Former Congressmen John Linder and Ron Paul made wrong and misleading claims about OISM Global Warming Petition Project

While Representatives John Linder of Georgia and Ron Paul of Texas are no longer representing their states, while they were in the House, they both made misleading and incorrect statements regarding the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine’s Global Warming Petition Project.

Comparison between total U.S. Department of Education Bachelor of Science degrees and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

Comparison between total U.S. Department of Education Bachelor of Science degrees and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

For other posts in this series, please click here.

The Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP), organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and published most recently in May 2008, is an attempt to counter the many studies that have found an overwhelming scientific consensus by climate experts that climate change is occurring, is largely driven by industrial emissions of greenhouse gases, and will be disruptive to ecosystems and human society. S&R has shown that this attempt represents a false narrative for two reasons. First, the GWPP’s criteria are so broad that a stay-at-home parent with a veterinary degree who has never studied climate is considered qualified to have an informed opinion on the subject. This position is obviously absurd. Second, S&R has shown that, even if we give the GWPP the greatest possible benefit of the doubt, their signers represent tiny minorities of the total number of people who could have signed – one quarter of one percent (0.25%) of people with the GWPP’s selected degrees, less than one half of one percent (0.44%) of people who work in the selected fields, and no more than about 7% of the members of various scientific and technical professional organizations.

As part of our series on the GWPP, S&R searched through official government records of floor speeches and hearings from U.S. Representatives and Senators. We found two former and 11 current members of Congress who have referenced the GWPP, directly or indirectly, since it was published. Today S&R focuses on the two former members, John Linder of Georgia and Ron Paul of Texas.

John Linder, former Representative for Georgia

John Linder (Image Credit:

John Linder (Image Credit:

John Linder served in the House of Representatives from 1993 to 2011 in various Congressional districts. Following the publication of the GWPP, he was the third member of Congress to enter the Petition Project into official records, and he did so a total of four times between September 2008 and December 2009. And each time he misrepresented the petition’s signers.

The first time Linder mentioned the GWPP was on September 11, 2008, in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing titled “Policy Options to Prevent Climate Change.” Linder asked Peter R. Orszag of the Congressional Budget Office if Orszag had seen “the petition signed by 31,000 scientists, 9,000 who have Ph.D.’s in the science, 22,000 with masters in science, that take issue with this theory?”

Linder again referenced the GWPP on March, 12, 2009, during a hearing on “Protecting Lower-Income Families While Fighting Global Warming.” In this case, he used the GWPP in an attempt to counter Michigan Representative Levin’s reference to a public position statement by asking “are you aware that 32,000 scientists, 10,000 of whom have PhDs in the sciences and the rest of whom have masters have signed a position that’s opposite to the one that you hold, that your 1700 people hold?”

During floor debate in the House on June 26, 2009, Linder referenced the GWPP a third time, saying that “There are 32,000 scientists, 9,000 Ph.D.s and 23,000 masters in science who signed a petition against this silliness that we’re discussing….” And Linder invoked the GWPP one last time on December 8, 2009 during debate on the House floor over allegations (later disproven) that the Climategate emails showed scientists had committed scientific misconduct. This time Linder said

What is not popularly known is that 32,000 scientists, including Edward Teller, 9,000 of whom are Ph.D.s and the rest masters, have signed a statement that says there is no evidence that humans are causing any impact on the global warming that occurred between 1975 and 1998, none whatsoever.

In three of the four cases described above, Linder explicitly invoked the false narrative that the GWPP represents a counter-consensus against the reality of global warming. In each case he made two errors of fact. The first error is that the GWPP signers are not all “scientists,” as S&R has previously shown. The second error is that he claimed the GWPP’s signers all held advanced degrees (PhDs and Masters), when the GWPP itself claims the following: “9,029 PhD; 7,157 MS; 2,586 MD and DVM; and 12,715 BS or equivalent academic degrees.”

Ron Paul, former Representative for Texas

Ron Paul (Image credit: Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity)

Ron Paul (Image credit: Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity)

Former Texas Representative Ron Paul only invoked the GWPP once, compared to the four times Linder did. But in Paul’s remarks on the House floor on June 6, 2009, he went farther than Linder ever did and essentially parroted most of the claims made by the GWPP on their website. Furthermore, there is no indication that Paul bothered to fact-check any those claims. For example, Paul said the petition was “supported by a definitive review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature,” specifically by a supposedly peer-reviewed summary titled “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.” This article was written by just three people – Arthur Robinson, the GWPP’s organizer, Robinson’s son Noah, and Willie Soon. Given that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) requires hundreds or thousands of experts to write accurately, it’s extremely unlikely that three men, two of whom are intimately tied to the GWPP itself, could write a “definitive review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature.” Furthermore, the summary was published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPANDS), a non-climate “journal” that has published HIV-AIDS denial, claimed that vaccines cause autism, and alleged that abortion causes breast cancer.

Paul also said that “all 31,478 of the signers have the necessary training in physics, chemistry, and mathematics to understand and evaluate the scientific data relevant to the human-caused global warming hypothesis and to the effects of human activities upon environmental quality.” This claim is absurd, a point that Paul, a former physician himself, should understand. As S&R reported in the first part of this series, “the mere fact someone has a college degree in [a non-climate related scientific, technical, or medical field] does not automatically grant that person an informed opinion or make them an actual expert [emphasis original].”

It’s perhaps not surprising that Paul failed to fact check the GWPP’s claims, given he very likely knows the GWPP’s organizers personally. S&R bases this claim on the following facts:

  • JPANDS is published by the libertarian Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) , an organization that once counted both Ron and Rand Paul among its members (Rand quit after being elected to the US Senate).
  • AAPS itself shares an address in Arizona with Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP), and both groups have Jane Orient as their leader (Orient is the Executive Director for AAPS and the President of the DDP).
  • Jane Orient is also on the faculty of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, whose founders include Arthur and Noah Robinson, two of the three authors (with Willie Soon) of the summary distributed with the GWPP’s petition card.
  • Arthur Robinson is the Vice President of the DDP and was the chief organizer of the GWPP.

We cannot expect our representatives in Congress to be experts on every topic. Yet even so, it’s reasonable to expect them to not make blatant errors like John Linder did. It’s also reasonable to expect that they not deceive or mislead their constituents with claims that they have to know are absurd, as Ron Paul did. Yet the fact that Linder and Paul did those things indicates that they were more interested in playing political games than in the facts.

Linder and Paul are no longer members of Congress. As a result, their ability to mislead and deceive the American people through ignorance or dishonesty is more limited than it once was. But the same cannot be said of the 11 other Representatives and Senators who are still in Congress. More on that in the next article of this series.

Fall in Colorado: it’s been glorious

Monarch Pass, Colorado

Monarch Pass, Colorado

I love almost everything about Colorado. Almost. Sadly, the climate here tends to have very short transitional seasons, and like a lot of people who grew up in my neck of the woods (NC), my favorites times of year have always been fall and spring. I took the long, moderate, invigorating equinox seasons for granted, I guess. Continue reading


The OISM’s climate change-denying Petition Project is a small percentage of the AMS, AGU, APS, ACS, and IEEE membership

Compared to the membership of five major professional science and engineering organizations, the Global Warming Petition Project’s signers are still a small minority.

For other posts in this series, please click here.

In May, 2008, the climate change-denying Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM) published their Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP). This petition falsely claimed to be a counter-consensus against the authentic consensus that climate change is happening, that it’s largely the result of industrial emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and that the changes will be disruptive to both the global climate and human society. In reality, the number of GWPP signatures is a tiny minority of both the science and engineering degrees that were awarded between 1970 and 2013 and of the number of scientists and engineers working in their fields in 2013 (the latest years that data is available). And this is even using the GWPP’s own overly broad criteria for who qualifies as having an informed opinion on the subject of industrial climate disruption (aka global warming or climate change).

Beyond comparing the GWPP’s numbers against graduation and employment data, there is another set of comparisons that can be made. Specifically, we can compare the GWPP’s signers to the membership of major professional organizations for both scientists and engineers. As with the graduation and employment data, however, this comparison shows a third time that the GWPP’s signers represent a small minority of the overall population. Continue reading


Federal employment data also shows OISM’s climate change-denying Petition Project is a tiny minority

The 31,487 names collected by the Global Warming Petition Project represent less than one half of one percent (0.44%) of people employed in 2013 in the GWPP’s selected science and engineering fields.

For other posts in this series, please click here.

Correction: Figures 5 and 6 had incorrect data for chemical engineers. Both figures and the accompanying text have been corrected accordingly.
In May, 2008, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM), a group that denies the reality of industrial climate disruption, published the Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP). This petition falsely claimed to disprove the real expert consensus that climate change is happening, that it’s largely the result of industrial emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and that it will be disruptive to the global climate and human society. As S&R showed in the first part of this series, the GWPP’s false narrative is based on misrepresentations of both authentic expertise and the total population of experts. When compared against the U.S. Department of Education graduation data between 1970 and 2013, the GWPP signatures represented only one quarter of one percent – 0.25% – of the total number people who the GWPP said were qualified to comment on climate disruption.

While having a degree in a particular field usually grants an informed opinion on that field, there are other ways to determine how informed someone’s opinion is likely to be. An alternative method is to look at whether someone is actively employed in the field in which they’re claiming expertise. Using this method, we can compare the GWPP’s signature numbers to the latest available employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the fields that the GWPP nonsensically identified as having sufficient knowledge to “evaluate the research data” on climate disruption. When we make this comparison, however, we find yet again that the GWPP’s signers represent a tiny minority of the total population. Continue reading


Federal education data shows OISM’s climate change denying Petition Project actually a tiny minority

Far from being an alleged “counter-consensus,” the 31,487 names collected by the Global Warming Petition Project represent only one quarter of one percent (0.25%) of science and engineering degrees awarded since 1970.

For other posts in this series, please click here.

In May, 2008, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM), a group that denies that industrial climate disruption (aka global warming or climate change) is real, published the results of their Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP). Published originally in 1997 with about 17,100 names, the 2008 update contained the names of 31,487 supposed scientists who allegedly reject the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding climate disruption – that climate change is happening, that it’s largely the result of industrial emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and that it will be disruptive to the global climate and human society. In August 2009, an S&R analysis found that the GWPP’s criteria for a “scientist” (someone who was able to “evaluate the research data”) included so many non-experts that the criteria were nonsense. In addition, S&R found that the names represented only one third of one percent (0.3%) of people who met the GWPP’s own nonsensical criteria.

In the six years since S&R published its analysis, the major national media outlets have largely stopped repeating the GWPP’s unscientific claims. Instead, the media has mostly reported on the many peer-reviewed scientific studies1 that have demonstrated that the scientific consensus on climate disruption is real. However, the GWPP’s champion have never admitted that their petition is misleading. Further, S&R is aware that Arthur Robinson, the president of the OISM, was informed of S&R’s analysis and rejected it. Furthermore, since 2009 the GWPP’s false narrative has been repeated by political pundits, think tanks, blogs, conservative media outlets, and even in Congressional testimony and by both Senators and Representatives. Given the continued political attention lavished on the GWPP’s false narrative, S&R decided to update and broaden our original investigation.
Continue reading

What woman should be on the new $10 bill?

The government is deliberating redesigning the $10 and putting a woman on it. Should we select a politician? A Civil Rights figure? An icon of environmentalism? How about an artist? The Scholars & Rogues staff offers some ideas.

Apparently this is a question now. It came up during the recent GOP debate and apparently the best anybody could come up with was “Margaret Thatcher” or “my mom.”


So we put the question to the S&R staff, hoping maybe we could come up with something a tad more credible. Here are our answers, and you can feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

Sam Smith

There’s a range of great, semi-obvious answers here, including Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt. Continue reading


Wilma Dykeman’s The Tall Woman: The Power of a Great Story

Wilma Dykeman’s The Tall Woman is a masterpiece of straight forward story telling that deserves to be better known – Dykeman presents a quietly powerful depiction of the life of an Appalachian heroine that rings true in every respect…

The Tall Woman by Wilma Dykeman (image courtesy Goodreads)

Finally, a return to the 2015 reading list after some side trips to cover in once case a current literary flap and some musings on the disappearance of protest music from American cultural experience – and what a return it is. Wilma Dykeman’s The Tall Woman is an example of the sort of rich storytelling that once populated American fiction publishing. This unpretentious but exquisitely literate – and literary in the best sense of that word – novel is an example of regional fiction that rises far above its author’s primary aim to make profound statements about human character.

Lydia Moore McQueen is a character who moves readers in the way that, say, a more celebrated (and controversial) character, Atticus Finch does: she is an example quiet courage and dignity, a brave soul who does what she feels she must and faces the challenges her life presents not without flinching, but instead with strength gathered from within. Dykeman does a fine job of taking us through the events of Lydia’s life and showing us that heroism is sometimes standing up for what is right. Continue reading

Dr. Walter Palmer

Cecil the Lion’s killer doesn’t quite get it

Walter Palmer, the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion, says he did nothing illegal and that he’s going back to work.

I don’t think Dr. Palmer understands the issue. He doesn’t grasp why people are so upset. He thinks we’re all mad because we mistakenly believe that he broke the law.

No, Walter, we know you acted legally. We live in a country where it’s legal for rich people to buy Congressmen. Most places it’s called “bribery” or “graft” or “corruption,” but here it’s called “lobbying” or “free speech.” Continue reading


Saints at the River: powerful, predictable…almost great….

Ron Rash’s Saints at the River has at its center a powerful story about the struggle of Southern mountain subculture to reconcile itself with the “greater” culture….

Saints at the River by Ron Rash (image courtesy Goodreads)

Ron Rash’s novel Saints at the River has been widely acclaimed as a novel of power and insight in its depiction of Southern mountain culture. It is certainly that. Rash’s tale of a child drowned in a wild mountain river and the struggle over the rights of parents to retrieve the child’s body from the river while protecting the river’s environmental (and historical) significance has moments of resonance for any reader aware of the struggle between homogenization and cultural diversity.

But the novel has, alas, some real limitations, too. The ancillary plot lines (mountain reared news photographer daughter alienated from father, newspaper reporter struggling to write story about drowned girl due to reminders of his own daughter’s death, budding romance between reporter and photographer complicated by both characters’ pasts) are, despite Rash’s efforts to give them more than average depth, average and predictable.

Saints at the River is, then, at best a flawed effort. The question then become, do its strengths outweigh its weaknesses? Continue reading


Chill, baby, chill: Arctic oil exploration and climate security


image courtesy of

My wife’s engagement ring contains a marquis cut diamond appraised at $2000. I bought it at a pawn shop for $600. The pawn broker was ready to shoot me dead if I tried to steal it. When I paid him the $600 he was asking, he got teary eyed, ransacked his back room for a jewelry box, admitted he would have taken $550 because he could tell I am a good man, and promised that she would have no choice but to marry me in the face of that sparkling gem. It is a thing of beauty, no doubt.

Diamonds are plentiful and relatively indestructible. The second hand market is glutted with diamonds that no one wants because, without the sentimental value, they are comparatively cheap. Oil is not like that. Once it is consumed it exists only as a cloud of excrement. Our collective cloud of excrement has become a life-threatening problem as a result of economic forces set in motion by the General Motors streetcar conspiracy, in which five companies were convicted of conspiring to destroy electric-powered mass transit in favor of oil-powered transportation. Continue reading

The fearless that Pope Francis displayed in his papal encyclical letter on global warming flies in the face of cynicism that many experience about institutions. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Pope Francis blesses environment, McKibben gives Pope his blessing

Laudato Si’, the papal encyclical letter written by Pope Francis, is helping to move global warming to the forefront of the world’s consciousness.

The fearless that Pope Francis displayed in his papal encyclical letter on global warming flies in the face of cynicism that many experience about institutions. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The fearlessness that Pope Francis displayed in his papal encyclical letter on global warming flies in the face of cynicism that many experience about institutions. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Recent years have exposed the emptiness of the free market ideology — arguably a theology — and U.S. intervention. In turn American voters have staged some dramatic about-faces: from George W. Bush to Barack Obama (or our idealized version of him before he proceeded to continue and even double-down on — surveillance — some of Bush’s policies); from Scott Brown to Elizabeth Warren; and Mike Bloomberg to Bill de Blasio. But none of these can compare with the series of popes culminating in the ossified Benedict XVI to Francis, who didn’t take long to reveal himself as a champion of the dispossessed (and I’m speaking as a former Catholic to whom no love was lost on the church). Continue reading


The Perseids: bullet the black sky

One sign of the change of seasons around here is morning fog. It started this month, and August fog reminds me of a high school buddy, Bob.

Bob and I, and often several friends, unrolled sleeping bags on the ground each Aug. 11, lay on our backs, and watched the Perseids meteor shower. After fog curtained the sky, we rolled over and slept. Our sleeping bags and pillows were dappled with water droplets by dawn.

Fog always rose from the north, creeping up from the horizon, smothering the Big Dipper and then the rest of the sky by midnight. Continue reading


Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road: maybe Southerners aren’t merely caricatures…

Reading Caldwell’s Tobacco Road is reminiscent of watching an episode of Dukes of Hazzard and reading Flannery O’Connor at the same time… 

First, an anecdote:

Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell (image courtesy Goodreads)

Sometime back in my graduate school days I ran into an article in which the scholar spent a number of pages complaining that Charles Dickens didn’t create characters – rather, he created caricatures, exaggerated depictions of humanity. While I saw the guy’s point, it didn’t make me love Dickens any less. It seems to me Dickens’ caricatures (whether an Ebeneezer Scrooge or a Samuel Pickwick) vibrate with more of this thing we call life than most “realistic” literary characters (I’m looking at you, Emma Bovary).

Another anecdote:

I was a voracious reader as a child. Growing up as I did in the South, where for too many folks “reading” consisted of a) checking on how the Tarheels or Gamecocks or Cavaliers did, or b) reading (and usually badly misinterpreting) the Bible, my interests in books and learning made me both an anomaly and an object of suspicion, especially among my peers.

It also allowed me access to secret, forbidden worlds. Like the world of Erskine Caldwell. Continue reading


War and economics: where is Bernie Sanders’ 12th step?

There’s much to like about Bernie Sanders, but can he really help us kick the war habit?

Occupy Democrats and US Uncut have a handy macro going around that highlights Bernie’s 11 point economic agenda. It’s big. It’s important. It’s to be lauded. And if we’re not to have Bernie, it’s to be emulated. But we’ve also seen the devastating effect war has had on our economy, to say nothing of the lives lost to our wayward military adventurism. Below you’ll find my own reasons for supporting this 11-point economic plan as well as some serious consideration of his missing 12th point. Continue reading


Kobo Abe’s The Woman in the Dunes: life – and sometimes literature – is an illusion…

“Repetition of the same patterns, they say, provides an effective form of protective coloring. If he were to melt into a life of simple repetition, there might possibly come a time when they could be quite unconscious of him” – Kobo Abe

The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe (image courtesy Goodreads)

Kobo Abe’s The Woman in the Dunes is one of those books that leaves one feeling as if one has read a textbook on how to combine schools of literary fiction of the 20th century into an amalgam – a brilliantly executed amalgam, but an amalgam nonetheless. One has the sense of oppression and confusion of a Kafka work like The Trial; the sense of determination to hold onto sanity in the face of absurdity like Camus’s The Plague; and the sense of existentialist grimness in a Sartre work like No Exit. (For good measure feel free to consider works by your favorite existentialist or absurdist author – Beckett, Ionesco, Pinter. et. al.)

This is not to say that the work is not engrossing (in a relentlessly depressing way) or that Abe is not a fine writer (he is). For me, however, this selection  from the 2015 reading list does not have the resonance of the earlier selection I read, The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari  Kawabata. That book engages us deeply in Japanese life as actually lived, especially in the years after WWII even as it engages profound questions of national and cultural guilt; Abe’s book is a nightmarish fairy tale set in a bizarre dystopia (yes, I know, dystopias are sooo cool – but I’ve made myself clear on my lack of enthusiasm for such settings as the stuff of serious literature) that posits its hero, the only named character in the book, as a victim of – name your 20th century angst and anxiety inducing trend in human behavior.

In other words, The Woman in the Dunes is a beautifully, complexly written put up job. Continue reading


Pulitzer-winning Colorado Springs Gazette ignores calls to correct their falsehood-filled global warming editorial

The Pulitzer-winning Colorado Springs Gazette has been informed twice about blatant falsehoods in their April 23, 2015 global warming editorial. The editorial board has failed to even acknowledge their error, never mind correct or retract the editorial, calling into question their journalistic integrity.

August ice extent trend by NSIDC

August ice extent trend by NSIDC

On April 23, the Colorado Springs Gazette wrote an editorial on the subject of global warming that contained four factual errors and several distortions, failed to credit sources, and appeared to be largely based on an 2014 infomercial for a free market group that denies the reality of global warming (aka climate change or industrial climate disruption1). S&R documented the many problems with the editorial in a post published on April 27, and I emailed the Gazette’s editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen with one example error and asked for comment. S&R received no response.

On April 29, I submitted a letter to the editor via email that documented the four factual errors and called for a retraction. It has now been 10 days since I submitted the letter and I have received no response to my call for a correction or retraction of the editorial, nor has my letter been published by the Gazette. At this point I have to conclude that the Gazette’s editorial board has no intention of correcting or retracting their error-filled editorial, and so I have published my letter to the editor below. Continue reading


Pulitzer-winning Colorado Springs Gazette publishes error-filled global warming editorial

Four errors of fact, two innuendos, one serious distortion, and one uncredited image, any one of which should render an editorial unpublishable. Yet the Gazette’s editorial contained all of them.

On April 23, the Colorado Springs Gazette published an editorial titled “Stop ‘global warming’ hysteria.” In a 560 word editorial, the Gazette made four serious errors of fact, failed to credit the source of an image, repeated a distortion, and made two innuendos about global warming data, science, and scientists. To say that this is disappointing is an understatement. Readers expect their newspapers to provide factually accurate information, and the fact that the Gazette won the 2014 Pulitzer for National Reporting just makes this editorial failure that much worse.

What follows is S&R’s detailed review of the many failings of the Gazette’s editorial. Continue reading