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Climate Hustle

DenialGate Highlights Heartland's Selective NIPCC Science

Posted on 18 February 2012 by dana1981

DenialGate - the leaked internal documents from the climate science denying think tank Heartland Institute - has given us a small glimpse into the operations of the climate denial movement.  Funds from a few wealthy individuals and corporations are funneled to these think tanks (and Heartland is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak; there are dozens of similar anti-climate science think tanks), which in turn use those funds in attempts to delay climate policy and misinform school children.  While the end goal of those climate action delay tactics may be in the best short-term economic interests of those wealthy donors, they also bring us one step closer to ensuring that we all will have to face the harmful consequences of climate change, particularly those children who they seek to misinform by 'teaching the controversy' in our schools.

However, while this rare glimpse into the climate denial money machine is fascinating, we must not lose sight of the body of climate science evidence.  Examining what the full body of scientific evidence says about various climate myths is our main purpose at Skeptical Science.  As such, we felt this would be a good time to take another look at one of the quasi-scientific products of the Heartland Institute, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) report.

The IPCC Report

First, a few words about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reportThe IPCC report is one of the most impressive, comprehensive scientific documents in existence.  Every ~5 to 7 years, the IPCC invites some of the world's best climate scientists to contribute to the report, putting together a chapter on their respective fields of expertise.  The climate scientists contribute their time pro bono, putting their own research projects on hold and locking themselves away for weeks on end, compiling all the up-to-date research and summarizing it in their assigned chapters.  The climate scientists are willing to do this without pay because it is an honor to contribute to the monumental end product that is the IPCC report.

(Note: this is the same reason why so many people donate their efforts to Skeptical Science, despite tinfoil hat climate denialist conspiracy theories that our website is secretly funded by billionaire Nazi conspirators)

There have been a few "-gates" associated with minor errors found in the IPCC report.  The only one of note involved the date by which certain Himalayan glaciers would melt.  However, the IPCC report is actually comprised of three separate reports by three working groups, and no significant errors have yet been identified in the primary report, The Physical Science Basis.  That so few errors have been identified in the many-thousand-page IPCC reports, and none in its physical science basis, is a testament to the quality of the report and the robustness of the human-caused global warming theory.

The NIPCC Report

Then there is the NIPCC report, which is sometimes referred to as "Not the IPCC report," and for good reason; the NIPCC report is everything the IPCC report is not.  For starters, the goals of the reports fundamentally differ.  The purpose of the IPCC report is:

"to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts....The IPCC is a scientific body. It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change."

On the other hand, according to the Heartland 2012 budget plan, the purpose of the NIPCC report is to critique the IPCC report.  According to the Heartland 2012 Fundraising Plan, its purpose is to create a rebuttal to the IPCC report.

In short, the purpose of the IPCC report is to accurately summarize the most up-to-date state of climate science research and understanding, whereas the purpose of the NIPCC report is to try and poke holes in the IPCC report (unsuccessfully, as we will see below).

Second, unlike the IPCC report, the scientists contributing to the NIPCC report are paid for their efforts.  The overall Heartland budget for the NIPCC reports from 2010 to 2013 is nearly $1.6 million ($388,000 in both 2011 and 2012), with $460,000 going to the lead authors and contributors ($140,000 in both 2011 and 2012).  The 2011 Interim NIPCC report has 3 lead authors (Craig Idso, Fred Singer, and Robert Carter) and 8 contributors (Susan Crockford, Joe D'Aleo, Indur Goklany, Sherwood Idso, Anthony Lupo, Willie Soon, Mitch Taylor, and Madhav Khandekar), most of whom also receive a monthly salary from the Heartland Institute.

Note that Heartland is not the only think tank contributing to the NIPCC report; the Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (CSCDGC) and Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) are both listed as contributors on the document's front cover

Basically these scientists are paid with the specific goal of arguing against the scientific evidence in the IPCC report, whereas the only goal of the IPCC authors is to produce an accurate, comprehensive review of the climate science literature.  Indeed, this represents the biggest difference between the IPCC and NIPCC: the former is a comprehensive literature review, while the latter is a very select literature review.

The NIPCC Selective Vision

The NIPCC report exclusively examines the literature published by climate "skeptics," whereas the IPCC report examines the work of both "skeptics" and mainstream climate scientists.  For example, the 2011 NIPCC report has a section about climate sensitivity - how much the planet will warm in response to increasing CO2 emissions.  Climate sensitivity is one of the most important climate science issues, especially for climate "skeptics", whose arguments for climate inaction depend entirely on low climate sensitivity.  It tells us how much we can expect the planet to warm, depending on how much CO2 we emit in the future.

However, the 2011 NIPCC report only devoted one sub-section (and one page) to the subject of climate sensitivity, and only referenced four scientific studies on the subject (one of which is the debunked Lindzen and Choi [2009]; a second was specific to high-latitude, not global sensitivity; a third was published in a journal of dubious quality over a decade ago; and the fourth does not support low sensitivity).  The IPCC report on the other hand devotes several sections to the subject (i.e. here and here and here) and references dozens of peer-reviewed studies investigating the question of climate sensitivity.  It's a clear difference between comprehensive and selective reviews.

As another example, the 2009 NIPCC report has an entire sub-section devoted to global warming "fingerprints," and yet it only discusses one - the tropical troposphere "hot spot" (a part of the atmosphere expected to warm particularly fast as a result of global warming).  The NIPCC report has no mention of the many actual fingerprints of human-caused global warming which have been observed (Skeptical Science discusses 10 here).  Instead, the NIPCC focuses on the one fingerprint which may be missing, even though it's a fingerprint of any global warming, and is not specific to human-caused warming.

Climate scientists Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt have also documented a number of the long-debunked climate myths propagated in previous NIPCC reports, which we have rebutted by examining the full body of scientific literature at Skeptical Science (click the links below for the myth debunkings):

In addition to being long-debunked myths, several of these arguments contradict each other.  For example, arguing that the planet isn't warming, but it's warming because of the sun, and it's warming because of natural cycles, and warming is good anyway.  The report also argues that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was warmer than today; however, if the planet is sensitive to the factors which caused the MWP, then it's also sensitive to greenhouse gas changes, which contradicts the "climate sensitivity is low" argument.


To sum up, IPCC mainstream climate science is about taking an accurate, comprehensive view of the entire body of climate science evidence, which inevitably leads to the conclusion that humans are causing dangerously rapid global warming.  The overall strength of the evidence supporting the human-caused global warming theory is the reason the scientific consensus exists.

Rather than taking this sort of broad overall view of the scientific evidence, the Heartland Institute pays its scientists to disregard most climate science research and focus exclusively on the few "skeptic" studies which support their very narrow focus on poking holes in the IPCC report.

The difference between the two groups could not be more clear.

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Comments 1 to 42:

  1. Joe Bast has written a rebuttal to a New York Times article on deniergate. It contains two paragraphs which show the complete dishonesty and misinformation which is Heartland's stock in trade.

    The first is about DW's "education" project:

    "Actually, we’re sharing the real opinions of real scientists on the causes, consequences, and likely future trajectory of climate change, and of economists and other policy experts on what should be done about it, if anything. And of course principals and teachers are biased… most are liberal Democrats, and large majorities of liberal Democrats believe in man-made global warming".

    The second is a response to the idea that Heartland is "undermining" climate science:

    "Our mission is not to “undermine climate science,” and even a superficial examination of our corpus of work should persuade anyone with half a brain that we are sincere. Our mission is to report climate science (and economics) more objectively than the environmentalists and left-wing nuts who are using the issue to support their legislative agendas".

    It seems that the more that Bast and his lackeys are blasting the media and others for exposing the misinformation put out by Heartland the worse it gets for Heartland. No wonder the donors what to remain anonymous.
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  2. Years ago, the pro-pollutionist tactics were already well-established:

    1. Nothing is happening.
    2. Something is happening, but it's natural.
    3. Something unnatural is happening, but it's good.
    4. Something bad was happening, but it's stopped.
    5. Something bad is happening but it's too expensive to tackle.
    6. Something bad could be addressed but ... Nothing is happening.

    It was the Boston Herald that provided the capstone to the outline:- 'and at every oppportunity the discussion will be pushed back up the ladder'.
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  3. Ian F: That piece from Bast is amazing. Given the multiple external confirmations of the leaked information and this kind of outburst, who now needs the documents to make a case against Heartland?

    And to think I'd been rating them as some species of Machiavellian masterminds!
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  4. Wow, I think Bast is his own (and Heartland's) worst enemy.
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  5. The spooky thing is that some people will still prefer the NIPCC reports over the IPCC, even when their noses are rubbed in the evidence. It is people like those who give Heartland and others a reason to continue spinning, misinforming and weaseling. It makes me sad to be a member of the same species. As Homer Simpson is reputed to have said "Weasel words are what set humans apart from other animals. Except weasels."
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  6. And as for the Bast lambast, one of the comments posted in response to it says:
    This madness will never stop until these con artists are exposed and suffer the censure of the scientific establishment.
    I couldn't have put it better myself, except that the commenter was not referring to Bast's madness, but the madness of The Worldwide Conspiracy Of Scientists And Everyone Who Doesn't Support The Tea Party, presumably.
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  7. "shoud persuade anyone with half a brain" Mission accomplished!
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  8. Doug H, quotes like that make me feel I'm teetering on the edge of an endlessly recursive intellectual black-hole!

    Yep, somewhere there's a platonic, real scientific establishment, who will sweep in and save us from... um, well, the actual scientific establishment...

    Epistemic Closure achieved, My Leader!
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  9. We must peel back the layers of science, until there is no science left.
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  10. A lot of conservatives seem to be left wing nuts based on Bast's rant. Why does he see everything in black and white?
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  11. Yes, you would have to have just half a brain to think that Heartland are sincere. I'm sure even the "skeptics" don't really think that Heartland is anything more than a lobby group putting out disinformation.
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  12. Dana,
    Excellent article.

    How long is the NIPCC report?
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  13. Why do people still pay more for things that are advertised more? Because repetition works, even if the stated facts are wrong, even if they are irrelevant.

    That is why they just keep repeating those debunked old myths. People assume that nobody in their right mind would keep repeating debunked stories .. so if they do, it seems that there must be something in their repetition. And if you say that these guys are in some kind of conspiracy to spread debunked stories .. that makes you look like a conspiracy theorist, doesn't it?
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  14. Given the attention Heartland is getting right now, I wish that some climate scientists out there (unfortunately, I'm not one) had put together a comprehensive, single rebuttal of the NIPCC document, going line-by-line on the errors in the document's science, and then adding the key important scientific details Heartland conveniently ignores and why they matter.

    The NIPCC is the only thing close to a scientific document that deniers can mention (that I'm aware of) as a "rebuttal" to the science. I've read plenty of good, scientific rebuttals to the NIPCC, but it's all been piecemeal at various websites. A good, detailed explanation of why it is so wrong would go a long way to being the nail in the coffin of the denier's scientific arguments, and it could be publicly presented to policy makers who endorse Heartland.
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  15. michael @12 - thanks. The 2011 interim NIPCC report is 432 pages.

    Dennis @14 - I would imagine that climate scientists would view rebutting the NIPCC report as a waste of time, since nobody outside climate denialists takes it seriously (for the reasons discussed in the post above, and because it's not a peer-reviewed publication). In fact I never even see climate denialists reference it, until now that is.
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  16. One difference between the NIPCC and IPCC I didn't mention in the post is that the IPCC report is extensively reviewed, and anybody can comment on its contents. Obviously neither is true of the NIPCC report.
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  17. dana...this is an excellently concise overview of the dramatic differences in approach and intent between the IPCC report and NIPCC "report." I think it's spot on in terms of focus and depth. And it points out why these two documents should not be considered on equal but opposite footing by anyone. They are two completely different animals entirely.
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  18. Stephen - thanks. "Skeptics" like Roy Spencer have said the Heartland's NIPCC report is important because the IPCC report ignores "skeptic" arguments. This is both wrong and backwards. The IPCC summarizes all the science, but it's also a consensus overview document, and thus the fringe arguments made by "skeptics" are not featured as prominently as the points which are supported by a broad body of research.

    So the "skeptics" respond by doing exactly what they accuse the IPCC of doing - ignoring the research they don't like and focusing exclusively on their own arguments. Spencer says he "hearts Heartland" for this reason. But if the "skeptics" were really interested in producing a valid rebuttal to the IPCC report, it should be a broad overview of all the scientific evidence, and then show why their hypotheses are stronger than the AGW theory. Instead the NIPCC report reveals they're only interested in advancing their own long-debunked arguments, which is not surprising, since that's exactly what Heartland is paying them to do.
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  19. There are some parallels here between the NIPCC report and the much discredited Wegman report. Fake skeptics like to (or at least used to) tout the plagiarised Wegman report which also inlcludes some wonderful cherry picking and misrepresentations, amongst other nefarious things.

    The same fake skeptics, not surprisingly, uncritically cite the incredibly biased, narrowly focussed NIPPC report, which like the Wegman report also misrepresents the science.

    Both were solicted by fake skeptics, not to advance the acience or improve our understanding of the science but to attack the credibility of the long-established climate science (and even scientists) and to fabricate doubt. Both fake skeptic documents are the very antithesis of science.

    I would not be surprised if some of the fake skeptics involved in producing the Wegman report were also involved in the NIPPC report. That is something that John Mashey could explore, if he has not already done so.

    AS noted by Dana, the NIPCC report does not undergo extensive and transparent external peer-review. Futher, the authors have very little experience in the field of climate science. Futhermore, unlike the IPCC assessment reports which require dozens upon dozens of governments to agree on and sign off on, the NIPPC report only requires the blessing of some right-wing lobby and think tanks.

    In short, the NIPCC report is nothing more than propaganda, advocacy and misinformation-- yet it is endorsed by the likes of Roy Spencer, Lindzen, and IIRC, Pielke senior. There maybe other prominent "skeptics" who endorse the NIPCC report, which would speak volumes about their scientific standards, or rather lack thereof.
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  20. Dana do you survive on two hours sleep a night?

    Fantastic work! Thank you.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    PS. if NIPCC did a broad overview of all the scientific evidence they would have to change their minds ~
    NO CAN DO ~ Prime Imperative: never give an inch.
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  21. dana1981 @ 15: I agree that from a scientific point it is a waste of time, but the audience I think a proper rebuttal would be aimed at is policymakers. I suspect that at some time someone like Inhofe has waved the report into a camera and called it "sound science." There needs to be a genuine scientific rebuttal that can be waved right back in his face, in front of the cameras. It won't change Inhofe's mind, but it may make others pause. I personally think it would go a long way towards exposing the fraud of groups like Heartland if there was a formal mechanism in the established scientific community, endorsed by groups like NAS, AAAS, AGU, etc. that says "this document is fraud, and here is why ..."
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  22. @ Nichol 13

    "it seems that there must be something in their repetition."

    For some. For most it's from the same bucket as re-using cloth-eared insults about Gore, Suzuki, Mann, alarmists, religion ... it's dragging the discussion down by getting someone to 'swing at a pitch in the dirt'. Unfortunately, it's worked all too well, and every reaction has produced additional repetitions. The NIPCC was a perfect example of a document with well-worn glaring errors - begging people to give those errors endless attention.

    So far, the biggest pro-pollutionist flunkout was Son of Climategate ... too bad more of their message didn't get equal non-attention.
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  23. Bast & Co and his donors don't want to completely undermine science, they just want to whittle it down until it's small enough to drown in a bathtub.
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  24. Fake skeptics have no interest in anything but to protect their worldview. Anything that threatens it is dismissed, anything that reinforces it is adopted unconditionally. NIPCC demonstrates nothing else than this basic principle.

    I recently witnessed a most amusing, extreme example of that, thanks to Tamino. The part where the poster suddenly attacks the graph that he previously misunderstood as "friendly" is especially revealing.

    I have not visited Icecap since this story came out so I don't know if D'Aleo realized the blunder yet. However, it is revealing that he put the graph up in the first place with such superficial understanding that he could not see it actually shows the opposite of what he thought. It also indicates what kind of scrutiny fake skeptics apply to information they perceive as reinforcing their views (i.e. next to zero).

    These people have no interest in reality. They are a threat to society and the fight against them is much rigged because for tehm anything goes, they will never put any limitations on themselves except for the ones not worth risking (grossly illegal actions or violent crimes, of non white-collar type). They are not bounded by consistency, logic or reality. It's like trying to have a rational conversation with a paranoid schizophrenic person: it truly is impossible.
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  25. Dennis @21

    I think most scientists would think a response to the NIPCC report worse than a waste of time. That's because the rebuttal to the NIPCC report is the IPCC report. I know it sounds like a cop-out, but as dana points out all the issues raised in the NIPCC report were already dealt with in greater depth and more evenhandedly in the IPCC report. Responding to the NIPCC specifically actually emphasizes all those fringe arguments for low impacts of CO2. At the same time it generates the appearance that there is a tit for tat going on between a pro-IPCC crowd and and NIPCC crowd. People generally respond to tit for tats by thinking the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, when in fact the IPCC is the middle.

    It sounds crazy, but what may really be needed is an extreme environmentalist version of the NIPCC report (maybe the MIPCC for "more than the IPCC") that emphasizes all the fringe arguments for truly extreme and cataclysmic change in the short term (runaway greenhouse? short-term land ice collapse? Malaria pandemic? Nuclear armageddon?) that the IPCC correctly hedged against in its attempt to reflect the scientific consensus. Then the IPCC report would actually look like the conservative middle-brow consensus that it actually is, in a scientific sense.
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  26. Stephen Baines @21

    Yes, it's the old problem scientists have faced with popular pseudoscience. By addressing it in-depth, they think it gives the pseudoscientists the public credibility they crave, and thus the appropriate response is to ignore them and get on with the real deal.
    But as we've seen with evolution, it doesn't exactly work like that all the time. There is a lot of utility in comprehensive rebuttals, i.e. the TalkOrigins archive, where laymen like me can get an accessible tear-down of the psueodscience and not come away thinking that the anti-evolutionists are more credible because they've been engaged with.
    The very public dissection of the Intelligent Design movement at the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area Board of Education trial was an enormous blow to the good PR that IDists had enjoyed until people got a close look at them. It was their own testimony that was the most damning, once it was stripped of the protective aura they'd built up by disallowing scientific rebuttals and only going after straw-man "science." When confronted in a truly neutral venue where both parties could introduce all the relevant evidence they wanted, the whole charade fell apart.

    That's one of the reasons I'm grateful for resources like RealClimate and SkS.
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  27. D'oh, make that Stephen Baines @25 of course!
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  28. I think what I'm getting at is that there need to be official statements by organizations like NAS, AAAS, etc. that unambiguously state that documents like the NIPCC reports are categorically not science. These organizations need to get their PR machines out there calling the media, reasserting what is and is not science when things like the Heartland leak hit the news.

    UCS does that, but they are a different kind of organization. Those that are responsible for policing the scientific process and publish the peer reviewed literature need to start pointing the finger at groups like Heartland. Anytime a fake expert appears on TV, a real expert should call him out as fake, and be able to say that's not me talking, that's the entire scientific community.
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  29. WheelsOC, I take your point that disengaging is not the correct thing to do. But scientists do engage quite a bit through the IPCC mechanism. Every 5-7 years scientists donate thousands of hours of time to the purpose to providing the clearest view of the consensus. A number of them spend inordinate time addressing public pseudoscience.

    My point was that you have to pick your battles given these other laudable efforts. I personally don't feel that engaging in report battles is the best way. They reach a limited self-selecting audience and their impact can be manipulated easily. There is no gaurantee that such a report will get the attention it deserves. It's not as if every reputable scientific society has not made a clear statement on the issue and members of the NAS have not chimed in with a letter that got largely ignored. One can make the case that if the IPCC report did not work when addressing the same issues as the NIPCC, why would yet another report succeed?

    I think Dana's approach here and Sks in general are far better suited to handling the debunking of the NIPCC for truly inquisitive people like yourself. In addition to these debunkings, Sks makes an effort to show how current research keeps showing us over and over that real climate science is moving forward.

    On the other hand, a good public forum like the Dover trials would be an excellent place to have a give and take about climate pseudoscience. Scientists would gladly participate in that as the ground rules are clear and the aim of the court is to get at the truth, not to press an agenda. Those kinds of fora have been few and far between in the "climate wars" though. It seems to me its a deliberate tactic by those disputing the consensus to avoid such exposure. After all, many on the ID side thought the Dover trials were a clear tactical error.
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  30. Dennis,

    I believe all those societies have produced statements that clearly indicate that the position of the NIPCC is incorrect, without naming it directly. Societies like AGU, AAAS and ESA have been increasing their efforts to communicate, but the fact is that there are no "PR machines" to put into gear and there won't be anytime soon. In fact, I'd argue the mission of these organizations makes them uniquely unsuited to doing this task. They do not have the resources to even identify, much less debunk all the misinformation out there. That's why I come to this site!

    Heartland's sole purpose is to promote positions that are at odds with the science, without concern for whether those positions are correct. They don't have to do the peer-reviewed research, they don't have to administer to the million and one other obligations facing a scientific society. They don't even have to follow the rules of logic or evidence! All they have to do is craft a message and plug into a preexisting echo chamber that has been constructed over a long period of time to amplify messages from other like minded think tanks.

    The scientific societies do not have access to that echo chamber -- it was not built for them. Places like Sks, or RealClimate go some ways to filling that role.
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  31. The NIPCC project aims raise doubt about climate change, it contains a lot of misinformation, therefore nobody in climate science believes the NIPCC report. But this is different outside science, many folks out there believe the Heartland message that climate change is a hoax. And in this sense the NIPCC has been successful.

    Also, I can confirm that one of the Dutch authors on the NIPCC report attempted to get more scientists involved. It all fits in the strategy of the Heartland institute, namely to discredit science in order to gain a strategic advantage in a public debate.

    Last year Nature had an article with since remarkable statements made by Joe Bast, in my opinion most information was known before the documents leaked. link On my blog I keep a collection of articles related to leak at the Heartland Institute.
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  32. The very public dissection of the Intelligent Design movement at the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area Board of Education trial was an enormous blow to the good PR that IDists had enjoyed until people got a close look at them.

    Stephen Baines at #29 pre-empted my response, but it merits a repetition of the basic notion.

    A part of me actually hopes that Heartland does try to put its K-12 material into schools, for exactly the outcome that would occur - there would be an immediate and overwhelming testing of the material in court, a la Kitzmiller v. Dover Area Board of Education.

    The queue of climate experts willing to testify would probably wrap around the block, and the likes of the Heartland rogues' gallery (and others such as Monckton and Watts) would either turn up to be scientifically emasculated in a legal test of their claims, or they would avoid the courtroom altogether and be conspicuously seen to be the flim-flam artists that they are.

    Frankly, I can't see that Heartland can in any way move on its schools plan now - not if they don't want to suffer an ignominious legal challenge. Further, I can't see that they or any of the other lobby groups could even attempt in their turn a legal challenge if, say, the AAAS helped to structure a K-12 program to enable in schools a greater scientific understanding of global warming: in any impartial courtroom testing of science, there would be only one possible outcome (yes, probably even in the States...).

    A corollary of this is that it's irrelevant whether of not that document is genuine - it's already done its job and the real scientific community will be carefully scrutinising the US school system for any sign of Heartland's plan, and the day that something appears on the radar there'll likely a complainant case ready to roll.

    I'd be surprised if such a case is not already being prepared somewhere, in anticipation. Heck, Skeptical Science represents the basic structure of such an effort, so if there isn't already a legal attack project running, a nacent one could do worse than to start here (...or at RealScience, of course!).
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  33. Bernard J#32: "there would be an immediate and overwhelming testing of the material in court, a la Kitzmiller v. Dover "

    The grounds for Kitzmiller were based on the argument that ID is creationism in disguise. There is hardly an analogous argument to be made over the low quality of HI's so-called science. The teaching of bad science is still rampant:

    Interviews with Harvard graduates in the late 1980s illustrate how widespread these misconceptions about the seasons are. When asked what causes the seasons, most of the newly graduated students gave the same wrong answer that many people give: the seasons are caused by earth getting closer (or farther) from the sun.

    Given the amount of money the other side is willing to throw around, this would not be pretty.
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  34. Yeah, I'm not counting on a Kitzmiller-style outcome for this. ID got its day in court because of the violation of the Establishment Clause.
    I don't see how the HI's curriculum could be challenged in court on constitutional grounds. Pretty much the only hope we have is that the bad publicity and attention that's been drawn to the plan on account of the leak will cause most decision-makers to shun it. Given the blatant politicization of policy in cases like the Texas Board of Education recently, that's nowhere near as secure a hope.
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  35. While it would be interesting to see the NIPCC’s ‘science’ tested in court, surely what should be tested in court is whether these people have the right to their freedom, considering the fact they are prepared to risk the lives of future generations.
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  36. @33-muoncounter
    It's hard to say what influences people's beliefs about the world- most seem to reduce explanations to something that makes sense from their own experience- re the seasons -their everyday experience is that if you move closer to a heat source (the sun) you get warmer and if you move farther away you get colder. I have an engineer friend who thought the seasons were caused by the 'precession of the equinoxes" until I asked him to think about that. Living in the relatively far north, I associated warm temperatures with long days and short nights, and it took me some time to realize that this didn't work at the equator.
    It may be that this kind of approach plays into the denier meme-what's a few degrees between friends, 390ppm-that's hardly any, how can that affect climate, etc. In my opinion, that kind of 'common sense' inertia is one of the major things the scientists have to contend with.
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  37. Please keep repeating this: "To sum up, IPCC mainstream climate science is about taking an accurate, comprehensive view of the entire body of climate science evidence, which inevitably leads to the conclusion that humans are causing dangerously rapid global warming."

    Note this phrase:"taking an accurate, comprehensive view of the entire body of climate science evidence,".

    Spending time understanding what the accurate, comprehensive view of the entire body of evidence is more productive than discussing NIPCC machinations.
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  38. Muoncounter.

    The Kitzmiller v. Dover Area Board of Education case is certainly different from anything that is likely to happen with Heartland, in that the former was based on a contravention of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment, but when I made my earlier comment I was hopeful that there must be some protection under US law that assures that the nation's children are not taught in science classes material that is explicitly recognised by the professional scientific community as pseudoscience, fantasy, outright untruth, or other forms of ideological claptrap.

    As I said, one may at least (naïvely?) hope so...

    Of course, it could be that an astute plaintiff attorney might make the case that subscribing to and promoting a model of the world that not only is based on no scientific or otherwise objective evidence, but that flies in the face of strong countering evidence, constitutes a faith system. In that case attempts to subvert the national government education program in order to teach such an ideology might well bring its proponents back to a Kitzmiller v. Dover Area Board of Education scenario...

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  39. BernardJ: "I was hopeful that there must be some protection under US law that assures that the nation's children are not taught ... ideological claptrap."

    Nope. No such law exists. Want proof? See this thread. After that, you'll need a laugh. Look here.
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  40. Ah, Muoncounter, your first point is well taken. It was almost sufficient to move me to tears of frustration.

    Fortunately that clip (which I'd not seen before) provided the antidote!

    I guess all we can do is to try as hard as ever to help shine the light into the dank dungeons of denialism and intellectual decay, and hope that there's a substantive shift in the balance before it's beyond repairing.
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  41. Here's a bit more from Heartland's Joe Bast about their intent behind the NIPCC and "Climate Change Reconsidered" (and associated projects) from their 2012 first quarter Quarterly Performance Report. I hope this is useful in confirming what we are up against at least.

    Four Projects on Global Warming
    "Researchers at The Heartland Institute recog- nized, earlier than most, that scientific uncertainty about the true causes and consequences of climate change makes costly efforts to reduce human greenhouse gas emissions unnecessary. In 2012 we are pursuing four projects on global warming.

    "The first is sponsoring and promoting the work of the Nongovernmental Interna- tional Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), an international network of scientists who write and speak out on climate change. With Heartland’s support, this team of scientists produced Climate Change Reconsidered: 2009 Report of the NIPCC, and more recently Climate Change Reconsidered: 2011 Interim Report. Each volume is a comprehensive and authoritative rebuttal of the United Nations’ IPCC reports.

    "We are currently working on promoting these volumes and preparing for publication of a third volume for release in 2013.

    "The second project is creation of a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. Many people lament the absence of educational material that isn’t alarmist or overtly political.

    "Late last year, we found a curriculum expert who is also an expert on the global warming controversy. We think he can finally break the code on getting sound science and economics into classrooms.

    "The third global warming project is publication of a great new book by Rael Isaac, titled Roosters of the Apocalypse. Rael, a sociologist who has studied the origins and mo- tivation of apocalyptic movements, examines the global warming movement and finds it is rooted in irrational fears and beliefs that have no scientific justifications.

    "The fourth global warming project will change how weathermen report new temperature records, and in the process help wean some of them from the alarmist point of view. We are working to create a Web site that will access newly available temperature data from a set of high-quality temperature stations created by the National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    "Our new Web site will convert the data into easy-to-understand graphs that can be easily found and understood by weathermen and the general interested public. The result: fewer weathermen bamboozled into reporting fake temperature records, and one fewer tool in the toolbox of global warming alarmists."

    As legal prescriptions in the US against telling people BS (Bad Science, of course) appear rather nebulous, we can always hope that like Al Capone, Heartland gets sent down for breaching tax laws? I'm pretty confident this scandal has not escaped the attention of the IRS and it will be interesting to see how they respond.

    While communicating the science clearly and comprehensibly is of paramount importance, we need to be aware of how the forces of darkness are attempting to influence the debate, and to continue to encourage and support the mounting of both coordinated and independent self-organised responses to confront and expose the deniers.
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  42. Thanks for posting this information and allowing us to share these articles.

    Reposted at:


    cheers, Peter

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