Carter and de Lange’s GWPF sea level report plagiarises their own Heartland-funded NIPCC propaganda

Analysis of a report on sea level rise — Sea-level Change: Living with uncertainty — published earlier this month by Nigel Lawson’s UK climate lobby group the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and written by NZ scientists Willem de Lange and Bob Carter, shows that it extensively plagiarises last year’s heavily criticised Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) report, funded and published by US lobby group the Heartland Institute. The GWPF report’s conclusions are taken word-for-word from chapter six of the NIPCC report — Observations: The Hydrosphere and Ocean [pdf] — also written by de Lange and Carter. Nowhere in the report do the report’s authors or the GWPF acknowledge the extent to which they rely on the earlier publication. Carter and de Lange fail to credit themselves, Heartland, or the NIPCC beyond a single reference to their chapter in the list of sources appended to the GWPF report.

Here is the first policy recommendation from the GWPF report:

1. Abandonment of ‘let’s stop global sea-level rise’ policies

No justification exists for continuing to base sea-level policy and coastal management regulation upon the outcomes of deterministic or semi-empirical sea-level modelling. Such modelling remains speculative rather than predictive. The practice of using a global rate of sea-level change to manage specific coastal locations worldwide is irrational, and should be abandoned.

This bears a striking resemblance to the first of the “conclusions” offered on p796 of chapter six of the NIPCC report:

Abandon “let’s stop global sea-level rise” policies

No justification exists for continuing to base sea-level policy and coastal management regulation on the outcomes of deterministic or semi-empirical sea-level modeling. Such modeling remains highly speculative. Even if the rate of eustatic sea-level change was known accurately, the practice of using a notional global rate of sea-level change to manage specific coastal locations worldwide is irrational, and it should be abandoned.

The eagle-eyed will notice that words in italics are edited from the GWPF version, but in every other respect the two sections are identical. The final two GWPF conclusions are also drawn verbatim from the NIPCC chapter, as are many other parts of the GWPF report.

Where it draws verbatim on the NIPCC work, the GWPF report is both unoriginal and wrong, and where it can be bothered to be original it is also wrong. In either case it is work of shoddy scholarship that reflects badly on its authors, the institutions with which they are associated, and the GWPF.

In addition to the GWPF report’s conclusions being copied from pseudoscientific propaganda commissioned by a US-based far-right lobby group, many other sections also draw word for word from the same source. Here’s part of the section on atolls and low-lying tropical islands from the GWPF version:

Seldom more than a metre or two above sea- level, all atolls and related sand-cay islands are at the continuing mercy of the same wind, waves, tides and weather events that built them. They are dynamic features of the seascape, and over timescales of decades to centuries they erode here, grow there, and sometimes disappear beneath the waves forever. Thus a coral atoll is not so much a ‘thing’ as it is a process, and they are obviously not good places in which to develop
major human population centres.

Section of the NIPCC chapter includes the following paragraph on p776:

Seldom more than a meter or two above sea level, all atolls and related sand-cay and gravel-motu islands are at the continuing mercy of the wind, waves, tides, and weather events that built them. They are dynamic features of the seascape; over timescales of decades to centuries they erode here, grow there, and sometimes disappear beneath the waves forever. A coral atoll is not so much a “thing” as a process, and they are obviously not good places on which to develop major human population centers.

Once again, the GWPF report can be seen to be a lightly edited rehash of the work done by Carter and de Lange for the Heartland Institute, and for which Carter at least was paid significant sums. One wonders if the GWPF’s financial backers, whose privacy is so keenly defended by Lawson and GWPF director Benny Peiser, are aware that they are paying for once-over-lightly retreads of others work?

The GWPF report includes little that is novel when compared with the NIPCC, but in the section headed Future environmental conditions and rates of change, it includes the following paragraph:

The IPCC and its scientific advisers remain committed to the view that global warming, albeit temporarily suspended, will resume and that sea-levels will rise. Other equally qualified but independent scientists, including a number of solar astrophysicists (viz. Bonev et al. 2004), are of the view that over the next few decades cooling is more likely than warming.

Carter and de Lange helpfully provide a full reference for the Bonev et al paper, and it can be read on the web here. The paper speculates about the possibility of reduced solar activity in the 21st century, but nowhere does it mention climate change or suggest that climate cooling is more likely than warming in the “next few decades”.

Shoddy scholarship? Certainly. But the original source document — the NIPCC report — is even worse. Life is too short to go through even one NIPCC chapter with a fine-tooth comb — anyone with a working knowledge of the subject matter would be tearing their hair out long before a comb became useful — but one figure illustrates nicely the contempt with which Carter and de Lange treat the scientific literature and their readers.

On page 758, they include Figure, which de Lange and Carter say is “adapted from” a couple of papers on post glacial maximum sea level rise. Here is their figure:


Unfortunately, they do not credit the real source of their graph, which is Robert Rohde’s Global Warming Art project, via Wikipedia:

Post Glacial Sea Level

Shoddy scholarship or copyright theft? You be the judge…

The GWPF’s sea level report is nothing more than propaganda plagiarised from an American lobby group’s attempts to counteract the message coming from the scientific literature via the IPCC. Was it beyond Peiser et al to apply original thought to the question of sea level rise, to find authors who would do more than misrepresent the current state of knowledge? The GWPF, recently forced to set up a campaigning arm in order to protect their charitable status, likes to present itself as an unbiased commentator on climate science, yet appears to be perfectly happy to commission and promote rubbish like this.

For de Lange and Carter, being caught out in self-plagiarism is potentially serious — more so for de Lange, who lists his NIPCC contribution as a scholarly publication on his University of Waikato page. Carter, who long ago cut his ties with academe and now flies under a flag of convenience provided by the Australian Institute of Public Affairs, a right-wing lobby group in the Heartland mould, has long since given up any pretence to doing real science.

Failing to correctly cite a source would get a first year university student heavily marked down. Misrepresenting what that source says would merit a fail. Outright plagiarism would probably get a student suspended. Yet de Lange and Carter — senior academics represented by the GWPF as experts to be taken seriously — commit all three sins in their work. In sceptic circles, they may still be regarded as experts, but in the real world their inexpertise and cavalier attitude to academic standards is all too evident. They are piss-poor propagandists profiting from the misfortune of others.

35 thoughts on “Carter and de Lange’s GWPF sea level report plagiarises their own Heartland-funded NIPCC propaganda”

  1. I’m not sure plagiarise is the correct word. The denial claims are published and circulated so they can be repeated elsewhere. That is how daisy chain spin doctoring operates.

    1. Self-plagiarism is certainly what’s going on here. See this interesting overview for more. Note also that many universities tell their students that self-plagiarism is just as dishonest as plagiarising the work of another.

      But you are right about the daisy chain. This is more evidence of just how little material the denialist campaign has to draw on.

  2. The problem with this type of work is that it will be published in all the typical right wing newspapers especially Murdoch’s group and then they will credit one another as a source until it looks like and authoritative piece. There is a massive campaign by the press, who have taken the fossil fuel camp, to discredit climate change science. Most of this is centred in the USA but it influence extends into Australia, Canada and the English speaking part of Europe. The rest of the world understands the problems.

  3. How ridiculous to describe Willem de Lange and Bob Carter of the horrific
    crime of self-plagiarism as they do their best to debunk the lies and fraud, regularly repeated, without empirical evidence, about the horrors of human induced Climate change.
    I’ve been collecting screeds of information about climate change for years, and self-plagiarism continues unabated by Club of Rome, scaremongers. “Daisychain spin doctoring,” is a good way to describe it. It is propoganda of course. The idea being, to repeat lies often enough, so that eventually the population believes it to be the truth.
    Come on now, how many words are available to human beings to write with? Those who promote CAGW, use the same words over and over again. Surely this is self-plagiarism on a world wide scale, and seen on this web site on many occasions.

    Arguments against CAGW, where the true facts are given – these truths cannot be altered or fudged – are described as self-plagiarism. This is a self serving accusation which implies that only you are allowed an opinion. That you only, know all that there is to know. That no others are entitled to comment.

    Will you delete and refuse my comments? Yes, you will, as you cannot tolerate contrary views. Because of this, a huge group of people have lost their voice – In a democracy, this is a grave offence. Far worse than self-plagiarism. But I forgot – The One World Government won’t be a democracy,will it?

    1. Shaquita, the likes of Willem de Lange and Bob Carter are nothing more than mediocre scientists who, in the twilight of their careers, are whoring themselves out to the fossil fuel lobby.

      But don’t worry your pretty little head about that, just keep watching Fox News until the rising waters short out your TV…

    2. For Shaquita: (an all others, as this is a great site and spot on)

      Its a great site with even a hands on spreadsheet to download and play the laws of exponential growth. Fascinating!

      1. It is a mathematical impossibility that our economy can grow without limit (in consumption of resources and output of stuff and waste) in a finite space.
      2. Most of us will want to stop growing when we accept that further growth puts the futures of our descendants at risk.
      3. Avoiding that risk requires ending the growth of the population and the economy while it is still possible to achieve a sustainable level of production high enough to meet the reasonable desires of the population.
      4. For how long this will remain possible – if it is not already too late – is a question entirely answered by science and engineering.
      5. We need to be paying attention to these disciplines, rather than to those who speak on behalf of economics or politics.
      6. Otherwise, we will be simultaneously ignoring science while hoping that technological development can save us from the laws of nature, which is at the very least foolhardy.
      7. But even worse, imagining that technological development can save us from the laws of mathematics is insane.

    3. Shaquita, I fully agree with everything you wrote, and it was written so well…..but please trust me here, do not spend too much time arguing with this small group or brotherhood that follow and comment on this website. I have tried before and it is several hours of my life completely wasted that I will never get back, they are surprisingly hateful people and are simply impossible to reason with. When you stir them up they get very nasty, then gang up on you together in a touching display of solidarity. They then spend a little while after you’ve left stroking each others ego’s and reaffirming to themselves that the intruder is a fool and that their views are correct. This general attitude is a phenomena almost exclusive to the global warming alarmists especially the cruelness and personal attacks (don’t they know what they sound like?). I can’t figure out if these people are genuine environmentalist who have been led astray or else are too invested that their pride just wont allow them to abandon ship or something else, one thing is for certain and that is that they are getting fewer in number all the time and more desperate as the world continues NOT to warm for what is now about 17 years and people continue to leave their ranks en masse. They will say that its the oil industries fault or the media’s fault or that the governments are irresponsible but are completely and utterly incapable of admitting what is staring them straight in the face and that is that more and more people are getting exposure to both sides of the science and finding the alarmists arguments surprisingly thin and disproportionate to the level of media fear mongering and scientist demands for action. I imagine that they will get nastier and more desperate as time passes. Particularly those who make a living from this fear mongering. I would love to see anyone of these guys debate de Lange but they never would if given the chance. By the way my alarmist friends please don’t bother responding my message was purely for Shaquita to warn her and there is no way in hell I’m going to read it I would rather bang my head against a wall or go watch “an inconvenient truth” so I can laugh at how Al Gore boldly and goofily tries to demonstrate that co2 leads temperature to scare the shit out of everyone when any realist knows it is the exact opposite. Get a new cause guys PLEASE! try global cooling, that might be the next big fad.

  4. I wondered what CAGW meant. My first hit was Citizens Against Government Waste but that didn’t fit the context. Then I found it
    Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. It’s a “snarl” term apparently, proliferating throughout the denial echo chamber. The following link gives a little history.

    1. Who cares what Carter prefers – his opinions are worthless

      This post is about Bob Carter and I was specifically responding to someone who hadn’t heard the CAGW acronym.

      Just trying to help .

  5. Just another example of Junk Science supposedly presented as true scholarship. One wonders at the continued employment of de Lange at Waikato? When is the Professorial Board going to wheel this man in with a “please explain”? Yes I know all about academic freedom and all that – but really this is bad news for the credibility of the institution. Why would anyone one in their right mind commit to spending 10’s of thousands of dollars on a bachelors being under the tutorage of this guy – who commits every sin in the book with regards his scholarship?

      1. Thats most likely Lange’s salary Andy, 10s of thousands committed by the University for a guy like Lange to educate bachelors in his classes….

          1. “You don’t get it Thomas”, says andyS…

            We do get it, Andy: you’re trying to change the subject away from the paid-for idiocy of professional climate change deniers like Carter and de Lange.

            Are you on the take as well, or do you pontificate here merely out of kindness?

          2. You are not keeping up with the employment market andy. NZ is following the states – moving from a manufacturing and developed economy to a service economy where the academic entry level to almost any reasonable paying job now is a bachelors degree. You are aware that about 25% of our young people (under the age of 25) of working age are now unemployed or underemployed. So the competition for work is fierce and the possession of some university education makes a great deal of difference.
            Having said that, I do agree that for many of the starting jobs these days a degree is over the top. But one should never underestimate the value of a good education. And by that I mean EDUCATION not training.

            1. By the way, we have an 18 year old friend who turned down a scholarship at both Auckland and Otago universities so he could start up his own business

              His mum is having kittens, of course

      2. The cost of a bachelors degree andy (in NZ), in case you don’t know, is around $20,000 in fees alone, and that does not include all the added costs of accommodation and other living expenses.

        1. Yes, exactly. It was much easier in my (yours too?) when a university education was paid for by the taxpayer.

          I think you have to look seriously at whether it is worth the debt incurred at a young age vs the knowledge imparted.

          1. Or maybe some of us should not have pulled the ladder up after us.

            Yes I spent a number of years in tertiary education – with 9/10 of my fees paid and an allowance/bursary. I could not afford to undertake the same education today.

            Maybe the country should again look at the fact that investing in young people is beneficial to all. Opening up apprenticeship schemes and returning technical institutes to their primary function, and keeping Universities for what they are good at. Advanced education and research, not training grounds for corporations.

            1. Speaking of which (the ladder pulling up thing) our ‘Liberal’ (*ahem*) cabinet – largely educated at taxpayers’ expense, more so than Labor, in fact – is currently in the process of instituting a US style-system of debt-peonage, forecast to follow many to the grave, hence they’re (seriously!) having a stoush between themselves about posthumous recovery from the victim’s estate.

              Australia, what were you thinking?!

  6. BTW, the right wing poster boy James Taylor, has posted at the Heartland blog:

    Some wild fantasies about reduced wild fires and rising moisture in the USA. The nut cases must be desperate for column inches. His wild fire stats he cites look at the number of fires, not the acreage they consumed! And while the number of fires has reduced, the area consumed has tripled since the 1990ies! What would have been several small fires are now large conflagrations. Just checking Taylor’s own source reveals his spin doctor stupidity.
    Also his ‘soil moisture’ wonder is an old retrospective study of the 20th century looking at the increased moisture since the dust bowls of the 1930ties. The trend of the last decades however is rather different.
    When I pointed that out to Taylor in a comment, it was immediately deleted! :-)

  7. AndyS.
    I don’t think they’ve outlived their usefulness but I do think a major rethink is required. There are developments breaking down the cosy lucrative stranglehold many academic journals have and I think on-line study and information is the big game changer. There will and are avenues for a dilletante approach to advanced education but there remains a need for formal qualification. We should be increasing access to tertiary education but the present funding model is a problem. The group interaction and seminar feature is very important.

    1. One of the problems is the increased spread of universities and as such a degree isn’t really a differentiator for employers anymore.

      If you want to be an academic, doctor, or similar, then University is needed, but for much else, I’m not so sure.

  8. AndyS.
    The problem as I see it is the short-termedness of employment contracts and the need to up skill and retrain. It all goes back to “Future Shock” by Alvin Tofler, that alarm call in the 1970s. We don’t need armies of clerks anymore and faced with the prospect of widespread cuts to education budgets the idea of “user pays” was dredged up to keep the universities in business. Besides student loan debts is an effective way of indenturing the work force. Personally I’m all for free tertiary education and I see the idea is stirring among aspiring politicos currently. We noticed the summary dispatch of WEOs with Douglas and the New Right. I would like to see a seamless path from semester studies out of interest, right through to full degree and post grad studies. You can do Masters level studies at Vic by correspondence and night classes. If you want an informed populace, that’s the way to go. Of course there are people who don’t want an informed populace.

  9. If we had an industry standard for online tertiary studies you could tailor your own syllabus from multiple providers. It could make responsible courses on flouridation and climate change available to the “masses”. Wouldn’t that be a fine thing?

Leave a Reply