Two Senators and three supposed climate experts repeat errors or lies about the Global Warming Petition Project

Senators Michael Crapo and Orrin Hatch have implied that they agree with the Global Warming Petition Project’s false, anti-consensus narrative while climate “experts” J. Scott Amstrong, Kesten C. Green, and Patrick Moore gave wrong and misleading testimony on the subject.

Comparison between total Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 employment and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

Comparison between total Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 employment and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

For other posts in this series: click here for data and debunking, here for GWPP mentions by US politicians, and here for conservative/libertarian media references.

Up until now, S&R has focused on the members of Congress who have explicitly mentioned the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine’s (OISM) Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP) in the course of their official duties or their reelection campaigns. But there are other, less obvious ways to indicate agreement with the GWPP’s false narrative that the signers represent a counter-consensus against the reality of industrial climate disruption (aka human-caused global warming or climate change). S&R found that two Senators, Michael Crapo of Idaho and Orrin Hatch of Utah, have indicated that they agree with the false narrative without explicitly saying so.

In addition, three men have given testimony to Congress that the GWPP’s signers disprove the many peer-reviewed studies that have found an overwhelming consensus that climate change is occurring, that the changes are largely a result of industrial emissions of greenhouse gases, and that the changes will be disruptive to global ecosystems and human society. Those three men are J. Scott Armstrong, Kesten C. Green (who testified together), and Patrick Moore.

Michael Crapo, Senator for Idaho

Michael Crapo (image credit: official photo)

Michael Crapo (image credit: official photo)

On February 26, 2009, during the period when the Senate was hearing arguments on an omnibus appropriations bill and confirming President Obama’s Cabinet secretaries, Senator Michal Crapo of Idaho entered into the Congressional Record several letters his office had received on the subject of climate change. One letter referenced the GWPP. That letter’s author, Anthony, blames environmentalists for rising gasoline prices, writing that “31,000 scientists have gone on the record to debunk the global warming myth yet it is still very much alive in the media and being crammed into grade school children’s minds.” Anthony doesn’t explain how this has anything to do with the increase in gasoline prices, but clearly he thinks that there is some connection between what he calls a “myth” and how gasoline prices are forcing him to cut back on “eating out, vacations, purchasing household goods and home improvement.”

Unlike the 11 Congress members who explicitly mentioned the GWPP during floor speeches and in hearings, Crapo doesn’t explicitly endorse the GWPP with this letter. Instead, his endorsement is implied by the fact that he chose this letter as one of the 11 letters he entered into the official Congressional Record.

As S&R has shown, it is wrong to claim that the GWPP represents 31,000 scientists. The GWPP accepted anyone with a bachelor’s of science degree from over three dozen different scientific, technical, and medical fields. Yet the GWPP’s organizers have failed to provide any argument or proof that those fields provide an informed opinion on the topic of climate change, even when the main organizer, Arthur Robinson, was asked explicitly to do so. The GWPP’s organizers could assert that the sky is a beautiful shade of plaid, but that doesn’t make it true.

Orrin Hatch, Senator for Utah

Orrin Hatch (image credit: Senate website)

Orrin Hatch (image credit: Senate website)

To the best of S&R’s ability to tell, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch has not personally mentioned the GWPP, either in the media, in the records of the Senate, or in the Congressional Record. Yet there are three files on his Senate website that each refer to the GWPP in some way, and none of which appear to be searchable via the website’s own search engine (they turn up via a Google search)

The first file is a document from the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) titled “Observed Climate Change and the Negligible Global Effect of Greenhouse-gas Emission Limits in the State of Utah.” This document, almost certain authored by SPPI president Robert Ferguson (see document properties screen capture below) does everything it can to downplay the impacts of climate change on Utah, repeatedly claiming that Utah’s climate is dominated by short-term changes rather than by human influences, that droughts happened well before humans could have influenced the climate (and thus illogically implying that modern droughts aren’t influenced by industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, CO2), and that the state of Utah emits so little of the total CO2 so there’s no point in the state cutting emissions. It also relied on cherry-picked temperature data and start/end points to dishonestly create a false impression that global warming had stopped.

Document properties of SPPI document found on Orrin Hatch's

Document properties of SPPI document found on Orrin Hatch’s

The SPPI document makes multiple logical fallacies and dishonest claims, including devoting a page to the Utah signers of the GWPP. The document specifically says that “at least 404 Utah scientists have petitioned the US government” and that the Utah scientists are “joined by over 31,072 Americans with university degrees in science – including 9,021 PhDs (emphasis original).” Besides the omnipresent “scientists” error, the SPPI document falsely claims that the scientists petitioned the US government. A detailed review of the entire Petitionproject.com website finds no evidence that the GWPP was ever presented to the US government as a petition, and S&R’s review of the Congressional Record finds that it had not been entered into the Congressional Record, in whole or in part, until Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi did so on July 23, 2014, nearly six years after the SPPI document was written (according to the document properties, on 12/10/2008). It’s unclear whether the SPPI document is intentionally dishonest or merely badly misinformed, but either way the claim that the GWPP signers “petitions the US government” is incorrect.

There is an additional oddity identified by the document properties. The properties indicate that the document was written in December 2008, yet the GWPP had increased its total number of signatures to 31,487, 413 from Utah, by August. If the document was truly created on December 9, 2008, then this indicates that the author was too lazy to verify that his GWPP data was correct, and if that’s the case, then perhaps the author was too lazy to verify the accuracy of his other various claims too.

The second document is the 2009 Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) document. This document, written by individuals who deny the reality of industrial climate disruption and published by the Heartland Institute, contains as an appendix all the GWPP signers’ names as well as copies of the home page, description of the qualifications of signers, and the FAQ as text. Unlike Senator Blaine Luetkemeyer, Hatch didn’t claim that every one of the GWPP’s signers had singed the NIPCC document (including the dead signers). But hosting a copy of this document may indicate that Hatch agrees with the incorrect claims made by the GWPP that are repeated in the document’s appendix. And again, the fact that this document is not reachable via the website’s standard search functions is odd.

The third and final document is the March 16, 2009 version of the so-called “Minority Report” of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. As with the NIPCC document, Hatch is simply hosting a copy of the report on his Senate website – a copy that is not discoverable via the website’s search engine. The report contains quotes from three scientists who claim to have signed the GWPP (aka the Oregon Petition – see pages 32, 54, and 79 of the report). What makes this case odd is that Hatch is not a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, so there’s no obvious reason why he’d host this document on his official website.

House testimony by J. Scott Armstrong and Kesten C. Green

Kesten C. Green (Image credit: Heartland Institute)

Kesten C. Green (Image credit: Heartland Institute)

J. Scott Armstrong (image credit: Wharton School)

J. Scott Armstrong (image credit: Wharton School)

J. Scott Armstrong is a professor of marketing at the Wharton School in the University of Pennsylvania and has a PhD in management. Kesten C. Green is a senior lecturer at the University of South Australia Business School who has worked closely with Armstrong ever since Green got his PhD in 2003 (of Green’s 36 papers, all but seven were published with Armstrong). Both men were coauthors of the original 2009 NIPCC document and were called to give expert climate testimony by the House subcommittee on Energy and Environment on March 31, 2011.

Among the many factually incorrect and misleading statements made in their written statement, Armstrong and Green wrote

The claim by alarmists that nearly all scientists agree with the dangerous manmade global warming forecasts is not a scientific way to validate forecasts. In addition, the alarmists are either misrepresenting the facts or they are unaware of the literature…. More recently, nearly 32,000 scientists have disputed the claim of “scientific consensus” by signing the “Oregon Petition.”

As S&R has shown, the idea that the GWPP somehow disputes the overwhelming scientific consensus on the reality of industrial climate disruption is a false narrative, one which Armstrong and Green clearly buy into. Given that both men claim to be able to perform basic mathematics, it’s difficult to imagine how either would have failed to notice that the GWPP represents a tiny minority of the GWPP-selected scientific, technical, and medical degrees conferred between 1970 and 2013 (according to US Department of Education data) and a tiny minority of the individuals employed in those fields in 2013 (according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics). The best explanation for this oversight is that neither man was interested in testing the GWPP’s false narrative, either due to their own personal biases, intellectual laziness, or self-interest (or some combination of the three). By the time Armstrong and Green gave their testimony in 2011, the fact that the GWPP’s claims were false was common knowledge in evidence-based climate communities. [Note: S&R’s original investigation into the GWPP’s false claims was published in early August, 2009.]

And as with every one of the 11 Congress members who has mentioned the GWPP, Armstrong and Green mischaracterized the signers as “scientists,” rather than as individuals who have at least a BSc in one or more supposedly climate-related fields.

Future articles in this ongoing series will dive deeper into both Armstrong’s and Green’s references to the GWPP.

Senate testimony by Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore (Image credit: Ecosense.me)

Patrick Moore (Image credit: Ecosense.me)

Patrick Moore is a public relations consultant who lives in Vancouver, Canada. He was once a director of Greenpeace International and president of the Canadian branch of Greenpeace in the 1970s, but since his departure from Greenpeace his bio indicates that he has been a spokesman for various mining, energy, and forest products companies, among others. In 2013, he published “Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout,” of which Chapter 21 was excerpted for a statement before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on February 23, 2014.

In the excerpt, Moore talks about the NIPCC and how it had an appendix that listed all the names of the GWPP signers.

At the other end of this spectrum [from climate scientists who are convinced by the evidence that climate change is real] there is a considerable contingent of scientists and scholars, largely schooled in the earth and astronomical sciences, who believe climate is largely influenced by natural forces and cycles. They were not organized into an official body until 2007 when the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) was formed in Vienna. Led by atmospheric scientist Dr. Fred Singer, the NIPCC published “Climate Change Reconsidered,” a comprehensive scientific critique of the IPCC’s findings, in 2009. This report was signed by more than 31,000 American scientists and concluded, “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” Clearly there is no overwhelming consensus among scientists on the subject of climate. (footnotes removed, emphasis added)

There are at least three factual errors in these few sentences.

First, the NIPCC was not signed by “more than 31,000 American scientists” as Moore writes. The source of the names is the GWPP, a petition that had been collecting names for a decade before the NIPCC organized in 2007. Many of the individuals who had signed the GWPP had died before 2008, when the latest incarnation of the GWPP was published. And as the .pdf of the petition shows (see below), there is no place on the signature sheet to agree to sign the NIPCC document. Given these facts, claiming that the GWPP’s signers also signed the NIPCC is wrong.

GWPP_signer_sheet_12-5-15Second, the NIPCC did not conclude that there was “no convincing scientific evidence” of industrial climate disruption. As the image at right shows, the quote is actually from the text of the GWPP petition sheet (see highlighted region). A search of the NIPCC 2009 document finds this quote occurs exactly twice, neither of which is part of the document’s executive summary, findings, or conclusions. The first is on page vi of the preface (pdf page 8) when the petition text is quoted in reference to the content of Appendix A, where the GWPP is excerpted and the signers are listed. The second is at the beginning of Appendix A on page 739 (pdf page 751) in an image of Edward Teller’s signature card taken from the home page of the GWPP’s website, petitionproject.com. Claiming that this quote is from the NIPCC’s conclusions is wrong.

And third, neither the NIPCC nor the GWPP represent a counter-consensus against the large majority of scientists and climate experts who are convinced by the evidence that industrial climate disruption is real. As mentioned previously, the GWPP’s signers are a tiny minority of the total population of people that the GWPP asserts should have an informed opinion on climate change.

These factual errors are serious enough that they cast a dark shadow over Moore’s statement and the excerpted chapter of his book. The errors suggest that Moore is either ignorant of the facts as they pertain to the NIPCC and the GWPP or that Moore knowingly and dishonestly distorted those facts. Either option means that Moore cannot be trusted to be accurate when it comes to the NIPCC and the GWPP.

As citizens of the United States, we should expect that the laws that Congress write are based on facts and truth, not on errors and lies. Yet S&R has previously shown that 11 current Representatives and Senators and two former Representatives have repeatedly based their support or opposition to laws on errors and lies. In addition, S&R just showed that two additional Senators may also be inclined to believe the errors and lies even if they haven’t erred or lied themselves. Finally, we cannot expect our Congress members to be able to make good laws if the so-called “expert testimony” they receive is filled with errors and/or lies.

We see the evidence of legislating based on errors and lies not just in the Congressional Record, but also in recent actions in Congress. Representative Lamar Smith is presently engaged in the inquisition of a team of NOAA-employed scientists who published politically annoying research over the summer. And Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz will be grandstanding in an upcoming Senate hearing on whether nearly 200 years of scientific progress on the causes and consequences of climate change are “data or dogma.”

Congress is critical to addressing climate disruption, but they’re not the only group that is basing their decisions on errors and lies. After all, the Congress members (all of whom are Republicans) are representing their constituents and donors, and if those groups were acting on the basis of facts and truth, the Congress members would be doing the same. The next part of this series will dive into how the top conservative media websites report on the Global Warming Petition Project.

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