One of the United States’ most visible climate science denialists, Marc Morano, has a new movie coming out that he claims will “rock the climate debate”. It won’t.
What it will do, though, is apparently rehash some old climate science denial talking points.
Hiding away on the website of the documentary’s producers was a segment destined for the film. The segment put some slick graphics to the old myth that because carbon dioxide is only a small part of the atmosphere, that it couldn’t have an effect on the climate.
So I asked some leading climate scientists to look at it, and then produced a bit of a critique of my own.
Anyway, here’s the vid. UPDATE:Marc Morano has contacted DeSmog to say the clip was not in the final version of the film. I’ve clarified this in the YouTube clip and the clarification also appears on the DeSmog story that went with it. I also apologise. The clip was on the public website of Climate Hustle’s production company, CDR Communications (screenshot here) , and was marked “Climate Hustle”. As of right now, 7 Jan 2016, the clip remains there. I should say also, that Mr Morano and CFACT executive director Craig Rucker both told me outside their Paris screening that they would have welcomed me to see the film, but that it was full. People in the screening later told myself and DeSmog editor Brendan DeMelle that the theatre was in fact only about 70 per cent full.
Michael Roche is the executive director of the Queensland Resources Council – the powerful peak lobby group for the state’s coal industry.
Last night he went on the telly to explain a few things about why he thinks the federal government should remove the rights of environment groups in Australia to use the Federal court system to review decisions made under Federal environment laws.
The debate comes out of a case in which the federal court ordered that a decision by the Environment Minister Greg Hunt to approve Indian mining company Adani’s giant Carmichael coal mine should be set aside.
The ruling was on the back of a technicality, as the minister himself conceded. The upshot is that the decision to approve the mine will be delayed a few weeks, rather than be overturned.
Roche appeared on Lateline alongside Jeff Smith, the boss of the New South Wales Environmental Defenders Office – the legal group that takes on cases on behalf of conservation groups.
During the debate, ABC host Tony Jones pointed out that “even coal baron Clive Palmer” didn’t agree that the laws should be changed. I just wanted to highlight Roche’s answer, which I thought instructive.
MICHAEL ROCHE: Can I just touch on Mr Palmer? Mr Palmer has a vested interest here. Mr Palmer would see himself as a competitor to Adani in terms of being the first mover in the Galilee Basin. So I set aside Mr Palmer’s comments as self-interest.
So Michael Roche says he can “set aside” Palmer’s view because he has a vested interest.
The last time I checked, the Queensland Resources Council gets something in the order of $13 million in membership fees and income (financial statement for year ending June 2013). QRC’s members include the state’s coal mining powerhouses, including Adani.
So if we take our direction from Roche on who we should and should not listen to, then surely we should all “set aside” the views of the QRC?
If you read The Australian newspaper the other day, you might be forgiven for thinking a new study into the amount of energy coming from the sun had found that the chances of the world experiencing another “little ice age” had gone up.
You might think that because that’s what the newspaper’s environment editor wrote.
The sun’s power is weakening at its fastest rate in 9300 years, doubling the odds of a return to little ice age conditions by mid-century, according to research by the British Met Office.
The chance of a repeat of conditions that last occurred between 1645 and 1715 when London’s Thames River regularly froze over and became the scene of winter fairs, was now rated at between 15 and 20 per cent, up from 10 per cent in 2010.
The big problem with these two sentences, is that the study did not look at the chances of the world, or even parts of the world, “returning to little ice age conditions”.
Rather, the study referred to the chances of the sun having a prolonged period of low solar activity similar to a period known as the Maunder Minimum, which coincided with the Little Ice Age but might not necessarily have actually caused it.
The study was published in Nature Communications and amazingly (or not surprisingly if you have followed much of Lloyd’s work over the years) it doesn’t even mention the Little Ice Age. So what does it say?
The party’s Federal Rural and Regional Committee, chaired by West Australian farmer Brian Mayfield, is pushing for the move ahead of Australia signing a new global deal in Paris in December to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Next week, the committee will push for similar inquiries into… oh shit I don’t know, let me think… the evidence linking the rise in drought conditions to the recent noted absence of fairies at the bottom of many farming paddocks.
What might an inquiry led by Liberals into the causes of climate change be like?
Maybe something like the Republican-led US House Science Committee’s hearing last year, when elected Republican representatives collected all the killer arguments from climate science deniers in an attempt to ping the White House Science Advisor Dr John Holdren. Here’s John Stewart’s review.
A $4 million federal government grant to bring his dubious methodology to the University of Western Australia kicked off a storm with protests among academics, students and the broader academic community.
News just in though that UWA has cancelled Lomborg’s contract. In a statement from the university, Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson defended Lomborg, but said:
Whilst I respect the right of staff to express their views on this matter, as all universities should be places for open and honest sharing and discussion of ideas, in this case, it has placed the University in a difficult position.
Therefore, it is with great regret and disappointment that I have formed the view that the events of the past few weeks places the Centre in an untenable position as it lacks the support needed across the University and the broader academic community to meet its contractual obligations and deliver value for money for Australian taxpayers.
I have today spoken to the Federal Government and Bjorn Lomborg advising them of the barriers that currently exist to the creation of the Centre and the University’s decision to cancel the contract and return the money to the government.
Mr Johnson sent the same statement out in an email to staff this afternoon.
Just heard the very sad news of the death from cancer of climate change scientist Dr Michael Raupach.
Mike was the director of the Climate Change Institute at Australian National University and something of a giant among climate change researchers.
Over the years, I’ve called and emailed Mike many times to check this, that and the other. He was one of my first “contacts” on climate science.
From my perspective, I always appreciated his candour, lack of pretension and his unwillingness to speak outside his realm of expertise. I also appreciated his patience in explaining what the science did and did not say in the face of my barrage of often confused questioning.
The greatest cause for sorrow is the widespread inability of the public discussion to recognise the whole picture.
Much of the political discourse reduces the complexities of climate change to political football (“axe the tax”); much media reporting sees only the hook to today’s passing story; many interest groups want to use climate change to proselytise for their particular get-out-of-jail free card (nuclear power, carbon farming).
All of this misses or trivialises the real, systemic significance of climate change: that humankind is encountering the finitude of our planet, confronting the need to share and protect our endowment from nature, and realising that much will have to change to make this possible.
THE Australian newspaper has run a free advertisement today for the coal industry in the form of an op-ed column by a leading industry figure that says that coal is one of the best things ever.
And no I’m not exaggerating.
New South Wales Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee, a former advisor to several high-ranking Liberal Party politicians including the now Prime Minister Tony Abbott, writes in The Australian that coal is “one of the greatest overall products in history” and is just totally awesome (he didn’t use the word awesome, that was me).
Galilee’s column is the latest repetition of the industry’s favourite PR line that coal can end global poverty.
Tony Abbott, the environment minister Greg Hunt and the Treasurer Joe Hockey have all used this coal industry line in recent weeks.
I’ve written about the industry’s attempt to lobby the G20 for The Guardian and looked at Hockey’s recent contribution for DeSmogBlog. You should go and read those pieces because they are among the greatest overall products blogs in history.
In The Australian, Galilee uses the issue of indoor air pollution in developing countries to try and push his case that coal is super-awesome and is an entirely ethical investment for people to make. He writes:
Affordable and reliable, coal-driven energy is the best answer to global poverty. Almost three billion people have no access to electricity. For these people, “clean energy” means not having to cook their food or heat their homes using gathered wood or animal dung. Cooking in this way emits black soot, damaging air quality inside homes, with associated health problems and millions of premature deaths each year.
Cooking indoors over an open fire or with a crappy stove is a major health problem. The World Health Organization says about three billion people in the world are cooking and heating their homes like this, and it’s responsible for about four million deaths annually.
Here’s the “key fact” as it is presented on the WHO’s information page about health and indoor air pollution, which refers to the burning of wood and animal dung. But see if you can spot the key detail that Galilee studiously left out.
Around 3 billion people cook and heat their homes using open fires and simple stoves burning biomass (wood, animal dung and crop waste) and coal.
That’s right. The burning of coal indoors in the developing world is actually a part of this environmental health problem. Perhaps Galilee thought that this fact might muddy his argument somewhat? Best to leave it out.
But actually, the immediate solution for people dying and suffering from indoor air-pollution is not to hook them up to a coal-fired power generator, but to provide those people with an efficient cooking and heating stove that reduces exposure to harmful pollutants – regardless of the fuel they use.
Clean, efficient, durable, safe, and affordable stoves are – along with clean fuels and other products like chimneys and heat retention cookers – central to most solutions to the health, environmental, and other risks inherent in cooking with fire.
Galilee’s argument is disingenuous. The problem of indoor air pollution is not really the fuel at all – whether that be dung or wood or coal – but the way that it is being burned.
Later, Galilee has a brief moment of pragmatism when he writes that a “full range of energy sources” will be needed to meet the rising demand for energy in developing countries. He writes:
All have their impacts and risks, including coal. Hydro requires the building of dams to harness rivers. Solar and wind need large scale manufacturing processes, steel, chemicals and other inputs, as well as back-up power systems, and large land areas for panels and turbines. Oil and gas have impacts, as does nuclear.
They do all have their impacts, but those impacts don’t all become equal just by putting them in the same paragraph. Anyone thinking climate change yet? The World Bank is:
Climate change is a fundamental threat to development in our lifetime. If we do not confront climate change, we will not end poverty
Galilee has to somehow work out how his totally awesome product can end poverty at the same time as being the chief contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions that are a “fundamental threat to development in our lifetime”.
Please see update below before you read the post below.
The Associated Press is one of the world’s biggest and oldest news agency’s providing copy to papers and media websites all over the world.
Earlier this week they filed a report about a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Association which carried 22 studies looking at the link between 16 extreme weather events around the world and human-caused climate change.
I’ve written about five of the studies that looked at Australia’s record hot year of 2013 for my Planet Oz blog on The Guardian.
It just happens to be the same temperature dataset that BoM used to declare 2013 the hottest year on record and the same record that shows Australia has warmed almost a degree in the last 100 years or so (it’s not the only data set that shows this and it’s not the only analysis that shows this either).
So when The Australian ran the Associated Press story about the studies it decided to leave out a few paragraphs. See if you can guess some of them. Go on, I dare you. I double dare you. I double denial dare you to guess.
OK, I’ll tell you.
They left out those three paragraphs above, two of which were the only ones exclusively discussing Australia.
You might think those paragraphs would be the ones most relevant to readers in Australia, seeing as they are the bits talking about Australia, and The Australian is published in Australia (the clue is in the masthead).
But what do I know?
UPDATE: OK – I owe someone an apology. My criticism was unwarranted (on this occasion) but I’ve kept the post as is rather than delete it, just to show I’m able to eat humble pie when required. Seth Borenstein from Associated Press says that The Australian ran an earlier take of his AP story before the comments from scientists were added.