Much ado about nothing.

The consistent attempts by a well organised and well funded denialist movement have recently focused on the sources of information used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Through an transparent set of guidelines to how to deal with literature (the next set of guidelines are about to be published in preparation for AR5), the IPCC has referenced the thousands of scientific papers to gain the latest consensus view on climate and related sciences.  This stands in contrast to the lack of scrutiny, credibility or honesty of the principal champions of denialist viewpoint.  In that case, when one looks at Carter, Bolt, Minchin, Lehr, Joyce, Monckton and Plimer, we see a series of individuals pushing crazy ideas about scientific conspiracy and a Communist world takeover.

Several denialists have focused on a report that came out of a research contract that I undertook for the international conservation group, Greenpeace (click here to download the report).  This relatively short report brought together a number of experts to examine how changes to the health of coral reefs as result of coral bleaching might affect coastal people in 13 Pacific countries. It was written by a series of experts with years of experience, high credibility and tons of peer reviewed publications in the area.  Peer review of the report involved be following appropriate Pacific experts:

·         Dr Mahendra Reddy, Lecturer in Development Studies, University of the South Pacific, Suva.
·         Mr Lionel Gibson, Geography Department, University of the South Pacific, Suva.
·         Mr Joeli Veitayaki, Coordinator, Marine Affairs Programme University of the South Pacific, Suva.

Two individuals (one from Greenpeace) read the report for consistency and to ensure we had fulfilled the contract.

Our report was referenced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in chapter 4 of the Working Group II report for the fourth assessment.  While Greenpeace was the contracting organisation, they had no influence over the analysis or conclusions.  And just like any other organisations that I undertake expert contracts with (which includes partnerships with Rio Tinto, the Australian government, and many others) the analysis and conclusions are those of the research team, and those alone.   Given that the report had been independently peer-reviewed, then it would be appropriate to the IPCC to use it, if it contains useful information.

So, once again it seems we have yet another case of desperation from the denialist movement – cherry picking around the edges and ignoring the hundreds if not thousands lines of evidence that support the notion that our climate is changing and the impacts are likely to be considerable and vast.

4 thoughts on “Much ado about nothing.

  1. Ove, I would like to find out more about the ” well organised and well funded denialist movement”. Do you think you could point out any sceptic who has the kind of high-powered funding that has flowed to Jones’s group at East Anglia, or to Mann’s group at Penn State? Do you have any citations that I could look up?

    I’m not saying that you’re wrong, but merely that the evidence of the funding has escaped my attention so far, while Mann and Jones seem to be rolling in money.

  2. Hi Anson – Just a thought here: 1) Mann & Jones aren’t ‘rolling in money’ per se – it’s research funding, not personal salaries. Being a scientist really isn’t that profitable! Unlike, say, being a sceptic like Lord Monckton, who was given a $20,000 stipend for his fortnight in Australia. The research groups of Mann & Jones work hard for research funding, whereas sceptic’s like Monckton rely on highly questionable interpretations of other people’s research, and pseudoscience from people like Plimer. 2) It’s misleading to compare the two groups in terms of funding sources – Mann & Jones use research funding (and alot of it) for science, whereas sceptic groups (oh, Heartland Institute, CO2 Science, you name it) have no overheads, as they don’t do any primary research or indeed any science at all. It doesn’t take much co-ordination, effort or indeed funding to coordinate and lodge multiple FOI requests in an attempt to derail a scientific research group (it requires less money and is much easier to tear down a house than to build it). As for sceptic funding, hit Sourcewatch.

  3. Hi Anson … one of the estimates is that denialists received $450 million in 2008 from fossil fuel interests to fuel their activities. In a recent article (which I may post in full), ExxonMobil was identified as a key player, having “donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past few years to climate change sceptics. The Atlas Foundation, created by the late Sir Anthony Fisher (founder of the Institute of Economic Affairs), received more than $100,000 in 2008 from ExxonMobil, according to the oil company’s reports.” Other sources have pointed out that Ian PLimer has received over $3 million shares from mining interests in Australia, a little compromising if he is trying to shop the idea that he is an independent voice!

  4. Thanks, Ove.
    I was glad to see your more recent report of Greenpeace’s analysis of Koch Industries expenditures. That’s a lot of money.

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