Blog Archive

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Meet The Climate Denial Machine: Patrick Michaels, Marc Morano, Anthony Watts, Myron Ebell, Steve Milloy, Larry Bell, Joe Bastardi, Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Cato, Koch dirty oil money

Meet The Climate Denial Machine

by Jill Fitzsimmons, Media Matters, 

Despite the overwhelming consensus among climate experts that human activity is contributing to rising global temperatures, 66% of Americans incorrectly believe there is "a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening." The conservative media has fueled this confusion by distorting scientific research, hyping faux-scandals, and giving voice to groups funded by industries that have a financial interest in blocking action on climate change. Meanwhile, mainstream media outlets have shied away from the "controversy" over climate change and have failed to press U.S. policymakers on how they will address this global threat. When climate change is discussed, mainstream outlets sometimes strive for a falsebalance that elevates marginal voices and enables them to sow doubt about the science even in the face of mounting evidence.

Here, Media Matters looks at how conservative media outlets give industry-funded "experts" a platform, creating a polarized misunderstanding of climate science.

Heartland Institute And James Taylor

The Economist has called the libertarian Heartland Institute "the world's most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change." Every year, Heartland hosts an "International Conference on Climate Change," bringing together a small group of contrarians (mostly non-scientists) who deny that manmade climate change is a serious problem. To promote its most recent conference, Heartland launched a short-lived billboard campaign associating acceptance of climate science with "murderers, tyrants, and madmen" including Ted Kaczynski, Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. Facing backlash from corporate donors and even some of its own staff, Heartland removed the billboard, but refused to apologize for the "experiment."
Heartland does not disclose its donors, but internal documents obtained in February reveal that Heartlandreceived $25,000 from the Charles Koch Foundation in 2011 and anticipated $200,000 in additional funding in 2012. Charles Koch is CEO and co-owner of Koch Industries, a corporation with major oil interests. Along with his brother David Koch, he has donated millions to groups that spread climate misinformation. Heartland also receives funding from some corporations with a financial interest in confusing the public on climate science. ExxonMobil contributed over $600,000 to Heartland between 1998 and 2006, but has since pledged to stop funding groups that cast doubt on climate change.
Despite their industry ties and lack of scientific expertise, Heartland Institute fellows are often given a media platform to promote their marginal views on climate change. Most visible is James Taylor, a lawyer with no climate science background who heads Heartland's environmental initiative. Taylordismisses "alarmist propaganda that global warming is a human-caused problem that needs to be addressed," and suggests that taking action to reduce emissions could cause a return to the "the Little Ice Age and the Black Death." But that hasn't stopped Forbes from publishing his weekly column, which he uses to spout climate misinformation and accuse scientists of "doctoring" temperature data to fabricate a warming trend. It also hasn't stopped Fox News from promoting his misinformation.

Competitive Enterprise Institute

The libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute has sponsored paid advertisementsop-eds, and blogs that misrepresent scientific research to downplay the threat of climate change. CEI's director of energy and global warming policy Myron Ebell shed light on their motivation to muddle the science on the PBS Frontline special "Climate of Doubt":
We felt that if you concede the science is settled and that there's a consensus, you cannot -- myrthe moral high ground has been ceded to the alarmists.
By dismissing the scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to climate change as "phony," CEI can justify standing in the way of government action to reduce emissions. To make its case, CEI dispatches its "experts" -- many of which have no scientific background -- to do media appearances and op-ed pieces casting doubt on climate science and opposing any potential solutions. Ebell has been cited by Fox News,Forbes and even CNN as an energy and environmental policy expert. Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis Jr. has written in ForbesNational Review and the National Journal opposing clean air rules.
CEI has received funding from the American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil, Texaco, General Motors and the Koch Family Foundations among other fossil fuel interests over the last decade.

Chris Horner And The American Tradition Institute

Perhaps the most visible member of CEI's environmental team is Chris Horner, a lawyer who often appears on Fox News to cast doubt on climate science and claim that scientists are manipulating temperature data to manufacture a warming trend. At both CEI and The American Tradition Institute (ATI), Horner has filed Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests in an attempt to access anything to embarrass climate scientists.
The American Tradition Institute (ATI) is a free-market think tank focused on blocking environmental regulations and "battling radical environmentalist junk science head on." ATI was launched in 2010 by the American Tradition Partnership (ATP), an industry-backed advocacy group that has fought campaign finance disclosure laws and was accused in the 2010 election cycle of corruption and money laundering. ATI is funded primarily by ATP and a handful of individuals and foundations with ties to the oil industry.
ATI Executive Director Tom Tanton is an energy industry consultant who has conducted research for the American Petroleum Institute and formerly served as the vice president of the oil industry-funded Institute for Energy Research. Weather forecaster Joe Bastardi and climate skeptic blogger Steve Milloy serve as advisorsto the think tank.

Manhattan Institute And Robert Bryce

The Manhattan Institute is a free-market think tank that advocates a "pro-growth" agenda on fossil fuels and downplays the scientific consensus on climate change. It's website states that it is "unclear" whether human activity is contributing to rising global temperatures, adding: "Despite the certitude with which the media and politicians treat the issue, the science remains muddled." 
The Manhattan Institute has received funding from ExxonMobil and the Koch Family Foundations over the last decade. It previously questioned the science on the health effects of tobacco after receivingfunding from the tobacco industry.

Robert Bryce, a Senior Fellow at the think tank,regularly authors op-ed pieces for prominent mainstream and conservative publications and appears on Fox News promoting fossil fuel production and downplaying the potential of renewable energy. On climate change, Bryce has said: "I don't know who's right. And I don't really care." In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Bryce claimed that the "science is not settled, not by a long shot." He went on to suggest that a report of neutrinos that travel faster than the speed of light is sufficient reason to question climate science.

Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation, one of the country's most influential conservative think tanks, casts doubt on the scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to climate change and opposes efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. A 2010 white paper states: "The only consensus over the threat of climate change that seems to exist these days is that there is no consensus." Senior Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman has said that "global warming is clearly not a crisis and should not be addressed as one." Citing presentations on "Climategate" at a Heartland Institute conference, he accused UN scientists of conspiring to "manufacture a global warming crisis."

Heritage runs an online database of policy "experts" that includes climate contrarians Fred Singer, Cato's Patrick MichaelsHeartland's Joseph BastCEI's Myron Ebell and Chris Horner, and'sSteve Milloy.
The Heritage Foundation has received funding from ExxonMobil and the Koch Family Foundations.

Cato Institute And Patrick Michaels

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, contributes to the climate confusion by amplifying the voice of Patrick Michaels, the only climate scientist on our list of prominent climate contrarians. Michaels, who previously estimated that "40 percent" of his funding comes from the oil industry, is Cato's sole climate change expert. He is frequently quoted by major media outlets and has a Forbes column that he uses to downplay the threat of climate change. Other scientists have criticized him formisrepresenting their work.

Cato was co-founded by Charles Koch and has received millions from the Koch family. Past corporate donors include ExxonMobil, General Motors and the American Petroleum Institute.

American Enterprise Institute

In 2007, The Guardian reported that the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) was offering scientists and economists $10,000 each to write articles critical of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report on climate change. The Guardian noted that AEI has received substantial funding from ExxonMobil and that former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond -- a vocal climate change skeptic -- served as AEI's Vice Chair. AEI criticized the story, saying they merely sought to subject the IPCC report to "serious scrutiny and criticism" but were not doubting the "existence of global warming."
Nevertheless, AEI scholars have repeatedly downplayed the threat of climate change. Steven Hayward, whowrites for National Review, has said that climate concerns are based on "propaganda" and that efforts to reduce emissions are "based on exaggerations and conjecture rather than science." Former AEI president Christopher DeMuth acknowledged in 2001 that the earth has warmed but claimed "it's not clear why this happened." But some other AEI scholars have endorsed a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Marc Morano

Marc Morano runs the climate denial website He previously worked for Rush Limbaugh and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) -- both vocal climate change deniers.
Although he has no scientific background, Morano has declared that the science of manmade climate change is "collapsing." He has called global warming a "con job" and said that climate scientists "deserve to be publicly flogged." Morano often appears on Fox News to spread misinformation on climate change, and Rush Limbaugh has repeatedly used his material to attack climate scientists.
Climate Depot is sponsored by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a conservative think tank that has received funding from ExxonMobil and Chevron. CFACT dismisses the scientific consensus on climate change and maintains that "real world evidence" shows that "global warming claims are failing." To spread its message, CFACT organized the Copenhagen Climate Challenge -- a conference of climate contrarians -- to coincide with the UN climate conference in 2009.

Anthony Watts

Anthony Watts, a former television weatherman and climate skeptic who believes the U.S. temperature record is "unreliable," runs the blog Watts Up With That. The blog features the fringe views of climate misinformers like Christopher Monckton and Fred Singer as guest authors and conservative media have previously seized on its misleading content.
In 2009, Watts was a driving force behind the controversy over leaked "Climategate" emails. In September 2012, he was at the center of a controversial PBS segment that aired his views as a "counterbalance" to climate experts without mentioning his ties to the industry-funded Heartland Institute. Watts was paid by the Heartland Institute for his work on temperature stations and is a regular speaker at Heartland conferences.

Steve Milloy 

Steve Milloy is a lawyer and former tobacco industry consultant who was hired by the American Petroleum Institute to develop a PR strategy to downplay the threat of climate change. He has called those concerned about global warming "whacked out, intellectually and morally bankrupt." The Washington Times regularly publishes columns by Milloy, and he frequently appears on Fox News to dismiss the need for government action to address climate change and air pollution.
Milloy runs, which has previously obscured the risks of pesticides, ozone depletion, breast implants, asbestos and secondhand smoke and now seeks to similarly "debunk" global warming.
The site was initially sponsored by The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), a now-defunct PR front group funded by tobacco giant Philip Morris to downplay the danger of cigarette smoke. TASSC later received funding from Chevron, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, Occidental Petroleum and other corporate donors. is currently run by the Citizens for the Integrity of Science (CFIS), which does not disclose its donors. 

Joe Bastardi

Joe Bastardi is a meteorologist for WeatherBell Analytics, where he provides weather forecasts for energy companies and other corporate clients. He also serves as an advisor to the American Tradition Institute and a Fox News contributor. Although he has no climate expertise, Fox regularly turns to him to analyze climate research. Bastardi, who has called manmade global warming "an obvious fraud," has often been criticized by scientists for his "utter nonsense" on climate change.
Bastardi is not the only dubious source of climate misinformation on Fox News. Fox anchors and contributors regularly mock the threat of climate change and suggest that winter weather invalidates global temperature records. Rather than talking to actual climate scientists, the network turns to industry-funded climate denialists -- including CEI'sChris Horner, the Manhattan Institute's Robert Bryce, Climate Depot's Marc Morano and's Steve Milloy -- to mislead its viewers on climate science. Fox Nation, a branch of, regularly cites the British tabloidThe Daily Mail and distorts climate research to declare that global warming isn't happening.

Matt Ridley

Science writer Matt Ridley frequently uses his Wall Street Journal column to dismiss the threat of climate change and argue that climate scientists should not be trusted. Ridley has suggested that "the threat of a dangerously large warming is so improbable as to be negligible" and has compared climate scientists to eugenicists. The Journal does not disclose that Ridley is an unpaid advisor to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which was founded by the chairman of a company that represents several major oil companies.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page has also cast doubt on climate change, calling it a "fad-scare" and claiming that the science is "disputable." In January 2012, the Journal published an op-ed by 16 scientists and engineers -- most of which do not conduct climate research -- to muddle the science and undermine action on climate change, yet reportedly rejected a climate change essay by 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences.

Larry Bell

Larry Bell, an architecture professor who has not published any peer-reviewed climate research, wroteClimate of Corruption, in which he argues that "politics is responsible for the global warming hoax." Forbes provides Bell a weekly column where he often casts doubt on manmade climate change, which he incorrectlysays is "based upon speculative theories, contrived data and totally unproven modeling predictions" when in fact there are several observed lines of evidence of rapid climate change.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dr. Kerry Emanuel talks "Sandy" with Peter Sinclair

From Peter Sinclair's "Climate Denial Crock of the Week": Sandy and the Age of Super Storms, November 28, 2012

by Peter Sinclair:

I interviewed hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel of MIT, and asked him for a blow by blow analysis of the GOES satellite animation of hurricane Sandy.  He expertly complied, and added a number of additional details. I’ll be posting more of his raw interview later.  I also talked to Jason Box, of the Byrd Polar Center, and added in a number of other resources for context, including a revealing anecdote from former GOP congressman Joe Scarborough.


Bill O'Reilly fan sees James Balog's documentary "Chasing Ice"

Bill O'Reilly fan sees James Balog's documentary "Chasing Ice" and decides global warming is real and she has to do something about it.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Alex Smith, Radio EcoShock: Ravaging Tide or Renewable World?


Can big cities like New York or Washington protect against storm surge and rising seas? 3 interviews. Mike Tidwell, author of "The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Coming Death of America’s Coastal Cities." Professor J. Court Stevenson, University of Maryland, on city surge defenses around the world. Daphne Wysham interviews German Green Parliamentarian Hermann Ott: leading the way to renewables before climate collapse. Radio Ecoshock 121107 1 hour.

Listen/download Radio Ecoshock 121107 in Lo-Fi (14 MB)

No matter who gets elected in the United States, fossil fuel companies won. This year, big oil, coal, and gas made more money than anyone in the history of money. The Supreme Court decision called "Citizens United" let big corporations spend hundreds of millions to fund politicians.

But there was another judgement made recently. In the Court of Nature: reality has spoken. Deny climate change all the way to the bank, but we will all pay billions, even pay with our lives, as Earth's climate is destabilized.

With Hurricane Sandy, the residents of New York and New Jersey got an ugly taste of the "different planet" James Hansen has warned us about for the past 25 years.

Can we protect New York City from the next big surge of rising seas? What about Washington and Baltimore? What happens to all that expensive real estate with ocean-front views?

We talk with University of Maryland scientist J. Court Stevenson about storm surge controls around the world. It will cost tens of billions, but as always, the cost of doing nothing is even more.

We can still prevent the worst by switching to renewable energy. Daphne Wysham brings us a key interview from Germany, where renewables are booming.

Our guest is Hermann Ott is a Green Party Member of the German Federal Parliament. But even he knows renewables can't power our current over-amped civilization. We must power down.

But we start this radio program with the man who wrote the book on New York, predicting the whole mess we've just seen in a book published six years ago. That's Mike Tidwell.

Tidwell wrote about hurricane damage to New Orleans in his 2003 book, two years before Katrina hit. His predictions about New York, all based on science, were published in 2006. What city is next? Insurance companies are pulling out of the coast...

Includes sample clip of NY native Billy Joel's "Miami 2017" rewritten and performed live in New York for the Hurricane Sandy NBC/Red Cross benefit Nov 2 2012.

Revealed: NERA Economic Consulting is Third Party Contractor for DOE LNG Export Study

by Steve Horn, DeSmogBlog, November 19, 2012
Reuters has revealed the identity of the mysterious third party contractor tasked to publish the economic impact study on LNG (liquefied natural gas) exports on behalf of the Department of Energy (DOE). Its name: NERA Economic Consulting.
"NERA" is shorthand for National Economic Research Associates, an economic consulting firm SourceWatch identifies as the entity that published a June 2011 report on behalf of coal industry front group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). ACCCE's reportconcluded, "clean-air rules proposed by the Obama administration would cost utilities $17.8 billion annually and raise electricity rates 11.5 percent on average in 2016."
That report went so far to say that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations of the coal-generated electrcity sector would amount to some 1.5 million lost jobs over the next four years.
NERA was founded by Irwin Stelzer, senior fellow and director of the right-wing Hudson Institute’s Center for Economic Policy. In Oct. 2004, The Guardian described Stelzer as the "right-hand man of Rupert Murdoch," the CEO of News Corp., which owns Fox News. 
According to NERA's website, the late Alfred E. Kahn, the "father of deregulation," advised NERA's 1961 foundation
In 2010, NERA published a letter to the New York Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to protest the prospective closure of theIndian Point Nuclear Power Plants.
A NERA report from earlier this year provided the basis for the popular King Coal refrain that the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Rule would cost the U.S. tens of billions of dollars and "kill" 180,000-215,000 jobs.

These figures were picked up and cited by climate change denier U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) in June when he spoke out against President Barack Obama's mythological "war on coal," as well as by the Republican Policy Committee in a May policy paper titled, "Obama’s War on Coal." 
With a track record like this, it's best to view whatever report the Obama Administration's DOE (aka NERA) produces on the economic impact of LNG exports, set to come out by the end of the year, with extreme skepticism if not downright hostility.

Second US Tar Sands Mine, Owned by Former ExxonMobil and Chevron Exec, Approved in Utah

by Steve Horn, DeSmogBlog, November 20, 2012
MCW Enterprises Ltd., a Canada-based corporation, announced on Nov. 19 that it has received all necessary permits to streamline tar sands extraction at its Asphalt Ridge plant located in Vernal, Utah starting in December.
The announcement comes just weeks after U.S. Oil Sands Company received the first ever green light to extract tar sands south in the United States.
Recently changing its name from MCW Energy, MCW Enterprises Ltd. owns MCW Oil Sands Recovery LLC as a wholly owned subsidiary. The company's CEO, R. Gerald Bailey -- often also referred to as Raymond Bailey or Jerry Bailey -- is the former President of Exxon Arabian Gulf and also served as an Executive for Texaco (since purchased by Chevron) for 15 years.
MCW's website explains that its stake in the Asphalt Ridge is a "proven/probable resource of over 50+ million barrels of oil" and that it "is seeking other oil sands leases in Utah, which contains over 32 billion barrels of oil within 8 major deposits." 
Bailey told Flahrety Financial News that he sees this first project as a crucible, or testing grounds, with the potential for more extraction to come down the road. 
"This is really going to be a technology play," he stated. "I don't plan to build another Exxon out there in the desert."

The Frac Sand Connection

In June 2012, Temple Mountain Energy (TME) - also based in Vernal, UT - cut a five-year oil sands supply agreement deal with MCW. 
"Under this five year Supply Agreement, Temple Mountain will supply MCW with 8,333 tons of oil sands material per month until the year 2016," MCW's website explains.
Once the bitumen is extracted, TME plans on selling the fine-grained sand under which it sits to unconventional oil and gas companies forhydraulic fracturing ("fracking").
"The recent rapid expansion of shale gas and shale oil drilling...has greatly increased the need for fracking sand in this region," TME wrote on it website. "Asphalt Ridge is well-positioned to serve this high-volume market—both in terms of geographic location and in terms of sand quality." 
To date, frac sand mining companies have targeted five states - WisconsinMinnesotaTexas, Arkansas, and Iowa - transforming tens of thousands of acres of land into "Sand Land." Utah is soon to become number six.

Race for What's Left: End of "Easy Oil," Heavy Price to Pay

With domestic unconventional oil and gas wells under-producing, setting the stage for the shale gas bubble to burst, the push to extract tar sands in the United States is a depiction of the oil and gas industry's reckless push to extract every last drop in a "race for what's left."
The age of "easy oil," to borrow the term from scholar Michael Klare, is over. In a May 2012 interview with, Bailey acknowledged this as well, stating that the "cheap, easy oil is pretty much behind us."
Bailey defines "cheap" here with regards to the price of extracting the "tough oil" from a production point-of-view.
But as the Alberta tar sands north of the border have shown, it's the ecosystem and climate that really pays the heaviest price of all.