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.

Coulter gets a lesson in hurling invective

Ann Coulter has a reputation for being a smart mouth with a thorough contempt for civil discourse - and a bewildering disinterest in actual evidence. For example, this is what she says about climate change:

“There are more reputable scientists defending astrology than defending ‘global warming’.”

As if she would know ….

But for pure smartness of mouth, you gotta love Allan Rock, the former Liberal cabinet minister who now sits as the President of the University of Ottawa. Rock, in commenting on his concerns that Coulter was going to speak at his university, offered this, just-released assessment:

“Ann Coulter is a mean-spirited, small-minded, foul-mouthed poltroon. She is ‘the loud mouth that bespeaks the vacant mind.’

She is an ill-informed and deeply offensive shill for a profoundly shallow and ignorant view of the world. She is a malignancy on the body politic. She is a disgrace to the broadcasting industry and a leading example of the dramatic decline in the quality of public discourse in recent times.”

For the record.

Christopher Monckton humiliated yet again

If the Viscount of Brenchley says it;

does that mean it HAS to be wrong?

Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley has been caught once again with his facts around his ankles.

Like others before him, Brigham Young University Professor Barry Bickmore has taken the time to check whether Monckton’s pronouncements can pass any objective standard of accuracy and he has found, “SPOILER ALERT: The final result is classic Monckton” - a carefully constructed, but infuriating opaque veil of academic references, a loose mix of relatively accurate facts, and a conclusion that is precisely contrary to that drawn by the experts whom Monckton claims to quote.

Syncrude Guilty in Duck Deaths

Syncrude was convicted today of provincial and federal charges for the deaths of 1,600 ducks that got sucked into the slime in the company’s tar sands tailing pond in April 2008.

The company is now liable to fines of up to $800,000 and company officers face jail time, but a date for sentencing has yet to be set and no one believes that either level of government will throw the book at Canadian oil executives.

Syncrude had argued that it was operating its toxic waste dump with provincial and federal permits and that any conviction would render a continuation of the tar sands industry impossible. The judge wasn’t buying. He noted that Syncrude has crews dedicated to deterring birds from landing in its oily sludge, but observed that the crews only work Monday to Thursday. Apparently, the judge took as unreasonable Syncrude’s apparent optimism that migratory birds would take the weekend off.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week: Sinclair Rocks!

Rick George Defends Oil Industry's Poor R&D Record

Transocean’s Man in the Tar Sands

Suncor President and CEO Rick George - who is also on the Board of Directors of the Gulf-spilling service company, Transocean - seems to have spent Tuesday stumbling over his own tongue. First, he annoyed Alberta Deputy Premier Doug Horner by supporting a carbon tax that is applied evenly across the country.

That, Horner groused, amounts to a national energy policy, the likes of which no Alberta politician will ever tolerate.

Then, at the same event (an Air and Waste Management conference in Calgary), the Suncor boss both prodded the oil and gas industry to do more research - and then rose incredibly to defend the industry’s current, pathetic R&D record.

BP funds full court press by DC lobbyists

The Washington Post has done a nice round-up of how desperately BP is trying to circle the lobbyists in an effort to minimize the political price it will pay for devastating the Gulf Coast.

But per Jim Hoggan’s analysis here last week, no amount of PR spin will rescue the company when its own partner, Anadarko, is accusing BP of recklessness and incompetence.

The lobbyist line, of course, is that they’re just there to help. In fact, the Post quotes “a lobbyist for one of the key players,” saying this:

“I think for the most part the lobbyists for all the companies have just been trying to give information to people; it has not been focused on policy questions at all. There’s a thirst for information despite the media saturation.”

Wouldn’t that sound so much more convincing if BP (“5,000 barrels per day”) had been disseminating information that was accurate?

Oreskes, Conway exposing the Merchants of Doubt

Naomi Oreskes,  professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego, and Erik Conway, an historian at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab are stumping about these days in support of their excellent new book, Merchants of Doubt.

As you might expect from someone with Oreskes’ exemplary background, Merchants is a painstakingly careful review of the climate change denial campaign. She and Conway have traced the whole, odious action back to the late 1980s and the early work of the George C. Marshall Institute, which they aregue convincingly was ground zero for the denial industry.

For a taste quick taste of their position, check this CNN feature.

Monckton bashing "left" and "right"

Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, attracts some pretty colorful criticism, but it’s a bit stunning to see someone at the climate-skeptical Telegraph* call Monckton “a fantasist, a blethering popinjay useful only for amusement.”

Unfortunately, you can’t read that quote on the Telegraph* website where blogger Tom Chivers wrote it in the first place. After a complaint from Monckton’s own noble self, his allies in self-delusion have had it deleted. But the original piece is still available to all at Tenney Naumer’s blog, Climate Change - the Next Generation. (Thank you, Tenney.)

Chiver’s position, convincingly rendered, is that Monckton has made himself a goof, a paragon of “utter scientific illiteracy,” and, as such, has become an embarrassment to the denier community.

That accords perfectly with the stuff that George Monbiot has been writing at the Guardian. Monbiot says,

“Lord Monckton is digging his hole ever deeper, and dragging down into it everyone stupid enough to follow him. Those of us who do battle with climate change deniers can’t inflict one tenth as much damage to their cause that Monckton wreaks every time he opens his mouth.”

Monckton launches vitriolic - but harmless - attack on critic

Update: Abraham response appended below

University of St. Thomas Professor John Abraham has drawn blood.

Abraham has been getting a lot of attention for his devastating deconstruction of a presentation by Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. And while Monckton first (and wisely) declined to respond, the appearance of Abraham’s work in the Guardian this week, and the praise rendered there by columnist George Monbiot, pushed the lurid Lord over the edge, giving rise to a vicious, petty and insulting rejoinder that is all-but-entirely free of substance.

Oh, it’s true that Monckton tries to cherry pick a few weaknesses in Abraham’s thorough exercise in discreditation. For example, Lord Chris attacks Abraham’s criticism of two graphs that Monckton had patched together from data apparently originating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Abraham complains, quite rightly, that Monckton is not sufficiently forthright with his sourcing and sloppy (or, one might speculate, deliberately mischievous) with his data.

Monckton howls back that one of the graphs in question was clearly sourced to “the SPPI’s well-known global-temperature index, compiled monthly from four separate global-temperature datasets.” And what, pray, is the SPPI? Well that would be the SPPInstitute - the oily Science and Public Policy Institute, of which Christopher Monckton is the Chief Policy Advisor. So, Lord Chris makes up a sloppy graph at the SPPInstitute, references it inadequately in his talk and then defends himself on the basis that he is using “well-known” sources.  A perfectly closed, perfectly fallible loop.

Friends of Gin and Tonic: Drunk on Science and Satire

“Denier” Site Best New Addition to the Web

Run on over to Friends of Gin and Tonic, a website being run by a Calgary-based centre dedicated to “Self Interest and Climate Change Denial.”

FOGT is a quirky mixture of satire and science. It’s a highly entertaining send-up of the Friends of Science (an organization that is silly enough to require very little satirizing), but it’s also a wonderful fact-checking site that is clearly being run by people who are solid on the science.

Unlike FOS material, the FOGT references are actually current, correct and represent that best science available today. The high-quality analysis - especially the debunking of denier material - can get confusing as writers flip sometimes too quickly between send-up and science. But it anyone who had NOT been dipping into the gin - or paying too much attention to the Tim Ball brigade is sure to be able to sort it all out. And regardless, it’s well worth the ride. Very funny and very well-informed.