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.

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  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.” []

From the trenches: Michael Mann on Wegman and the climate wars

The latest video from Peter “Climate Crocks” Sinclair in his new series at The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media is an extended interview with Michael Mann about his new book (reviewed by Bryan here), and gives an excellent overview of the hockey stick issue — including the Mashey/Deep Climate discovery of plagiarism in the Wegman Report. Michael Mann, the Hockey Stick … and the Climate Wars is well worth watching, if only for the frankly incredible way that Wegman answers a question about carbon dioxide.

The Climate Show #24: John Mashey digs into organised denial

It’s been a long summer (not a hot one) for the The Climate Show, but Glenn, Gareth and John are back with a good show for the new year. Feature interview — and it’s a cracker — is with Californian computer scientist John Mashey, who has been digging deep into the networks of organised denial, tracking the flows of money and malpractice from plagiarism to zombie chairmen. Plus John Cook introduces his Debunking Handbook, a look at Arctic ice and its impact on European weather and a report calling for “dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilisation”.

Watch The Climate Show on our Youtube channel, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, listen to us via Stitcher on your smartphone or listen direct/download from the link below the fold.

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Heartland on education: they’d like to teach the world to lie

This is the Climate Reality Project‘s response to plans by the Heartland Institute to create a “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Schools” in the USA that “isn’t alarmist or overtly political”, as revealed in the recently leaked documents. Heartland wants to “teach the controversy” about global warming, and has budgeted US$200,000 for the project. The CRP video is very effective, but if you think that Climate Reality might be slightly over-egging the pudding — that perhaps even Heartland wouldn’t go that far — then have I got news for you. The indomitable John Mashey has released a special report on Heartland’s history of attempts to get its distortions of climate science taught in schools — he’s dubbed it Fakeducation — and it stretches back over a decade.

In an attempt to counter the success of An Inconvenient Truth, Heartland released a DVD called Global Warming: Emerging Science and Understanding, together with supporting teaching materials, and a web site: globalwarmingclassroom.info. There’s a trailer for the DVD here, and further excerpts available here. They are remarkable for cramming just about every item in the climate crank catechism of cliché into just a few minutes, but it’s the teaching materials that I find most interesting. Virtually nothing in them is true. In fact, you could argue that Heartland was aiming to teach children to lie.

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(Not So Simple) Twist Of Fate

Something I didn’t expect: Peter Gleick, the director of the Pacific Institute, a vocal opponent of climate denial and a highly respected scientist, turns out to have been behind the leak of the Heartland Institute board meeting documents that have been creating waves for the last week. Gleick made the admission in an article at Huffington Post earlier today (NZ). He reports that he received:

…an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it.

In order to attempt to verify that document’s contents, he:

…solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget.

Gleick goes on to apologise for what he calls “a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics”.

As you might expect, the usual suspects are all over Gleick’s admission like a rash, but it’s important to retain some perspective here. The people so ready to decry Gleick’s actions were notably silent about the theft and release of private emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. The Heartland Institute was central to promoting discussion of those emails, and continues to paint their contents as a scandal. Their hypocrisy, and that of Watts, McIntyre and the rest of the Heartland fellow travellers, is breathtaking.

Nevertheless, Gleick should not have done what he did. However valuable the public service he performed in exposing the reality of Heartland’s climate lobbying and the roots of its funding — and that information is hugely important to any “rational discussion” of why, more than 20 years after the problem was first identified, the USA and the world remains unable to take meaningful action on emissions reductions — the means he chose were not those we would expect from a respected senior scientist.

However this plays out in the longer term, it’s clear that Peter Gleick played the role of whistleblower, bringing the attention of the world to the nefarious activities of a well-funded right wing lobby group with mysterious “anonymous donors” and zero accountability for their actions. It’s a job that any worthwhile investigative journalist would have loved to have done — and which should have been done long ago.

Together with the sterling efforts of John Mashey, the leaked documents confirm in detail what many had suspected. Heartland have made a career out of subverting the truth, the law, and the democratic process.

Gleick might pay a heavy price for his indiscretion, however laudable his goals. Heartland, its funders and the pet “scientists” on their payroll must be made to pay the higher price. Their actions have condemned future generations to far worse than any lapse of judgement or ethics. The real price of Heartland’s policies will be paid in human suffering, and for that there will be no forgiveness.

See also; The Guardian, George Monbiot on why We need to know who funds these tinktank lobbyists, Union of Concerned Scientists report on How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public’s Expense, Josh Rosenau on parallels between Heartland’s climate “education” tactics and that of creationists, plus Peter Sinclair on Heartland’s abject pleading for tobacco money as recently as 1999 — and let’s not forget they arer still getting it today, and are happy to have a “smoker’s lounge” on their web site.

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