Heartland Institute billboard continues a long pattern of dishonesty

Update 5/15/2012: On either May 13th or 14th, The Heartland Institute moved the “Our Billboards” essay and an associated press release from the website associated with Heartland’s seventh International Climate Change Conference to the Press Releases portion of the main Heartland website. The essay was also renamed from “Our Billboards” to “‘Do You Still Believe in Global Warming?’ Billboards hit Chicago.” In addition, both documents have been backdated to May 3rd and 4th, the dates when they were published at their original home. The original link remains in the original post below, but the new links have been added here: “Our Billboards” essay and the billboard take-down press release.. In addition, Heartland president Joseph Bast has been identified as the author of the essay.

Part three of a series.

When The Heartland Institute launched their perverse billboard comparing climate realists to the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, they published an accompanying essay titled Our Billboards.” The essay continues their long history of dishonesty by repeating well-known errors as if they were true. In the process, Heartland demonstrates that they are being dishonest about Climategate, about the state of climate science and the IPCC, and even about Ted Kaczynski’s own views about human-driven climate disruption. Continue reading

Final CRU email review considers, overwhelmingly rejects critics’ accusations of misconduct

As a result of the unauthorized publication of nearly 1100 private emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in November, 2009, five separate inquiries were empaneled to look into whether or not the CRU researchers had committed research misconduct, broke Freedom of Information laws, or inappropriately biased the results of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) published in 2007. All four of the other reviews, two by Pennsylvania State University, one by the UK Parliament House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, and one by Lord Oxburgh of the Royal Society, concluded that the CRU scientists had not engaged in either scientific misconduct or the manipulation of the peer review process, although one inquiry found that the scientists hadn’t been as open with their data and methodologies as they should have been.

The last of the five reviews, the Independent Climate Change Email Review (ICCER), published its findings on July 7, 2010. In general terms, the ICCER found that the CRU scientists’ “rigor and honesty” were not in doubt and that there was no “evidence of behavior that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.” However, the ICCER found that there was a “consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness” with respect to sharing data. These broad conclusions largely agree with the conclusions of all four of the other inquiries. Continue reading

Climate scientists still besieged

S&R interviewed Martin Vermeer, first author of a recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper on sea level rise, about how much context the published CRU emails contained. In addition to answering questions about the emails’ context, Vermeer pointed out that some of the context “bears the mark of a scientific community under a politically-motivated siege.” Gavin Schmidt, climate researcher at the Goddard Institute for Space Sciences, agreed with Vermeer when asked. As a result, S&R examined interviews conducted with climate scientists and critics for evidence that climate scientists and climate research were besieged at present. Not surprisingly, there was a great deal of evidence that climate scientists remain besieged today. Evidence includes false claims made against scientists for work done on the IPCC Third Assessment Report, erroneous and/or unsupported claims made against several scientists involved in the writing of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, and unreasonable claims of bias against the CRU email inquiries performed to date. Continue reading

Climate disruption will likely be worse due to insufficient soil nitrogen

When you plant a garden, you need good dirt, seeds, water, and some kind of fertilizer, whether it be manure, compost, mulch, or granules you buy from your local nursery. Anyone who’s gardened for more than a few years knows that it’s good to fertilize your garden every so often because, eventually, the garden plants stop growing as well as they used to. This happens because the plants slowly consume nutrients in the soil that need to be replaced by some form of fertilizer. The same basic thing happens with cultivated crops regardless of whether they’re grown in fields or greenhouses – eventually, the soil nutrients are depleted and need to be replenished.

Unlike gardens and crops, wild plants lack human caretakers providing fertilizer. Wild plants have to scrounge for their soil nutrients wherever and however they can get them, and it is often the case that soil nutrients, especially nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, limit how fast forests, grasslands, etc. can grow. A paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters shows that the availability of soil nutrients will probably limit how much human-emitted carbon dioxide (CO2) plants can absorb. This limit will prevent plants from absorbing as much CO2 as climate scientists have modeled, and so global warming will likely be worse than current projections. Continue reading

Oh Noes!!11! Glacirs not meltin. Mak IPCC bad!

In case you haven’t heard, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is dead, done in by the nefarious failure to check a single reference in a 3000 page report. Or rather, that’s what climate disruption deniers want you to think. Here’s what’s really going on.

Back in 2007, Working Group 2 (WG2) of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) put together a large list of what climate disruption was likely to impact around the world. One of the impacts was reduced availability of fresh water due to rapidly melting glaciers around the world, and especially in the Himalayas. One of the specific claims was that all Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035, an amazingly and likely unrealistically fast rate of melting. After an Indian government minister questioned this claim, scientists looked into it and found that the date was incorrect and that internal procedures for vetting references weren’t followed in this particular case. As as result, the IPCC has issued a formal statement of apology for the error.

And if this were about any other topic except climate disruption, that would be the end of it. Continue reading

Two new studies point to significant ice melt-driven sea level rise this century

laseralticesheet-smIn 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) refused to stake a firm position on how fast and how high sea levels would rise. The IPCC claimed that, while there was widespread agreement on sea level rise due to thermal expansion of seawater, scientists did not yet know enough about how the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica would respond to climate disruption. The science has advanced considerably since 2007 and the majority of the new results (for example, this paper, this paper, and this consensus statement from earlier this year) have confirmed that the IPCC estimates were too low.

Two recent studies measuring different changes on the Greenland and Antarctic ice shelves have added more evidence that sea levels are going to rise higher and faster than the IPCC estimates. One used highly accurate measurements of the changes in ice sheet thickness to estimate how much ice was exiting the ice caps on Greenland and Antarctica via glaciers dumping ice into the ocean. The other used the GRACE gravity measurement satellites to estimate the total amount of mass being lost from Antarctica. Both found significant losses in ice, but GRACE found something more significant – a loss of ice mass from the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, a mass of ice that was previously believed to be stable or even adding ice mass. Continue reading

Trust us – we're smarter than you: climate and Superfreakonomics

sstAug24-09 Back in 2005, self-described “rogue economist” Steven D. Levitt teamed up with journalist Stephen J. Dubner to write Freakonomics, a book that rose to #2 on the NY Times Nonfiction Bestseller List based largely on the controversial topics within its covers. Some of those topics included analyses of cheating by teachers, the economics of being a crack cocaine dealer, and the impact of legalized abortion on the crime rate. Levitt and Dubner (hereafter L&D) have recently published a second book, Superfreakonomics, and even before it was published it had made a huge splash in climate circles over its last chapter (Chapter 5 – “What do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo have in common?”), the one that attempts to tackle climate disruption.

I’m greatly troubled by the content of Chapter 5, but only partly because of the many factual errors that L&D made. Continue reading

Insuring the world against climate disruption (Blog Action Day)

money burning earthImagine that in a few years you wake up to news reports on the radio that your town is under a flash flood watch. The ground has been so baked by the recent drought that water can’t soak in, and so the pounding rain is just flowing off into streams and filling low-lying areas.

What’s worse is you’ve got a pediatrician appointment today for both of your kids – their asthma is acting up and the drugs aren’t working as well as they should be. Furthermore, your son is still recovering from a case of malaria he picked up, probably from a mosquito bite he got during the pee wee football game by the reservoir a couple of months ago. At least the rains will damp down on your environmental allergies some today. Better rain, even flooding, than the dust storm that blew through the area a couple of weeks ago. That caused several major pileups and fouled up ventilation so bad that some of the buildings downtown are still closed..

As you pull together breakfast for the family, there’s no milk because it’s too expensive. Continue reading

31,478… 13,245… 152 OISM "scientists" can't be wrong

robinsonIn early 2008, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM) published their Petition Project, a list of names from people who all claimed to be scientists and who rejected the science behind the theory of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming (AGW). This was an attempt to by the OISM to claim that there were far more scientists opposing AGW theory than there are supporting it. This so-called petition took on special importance coming after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report, and specifically the Working Group 1 (WG1) report on the science and attribution of climate change to human civilization.

The WG1 report was authored and reviewed by approximately 2000 scientists with varying expertise in climate and related fields, and so having a list of over 30,000 scientists that rejected the WG1’s conclusions was a powerful meme that AGW skeptics and deniers could use to cast doubt on the IPCC’s conclusions and, indirectly, on the entire theory of climate disruption. And in fact, this meme has become widespread in both legacy and new media today.

It is also false. Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: carbon dioxide lifetime 50-100x longer than generally reported


There is a great deal of confusion regarding how long carbon dioxide (CO2) persists in the atmosphere. There are at least two reasons for this. The first reason is that there are multiple physical and biological processes that combine to remove CO2 from the air and they behave differently and at different speeds. The second reason is that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has changed how it describes the lifetime of CO2 in the Summary for Policymakers twice over the course of four assessment reports. And since most politicians and media don’t dive deeper into the assessment reports than the summaries, some confusion is reasonable, if unfortunate.

A new paper titled Atmospheric Lifetime of Fossil-Fuel Carbon Dioxide and reported on by Nature Reports aims to describe and understand the confusion over the lifetime of CO2. Continue reading