Arquivo da tag: Negacionismo

Researchers say they’ve figured out what makes people reject science, and it’s not ignorance (Science Alert)

Why some people believe Earth is flat.

FIONA MACDONALD

23 JAN 2017

A lot happened in 2016, but one of the biggest cultural shifts was the rise of fake news – where claims with no evidence behind them (e.g. the world is flat) get shared as fact alongside evidence-based, peer-reviewed findings (e.g. climate change is happening).

Researchers have coined this trend the ‘anti-enlightenment movement‘, and there’s been a lot of frustration and finger-pointing over who or what’s to blame. But a team of psychologists has identified some of the key factors that can cause people to reject science – and it has nothing to do with how educated or intelligent they are.

In fact, the researchers found that people who reject scientific consensus on topics such as climate change, vaccine safety, and evolution are generally just as interested in science and as well-educated as the rest of us.

The issue is that when it comes to facts, people think more like lawyers than scientists, which means they ‘cherry pick’ the facts and studies that back up what they already believe to be true.

So if someone doesn’t think humans are causing climate change, they will ignore the hundreds of studies that support that conclusion, but latch onto the one study they can find that casts doubt on this view. This is also known as cognitive bias.

“We find that people will take a flight from facts to protect all kinds of belief including their religious belief, their political beliefs, and even simple personal beliefs such as whether they are good at choosing a web browser,” said one of the researchers, Troy Campbell from the University of Oregon.

“People treat facts as relevant more when the facts tend to support their opinions. When the facts are against their opinions, they don’t necessarily deny the facts, but they say the facts are less relevant.”

This conclusion was based on a series of new interviews, as well as a meta-analysis of the research that’s been published on the topic, and was presented in a symposium called over the weekend as part of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual convention in San Antonio.

The goal was to figure out what’s going wrong with science communication in 2017, and what we can do to fix it.

The research has yet to be published, so isn’t conclusive, but the results suggest that simply focussing on the evidence and data isn’t enough to change someone’s mind about a particular topic, seeing as they’ll most likely have their own ‘facts’ to fire back at you.

“Where there is conflict over societal risks – from climate change to nuclear-power safety to impacts of gun control laws, both sides invoke the mantel of science,” said one of the team, Dan Kahan from Yale University.

Instead, the researchers recommend looking into the ‘roots’ of people’s unwillingness to accept scientific consensus, and try to find common ground to introduce new ideas.

So where is this denial of science coming from? A big part of the problem, the researchers found, is that people associate scientific conclusions with political or social affiliations.

New research conducted by Kahan showed that people have actually always cherry picked facts when it comes to science – that’s nothing new. But it hasn’t been such a big problem in the past, because scientific conclusions were usually agreed on by political and cultural leaders, and promoted as being in the public’s best interests.

Now, scientific facts are being wielded like weapons in a struggle for cultural supremacy, Kahan told Melissa Healy over at the LA Times, and the result is a “polluted science communication environment”.

So how can we do better?

“Rather than taking on people’s surface attitudes directly, tailor the message so that it aligns with their motivation,” said Hornsey. “So with climate skeptics, for example, you find out what they can agree on and then frame climate messages to align with these.”

The researchers are still gathering data for a peer-reviewed publication on their findings, but they presented their work to the scientific community for further dissemination and discussion in the meantime.

Hornsey told the LA Times that the stakes are too high to continue to ignore the ‘anti-enlightenment movement’.

“Anti-vaccination movements cost lives,” said Hornsey. “Climate change skepticism slows the global response to the greatest social, economic and ecological threat of our time.”

“We grew up in an era when it was just presumed that reason and evidence were the ways to understand important issues; not fear, vested interests, tradition or faith,” he added.

“But the rise of climate skepticism and the anti-vaccination movement made us realise that these enlightenment values are under attack.”

Global warming hiatus disproved — again (Science Daily)

Study confirms steady warming of oceans for past 45 years

Date:
January 4, 2017
Source:
University of California – Berkeley
Summary:
Scientists calculated average ocean temperatures from 1999 to 2015, separately using ocean buoys and satellite data, and confirmed the uninterrupted warming trend reported by NOAA in 2015, based on that organization’s recalibration of sea surface temperature recordings from ships and buoys. The new results show that there was no global warming hiatus between 1998 and 2012.

A new UC Berkeley analysis of ocean buoy (green) and satellite data (orange) show that ocean temperatures have increased steadily since 1999, as NOAA concluded in 2015 (red) after adjusting for a cold bias in buoy temperature measurements. NOAA’s earlier assessment (blue) underestimated sea surface temperature changes, falsely suggesting a hiatus in global warming. The lines show the general upward trend in ocean temperatures. Credit: Zeke Hausfather, UC Berkeley

A controversial paper published two years ago that concluded there was no detectable slowdown in ocean warming over the previous 15 years — widely known as the “global warming hiatus” — has now been confirmed using independent data in research led by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and Berkeley Earth, a non-profit research institute focused on climate change.

The 2015 analysis showed that the modern buoys now used to measure ocean temperatures tend to report slightly cooler temperatures than older ship-based systems, even when measuring the same part of the ocean at the same time. As buoy measurements have replaced ship measurements, this had hidden some of the real-world warming.

After correcting for this “cold bias,” researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded in the journal Science that the oceans have actually warmed 0.12 degrees Celsius (0.22 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade since 2000, nearly twice as fast as earlier estimates of 0.07 degrees Celsius per decade. This brought the rate of ocean temperature rise in line with estimates for the previous 30 years, between 1970 and 1999.

This eliminated much of the global warming hiatus, an apparent slowdown in rising surface temperatures between 1998 and 2012. Many scientists, including the International Panel on Climate Change, acknowledged the puzzling hiatus, while those dubious about global warming pointed to it as evidence that climate change is a hoax.

Climate change skeptics attacked the NOAA researchers and a House of Representatives committee subpoenaed the scientists’ emails. NOAA agreed to provide data and respond to any scientific questions but refused to comply with the subpoena, a decision supported by scientists who feared the “chilling effect” of political inquisitions.

The new study, which uses independent data from satellites and robotic floats as well as buoys, concludes that the NOAA results were correct. The paper is published Jan. 4 in the online, open-access journal Science Advances.

“Our results mean that essentially NOAA got it right, that they were not cooking the books,” said lead author Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group.

Long-term climate records

Hausfather said that years ago, mariners measured the ocean temperature by scooping up a bucket of water from the ocean and sticking a thermometer in it. In the 1950s, however, ships began to automatically measure water piped through the engine room, which typically is warm. Nowadays, buoys cover much of the ocean and that data is beginning to supplant ship data. But the buoys report slightly cooler temperatures because they measure water directly from the ocean instead of after a trip through a warm engine room.

NOAA is one of three organizations that keep historical records of ocean temperatures — some going back to the 1850s — widely used by climate modelers. The agency’s paper was an attempt to accurately combine the old ship measurements and the newer buoy data.

Hausfather and colleague Kevin Cowtan of the University of York in the UK extended that study to include the newer satellite and Argo float data in addition to the buoy data.

“Only a small fraction of the ocean measurement data is being used by climate monitoring groups, and they are trying to smush together data from different instruments, which leads to a lot of judgment calls about how you weight one versus the other, and how you adjust for the transition from one to another,” Hausfather said. “So we said, ‘What if we create a temperature record just from the buoys, or just from the satellites, or just from the Argo floats, so there is no mixing and matching of instruments?'”

In each case, using data from only one instrument type — either satellites, buoys or Argo floats — the results matched those of the NOAA group, supporting the case that the oceans warmed 0.12 degrees Celsius per decade over the past two decades, nearly twice the previous estimate. In other words, the upward trend seen in the last half of the 20th century continued through the first 15 years of the 21st: there was no hiatus.

“In the grand scheme of things, the main implication of our study is on the hiatus, which many people have focused on, claiming that global warming has slowed greatly or even stopped,” Hausfather said. “Based on our analysis, a good portion of that apparent slowdown in warming was due to biases in the ship records.”

Correcting other biases in ship records

In the same publication last year, NOAA scientists also accounted for changing shipping routes and measurement techniques. Their correction — giving greater weight to buoy measurements than to ship measurements in warming calculations — is also valid, Hausfather said, and a good way to correct for this second bias, short of throwing out the ship data altogether and relying only on buoys.

Another repository of ocean temperature data, the Hadley Climatic Research Unit in the United Kingdom, corrected their data for the switch from ships to buoys, but not for this second factor, which means that the Hadley data produce a slightly lower rate of warming than do the NOAA data or the new UC Berkeley study.

“In the last seven years or so, you have buoys warming faster than ships are, independently of the ship offset, which produces a significant cool bias in the Hadley record,” Hausfather said. The new study, he said, argues that the Hadley center should introduce another correction to its data.

“People don’t get much credit for doing studies that replicate or independently validate other people’s work. But, particularly when things become so political, we feel it is really important to show that, if you look at all these other records, it seems these researchers did a good job with their corrections,” Hausfather said.

Co-author Mark Richardson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena added, “Satellites and automated floats are completely independent witnesses of recent ocean warming, and their testimony matches the NOAA results. It looks like the NOAA researchers were right all along.”

Other co-authors of the paper are David C. Clarke, an independent researcher from Montreal, Canada, Peter Jacobs of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and Robert Rohde of Berkeley Earth. The research was funded by Berkeley Earth.


Journal Reference:

  1. Zeke Hausfather, Kevin Cowtan, David C. Clarke, Peter Jacobs, Mark Richardson, Robert Rohde. Assessing recent warming using instrumentally homogeneous sea surface temperature recordsScience Advances, 2017; 3 (1): e1601207 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601207

Pesquisadores temem ações de Trump relacionadas à ciência e ao clima (Folha de S.Paulo)

Damon Winter/The New York Times
Com menos dinheiro no orçamento, ciência pode ser uma das áreas mais afetadas
Com menos dinheiro no orçamento, ciência pode ser uma das áreas mais afetadas

SALVADOR NOGUEIRA
COLABORAÇÃO PARA A FOLHA

23/12/2016  02h00

A eleição de Donald Trump pode pressagiar um período de declínio para a ciência nos Estados Unidos.

Noves fora a retórica que lhe ganhou a Casa Branca, os planos que ele apresenta para a próxima gestão podem significar cortes orçamentários significativos em pesquisas.

A campanha do republicano à Presidência bateu fortemente em duas teclas: um plano vigoroso de corte de impostos, que reduziria a arrecadação em pelo menos US$ 4,4 trilhões nos próximos dez anos, e um plano de investimento em infraestrutura que consumiria US$ 1 trilhão no mesmo período.

Na prática, isso significa que haverá menos dinheiro no Orçamento americano que poderá ser direcionado para os gastos “discricionários” -aqueles que já não caem automaticamente na conta do governo por força de lei. É de onde vem o financiamento da ciência americana.

“Se o montante de gastos discricionários cai, o subcomitê de Comércio, Justiça e Ciência no Congresso receberá uma alocação menor, e eles terão menos dinheiro disponível para financiar suas agências”, diz Casey Dreier, especialista em política espacial da ONG Planetary Society.

Entre os órgãos financiados diretamente por esse subcomitê estão a Fundação Nacional de Ciência (NSF), a Administração Nacional de Atmosfera e Oceano (Noaa) e a Administração Nacional de Aeronáutica e Espaço (Nasa).

Existe a possibilidade de o financiamento sair intacto desse processo? Sim, mas não é provável. Algum outro setor precisaria pagar a conta.

SEM CLIMA

Ao menos no discurso, e fortemente apoiado por nomeações recentes, Trump já decidiu onde devem ocorrer os cortes mais profundos: ciência climática.

Que Trump se apresenta desde a campanha eleitoral como um negacionista da mudança do clima, não é segredo. No passado, ele chegou a afirmar que o aquecimento global é um embuste criado pelos chineses para tirar a competitividade da indústria americana.

(Para comprar essa versão, claro, teríamos de fingir que não foi a Nasa, agência americana, a maior e mais contundente coletora de evidências da mudança climática.)

Até aí, é o discurso antiglobalização para ganhar a eleição. Mas vai se concretizar no mandato?

Os sinais são os piores possíveis. O advogado Scott Pruitt, indicado para a EPA (Agência de Proteção do Ambiente), vê com ceticismo as políticas contra as mudanças climáticas. E o chefe da equipe de transição escolhido por Trump para a EPA é Myron Ebell, um notório negacionista da mudança climática.

O Centro para Energia e Ambiente do Instituto para Empreendimentos Competitivos, que Ebell dirige, recebe financiamento das indústrias do carvão e do petróleo. Colocá-lo para fazer a transição entre governos da EPA pode ser o clássico “deixar a raposa tomando conta do galinheiro”.

Como se isso não bastasse, durante a campanha os principais consultores de Trump na área de pesquisa espacial, Robert Walker e Peter Navarro, escreveram editoriais sugerindo que a agência espacial devia parar de estudar a própria Terra.

“A Nasa deveria estar concentrada primariamente em atividades no espaço profundo em vez de trabalho Terra-cêntrico que seria melhor conduzido por outras agências”, escreveram.

Há consenso entre os cientistas de que não há outro órgão com competência para tocar esses estudos e assumir a frota de satélites de monitoramento terrestre gerida pela agência espacial.

Além disso, passar as responsabilidades a outra instituição sem atribuir o orçamento correspondente é um jeito sutil de encerrar o programa de monitoramento do clima.

BACKUP

Se isso faz você ficar preocupado com o futuro das pesquisas, imagine os climatologistas nos EUA.

De acordo com o jornal “Washington Post”, eles estão se organizando para criar repositórios independentes dos dados colhidos, com medo que eles sumam das bases de dados governamentais durante o governo Trump.

Ainda que a grita possa evitar esse descaramento, a interrupção das pesquisas pode ter o mesmo efeito.

“Acho que é bem mais provável que eles tentem cortar a coleção de dados, o que minimizaria seu valor”, diz Andrew Dessler, professor de ciências atmosféricas da Universidade Texas A&M. “Ter dados contínuos é crucial para entender as tendências de longo prazo.”

E O QUE SOBRA?

Tirando a mudança climática, a Nasa deve ter algum suporte para dar continuidade a seus planos de longo prazo durante o governo Trump -talvez com alguma mudança.

De certo, há apenas a restituição do Conselho Espacial Nacional, criado durante o governo George Bush (o pai) e desativado desde 1993.

Reunindo as principais autoridades pertinentes, ele tem por objetivo coordenar as ações entre diferentes braços do governo e, com isso, dar uma direção estratégica mais clara e eficiente aos executores das atividades espaciais.

Isso poderia significar uma ameaça ao SLS (novo foguete de alta capacidade da Nasa) e à Orion (cápsula para viagem a espaço profundo), que devem fazer seu primeiro voo teste, não tripulado, em 2018.

Contudo, o apoio a esses programas no Congresso é amplo e bipartidário, de forma que dificilmente Trump conseguirá cancelá-los.

O que ele pode é redirecionar sua função. Em vez de se tornarem as primeiras peças para a “jornada a Marte”, que Barack Obama defendia para a década de 2030, eles seriam integrados num programa de exploração da Lua.

(Tradicionalmente, no Congresso americano, a Lua é um objetivo republicano, e Marte, um objetivo democrata. Não pergunte por quê.)

Trump deve ainda dar maior ênfase às iniciativas de parcerias comerciais para a exploração espacial. Em dezembro, Elon Musk, diretor da empresa SpaceX e franco apoiador da campanha de Hillary Clinton, passou a fazer parte de um grupo de consultores de Trump para a indústria de alta tecnologia.

Áreas afetadas

NASA

Assessores de Trump querem tirar da agência a função de estudar a Terra em favor da exploração espacial

Nasa Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr
Imagem feita pela Nasa
Imagem feita pela Nasa

PROTEÇÃO?

Scott Pruitt, indicado para Agência de Proteção do Ambiente, já processou o órgão por limitações impostas à indústria petrolífera. A agência pode perder força e deixar certas regulações a cargo dos Estados

Spencer Platt-7.dez.2016/Getty Images/AFP
Scott Pruitt chega a Trump Tower, em 7 de dezembro, para encontro com Donald Trump
Scott Pruitt chega a Trump Tower, em 7 de dezembro, para encontro com Donald Trump

PETRÓLEO

Rex Tillerson, executivo da petroleira ExxonMobil, foi indicado para o posto de secretário de Estado, o que dá mais sinais de que o governo Trump não deve se esforçar para promover fontes de energia limpa

Daniel Kramer – 21.abr.2015/Reuters
Rex Tillerson, CEO da ExxonMobil
Rex Tillerson, CEO da ExxonMobil

Climate Change in Trump’s Age of Ignorance (New York Times)

Stanford, Calif. — THE good news got pretty much drowned out this month: Yes, 2016 is on track to become the hottest year on record, but thankfully also the third year in a row to see relatively flat growth in global greenhouse gas emissions. With global economic growth on the order of 3 percent a year, we may well have turned a corner toward a sustainable climate economy.

The bad news, of course, is that the world’s wealthiest nation, home to many of the scholars scrambling to reverse global warming, has elected a new president with little or no interest in the topic. Or an active disinterest. Donald J. Trump is surrounding himself with advisers who are likely to do little to challenge his notion of climate change as a Chinese hoax. People like to think of us as living in an age of information, but a better descriptor might be “the age of ignorance.”

How did we get into this predicament? Why are we about to inaugurate the most anti-science administration in American history?

As a graduate student at Harvard in the 1970s and early 1980s, I was astonished to find how little concern there was for the beliefs of ordinary Americans. I was in the history of science department, where all the talk was of Einstein and Darwin and Newton, with the occasional glance at the “reception” of such ideas in the larger literate populace.

I had grown up in a small town in Texas, and later in Kansas City, where the people I knew often talked about nature and God’s glory and corruption and the good life. At Harvard, though, I was puzzled that my professors seemed to have little interest in people outside the vanguard, the kinds of people I had come from, many of whom were fundamentalist Christians, people of solid faith but often in desperate conditions. Why was there so little interest in what they thought or believed? That’s Point 1.

INTERACTIVE MAP

What Trump’s Climate Legacy Could Look Like

How the president-elect deals with climate change could make him the man who shrunk America or the man who helped save the planet.

Point 2: Early in my career as a historian, I was further bothered by how little attention was given to science as an instrument of popular deception. We like to think of science as the opposite of ignorance, the light that washes away the darkness, but there’s much more to that story.

Here my Harvard years were more illuminating. I got into a crowd of appropriately radicalized students, and started to better understand the place of science in the arc of human history. I learned about how science has not always been the saving grace we like to imagine; science gives rise as easily to nuclear bombs and bioweapons as to penicillin and the iPad. I taught for several years in the biology department, where I learned that cigarette makers had been giving millions of dollars to Harvard and other elite institutions to curry favor.

I also started understanding how science could be used as an instrument of deception — and to create or perpetuate ignorance. That is important, because while scholars were ignoring what Karl Marx dismissively called “the idiocy of rural life” (Point 1), tobacco and soft drink and oil companies facing taxation and regulation were busily disseminating mythologies about their products, to keep potential regulators at bay (Point 2).

The denialist conspiracy of the cigarette industry was crucial in this context, since science was one of the instruments used by Big Tobacco to carry out its denial (and distraction) campaign. Cigarette makers had met at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on Dec. 14, 1953, to plan a strategy to rebut the evidence that cigarettes were causing cancer and other maladies. The strategy was pure genius: The claim would be that it had not been “proved” that cigarettes really cause disease, so there was room for honest doubt. Cigarette makers promised to finance research to get to the truth, while privately acknowledging (in a notorious Brown & Williamson document from 1969) that “Doubt is our product.”

For decades thereafter, cigarette makers poured hundreds of millions of dollars into basic biomedical research, exploring things like genetic and viral or occupational causes of cancer — anything but tobacco. Research financed by the industry led to over 7,000 publications in peer-reviewed medical literature and 10 Nobel Prizes. Including consulting relationships, my research shows that at least 25 Nobel laureates have taken money from the cigarette industry over the past half-century. (Full disclosure: I’ve testified against that industry in dozens of tobacco trials.)

Now we know that many other industries have learned from Big Tobacco’s playbook. Physicians hired by the National Football League have questioned the evidence that concussions can cause brain disease, and soda sellers have financed research to deny that sugar causes obesity. And climate deniers have conducted a kind of scavenger hunt for oddities that appear to challenge the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists.

This latter fact might be little more than a historical quirk, were it not for the fact that we’ll soon have a president whose understanding of science is more like that of the people in the towns where I grew up than those scholars who taught me about Darwin and Einstein at Harvard.

We now live in a world where ignorance of a very dangerous sort is being deliberately manufactured, to protect certain kinds of unfettered corporate enterprise. The global climate catastrophe gets short shrift, largely because powerful fossil fuel producers still have enormous political clout, following decades-long campaigns to sow doubt about whether anthropogenic emissions are really causing planetary warming. Trust in science suffers, but also trust in government. And that is not an accident. Climate deniers are not so much anti-science as anti-regulation and anti-government.

Jeff Nesbit, in his recent book, “Poison Tea: How Big Oil and Big Tobacco Invented the Tea Party and Captured the G.O.P.,” documents how Big Tobacco joined with Big Oil in the early 1990s to create anti-tax front groups. These AstroTurf organizations waged a concerted effort to defend the unencumbered sale of cigarettes and petro-products. The breathtaking idea was to protect tobacco and oil from regulation and taxes by starting a movement that would combat all regulation and all taxes.

Part of the strategy, according to Mr. Nesbit, who worked for a group involved in the effort and witnessed firsthand the beginning of this devil’s dance, was to sow doubt by corrupting expertise, while simultaneously capturing the high ground of open-mindedness and even caution itself, with the deceptive mantra: “We need more research.” Much of the climate denial now embraced by people like Mr. Trump was first expressed in the disinformation campaigns of Big Oil — campaigns modeled closely on Big Tobacco’s strategies.

We sometimes hear that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, but a “repeat” is perhaps now the least of our worries. Judging purely from his transition team, Mr. Trump’s administration could be more hostile to modern science — and especially earth and environmental sciences — than any we have ever had. Whole agencies could go on the chopping block or face deliberate evisceration. President Obama’s Clean Power Plan may be in jeopardy, along with funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Grumblings can even be heard from Europe that if the Paris climate accord is abandoned, the United States may face carbon taxes on its export goods. Ignorance and its diabolic facilitator — the corruption of expertise — both have real-world costs that we ignore at our peril.

Pope Francis’s edict on climate change has fallen on closed ears, study finds (The Guardian)

Hailed as a significant call for action, the pope’s encyclical has not had the anticipated rallying effect on public opinion, researchers have found

Pope Francis environmental activists

Knowledge of the pope’s encyclical, called Laudato Si’, did not appear to be linked to higher levels of concern regarding climate change, the study found. Photograph: Bullit Marquez/AP

 

The pope’s call for action on climate change has fallen on closed ears, research suggests.

A study by researchers in the US has found that right-leaning Catholics who had heard of the pope’s message were less concerned about climate change and its effects on the poor than those who had not, and had a dimmer view of the pope’s credibility.

“The pope and his papal letter failed to rally any broad support on climate change among the US Catholics and non-Catholics,” said Nan Li, first author of the research from Texas Tech University.

“The conservative Catholics who are cross-pressured by the inconsistency between the viewpoints of their political allies and their religious authority would tend to devalue the pope’s credibility on this issue in order to resolve the cognitive dissonance that they experience,” she added.

Issued in June 2015, Pope Francis’s encyclical, called Laudato Si’, warned of an “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems” if climate change continues unchecked and cited the scientific consensus that human activity is behind global warming.

Research conducted on the eve of the announcement found that 68% of Americans and 71% of US Catholics believe in climate change, with Democrats more likely than Republicans to believe in the issue, put it down to human causes and rate it as a serious problem.

The pontiff’s comments were seen by many as a significant call for action in the battle against climate change, focusing on the moral need to address the impact of humans on the planet. “Pope Francis is personally committed to this [climate] issue like no other pope before him. The encyclical will have a major impact,” said Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief, at the time.

But new research published in the journal Climatic Change suggests that the encyclical might not have had the anticipated rallying effect on public opinion.

In a nationally representative survey of 2,755 individuals across the US, including more than 700 Catholics, researchers quizzed individuals on their attitudes towards climate change, its effects on the poor and papal credibility on the issue, together with questions on their political views and demographics such as age, sex and ethnicity. The team found that 22.5% of respondents said they had either heard of the pope’s message or his plans for the letter.

Overall, the team found that members of the public who identified as politically liberal, whether Catholic or not, were more likely to be concerned about climate change and perceive climate change as disproportionately affecting the poor than those who identified as conservative.

But knowledge of the papal letter did not overall appear to be linked to higher levels of concern regarding climate change.

Instead, the researchers found that the effects of awareness of the letter were small, although awareness was linked to more polarised views. For both Catholics and non-Catholics, conservatives who were aware of the letter were less likely to be concerned about climate change and its risk to the poor, compared to those who had not. The opposite trend was seen among liberals.

But, the authors say, among both conservative Catholics and non-Catholics who had heard of the encyclical, the pontiff’s perceived credibility decreased as political leaning veered to the right.

“For people who are most conservative, the Catholics who are aware of the encyclical give the pope 0.5 less than Catholics who aren’t aware of the encyclical on a one to five scale,” said Li.

The researchers say it is not clear if the increased polarisation is caused by hearing about the encyclical or, for example, if more politically engaged individuals were simply more likely to be aware of the papal letter.

“In sum, while [the] pope’s environmental call may have increased some individuals’ concerns about climate change, it backfired with conservative Catholics and non-Catholics, who not only resisted the message but defended their pre-existing beliefs by devaluing the pope’s credibility on climate change,” the authors write.

The results chime with the reaction to the papal stance by conservative media and a number of prominent individuals, including former presidential candidate Jeb Bush who rebuffed the pope’s message, saying: “I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope.”

Neil Thorns, director of advocacy at the Catholic aid agency Cafod, said: “Laudato Si’ was a wake-up call on how we’re treating our planet and its people which unsurprisingly – although disappointingly – some climate deniers and those with vested interests were not willing to hear.”

Coal Companies’ Secret Funding of Climate Science Denial Exposed (Eco Watch)

Elliott Negin, Union of Concerned Scientists | April 13, 2016 10:49 am

Peabody Energy—the nation’s largest investor-owned coal company—declared bankruptcy Wednesday. Among the many consequences: the company’s court-ordered disclosures are likely to yield hard evidence of Peabody’s direct links to climate science denial.

After all, that’s what we learned from the bankruptcy filings of two other major U.S. coalcompanies, Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources. The companies’ lists of creditors accompanying their chapter 11 bankruptcy filings both cited known climate science deniers. So far, the bankruptcy cases have not revealed the details of these financial relationships. But there is now no doubt the coal companies contracted with these groups and individuals to either make a donation or pay for services.

Recent bankruptcy filings have revealed that Chris Horner, who regularly derides climate science on Fox News Channel, has financial ties to the coal industry.Recent bankruptcy filings have revealed that Chris Horner, who regularly derides climate science on Fox News Channel, has financial ties to the coal industry.

This new evidence is important at a time when coal and oil and gas companies are under increased scrutiny about their ongoing climate science disinformation campaigns. ExxonMobil, for example, currently faces state and possibly federal investigations into whether the discrepancies between what the company knew about climate science and what it told their shareholders and the public amounted to fraud.

Of course, there’s no shortage of historical evidence of the coal industry’s track record of deceiving the public about global warming. In 1991, for example, coal trade associations formed a short-lived front group called the Information Council on the Environment that ran a national public relations campaign downplaying the known risks of climate change. All through the 1990s, coal trade groups also were members of the Global Climate Coalition, an alliance of companies and business groups that disputed the findings of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and, later on, helped scuttle the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty. And, more recently, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity paid a lobbying firm to send forged letters to members of Congress from actual nonprofit groups, including the NAACP and the American Association of University Women, espousing fabricated opposition to a 2009 climate change bill.

But such coal company connections have been harder to pin down in the current era of so-called dark money. That’s what makes the latest disclosures so noteworthy: They indicate that coal industry disinformation campaigns have continued even as the scientific evidence that burning fossil fuels is driving climate change has only become stronger.

Revealing Creditor Lists

The creditor list for Alpha Natural Resources—which filed for bankruptcy last August—indicates that the company has been especially active in supporting the denier network. As first reported by The Intercept, Alpha—the fourth largest U.S. coal company—has financial ties with a half dozen denier organizations, some which have direct links to billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, owners of the coal, oil and gas conglomerate Koch Industries. The Koch-affiliated groups include Americans for Prosperity, the Institute for Energy Research and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a de facto Koch bank that disburses donations from anonymous, wealthy conservatives to groups that advocate rolling back public health, environmental and workplace protections.

Other Alpha creditors include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which questions the legitimacy of climate models; the Heartland Institute, which is probably best known for its billboard likening climate scientists to the serial killer Ted Kaczynski; and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which convenes conferences for its state legislator members featuring speakers who distort climate science and disparage renewable energy. One of the speakers at a summer 2014 ALEC conference, for example, was Heartland Institute President Joe Bast, whose slide presentation falsely claimed: “There is no scientific consensus on the human role in climate change” and “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change … is not a credible source of science or economics.”

The Alpha creditor list also includes at least two individuals with links to denier groups. Particularly noteworthy is Chris Horner, an attorney who is closely associated with a number of nonprofit denier groups, including ALEC, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the Heartland Institute, the Energy & Environmental Legal Institute (E&E Legal), formerly the American Tradition Institute, and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic, another Alpha creditor.

Arch Coal, the second largest U.S. coal company, listed ALEC and E&E Legal in its list of creditors when it filed for chapter 11 protection in January. Just last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company donated $10,000 to E&E Legal in 2014. E&E Legal’s executive director, Craig Richardson, told the Journal the contribution was for “general support.”

Chris Horner’s Coal Ties Disclosed

The exposure of Horner’s financial ties to coal companies is significant because he is a regular guest on Fox News Channel, which identifies him by his affiliation with CEI or E&E Legal but not by his connection to the coal industry.

Despite his lack of scientific expertise, Horner routinely critiques scientific findings, has called for spurious investigations of climate scientists affiliated with the IPCC and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and has harassed scientists by filing intrusive open records requests with the universities where they work. As legal counsel for the Energy & Environmental Legal Institute and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic—which work in tandem—Horner has targeted a number of leading climate scientists, including James Hansenand Katharine Hayhoe. Perhaps his most notorious lawsuit was against the University of Virginia to obtain emails, draft research papers, handwritten notes and other documents related to the work of Michael Mann, lead author of the famous “hockey stick” study demonstrating the link between increased fossil fuel use and rising global temperatures. The Virginia Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of the university and Mann, affirming the school’s right to protect the privacy of its researchers from overly broad open records requests.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Alpha paid Horner $18,600 before it declared bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic—an Alpha creditor—paid him $110,000 in 2014, $115,865 in 2013 and $60,449 in 2012, according to the clinic’s tax filings.

Besides Alpha and Arch Coal, Horner has ties to other coal companies. Last summer, he was a featured speaker at a private $7,500-a-person golf and fly-fishing retreat sponsored by Alpha, Arch Coal and four other coal companies: Alliance Resource Partners, Consol Energy, Drummond and United Coal. After the event—the 2015 annual Coal & Investment Leadership Forum—attendees received an email from the coal company CEOs praising Horner, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a nonpartisan political watchdog group that first reported the connection between Arch Coal and E&E Legal. “As the ‘war on coal’ continues,” the email stated, “I trust that the commitment we have made to support Chris Horner’s work will eventually create a greater awareness of the illegal tactics being employed to pass laws that are intended to destroy our industry.”

Given the recent spate of bankruptcies, the companies’ commitment to Horner likely will create a greater awareness of something quite different: that the coal industry—along with the likes of ExxonMobil and Koch Industries—is still funding denier groups to spread disinformation about climate science and delay government action. It is time we held these companies accountable.

France’s top weatherman sparks storm over book questioning climate change (The Telegraph)

Philippe Verdier, weather chief at France Télévisions, the country’s state broadcaster, reportedly sent on “forced holiday” for releasing book accusing top climatologists of “taking the world hostage”

Philippe Verdier's outspoken views reportedly led France 2 to send him on a 'forced holiday'

Philippe Verdier’s outspoken views reportedly led France 2 to send him on a ‘forced holiday’ 

 By , Paris

Every night, France’s chief weatherman has told the nation how much wind, sun or rain they can expect the following day.

Now Philippe Verdier, a household name for his nightly forecasts on France 2, has been taken off air after a more controversial announcement – criticising the world’s top climate change experts.

Mr Verdier claims in the book Climat Investigation (Climate Investigation) that leading climatologists and political leaders have “taken the world hostage” with misleading data.

In a promotional video, Mr Verdier said: “Every night I address five million French people to talk to you about the wind, the clouds and the sun. And yet there is something important, very important that I haven’t been able to tell you, because it’s neither the time nor the place to do so.”

He added: “We are hostage to a planetary scandal over climate change – a war machine whose aim is to keep us in fear.”

His outspoken views led France 2 to take him off the air starting this Monday. “I received a letter telling me not to come. I’m in shock,” he told RTL radio. “This is a direct extension of what I say in my book, namely that any contrary views must be eliminated.”

The book has been released at a particularly sensitive moment as Paris is due to host a crucial UN climate change conference in December. 

 par Editions_Ring

According to Mr Verdier, top climate scientists, who often rely on state funding, have been “manipulated and politicised”.

He specifically challenges the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, saying they “blatantly erased” data that went against their overall conclusions, and casts doubt on the accuracy of their climate models.

The IPCC has said that temperatures could rise by up to 4.8°C if no action is taken to reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Verdier writes: “We are undoubtedly on a plateau in terms of warming and the cyclical variability of the climate doesn’t not allow us to envisage if the natural rhythm will tomorrow lead us towards a fall, a stagnation or a rise (in temperature).”

The 330-page book also controversially contains a chapter on the “positive results” of climate change in France, one of the countries predicted to be the least affected by rising temperatures. “It’s politically incorrect and taboo to vaunt the merits of climate change because there are some,” he writes, citing warmer weather attracting tourists, lower death rates and electricity bills in mild winters, and better wine and champagne vintages.

Asked whether he had permission from his employer to release the book, he said: “I don’t think management liked it, let’s be honest.”

“I put myself via this investigation on the path of COP 21, which is a bulldozer, and we can see the results.”

The book was criticised by French newspaper Le Monde as full of “errors”. “The models used to predict the average rise in temperatures on the surface of the globe have proved to be rather reliable, with the gap between observations and predictions quite small,” it countered.

Mr Verdier told France 5: “Making these revelations in the book, which I absolutely have the right to do, can pose problems for my employer given that the government (which funds France 2) is organising COP [the climate change conference]. In fact as soon as you a slightly different discourse on this subject, you are branded a climate sceptic.”

He said he decided to write the book in June 2014 when Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, summoned the country’s main weather presenters and urged them to mention “climate chaos” in their forecasts.

“I was horrified by this discourse,” Mr Verdier told Les Inrockuptibles magazine. Eight days later, Mr Fabius appeared on the front cover of a magazine posing as a weatherman above the headline: “500 days to save the planet.”

Mr Verdier said: “If a minister decides he is Mr Weatherman, then Mr Weatherman can also express himself on the subject in a lucid manner.

“What’s shameful is this pressure placed on us to say that if we don’t hurry, it’ll be the apocalypse,” he added, saying that “climate diplomacy” means leaders are seeking to force changes to suit their own political timetables.

According to L’Express magazine, unions at France Television called for Mr Verdier to be fired, but that Delphine Ernotte, the broadcaster’s chief executive, initially said he should be allowed to stay “in the name of freedom of expression”.

Exxon’s climate lie: ‘No corporation has ever done anything this big or bad’ (The Guardian)

The truth of Exxon’s complicity in global warming must to be told – how they knew about climate change decades ago but chose to help kill our planet

Exxon refinery in Texas

By 1978 Exxon’s senior scientists were telling top management that climate change was real, caused by man, and would raise global temperatures by 2-3C. Photograph: Pat Sullivan/AP

I’m well aware that with Paris looming it’s time to be hopeful, and I’m willing to try. Even amid the record heat and flooding of the present, there are good signs for the future in the rising climate movement and the falling cost of solar.

But before we get to past and present there’s some past to be reckoned with, and before we get to hope there’s some deep, blood-red anger.

In the last three weeks, two separate teams of journalists — the Pulitzer-prize winning reporters at the website Inside Climate News and another crew composed of Los Angeles Times veterans and up-and-comers at the Columbia Journalism School — have begun publishing the results of a pair of independent investigations into ExxonMobil.

Though they draw on completely different archives, leaked documents, and interviews with ex-employees, they reach the same damning conclusion: Exxon knew all that there was to know about climate change decades ago, and instead of alerting the rest of us denied the science and obstructed the politics of global warming.

To be specific:

  • By 1978 Exxon’s senior scientists were telling top management that climate change was real, caused by man, and would raise global temperatures by 2-3C this century, which was pretty much spot-on.
  • By the early 1980s they’d validated these findings with shipborne measurements of CO2 (they outfitted a giant tanker with carbon sensors for a research voyage) and with computer models that showed precisely what was coming. As the head of one key lab at Exxon Research wrote to his superiors, there was “unanimous agreement in the scientific community that a temperature increase of this magnitude would bring about significant changes in the earth’s climate, including rainfall distribution and alterations in the biosphere”.
  • And by the early 1990s their researchers studying the possibility for new exploration in the Arctic were well aware that human-induced climate change was melting the poles. Indeed, they used that knowledge to plan their strategy, reporting that soon the Beaufort Sea would be ice-free as much as five months a year instead of the historic two. Greenhouse gases are rising “due to the burning of fossil fuels,” a key Exxon researcher told an audience of engineers at a conference in 1991. “Nobody disputes this fact.”

But of course Exxon did dispute that fact. Not inside the company, where they used their knowledge to buy oil leases in the areas they knew would melt, but outside, where they used their political and financial might to make sure no one took climate change seriously.

They helped organise campaigns designed to instil doubt, borrowing tactics and personnel from the tobacco industry’s similar fight. They funded “institutes” devoted to outright climate denial. And at the highest levels they did all they could to spread their lies.

To understand the treachery – the sheer, profound, and I think unparalleled evil – of Exxon, one must remember the timing. Global warming became a public topic in 1988, thanks to Nasa scientist James Hansen – it’s taken a quarter-century and counting for the world to take effective action. If at any point in that journey Exxon – largest oil company on Earth, most profitable enterprise in human history – had said: “Our own research shows that these scientists are right and that we are in a dangerous place,” the faux debate would effectively have ended. That’s all it would have taken; stripped of the cover provided by doubt, humanity would have gotten to work.

Instead, knowingly, they helped organise the most consequential lie in human history, and kept that lie going past the point where we can protect the poles, prevent the acidification of the oceans, or slow sea level rise enough to save the most vulnerable regions and cultures. Businesses misbehave all the time, but VW is the flea to Exxon’s elephant. No corporation has ever done anything this big and this bad.

I’m aware that anger at this point does little good. I’m aware that all clever people will say “of course they did” or “we all use fossil fuels”, as if either claim is meaningful. I’m aware that nothing much will happen to Exxon – I doubt they’ll be tried in court, or their executives sent to jail.

But nonetheless it seems crucial simply to say, for the record, the truth: this company had the singular capacity to change the course of world history for the better and instead it changed that course for the infinitely worse. In its greed Exxon helped — more than any other institution — to kill our planet.

Exxon’s Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels’ Role in Global Warming Decades Ago (Inside Climate News)

Top executives were warned of possible catastrophe from greenhouse effect, then led efforts to block solutions.

By Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer

Sep 16, 2015

Exxon Experiment

Exxon’s Richard Werthamer (right) and Edward Garvey (left) are aboard the company’s Esso Atlantic tanker working on a project to measure the carbon dioxide levels in the ocean and atmosphere. The project ran from 1979 to 1982. (Credit: Richard Werthamer)

“In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” Black told Exxon’s Management Committee, according to a written version he recorded later.

It was July 1977 when Exxon’s leaders received this blunt assessment, well before most of the world had heard of the looming climate crisis.

A year later, Black, a top technical expert in Exxon’s Research & Engineering division, took an updated version of his presentation to a broader audience. He warned Exxon scientists and managers that independent researchers estimated a doubling of the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit), and as much as 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) at the poles.  Rainfall might get heavier in some regions, and other places might turn to desert.

“Some countries would benefit but others would have their agricultural output reduced or destroyed,” Black said, in the written summary of his 1978 talk.

His presentations reflected uncertainty running through scientific circles about the details of climate change, such as the role the oceans played in absorbing emissions. Still, Black estimated quick action was needed. “Present thinking,” he wrote in the 1978 summary, “holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”

Exxon responded swiftly. Within months the company launched its own extraordinary research into carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and its impact on the earth. Exxon’s ambitious program included both empirical CO2 sampling and rigorous climate modeling. It assembled a brain trust that would spend more than a decade deepening the company’s understanding of an environmental problem that posed an existential threat to the oil business.

Then, toward the end of the 1980s, Exxon curtailed its carbon dioxide research. In the decades that followed, Exxon worked instead at the forefront of climate denial. It put its muscle behind efforts to manufacture doubt about the reality of global warming its own scientists had once confirmed. It lobbied to block federal and international action to control greenhouse gas emissions. It helped to erect a vast edifice of misinformation that stands to this day.

This untold chapter in Exxon’s history, when one of the world’s largest energy companies worked to understand the damage caused by fossil fuels, stems from an eight-month investigation by InsideClimate News. ICN’s reporters interviewed former Exxon employees, scientists, and federal officials, and consulted hundreds of pages of internal Exxon documents, many of them written between 1977 and 1986, during the heyday of Exxon’s innovative climate research program. ICN combed through thousands of documents from archives including those held at the University of Texas-Austin, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The documents record budget requests, research priorities, and debates over findings, and reveal the arc of Exxon’s internal attitudes and work on climate and how much attention the results received.

Of particular significance was a project launched in August 1979, when the company outfitted a supertanker with custom-made instruments. The project’s mission was to sample carbon dioxide in the air and ocean along a route from the Gulf of Mexico to the Persian Gulf.

In 1980, Exxon assembled a team of climate modelers who investigated fundamental questions about the climate’s sensitivity to the buildup  of carbon dioxide in the air. Working with university scientists and the U.S. Department of Energy, Exxon strove to be on the cutting edge of inquiry into what was then called the greenhouse effect.

Exxon’s early determination to understand rising carbon dioxide levels grew out of a corporate culture of farsightedness, former employees said. They described a company that continuously examined risks to its bottom line, including environmental factors. In the 1970s, Exxon modeled its research division after Bell Labs, staffing it with highly accomplished scientists and engineers.

In written responses to questions about the history of its research, ExxonMobil spokesman Richard D. Keil said that “from the time that climate change first emerged as a topic for scientific study and analysis in the late 1970s, ExxonMobil has committed itself to scientific, fact-based analysis of this important issue.”

“At all times,” he said, “the opinions and conclusions of our scientists and researchers on this topic have been solidly within the mainstream of the consensus scientific opinion of the day and our work has been guided by an overarching principle to follow where the science leads. The risk of climate change is real and warrants action.”

At the outset of its climate investigations almost four decades ago, many Exxon executives, middle managers and scientists armed themselves with a sense of urgency and mission.

One manager at Exxon Research, Harold N. Weinberg, shared his “grandiose thoughts” about Exxon’s potential role in climate research in a March 1978 internal company memorandum that read: “This may be the kind of opportunity that we are looking for to have Exxon technology, management and leadership resources put into the context of a project aimed at benefitting mankind.”

His sentiment was echoed by Henry Shaw, the scientist leading the company’s nascent carbon dioxide research effort.

“Exxon must develop a credible scientific team that can critically evaluate the information generated on the subject and be able to carry bad news, if any, to the corporation,” Shaw wrote to his boss Edward E. David, the executive director of Exxon Research and Engineering in 1978. “This team must be recognized for its excellence in the scientific community, the government, and internally by Exxon management.”

Irreversible and Catastrophic

Exxon budgeted more than $1 million over three years for the tanker project to measure how quickly the oceans were taking in CO2. It was a small fraction of Exxon Research’s annual $300 million budget, but the question the scientists tackled was one of the biggest uncertainties in climate science: how quickly could the deep oceans absorb atmospheric CO2? If Exxon could pinpoint the answer, it would know how long it had before CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere could force a transition away from fossil fuels.

Exxon also hired scientists and mathematicians to develop better climate models and publish research results in peer-reviewed journals. By 1982, the company’s own scientists, collaborating with outside researchers, created rigorous climate models – computer programs that simulate the workings of the climate to assess the impact of emissions on global temperatures. They confirmed an emerging scientific consensus that warming could be even worse than Black had warned five years earlier.

Esso Atlantic

Between 1979 and 1982, Exxon researchers sampled carbon dioxide levels aboard the company’s Esso Atlantic tanker (shown here).

Exxon’s research laid the groundwork for a 1982 corporate primer on carbon dioxide and climate change prepared by its environmental affairs office. Marked “not to be distributed externally,” it contained information that “has been given wide circulation to Exxon management.” In it, the company recognized, despite the many lingering unknowns, that heading off global warming “would require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion.”

Unless that happened, “there are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered,” the primer said, citing independent experts. “Once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible.”

The Certainty of Uncertainty

Like others in the scientific community, Exxon researchers acknowledged the uncertainties surrounding many aspects of climate science, especially in the area of forecasting models. But they saw those uncertainties as questions they wanted to address, not an excuse to dismiss what was increasingly understood.

“Models are controversial,” Roger Cohen, head of theoretical sciences at Exxon Corporate Research Laboratories, and his colleague, Richard Werthamer, senior technology advisor at Exxon Corporation, wrote in a May 1980 status report on Exxon’s climate modeling program. “Therefore, there are research opportunities for us.”

When Exxon’s researchers confirmed information the company might find troubling, they did not sweep it under the rug.

“Over the past several years a clear scientific consensus has emerged,” Cohen wrote in September 1982, reporting on Exxon’s own analysis of climate models. It was that a doubling of the carbon dioxide blanket in the atmosphere would produce average global warming of 3 degrees Celsius, plus or minus 1.5 degrees C (equal to 5 degrees Fahrenheit plus or minus 1.7 degrees F).

“There is unanimous agreement in the scientific community that a temperature increase of this magnitude would bring about significant changes in the earth’s climate,” he wrote, “including rainfall distribution and alterations in the biosphere.”

He warned that publication of the company’s conclusions might attract media attention because of the “connection between Exxon’s major business and the role of fossil fuel combustion in contributing to the increase of atmospheric CO2.”

Nevertheless, he recommended publication.

Our “ethical responsibility is to permit the publication of our research in the scientific literature,” Cohen wrote. “Indeed, to do otherwise would be a breach of Exxon’s public position and ethical credo on honesty and integrity.”

Exxon followed his advice. Between 1983 and 1984, its researchers published their results in at least three peer-reviewed papers in Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences and an American Geophysical Union monograph.

David, the head of Exxon Research, told a global warming conference financed by Exxon in October 1982 that “few people doubt that the world has entered an energy transition away from dependence upon fossil fuels and toward some mix of renewable resources that will not pose problems of COaccumulation.” The only question, he said, was how fast this would happen.

But the challenge did not daunt him. “I’m generally upbeat about the chances of coming through this most adventurous of all human experiments with the ecosystem,” David said.

Exxon considered itself unique among corporations for its carbon dioxide and climate research.  The company boasted in a January 1981 report, “Scoping Study on CO2,” that no other company appeared to be conducting similar in-house research into carbon dioxide, and it swiftly gained a reputation among outsiders for genuine expertise.

“We are very pleased with Exxon’s research intentions related to the CO2 question. This represents very responsible action, which we hope will serve as a model for research contributions from the corporate sector,” said David Slade, manager of the federal government’s carbon dioxide research program at the Energy Department, in a May 1979 letter to Shaw. “This is truly a national and international service.”

Business Imperatives

In the early 1980s Exxon researchers often repeated that unbiased science would give it legitimacy in helping shape climate-related laws that would affect its profitability.

Still, corporate executives remained cautious about what they told Exxon’s shareholders about global warming and the role petroleum played in causing it, a review of federal filings shows. The company did not elaborate on the carbon problem in annual reports filed with securities regulators during the height of its CO2 research.

Nor did it mention in those filings that concern over CO2 was beginning to influence business decisions it was facing.

Throughout the 1980s, the company was worried about developing an enormous gas field off the coast of Indonesia because of the vast amount of CO2 the unusual reservoir would release.

Exxon was also concerned about reports that synthetic oil made from coal, tar sands and oil shales could significantly boost CO2 emissions. The company was banking on synfuels to meet growing demand for energy in the future, in a world it believed was running out of conventional oil.

In the mid-1980s, after an unexpected oil glut caused prices to collapse, Exxon cut its staff deeply to save money, including many working on climate. But the climate change problem remained, and it was becoming a more prominent part of the political landscape.

“Global Warming Has Begun, Expert Tells Senate,” declared the headline of a June 1988 New York Times article describing the Congressional testimony of NASA’s James Hansen, a leading climate expert. Hansen’s statements compelled Sen. Tim Wirth (D-Colo.) to declare during the hearing that “Congress must begin to consider how we are going to slow or halt that warming trend.”

With alarm bells suddenly ringing, Exxon started financing efforts to amplify doubt about the state of climate science.

Exxon helped to found and lead the Global Climate Coalition, an alliance of some of the world’s largest companies seeking to halt government efforts to curb fossil fuel emissions. Exxon used the American Petroleum Institute, right-wing think tanks, campaign contributions and its own lobbying to push a narrative that climate science was too uncertain to necessitate cuts in fossil fuel emissions.

As the international community moved in 1997 to take a first step in curbing emissions with the Kyoto Protocol, Exxon’s chairman and CEO Lee Raymond argued to stop it.

“Let’s agree there’s a lot we really don’t know about how climate will change in the 21st century and beyond,” Raymond said in his speech before the World Petroleum Congress in Beijing in October 1997.

“We need to understand the issue better, and fortunately, we have time,” he said. “It is highly unlikely that the temperature in the middle of the next century will be significantly affected whether policies are enacted now or 20 years from now.”

Over the years, several Exxon scientists who had confirmed the climate consensus during its early research, including Cohen and David, took Raymond’s side, publishing views that ran contrary to the scientific mainstream.

Paying the Price

Exxon’s about-face on climate change earned the scorn of the scientific establishment it had once courted.

In 2006, the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s science academy, sent a harsh letter to Exxon accusing it of being “inaccurate and misleading” on the question of climate uncertainty. Bob Ward, the Academy’s senior manager for policy communication, demanded that Exxon stop giving money to dozens of organizations he said were actively distorting the science.

In 2008, under mounting pressure from activist shareholders, the company announced it would end support for some prominent groups such as those Ward had identified.

Still, the millions of dollars Exxon had spent since the 1990s on climate change deniers had long surpassed what it had once invested in its path-breaking climate science aboard the Esso Atlantic.

“They spent so much money and they were the only company that did this kind of research as far as I know,” Edward Garvey, who was a key researcher on Exxon’s oil tanker project, said in a recent interview with InsideClimate News and Frontline. “That was an opportunity not just to get a place at the table, but to lead, in many respects, some of the discussion. And the fact that they chose not to do that into the future is a sad point.”

Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, who has been a frequent target of climate deniers, said that inaction, just like actions, have consequences. When he recently spoke to InsideClimate News, he was unaware of this chapter in Exxon’s history.

“All it would’ve taken is for one prominent fossil fuel CEO to know this was about more than just shareholder profits, and a question about our legacy,” he said. “But now because of the cost of inaction—what I call the ‘procrastination penalty’—we face a far more uphill battle.”

Part II, coming on September 17, will further examine Exxon’s early climate research.

ICN staff members Zahra Hirji, Paul Horn, Naveena Sadasivam, Sabrina Shankman and Alexander Wood also contributed to this report.

Exxon and Climate Change

The fossil-fuel industry’s campaign to mislead the American people (The Washington Post)

 May 29

Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, represents Rhode Island in the Senate.

Fossil fuel companies and their allies are funding a massive and sophisticated campaign to mislead the American people about the environmental harm caused by carbon pollution.

Their activities are often compared to those of Big Tobacco denying the health dangers of smoking. Big Tobacco’s denial scheme was ultimately found by a federal judge to have amounted to a racketeering enterprise.

The Big Tobacco playbook looked something like this: (1) pay scientists to produce studies defending your product; (2) develop an intricate web of PR experts and front groups to spread doubt about the real science; (3) relentlessly attack your opponents.

Thankfully, the government had a playbook, too: the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. In 1999, the Justice Department filed a civil RICO lawsuit against the major tobacco companies and their associated industry groups, alleging that the companies “engaged in and executed — and continue to engage in and execute — a massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public, including consumers of cigarettes, in violation of RICO.”

Tobacco spent millions of dollars and years of litigation fighting the government. But finally, through the discovery process, government lawyers were able to peel back the layers of deceit and denial and see what the tobacco companies really knew all along about cigarettes.

In 2006, Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decided that the tobacco companies’ fraudulent campaign amounted to a racketeering enterprise. According to the court: “Defendants coordinated significant aspects of their public relations, scientific, legal, and marketing activity in furtherance of a shared objective — to . . . maximize industry profits by preserving and expanding the market for cigarettes through a scheme to deceive the public.”

The parallels between what the tobacco industry did and what the fossil fuel industry is doing now are striking.

In the case of fossil fuels, just as with tobacco, the industry joined together in a common enterprise and coordinated strategy. In 1998, the Clinton administration was building support for international climate action under the Kyoto Protocol. The fossil fuel industry, its trade associations and the conservative policy institutes that often do the industry’s dirty work met at the Washington office of the American Petroleum Institute. A memo from that meeting that was leaked to the New York Times documented their plans for a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign to undermine climate science and to raise “questions among those (e.g. Congress) who chart the future U.S. course on global climate change.”

The shape of the fossil fuel industry’s denial operation has been documented by, among others, Drexel University professor Robert Brulle. In a 2013 paper published in the journal Climatic Change, Brulle described a complex network of organizations and funding that appears designed to obscure the fossil fuel industry’s fingerprints. To quote directly from Brulle’s report, it was “a deliberate and organized effort to misdirect the public discussion and distort the public’s understanding of climate.” That sounds a lot like Kessler’s findings in the tobacco racketeering case.

The coordinated tactics of the climate denial network, Brulle’s report states, “span a wide range of activities, including political lobbying, contributions to political candidates, and a large number of communication and media efforts that aim at undermining climate science.” Compare that again to the findings in the tobacco case.

The tobacco industry was proved to have conducted research that showed the direct opposite of what the industry stated publicly — namely, that tobacco use had serious health effects. Civil discovery would reveal whether and to what extent the fossil fuel industry has crossed this same line. We do know that it has funded research that — to its benefit — directly contradicts the vast majority of peer-reviewed climate science. One scientist who consistently published papers downplaying the role of carbon emissions in climate change, Willie Soon, reportedly received more than half of his funding from oil and electric utility interests: more than $1.2 million.

To be clear: I don’t know whether the fossil fuel industry and its allies engaged in the same kind of racketeering activity as the tobacco industry. We don’t have enough information to make that conclusion. Perhaps it’s all smoke and no fire. But there’s an awful lot of smoke.

*   *   *

The Long Tale of Exxon and Climate Change (Inside Climate News)

ExxonTigerTimeline1058px

Why so many Republicans can’t resist climate denial (Grist)

Despite the large number of major Republican presidential candidates — now 15, following Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s entry into the presidential race last week — they do not represent the full spectrum of their party’s beliefs on climate change. This is the unfortunate byproduct of the particular fusion of social conservatives and big business interests that came together to form the modern GOP. They don’t always have the same priorities, and so when an issue like opposition to climate action binds them together, it’s particularly sticky among Republican politicians.

Pew polls find that between a quarter and half of Republican voters accept the basics of climate science, depending on how you phrase the question. And roughly half of Republicans support the EPA setting limits on carbon emissions from power plants. You might think that one of the establishment candidates would see a political advantage in being the only contender to embrace a more moderate position — one that would also play better in the general election — as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have done on immigration.

But none of the 15 Republican candidates for president supports EPA’s carbon regulations. With the exception of South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (who is polling at 0.6 percent), they oppose regulating climate pollution at all. Walker, for example, pledged never to back a carbon tax. Bush, Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul have all sneered at climate science.

That’s because accepting climate science threatens the very foundations of any GOP presidential aspirant’s base.

For the religious right, climate science is anathema for both doctrinal and cultural reasons. Accepting climate science means accepting Earth science and what it shows us about how the Earth is billions of years old rather than a few thousand. So Christian fundamentalists and all those who interpret the Bible literally or subscribe to “Young Earth Creationism” cannot accept the foundations upon which climate science is built. More broadly, issues like evolution that set up the same tension between the religious right’s medieval belief system and modern science make social conservatives unwilling to accept any evidence that God is not, in fact, personally micromanaging the Earth’s affairs.

For the business wing of the Republican Party, climate science is anathema for both ideological and financial reasons. Ideologically, real acceptance of the science would mean acceptance that greenhouse gas emissions need to be slashed, and the most straightforward way to do that would be more government regulation. For the average Tea Party activist or Ayn Rand fan, government regulation is presumed to be bad, and working backward from that climate science must therefore be bogus. Financially, regulation of greenhouse gases could hurt fossil fuel companies and related interests like the Koch brothers’ industrial empire, but also other big businesses. That’s why the corporations that control the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have set the business lobby against regulating carbon pollution.

The two camps’ reasons are different, but together they make an overwhelming case for Republican politicians to keep denying climate science.

Add in tribal identity and the case for cowardice becomes completely irresistible. Politics is not just about positions, after all, it’s about identity. Climate denial is one way a Republican politician can intimate to the anti-modernity wing of the GOP that he or she is one of them and doesn’t trust professors or the mainstream media.

So intransigence on climate change becomes an appealing way of pulling together the disparate strands of the Republican Party. It keeps heartland social conservatives and corporate bosses on the same team. It’s sort of like the inverse of Democrats’ efforts to connect clean energy with economic populism.

This is notably different from the situation with another hot issue, immigration, on which the GOP is split. Many rank-and-file Republican voters harbor anti-immigrant views, but big business wants immigration reform that would bring more potential workers into the U.S. That’s why we’ve seen some top Republican presidential candidates, such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, embrace immigration reform, while there’s not yet any evidence of such a shift on climate change.

The significance of an issue to business interests is key. Compare immigration to abortion or Republican warmongering in the Middle East: because the business wing of the party does not have a financial stake in moderating on those issues, Republican pols just pander to the conservative base on them, despite divided opinion among their more moderate voters. Twenty-seven percent of Republican voters support abortion rights, according to a Gallup poll from last year, but none of their presidential candidates do except for former New York Gov. George Pataki, who currently polls at an average of 0.2 percent. Thirty-one percent of Republicans support making a deal with Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, but all the Republican presidential candidates oppose it.

In fact, the prospects for GOP moderation on climate change are in some ways even worse than on abortion. While the Wall Street Journal editorial page might make a show of opposing abortion rights, there is no reason to think that if, say, John McCain had chosen a pro-choice running mate like Joe Lieberman they would have refused to back the ticket. Selfish rich white men who live on the East Coast don’t actually care about protecting fetuses, it’s just a trade they’ve made with the yokels in exchange for keeping the capital-gains tax rate low. But imagine how they, or an executive from ExxonMobil, might respond to a climate hawk on the GOP ticket.

That’s why none of the GOP’s top-polling contenders have clearly accepted climate science. The only Republican candidates to even partially acknowledge the overwhelming scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change are ones with little to no chance of winning the party’s nomination — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Graham, and Pataki. According to the Huffington Post polling average, Christie is the only one of those who averages (barely) above 2 percent, and he is the only one who is (barely) placing in the top 10, necessary to qualify for the CNN and Fox News debates. (In 2008, Mike Huckabee, who Huff Po has in seventh place, accepted climate science and supported emissions caps, but he has long since flip-flopped.)

This disconnect between Republican politicians and voters on climate change is not limited to the presidential candidates. In June, 239 House Republicans votedfor (and only four voted against) a bill that would delay EPA from regulating power plants’ carbon emissions until all legal challenges are settled and would allow states to opt out of the rules, thus rendering them worthless.

Major conservative media figures such as talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh and Erick Erickson of RedState and Fox News enforce this trend. They behave like political strategists rather than truth-seeking journalists and unleash fury on candidates who deviate from the orthodox party line.

Is there any hope of breaking this logjam? Currently, Republican politicians get away with denying climate science because the moderate wing of their party shrugs it off. Moderate voters may accept climate science and support carbon regulation, but they don’t care enough about it to vote on it.

What Democrats and climate hawks must do, then, is turn backwardness on climate change into a symbol of backwardness writ large, as I argued in a recent post. They must make Republican moderates embarrassed to vote for a candidate who does not accept climate science and embrace climate action, in the same way it would embarrass them to vote for a candidate who says that women cannot get pregnant when raped. Because the one thing Republican politicians care about more than anything else is winning.

How climate change deniers got it right — but very wrong (MSNBC)

 VIDEO: GREENHOUSE, 1/22/15, 3:34 PM ET

06/16/15 08:30 PM

By Tony Dokoupil

It turns out the climate change deniers were right: There isn’t 97% agreement among climate scientists. The real figure? It’s not lower, but actually higher.

The scientific “consensus” on climate change has gotten stronger, surging past the famous — and controversial — figure of 97% to more than 99.9%, according to a new study reviewed by msnbc.

James L. Powell, director of the National Physical Sciences Consortium, reviewed more than 24,000 peer-reviewed papers on global warming published in 2013 and 2014. Only five reject the reality of rising temperatures or the fact that human emissions are the cause, he found.

“It’s now a ruling paradigm, as much an accepted fact in climate science as plate tectonics is in geology and evolution is in biology,” he told msnbc. “It’s 99.9% plus.”

Powell, a member of the National Science Board under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, decided to share an exclusive draft of his research on Tuesday — just days before Pope Francis is set to deliver a major address on climate change — because he doesn’t want his holiness to reference outdated numbers.

“I don’t want the Pope to say 97%,” Powell said by phone, arguing that accuracy now is more important than ever. “It’s wrong, and it’s not trivial.”

VIDEO: THE ED SHOW, 6/8/15, 5:53 PM ET – Santorum lectures Pope on climate change

Pope Francis is preparing to charge into the political debate over climate change, citing “a very consistent scientific consensus” and the risk of “unprecedented destruction,” according to a leaked draft of Thursday’s papal encyclical.

The notion of 97% agreement among climate scientists started with studies in 2009 and 2010. It wasn’t until a 2013 study, however, that the figure went viral. President Barack Obama tweeted it. The comedian John Oliver set up a slapstick debate between a climate change denier and 97 of his peers.

But Powell argues that acceptance of man-made global warming has grown. The author of a new Columbia University Press book on scientific revolutions used an online database to compile a mountain of global warming papers published in the last two years.

He also tried a different approach than the earlier studies. Rather than search for explicit acceptance of anthropomorphic global warming, Powell searched for explicit rejection. All the papers in the middle, he figured, weren’t neutral on the subject — they were settled on it.

The results include work from nearly the entire population of working climate scientists — close to 70,000 scientists, often sharing their byline with three or four other authors. They also include a dwindling opposition: Powell could find only four solitary authors who challenged the evidence for human-caused global warming.

That’s a rate of one dissenting voice for every 17,000 agreeing scientists, and it’s not a strong voice. Powell called the four dissents “known deniers and crackpots,” and noted that their work had been cited only once by the wider academic community.

“I don’t want the Pope to say 97%. It’s wrong, and it’s not trivial.”
JAMES L. POWELL, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PHYSICAL SCIENCES CONSORTIUM

Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the history of science at Harvard, hasn’t read the Powell paper but she doesn’t doubt the general direction of the findings.Back in 2004, she became the first researcher to claim a “consensus” on climate change, finding a roughly 75% agreement within the literature.

“Scientists have done so much more work since then,” she said. For me, as a historian of science, it really feels like overkill. One starts to think, how many more times do we need to say this before we really get it and start to act on it?”

One reason for inaction of course is politics. Many of the world’s leaders still doubt the science of climate change, assuming incorrectly that it’s unsettled or exploratory. The view is especially prevalent among the current crop of Republican presidential candidates.

Earlier this month, for example, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told Fox News that the pope would be “better off leaving science to the scientists.” Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, meanwhile, claim that the science remains vague or is made up entirely.

That raises a second reason for inaction, according to Oreskes: intentional deception. Oreskes is the co-author of the “Merchants of Doubt,” a book that demonstrated how interest groups had undermined the science on tobacco, ozone depletion, acid rain and now climate change.

Many self-proclaimed “climate skeptics” no longer deny that the globe is warming, and some even acknowledge a human role in the new heat wave. Instead, they now say, warming is real — it just isn’t dangerous. They also attack the idea of a consensus, whatever the percentage.

“Nothing has really changed there,” said Oreskes. “The details shift but the overall picture remains the same. It’s a bit like Monet’s water lilies; it can look different at different at different times of day but it’s the same picture.”

Powell, however, hopes his work can finally close the debate, end the notion of doubt, move the frame ahead.

“There isn’t any evidence against global warming and there isn’t any alternative theory,” he said. “We’ve been looking for negative feedbacks and we’ve never found one that amounts to anything. It’s not impossible that we will, but I wouldn’t bet my grandchildren’s future on it.”

RELATED: Santorum to Pope Francis: ‘Leave science to the scientists’

RELATED: Pope Francis may drop political bombshell on climate change

Pope Francis to Explore Climate’s Effect on World’s Poor (New York Times)

VATICAN CITY — Ban Ki-moon arrived at the Vatican with his own college of cardinals. Mr. Ban, the United Nations secretary general, had brought the leaders of all his major agencies to see Pope Francis, a show of organizational muscle and respect for a meeting between two global institutions that had sometimes shared a bumpy past but now had a mutual interest.

The agenda was poverty, and Francis inveighed against the “economy of exclusion” as he addressed Mr. Ban’s delegation at the Apostolic Palace. But in an informal meeting with Mr. Ban and his advisers, Francis shifted the discussion to the environment and how environmental degradation weighed heaviest on the poor.

“This is the pope of the poor,” said Robert Orr, who attended the May 2014 meeting as Mr. Ban’s special adviser on climate change and described the informal conversation with Francis. “The fact that he is making the link to the planet is really significant.”

On Thursday, Francis will release his first major teaching letter, known as an encyclical, on the theme of the environment and the poor. Given the pope’s widespread popularity, and his penchant for speaking out on major global issues, the encyclical is being treated as a milestone that could place the Roman Catholic Church at the forefront of a new coalition of religion and science.

Francis, the first pope from the developing world, clearly wants the document to have an impact: Its release comes during a year with three major international policy meetings, most notably a United Nations climate change conference in Paris in December. This month, the Vatican sent notifications to bishops around the world with instructions for spreading the pope’s environmental message to the more than one billion Catholics worldwide.

By wading into the environment debate, Francis is seeking to redefine a secular topic, one usually framed by scientific data, using theology and faith. And based on Francis’ prior comments, and those of influential cardinals, the encyclical is also likely to include an economic critique of how global capitalism, while helping lift millions out of poverty, has also exploited nature and created vast inequities.

“We clearly need a fundamental change of course, to protect the earth and its people — which in turn will allow us to dignify humanity,” Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who oversaw the drafting of the encyclical, said at a conference on climate change this spring at the Vatican.

Vatican officials say that the encyclical is a theological document, not a political one, and have refused to divulge the contents. But there is already much speculation about how Francis will comment on humans’ role in causing climate change, a link he has spoken about in the past. The Vatican’s scientific academy recently attributed climate change to “unsustainable consumption” and called it “a dominant moral and ethical issue for society.”

This stance has rankled some conservative Catholics, as well as climate change skeptics, who have suggested that Francis is being misled by scientists and that he could veer into contentious subjects like population control. Others have argued that papal infallibility does not apply to matters of science. In April, a group of self-described climate skeptics, led by the Heartland Institute, a libertarian group, came to Rome to protest.

“The Vatican and the pope should be arguing that fossil fuels are the moral choice for the developing world,” said Marc Morano, who runs the website Climate Depot and once worked as an aide to Senator James M. Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican and climate change skeptic.

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo of Argentina, who is also chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, has sharply rebutted the criticism and postulated that many of the attacks have been underwritten by oil companies or influenced by conservative American interests, including the Tea Party. “This is a ridiculous thing, completely,” Bishop Sorondo said in an interview at the Vatican.

The first clue of the pope’s interest in the environment came when he chose his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th century friar who dedicated himself to the poor and is considered the patron saint of animals and the environment. Francis had shown interest from his days in Argentina, when he was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires.

There, he played a major role in convening different leaders to seek solutions for Argentina’s social ills. Francesca Ambrogetti, who co-wrote a biography of Francis, said he pushed for scientists at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina to investigate the impact of environmental issues on humanity. As far back as September 2004, Cardinal Bergoglio cited the “destruction of the environment” as contributing to inequality and the need for social reforms. At a 2007 meeting of Latin American bishops in Aparecida, Brazil, he oversaw the drafting of a broad mission statement that included an emphasis on the environment.

Pablo Canziani, an atmospheric physicist who researches climate change, said Francis, who had once trained as a chemist, became very interested in the links between environmental destruction and social ills, including a dispute over paper pulp mills on the border with Uruguay, which Argentina claimed were polluting local drinking water.

The pope, Professor Canziani added, has stayed in touch. Last year, the Vatican invited professors at his university to contribute ideas for the encyclical. He said they sent a memo focused on legal issues, sustainability, civic responsibility and governance.

“I’m pretty certain Francis will be requesting a change in the paradigms of development,” he said. “The encyclical will focus on why we’re suffering environmental degradation, then focus on links to social issues.”

Pope Francis and Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, during a meeting at the Vatican.CreditL’Ossservatore Romano, via Associated Press 

The final document seems certain to bear the fingerprints of scientists and theologians from around the world. The Rev. Sean McDonagh, an Irish priest who has worked on environmental issues and climate change for decades, said that Cardinal Turkson contacted him more than a year ago and asked if he would write a comprehensive document about the theological and ethical aspects of environmental issues.

Father McDonagh said he had spent two or three months writing about climate change, biodiversity, oceans, sustainable food “and a section at the end on hope.” Then he sent it to the Vatican. “At the time, they didn’t say there would be an encyclical,” he recalled, adding that he was eager to see it.

The hoopla over Francis’ encyclical confounds some Vatican experts, who note that both of Francis’ predecessors, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, wrote about the role of industrial pollution in destroying the environment. Benedict was called the “green pope” after he initiated projects to make the Vatican carbon-neutral. Other religious groups, including evangelical Christians, have spoken about the impact of environmental destruction on the poor.

But many analysts argue that Francis has a singular status, partly because of his global popularity. And in placing the issue at the center of an encyclical, especially at a moment when sustainable development is atop the international agenda, Francis is placing the Catholic Church — and the morality of economic development — at the center of the debate. In January, while traveling to the Philippines, Francis told reporters accompanying him that he was convinced that global warming was “mostly” a human-made phenomenon.

“It is man who has slapped nature in the face,” he said, adding: “I think we have exploited nature too much.”

Francis will travel in July to South America, and in September to Cuba and the United States, where he will speak about his encyclical at the United Nations.

“He is certainly going on the road,” said the Rev. Michael Czerny, a Jesuit priest who works under Cardinal Turkson and has been involved in drafting the encyclical. “This is certainly an agenda-setting document.”

Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said Francis had an “emerging agenda” on social issues and seemed determined “to make his period in office one related to the great concerns affecting humanity.” She added: “He is a man in a hurry.”

Ms. Clark and other development officials can tick off myriad ways that the global poor bear the brunt of environmental damage and changing weather patterns, whether they are African farmers whose crops are destroyed by drought or South Asian farmers threatened by rising sea levels. In this context, Vatican officials say, Francis is likely to see moral injustice.

“Rich people are more prepared,” said Bishop Sorondo, the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. “Poor people are not prepared and have suffered the consequences.”

The May 2014 meeting at the Vatican between Francis and the United Nations delegation came at a propitious moment. The Vatican had just held a major symposium that brought together scientists, theologians, economists and others to discuss climate change and the social impact of environmental damage.

Partha Dasgupta, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences who helped organize the symposium, said many scientists — having dedicated their careers to raising awareness and trying to influence policy — were perplexed at the seeming lack of broad political response. Mr. Dasgupta, an agnostic, said he hoped that Francis could capture public attention by speaking in the language of faith.

“The pope has moral authority,” said Mr. Dasgupta, a prominent expert on development economics and climate change. “It could change the game in a fundamental way.”

Science Under Siege (CBC)

Paul Kennedy

Wednesday June 03, 2015

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/science-under-siege-part-1-1.3091552

Are we living through an Anti-Scientific Revolution? Scientists around the world are increasingly restricted in what they can research, publish and say — constrained by belief and ideology from all sides.  Historically, science has always had a thorny relationship with institutions of power. But what happens to societies which turn their backs on curiosity-driven research? And how can science lift the siege?  CBC Radio producer Mary Lynk looks for some answers in this three-part series.

Science Under Siege, Part 1:  Dangers of Ignorance – airs Wednesday, June 3
Explores the historical tension between science and political power and the sometimes fraught relationship between the two over the centuries. But what happens when science gets sidelined? What happens to societies which turn their backs on curiosity-driven research?

Science Under Siege, Part 2: The Great Divide – airs Thursday, June 4
Explores the state of science in the modern world, and the expanding — and dangerous — gulf between scientists and the rest of society.  Many policy makers, politicians and members of the public are giving belief and ideology the same standing as scientific evidence. Are we now seeing an Anti-Scientific revolution?  A look at how evidence-based decision making has been sidelined.

Science Under Siege, Part 3: Fighting Back – airs Friday, June 5
Focuses on the culture war being waged on science, and possible solutions for reintegrating science and society. The attack on science is coming from all sides, both the left and right of the political spectrum. How can the principle of direct observation of the world, free of any influence from corporate or any other influence, reassert itself? The final episode of this series looks at how science can withstand the attack against it and overcome ideology and belief.

Climate Misinformer Christopher Monckton

Global Climate Scam: An Interview with Lord Christopher Monckton

Climate Misinformer: Christopher Monckton (Skeptical Science)

Christopher Monckton is a British consultant, policy adviser, writer, columnist, and hereditary peer. While not formally trained in science, Monckton is one of the most cited and widely published climate skeptics, having even been invited to testify to the U.S. Senate and Congress on several occasions.

For a comprehensive rebuttal of many of Christopher Monckton’s arguments, check out this presentation by Professor John Abraham. Abraham has compiled many examples where Monckton misrepresents the very scientists whose work he cites. Check out this PDF of Monckton quotes versus the scientists who in their own words explain how Monckton misrepresents their research.

Quotes Articles Arguments Blogs Links Search

Favourite climate myths by Christopher Monckton

Below are many of the climate myths used by Christopher Monckton plus how often each myth has been used.

Climate myths by Monckton What the Science Says Usage
“Climate sensitivity is low” Net positive feedback is confirmed by many different lines of evidence. 15
“Sea level rise predictions are exaggerated” Sea level rise is now increasing faster than predicted due to unexpectedly rapid ice melting. 11
“Hockey stick is broken” Recent studies agree that recent global temperatures are unprecedented in the last 1000 years. 10
“Sea level rise is exaggerated” A variety of different measurements find steadily rising sea levels over the past century. 9
“Medieval Warm Period was warmer” Globally averaged temperature now is higher than global temperature in medieval times. 9
“It’s cooling” The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record. 9
“IPCC overestimate temperature rise” Monckton used the IPCC equation in an inappropriate manner. 8
“CO2 limits will harm the economy” The benefits of a price on carbon outweigh the costs several times over. 7
“There’s no tropospheric hot spot” We see a clear “short-term hot spot” – there’s various evidence for a “long-term hot spot”. 7
“Arctic sea ice loss is matched by Antarctic sea ice gain” Arctic sea ice loss is three times greater than Antarctic sea ice gain. 7
“It warmed just as fast in 1860-1880 and 1910-1940” The warming trend over 1970 to 2001 is greater than warming from both 1860 to 1880 and 1910 to 1940. 7
“Lindzen and Choi find low climate sensitivity” Lindzen and Choi’s paper is viewed as unacceptably flawed by other climate scientists. 6
“Models are unreliable” Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean. 6
“Hurricanes aren’t linked to global warming” There is increasing evidence that hurricanes are getting stronger due to global warming. 6
“IPCC ‘disappeared’ the Medieval Warm Period” The IPCC simply updated their temperature history graphs to show the best data available at the time. 6
“Extreme weather isn’t caused by global warming” Extreme weather events are being made more frequent and worse by global warming. 5
“IPCC is alarmist” Numerous papers have documented how IPCC predictions are more likely to underestimate the climate response. 5
“Climate’s changed before” Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing. 5
“Greenland is gaining ice” Greenland on the whole is losing ice, as confirmed by satellite measurement. 5
“It’s global brightening” This is a complex aerosol effect with unclear temperature significance. 5
“CO2 limits will make little difference” If every nation agrees to limit CO2 emissions, we can achieve significant cuts on a global scale. 5
“Arctic was warmer in 1940” The actual data show high northern latitudes are warmer today than in 1940. 5
“It hasn’t warmed since 1998” For global records, 2010 is the hottest year on record, tied with 2005. 4
“It’s not bad” Negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health & environment far outweigh any positives. 4
“Oceans are cooling” The most recent ocean measurements show consistent warming. 4
“An exponential increase in CO2 will result in a linear increase in temperature” CO2 levels are rising so fast that unless we decrease emissions, global warming will accelerate this century. 4
“CO2 lags temperature” CO2 didn’t initiate warming from past ice ages but it did amplify the warming.  4
“Climategate CRU emails suggest conspiracy” A number of investigations have cleared scientists of any wrongdoing in the media-hyped email incident. 4
“Al Gore got it wrong” Al Gore’s book is quite accurate, and far more accurate than contrarian books. 4
“It’s the sun” In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions 4
“Arctic icemelt is a natural cycle” Thick arctic sea ice is undergoing a rapid retreat.  4
“It warmed before 1940 when CO2 was low” Early 20th century warming is due to several causes, including rising CO2. 3
“Mt. Kilimanjaro’s ice loss is due to land use” Most glaciers are in rapid retreat worldwide, notwithstanding a few complicated cases. 3
“There’s no empirical evidence” There are multiple lines of direct observations that humans are causing global warming. 3
“Temp record is unreliable” The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites. 3
“It’s Urban Heat Island effect” Urban and rural regions show the same warming trend. 3
“Earth hasn’t warmed as much as expected” This argument ignores the cooling effect of aerosols and the planet’s thermal inertia. 3
“There’s no correlation between CO2 and temperature” There is long-term correlation between CO2 and global temperature; other effects are short-term. 3
“Greenland was green” Other parts of the earth got colder when Greenland got warmer. 3
“Skeptics were kept out of the IPCC?” Official records, Editors and emails suggest CRU scientists acted in the spirit if not the letter of IPCC rules. 2
“2009-2010 winter saw record cold spells” A cold day in Chicago in winter has nothing to do with the trend of global warming. 2
“Hansen’s 1988 prediction was wrong” Jim Hansen had several possible scenarios; his mid-level scenario B was right. 2
“IPCC were wrong about Himalayan glaciers” Glaciers are in rapid retreat worldwide, despite 1 error in 1 paragraph in a 1000 page IPCC report. 2
“CO2 limits will hurt the poor” Those who contribute the least greenhouse gases will be most impacted by climate change. 2
“Antarctica is gaining ice” Satellites measure Antarctica losing land ice at an accelerating rate. 2
“Polar bear numbers are increasing” Polar bears are in danger of extinction as well as many other species. 2
“Greenland ice sheet won’t collapse” When Greenland was 3 to 5 degrees C warmer than today, a large portion of the Ice Sheet melted. 2
“Ocean acidification isn’t serious” Ocean acidification threatens entire marine food chains. 2
“Arctic sea ice has recovered” Thick arctic sea ice is in rapid retreat. 2
“We’re coming out of the Little Ice Age” Scientists have determined that the factors which caused the Little Ice Age cooling are not currently causing global warming 2
“CO2 was higher in the past” When CO2 was higher in the past, the sun was cooler. 2
“CO2 is plant food” The effects of enhanced CO2 on terrestrial plants are variable and complex and dependent on numerous factors 2
“Phil Jones says no global warming since 1995” Phil Jones was misquoted. 2
“Global warming stopped in 19981995200220072010, ????” Global temperature is still rising and 2010 was the hottest recorded. 2
“There is no consensus” 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming. 2
“Sea level is not rising” The claim sea level isn’t rising is based on blatantly doctored graphs contradicted by observations. 2
“Record high snow cover was set in winter 2008/2009” Winter snow cover in 2008/2009 was average while the long-term trend in spring, summer, and annual snow cover is rapid decline. 1
“Satellites show no warming in the troposphere” The most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming. 1
“It’s microsite influences” Microsite influences on temperature changes are minimal; good and bad sites show the same trend. 1
“CO2 has a short residence time” Excess CO2 from human emissions has a long residence time of over 100 years 1
“Glaciers are growing” Most glaciers are retreating, posing a serious problem for millions who rely on glaciers for water. 1
“CO2 is just a trace gas” Many substances are dangerous even in trace amounts; what really matters is the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. 1
“Ice Sheet losses are overestimated” A number of independent measurements find extensive ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland. 1
“CO2 is not a pollutant” Through its impacts on the climate, CO2 presents a danger to public health and welfare, and thus qualifies as an air pollutant 1
“Corals are resilient to bleaching” Globally about 1% of coral is dying out each year. 1
“Tuvalu sea level isn’t rising” Tuvalu sea level is rising 3 times larger than the global average. 1
“Ice age predicted in the 70s” The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming. 1
“Coral atolls grow as sea levels rise” Thousands of coral atolls have “drowned” when unable to grow fast enough to survive at sea level. 1
“Peer review process was corrupted” An Independent Review concluded that CRU’s actions were normal and didn’t threaten the integrity of peer review. 1
“It’s not urgent” A large amount of warming is delayed, and if we don’t act now we could pass tipping points. 1
“It’s not us” Multiple sets of independent observations find a human fingerprint on climate change. 1
“Greenland has only lost a tiny fraction of its ice mass” Greenland’s ice loss is accelerating & will add metres of sea level rise in upcoming centuries. 1
“Climate is chaotic and cannot be predicted” Weather is chaotic but climate is driven by Earth’s energy imbalance, which is more predictable. 1
“It’s freaking cold!” A local cold day has nothing to do with the long-term trend of increasing global temperatures. 1
“Over 31,000 scientists signed the OISM Petition Project” The ‘OISM petition’ was signed by only a few climatologists. 1
“It’s too hard” Scientific studies have determined that current technology is sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid dangerous climate change. 1
“Animals and plants can adapt” Global warming will cause mass extinctions of species that cannot adapt on short time scales. 1
“Scientists tried to ‘hide the decline’ in global temperature” The ‘decline’ refers to a decline in northern tree-rings, not global temperature, and is openly discussed in papers and the IPCC reports. 1
“Southern sea ice is increasing” Antarctic sea ice has grown in recent decades despite the Southern Ocean warming at the same time.  1
“CRU tampered with temperature data” An independent inquiry went back to primary data sources and were able to replicate CRU’s results. 1
“It’s Pacific Decadal Oscillation” The PDO shows no trend, and therefore the PDO is not responsible for the trend of global warming. 1
“Trenberth can’t account for the lack of warming” Trenberth is talking about the details of energy flow, not whether global warming is happening. 1
“Clouds provide negative feedback” Evidence is building that net cloud feedback is likely positive and unlikely to be strongly negative. 1

Back to Climate Skeptics

Explosive intervention by Pope Francis set to transform climate change debate (The Guardian)

The most anticipated papal letter for decades will be published in five languages on Thursday. It will call for an end to the ‘tyrannical’ exploitation of nature by mankind. Could it lead to a step-change in the battle against global warming?

Pope Francis on a visit to the Philippines in January.

Pope Francis on a visit to the Philippines in January. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis will call for an ethical and economic revolution to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality in a letter to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on Thursday.

In an unprecedented encyclical on the subject of the environment, the pontiff is expected to argue that humanity’s exploitation of the planet’s resources has crossed the Earth’s natural boundaries, and that the world faces ruin without a revolution in hearts and minds. The much-anticipated message, which will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops, will be published online in five languages on Thursday and is expected to be the most radical statement yet from the outspoken pontiff.

However, it is certain to anger sections of Republican opinion in America by endorsing the warnings of climate scientists and admonishing rich elites, say cardinals and scientists who have advised the Vatican.

The Ghanaian cardinal, Peter Turkson, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and a close ally of the pope, will launch the encyclical. He has said it will address the root causes of poverty and the threats facing nature, or “creation”.

In a recent speech widely regarded as a curtain-raiser to the encyclical, Turkson said: “Much of the world remains in poverty, despite abundant resources, while a privileged global elite controls the bulk of the world’s wealth and consumes the bulk of its resources.”

The Argentinian pontiff is expected to repeat calls for a change in attitudes to poverty and nature. “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it,” he told a meeting of social movements last year. “I think a question that we are not asking ourselves is: isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature? Safeguard creation because, if we destroy it, it will destroy us. Never forget this.”

The encyclical will go much further than strictly environmental concerns, say Vatican insiders. “Pope Francis has repeatedly stated that the environment is not only an economic or political issue, but is an anthropological and ethical matter,” said another of the pope’s advisers, Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Peru.

“It will address the issue of inequality in the distribution of resources and topics such as the wasting of food and the irresponsible exploitation of nature and the consequences for people’s life and health,” Barreto Jimeno told the Catholic News Service.

He was echoed by Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who coordinates the Vatican’s inner council of cardinals and is thought to reflect the pope’s political thinking . “The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits,” Rodríguez Maradiaga said.

The rare encyclical, called “Laudato Sii”, or “Praised Be”, has been timed to have maximum public impact ahead of the pope’s meeting with Barack Obama and his address to the US Congress and the UN general assembly in September.

It is also intended to improve the prospect of a strong new UN global agreement to cut climate emissions. By adding a moral dimension to the well-rehearsed scientific arguments, Francis hopes to raise the ambition of countries above their own self-interest to secure a strong deal in a crucial climate summit in Paris in November.

“Pope Francis is personally committed to this [climate] issue like no other pope before him. The encyclical will have a major impact. It will speak to the moral imperative of addressing climate change in a timely fashion in order to protect the most vulnerable,” said Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief, in Bonn this week for negotiations.

Francis, the first Latin American pope, is increasingly seen as the voice of the global south and a catalyst for change in global bodies. In September, he will seek to add impetus and moral authority to UN negotiations in New York to adopt new development goals and lay out a 15-year global plan to tackle hunger, extreme poverty and health. He will address the UN general assembly on 23 September as countries finalise their commitments.

However, Francis’s radicalism is attracting resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US – where Catholic climate sceptics also include John Boehner, Republican leader of the House of Representatives, and Rick Santorum, a Republican presidential candidate.

Earlier this year Stephen Moore, a Catholic economist, called the pope a “complete disaster”, saying he was part of “a radical green movement that is at its core anti-Christian, anti-people and anti-progress”.

Moore was backed this month by scientists and engineers from the powerful evangelical Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, who have written an open letter to Francis. “Today many prominent voices call humanity a scourge on our planet, saying that man is the problem, not the solution. Such attitudes too often contaminate their assessment of man’s effects on nature,” it says.

But the encyclical will be well received in developing countries, where most Catholics live. “Francis has always put the poor at the centre of everything he has said. The developing countries will hear their voice in the encyclical,” said Neil Thorns, director of advocacy at the Catholic development agency, Cafod. “I expect it to challenge the way we think. The message that we cannot just treat the Earth as a tool for exploitation will be a message that many will not want to hear.”

The pope is “aiming at a change of heart. What will save us is not technology or science. What will save us is the ethical transformation of our society,” said Carmelite Father Eduardo Agosta Scarel, a climate scientist who teaches at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires.

Earlier popes, including Benedict XVI and John Paul II, addressed environmental issues and “creation”, but neither mentioned climate change or devoted an entire encyclical to the links between poverty, economics and ecological destruction. Francis’s only previous encyclical concerned the nature of religious faith.

The pontiff, who is playing an increasing role on the world stage, will visit Cuba ahead of travelling to the US. He was cited by Obama as having helped to thaw relations between the two countries, and last week met the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to discuss the crisis in Ukraine and the threat to minority Christians in the Middle East.

The pope chose Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, as his namesake at the start of his papacy in 2011, saying the saint’s values reflected his own.

There never was a global warming ‘pause,’ NOAA study concludes (Environment & Energy Publishing)

Gayathri Vaidyanathan, E&E reporter

Published: Friday, June 5, 2015

The global warming “pause” does not exist, according to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Their finding refutes a theory that has dominated climate science in recent years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013 found that global temperatures in recent years have not risen as quickly as they did in the 20th century. That launched an academic hunt for the missing heat in the oceans, volcanoes and solar rays. Meanwhile, climate deniers triumphantly crowed that global warming has paused or gone on a “hiatus.”

But it now appears that the pause never was. NOAA scientists have fixed some small errors in global temperature data and found that temperatures over the past 15 years have been rising at a rate comparable to warming over the 20th century. The study was published yesterday inScience.

That a minor change to the analysis can switch the outcome from a hiatus to increased warming shows “how fragile a concept it [the hiatus] was in the first place,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who was unaffiliated with the study.

According to the NOAA study, the world has warmed since 1998 by 0.11 degree Celsius per decade. Scientists had previously calculated that the trend was about half that.

The new rate is equal to the rate of warming seen between 1951 and 1999.

There has been no slowdown in the rate of global warming, said Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information and lead author of the study.

“Global warming is firmly entrenched on our planet, and it continues to progress and is likely to continue to do so in the future unless emissions of greenhouse gases are substantially altered,” he said.

Errors from weather stations, buoys and buckets

That NOAA has to adjust temperature readings is not unusual. Many factors can affect raw temperature measurements, according to a study by Karl in 1988.

For instance, a weather station may be situated beneath a tree, which would bias temperatures low. Measurements made near a parking lot would read warm due to the waves of heat emanating from asphalt surfaces. NOAA and other agencies adjust the raw temperature data to remove such biases.

It has become clear in recent years that some biases still persist in the data, particularly of ocean temperatures. The culprit: buckets.

Ships traverse the world, and, occasionally, workers onboard dip a bucket over the hull and bring up water that they measure using a thermometer. The method is old school and error prone — water in a bucket is usually cooler than the ocean.

For a long time, scientists had assumed that most ships no longer use buckets and instead measure water siphoned from the ocean to cool ship engines. The latter method is more robust. But data released last year showed otherwise and compelled NOAA to correct for this bias.

A second correction involved sensor-laden buoys interspersed across the oceans whose temperature readings are biased low. Karl and his colleagues corrected for this issue, as well.

The corrections “made a significant impact,” Karl said. “They added about 0.06 degrees C per decade additional warming since 2000.”

The ‘slowdown hasn’t gone away’

What that means for the global warming hiatus depends on whom you ask. The warming trend over the past 15 years is comparable to the trend between 1950 and 1998 (a 48-year stretch), which led Karl to say that global warming never slowed.

Other scientists were not fully convinced. For a truly apples-to-apples comparison, the past 15 years should be compared with other 15-year stretches, said Peter Stott, head of the climate monitoring and attribution team at the U.K. Met Office.

For instance, the globe warmed more slowly in the past 15 years than between 1983 and 1998 (the previous 15-year stretch), even with NOAA’s new data corrections, Stott said.

“The slowdown hasn’t gone away,” he said in an email. “While the Earth continues to accumulate energy as a result of increasing man-made greenhouse gas emissions … global temperatures have not increased smoothly.”

The disagreements arise because assigning trends — including the trend of a “hiatus” — to global warming depends on the time frame of reference.

“Trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends,” the IPCC stated in 2013, even as it discussed the pause.

Robert Kaufmann, an environment professor at Boston University who was unaffiliated with the study, called trends a “red herring.”

A trend implies that the planet will warm, decade after decade, at a steady clip. There is no reason why that should be the case, Kaufmann said. Many factors — human emissions of warming and cooling gases, natural variability, and external factors such as the sun — feed into Earth’s climate. The relative contributions of each factor can vary by year, decade, century or on even larger time scales.

“There is no scientific basis to assume that the climate is going to warm at the same rate year after year, decade after decade,” he said.

Copying the language of skeptics

Trends are a powerful weapon in the hands of climate deniers. As early as 2006, deniers used the slowdown of warming from 1998 onward to say that global warming had stopped or paused.

The idea of a “pause” seeped into academia, launching dozens of studies into what might have caused it. But there was a subtle difference between scientists’ understanding of the pause and that of the skeptics; scientists never believed that warming had stopped, only that it had slowed compared with the rapidly warming ’90s. They wanted to know why.

Over the years, scientists have unraveled the contributions of volcanoes to global cooling, the increased uptake of heat by the Pacific Ocean, the cooling role of La Niñas and other drivers of natural variability. Their understanding of our planet’s climate evolved rapidly.

As scientists wrote up their findings, they unwittingly adopted the skeptics’ language of the “pause,” said Stephan Lewandowsky, a psychologist at the University of Bristol who was unaffiliated with the NOAA study. That was problematic.

“That’s sort of a subtle semantic thing, but it is really important because it suggests that these [scientists] bought into the existence of the hiatus,” he said.

Then, in 2013, the IPCC wrote about the pause. The German government complained that the term implies that warming had stopped, which is inaccurate. The objection was ignored.

NOAA’s strong refutation of the hiatus is particularly weighty because it comes from a government lab, and the work was headed by Karl, a pioneer of temperature reanalysis studies.

NOAA will be using the data corrections to assess global temperatures from July onward, Karl said. NASA is discussing internally whether to apply the fixes suggested in the study, according to Schmidt of NASA.

The study was greeted by Democrats in Congress as proof that climate change is real. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, used it as an opportunity to chide her opponents.

“Climate change deniers in Congress need to stop ignoring the fact that the planet may be warming at an even faster rate than previously observed, and we must take action now to reduce dangerous carbon pollution,” she said in a statement.

The fossil-fuel industry’s campaign to mislead the American people (The Washington Post)

 May 29

Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, represents Rhode Island in the Senate.

Fossil fuel companies and their allies are funding a massive and sophisticated campaign to mislead the American people about the environmental harm caused by carbon pollution.

Their activities are often compared to those of Big Tobacco denying the health dangers of smoking. Big Tobacco’s denial scheme was ultimately found by a federal judge to have amounted to a racketeering enterprise.

The Big Tobacco playbook looked something like this: (1) pay scientists to produce studies defending your product; (2) develop an intricate web of PR experts and front groups to spread doubt about the real science; (3) relentlessly attack your opponents.

Thankfully, the government had a playbook, too: the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. In 1999, the Justice Department filed a civil RICO lawsuit against the major tobacco companies and their associated industry groups, alleging that the companies “engaged in and executed — and continue to engage in and execute — a massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public, including consumers of cigarettes, in violation of RICO.”

Tobacco spent millions of dollars and years of litigation fighting the government. But finally, through the discovery process, government lawyers were able to peel back the layers of deceit and denial and see what the tobacco companies really knew all along about cigarettes.

In 2006, Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decided that the tobacco companies’ fraudulent campaign amounted to a racketeering enterprise. According to the court: “Defendants coordinated significant aspects of their public relations, scientific, legal, and marketing activity in furtherance of a shared objective — to . . . maximize industry profits by preserving and expanding the market for cigarettes through a scheme to deceive the public.”

The parallels between what the tobacco industry did and what the fossil fuel industry is doing now are striking.

In the case of fossil fuels, just as with tobacco, the industry joined together in a common enterprise and coordinated strategy. In 1998, the Clinton administration was building support for international climate action under the Kyoto Protocol. The fossil fuel industry, its trade associations and the conservative policy institutes that often do the industry’s dirty work met at the Washington office of the American Petroleum Institute. A memo from that meeting that was leaked to the New York Times documented their plans for a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign to undermine climate science and to raise “questions among those (e.g. Congress) who chart the future U.S. course on global climate change.”

The shape of the fossil fuel industry’s denial operation has been documented by, among others, Drexel University professor Robert Brulle. In a 2013 paper published in the journal Climatic Change, Brulle described a complex network of organizations and funding that appears designed to obscure the fossil fuel industry’s fingerprints. To quote directly from Brulle’s report, it was “a deliberate and organized effort to misdirect the public discussion and distort the public’s understanding of climate.” That sounds a lot like Kessler’s findings in the tobacco racketeering case.

The coordinated tactics of the climate denial network, Brulle’s report states, “span a wide range of activities, including political lobbying, contributions to political candidates, and a large number of communication and media efforts that aim at undermining climate science.” Compare that again to the findings in the tobacco case.

The tobacco industry was proved to have conducted research that showed the direct opposite of what the industry stated publicly — namely, that tobacco use had serious health effects. Civil discovery would reveal whether and to what extent the fossil fuel industry has crossed this same line. We do know that it has funded research that — to its benefit — directly contradicts the vast majority of peer-reviewed climate science. One scientist who consistently published papers downplaying the role of carbon emissions in climate change, Willie Soon, reportedly received more than half of his funding from oil and electric utility interests: more than $1.2 million.

To be clear: I don’t know whether the fossil fuel industry and its allies engaged in the same kind of racketeering activity as the tobacco industry. We don’t have enough information to make that conclusion. Perhaps it’s all smoke and no fire. But there’s an awful lot of smoke.

The surprising links between faith and evolution and climate denial — charted (The Washington Post)

 May 20, 2015

For a long time, we’ve been having a pretty confused discussion about the relationship between religious beliefs and the rejection of science — and especially its two most prominent U.S. incarnations, evolution denial and climate change denial.

At one extreme is the position that science denial is somehow deeply or fundamentally religion’s fault. But this neglects the wide diversity of views about science across faiths and denominations — and even across individuals of the same faith or denomination — not all of which are anti-climate science, or anti-evolution.

At the other extreme, meanwhile, is the view that religion has no conflict with science at all. But that can’t be right either: Though the conflict between the two may not be fundamental or necessary in all cases, it is pretty clear that the main motive for evolution denial is, indeed, a perceived conflict with faith (not to mention various aspects of human cognition that just make accepting evolution very hard for many people).

The main driver of climate science rejection, however, appears to be a free market ideology — which is tough to characterize as religious in nature. Nonetheless, it has often been observed (including by me) that evolution denial and climate science rejection often seem to overlap, at least to an extent.

[Pope Francis has given the climate movement just what it needed: faith]

And there does seem to be at least some tie between faith and climate science doubt. Research by Yale’s Dan Kahan, for instance, found a modest correlation between religiosity and less worry about climate change. Meanwhile, a 2013 study in Political Science Quarterly found that “believers in Christian end-times theology are less likely to support policies designed to curb global warming than are other Americans.”

So how do we make sense of this complex brew?

Josh Rosenau, an evolutionary biologist who works for the National Center for Science Education — which champions both evolutionary science and climate science teaching in schools — has just created a chart that, no matter what you think of the relationship between science and religion, will give you plenty to talk about.

Crunching data from the 2007 incarnation of a massive Pew survey of American religious beliefs, Rosenau plotted different U.S. faiths and denominations based on their members’ views about both the reality of specifically human evolution, and also how much they favor “stricter environmental laws and regulations.” And this was the result (click to enlarge):

As Rosenau notes, in the figure above, “The circle sizes are scaled so that their areas are in proportion to the relative population sizes in Pew’s massive sample (nearly 36,000 people!).” And as you can see, while at the top right atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, non-Orthodox Jews and others strongly accept evolution and environmental rules, at the bottom left Southern Baptists, Pentecostals and other more conservative leaning faiths are just as skeptical of both.

Obviously, it is important to emphasize that a given individual, of any faith, could be anywhere on the chart above — it’s just that this is where the denominations as a whole seemed to fall out, based on Rosenau’s analysis (which itself mirrors prior analyses of the political alignments of U.S. faiths and denominations by political scientist and Religion News Service blogger Tobin Grant).

Reached by phone Tuesday, Rosenau (whom I’ve known for a long time from the community of bloggers about science and the environment) seemed to be still trying to fully understand the implications of the figure he’d created. “People seemed to like it,” he said. “I think some people are finding hope in it” — hope, specifically, that there is a way out of seemingly unending science versus religion spats.

Here are some of Rosenau’s other conclusions from the exercise, from his blog post introducing the chart:

First, look at all those groups whose members support evolution. There are way more of them than there are of the creationist groups, and those circles are bigger. We need to get more of the pro-evolution religious out of the closet.

Second, look at all those religious groups whose members support climate change action. Catholics fall a bit below the zero line on average, but I have to suspect that the forthcoming papal encyclical on the environment will shake that up.

[Our new pro-science pontiff: Pope Francis on climate change, evolution, and the Big Bang]

Rosenau also remarks on the striking fact that for the large bulk of religions and religious denominations, as support for evolution increases, so does support for tougher environmental rules (and vice versa). The two appear to be closely related.

So what can that mean?

Rosenau told me he was still trying to work that out — still playing with the data and new analyses to try to understand it.

One possible way of interpreting the figure is that as with political parties themselves, people at least partially self-sort into faiths or denominations that seem more consonant with their own worldviews. And thus, a cluster of issue stances may travel alongside these choices of affiliation. “People are choosing what religion they want to associate with,” suggested Rosenau. “If people feel alienated from a church, they’re switching.”

There may also be a substantive point here that links together the ideas. A view of the world that thinks of human beings as having evolved, as being part of the natural world and having emerged through the same process as other organisms, may also be related to a manner of thinking that puts great overall emphasis on the value of nature and one’s connectedness with it.

In any case, while the pattern above may require more analysis, one clear punchline of the figure is that it really doesn’t make sense to say that religion is at war with science. You can say that for some people, religion is clearly linked to less science acceptance — especially on evolution. But for others, clearly, religion presents no hurdle at all.

I would also agree that these data reinforce the idea that the pope’s coming encyclical on the environment could really shake matters up. Catholics are the biggest bubble in the chart above, and they’re right in the middle of the pack on the environment.

The pope, incidentally, also appears to accept evolution.

Blessed Are the Climate Advocates (Slate)

The Vatican and United Nations present the beatitudes of a new movement.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after a press conference during the a climate change conference organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican on April 28, 2015

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after a press conference during a climate change meeting organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican on April 28, 2015. Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

This week, while at Vatican City in Rome to manage press for the first-ever meeting on climate change between Pope Francis and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, my faith in a force more powerful was renewed. I am not religious, despite being descended from a long line of Amish and Mennonite preachers. But at the climate confab, I became a believer again. And I wasn’t alone.

It wasn’t my faith in God that was renewed at the Vatican but rather a faith in our ability to get something done on climate change. And as an American, whose Congress isn’t even close to acting aggressively or quickly enough on climate change, that’s saying something. Even the Pope’s and the U.N.’s top policy officials were clearly inspired by the event, which was hosted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Throughout the day I witnessed multiple about-faces of previously cynical staff rapidly turning toward optimism.

This Vatican moment was a game-changer. Science and religion were forcefully and unwaveringly aligning. Tuesday’s high-level session brought together multiple presidents, CEOs, academics, scientists, and all the major religions, and ended with this final, forceful statement. The event was a prelude to the Pope’s summer encyclical on climate change, and it laid a solid foundation.

But more importantly—and this is why it instilled faith in many of us—the meeting featured some of the strongest words yet from the Vatican’s Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Pope’s right-hand policy man and the drafter of the first round of what will eventually be the Pope’s climate encyclical, and from the U.N.’s Ban Ki-moon.

Beyond the expected shout-outs to the upcoming climate talks in Paris later this year and to the need for a strong Green Climate Fund, which will assist developing countries in climate adaptation, the U.N.’s Ban noted in no uncertain terms how “morally indefensible” it would be to allow a temperature rise of 4 to 5 degrees Celsius, calling on everyone to reduce their individual carbon footprint and thoughtless consumption. His pitch was more pointed than I had heard before. One of the leading rabbis, Rabbi David Rosen, took it one step further, calling out meat-intensive diets as completely unsustainable given their massive contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

The Vatican’s Turkson, meanwhile, pulled out all the stops, saying that “a crime against the natural world is a sin,” and “to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation … are sins.” Turkson warned about how quickly we are degrading the planet’s integrity, stripping its forests, destroying its wetlands, and contaminating its waters, land, and air.

These declarations were not soft, feel-good, and vague speeches by politicos keen to be perceived as leading on the most urgent issue facing humanity. These were unequivocal, unwavering statements: “Decision mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity” and the “summit in Paris may be the last effective opportunity” to keep the planet safe.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives a speech during the climate change conference at the Vatican on April 28, 2015

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives a speech during the climate change conference at the Vatican on April 28, 2015. Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

The leaders of the conference were undeterred by the hecklers who crept onto the Vatican campus. Marc Morano, for example, who is associated with the climate-skeptical Heartland Institute, snuck into the Vatican and attempted, to no avail, to disrupt the press briefing with the U.N. secretary-general while Ban was reporting on his meeting with the Pope. Morano’s account of what happened, that he was maliciously shut down after offering a benign question, misrepresents reality. Standing beside him, I can attest to what was instead a hijacking of protocol and the microphone. He said a few words about “global warming skeptics coming to talk” but coming to disrupt would be more accurate. He interrupted the secretary-general and the moderator, and was later escorted from the premises by Vatican officials.

What’s troubling about moments like this is that they work. The U.S. media reporting from the Vatican meeting felt compelled to give Morano critical space in their stories. It’s not just that he was an unexpected and therefore newsworthy interruption—giving his “side” is part of American broadcast media’s history of false balance even when there are not two legitimate sides of a story to balance. To be clear, the verdict is not still out on climate change. There’s overwhelming consensus when it comes to the science behind global warming, yet some media outlets (fewer all the time, fortunately) continue to give voice to the small percent that disagrees. Standing beside Morano, surrounded by representatives of the most powerful institutions in the world, it was quite clear to me that the Heartland Institute, though well funded by the Koch brothers, is ineffectually extreme and ultimately a minority player in society’s overall push toward climate progress.

In many ways, the Heartland emissaries proved, through their apoplectic protest, how peripheral they were to the whole process. There was no need for anyone to fight them in that moment; the majority opinion, the moral call to act on climate, was already winning the day. The global response to our conversation at the Vatican has been unequivocally positive, with every major outlet in the Western world covering the talks favorably.

As we left Vatican City this week—which is carbon-neutral thanks to solar power—there was a palpable sense that history was made within the walls of Casina Pio IV where our deliberations took place. This was no typical conference. This was a Sermon on the Mount moment, wherein the beatitudes of a new era were laid down. And we left as disciples, renewed in our faith that we must and will act in time to save humanity from itself—an agenda that would be a worthy legacy of the Pope’s Jesus.

Conservative think tank seeks to change Pope Francis’s mind on climate change (The Guardian)

Heartland Institute wants to lobby Vatican before pope delivers a moral call to climate action this summer

pope francis vatican

Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and moral duty is expected to be released this summer followed by a meeting with the United Nations. Photograph: Massimo Valicchia/Demotix/Corbis

A US activist group that has received funding from energy companies and the foundation controlled by conservative activist Charles Koch is trying to persuade the Vatican that “there is no global warming crisis” ahead of an environmental statement by Pope Francis this summer that is expected to call for strong action to combat climate change.

The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based conservative thinktank that seeks to discredit established science on climate change, said it was sending a team of climate scientists to Rome “to inform Pope Francis of the truth about climate science”.

“Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place, he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate,” Joseph Bast, Heartland’s president, said in a statement.

Jim Lakely, a Heartland spokesman, said the thinktank was “working on” securing a meeting with the Vatican. “I think Catholics should examine the evidence for themselves, and understand that the Holy Father is an authority on spiritual matters, not scientific ones,” he said.

A 2013 survey of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals found that 97.1% agreed that climate change is caused by human activity.

The lobbying push underlines the sensitivity surrounding Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, whose aim will be to frame the climate change issue as a moral imperative.

While it is not yet clear exactly what the encyclical will say, Pope Francis has been an outspoken advocate for action on the issue. In a speech in March, Cardinal Peter Turkson, who has played a key role in drafting the document, said Pope Francis was not attempting a “greening of the church”, but instead would emphasise that “for the Christian, to care for God’s ongoing work of creation is a duty, irrespective of the causes of climate change”.

The encyclical is expected to be released in June or July, and Pope Francis is expected to use a planned address before the United Nations in September to discuss the statement.

Any push by the Vatican on climate change could prove politically challenging for conservative Catholic lawmakers in the US who have denied the veracity of climate change science and fought against regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions, including the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner.

The American Petroleum Institute, the biggest lobby group representing oil companies in Washington, declined to respond directly to questions from the Guardian about whether it was lobbying the Vatican on the issue.

But – in a sign of how energy groups and those who oppose greenhouse gas regulations are framing their argument to the Vatican – it said that “fossil fuels are a a vital tool for lifting people out of poverty around the world, which is something we’re committed to”.

Heartland has also targeted its argument to appeal to the pope’s views on poverty. It said in a press release that the world’s poor would “suffer horribly if reliable energy – the engine of prosperity and a better life – is made more expensive and less reliable by the decree of global planners”.

The group’s trip to Rome is designed to coincide with a workshop hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Tuesday called Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity, which will feature speeches by Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, and Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs.

The Vatican declined to comment.

The Heartland Institute says it is a non-profit organisation that seeks to promote “free-market solutions” to social and economic problems. It does not disclose its donors, but says on its website that it has received a single donation of $25,000 in 2012 from the Charles G Koch Foundation, which was for the group’s work on health care policy. Charles Koch is the billionaire co-owner of Koch Industries, an oil refining and chemicals group, and is a major donor to Republicans causes and politicians.

Heartland said contributions from oil and tobacco groups have never amounted to more than 5% of its income.

University offering free online course to demolish climate denial (The Guardian)

The University of Queensland’s course examines the science of climate science denial

David Attenborough signs his new book 'Life in the Air' at the Natural Hisory Museum in London.  Attenborough is among the big names interviewed in the University of Queensland MOOC.

David Attenborough signs his new book ‘Life in the Air’ at the Natural Hisory Museum in London. Attenborough is among the big names interviewed in Denial101x. Photograph: Sarah Lee/Sarah Lee

Starting 28 April, 2015, the University of Queensland is offering a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) aimed at “Making Sense of Climate Science Denial”.

 Denial101x summary.

The course coordinator is John Cook, University of Queensland Global Change Institute climate communication fellow, and founder of the climate science myth debunking website Skeptical ScienceCook’s research has primarily focused on the psychology of climate science denial. As he explains,

97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming; however, less than half of Australians are aware of humanity’s role in climate change, while half of the US Senate has voted that humans aren’t causing global warming. This free course explains why there is such a huge gap between the scientific community and the public. Our course looks at what’s driving climate science denial and the most common myths about climate change. 

The course includes climate science and myth debunking lectures by the international team of volunteer scientific contributors to Skeptical Science, including myself, and interviews with many of the world’s leading climate science and psychology experts. Making Sense of Climate Science Denial is a seven-week program featuring interviews with 75 scientific experts, including Sir David AttenboroughKatharine HayhoeRichard AlleyMichael Mann, and Naomi Oreskes.

The course incorporates lessons in both climate science and psychology to explain the most common climate myths and to detail how to respond to them. Research has shown that myth debunking is most effective when people understand why the myth originated in the first place. For example, cherry picking (focusing on a small bit of convenient data and ignoring the rest) is one of the most common fallacies behind climate science myths.

The lectures in the University of Queensland MOOC not only explain the science, but also the fallacies underpinning each myth. This is a unique and important feature to this course, because understanding their origins effectively acts to inoculate people against myths.

Thousands of students from more than 130 countries have already enrolled in Making Sense of Climate Science Denial. The goal is for the students to come out of the course with a stronger understanding of climate science, myth debunking, and the psychology of science denial that’s become so pervasive and dangerous in today’s world.

Climate denial is immoral, says head of US Episcopal church (The Guardian)

Climate change is a moral challenge threatening the rights of the world’s poorest people and those who deny it are not using God’s gift of knowledge, says presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Episcopal presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called climate denial a ‘blind’ position. Photograph: Ed Ou/AP

The highest ranking woman in the Anglican communion has said climate denial is a “blind” and immoral position which rejects God’s gift of knowledge.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal church and one of the most powerful women in Christianity, said that climate change was a moral imperative akin to that of the civil rights movement. She said it was already a threat to the livelihoods and survival of people in the developing world.

“It is in that sense much like the civil rights movement in this country where we are attending to the rights of all people and the rights of the earth to continue to be a flourishing place,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said in an interview with the Guardian. “It is certainly a moral issue in terms of the impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable around the world already.”

In the same context, Jefferts Schori attached moral implications to climate denial, suggesting those who reject the underlying science of climate change were turning their backs on God’s gift of knowledge.

“Episcopalians understand the life of the mind is a gift of God and to deny the best of current knowledge is not using the gifts God has given you,” she said. “In that sense, yes, it could be understood as a moral issue.”

She went on: “I think it is a very blind position. I think it is a refusal to use the best of human knowledge, which is ultimately a gift of God.”

The sense of urgency around the issue has been deepened by Pope Francis forceful statements on global warming, which he is expected to amplify in a papal encyclical in June and during an address to the US Congress in September.

The Episcopalian church will host a webcast on 24 March to kick off a month-long action campaign designed to encourage church members to reduce their own carbon footprints and lobby government and international corporations to fight climate change.

An oceanographer before she was ordained at the age of 40, Bishop Jefferts Schori said she hoped to use her visibility as a church leader to help drive action on climate change.

As presiding bishop, she oversees 2.5m members of the Episcopal church in 17 countries, and is arguably one of the most prominent women in Christianity. The two largest denominations in the US, Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists, do not ordain women.

“I really hope to motivate average Episcopalians to see the severity of this issue, the morality of this issue,” she said. “Turning the ship in another direction requires the consolidated efforts of many people who are moving in the same direction.”

She acknowledged that the challenge was deepened by the strain of climate denial in American politics, and by continued resistance to science in American classrooms.

“It’s hard work when you have a climate denier who will not see the reality of scientific truth,” she said.

However, she, like a number of church leaders, said they had seen an uptick in climate activism in recent months, spurred by the pope’s comments last January, and the conjunction later this year of United Nations conferences on development and climate change.

Evangelical churches – once seen as a conservative force – were now taking up the climate cause, largely because of growing awareness of its threat to the poor.

“One of the significant changes in particular has been the growing awareness and activism among the evangelical community who at least somewhat in the more distant past refused to encounter this issue, refused to deal with it,” Jeffers Schori said. “The major evangelical groups in this country have been much more forward in addressing this issue because they understand that it impacts the poor.”

A number of denominations have also joined the growing fossil fuel divestment movement which is encouraging organisations to move their investments out of coal, oil and gas companies. The United Methodist church, the third largest denomination, dumped coal companies from its pension fund.

The Unitarian church and the United church of Christ have also voted to divest, according to Reverent Fletcher Harper of Green Faith. And the World Council of Churches has pledged not to invest in fossil fuels. A number of individual congregations have also divested from fossil fuels.

The Guardian launched a campaign on Monday to encourage the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to divest from fossil fuels.

The Episcopal church has also come under pressure to withdraw its fossil fuel holdings. A number of diocese are pressing for divestment, and will bring the issue to a vote at the church’s annual convention this summer.

Jefferts Schori opposes fossil fuel divestment. “If you divest you lose any direct ability to influence the course of a corporation’s behavior,” she said. “I think most pragmatists realise that we can’t close the spigot on the oil wells and close the coal mines immediately without some other energy source to shift to.”

Climatology Versus Pseudoscience: Exposing the Failed Predictions of Global Warming Skeptics (Science Blogs)

Greg Laden, March 11, 2015