Climategategate

Today’s climate change debate is stoked by news of a “leaked” attempt by the so-called Heartland Institute to create a K-12 curriculum on climate change that appears to undermine the generally accepted science.

Discover’s Bad Astronomy blog says the documents appear to be legit:

[Dr. Wojick’s] effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science.

That seems clear enough, doesn’t it? From that, it sure sounds like they want to dissuade teachers from teaching science. I imagine there will be a lot of spin about how this quote is out of context, or a typo, or something alone those lines. Perhaps. But I remember all the hammering real scientists took when they used jargon in their emails to each other, jargon which was gleefully misinterpreted to make it seem as if these scientists were faking data. Interesting how this is pointing right back at them. Just as I said it does.

When it comes to all this, the comparison to “Climategate” springs to mind, but there’s one enormous difference: Climategate was manufactured, a made-up controversy (what I call a manufactroversy) that had no real teeth — as was its failed sequel. The emails released weren’t damning at all, and didn’t show scientists tinkering with or faking data. As much as the media made of it, as much as climate change denial blogs played them up, it has been shown again and again that Climategate was all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

These new documents, though, look different, especially given that quote above. The next few days should be very interesting as people start digging into them, especially if they prove to be authentic.

In a memo, the group says it’s creating the curriculum because principals and teachers have adopted “the alarmist perspective,” which — if this memo is legit — is a phrase used as a substitute for another one — “science.”

The site, Deep Climate, carries segments of the report that identify potential friendly media personalities to spread the word:

Efforts at places such as Forbes are especially important now that they have begun to allow highprofile climate scientists (such as Gleick) to post warmist science essays that counter our own. This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out. Efforts might also include cultivating more neutral voices with big audiences (such as Revkin at DotEarth/NYTimes, who has a well-known antipathy for some of the more extreme AGW communicators such as Rornm, Trenberth, and Hansen) or Curry (who has become popular with our supporters). We have also pledged to help raise around $90,000 in 2012 for Anthony Watts to help him create a new website to track temperature station data.

Not yet clear in the still-developing controversy is how widespread it is that curricula created by outside organizations are adopted by schools, and what science is applied to vetting them (if any).

  • Jim Shapiro

    There is no longer a debate among intelligent individuals as to whether or not climate change is occurring.

    Even some republicans have conceded the fact, and have simply moved the goalpost to say that it’s not proven that the changes are a result of human behavior, or that sure, we’re doing it, but what price progress or economic stability?

    I think the vital issue regarding educating the young on climate change is how to instill an awareness of the importance of conscientious energy use and methods, without sending the message that we’re inevitably doomed.

  • Mark Gisleson

    More interesting than this discovery will be what the right wing media does with it. I’m guessing Fox viewers will NEVER hear about this.

    And, contrary to what local conservatives think, I suspect the Red Star over in Minneapolis will never report on this either, just as they’ve refused to cover the Ed Hansen/Confederate flag flap in West St. Paul.

    The truth is out there, but in a world where five media corporations control our media and all are controlled by conservative monied interests, it’s amazing how many “true facts” never rise to newsworthiness.

    (thanks for covering this as I’d given up on seeing this story anywhere but in the liberal blogs)

  • Heather

    Why are some people so bent on keeping kids IGNORANT?

  • James

    Heather, they need the company!

  • Duke Powell

    The “so-called Heartland Institute” issued a statement yesterday claiming that the document quoted by News Cut is a fraud.

    New Cut’s effort in documenting the story seems limited to reading some blog claiming the information “appear(s) to be legit.”

    This reader has no idea whether the information contained in the post is true or not. What I am pretty sure of, however, is that MPR so wanted the story to be true that it ignored its ethical responsibilities to the “so-called Heartland Institute.”

    But, what the heck. They are conservatives funded by the Koch Brothers. We all know conservatives are kooks and their beliefs deserve only to be mocked.

  • Bob Collins

    Actually, Duke, the group claimed one of the documents is incorrect. It acknowledged, however, that documents had, in fact,” been stolen.”

    “We intend to find this person and see him or her put in prison for these crimes,” the organization said.

  • Duke Powell

    The quotes that are purported to come from Heartland all come from the memo that they claim is a fraud.

    Subtract those quotes and the ensuing discussion from you, Bad Astronomy and Big Climate and you don’t have a story.

  • GregS

    MPR waited weeks to report ClimateGate. It waited minutes to report the Heartland Incident. This says something. It also explains why conservative cannot trust public broadcasting.

    In both cases, you got the story wrong.

    In ClimateGate you failed to report that CRU scientists, who were also IPCC lead authors, willing violated the law to hide information. The British Information Commissioner’s Office could not have been clearer on this. The only reason the scientists were not prosecuted was the ridiculously short statute of limitations on the crime: six months.

    In the Heatland case you cited an amateurishly contrived document that Heartland has officially said is a fabrication.

    We expect better of public broadcasting.

  • Bob Collins

    //It waited minutes

    If by “minutes” you mean “more than 24 hours,” then, yes, I guess that’s true.

  • GregS

    //If by “minutes” you mean “more than 24 hours,” then, yes, I guess that’s true. – Bob Collins

    Less than 24 hours, not more.

    The documents hit the web on Feb 14 at 6PM CST. This post was published at Feb 15 at 11:13 AM.

    Allowing time for the NEWSCUT staff to sleep, my characterization is more accurate than yours. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for fact checking does it.

    By the way, Heartland announced yesterday that the quote NEWSCUTS used were a fabrication, Didn’t anyone bother to research this?

    However, this still does not explain the discrepancy between siting on the biggest story of the decade (the fate of the earth and global economy) and a minor partisan flap like this.

  • Bob Collins

    I think Paul Huttner hit it correctly last night when he noted that there is the science of climate change and there is the politics of climate change and the two are not the same, indicating that the time of questioning the science of climate change has long passed, leaving only the politics of climate change.

    That most of the “denier” community are also mostly hard core political partisans, I think that’s probably an accurate description.

  • Mark Gisleson

    Mr. Powell, thank you for getting me to do some research on this matter. Yes, the Heartland Institute says “one” of the documents is fake, the one that outlines strategy.

    But one thing about that: everything mentioned in that memo is repeated in other memos, memos the Heartland Institute has not disavowed.

    The Koch brothers have played fast and loose with democracy their whole lives and this is hardly the first time their ultra-right agenda has been outed.

    Shame on all of us for letting them get away with it, again and again.

  • GregS

    //That most of the “denier” community are also mostly hard core political partisans, I think that’s probably an accurate description. – Bob Collins

    Bob, it is best that you say nothing at all on this subject. You are so clearly out of the loop that you come off as ridiculous. Your views have been exclusively shaped by one side of the debate.

    Here is a remedial lesson on the politics of climate change.

    What do climate alarmists believe? (read the IPCC)

    1) The earth has been warming since the 18th century.

    2) Carbon-dioxide is a green-house gas.

    3) Humans are largely responsible for increases in carbon-dioxide.

    4) A doubling of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere will increase global temperatures 1C (about the average annual temperature difference between Coon Rapids and Shakopee)

    5) Increase CO2 will dramatically increase water-vapor in the upper-troposphere which will amplify CO2 forcing by a factor of two or three (they are not sure) This is would be catastrophic and therefore the world’s economy must be radically reworked.

    What do the skeptics believe?

    1) The earth has been warming since the 18th century.

    2) Carbon-dioxide is a green-house gas.

    3) Humans are largely responsible for increases in carbon-dioxide.

    4) A doubling of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere will increase global temperatures 1C (about the average annual temperature difference between Coon Rapids and Shakopee)

    5) Water vapor amplification is an unproven hypothesis – not science.

  • GregS

    I respectfully ask that MPR cease using the term “denier”. It is a derogatory term intended to demean a group. It is just a derogatory as the terms used to demean Gays, Blacks, Native Americans, Asians and Hispanics.

    I would ask that MPR’s stylebook and code of ethics be updated accordingly.

  • Mark Gisleson

    Not really into defending Bob, but I think his point was that the climate change deniers are politically motivated. Cue GregS anonymously posting a defense of climate change denial.

    Also ran across an interesting hypothesis about the “fake” memo. Not only does ALL of the information in it appear in uncontested memos, but the different method of distributing the strategy memo just happens to conform with what you would do if you were trying not to leave a digital “paper” trail.

    In saner country, Congress would be investigating this (and who knows? Inhofe and Issa might investigate the leakers because no good deed should ever go unpunished). Sadly, we don’t live in a sane country and the only coverage of this scandal is in the foreign press and news blogs. Neither the Star Tribune or PiPress have found this story newsworthy.

    Seriously, try to find this story in a mainstream, so-called liberal newspaper (and good luck with that).

  • GregS

    //Seriously, try to find this story in a mainstream, so-called liberal newspaper (and good luck with that). – Mark Gisleson

    You mean like the stories that appeared in the New York Times and UK Guardian within a heartbeat of the initial release?

  • Mar

    I said this story was only in the foreign press and blogs, and the NYT mention was a blog. But checking back with the Times I see another story was added to their online edition late yesterday so I stand corrected although I’m not sure it ran in their print edition.

    Your use of the word “heartbeat” is rather calculated and not at all accurate but quite consistent with spin.

    Still don’t see this story in either of the local dailies, or hardly any other U.S. newspapers, yet the mainstream so-called liberal media gave tons of coverage to the phoney flapdoodle over the Climategate memos (in which scientists failed to reference the bogus change deniers’ claims with sufficient respect while getting all other facts exactly right).

    I suppose it would be too much to ask you if you live in Minnesota or who you work for? (I appreciate that some people need to be anonymous but you do seem to be right on top of the latest pro-Koch talking points….) FWIW, I’m just a liberal crank from Midway who reads a lot and writes for a living (resumes, not news stories). Nothing I’ve mentioned here was emailed to me or came from the DNC or White House.

  • Mark Gisleson

    Oops. Not sure how I accidentally truncated my name on the previous comment, but it’s mine.

  • GregS

    //yet the mainstream so-called liberal media gave tons of coverage to the phoney flapdoodle over the Climategate memos.

    Excuse me? The revelations that several of the IPCC lead authors deliberately broke the law is a “phoney flapdoodle”.

    I’d hate to hear how you would characterize WaterGate. After all, it was just a minor flap over a two-bit burglary. Right? “Nothing to see here folks, move along.”

    Speaking of spin, let’s all remember who the Climate Research Unit hired to spin away their troubles. I believe Neil Wallis of Outside Organisation was arrested last July in connection with the phone-hacking scandal.

    Fine fella there. Gee, I wonder if he is behind FakeGate. I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Who do I work for?

    I am just a humble civil servant which I suppose would make me an owner of Exxon-Mobile since MSRS and PERA are heavily vested in the evil fossil fuel industry.

  • Mark from St Paul

    GregS, I’ve written and discarded about three replies to you. The truth is that I can’t rebut your politics in less than a couple thousand words because debunking any part of the paranoid conspiracies you buy into requires debunking them in their entirety, and you have obviously invested a lot of time in this political sim world of yours.

    Climategate has been disproven. It was a manufactured scandal created by . . . the Heartland Institute!

    Clearly, you’re not going to read the current memos objectively when you’re still buying into old stories that have been disproven everywhere but on Fox News. But if you google “climategate hoax” all the details are there (as well as the usual dissemblers like the UK Telegraph). But if you dismiss all media not owned by Rupert Murdoch as untrustworthy, well, you’ll just go on believing in the world according to Roger Ailes.

    Good luck with that.

  • GregS

    //Clearly, you’re not going to read the current memos objectively when you’re still buying into old stories that have been disproven everywhere but on Fox News.

    Really?

    Gosh, I wonder how a little Chicago think-tank pulled this one off?

    On Dec 10, 2010, The United Kingdom Information Commissioner’s Office issued the following ruling in response to the ClimageGate scandal..

    //”The complainant made a number of requests for information related to the involvement of some of the public authority’s staff in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Commissioner has found that the public authority breached regulation 14(2) of the EIR by failing to provide a response to a request within 20 working days and breached regulation 5(2) by failing to provide a response to other requests.”//

    Remember “Please delete all emails related to…”? My friend, that is called criminal conspiracy.

    The only reason that several of the IPCC lead authors who were employed by the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, escaped criminal penalties is because the statute of limitations for FOI violations is six months.

  • Mark Gisleson

    “The only reason that several of the IPCC lead authors who were employed by the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, escaped criminal penalties is because the statute of limitations for FOI violations is six months.”

    That appears to be your unsupported conclusion. GregS, you obviously have your Heartland cap on and I’m sure your heart is in the right place, but as usual you are focusing on allegations, and ignoring all the evidence that’s been presented in response to those Heartland-manufactured allegations.

    All significant bodies with oversight over government and university scientists have exonerated the “Climategate” scientists, finding their science to be solid even if some of their PRIVATE emails occasionally exhibit irritation with their factless critics. Not because the statue of limitations ran out, but because there was no there there.

  • Mark Gisleson

    AP’s science reporter has verified the accuracy of the leaked Heartland memos:

    http://www.wral.com/news/science/story/10741778/

    Of possible interest to GregS is the AP’s description of the Heartland Institute as “one of the loudest voices denying man-made global warming.”

  • GregS

    //That appears to be your unsupported conclusion. GregS

    I supported my conclusion with the legal finding of the ICO. I am not sure how anyone can do better than that.

    Strike One…

    //All significant bodies with oversight over government and university scientists have exonerated the “Climategate” scientists,

    To be exonerated of criminal wrong-doing, one has to be investigated of criminal wrong doing. Each of the white-wash commissions explicitly refused to investigate criminal wrong doing. It would be like exonerating Al Capone after explicitly refusing to investigate him for murder, bootlegging, arson, prostitution, gambling and tax-evasion.

    The ICO which you conveniently neglect to mention, found criminal wrong-doing. However, the statute of limitation had run out therefore no one was prosecuted.

    Strike Two..

    //finding their science to be solid

    True, the commissions declared the science that the CRU asked them to investigate as solid. However, it is usually the custom of investigative bodies to investigate the issues in question rather than what the suspect asks to be investigated. Again, it would be like asking Al Capone which of his businesses need looking into – then declaring him honest as a result.

    Strike Three.

    //even if some of their PRIVATE emails occasionally exhibit irritation with their factless critics.

    Sorry, every keystroke at work belongs to your employer. There is no expectation of privacy, thus nothing was private and all the emails were public property and subject to FOI.

    Case in point, the very first thing lawyers ask for in an environmental lawsuit is ALL the emails. No exceptions.

  • Mark Gisleson

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_email_controversy

    I’ve just wasted an afternoon chasing after your citations and I’m finding NOTHING on the ICO’s involvement other than passing mentions, but I am finding overwhelming and detailed rejections of your arguments at Wikipedia.

    But your passion for this does amaze me, and if you weren’t anonymous, I’d salute you for your diligence. But since you are posting anonymously, I’ll simply quit now and wonder if you really are a disinterested third party, or a paid disinformation specialist.

  • GregS

    //but I am finding overwhelming and detailed rejections of your arguments at Wikipedia.

    Why? Oh why couldn’t you find any damning references to ClimateGate on wikipedia? After all, wikipedia is the world’s most authoritive source of information.

    Gee, could it be because of Mr. William Connolley, partner and confidant of several of climateGate’s more notorious felons? Connolley is now barred from Wikipedia – but his acolytes are still very active.

    Here is what the National Post’s Lawrence Solomon wrote about the Orwellian Mr. Connolley.

    Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known – Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the band members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site.

    He rewrote Wikipedia’s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug.11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act

    with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions.

  • Mark Gisleson

    Aha! Finally wised up and started searching for the actual quotes you’re using. Your attack on Wikipedia is courtesy of a UK Telegraph blog, The UK Telegraph is not highly regarded by most folks who think of journalism as a calling and not something you hack out between paychecks. The author, James Delingpole, is perhaps best known for his book on how environmentalists are killing our planet.

    Wikipedia administrators, btw, are mostly volunteers and subject to strict peer review so if Mr. Connolley is no longer an administrator, that would indicate that — if you are correct about his work — the Wikipedia peer review process works as Mr. Connolley has been removed.

    Also, the article you’re quoting from is from 2009, so it really cannot speak to anything but the initial highly orchestrated and over-hyped accusations.

    I also appreciate that you cannot be exonerated unless you have been thoroughly investigated and, as any student of history knows, you rarely get the truth from the accused without pincers and tongs and the accoutrements found in properly equipped dungeons. All the appropriate oversight bodies found no crime to investigate. Period.

    GregS, if you’re not getting paid for this, you’re doing a remarkable job of simulating the work of a paid oil industry troll.

  • GregS

    //Your attack on Wikipedia is courtesy of a UK Telegraph blog – Mark

    No, my comments on Wikipedia were supported by an article in The National Post by Lawrence Solomon. You should have been tipped off to this by my clear and unambiguous citation.

    //GregS, if you’re not getting paid for this, you’re doing a remarkable job of simulating the work of a paid oil industry troll.

    The reason we are having this exchange is because climate evangelists do not understand their opponents – and thus under-estimate them. This explains why they are so willing to believe in conspiracies. It also explains why they are so unconvinced upon failing to find a conspiracy that they feel compelled to create one.

    Case in point, The Heartland documents.

    I am very comfortable with you believing me to be a paid tool of the evil fossil fuel industry because the impulse to grasp for that straw only confirms my estimation of the shallowness and lack of knowledge common to the climate faithful.

    Rather than engage in silly conspiracies, why not pick the IPCC AR4 report and read it? It is long, it is dry but after a while it gets very entertaining. You will soon find yourself muttering, “Oh my god, is that all they got?”

    Here is a tip, when the IPCC speaks about “certainty”, ask the obvious question that any green-behind-the-ears analyst would ask, “how do you arrive at your level of certainty?”

    The subsequent stammering and silence is mind-blowing.

  • Mark Gisleson

    http://tinyurl.com/76xrd52

    I think this article explains all of this better than our endless debate. When you get around to acknowledging the science, maybe we can talk about the scientists some more. And maybe I’ll even read that report, a report I’ve read dozens of summaries of, the report that said there was no there there.

    And then I’m sure you’ll have another lengthy report for me to read, and then another, and another, none of which will say one word about climate warming not being good science, just more sniping from the fringes trying to make the case that it’s always about something else and that our fossil fuel-driven economy is just fine.

    Good science will always be trumped by big money.

  • GregS

    //Good science will always be trumped by big money

    That is precisely what the skeptics have been saying since Enron first bankrolled the anthropological global warming movement twenty years ago.

    When Enron went bust and Leyman Brothers picked up the gauntlet we continued to say it.

    Now we have Goldman-Sachs using the AGW movement to leverage a potential $20 Trillion dollar carbon-trading industry.

    That is why the chairman of the board of the world’s largest environmental group WWF is from Goldman-Sachs. It is why the CEO of the largest environmental group in the US is from Goldman-Sachs.

    Seriously, do you really think Exxon-Mobile, Shell and BP are threatened by the prospect of windmills and solar panels taking away their business?

    Get real, they make more money off windmill and solar panel subsidies than anyone else.

    They fear, and justly so, that when Goldman-Sachs gets the bit in its teeth – their profits will become Goldman-Sach’s profits.

    None of this will bring us “clean energy” because windmills and solar panels are not economically sustainable. Every time a windmill spins or the sun hits a solar panel, the government has to borrow money from China to subsidy the people who own it.

    What Goldman-Sachs wants is to be paid in carbon-trading credits every time a windmill spins or the sun hits a solar panel.

    THAT my friend is what this whole thing is about and there never was and never will be science to justify it.

  • Duke Powell

    Well now.

    The plot thickens.

    Will be interested in seeing how long it takes for News Cut to start walking the Climategategate story back

  • Bob Collins

    Duke, you have to drive by more often. Check the “climategategategate” post. The AP independently confirmed the substance of all the memos.

  • Duke Powell

    I’m not particularly smart, but one could see this coming from a mile away.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/02/climate-gleick-out-update-plot-thickens.php