BP Legal Strategy: Hire and Gag Scientists

Ben Raines of the Alabama Press Register is reporting that BP is trying to hire scientists who are doing research in the oil-damaged Gulf of Mexico and then binding those scientists with legal agreements that will enable BP to bury their work and prevent them from testifying against the company.

Cary Nelson, national president of the American Association of University Professors, has a good commentary about the matter here, condemning BP’s effort at censorship and calling for universities to work with their faculties to establish ethical standards for industry collaboration that champion the public interest and discourage faculty members from selling their freedom of speech and research to the highest bidder. - Another "friend" of science?

Update: Friends of Science advertised CC101

Update #2: In the website coding, the mailing address is the same for the CC101 and the Friends of Science. Here’s a screenshot. [thanks for the tip from one of our great commenters!]

A new “grassroots” organization has emerged - coincidentally on the same server as the rightfully maligned Friends of Science. arose this month, as if from nowhere and it offers narry a name or address on its website. The About Us section says only that, “We are a group of private citizens who have studied all aspects of climate change for many years.”

(Update: Thanks to the good folks at Friends of Gin and Tonic, I am now informed that Friends of Science actually launched CC101 as a service for those of its fans who were not up to the challenge of the recently revived FOS site. The full and typically entertaining message from FOGT exec-director Dr. Roger Romney-Hughes is appended below.)

It may not be fair, though, to say they arose from “nowhere,” because the website registration clearly says that they emanate from the fossil (fuel) capital of Drumheller, Alberta - from the same small server that harbours Friends of Science.

The site is a typical retread of the same old discredited arguments. They claim global average temperatures are falsely inflated by the heat island effect, when that has easily and repeatedly been proved incorrect. They say that ice is getting thicker on Greenland and in the Antarctic without bothering to address the fact that ice mass in total is declining at a worrying rate in the North and South poles.

Canadian journalism: sublime; ridiculous

The Post gets one right;

the Globe chooses cowardice over context

Two recent newspaper pieces throw a peculiarly Canadian slant on the scandalously unprofessional job that many in mainstream media have been doing in covering climate change.

The most shocking - and wonderful - contribution came last week from the National Post, the home of some of Canada’s silliest and most beligerent climate change deniers, including Terence Corcoran, Peter Foster, Lawrence Solomon and Rex Murphy. In an excellent critique of blindly ideological climate change denial, Post Comment Pages Editor Jonathan Kay says flatly that, Global-warming deniers are a liability to the conservative cause. Kay then dismantles several laughable positions championed by journalists he does not name - but whom he will now have to avoid in the Post lunchroom.

The second article appeared last Saturday in the Globe, under the heading: The Endless Summer. Noting that it’s “the hottest year in recorded history, the Globe offers 659 mostly well-researched words on the details of our planetary fever without once mentioning the phrases “climate change” or “global warming.” At one point, the writers, Anna Mehler Paperny and Patrick White, say, “International climate experts are at a loss to explain why these local phenomena are happening all at once.”


Monckton exposes his rebuttal: So much blather; so little substance

The motor-mouth Monckton - which is to say, Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley - has authored a 48,000-word Response to John Abraham (attached). It is a breathless and libelous screed that can lead to only one certain conclusion: the good Lord doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

For those catching up, John Abraham is a professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, who some months ago released a detailed critique of an earlier Monckton presentation. Abraham found Monckton’s work sadly lacking. Monckton misquoted or mislabelled sources; he promoted positions that were unsupported in his material; he bobbled his math; he manipulated or inadvertently misrepresented graphical information and he arrived at conclusions that were, in Abraham’s own generally careful words, “absurd.”

Monckton is outraged (which appears to be a permanent condition - either outraged or outrageous). In a response that goes on for 99 tiresome pages, he calls Abraham a liar, and accuses him of bad faith, malice and academic dishonesty. The Viscount then insists that Abraham and his unversity atone for their sins by paying $110,000 in “damages” to a charity of Monckton’s own choosing. This is couched as some kind of libel action in the court of public opinion - the only court where Monckton dare step: he’d be laughed out of town (and found libel for costs) if he tried any of this nonsense before even the most sympathetic judge.

Contemplating Arctic sea ice collapse

Wondering whether weather indicates climate

The latest graph tracking un unprecedented plunge in Arctic sea ice measurements raises once again the question of when you can look at a weather event - a dramatic and unprecedented weather event - and make a relevant and reasonable assumption about what is happening to the climate.

Given the enthusiasm that the denier community brings to challenging assumptions at the contestable edge of science, I’d be wary about saying, unequivally, that this graph shows climate change in action. It’s only part of one year’s data. Admittedly, it’s compared to an average over a much longer time, but it’s still just one year. That’s why you might want to look at the next graph: