When Senator Malcolm Roberts thanked 9/11 truthers and New World Order conspiracists for their science guidance

 

Unless you’ve either been living under a massive rock or in Mars-like isolation, you would have struggled to miss the recent exploits of Malcolm Roberts.

But if you have, here’s a very brief summary.

Roberts is a climate science denialist from Queensland who has been elected to the Australian Senate to represent the far-right One Nation party, led by Pauline Hanson.

He thinks climate science is a fraud being pushed by the United Nations, which wants to instill a world government.

His odd views have been irresistible to media outlets around the world and back home in Australia.

He had an argument with British Professor Brian Cox on Q&A that made international headlines.

He seems to be enjoying all the attention.

But back when Roberts was regarded by some as little more than a serial pest — haranguing politicians, journalists, scientists and government agencies for their endorsement of “climate fraud” — Roberts made a list.

The list, from February 2013, was an appendix to one of his many reports that “proved” human-caused climate change was a scam.  Continue reading “When Senator Malcolm Roberts thanked 9/11 truthers and New World Order conspiracists for their science guidance”

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Spot the difference between climate policies of Pauline Hanson and denialist group the Galileo Movement?

So I wrote a piece on my Guardian blog yesterday pointing out how climate science denialist Malcolm Roberts could be in line for a seat in Australia’s Senate.

Others have had a crack at the story too, with the likes of Fairfax and News Ltd also publishing pieces on Roberts’ “wacky” beliefs.

Roberts is running for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party, which is best known for its matriarch Pauline Hanson and her anti-Islamic rhetoric.

Her party wants to “ban the burqa” and install surveillance cameras in Muslim schools and mosques.

In short, Roberts thinks there’s an international cabal of bankers and socialists cutting across the United Nations, science institutions and the financial institutions, including the US Federal Reserve, who have conspired in some way to push “climate fraud” on the world.

Anyway, in my story I pointed out how it appeared that Roberts, the project manager for the Galileo Movement, had been behind One Nation’s climate policy.

Now rather than explain why I think this, you should instead play this little game of Spot the Difference and then decide for yourself!

hanson galileo

 

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Remarkable chart shows how “carbon dioxide is good” if you take cash from Exxon or the Kochs

What difference does influential corporate cash make to the arguments that climate science denial groups make in public?

This was a question that Yale University’s Dr Justin Farrell tried to answer in an exhaustive piece of research published late last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Farrell’s paper – Corporate funding and ideological polarization about climate change – contained this remarkable chart, which I missed at the time but reckon it deserves a bit more daylight.

CO2 is good So what’s it all about?

From previous academic papers and his own research, Farrell had compiled a list of 164 organisations that were part of the “climate counter-movement”.

The list includes US groups like the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, Cato Institute, Heartland Institute, together with a few non-US groups including the UK’s Global Warming Policy Foundation and Australia’s Institute of Public Affairs.

Then Farrell looked at which of these organisations had received money from either oil giant Exxon Mobil or from groups linked to the Koch brothers – the billionaire owners of the oil, gas and petrochemical conglomerate Koch Industries.

“Donations from these corporate benefactors signals entry into a powerful network of influence,” wrote Farrell.

Farrell found that 84 of those 164 organisations were part of that “powerful network” having taken funding from Exxon, the Kochs, or from both.

Then Farrell compiled a huge dataset of “every text about climate change produced by every organization between 1993 and 2013” – that’s 40,785 texts with more than 39 million words.

Thankfully Farrell didn’t have to read all that bilge. Instead, he used some clever and sophisticated algorithms and computer content analysis to do it for him.

With this dataset and method, Farrell looked at how often these 164 organisations covered particular issues.

Did the organisations that took cash from the Kochs or Exxon behave differently to those that were not funded as part of that “powerful network of influence”?

Two arguments in particular seemed to stand out. Organisations that took that influential funding were far more likely to use that disingenuous climate science denialist talking point that CO2 is good for the planet. That’s the chart above.

Another favourite contrarian talking point – that climate change was just part of a natural long term cycle rather than being driven by humans – was also more popular among the Exxon/Koch group. Here’s what that looked like.

Climate chnage is just long term cycle Now of course, it’s possible that the corporate funding was not influencing the specific talking points that the organisations were using. Perhaps the fact that they liked to say “CO2 is good” simply made them attractive to funders like Exxon? That could be so, although Farrell tested other favourite subjects too.

For example, funding appeared to make no difference to the timing and frequency of attacks on former US vice president and climate change campaigner Al Gore. Nor did it make much of a difference to arguments about cap and trade laws.

In a separate study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, Farrell looked at how the 164 different groups were networked together.

In that study – Network structure and influence of the climate change counter-movement – Farrell found that organisations were more powerful in the network if they had financial ties to Exxon and/or the Koch brothers.

In this chart below, the green dots are organisations with funding from at least one of those two corporate players. The red dots don’t get Koch or Exxon money.

ncc farrell

Koch or Exxon cash seems to help place an organisation closer to the epicenter of the climate science denial movement.

But if you do take their money, then it seems you also have to be willing to deny the science linking carbon dioxide to dangerous climate change.

 

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What Exxon Knew About Climate Science

We’ve know for a long time that oil giant Exxon was a key funder of the climate science denial movement in the United States.

Not as widely known was how, in the 1970s and early 80s, Exxon’s own scientists were warning of the dangers of burning fossil fuels.  They even carried out their own modeling and experiments.

Inside Climate News and the LA Times have both had major investigative stories on this.

Here’s an excellent YouTube primer on this story from Peter Sinclair.

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The faulty science of the Climate Hustle documentary

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.

I’ve written a few pieces now about the documentary for DeSmog – how it’ll reheat old denialist tricks, how there’s a particular religious zeal behind the director and how the premiere was skilfully stage managed when even the red carpet was fake.

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.

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Tim Minchin on climate change denial and Tony Abbott

COMEDIAN, musician, performer, atheist and other labels Tim Minchin was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Western Australia a few days back.

In his address to the audience, he had this to say about climate change, his cousin Nick and Australia’s newish prime Minister Tony Abbott:

The idea that many Australians – including our new PM and my distant cousin Nick Minchin – believe that the science of anthropogenic global is controversial, is a powerful indicator of the extent of our failure to communicate. The fact that 30 per cent of the people in this room just bristled, is further evidence still. That fact that that bristling is more to do with politics than science is even more despairing.

Watch Minchin’s full address below.  For a bit more on Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott and the “politics” of climate change denial, go over to DeSmogBlog for my latest.

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Victory Declared For The Climate Science Denialists

A VICTORY has been declared in the field of climate change but the lap of honour is not being run by research scientists or renewable energy bosses, or by coral reefs, drought-stricken farmers or the citizens of low-lying countries.

Rather, if you accept as valid this declaration of victory from one of Australia’s leading thinkers, then those popping the champagne corks are the fossil fuel lobby.

Standing by the track cheering this triumph, are the conservative think tanks and the free market ideologues that believe the world should be run on their terms.

To follow the analogy through to the bitter end, the losers are everyone else.

Professor Robert Manne, a political philosopher at La Trobe University, is making this declaration in a 7000-word essay published tomorrow in The Monthly magazine – its cover screaming “Victory of the Denialists: How Climate Science Was Vanquished”.

Manne’s essay charts the decades-long effort to spread doubt and confusion about the science of human-caused climate change, focusing on the think tanks and corporations that created and backed a “relentless” campaign in the United States which has infected other parts of the western world, including Australia.

Manne draws on already published books and research papers about the climate denial industry, and so in that respect close watchers won’t find anything new.

But it is his declaration that climate science denialists have won which will stick in the throat of many climate change campaigners and science communicators.

I asked Professor Manne why he had come to that conclusion.

I find it difficult to see how a reasonably objective observer could deny that this is what has happened–gradually at first but also dramatically since the end of 2009 due largely to the combination of the failure of Copenhagen and the impact of ‘Climategate’.

The victory I write about is limited to the United States, although denialism is an important and almost certainly growing movement in Canada, Australia and the UK.

If climate change denialists are pleased [by the conclusion] then they have chosen to ignore the explicit claim of the article that they are part of an irrationalist movement that is placing the future of the Earth at risk. The role of analysis is to be as faithful to the truth as one can be, not to boost morale or to support delusion.

For the denialists to be “victorious” they do not need to “prove” that global warming is a “hoax”. All they have to do is to “manufacture doubt”, that is to say to create a substantial level of public doubt about the solidity of the science.

According to Manne, President Barack Obama has been “nobbled” by the denialist campaign and the Republican Party almost “entirely converted” to denying the science.

Manne concludes in his essay that the success of the denialist campaign is one that subsequent generations will look upon “as perhaps the darkest in the history of humankind”. Continue reading “Victory Declared For The Climate Science Denialists”

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