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Feb 15, 2012

Leaked docs from climate-denying think tank reveal strategy

Leaked documents from a US think-tank which denies the risks of climate change show links to an Australian academic and detail a strategy to pursue funds from corporations affected by climate policies. Graham Readfearn reports.


Update: The Heartland Institute is challenging the veracity of some of the documents which this article cites. In a statement, they claim one of the documents,  titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy” is a “total fake”. Heartland says it is checking the eight remaining documents to ascertain if any have been altered.

The institute’s full statement can be found here

In addition, the Koch foundation mentioned in the story says claims in the leaked fundraising document that they are to make a $200,000 contribution are false, and that the foundation has made no such commitment to fund climate change work at Heartland. A 2011 grant of $25,000 went to Heartland for work on healthcare, the statement clarified.

The Koch foundation statement is available here

Leaked financial reports and documents from a US-based think tank that denies the risks of human-caused climate change show links to an Australian academic and detail a strategy to pursue funds from corporations affected by climate policies.

The documents from the Chicago-based Heartland Institute — leaked online by climate news site DeSmogBlog — also reveal the think tank has been moulding its messages to fit the requirements of funders, contrary to its own public claims.

According to a “proposed budget” statement for 2012, Australian scientist Bob Carter will receive $1667 per month for his work on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change — a rebuttal written by Heartland-paid scientists to question the well-regarded UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Carter’s affiliation is listed in the document as “James Cook University & Institute for Public Affairs”.

The Institute for Public Affairs has previously sponsored Heartland’s climate change conferences — where Carter has been a regular speaker — which almost exclusively feature experts and academics who disagree that human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases through burning fossil fuels represent a significant risk.

The document also discloses that the foundation of oil magnates Charles and David Koch gave the institute $200,000 last year. Also discussed is a key but unnamed “anonymous donor” who has given more than $2.5 million in the past two years for the institute’s climate work. According to Heartland’s website:

“We do not take positions in order to appease or avoid losing support from individual donors … People contribute to The Heartland Institute because they share our belief that better information and understanding can improve public policies in such important areas as education, environmental protection, and health care.”

Yet in the leaked memo, Heartland states that “if our focus continues to align with their interests” then they expect the Koch brothers to contribute more funds. The memo also states it will actively pursue funding from corporations who stand to lose out from climate change policies:

“Our climate work is attractive to funders, especially our key Anonymous Donor (whose contribution dropped from $1,664,150 in 2010 to $979,000 in 2011 — about 20% of our total 2011 revenue). He has promised an increase in 2012 — see the 2011 Fourth Quarter Financial Report.

“We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests. Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.”

In 2011, the documents show Heartland paid a team of writers $388,000 to work on a series of reports under their Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change project. This project, the report says, is being funded by two foundations that have “both requested anonymity”. Professor Carter was a lead author on the NIPCC’s latest “interim report“.

In a document titled “2012 Fundraising Plan”, it is revealed that its “anonymous donor” has given $8.6 million since 2007 for “global warming projects”. Funders to other general Heartland projects are revealed to include some major corporations, including Microsoft, Pfizer, Time Warner Cable, Eli Lilly and Bayer.

The “confidential memo” dated January 2012 outlines a climate strategy for Heartland, which claims is “leading the fight to prevent the implementation of dangerous policy actions to address the supposed risks of global warming”.

The memo also states how Heartland “plays an important role” in broader communications on climate change. In particular, Heartland highlights the work of its senior environment policy fellow James Taylor’s blog on Forbes:

“Through his Forbes blog and related high-profile outlets, our conferences and through co-ordination with external networks (such as WUWT and other groups capable of rapidly mobilising responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavourable blog posts).”

The memo says that Heartland is concerned Forbes has begun to publish articles containing “warmist science” that “counter our own”:

“This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out.”

If funding can be obtained, the memo concludes, then existing efforts will be expanded and new ventures developed.

DeSmogBlog (for which this author is a paid contributor) has made all the documents available on its website.


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44 thoughts on “Leaked docs from climate-denying think tank reveal strategy

  1. michael crook


  2. Liz A

    This is an absolutely stunning set of revelations…


    But I do have a general question, I am wondering whether James Cook University
    a) knew whether Bob Carter was receiving a monthly stipend from the Heartland Institute (are academics / teaching staff supposed to declare monies like this to their employers?) or
    b) will be happy with their new-found association with a denialist lobby organisation or remove Carter from his position?

    Either way its pretty damming for them.

    It also raises some timely questions around the tax status of lobbyist organisations that masquerade as NFP thinktanks: not too dissimilar to the discussions that are emerging in Australia.

  3. Warren Joffe

    From the article
    “…..the well-regarded UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

    Someone who regards the IPCC as a crook and corrupted body which has still not redeemed itself might say “well-regarded” before proceeding to demolish its reputation. But the author of this article is obviously happy with its work and willing to treat it as the legitimate authority on which thousands of well meaning people who have no, or no relevant (important word) scientific qualifications rely when they accept that there is reason to squander vast amounts of money on windfarms, solar power with prematurely adopted technologies, ETSs etc. So…. read Donna Laframboise’s “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Scientist” (from memory) and, unless you are prepared to put the hard research work into the question of the IPCC’s performancee that she did you should be wary of contining to trust the IPCC or the conclusions it would have us draw from its 6 or 7 inconsistent models. Please don’t be like one its unnamed (I think) targets, one Peter Gleich, and make fool of yourself (as he did in an Amazon.com review) by attacking a book that clearly hasn’t been read.

  4. Liz A

    Oh Warren, you have truly been suckered if you believe what Laframboise has written.

    She omitted to outline in her book that the IPCC does not conduct climate research, it reviews and summarizes scientists’ studies of climate change. The assessment reports have three volumes consisting of 10-20 chapters. Each chapter has around 7-10 lead authors and 2 coordinating lead authors and goes through two rounds of scientific review. Four of the lead authors could have been chimpanzees and it wouldn’t have made a dent in the scientific heft of these massive reports.

    That whole book was written on a premise that was basic misunderstanding of how science and scientific publications work. In evaluating a scientific study, prior to acceptance and publication, scientists look at the quality of the research and whether the conclusions are well supported by data. They do not need to know the educational level or afilliation of the author(s).

    Her argument in that book was that if you don’t have a PhD, plenty of experience and published papers to your name then you should be ignored on any given subject? Then by that standard she, Anthony Watts, Lord Monckton and every other bellowing crank on the internet should be ignored forthwith. Unlike the scientists in question, Laframboise is a former journalist and a photographer. She has a degree in Women’s Studies! Great qualifications to comment on the process of scientific review.

    More importantly though, the excerpts Readfearn has quoted in this article have been lifted directly from the Heartland documents in question. These documents expose a (tax exempt) “thinktank” as a lobbyist organisation with views paid for by companies and individuals with a clear financial interest in denying the existence of climate change.

    If that’s not a symptom of “crook and corrupted” I don’t know what is.

  5. Malcolm Street

    What a bunch of a***holes.

    “Money doesn’t talk, it swears”… – Bob Dylan

  6. Warren Joffe

    @ Liz A

    I am not interested in the Heartland Institute. I don’t use it as a source for information and knowledge that I seek, but I would like you to demonstrate that you have read Laframboise’s book yourself rather than picked up some of the cheap blog comments from people who started out with such preconceptions about the issues that they didn’t bother to do their own homework. It took me three evenings reading to get through it and I still didn’t manage to follow up every link and check every footnote but, in the course of suggesting to others that they read it all and check the footnotes and links if they wanted to get maximum value from it I discovered how few people are willing to put the effort into reading something which takes even that sort of commitment. That applies to people who are sceptical of the importance of AGW and those who are believers. Hence, with the additional evidence of your actual comments, I am pretty sure that you don’t know what you are writing about. If you do, prove it.

    It has not been my professional habit to be “suckered” by poor research or arguments and I have learned to pick those who glibly repeat a party line like yours! I do know a number of the scientists who have taken part at various levels in the compilation of the IPCC reports and I have learned nothing from them which sheds doubt on Laframboise’s work though none of them are those she cites as disenchanted with their experience of the IPCC.

  7. Sancho

    This won’t work out the way it should.

    What should happen is that the leaked documents confirm what’s been obvious since the start: that climate change skepticism is pure Astroturf established by industry groups to, as the Heartland Institute puts it, “align with their interests”, which should devastate the denialist cause and put a bullet in any remaining credibility it had.

    What will happen is, first, that denialists will treat this like it never happened, and repeat a mantra of “focus on the science”, which means “ignore the blatant corruption and clear pro-polluter agenda in everything we’ve said about climate science, and instead get tied down in an interminable debate over minute data points with people who believe the sun is made of iron and lobbyists are scientific experts”.

    Second, the denialists will play my-conspiracy-theory-is-bigger-than-yours. That is, act as though the perfectly obvious and confirmed industry strategy of attacking science that doesn’t suit shareholder portfolios can safely be ignored because it’s less impressive than a paranoic drama about the global scientific institution being seized by a co-ordinated cabal of Marxist scientists who are, strangely, only interested in money.

    Climate change skepticism is simply reheated creationism – but geared to benefit a different type of authoritarian institution – and, just like creationism, its proponents aren’t amenable to evidence-based reasoning.

  8. Liz A

    Well done Sancho, your prediction has been proven.

    Andrew Bolt has played the “my conspiracy theory is bigger than yours” card on his blog today.

    He has tried to say that
    a) lots of other “warmist” scientists get lots of money to be employed pedalling their wares (Tim Flannery, Hoegh-Guldberg, James Hansen).

    b) Carter’s payment is small by comparison and it is for expenses.


    The only problem is that in the case of a) these monies are declared by their respective employers, and in the case of Hoegh-Guldberg was for a single project. There is no “secret” about their affiliations or their sources of income.

    Bob Carter DID hide this income (and so did JCU if they knew about it).

    In the case of b), Bolt has stated that it was payment for expenses… monthly…. for YEARS…

    If this is the case, then WHY should Heartland be paying for Carter’s expenses? What, are they paying part of his mortgage? Is he travelling to Singapore and back every month? If this is a work related expenses payment, WHY isn’t JCU paying them? JCU are his principal employer.

    His argument is a classic attempt to compare an apple and a banana by saying “these 2 things are exactly the same, only because they are fruit”.

  9. Stephen

    Undisclosed or disguised cash-for-comment is not just for talk show hosts. It happens at all Australian universities and CSIRO these days, and is regarded as perfectly normal and acceptable behaviour according to the new Orwellian rules of managerialist double-speak. This guy’s just a beginner compared with world champions like Mr Big Population at ANU, aka Peter McDonald.

  10. Warren Joffe

    Liz A

    What world are you living in going on about the chickenfeed Carter is supposed to have received as expenses. On one of the two occasions that I have heard this serious (though human like them all) scientist speak he was making mincemeat of one of the lead authors of the last few IPCC reports who had been paid at a far greater rate for a paper he had just given with nothing new in it. Not the slightest doubt he is fighting what he genuinely regards as bad science (no doubt true of Ian Plimer too and many others whom non-scientists smear as if they were booing their football team’s opponents in pure tribal fashion. Those in the hard sciences, includinig theoretical physicists, seem to agree on saying the IPCC’s use of mathematical models (especially six or seven different ones with different parameters, algorithms and results) without adequate empirical verification is not sound science on the basis of which one can sensibly decide to spend billions, especially when, in Australia’s case it can only weaken our ability to do something about the consequences of anyclimate change which continuing recovery from the Little Ice Age or AGW caused by China, India and the US may inflict on us.

    But even distinguished scientists (eg Sir Gustav Nossal) and well known ones (like Tim Flannery) have no independent scientific basis for their pious do-something-about CO2 views and rely on the corpus of scientists being people of integrity and competence who make the IPCC authoritative for them and for politicians. But if it is not, and, after reading Laframboise”s book in particular (though there has been plenty of other less well organised evidence), it isn’t for me until someone with analytical skills reads the Laframboise book carefully and refutes it – other than by parroting the party line as, so far, you have.

    It matters if government spend money (directly or indirectly) on windfarms, inefficient solar power in unsuitable locations like Germany, carbon taxes which drive our competitive industries offshore etc. when there are so many better ways that the money we acquiesce in governments taking from us could be spent. That the earth is warming still and will probably warm a little faster because of the CO2 emissions (which will go on rising whatever Australia does to damage its economy) is, in practice, irrrelevant to Australian policy.

  11. calyptorhynchus

    “Anti-climate”, love it, one hyphenated word that sums up human hubris.

    I notice the MSM are keeping this story off their front pages. Nothing on the ABC yet.

  12. Sancho

    The ABC won’t move on it until there’s a half a dozen denial pieces from the IPA ready for The Drum, and then they’ll get Ian Plimer in to make sure Australia gets the real story about the Heartland leak without having to make an unbiased judgement.

  13. merlot64

    …. I don’t understand why people are surprised. The fact that a bunch of vested interests are financing a “think tank” to justify inaction on climate so as to preserve their income and power base is hardly startling. This has been happening since well before Kyoto – check out Jeremy Leggett’s “Carbon War” where he describes the machinations of Big Oil and Big Coal (of which Australian based compnies are significant players) in the run up to Kyoto….

  14. Bob Robson

    After the joint geos Ka-boom it will still be there somewhat like a bald egg. Do not stress about the Earth though step lightly upon it.

  15. Bob Robson

    A man who, looking at the Earth, realizes he is dirt, is wise.

  16. Sancho

    That update changes everything. I struggle to believe the Heartland Institute would lie.

  17. Mike Flanagan

    Warren Jofe;
    Lamfrombiose is a journalist not a scientist. So let’s compare apples with apples not eggs and use some factual information rather than rhetorical fluricious.

  18. Frank Campbell

    Why the preciousness? Both sides of the climate cult are engaged in a ferocious propaganda war.
    The steady decline in interest/support for climate-warming extremism since 2006 is not due to the fulminations of Big Coal and other extractive capitalist interests- it’s the plateauing of global temps in the last decade. And the silly predictions of Flannery et al (no more rain etc), not to mention the vagueness of ICCC predicted climate impacts or the irrelevance/futility/incompetence of the “climate action” policies we’ve seen so far (expensive imposition of class-biased, premature renewable energy technologies for instance, and gross waste in the pursuit of chimeras like geothermal and CCS).
    The political crisis of progressive politics worldwide is due partly to the institutional control that climate extremism still exercises: here, the ALP can’t admit the obvious- that the carbon tax is idiotic.
    This institutional power will be broken at the ballot box, but until then expect the Right to fund the Carters and Watts of this world. When the Right takes power, both sides of the cult will be irrelevant.

    And the environment will be screwed with even greater ethusiasm than now.

  19. Gederts Skerstens

    Leaked documents, bribes, deception.

    How can we waste our time on this stuff when Tuvalu and most Pacific islands are drowned, millions of coastal dwellers demand asylum on dry ground just as rainfall stops throughout the world forever. The greatest challenge in human history.


  20. Frank Campbell

    G.S.: “How can we waste our time on this stuff when Tuvalu and most Pacific islands are drowned, millions of coastal dwellers demand asylum on dry ground just as rainfall stops throughout the world forever. The greatest challenge in human history.


    Exactly. No wonder climate millenarianism is vanishing before our eyes….

  21. Warren Joffe

    @ Frank Campbell & Gedert Skerstens

    Precisely: “unbelievable” – especially for those old enough to remember (and most likely to have taken holiday snaps) of coastlines of 70 years ago since when the most potent additions (the effects being logarithmic) to CO2 in the atmosphere have been occurring. Sorry I can’t remember the Federation Drought or the 1894 Brisbane floods but do remember some pretty impressive illustrations of nature’s variability in the land of droughts and flooding rains.

    By the way, for those who think that many of the last 10 or 12 years having been the warmest since records began is an answer to the doubts raised (if a little too assertively concerning what the facts prove) about the (non)-continuation of warming since 1997 try some simple logic. If nearly all the warming since the 18th century has been the result of the natural processes which brought the Little Ice Age to an end and we see a plateau in formerly rising temperatures for 10 years or so (i.e. they are at an elevated plateau as a result of previous warming) isn’t the most obvious prima facie inference merely that there have been longterm warming factors but they have temporarily or permanently ceased to act as warmng factors? If so, it means that, at least, the relationship of CO2 emissions to increasing temperature, which we know to have continued, isn’t as simple as the IPCC enthusiasts have claimed. Indeed we have that from the East Anglian University emails where their inability to explain the plateauing even six years ago was expressed to be a major concern. So….. let’s find and spend a few more billions to prove and counter the disaster scenarios. I suppose cancelling Carter’s expenses of $20,000 a year could be a start….

  22. Warren Joffe

    Prediction: when Crikey’s band of wide-eyed believers in the Hansen-BarryJones-PhillipAdams-RobynWilliams-BarriePittock-PeterGarrett AGW Weltanschauing find, by 2022, that the world’s warming should really have been treated as only the 20th most important global concern they will flock to oldtime religion and contrarian rationalists will have to then wend their way between the ravings of would-be Grand Inquisitors trying to save every zygote and Bible Fundies insisting they have the truth from the Book and that sacred life begins with the blastocyst…..

  23. jeebus

    This is 100 times worse than the fabricated “climategate” scandal.

    We could hope the useful idiots who have been used by the corrupt polluters to spread their propaganda will come to their senses, but my feeling is that they will instead succumb to the “Backfire Effect”:

    The Misconception: When your beliefs are challenged with facts, you alter your opinions and incorporate the new information into your thinking.

    The Truth: When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.

  24. Owen Gary

    These Captains of industry are really getting worried!!!!!!!!

    They are still working on the principle “bullshit baffles brains” the problem is that more people research things for their own curiosity these days instead of listening to the same ole propaganda tripe portrayed as news on the mainstream media.

    In the 1920s (oxygen in the atmosphere 35%)
    In 1997 (oxygen in the atmosphere 26%)
    In 2011 (oxygen in the atmosphere 20%)

    In the main due to deforestation

    The Northwest Passage is almost devoid of ice & the ice in Antarctica is disappearing faster than the oxygen, with rising sea levels as a result.

    We are experiencing extreme weather events at either end of the scale never previously known in human history.

    What part of these facts do the sceptics not understand, no amount of propaganda will change this & the real fact is we have stuffed up this planet probably beyond repair, but let us at least try to address the damage.

    From the various studies I have read, my own opinion is that nature will try & redress the balance with polar shifts & another ice age.

    Whatever the end result chaos will ensue, & the captains of industry will still be in denial as they would rather see the planet self destruct than give up their control.

    Either way I would like to see them made extinct before we are & made an example of in the worlds eyes!!

  25. Warren Joffe


    What is your point? That people who have long been devoted to the AGW-threatens-disaster-and-we-must-take-action-immediately -(however expensive and futile) are equally likely with those who have formed opposing views on the scientific evidence to adjust their thinking irrationally to enhance their pre-existing beliefs when confronted by uncomfortable facts? That seems right enough but….

    So what? That is merely to say that there are certain observable rules of thumb we can count on in predicting human behaviour …. except that there could be so many exceptions amongst those who are seriously good scientists of independent mind and intellectual rigour that pop-psych rules of thumb like that really doesn’t get you very far.

    By the way I am very confident from the admittedly few interactions I have had with Carter, and even Plimer, after hearing or reading what they had to say, that they are not only the competent respected scientists in their fields that their records suggest but that they are perfectly genuine in their scepticism about the IPCC lots conclusions and not motivated either by being bought initially or by looking, in their comfortably pensioned retirement years, to big paydays for the right sceptical views. Indeed they are, prima facie, a lot less corruptible than young scientists on the make who have known for 20 years or so that the big money is in supporting the AGW is dangerous thesis. The moral of which is that, if we have any ability to assess evidence, we should forget the allegations of lacking good faith on either side although not, I suggest, the case made against the IPCC itself which was set up as a political body (with plenty of token political appointments to it) to solve the assumed problem of AGW. More good science is needed before we waste more money which could be better spent. And if anyone parrots again the idea that the “climate scientists” (including whom? tree ring experts?) are almost unanimous in their views I would be pleased for someone to refute the case that the “97 per cent of climate scientist” agree idea is the product of some young research student’s paper’s assertion without any serious supporting evidence. One may equally doubt the importance of the 30,000 signatories of “scientists” including about 8000 with doctoral degrees who have expressed scepticism about the so-called consensus of climate scientists. No doubt few work in the field of “climate science” or are paid to do so but their scepticism about methods should carry some weight.

  26. Warren Joffe

    @ Mike Flanagan

    I presume you haven’t read the Laframboise book (available for $4.99 on Amazon.com to read on Kindle or Kindle for PC) but, equally, you haven’t been paying attention to the clear statements that she is not writing about the science but about the IPCC as the supposedly credible authority.

    I don’t know if you have had relevant experience of assessing such work as she has done. E.g. as a lawyer assisting a Royal Commission, or simply as counsel preparing to examine or cross-examine expert witnesses, but, if you claim some competence in analytic thinking you should be able to form a view on how well she has done her job. Furthermore you would have the advantage of being keen to follow up her links and footnotes to see where she may have gone wrong whereas I am content that she has made a pretty good case on the face of it and that others who are serious about opposing her conclusions will do the nitpicking.

    You haven’t read the book have you? Why not give it a go now that you know that you won’t be expected to know any difficult science when you evaluate it? Then your views on the author and her book may be worth expressing.

  27. Warren Joffe

    @ Owen Gary

    What cave back of Nimbin are you smoking in? Do you actually know any “captains of industry”? Presumably not the CEOs of Wall Street banks which can finance a presidential campaign and also cash in on the AGW scare by trading ETS certificates or the worthies who go to Davos.

    Your admittedly eccentric views (no criticism implied in the epithet), e.g. about a coming ice age, don’t make you easy to characterise but your reference to the levels of oxygen in the atmosphere, apart from the latest, are out by many millions of years. Indeed, if the creation by burning and emission of CO2 is the explanation for the decline in oxygen levels the numbers simply don’t add up as CO2 constitutes less than 1 per cent of the atmosphere whereas Oxygen constitutes more than 20 per cent.

    Please try to say something sensible based on reality.

  28. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Fascinating. This is the kind of behaviour that deniers have always ridiculed the very idea of. Now they’ve been busted, the response is “look over there!”

    If you really believe that governments paying money for scientists to research the science is the same as oil funded thinktanks secretly paying out-of-field scientists to spread misinformation you are more in denial than I thought.

    Rufus/Julius/twenty other identities, good to see you again! Still supporting IPA board member John Stone to be a reviewer for the IPCC? Talk about your political appointments! You are a little less coherent than usual. Maybe your mind is slipping.

    And little Frank Cambpell, so full of anger because the world is moving on and there is nothing you can do but rant on the internet. I miss you most of all.

  29. jeebus

    @Warren, the merit of science is judged by the weight of evidence.

    In the minds of the public, there is great disagreement among the scientists on AGW, when in reality there is very little.

    In a nutshell, every national scientific institute in the developed world is in agreement on this.

    And while it is true that a tiny percentage of genuine scientists remain skeptical of AGW theory, I’m sure you could also find a percentage of doctors who are skeptical of chemotherapy to treat cancer. Ask Steve Jobs about that one.

    What we do know now is that the tiny percentage of skeptical scientists and a large army of political commentators in the media & blogosphere are being channeled dirty money & all expenses paid trips to parrot misinformation put out by the wealthy polluters and their think tanks.

    At first glance, this seems like any other battle between entrenched and corrupt moneyed interests versus the public good. But sadly, the stakes are much higher this time.

    Who is the Heartland Institute anyway? It’s a think tank that’s funded by the Koch Brothers, two of the richest men in America. “Lord” Monckton is listed as an expert at the Heartland institute.

    Mockton was paid by the miners to come to Australia to spread propaganda from the Heartland institute, and was recently caught on video urging them to capture the parts of Australia’s media that are not sycophantic to them.

    The participants in this vast global conspiracy realise that in order to win a public debate against scientific evidence, they need to create an alternate reality where their own “facts” can survive without scrutiny.

    Cue Gina Reinhardt’s purchase of a large stake of Fairfax.

    This issue is no longer just about AGW, but cuts to the heart of Australia’s democracy.

  30. Owen Gary

    @Warren Scoffer

    I think you have a problem in seperating “Corporate Science” from “Pure Science”
    Science by its very definition is only best guess scenario.

    However the overwhelming view of all the “Genuine” science attained on this issue points in the affirmative of our destruction of the atmosphere.

    Whether or not you grasp this, would you then deny we are POLLUTING this planet, & causing destruction to its bio-systems????

    If you cannot see that by polluting this planet we are having an adverse effect on the atmosphere you simply are not using the grey matter you were born with (if any??)

    You must understand that ice is melting & the sea level is rising, these are the simplest terms do you understand them???

    Your trolling efforts are useless attempts of diversion. I suggest you go back to Lord Monkton & try another angle, because you wont go very far selling shite as chocolate pudding!!!

  31. Gederts Skerstens

    Jeebus got it right, by Jesus:

    “The participants in this vast global conspiracy realise that in order to win a public debate against scientific evidence, they need to create an alternate reality where their own “facts” can survive without scrutiny.

    Cue Gina Reinhardt’s purchase of a large stake of Fairfax.

    This issue is no longer just about AGW, but cuts to the heart of Australia’s democracy.”

    True. The idea of a remote, unpopular agency directing policy without sanction from the Most of Us while being paid by the Most of Us should get the payers withdrawing payment.
    So the entire staff of the ABC, a Billion bucks p/a, get other work. Right?

  32. Warren Joffe

    @Owen Gary

    In answer to your question it is very likely that I have been concerned about pollution of our atmosphere, waters and land – and trying to do something about it, inadequately of course, in a variety of ways – for as long as you have been able to read. Consistently with a pretty conventional view on economic matters and associated human behaviour I am inclined to think biodiversity and a liveable environment for the world’s billions of people are more likely to be efficiently promoted by paying pensions to Third World families whose fertile females remain in education or training without having children until they are 25 – as one example of measures which might be cost-effective – than pushing up the price of Australian coal (and other products) with a carbon tax, especially the badly designed one that we now have with revenue designed to create a specious surplus and buy some votes (shades of Howard’s middle class welfare). (As it happens I signed a round robin letter got up by a Liberal Party acquaintance which encouraged Costello to impose a modest, i.e. very low, carbon tax as a kind of surrogate for a rise in GST and a way of fending off the mad Greens and phoney ALP jumpers on the mad Green bandwagon).

    Where do you get the idea from that rising sea levels are a major problem? Where do you get the idea that it is occurring rapildly and at an unprecedented rate? Where do you get the idea that, even if the rise could be something seriously expensive or Australia – like 3 metres by 2100 – that we and the rest of the world wouldn’t cope. Have you no idea about the one reliable continuity that human beings are responsible for since the late 18th century and how it makes almost anything but an unstoppable huge asteroid hitting the earth something we can probably adapt to? I refer to the rapid, and constantly increasing, rate of innovation and improvements in productive and general economic efficiency. With those whose favourite wilderness or medieval hunting forest has already disappeared with the growth of urbanised populations I sympathise. They (we) have coped, just as Aborigines coped after they had wiped out Australia’s megafauna and others who had wiped out the mammoth and many other species and we will cope, and increase healthy longevity despite all the sad losses we and our grandchildren are likely to see before the population of the world stabilises (or starts to decline which seems quite possible if the choices women make in rich countries already is any kind of guide).

    And what do you know about “genuine science”? Practically nothing I infer from what you have written and the way you have written it. Since you apparently have done nothing but choose what authority or authorities to rely on (very few people can live with genuine uncertainty about religion or other important matters I acknowledge but it doesn’t encourage respect for their over reliance on emotionally adopted authority) why not give the Laframboise book a try and get your capacity for indignation working on the IPCC, or those who traduce it if you really can find answers to the Laframboise material? You don’t need to know any science to assess Laframboise’s evidence.

  33. Warren Joffe

    Those who care whether they are getting things right and stating the truth might acknowledge some embarrassment that the more unscrupulous “warmists” as their sceptical critics often call them have not only forged purported Heartland Institute documents as the corrected version of the original article now indicates but sometimes misrepresent the organisation’s origin and purpose. It seems that it was founded in 1984 to support “libertarian” and “free market” ideas which was several years before James Hansen’s famous evidence to Congress. Here is what a hostile (check if you doubt that it is hostile) article about it in Wikipedia says, giving that date:

    The Heartland Institute is a conservative[2][3] and self-described libertarian[4][5] public policy think tank based in Chicago, Illinois which advocates free market policies. The Institute is designated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit by the Internal Revenue Service and advised by a 15 member board of directors, which meets quarterly. As of 2011, it has a full-time staff of 40, including editors and senior fellows.[4] The Institute was founded in 1984 and conducts research and advocacy work on issues including government spending, taxation, healthcare, tobacco policy, global warming, information technology and free-market environmentalism.

  34. Warren Joffe

    @ Gederts Skerstens & Jeebus

    Are you familiar with the term “opportunity cost”? Can you understand its relevance to questions about Australian governments’ policy directed to reducing the emissions of CO2?

    Assuming you are not so economically illiterate as to answer “no” what action of Australian governments do you support given what you think you know about the state of the scientific evidence on AGW and its possible future increase?

    Is anything that you know or believe about it a justification for Australia doing anything more than funding research?

    Do you believe that anything Australia can do, let alone the carbon tax, will make the slightest difference to the way the climate changes over the next 50 years? Do you think Australia’s actions or words can have any material influence on the big CO2 emitters where the fate of their populations of two and a half billion people is their governments’ principal responsibility?

    Unless you can justify strong positive affirmative answers to those last questions, what on earth are you going on about on a downmarket Australian blogsite of no intellectual or academic standing? What do you views on AGW lead to?

  35. Liz A

    The Rock Ethics Institute of Penn State University has just completed an interesting series that has examined the climate change disinformation campaign as an ethical matter. It is worthy of reading.

    Their purpose was to:

    [distinguish between responsible scientific skepticism, an approach to climate change science that should be encouraged, and the tactics of the climate change disinformation campaign, strategies deployed to undermine mainstream climate change science that are often deeply ethically offensive]

    I have linked to the last of the 4 pieces, but there are click through links to the first 3 in the series contained within the page.


    Their conclusion?

    [The lessons learned from the climate change disinformation campaign discussed in this series point to the need to establish new societal norms that encourage responsible skepticism but protect society from disinformation disguised as skepticism. For reasons discussed in this series, all the tactics deployed by the climate change disinformation machine are ethically offensive, although some are more odious than others. ]

    Of interest to this thread:

    [A few of the tactics discussed in this series are always ethically troublesome including: creating front groups, PR campaigns, and Astroturf groups whose very creation was motivated to fool people about who the real parties in interest are behind the claims, and cyber-bullying. Corporations who fund these ethically troubling tactics are particularly ethically loathsome because they are using their economic power to deceive the public or intimidate mainstream scientists or journalists in the pursuit of economic self-interest.

    And so, not all people who publicly make erroneous skeptical claims about human-induced warming are ethically blameworthy, but some are. In addition, some of the tactics used by the climate change disinformation campaign are always ethically troublesome and those who engage in these tactics are ethically blameworthy.]

  36. jeebus


    My views are formed by the science. I only believe we should take action on AGW because that is the scientific consensus. And this consensus isn’t something that magically appeared overnight. It has taken many years, and mountains of evidence to build the case that global warming is happening, and that mankind is playing a significant role.

    If you could wave a magic wand and remove the excess greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere then the evidence would reflect that and the science would be revised. I’m not pinning my hopes on Harry Potter coming to save us anytime soon.

    That being said, the point that I draw from your line of questioning seems to be that if reducing our own emissions will not fix this global problem, why bother to do anything at all.

    It’s a fact that even if Australia reduced its greenhouse emissions to zero we would only shave a bit over 1% off the global total, so what argument can I put forth, other than a moral one?

    Australia is a wealthy, developed country, with the second highest per capita greenhouse emissions in the world. It was hypocritical for us to call for other countries to move towards reducing their emissions while we had the means to do so but chose not to.

    Now that we are introducing a carbon tax, our words will have more weight to inspire those who do have the power to make an impact on greenhouse gas emissions – the Americans, the Chinese, and the Indians.

    Generations from now, even if the world’s climate is irreparably damaged by man’s inability to have reigned in emissions during the early 21st century, at least we, as Australians, will be able to tell our great grandchildren that we tried.

  37. Warren Joffe

    @ Liz A

    I hope to follow up the links you gave. I note, in passing, that Penn State is home to Michael Mann of Hockey Stick infamy and convened a committee which whitewashed him according to various versions one can read in quite neutral journals like the FT. (I don’t regard this as sufficiently important even to check my memory of it).

    I used to think that the most vehement sceptics I knew were a bit ratbaggish but genuine and tending to overuse of absolutes and extreme statements but now I think I can say with conviction that none of the sceptics I know, highly qualified or only peripheral to climate science, are doing anything for hippocket reasons. All sorts of tribal loyalties are usually at play when one scratches one’s head about the reason people believe or express support for the views they hold but can’t prove. If innner city Green public servants have different tribal views from people who have worked in the mining industry but are now retired I would merely equate such loyalties to what one hears from lawyers who are very critical of the legal profession but object to what they regard as ignorant criticisms by loudmouthed outsiders. Likewise Jews or any other extended family on their own kind: who is doing the criticising matters and whether it shows sympathetic accuracy. There are certainly ratbags on the believers side as previous reference to the Peter Gleich purported review of the Laframboise book on Amazon.com illustrates.

    Left wing people seem to be possessed by some conspiratorial view of motivations all being based on money (one is reminded of that splendid jibe from decades ago that the Country Party was the one true Marxist party as everything was done for an economic motive). But a more sophisticated view would take account of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And quite a lot of intelligent experts, not to say intellectuals, react against what they perceive to be error, especially assertive error, in their areas of expertise.

    Still, in the US where money is so important to politics, I have no doubt that the lowgrade PR tactics of disinformation are part of the mix. Not so much I think in Australia, and then quite often as what are seen as necessary simplifications – just as, for example, prosecutions of complex criminal cases may have a lot of true allegations trimmed from them so as not to complicate the story too much.

    I don’t know who in Australia has a motive to muddy the water on the scientific evidence. I would have thought that it doesn’t require doubt about science to be against the carbon tax policy which was forced on the government by a minority party as part of a deal.

    As I shall admit to Jeebus, I am an out and out utilitarian and calculator of opportunity costs. I find the scientific aspects interesting and trying to work out why people believe what they do who have to get their information second or third hand in reliance on the supposed expertise (and integrity) of others is intriguing. But the real issues for Australia don’t have much to do with our getting the science right in my view.

  38. Warren Joffe

    @ Jeebus

    I think we could talk and find out where we differed because you do appear to be logical so we could follow through our respective arguments from premises to conclusions.

    We appear to have a difference based on my basic utulitarianism and also my assessment of non-scientific facts to factor into my utilitariian reasoning. I regard it as delusional for us to think that anything we do or say will have any material effect on the actions or policies of India, China or the US. So my test for the value of our doing anything which will clearly cost us the opportunity to spend money on other public goods is whether it benefits us at all and, if so, what other uses of the same money value there could be.

    Across the tavern table we could find out what we would count as better outcomes than others and what the probabilities were and what our reasons were. I can’t see any reason for not making ourselves a rich as possible (as a nation) so we can afford good health care for the aged and infirm and any other good public purpose you can think of, including protecting the environment in all sorts of ways that actually work.

    I would also ask why you think what you do about the science. But, for the moment, I will leave it to see if you come back with a comment after reading what Laframboise has left of the IPCC’s reputation. On the science I should add that my particle physicist friends are scornful about the standards that the IPCC applies to the reliability of the climate models it quotes and seems to adopt. Totally inadequate confidence levels they tell me.

  39. jeebus


    Yes I too claim to be a logical thinker, and I am also inclined to fact check.

    A simple Google search of Donna Laframboise will inform you that she wrote an inflammatory titled ebook called “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert”, and runs a website dedicated to AGW denial.

    It also reveals her only scientific qualifications are holding a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies. So as per my earlier post, this women does not fall into the tiny minority of genuine but skeptical climate scientists.

    Rather, she is one of the legions of bloggers & commentators who have zero qualifications to comment on the science and the scientific process, but are driven by their politics (and perhaps also undeclared sources of funding from certain institutes).

    When you ask me why I think what I do about the science, and in your words, “what Laframboise has left of the IPCC’s reputation”, I must turn the question back around to you. Why do you take the word of a person who is utterly unqualified to comment on science over every national science institute in the developed world?

    “No scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion (on AGW); the last was the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, which in 2007 updated its 1999 statement rejecting the likelihood of human influence on recent climate with its current non-committal position.”


  40. Warren Joffe

    @ JEEBUS

    I must ask you to be, as well as logical, somewhat more nuanced and precisely attentive to the issues raised. (I accept that you are probably aware that any scepticism I tend to express or support in relation to scientific matters is peripheral for me because my basic position is utilitarian based on what I see as possible results from Australian policy and on opportunity cost considerations).

    You seem not to have noticed that Laframboise’s book is not about the science and that it is her qualities as an investigative journalist, and more precisely, the quality of her research and analysis, which is the WHOLE point in assessing what flows from what she has written in the book you, rather belatedly, have looked up. I have some science in my background but nothing compared with my decades of assessing arguments, research and analysis as such. Don’t take my assertions as carrying any more weight than this: you should read the book for yourself (give yourself at least 6 hours). It only costs $4.99 and downloads in a couple of minutes. On the face of it, i.e. without following up every link and footnote to see if they support what they are meant to support, we are left without the authority on which ultimately almost every major supporter of the AGW is real (true but trivial) and so dangerous that desperately disruptive and urgent measures need to be taken (not trivial and quite contestable) theses rely on. I wouldn’t trust Wikipedia on the issue of who supports what and why (or anything truly important and contested however useful I find it) but the fact that the “great and good” of scientific societies have mostly line up in support of the IPCC (until the Royal Society broke ranks a couple of years ago anyway) is dealt with not only in Laframboise’s book but also in a very interesting paper by Prof Richard Lindzen (probably the world’s top meteorologist) delivered (from memory) in Italy in Aug 2009. He gave an interesting account how big science costing big money took over after the Manhattan Project (the big money project to produce the first atomic weapons) led the way. So….

    I would agree that the tendency of scientific societies to support not just AGW (which we know has some truth in it) but that it is a serious problem has prima facie weight but, since I know quite a few highly qualified hard scientists who are both sceptical and definitely not motivated by money I am more likely to allow that prima facie weight to be countered by, inter alia, wrong consensus views of scientists in the past. Counting medicine as a science, the consensus about the cause of stomach ulcers, was perhaps the most notorious of the last few decades. Since Mashall-Warren overturning of the consensus there has also been a great deal of work proving that published medical discoveries in the most prestigious journals overwhelmingly turn out to be flawed, often totally wrong; which is a pretty good answer to any simple-minded references to “peer reviewed” science that are comonly made in relation to the IPCC’s work. That, to finish, is a subject on which Laframboise is very persuasive. The IPCC’s president has told a lot of lies and the extent of peer-review is one subject on which he can’t be believed at all.

  41. Gederts Skerstens

    Warren weighed in with: “… since I know quite a few highly qualified hard scientists who are both sceptical and definitely not motivated by money I am more likely to allow that prima facie weight to be countered by, inter alia, wrong consensus views of scientists in the past. ”

    As anyone would be.
    A scholarly, rational piece attracting one suggestion on style:
    Ditch the strings of qualifiers after every assertion, even as the most engaging writers in our era, from antiquity onwards, from whatever cultural or social background, from whatever continent (excluding those not then discovered, through patronage of Europe’s Monarchs, few of which understood the potential of the discoveries to come) did.

  42. Warren Joffe

    Very nice work Gederts Skerstens!

    When I felt more guilt or necessity about the need to edit my inititally inclusive and copious flow of words I sometime consoled myself with the image of Gibbon looking down approvingly at my first drafts and then came back after a dry reprimand from the awesome figure of Papa Hemingway who would say things like “Just punctuate”and make it a period”. In the end I often, in haste, just try to assure myself that I have ensured that a careful reader would be afforded correct punctuation and logical connections so he/she wouldn’t be irritated by discourteous ambiguity or other source of lack of clarity. I try to anticipate people’s justified quibbles and incorporate the answers in the first draft which creates problems for the reader I recognise. My Latin was never up to being able to assess how well one could do without punctuation marks but with many precisely used inflexions for verbs, nouns and adjectives.

    Apart from great journalistic talents I admire George Simenon and Bertand Russell particularly for their extraordinary ability to turn out clear prose quickly.

  43. Gederts Skerstens

    Learn. Learn from those that Know.

  44. Warren Joffe

    Very wise GS, even gnostic. But I wonder if your gnosis doesn’t have a touch of the Delphic Oracle about it. And now you have made me realise, on this weekend of the spinning out of control of the would be spinmasters that the Delphic Oracle was one of the greatest of that breed in his/her subtle way.

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