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”.

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The Climate Show

News & commentary: [0:02:00]

2011 was a cool hot year: 2011: a hot cold year …but La Niña is on its way out (NIWA seasonal forecast).

Warm winter in most of the US, but very cold snap in Europe: third paper published confirming link between Arctic sea ice loss and synoptic change: BBC, Climate Progress.

New report prepared by “Blue Planet” prizewinners for Rio+20 finds civilisation faces unprecedented “perfect storm of ecological and social problems“:

In the face of an “absolutely unprecedented emergency”, say the 18 past winners of the Blue Planet prize – the unofficial Nobel for the environment – society has “no choice but to take dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilisation. Either we will change our ways and build an entirely new kind of global society, or they will be changed for us”.

Download report.


No-waste circular economy is good business – ask China: New Scientist

Heartland document leak and repercussions:

NZ sceptics funded by Heartland

Mashey report

Documents leaked:What becomes of the broken Heartland?

Peter Gleick confesses: (Not So Simple) Twist Of Fate

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

Interview [0:25:50]

John Mashey, digging into: the Wegman report, Heartland, Singer et al. For reports check DeSmogBlog and Deep Climate.

Debunking the sceptic [1:04:00]

John Cook from rejoins the show to tell us all about The Debunking Handbook and backfire effects.

Solutions [1:16:30]

Liquid flow battery could recharge in three minutes.

Improved lithium ion battery could double current storage.

Thanks to our media partners: Idealog Sustain, Sciblogs, Scoop and KiwiFM.

Theme music: A Drop In The Ocean by The Bads.

32 thoughts on “The Climate Show #24: John Mashey digs into organised denial”

  1. John Mashey’s talk was fascinating. A year or so ago I did a similar (but much less detailed) thing with tracing a particular story through the echo chamber and back to its source. There is definitely a feeder of the octopus.
    Thanks for another interesting show (loved the sudden changes of shirts).

  2. Great to see/hear you guys again. I thought you had quit.

    Thanks for talking about the Arctic.

    Thanks for talking about the folly of perpetual growth.

    Thanks for having John Mashey on the show.

    And John Cook of course.

  3. OT, but I’ve just seen this in the Guardian Blog:
    Title: ‘Lord Lawson’s links to Europe’s colossal coal polluter’
    ‘The Polish branch of a company chaired by the climate sceptic Lord Lawson lists the titanic Belchatow coal-fired power station as a client. But the peer gets prickly when asked to explain….’
    The article is well worth reading.

    1. I noticed that in the Hot Tweets; it certainly is an intriguing read, and I’m glad to see the focus broadened to take in Heartland’s British cousin, and fellow [*cough*] ‘educational charity’.

      Many more intriguing questions remain to be asked, though judging by Carrington’s piece (and previous experience!) I expect we’ll have to resort to less direct – but potentially even more interesting – means to obtain the answers.

  4. re: Lawson & GWPF … my wife is British and we some times have Brit friends staying with us. In mid-2010, one pointed me at UK Charities Commission, including cases where they revoked the status.
    For fun, see an old bookmark of mine, GWP Charity page.

    People hoped to get funder’s name released, whereas I would have suggested charity status instead. Here’s what happened.
    Read judge’s comments carefully. She knows the UK charity turf.

    [Lawson has plenty of rich friends, so release of name is at most embarrassment. Recall that the oil folks are mostly out of direct funding of thee thinktanks, in favor of family foundations.

    Charity status is another story, and he I think she gave people a hunting license.]

    1. The resulting derision is also a problem for the GWPF. People pointing and laughing at their output is one thing, they evidently don’t care as they commissioned HWQDAJ to critique the Royal Society. But derision as to their reach and influence is quite another as that is likely to impact on ‘charitable donations’.

      1. I hope they apply the same rigour to the case of the NZ Climate Science Education Trust, the “charity” being used by Brill, Dunleavy and Leyland as a vehicle for suing NIWA.

  5. A new peer reviewed paper on solar cycle length and temperature.

    “Relations between the length of a sunspot cycle and the average temperature in the same and the next cycle are calculated for a number of meteorological stations in Norway and in the North Atlantic region. No significant trend is found between the length of a cycle and the average temperature in the same cycle, but a significant negative trend is found between the length of a cycle and the temperature in the next cycle. This provides a tool to predict an average temperature decrease of at least 1.0 ◦C from solar cycle 23 to 24 for the stations and areas analyzed. We find for the Norwegian local stations investigated that 25–56% of the temperature increase the last 150 years may be attributed to the Sun. For 3 North Atlantic stations we get 63–72% solar contribution. This points to the Atlantic currents as reinforcing a solar signal.”

    Other data confirms that the effect is not peculiar to Norway.

    It looks as though Gareth knew what he was doing when he decided not to make a bet with me that the world would soon warm.

    On my website there is a prediction that most of 2012 will be cool. If the la Nina persists – and people seem to believe it will– the cool phase will continue. So two independent sets of evidence say that the world will not warm. Note that the evidence is based on observations, not computer models!

    1. Bryan, had you read the paper you might have noticed the following disclaimer by the authors:

      “Our study has concentrated on an effect with lag once solar cycle in order to make a model for prediction. Since solar forcing on climate is present on many timescales, we do not claim that our result gives a complete picture of the Sun’s forcing on our planet’s climate.”

      I await Real Climate’s analysis of this paper, but note they found issue with a previous paper by 2 of the 3 authors;

          1. Yet again, here we see it, exactly as I was just saying with regard to Andy’s latest bit of chumming.

            This is the Denier mind in action: one outlier paper with desirable conclusions + unbounded faith = absolute conviction.

            Thousands of pages of summarised findings from across the entirety of a field with a huge array of supporting material from additional fields (e.g. biologists and ocean chemists) = propaganda we ignore and/or revile at every opportunity!

            Simply put, while I find it hard to believe the overwhelming majority of the worlds experts in a field could be wrong, particularly given the length of the debate, the Bryan L’s, Andy’s and Rogers of this world find it impossible to believe they could be right!

            Roger, you’re apparently an expert on Occam’s Razor – where is the idiocy more likely to lie, do you think, if you actually apply the razor’s logic?

    2. Thanks for showing up Bryan. It is a pity we couldn’t agree a bet – but you will insist on short term “weather” bets rather than longer term “climate” bets.

      But as you’re here: can you tell us a little bit more about the NZ Climate Science Education Trust, of which you are a trustee. Can you tell us what charitable activities it has undertaken since it was formed? And perhaps you would tell us how bringing a High Court action against NIWA can be defined as “charitable”? Who is funding that court case for you? Is Barry Brill doing it in his spare time, or do you have someone picking up the solicitor’s bills and court fees?

      Given that you have a record of accepting money from dodgy donors, I think this is a matter of public interest – particularly as you expect your court case to be heard this year.

  6. From

    Sound Science
    “Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.”
    — Henri PoincarÈ

    “Truth in science can be defined as the working hypothesis best suited to open the way for the next better one.”
    — Konrad Lorenz

    “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”
    — Albert Einstein

    These three quotes capture the essence of modern science: It is a journey, not merely a destination; an ongoing process, not a finished product. And as Albert Einstein pointed out (and Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn later reiterated), the real value of science is in its ability to prove ideas wrong, while constantly and pragmatically making way for newer ideas that may be right.

    1. All of which invalidates climate “skepticism” as science, Bryan!

      I reaaly do wonder if you even read the stuff Heartland send you, before copy pasting it here?

      1. A random pile of cherry-picked – and sometimes falsified – data does not invalidate the 150 years of careful experiment, observation and explanation that is modern climate science.

      2. There is no coherent “skeptical” theory, just a mish-mash of mutually incompatible hypotheses: its the Sun!; its undersea volcanism!; its a vast conspiracy of scientists!, etc, etc.

      3. AGW would be invalidated by any experiment that showed that CO2 molecules do not absorb IR. Still waiting…

      Bit of an “own goal”, old boy!

  7. Did any of you people read the paper carefully before rubbishing it?

    “3. AGW would be invalidated by any experiment that showed that CO2 molecules do not absorb IR. Still waiting…”

    Not true. The heart of AGW is the “forcing factor” (aka positive feedback) of 2-3 built into the models. Every one accepts that in a perfect and unchanging world, a doubling of CO2 would bring a temperature increase of 2-3 deg. The forcing factor is at the heart of AGW and it is not supported by science or experiment. There is evidence that the effect of clouds imposes a small negative feedback. As everyone knows, climate models do not model clouds accurately.

    1. Bryan Leyland shows his complete ignorance of climate science:

      The forcing factor is at the heart of AGW and it is not supported by science

      Feed backs arise from simple chemistry and physics, ever heard of the Clausius–Clapeyron equation? There is also experimental evidence derived from satellites. Feed back numbers are also confirmed by paleo-climatology.

      You deniers are so stupid and lazy, you never go and find anything for yourselves but wait on the denier fairy depositing crap in your in boxes which you dutifully throw around like monkeys in a cage.

  8. “You deniers are so stupid and lazy, you never go and find anything for yourselves but wait on the denier fairy depositing crap in your in boxes which you dutifully throw around like monkeys in a cage.”

    When you run out of rational arguments, resort to ad hominem attacks.

    We are not dealing with equations, we are dealing with real world. And it is a very complicated world. Unless your favorite equation deals with cloud formation and altitude and cover, it is worthless in the real world.

    1. Fake-skeptic bingo!
      I claim the ‘internets’ [sic] for spotting the stench of desperation and the use of flawed logic:

      We don’t know everything, therefore we know nothing

    2. Interesting how deniers don’t understand the meaning of the term “ad hominem.”

      When you run out of rational arguments, resort to ad hominem attacks.

      Is not ad hominem in the context in which I used it. It accurately describes how you and your cohorts can be characterized by your behaviour on this and other blogs.

      It is also note worthy that you don’t seem to be able to use the “blockquote” feature, some thing that other deniers on this blog have trouble with too. Do I smell the stink of sweaty socks?

      We are not dealing with equations, we are dealing with real world.

      Yes we are, unfortunately you deniers are living in a world of your own where there is no warming, warming is caused by undersea vents, warming is caused by sun spots or the best of all it is cooling and we are heading for an ice age. Check all the historical temperature trends and you will see that the globe is warming, it is warming at a rate that is unprecedented in historical times. Glaciers are retreating, ice caps are melting, ice sheets are getting smaller every year.

      That is what is happening in the real world. You don’t need any equations to see that, just open your eyes and look around.

  9. Bryan, I notice you have not responded to my first two points… I would be most interested in your sage advice regarding these matters.

    For starters, what do you think of the “theory” of solar causation vs. the “theory” of undersea vulcanism vs. the “vast scientific conspiracy”?

  10. I will respond to intelligent comments on the relationship between solar cycle length and the temperature in the next cycle. The relationship is strong and the paper is peer reviewed.

    1. As I thought, Bryan, you are unwilling to answer my question because it blows your whole pretense of being “scientific’ out of the water.

      You and your ilk are the snake-oil merchants of modern times…

  11. Gareth, John M, All,

    This is interesting. The ABC’s MediaWatch takes journalists to task for swallowing whole a story from the ‘Australian Environment Foundation’ [sic] that has the Murray-Darling Basin Commission’s plans for allocating environmental flows to preserve the fresh water lower lakes of the system labelled as – wait for it – ‘junk science’.

    Ho ho! And it’s not just a coincidence, because –

    In 2008, the AEF launched a subsidiary organisation called the Australian Climate Science Coalition.

    On its Scientific Advisory Panel are some of Australia’s most prominent climate change sceptics

    According to accounts filed with ASIC in the 2009 and 2010 financial years, the Australian CSC received almost all its funding – more than $100,000 – from a sister organisation in the United States, the

    “American CSC”
    [Actually the Climate Science Coalition of America]

    — ASIC, AEF Financial Report 2009-10″

    That means that an American climate change sceptic group has been the largest single contributor not just to the ACSC but through it, to the AEF.

    Climate change scepticism isn’t the only position that sets the AEF apart from most environmental lobby groups.

    Speakers at its conferences have been, for example, hostile to wind power, against reducing water allocations to irrigators, in favour of genetically modified crops, and supportive of the timber industry and the Tasmanian pulp mill.

    Of course, you can go off to the A[ustralian]CSC’s website, and see who their friends are! (They’ve kindly laid them all out in the left-hand column.) And all the exciting things on their Newsfeed. And participate in their polls.

    1. John, here’s what I wrote in response to you over at Deltoid, confirming that MediaWatch has indeed got the name slightly wrong (two ACSCs – one Australian and one American – would be both confusing, and, in a very real sense, just that little bit too revealing!) –

      The two sites – whether nominally Australian or American – are very similar, with a virtually identical banner, which they share, I now note, with a third entity, the ICSC. (‘I’ is for ‘International’.)

      They all say they offer ‘climate for laypeople’. (Actually, in the ACSC’s case it’s ‘guidance for laypeople’, which makes them seem a bit like Opus Dei or the Salvos!)

      It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the pretty-well the entire Denier edifice – at least its leadership cohort – consists of 2 or 3 dozen tireless windbags who must keep ceaselessly changing clothes and buying new megaphones, perpetually recreating and remanifesting themselves in order to present the illusion of a social and scientific ‘movement’ that’s going somewhere.

      All these gloriously self-referential and seemingly endlessly recursive ‘coalitions’ are rather amusing – still, they’ve effectively rewritten the concept of the term ‘science’, so why not that term, too? 😉

  12. bill: see PDF, pp.96- .
    Although it’;s a little out of date, I keep a spreadsheet with
    people X (activities + organizations)

    and a small number of people appear very frequently.
    that had about 150 people of the 600 or so I’ve got, somewhat tuned to the specifics in that report.

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