Stuff’s stuff-up: climate liars on the loose

Stuff Nation was introduced a couple of years ago as the reader-led section of Fairfax Digital’s NZ news site Stuff.co.nz1, home to quiz groups and news submitted by readers. Sadly for them, one or two of their readers have been taking them for a ride, to judge by one of this weekend’s lead stories — a “reader report” by one Tom Harris titled We must adapt to climate change. Harris is highly unlikely to be a regular reader of Stuff Nation, being based in Ottawa, but he is executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition, a spin-off from the NZ Climate Science Coalition established with money from US extreme right-wing lobby group the Heartland Institute.

The ICSC lists Bryan Leyland and Terry Dunleavy — two of the trustees of the NZ Climate Science Education Trust that are trying to avoid paying the costs they incurred in taking an idiotic court case against NIWA and the NZ temperature record — as key players, and it is probably safe to assume that Leyland, who has in the past boasted about his ability to “twist arms” in Fairfax newsrooms2, is responsible for placing Harris’s piece with Stuff. It’s an op-ed riffing off John Kerry’s comments about climate change during his recent Indonesia visit, so compelling and well-argued that it’s been featured in high profile outlets around the world including The Bahamas Weekly, and — well, that’s about it.

Continue reading “Stuff’s stuff-up: climate liars on the loose”

  1. Internet home of Fairfax’s NZ newspapers, principally The Dominion Post (Wellington) and The Press (Christchurch). []
  2. See update 2 to this post. []

Signing up to nonsense: denialists plot letter to UN secretary general

People send me stuff. Imagine my surprise when this morning’s mail included the text of a round robin email from Tom Harris — the Canadian PR man who heads the Heartland-funded denialist lobby group the International Climate Science Coalition [full text here]. It gives an interesting insight to how these groups work behind the scenes. Here’s Harris appealing for signatures to a letter to UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon:

Time is short if we are to mount a significant counterpoint to the scientifically invalid assertions already being broadcast by the 1,500 journalists and 7,000 environmentalists attending the UN climate conference now underway in Qatar.

Please find below our “Open Letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations” to which we are inviting your endorsement. We have 61 qualified endorsers as of 9 pm EST, about 19 hours after we started to ask people.

Because we have an agreement with a major media outlet to publish the open letter on Thursday, I will need to know of your support within the next day if possible, please.

The denialist spin machine in action. The usual suspects queuing to sign up to a letter that’s going to be published — where? My guess would be the Wall Street Journal. Even more interesting is the nonsense these luminaries are so keen to endorse…

Continue reading “Signing up to nonsense: denialists plot letter to UN secretary general”

NZ Herald’s turn to offer propaganda as opinion – De Freitas’ links to cranks hidden from readers

The new “compactNZ Herald has taken a downmarket tabloid approach to informing its readers by running an opinion piece about the recent courtroom defeat for NZ’s climate cranks by prominent climate sceptic and Auckland University geographer Chris de Freitas, without explaining de Freitas’ long history of association with the cranks he’s defending. In the article, de Freitas overstates the uncertainties associated with temperature records, even going so far as to imply that the warming trend over the last hundred years might be “indistinguishable from zero”1. He also overplays the importance of temperature series to policy-makers — a line straight out of crank litigant Barry Brill’s playbook, and self-evident nonsense.

Despite this transparent partiality, the opinion editors at the Herald credit him like this:

Chris de Freitas is an associate professor in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland.

But, as the Herald opinion team well know, de Freitas is much, much more than a mere associate professor in the School of Environment. He has a track record of activism against action on climate change that stretches back two decades. Here, for the poor misled readers of the new Herald‘s opinion pages is a handy, cut-out-and-keep guide to de Freitas’ long history of climate denial activism.

Continue reading “NZ Herald’s turn to offer propaganda as opinion – De Freitas’ links to cranks hidden from readers”

  1. “Temperature trends detected are small, usually just a few tenths of one degree Celsius over 100 years, a rate that is exceeded by the data’s standard error. Statistically this means the trend is indistinguishable from zero.” []

Big coal coughs up for climate denial “conference”, takes NZ sceptics along for the ride

As US corporate donors step away from the Heartland Institute following their ad campaign likening climate change believers to mass murderers and terrorists, big coal — in the shape of the Illinois Coal Association, supported by all the major US coal companies — has stepped in as a “Gold Sponsor” to support Heartland’s climate “conference” next week. In other heartwarming news for the ultra-conservative lobby group, the big guns of New Zealand’s climate denial movement, the Heartland-funded NZ Climate “Science” Coalition, have also sponsored the conference, thereby endorsing Heartland’s disgusting ad campaign.

Here’s what Heartland’s president Joe Bast says about the Unabomber billboard campaign:

“The leaders of the global warming movement have one thing in common: They are willing to use force and fraud to advance their fringe theory.”

Can we assume that Barry Brill, Bryan Leyland, “Heartland expert”1 Chris de Freitas and the other members of the NZ CSC all support Bast’s statement? Only Bob Carter has made a public statement, telling The Age that:

“the usual ‘liberal’ media sources” had been “amazing, immediate and over-the-top”, and that he would still speak at the conference.

Given that Heartland are happy to pay Carter a monthly retainer, it’s perhaps not surprising he supports their tasteless little publicity stunt. Money may not be able to buy you love, but it can certainly buy support, as Carter and the CSC crew prove.

  1. It’s worth following Big City Lib’s polling of other Heartland experts, to find out how many have asked for their names to be withdrawn following the Unabomber stunt. There’s no sign (yet) of de Freitas following suit. []

What becomes of the broken Heartland?

The ramifications of last week’s leak of internal documents from the Heartland Institute — the US lobby group up to its neck in organised climate denial in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and perhaps elsewhere — continue to make news. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Heartland money was used to fund Aussie climate denial campaigners in 2009 and 2010, with funds channelled through the “American Climate Science Coalition” — a member of the coterie of climate “science” coalitions spun off from the New Zealand original with Heartland funding. Heartland’s charitable status in the US — which allows donors to the group to claim a 30% tax deduction (effectively a tax-payer subsidy of Heartland activities) — is being called into question as a result of the latest Mashey report into the links between Fred Singer and Heartland, and the dodgy nature of Heartland’s overseas grants. There have also been calls for some of Heartland’s large corporate donors to cease providing financial support for an organisation so steeped in climate denial.

Continue reading “What becomes of the broken Heartland?”