The undiscerning climate bookshelf

Book shelf displaying climate change books at Dymocks book store
Climate sceptic book Taxing Air coming to an undiscerning book store near you

SHELVES in popular book stores can be undiscerning little buggers, as can the book stores themselves.

For example, I recently had cause to wander through the tightly-bound and bulging aisles of my local Dymocks book store. They have some really quite “special” offerings both online and in-store.

Even though we essentially know that astrology is, for all intents and purposes, basically b******s, I can report that the paperback version of “Practical Astrology” is “in stock”.

Failing that, there’s also “Homeopathy for your Cat” within the pages of which you can find out how magic water can cure your ginger’s urinary tract issue.

Are you a book shopping parent who has “wished for a handbook on each child”? Well tough, because Dymocks has sold out of “Homeopathy and Your Child” so you’ll have to work out your kid’s “physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs” some other way (by the way, I’m not singling out Dymocks here – most of the big high street book sellers also hawk similar enlightenment-crushing garbage).

And there are the books on climate change.

Without any prior knowledge, it’s easy to see how the average punter might be easily fooled by the line-up of  books cosying-up in Dymocks and elsewhere. As you can see by the image above, there’s some excellent stuff on offer from well credentialed authors and scientists.

There’s What We Know About Climate Change by MIT Professor of Atmospheric Science Kerry Emanuel. Just beneath, is The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the front lines from Professor Michael Mann, director of Earth System Science at Penn State University, also in the US.

And sharing the same shelf space, is Taxing Air written by Dr Bob Carter, an Australian geologist and advisor to about a dozen climate science denial organisations around the world, and John Spooner, a cartoonist for The Age newspaper in Melbourne, Australia.

Bob Carter’s fringe views on climate change (it’s all natural) make him a favourite of fossil fuel-funded propaganda unit the Heartland Institute and many, many other groups with similarly dismissive views on human-caused climate change and its risks.

Carter was recently let go by James Cook University in Queensland, where he had been an unpaid adjunct professor for over a decade, because he wasn’t pulling his weight.

Carter hinted – and his supporters screamed – that he had been booted out because he was a climate sceptic. I covered that case for DeSmogBlog and also summarised this and other recent goings on for the ABC Science Show.

But back to Taxing Air, which is yet another climate sceptic book with strong links to a conservative “think tank” – in this case, the Institute for Public Affairs, where Dr Carter is the Science Policy Advisor.

The IPA paid for copies to be sent out to Australian members of parliament and has also hosted a launch event for the book. Research has found that almost four out of five climate sceptic books published since the early 80s have links to conservative think tanks.

Dr Carter, it should be noted, has only written one scientific paper on atmospheric climate change, which claimed – wrongly as it turned out – to have found that recent global warming was down to natural cycles of water temperatures in the Pacific. One group of leading climate scientists who analysed carter’s paper concluded that the conclusions he and his co-authors drew were “not supported by their analysis or any physical theory presented in their paper”.

But is Taxing Air any good? Well, I have a copy which I’m still trudging through (I may not get to the end). But one academic who has finished it is Australian Ian Enting, and he is none too impressed. Mathematical physicist Enting (author of the Australian Mathematical Scences Institute book Twisted: The distorted mathematics of greenhouse denialworked at Australia’s leading science agency, the CSIRO, for 24 years in atmospheric research and modelling of the global carbon cycle.

Enting has analysed the book, describing it as a “polemic” characterised by “half-truths and slanted misrepresentation” and “appalling hypocrisy”.

At one point, Enting’s document notes how one chart  in Taxing Air is taken from a leaked draft of the not-yet-published United Nations IPCC Assessment Report 5 (due out in two weeks).

The chart has been altered, Enting’s document notes, removing a shaded area that shows the uncertainty range which, had it been left in, s

Cover of Killing the Earth to Save It by James Delingpole

hows how climate models agree with the observations within the range of uncertainty. Enting finds dozens of other examples like this.

But my real reason for going into the Brisbane Dymocks store was to hunt out a copy of Killing the Earth To Save It, written by UK-based climate science denialist and wind-farm hater James Delingpole.

In the UK, it was published under the name Watermelons. There was something remarkable about the book which I had read and was keen to confirm.

The book was published by Connor Court, which has published several other climate sceptic books. The editorial board of Connor Court also includes the IPA executive director John Roskam.

The IPA also paid for Delingpole to tour Australia to promote his book in September 2012 – a favour which he returned by running a public appeal for people to donate cash to the Melbourne-based group, which doesn’t reveal its funders but has run a long campaign of climate misinformation.

But none of these are the “remarkable thing” I referred to earlier.

The remarkable thing was an entry in Chapter 8 – “Welcome To The New World Order”. Delingpole continues to spruik on his Daily Telegraph blog, most recently earlier this week. Here’s what Delingpole says on page 174 of my newly purchased copy:

Probably the best analysis of the Club of Rome’s tangible effects on global environmental policy comes courtesy of a website called “The Green Agenda”:

While researching […] and during my academic studies, I have come across many references to the Club of Rome (CoR), and reports produced by them. Initially I assumed that they were just another high-level environmental think-tank and dismissed the conspiracy theories found on many website claiming that the CoR is a group of global elitists attempting to impose some kind of one world government. I am not a conspiratorial person by nature and was faced with a dilemma when I first read their reports. But it’s all there – in black and white.

Indeed

So what exactly is “The Green Agenda” which Delingpole tells his readers is offering this leading analysis? Here’s the source of the quote, on the website “The Green Agenda”. And who runs “The Green Agenda”? It is a sister site of The Watchman’s Post – which describes itself as a “Christian/ Messianic  End Time Messenger!” based in New Zealand.

That’s right. Delingpole’s “analysis” of a jumped-up conspiracy theory about plans for a one world government come direct from a group of Christian fundamentalists who preach about second comings and “end times”. The watchman’s website details the coming of an “anti-Christ”, “times of distress and tribulation” and “Triads of evil”.

Here’s a taster:

True Christians will be seen at best as ‘insane’ and at worst as worthy of elimination. However, note; the period being introduced at that time and rightly called the ‘Time of Tribulation’ will quickly degenerate into a terrible time of trouble for almost everyone in the whole world, not just believers in Jesus. [We will explain more, later!] We can add with conviction, that we believe the ‘Time of God’s judgmental anger’ is a separate period of time as indicated by the pouring out of the ‘Bowls of Wrath’ when all true Believers will be sovereignly protected! [We will explain later.]

Perhaps it might be worth checking a few more of Delingpole’s sources in “Killing the earth to Save It” which is described by News Corp. columnist Andrew Bolt on the back cover as “wonderful” with “devastating facts and lacerating anecdotes”.

Not just devastating and lacerating, but potentially world ending – apparently – just not in the way Bolt and Delingpole might have expected.

Oh, did I say that Killing the World To Save It and Taxing Air are available in “all good bookshops”?

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Heartland Institute climate sceptic author has “no status” with Australian university

Bob Carter, formerly an adjunct professor at James Cook University, appearing on Andrew Bolt’s Channel Ten television show

The Heartland Institute, a climate science denying fossil fuel-funded free market think-tank in the US, recently put the noses of the Chinese Academy of Sciences firmly out of joint with a spectacular piece of overreach.

Get the full and sorry tale over at my DeSmogBlog post, but the short story is that a library service of the academy took two of Heartland’s climate publications produced by its Non-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) project and translated them into one tome.

Ahead of time, the translators pointed out to Heartland that this didn’t mean that they in any way endorsed what the reports said, but was simply a translation exercise.

This message didn’t register prominently enough with Heartland, who made a right old song and dance about the affair quoting its President Joseph Bast as saying this was a “a historic moment in the global debate about global warming”.

The academy and its library division, which carried out the translation, both issued strongly-worded statements.

Heartland’s implication that CAS was endorsing their report was groundless, misleading and “went way beyond acceptable academic integrity”.  An apology followed and much deleting of Heartland web pages ensued.

One of the NIPCC co-authors is Australian scientist Bob Carter. When Heartland announced the “news” about the Chinese translation, it described Bob Carter thus:

Robert M. Carter, Ph.D., a marine geologist and research professor at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia and author of Climate: the Counter Consensus

Now this description of Bob Carter’s affiliation with James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, might have been in the ball-park of being accurate back when he co-authored the reports in question, but it certainly isn’t now.  Bob Carter had been an adjunct professor at James Cook for at least two years. Adjunct means he isn’t paid.

Professor Paul Dirks, head of school at JCU’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences where Bob Carter’s affiliation was held, has told me that since 1 January 2013, Bob Carter has had “no official status” at JCU. He said Bob Carter’s previous adjunct status ceased on that date.

When  internal Heartland documents were released in 2012, they showed that Heartland was intending to pay Bob Carter about $1667 per month for his work on the NIPCC project. He told me at the time:

Heartland is one of a number of think-tanks and institutions that I work with. Sometimes I’m paid an honorarium, sometimes expenses and sometimes I do it pro-bono.

As well as working with Heartland, Bob Carter has a long string of affiliations with think tanks and organisations which promote climate science denial or advocate a “do nothing” position on climate change. Some also promote sceptism and scare campaigns against renewable energy. Some have been set up or have accepted cash from fossil fuel corporations.

For example, Bob Carter is the Science Policy Advisor at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne, the chief science advisor to the International Climate Science Coalition, a director at the Australian Environment Foundation, a member of the academic advisory council of the UK’s Global Warming Policy Foundation, an adviser to the Australia-based Galileo Movement, science adviser to the Science and Public Policy Institute, a patron of the UK’s anti-climate legislation group Repeal The Act, an advisor to the European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE), an advisor to the Australian Climate Science Coalition and an inaugural founder of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

Perhaps there’s more, but these 10 groups – all with pretty similar positions on climate change –  will do for now.

Several of these groups still describe Bob Carter as having an affiliation with James Cook University, which, as I’ve just clarified, ended six months ago. I’m sure they will all be diligently edited to reflect Bob Carter’s actual non-status with James Cook University.

I mean, we wouldn’t want anyone being misled now would we?

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Time to accept that soon, the climate science deniers will be in charge

ANYONE who places any stock in safeguarding the current and future climate (and for that matter anyone who doesn’t) should prepare themselves for the risk that very soon, climate science deniers, contrarians and sceptics will be running the show.

All the polls suggest that a Liberal-led coalition will sweep to power at next year’s Federal election. Current Liberal leader Tony Abbott, if we care to remember, once described climate change as “crap“.

Views shared among Abbott’s parliamentary coalition ranks are that climate science is a “leftist fad” and a “work of fiction”.

The Liberal-National Party’s new Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and his environment minister Andrew Powell have both said they’re unable to accept the evidence of human-caused climate change, going against the scientific findings of the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology and every major science academy on the planet.

Instead the Newmans and Abbotts of this world would rather stake the future of their constituents, our economies, our food supplies and our coastlines on the ideologically-blinkered pseudo-science of narrow vested interests and free market fundamentalists.

The latest snapshot on this inglorious race to the bottom came last week during the Queensland LNP state conference with a motion proposed by the Noosa LNP member Richard Pearson.

Pearson’s motion called on the state’s education minister John-Paul Langbroek to “remove environmental propaganda material, in particular post-normal science about ‘climate change’, from the curriculum and as adjunct material at exam time”. The motion was passed with party members overwhelmingly in favour.

LNP state representative Glen Elmes recently thanked Pearson in parliament for helping him win his Noosa seat at the state election earlier this year (perhaps those visits to Noosa by fake experts Christopher Monckton and Professor Bob Carter have rubbed off on the Sunshine Coast community).

As reported on Brisbane Times, Pearson said: “Few people understand that the so called science of climate change is really what can be defined as ‘post-normal’ science,” before apparently arguing that climate change went beyond traditional understanding of science based on experimentation and falsifiable theories.

To Pearson and others, the experiments of John Tyndall in 1859 which established the warming properties of what we now know to be greenhouse gases just didn’t happen. Not in existence either, are the reams of scientific papers over many decades which have attempted but failed to falsify the “theory” that burning fossil fuels is causing the world’s average temperature to rise, the oceans to become more acidic, the sea levels to rise and the ice at the poles to melt.

Also not in existence is last week’s study by almost 400 scientists (they’re everywhere) which showed that greenhouse gas emissions were increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events.

So far, Premier Newman has clarified that while Pearson’s motion has been passed by the party, this doesn’t mean it will be adopted by the parliamentary group which he leads.

“We will always do the right thing by Queenslanders ahead of the LNP”, he said, forgetting that just a few weeks ago he told Queenslanders the state was actually “in the coal business”.

Regardless, reaction to the motion has been damning. Anna-Maria Arabia, the chief executive of Science & Technology Australia, which represents almost 70,000 scientists and technology experts in Australia, described it as “extremely harmful”.

The secretary of the Queensland Teachers’ Union Kevin Bates told The Australian that it was important schools taught children to have an “open mind” (but presumably not so open that your brain falls out). “Our greatest concern is that this is a government that is going to interfere in the education process,” he said.

One blogging research scientist wrote that the motion was “preparing our children for future ridicule“.

Helping in this process is the Institute for Public Affairs, which has been sending out a discredited book on climate change to Australian schools. The book How To Get Expelled From School, written by Professor Ian Plimer, a member of the board of two of Gina Rinehart’s mining companies, was launched by former Prime Minister John Howard.

At the launch, Professor Plimer said “one of the aims of this book is to maintain the rage, because we have an election coming”.  Clearly, Professor Plimer sees his book as a political tool.

While consistently claiming that school children are being brainwashed by climate change “propoganda”, those who push this line rarely (if ever) produce any actual evidence. Pearson didn’t define what he meant by “propoganda” or “post normal science”.

Plimer’s genuine piece of propaganda was described by the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, which analysed his book, as “misleading” and based on “inaccurate or selective interpretation of the science”.

It should not be forgotten that Tony Abbott isn’t afraid of pushing his own misinformed climate dogma on young schoolkids when given the chance.

In 2010, he told a class of five and six year olds in Adelaide: “OK, so the climate has changed over the eons and we know from history, at the time of Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth the climate was considerably warmer than it is now.”

Nobody should be surprised that conservative politicians are unable to accept climate change science. A survey of political representatives at local, state and federal level carried out in late 2009 found that acceptance of climate change science was divided along political lines.

The University of Queensland survey found only about one third of Liberal/National politicians accepted the world was warming because of human activity. This compared to nine out of ten Labor politicians and practically all Greens.

Then there’s the “conservative white male effect” discovered by scientists (yes, them again) in the US linking the described demographic to the denial of human-caused climate change.

The Australian conservative political movement’s lurch towards the denial of human-caused climate science is like a mirror-image of the same enlightenment-crushing ideas of many US Republicans.

None of the recent candidates for the Republican presidential nomination (excusing possibly  John Huntsman) were able to publicly back climate change science, with some reverting to scepticism after previously accepting the issue.

Also in common with the US, is the existence of Tea Party-style “grassroots” activism in Australia helped along by free market think tanks that claim regulating greenhouse gas emissions is an attack on our freedom.

But rather than have an honest debate about a policy response to a real world risk, they sink to trying to discredit climate science while telling the public that carbon dioxide from burning coal is just “food for plants”.

Earlier this week the climate sceptic organisation the Galileo Movement, founded by two retired Noosa (!) businessmen, tweeted a link to a document written by Viv Forbes claiming coal was not dirty and CO2 was plant food. No mention anywhere in the document that Forbes is a director of Stanmore Coal.

Galileo’s patron is Sydney radio host Alan Jones, who recently told a crowd that climate science was “witchcraft” and a “hoax”.

Our descent into the deluded world of pseudo-science occupied by astrology, creationism, crystal healing and homeopathy is almost complete. It’s a place where progress dies and business-as-usual thrives.

UPDATE: This blog has been reposted on Brisbane Times…. and also on DeSmogBlog with a couple of additions.. and on ClimateProgress too.. oh, and it’s now on Independent Australia and also RenewEconomy.

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Heartland billboards strike grubby new low

IN a promotional video for the upcoming Heartland Institute’s climate change sceptics’ conference in Chicago, the think-tank’s president Joseph Bast said the scientists coming together for the shindig “deserve a lot of attention”.

So how would Joe Bast help them to gain that richly deserved attention?

How about sticking a picture of murderer and terrorist Ted Kaczynski – a.k.a the Unambomber – on a giant billboard next to the words “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”

According to a Heartland press release, this would be the first in a series of ads which would feature Osama Bin Laden, Fidel Castro and Charles Manson, who Heartland says all “believe” in global warming.

In a press release, Joe Bast said:

Heartland’s first digital billboard…  is the latest effort by the free-market think tank to inform the public about what it views as the collapsing scientific, political, and public support for the theory of man-made global warming. It is also reminding viewers of the questionable ethics of global warming’s most prominent proponents.

There’s not much point in spelling out why this campaign is mind-numbingly dumb and stupefyingly offensive, but then let’s be pointless for a moment. I wonder if the unabomber, or Castro or bin Laden accept evolution too and if I should then feel dirty and grubby for having that in common with them. On the picture used for the billboard, Kaczynski can clearly be seen wearing clothes. I wear clothes too. Am I turning into some sort of nutcase?

The Guardian’s Leo Hickman called the campaign “possibly one of the most ill-judged poster campaigns in the history of ill-judged poster campaigns”.

Bast, with his hypocrisy-booster now turned up well past eleven, justified the posters by saying: “We found it interesting that the ad seemed to evoke reactions more passionate than when leading alarmists compare climate realists to Nazis or declare they are imposing on our children a mass death sentence.”

Perhaps climate science denier Lord Christopher Monckton should give Mr Bast a call to set him straight, given he has cornered the market in Nazi name-calling.

Heartland has now pulled the digital billboard after a stream of protests from those which it would consider to be on their side, although Joe Bast said he would not apologise. Climate sceptic Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, one of the conference speakers, threatened to pull out if the ads were not removed. Another speaker, climate sceptic Ross McKitrick, called the ads “fallacious, juvenile and inflammatory” and believed the campaign “sullies the reputation of the speakers you had recruited”.

Heartland last made headlines when a small cache of documents, deceptively acquired from its headquarters by scientist Peter Gleick, revealed the institute was planning to devise a new curriculum to teach climate denial in schools. The documents also revealed it was paying some academics thousands, including James Cook University’s Bob Carter, who is a speaker at the Chicago conference at the end of the month. Professor Carter is an advisor to a string of climate science misinforming organisations, including the Institute of Public Affairs, a sponsor of previous Heartland conferences.

Professor Carter isn’t the only Australian connection to the conference. Among its “silver sponsors” are the Australian Libertarian Society and the Carbon Sense Coalition.

The ALS treasurer is Tim Andrews, the executive director of the new Australian Taxpayers Alliance which has stated its first mission to campaign against Australia’s carbon price legislation. Andrews is a veteran of the Koch Associate Program in the US, a project of the oil industry billionaire Koch brothers who have been pouring millions into climate denial campaigns.

The Carbon Sense Coalition is a small-time climate change sceptic organisation founded by coal industry veteran Vivian Forbes, a current director at Brisbane-based Stanmore Coal.

Presumably after this episode, the 19 corporations which – along with the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil – have helped fund some of Heartland’s projects over the years will now be considering whether they’re happy to ever again have their names associated with a think-tank which juxtaposes climate science acceptance with the morals of mass murderers.

After the Heartland leaks earlier this year, GM Motors said it was severing all ties with Heartland. Will the likes of PepsiCo, Pfizer and Time Warner Cable now follow?

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Bob Carter responds to Heartland leak

Note: This post has been amended to take into account statements made by Heartland and the Charles G Koch Foundation.

IN the last 48 hours a number of documents from the US think-tank the Heartland Institute have been published on the intertubes.

The Heartland Institute, based in Chicago, is well known for publishing opinions and reports which aim to question the validity of mainstream climate science.

The nine documents outline funding plans, suggest an anonymous donor has provided $8.6 million in recent years for climate work, detail a plan to write a climate curriculum for schools from kindergarten to grade 12 and detail payments to scientists, including an Australian academic.

Heartland claims the documents “appear to have been stolen” and that their president Joseph Bast has not yet had a chance to read them “to see if they have been altered”.

Heartland also claims that one of the documents, a “confidential memo” outlining their climate strategy, “is a total fake”. This document was the only one of the nine which was obviously a scanned copy.

For background here, as a free-market think-tank, Heartland would ultimately like to see little to no legislation limiting greenhouse gases. This is their ideological position.

The Australian academic in question is Professor Bob Carter, an adjunct (unpaid) research fellow at James Cook University and a long-time denier of the risks of human-caused climate change.

Professor Carter has also been a speaker at six of Heartland’s climate change conferences. The documents show Professor Carter will receive $1667 per month from Heartland in 2012 to work on a project called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.

I asked Professor Carter if he was aware of the leak. He claimed he wasn’t, but then told me. Continue reading “Bob Carter responds to Heartland leak”

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