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.

Canada's humiliation continues at COP 15

Pathetic Update: Prentice has now actually delivered the speech, as written except that he mentioned that Canada is a big, cold country, aligned with the United States. Funny, it was a big and even colder country when it committed in 1997 to a greenhouse gas reduction target that we are going to miss by more than 30 per cent. Does he think that the international community is completely stupid?

Greenpeace Update: Check the bottom of the post for a blistering reaction from Dave Martin at Greenpeace

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is hiding out in Copenhagen, too embarrassed to show his face in the COP15 plenary, the general meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. And who can blame him? Canada’s position is somewhere between colossally unhelpful and punishingly vacuous.

Take, for example, the national statement that Harper deputed to Environment Minister Jim Prentice. It features no commitments whatever - no targets, no money, no apology for past sins - just platitutdes and spin, and bad spin at that. It was released an hour ago, although the session is running behind and Prentice has not yet dragged Canada’s reputation even lower on the Fossil meter.

Emails: The "decline" comes out of hiding

For people who really want to understand the details of the emails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, the Christian Science Monitor has an excellent analysis of the tree ring “divergence” phenomenon that gave rise to the now-infamous line: “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

CopenChaos: Anxiety Rising, In and Out of Climate Summit

Update:Check the violence of police response on this video

Until today, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference hall in Copenhagen has been something like a dull Disneyland for grownups - defined by lineups and fleeting moments of interest or enterntainment. You lined up to register. You lined up for security. You lined up for documents. You lined up for food. And while you waited, canned demonstrations began and ended, like live theatre. When you finally got into meetings or news conferences, they lacked the excitement of a good amusement park ride, but given the multinational crowd, you still got the sense that it’s a small world after all.

Getting off the Metro today, however, it was a different story. After two days of sprawling, but orderly crowds - sometimes as many as 5,000 people standing in the cold, awaiting accreditation - the groups milling around today were mostly wearing police or army uniforms, carrying truncheons and, at one Metro stop, readying water cannon. It was clear, Dorothy, that we are not in Anaheim, anymore.

Document shows Canada removing emission restrictions

As if Canada’s performance on climate were not already the second worst among all countries surveyed by GermanWatch for the Global Climate Change Performance Index (we were aced for last place by Saudi Arabia), new documents discovered by the CBC show the Conservative government actually looking to WEAKEN the pathetic greenhouse gas emission limits that barely restrain the Alberta oil and gas sector.

The government, which has presented no plan to meet its humiliating target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by three per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, is now leaning toward giving the oil and gas sector even more room to pollute, leaving the responsibility for reducing emissions (should the country ever decide to do so) on individuals and businesses outside the industry that is primarily responsible.

As long as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s oil patch buddies are making money, though, what can go wrong?

US Secretary Chu Embarrassed to be Seen with a Canadian?

Update: Some several hours after the Star filed the story referenced below, Environment Minister Prentice’s office sent a copy of the photo to the left. Note there is absolutely no evidence that Secretary Chu is there under duress. (But the photo is not of sufficient quality to tell whether they have been photo shopped into the same room.) (Kidding. We’re kidding.)

U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu stiffed Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice today, refusing to help him “change the story” from the embarrassing spoof press release alleging that Canada was going to take a responsible position on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Toronto Star reports here that Prentice’s staff was desperate to get a photo op with the Energy Secretary, but that Nobel Laureate Chu has higher standards.

Serves Prentice right on a couple of counts, one of which is that he used this alleged media availability” as an excuse to cut short an earlier news conference. He said he would be “available” again later, but didn’t mention that he would only be available to shutter bugs, not to anyone who actually wanted to ask him a question.

Canada Commits to 40% Emission Cuts! NOT

Yes Men-like spoof enrages Canadian PM’s staff

For eager environmentalists, the press release must have seemed too good to be true: the Canadian government, until now offering a pathetic greenhouse gas emissions cut of just three per cent from 1990 levels, was now going to meet the most aggressive European target of 40 per cent.

But instantly upon its release, reporters in this sprawling press centre (seating for 2,000, not counting television, radio and wire-service journalists) starting wagging their heads: this was just not believable from the current Canadian government.

The next development, however, had everyone marvelling. The conservative and usually reliable Wall Street Journal had taken the bait, reporting “Canada Announces Major Shift at COP15 Climate Summit.” Except that was a spoof, too, although a particularly fabulous one. You could click back and forth on the links, from the story to the home page and to other pages, without ever realizing that you weren’t on a legitimate news site. It was only when you tried to Google the same story that thing revealed themselves as less than met the eye.

The Rear Guard: 1,100 Lobbyists Wait to Block Copenhagen Success

Thanks to the consistently brilliant work of the Center for Public Integrity, there is now an extensive online resource searchable for all the special interest groups and companies lobbying Congress on climate change (and on other issues).

The database is searchable by lobbyist, sector, time frame, or money (you can type in a dollar amount and find lobbying expenses at that amount or higher).

These are the people who will work to sabotage any reasonable agreement that happens (against the odds?) to emerge from this negotiation. Inspired by the deniersphere (which will argue that no action is necessary) and funded by fossil fuel industries that must, by necessity, roll back their businesses if the world is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they will be determined to stop the U.S. from implementing any commitments that are made here this week.

Now, at least, we can know who they are.

AP Review: Science not pretty, but not faked

There is a great review here by Seth Borenstein and a team of others at Associated Press. They looked at the emails, consulted some experts and concluded that the science remains robust, even if some of the emails were inappropriate in their tone and, at the time, overreaching in their ambition.

In the words of Mark Frankel, director of scientific freedom, responsibility and law at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, there is “no evidence of falsification or fabrication of data, although concerns could be raised about some instances of very ‘generous interpretations.’”

Expect this to be described as a smoking gun in the comment section below.

McIntyre: Misrepresenting the stolen emails

DeepClimate has nailed ClimateAudit’s Stephen McIntyre cold  in the clearly intentional misrepresentation of the stolen East Anglia emails.

Thanks to an astute and thorough reading of the emails, DeepC has shown McIntyre running partial quotes from the emails, but carefully deleting sections that show the comments to be made in integrity, good faith and with specific attention to the confusion that may arise from contradictory evidence.

For example, McIntyre reproduced this redacted quote:

“A proxy diagram of temperature change is a clear favourite for the Policy Makers summary. But the current diagram with the tree ring only data [i.e. the Briffa reconstruction] somewhat contradicts the multiproxy curve and dilutes the message rather significantly… This is probably the most important issue to resolve in Chapter 2 at present.. (Folland, Sep 22, 1999, in 0938031546.txt) [sic]”

Lancet: Climate Change is Passive Smoking on a Global Scale

In a comment piece entitled Climate Policy: Lessons from Tobacco Control, the medical journal The Lancet, Maria Nilsson, et al, point out the similarities between tobacco and climate change:

“In addition to causing huge damage to population health, both cause substantial adverse social, economic, equity, and gender effects. Both have long lead times between cause and effect, and both require long-term policies and monitoring systems. The number of countries implementing the policies effectively is far too low. Negative effects are increasing over time and will have greatest effects in low-income countries and poor populations. Both issues are influenced by strong vested interests; moreover, delaying tactics and the use of “junk science” by opponents of change have impeded effective policies.”

The authors also make the pointed observation that climate change is both deadly on a global scale and clearly a case of the richest countries in the world blowing a particularly dangerous smoke at the poorest:

“Climate change can be compared to passive smoking because those who generate the damage are not the same people as those who suffer (in the case of tobacco) or the same country (in the case of climate change); greenhouse gases are the largest externality the world has ever experienced.