The real Climategate: Heartland’s hypocrisy on display

It’s been a bad week for the Heartland Institute — the US lobby group recently shown to have funded New Zealand climate denialists. Documents leaked this week expose Heartland’s fund-raising and climate strategies to the cold light of day, and a major new piece of research by John Mashey demonstrates that Heartland has been acting outside of the rules governing the tax-exempt status it claims for itself.

Documents relating to a Heartland board meeting held in January were sent to a number of bloggers earlier this week, and have been made available by DeSmogBlog. The papers give a very full account of Heartland’s budget and plans for 2012, right down to individual staff salaries, and provide details of funding streams from players big and small. The largest — described as the “anonymous donor” — provided Heartland with $8.6 million over 2007-11 for its climate campaigns (see pps 20 and 21 of this document).

Key points from the documents:

  • Heartland plans to create a “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Schools” that “isn’t alarmist or overtly political”, and plans to pay Dr David Wojick $25,000 a quarter to develop the materials.
  • Heartland is planning to fund Fred Singer’s Not the IPCC project to the tune of $1.5 million over 2010-13, and is budgeting monthly payments of $11,600 to Craig Idso, $5,000 to Singer and $1,667 to Bob Carter during 2012.
  • Anthony Watts (of µWatts fame) is being funded to the tune of $88,000 to develop a web site featuring US temperature data.
  • Current funders include tobacco companies, fossil fuel interests, and even Microsoft.

Heartland claims the documents were stolen, and that one — relating to their strategy on climate denial — was faked, even though the main points in that “confidential memo” are corroborated by the other documents. The Heartland response includes threats of legal action against web sites and media carrying stories based on the documents, and says:

…honest disagreement should never be used to justify the criminal acts and fraud that occurred in the past 24 hours. As a matter of common decency and journalistic ethics, we ask everyone in the climate change debate to sit back and think about what just happened.

Those persons who posted these documents and wrote about them before we had a chance to comment on their authenticity should be ashamed of their deeds, and their bad behavior should be taken into account when judging their credibility now and in the future.

Back in 2009, when the emails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia first hit the web, Heartland president Joseph Bast wrote:

The release of these documents creates an opportunity for reporters, academics, politicians, and others who relied on the IPCC to form their opinions about global warming to stop and reconsider their position. The experts they trusted and quoted in the past have been caught red-handed plotting to conceal data, hide temperature trends that contradict their predictions, and keep critics from appearing in peer-reviewed journals. This is new and real evidence that they should examine and then comment on publicly.

The hypocrisy burns…

Meanwhile, the news that Bob Carter is retained by Heartland to undermine the work of mainstream science through the NIPCC is making waves in Australia (Graham Readfearn, SMH), but hasn’t yet been picked up in New Zealand. Carter’s role as a “science advisor” to the Heartland funded NZ Climate Science Coalition and its ICSC spin-off, as well as to Nigel Lawson’s secretive Global Warming Policy Foundation raises serious questions about just how lucrative denial can be, as well as illuminating the international web of climate denial.

Continue reading “The real Climategate: Heartland’s hypocrisy on display”

Puppets on a string: US think tank funds NZ sceptics

The Heartland Institute, the US organisation that plays a key role in organised climate denial, has directly funded New Zealand’s most prominent sceptics, a search of US Internal Revenue Service documents has revealed. In 2007, Heartland granted US$25,000 (NZ$32,000) to the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition, sending the money to NZ CSC member Owen McShane. They also gifted the International Climate Science Coalition US$45,000 (NZ$59,000), forwarding the cash to NZ CSC webmaster and ICSC founding chairman Terry Dunleavy. The documents do not reveal what the money was used for, but four NZ CSC members attended the December 2007 Bali conference as part of an ICSC delegation. Bryan Leyland, energy advisor to both CSCs, confirmed in 2008 that “some expenses” for the trip had been covered by Heartland, but the NZ CSC has never revealed the full extent of the Heartland Institute funding of their operations, or its role in the expansion of their “climate science coalition” franchise.

Continue reading “Puppets on a string: US think tank funds NZ sceptics”

Cooling-gate: the 100 years of warming Easterbrook wants you to ignore

Evidence that Don Easterbrook did more than misrepresent and alter a graph in order to remove evidence of recent warming in his presentation to the recent Heartland “climate conference” is beginning to emerge. It now appears that he has been misusing one of the most important paleoclimate temperature data series, compiled from the GISP2 Greenland ice core, effectively hiding a full 100 years of recent warming. His “rebuttal” of my revelations that he had misused a graph from Global Warming Art includes this assertion:

…below is the Greenland data for the past 10,000 years (Holocene) from the published paper by Cuffy and Clow (1997), two distinguished US scientists. Note that temperatures for almost all of the past 10,000 years have been warmer than present.

In my post yesterday, I suggested (on the basis of the notes accompanying the raw δ18O data), that the “present” Easterbrook was referring to was 1950. It now appears I was being far too generous. Thanks to a bit of detective work by MartinM in the comments to that post, the data set used by Easterbrook to draw his version of a Holocene temperature graph turns out to be the temperature series derived from the δ18O data by Richard Alley: Alley, R.B. 2004. GISP2 Ice Core Temperature and Accumulation Data. IGBP PAGES/World Data Center for Paleoclimatology
Data Contribution Series #2004-013. NOAA/NGDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder CO, USA
(ftp download here). The most recent temperature data point in that series is 1905, and that’s the point Easterbrook labels as the present. To make his case he has to make a full century’s worth of warming disappear.


I downloaded Alley’s data and plotted it with my new favourite graphing tool. This is what it looks like:


I’ve inset the graph from Easterbrook’s “rebuttal”, and added a couple of helpful lines (click for a bigger version). I think it’s pretty clear that the data behind both graphs is the same. There’s more detail in my plot, but the key features are all in the right places. I’ve added a blue line to represent Easterbrook’s “present temperature”. The green line represents an estimate of current temperatures in central Greenland. I looked at the nearest station with a 100+ year record in the GISS database (Angmagssalik), and used a Mk 1 eyeball to estimate a 2.5ºC increase over the century (I’d welcome a more accurate estimate, if anyone’s prepared to dig one up). The difference between the green and blue lines is the warming that Easterbrook wants to ignore. His statement that temperatures for almost all of the past 10,000 years have been warmer than present is shown to be complete nonsense. There are three points in the last 10,000 years when temperatures high up on the Greenland ice sheet were similar to today, but by no stretch of anyone’s imagination can it be said to have been warmer for most of the time. The incline he’s trying to hide is one of the largest and steepest in the last ten millenia…

The same temperature series also appears to form the basis for Monckton’s famous “Curry & Clow” slide from early 2009:

Monckton credits the wrong people, of course, but adds a helpful “300 years of warming” arrow. Like Easterbrook, he omits the last 100 years of warming. This is what he said at the time:

Seen in the geological perspective of the last 17,000 years, the 300 years of recent warming, nearly all of which must have been natural, for we could not have had any significant influence except in the past 25 years, are manifestly insignificant.

The 300 years of recent warming are of course the 300 years up to 1905. What has happened since then is manifestly significant. This sort of misdirection is par for the course for Monckton, but what about Easterbrook?

If he knowingly misrepresented 1905 as the “present” (and given that he claims to have “the entire Greenland oxygen isotope data in my computer and use it extensively to plot data” that has to be a real possibility), then he is clearly misusing the data and misleading his audience. The intellectual dishonesty involved is breathtaking. His audience may want to be mislead, but that is irrelevant. On the other hand if, as a distinguished academic with a long career studying (amongst other things) glaciers and climate change, he really doesn’t know that the data series stops in 1905, then he is demonstrating ignorance of a sort that would embarrass any student.

So where’s the investigation of this academic fraud? Where are the hordes of bloggers and journalists screaming blue murder about the manipulation of data to tell a convenient story? Here’s Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, writing about the so-called “climategate” affair last November:

Looking at how past disclosures of fraud in the global warming debate have been dismissed or ignored by the mainstream media leads me to suspect they will try to sweep this, too, under the rug. But thanks to the Internet, millions of people will be able to read the emails themselves and make up their own minds. This incident, then, will not be forgotten. The journalists who attempt to spin it away and the politicians who try to ignore it will further damage their own credibility, and perhaps see their careers shortened as a consequence.

How very true. I look forward to Bast issuing a statement apologising for being a party to Easterbrook’s fraud, for providing him with a platform to mislead and misinform, and instituting an in-depth investigation into the background of Cooling-gate. But I suspect he will be doing his best to ignore the whole affair. I leave it to the reader to decide what that does for the credibility of Bast, Heartland, and the scientists who shared a stage with Easterbrook at Heartland’s Chicago conference.

[Update 29/5: My graph revised and improved, see comment below]

Monckton is a hypocrite

MoncktonThe insufferably pompous peer, Christopher Monckton (Third Viscount of Brenchley) is in New York for Heartland’s crank talkfest (more on that in another post, later), and has helpfully contributed a podcast to promote the event. Set aside for a moment that he reinvents his past, becoming Margaret Thatcher’s exposer in chief of scientific fraud, or his redefinition of a minor IPCC proof-reading error as an attempt at deliberate deception, and concentrate instead on this section (at 6:37) where he describes his intended presentation:

I will be showing some quite startling examples of the deliberate bending, falsification, and in some cases fabrication of scientific data, every single time to create a crisis out of nothing.

Contrast this with the content of his latest offering at SPPI — Global Warming is not happening, published on February 27. It appears that someone has drawn his attention to the work of his wrinkled retainer, because on page 10 we encounter a new version of his infamous Curry & Clow graph, this time attributed to Cuffey & Clow (1997), confirming Old Scrotum’s detective work. However, unbeknownst to those esteemed researchers, their work in Greenland has magically moved to Antarctica. The temperature reference is now to “today’s Antarctic temp”. Here’s the new graph:


Here’s the previous version:


And here’s the original:


Monckton continues to play fast and loose with the facts. He is deliberately bending, falsifying and fabricating scientific data in order to support his contention that:

There is no climate crisis. The correct policy for dealing with it is to have the courage to do nothing.

This is the work of a second-rate propagandist.

Monckton, you are a hypocrite, and those who promote your “work” should share your shame. But I won’t hold my breath waiting for a public correction.

[PS: It would be interesting to know if a version of this graph appears during his talk at the Heartland gabfest…]

[PPS: Click on the very excellent image of Monckton to read Monbiot’s top ten deniers list in today’s Guardian.]

First we take Manhattan

homer.jpg Steve Jobs, Apple’s iCEO, is said to possess a “reality distortion field” that allows him to make all Apple products sound great – even when they’re mundane. To quote Wikipedia: “RDF is the idea that Steve Jobs is able to convince people to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bluster, exaggeration, and marketing.” It’s a perfect description of The Heartland Institute’s approach to climate change in its announcement of a second International Conference on Climate Change. Helpfully sub-titled Global Warming Crisis: Cancelled (so that there can be no confusion about its main thrust), it’s to be held in New York next March. It promises to be a major paradigm shift in the climate debate[1. Not really, I’m being sarcastic.], according to bombastic Heartland boss Joseph Bast:

Last March we proved that the skeptics in the debate over global warming constitute the center or mainstream of the scientific community[2. Not really, he’s making that up.], while the alarmists are on the fringe,” said Heartland President Joseph Bast. “In the past six months, the science has grown even more convincing that global warming is not a crisis[3. No, it hasn’t – if anything it’s become more convincing that things are worse than we thought.].

There’s a bit more detail about Heartland’s take on the climate problem on the conference background page:

Until the debate over global warming was politicized in the 1990s, the scientific “consensus” was that the Modern Warming is moderate and natural[4. No, it wasn’t.]. Books and recent literature reviews suggest this is still the consensus[5. He’s making things up again], even though it contradicts the alarmists’ views.


Distinguished scholars[6. Mostly “grumpy old deniers“.] from the U.S. and around the world have addressed these questions seriously and without institutional bias[7. But with lashings of political bias.]. Their findings[8. They made them up.] suggest the Modern Warming is moderate and partly or even mostly a natural recovery from the Little Ice Age; that the consequences of moderate warming are positive for humanity and wildlife[9. Only in La-la Land]; that predictions of future warming are wildly unreliable; that the costs of trying to “stop global warming” exceed hypothetical benefits by a factor of 10 or more[10. Only by applying La-la Economicsâ„¢]; and more.

The RDF is strong in this Bast. So strong, he could almost whisk his audience off to another planet – rather convenient, because many of the speakers seem (judging by some of their “work“) to be already there.

Where next for this conference, I wonder? Berlin?

[Title reference: one, two]