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Disinformation? You want it, IREA’s got it

Filed under: — group @ 28 July 2006

RealClimate received a copy of a letter from the General Manager of the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA, an energy cooperative in Colorado), Stanley R. Lewandowski (Jr), to other utilities (G&T’s in the jargon) in the US discussing fundraising and tactics for a new disinformation campaign on climate change (see Seth Borenstein’s piece yesterday).

This is enlightening on a number of levels. Firstly, though we knew that this stuff goes on, it’s rare that we get such a close look at how it happens. Secondly, who is to be the lead on this new campaign? None other than our old friend Patrick Michaels. Additionally, it is useful to see the reasons why some utilties are fighting against the idea of climate change set out more clearly than in their more carefully manicured press briefings. It might actually help people engage on the substance of their concerns rather than simply arguing about the science – which, as we are by now well aware, – is simply a path to gridlock.

We’ll highlight some of the best bits, and discuss what this all might imply below.

Funding

After introducing the looming problem of global warming and potential emission caps, the letter states:

We here at IREA believe that it is necessary to support the scientific community that is willing to stand up against the alarmists and bring a balance to the discussion. Many scientists have an opinion, but only a few have any involvment in climatology.

Indeed. It goes on:

We decided to support Dr. Patrick Michaels. … In February of this year, IREA alone contributed $100,000 to Dr. Michaels. In addition, we have contacted all the G&T’s in the United States … and obtained additional contributions and pledges for Dr. Michaels’ group. We will be following up the remaining G&T’s over the next several weeks.

Nice work if you can get it! Interestingly, the letter drops some hints on the funding for the CEI ads last month:

[CEI] has been running two ads in ten states that were financed by General Motors and the Ford Motor Company. …. We have met with Koch [Industries], CEI and Dr. Michaels and they meet among themselves periodically to discuss their activities.

Hmm…. Later on the letter concedes that the ‘issue is not going to go away’, but apparently without a hint of irony, blames that on the ‘special interests’ (you know, that powerful lobby of climate scientists that control the administration).

Science

The ‘science’, such as it is, appears to be sourced from a Mike Rosen column in Rocky Mountain News (or from an extremely similarly phrased common source) and an egregious Canada Free Press article by Tom Harris. There is an odd preponderance of quotes from Russian academicians which gives it away. Most of it has been dealt with here before, for instance Shaidurov’s opinion about water vapour. We will do a more detailed rebuttal in a couple of days.

Lessons?

While interesting, the letter is also a little disappointing. Many utilities, companies, and even politicians, have actually started to think about how to deal with the climate change challenge in a serious manner. This kind of retrograde ostrich-like behaviour seems so… 90′s. However, in among the distortions there are statements that reflect the real (and valid) concerns of the utilities – that their reliance on coal-powered generation renders them vulnerable to any carbon emission tax or cap and trade system. Bringing these groups around will require support for diversification of energy sources, forward thinking on future possibilities for carbon sequestration, and assurances that they won’t be uniquely burdened. They will probably never like this, but it may be possible make them accept it.

It is also worth stating that the existence of this kind of campaign does not in and of itself imply that the arguments used by Michaels and co. are bunk (they mostly are, but that can be shown with reference to the literature). But it does imply that one needs to be sure of ones sources. To paraphrase John Betjeman, any quote from Michaels should probably be followed with ‘So spake the industry’s P.R.O, A man who really ought to know, For he is paid for saying so’.

Update: Ford has denied directly funding the CEI ads (see comments below). Maybe IREA got this information from the same place they got their science?…


128 Responses to “Disinformation? You want it, IREA’s got it”

  1. 1
    Catherine Jansen says:

    It’s quite amazing that an energy *co-operative* was able to spend its members money in this way. And no, it doesn’t prove that Michaels’ arguments are nonsense, but it does connect the dots very nicely!

  2. 2
    Arthur says:

    The link to the actual letter seems to be broken.

    [Response:Fixed. sorry! - gavin]

  3. 3
  4. 4
    DrSinker says:

    What’s the deal with Michaels? Is UVa in such a way that they need to keep him on as a research prof?

  5. 5
    Chris Rijk says:

    The current link in the “(see Seth Borenstein’s piece yesterday)” bit goes via Google News (a service I find very useful) but wouldn’t it be better to give a direct link to the final destination:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/27/AR2006072701058.html

    It accepts direct links, so I assume the use of Google News redirect was unintended.

  6. 6
    savegaia.de says:

    I suggest a website specialy dedicated to counter these kind of sad frauds.
    Frauding from a group of greedy individuals who do not represent anykind of majority.
    “Hej wake up we waited long enough its not the 90s anymore!”
    Point out the connection to the industries and the lack of reputation and the consensus.

    The money from the industrie vs the science. If the message gets out to the public about the plans from these companys, who support fraud on science, the image and reputation of all connected sources (companys, individuals, politicans), will be hit very bad in PR relation.

    So the more logical choice for an automobile manager is today to go for E85, biogas basicly alternative renewable energy resources!

    If you from the coal indurstie, fine use your company money wisley to invest in allready avaiable alternative renewable energy resources. In long terms this will satisfy much more as poluttion is low and maybe even the costs.

    Of course the state should support any effort into these kind of alternative technologies(by taxing low, by giving money to build up infrstructers and such kind of things).

    The public opinion is on the side of the science, preventing AGW by reduceing of fossil fuel combustion and everything related. This is why Wal-Mart made a testimoney for zero emissions and more! Thats why lately california surveys shows a strong belive in AGW and a influx in news on the media.

    The topic will not go away and it will become much stronger as heatwaves and natural devasting process are proceeding, fed by our emissions.

    2006 was the 1st heatwave which could be considered as a global event, allready killed many humans world wide! Now imagine a slightly increase with the temperature of these new “we have to get used to it” heatwaves events, beside this it gets more frequent.

  7. 7
    cbone says:

    Do you apply the same level of skepticism when environmental groups provide funding for studies?

    [Response:Which studies would they be? -gavin]

  8. 8
    cbone says:

    Re: #7
    Gavin,
    It was a hypothetical question. Is the source of a scientist’s funding alone enough to discredit all of their work? It would seem the answer is yes if industry provides the money. I am curious if that same standard can be applied when the source of funding is from an environmental orginization? (Since they too like industry have a vested interest in the outcome of the work they are funding.)

    [Response: I specifically stated above that the source of the funding doesn't in and of itself make an argument bunk. These arguments can (and should) be assessed on scientific grounds. However, environmental groups do not have a vested interest in the exsitence of global warming - there are of course many other environmental problems they could be (and are) dealing with - but they do not stand to gain personally if global warming is more serious. However, energy companies do have a real vested and financial interest in the possibility of emission reductions. Making an equal-and-opposite comparison is not valid. - gavin]

  9. 9
    Mark Shapiro says:

    It used to be difficult to discuss climate science with the interested public without getting involved in the political or economic implications.

    It is now imposible.

    And so (for me at least) it is useful to acknowledge this directly. I don’t know how to reword last sentence of the “About” statement at the top of the RC home page, but some qualification could help.

    BUT, the opening for this topic actually comes from the Wegman report and the Barton hearings, from their social network analysis. Wegman asked if peer review and coauthorship patterns affect the credibility of climate science. The IREA question is whether money affects the credibility of climate science. It is a line of analysis started by exxonsecrets.org, Ross Gelbspan and others. Scientists, like all citizens, can ask “cui bono”.

    I’m a little naive about the sciences of network analysis and corruption, but the United States Congress thinks they’re important in climate science analysis.

    Let’s follow their lead.

  10. 10
    caerbannog says:

    re #8

    Gavin,
    It was a hypothetical question. Is the source of a scientist’s funding alone enough to discredit all of their work? It would seem the answer is yes if industry provides the money. I am curious if that same standard can be applied when the source of funding is from an environmental orginization? (Since they too like industry have a vested interest in the outcome of the work they are funding.

    If said funding results in puff-pieces in advocacy publications rather than research papers in peer-reviewed journals, then one should consider the work discredited. Perhaps you can point us to some of the industry-funded work challenging global warming that has been published peer-reviewed journals (as opposed to publications like National Review, WorldNetDaily, etc…). Or perhaps not…

  11. 11
    Dave Dardinger says:

    cbone may have been a bit inprecise in his remark, but I think he was making a good point. The point is that, having now read the letter you kindly link to, it’s clear that IREA is financing an advertising campaign, not “studies” in the sense of Climate Science studies. Therefore it’s fair to compare it to public relations / advertising campaigns done by environmental groups. (I would hope you don’t need to have such campaigns explicitly pointed out to you.) Of course, any publicity campaign needs to consider ways to multiply the affect of the actual money spent on advertising and lobbying, and this translates into media interest. I would hope you’d agree that the media is much, much more favorable to the pro-AGW side than the anti-AGW side. Therefore, it’s not surprising that those who would be hurt by the implementation of a Kyoto-like regime in the US, for instance, would find it necessary to spend money to get their message out.

    It’s not a case of disinformation, as you rather one-sidedly put it. It’s a case of an attempt toward balance. You think AGW is proven, I don’t. You certainly have a right to post a thread like this one, but what’s the point if it isn’t that others don’t have such a right? Who exactly are you attempting to influence and to what purpose? Those who agree with you on AGW aren’t going to need to be updated as to a publicity campaign by those you all disagree with in the first place. And those of us who are skeptical of AGW are only sorry that such paltry sums are available to counter the overwhelming pro-AGW media coverage.

    [Response: Michaels is not an ad agency - he advertises himself as a scientist. If 'balance' was the goal, where are the funds going to showing that gravity is really global sucking? Where are the funds for 'balance' on the whole flat vs round Earth argument? Be serious. You and I and every one else knows exactly why this is going on. - gavin]

  12. 12
    David A says:

    Careful — Ford have denied they funded the CEI ads. Not sure about GM

  13. 13
    Hank Roberts says:

    Please link to Ford’s actual response, I want to know exact words.

    [Response: Possibly this is what is being referred to: http://www.terrapass.com/terrablog/posts/000267.html - gavin]

  14. 14
    David A says:

    Ford’s response is here if you scroll down, sorry for the long link
    David

    http://www.desmogblog.com/industry-memo-claims-controversial-ad-campaign-financed-by-gm-and-ford

    [Response: Thanks, I'll update the text accordingly. - gavin]

  15. 15
    Hank Roberts says:

    Here’s a testable prediction by Dr. Michaels, I think, a natural experiment has been performed in the past week:

    “Michaels … was an author of the 2003 climate science “Paper of the Year” awarded by the Association of American Geographers, for the demonstration that urban heat-related mortality declined significantly as cities became warmer.”

    http://www.cato.org/people/michaels.html

    Has anyone audited his work on this lately?

  16. 16
    Karen Street says:

    Re the answer to #8: However, environmental groups do not have a vested interest in the exsitence of global warming – there are of course many other environmental problems they could be (and are) dealing with – but they do not stand to gain personally if global warming is more serious.

    Environmental groups do collect donations, more with some positions than with others. If it turns out that opposing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a bigger money source than increasing the CAFE standards (which environmentalists have put little effort into, though it will ultimately do more to protect ANWR), and that reconsidering opposition to nuclear power and transgenic crops puts donations as risk, do we have reason to think that financial interests may affect decision-making?

  17. 17
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    I’ve been promoting individual action to mitigate GW, but this in no way precludes action at all levels & in all spheres (afterall, the contrarians are working overtime to disprove AGW): home, work, church, school, city, state, country, world. Offering solutions, showing support for reducing GHGs, which I hope the members of that electricity co-op will do, and (now I add) showing support for honest, objective science.

    Anyway, the publicity from this fiasco is great — people can now see the underside of the beast.

    I wanted to pass this on. There will be a rally for climate justice and truth telling from NOAA Leadership, August 26, 12-3, in Silver Spring, MD. If interested, you can contact Anne Havemann (anne@chesapeakeclimate.org) for more information.

    I joined their little group last December for a hybrid car rally when I was in DC for a conference. They are very nice people. So if you live close & are concerned about how science is being twisted and blocked, this might be for you.

    Sad that it’s come down to needing body counts at rallies to try and get what we should have had in the first place: objective, honest science.

  18. 18
    Eachran says:

    Thanks Hank Roberts for cheering me up on post 15. I was getting so depressed to see the likes of Lomburg and Michaels appearing on this site like ghosts from the Marie Celeste.

  19. 19
    Karl Sanchez says:

    It seems to me that CEI would know who’s sponsoring its ads. As Ford says, “Ford has supported many Competitive Enterprise Institute initiatives over the years,” which would mean that Ford monies are part of the budgetary fund that CEI would use to pay for producing its ads. Ford just happens to have had the foresight to put together the handy PR statement it used as evidence it’s not a part of the current campaign–a very nice fig leaf. When one looks at Ford’s behavior in the marketplace as compared with Toyota, it’s clear they don’t care about producing a vehicle that is more environmentally friendly on a mass production basis, and seem happy about losing both market share and profits.

  20. 20
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re #16, first of all, environmental groups are nonprofit, and their staff get set salaries.

    Second, the staff are committed environmentalists, most of whom could make more money in other fields.

    Third, Robert Kennedy Jr (at NRDC – Natural Resource Defense Council) doesn’t need more money! Same probably goes for Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson at PEW.

    Fourth, the organizations wouldn’t need so much money, if our government & contrarians would stop being such bad boys & just do the EC (environmentally correct) thing.

    Fifth, if environmental organizations do not fight for the environment, who will? There are plenty of people fighting for industry & profits. Even so, ED (Environmental Defense) & NRDC & RMI (Rocky Mountain Institute) have worked with industry to help them become EC & save money, and much prefer that option than taking matters to court. I think the Montreal Protocol was based on a model developed by an ED staff member.

    Sixth, Michael Crichton’s sinister portrayal of mainstream environmental groups in SOF is way off base & insulting, bordering on slander. Let’s keep things in perspective: the real evil-doers are the ones who kill and harm people (usually with impunity) through environmental harms.

  21. 21
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Oh, and I forgot to add that I looked into the Alar apple fiasco in the 70s while doing my thesis in the 90s. NRDC took stats from how it affected adults (fairly minor) and used a fudge factor to figure how it would affect children (since agencies were only testing for adults, not children — as if children don’t eat apples).

    NRDC’s fudged stat raised alarm & people stopped buying alar apples, but it turned out NOT to be a false alarm. Recently the EPA started testing for children, and their figure came out very close to NRDC’s figure — no significant difference. So NRDC was correct, even if the apple industry suffered. Which is regrettable, but why did they use the stuff when it was only for appearances to make apples redder (no other benefit), and there had been indications it might be dangerous?

    But the upshot was that NRDC got a bad name for a decade or so because of that, for being false alarmist — when all along it turns out they were correct.

    This just goes to show that environmental organizations do NOT to have to exaggerate. There are plenty of serious problems out there.

  22. 22
    Dan Allan says:

    Seems like the skeptics are out in force in this thread.

    M. Crichton, in an essay / screed several years ago, made an interesting comparison between the global-warming “alarmists” and advocates who tried to tell us that second-hand smoke was harmful, when in fact the evidence suggests that it is not.

    There are a couple of problems with his argument. The most glaring is that he is 100% wrong about second-hand smoke – as a major recent study concluded. It is directly linked to asthma, among other things. The other problem is that showing that one scientific viewpoint was incorrect (in this case it wasn’t) does not mean some other, entirely unrelated viewpoint is wrong.

    All of this brings me to my own analogy (which others have made as well): the disturbing similarity between business interests denying that tobacco was harmful, and producing their own junk science to support their contention, and the energy companies now investing money in distorting science on another major issue for society. The tobacco companies were wrong, millions of people died prematurely due to their lies.

    In my judgment (being of the party that lacks “moral clarity”, whatever that means), what the tobacco executives did was tantamount to mass-murder. I wonder what the energy executives are going to think of themselves, are going to tell their grandchildren, when it turns out they are wrong as well.

    Best all.

    Dan

  23. 23
    Brian Gordon says:

    Re: 15: Warmer cities = “lower urban heat-related mortality,” according to Dr. Michaels.

    I’m sure this is very reassuring to the 15,000 people who died in the recent European heat wave (2003?) and to the dozens dying in the US and Europe in the current heat wave.

    From the IREA letter: “The last component is the political arena, and that is where this issue will be finally resolved.”

    Unless, of course, AGW is real and has the effects predicted, in which case the “issue” may well be “resolved” by riots, famine, plagues, and ultimately, general, all-around death.

  24. 24
    Joel Norton says:

    Thanks for the very informative piece. I believe that humankinds response to Global Warming will come down to politics. I would be interested in seeing more articles focusing on how the scientific community can effectively deal with propaganda tactics and political idealogy.

    Thanks again for your excellent site.

  25. 25
    Jim Harrison says:

    In my experience, corporate response to the threat of new regulation is often schizophrenic. When the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 came on the scene, for example, some utility management people proposed to fight the regs in the courts while the engineers concluded (rightly) that they could comply without serious financial loss. What struck me at the time was that these contrasting responses frequently occurred inside the same companies – corporations may be persons in the eyes of a law; but, like political parties, they are unstable coalitions internally. Thus at the same time some utility managers contest the reality of global warming, their planning people are probably just assuming that limiting emissions will be a cost of doing business in the future.

  26. 26
    Hank Roberts says:

    >15, followup.
    The paper Michaels got an award for, which his bio calls “the demonstration that urban heat-related mortality declined significantly as cities became warmer.”
    Description found here:
    http://www.unh.edu/stateclimatologist/csg/papers.htm

    Robert E. Davis (University of Virginia) with P.C. Knappenberger, W.M. Novicoff, and P.J. Michaels

    “Decadal changes in summer mortality in U.S. cities”
    International Journal of Biometeorology 47:166-175
    (Coauthor Knappenberger participates in RC, you here?)

    This is supposed to be a link; anyone able to open it?
    http://springerlink.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?wasp=m5uc84pqxl7yuj9a9xaw&referrer=parent&backto=issue,6,7;journal,7,37;browsepublicationsresults,234,532;

    In other news:

    FRESNO, Calif. Jul 27, 2006 (AP)â�� Corpses piled up at the morgue Thursday, and aid workers went door-to-door, checking in on elderly people in hopes of keeping the death toll from California’s 12-day heat wave from rising.

    California coroner’s offices said the number of deaths possibly connected to the heat wave climbed to 98.

    In Fresno County’s morgue, the walk-in freezer was stuffed with bodies, with some piled on top of others, said Coroner Loralee Cervantes. With limited air conditioning, employees worked in sweltering heat as they investigated at least 22 possible heat-related deaths.

    “It’s never been like this in my years here,” Cervantes said. “This is really tragic.”

    The mercury dropped slightly in some areas, with Sacramento dipping below 100 for the first time in 12 days, but Fresno hit 105 and Bakersfield reached 107.

  27. 27
    David Iles says:

    There seems to be no end to this debate. We will be quibbling about climate change as our cities flood, our farmlands dry up and blow away, and our forest ignite and turn to hot ash.

    If we want our children and grand children to survive, let alone have any kind of quality to their lives we will need to develop international strategies to end co2 emission rapidly, we will need to do a thorough examination of our current farming practices and food distribution systems and the ways we obtain and use fresh water.

    This letter points our biggest challenge namely the capitalist mindset. If greed and short term self interest continue to be our most actionable values and if we hold to the farcical notions of the ever expanding economy and free markets (which are not at all free but inevitably are strongly bias towards those with the most wealth) we are dead along with many of our fellow species here on this gorgeous and generous gift of a planet that we share.

    In a world where oil companies profit hugely from warfare (follow the support and the money being made from the conflicts in the middle east and see who is raking it in) which is arguably one of the largest, most wasteful uses of our energies, and the above sort of mudding of the waters of issue like global climate change continue to hold sway. It is clear our false notions of individual survival of the fittest politics and gamesmanship – although exciting – is not suited to long term survivability.

    The subtext for all of the global warming critics-for-hire is that, everything is actually ok please go back to the mall and continue to shop.

  28. 28
    Eachran says:

    OK you lot, so what are we going to do about this mess ? Carbon taxes probably and fast, together with geo-engineering, improved carbon sinks and a spot of bio-engineering on the human species (smaller bodies less testosterone and bigger heads – perhaps more women).

    It is interesting seeing calculations on the cost to the economy of doing the right thing when doing just that is the only option available other than extinction. Incidentally it will cost a lot to clean up our wonderful planet but I for one would prefer natural air conditioning to the artificial variety.

    Mr Cline, who wrote the discussion paper for the Copenhagen Consensus and the rejoinder to his critics, has some interesting things to say about the costs to get out of this human made mess. You can find it on the Copenhagen Consensus website. Fixing the problem is quite expensive, but I prefer to look at it in this way : society is about doing things together to improve our lot in a collective way, collectivity, solidarity and social intercourse really make us happier. The cost of working together is no cost at all.

    When we have cooperated to put the planet back on track then we all need to pool our resources to get ourselves off this rock before we all fry.

    Does anyone know of anyone collecting ideas to fix things please? Because, being a nutty sort of person I have lots of ideas about everything. I drive my family friends and aquaintances mad.

  29. 29

    Sure, I do.

    Someone from Exxon-Mobil was on my website just last night, referred from here, over to the usenet, and then they downloaded the works. They seemed particularly interested in my bismuth iodide paper. Unfortunately, bismuth is about as rare as platinum, but it’s a lot less expensive. There are always metal ammonia solutions and phosphorus too. Lots of solid state avenues remain unexplored, but but flailing around doing combinatorial analysis of alloys and compounds is like shooting in the dark. We have a fairly good theory now – BCS-BOSE – BEC-BCS – Boson-Fermion, call it whatever.

    http://www.lifeform.org/bion.htm

    http://www.lifeform.org/rocket.htm

    Go ahead. Go nuts. I’m not sure if that will help, though.

  30. 30
    cp says:

    The more critics you get, the more you “proofread” your work and this is not a bad thing, if you ask me. I understand that science is science, but if an explanation seems logical it should be considered. I find it reasonable to believe that global warming is an issue, but the other side also has some good explanations and models from time to time. Interpretation of scientific facts can change. Climate change, like many other things, found its way in political agendas and that was very bad, because people may think about it in terms of politics (ecology is sooo “Hippy”, they say).
    The untrained public finds almost every explanation logical, by the way, so it’s up to the scientists to prove that it’s not a matter of funding, by providing sound science and be able to support it when challenged. That’s what counts for the non scientific public, not impressive titles and political campaigns.

  31. 31
    Kgrandia says:

    To compare or make an assertion that there is some kind of conspiracy on the side of the environmental movement to fund science of their own making is a little wild when you consider the notorious Exxon’s Q2 profits were just reported to $10 billion. How could the environmental movement ever mount a campaign against a giant like Exxon, who has reportedly spent $8 million on the climate change skeptic movement?

  32. 32
    Dan says:

    re: 30. Not exactly. The valid “critics” are already there in the form of the scientific peer-review process. Not those (especially those without any scientific credentials) who take pot shots in the grey literature, the WSJ, or industry/politically sponsored web sites. The sound science is there and well-supported/documented. It is those who are taking the pot shots that have extremely little by which to stand on scientifically. Every major scientific society in the world (yes, the world; it is not hyperbole) supports the science behind global warming.

  33. 33
    Dan Hughes says:

    I do not understand the arguments about Big Oil, and ‘wealthy’ persons, profiting because of a lack of restrictive policies relative to use of hydrocarbon-based fuels. Big Oil is ‘big’ first and foremost only because there is demand for its products and services. We are that demand, not the Big Oil companies. Big Oil, and all other ‘Big Bads (insert your favorite here)’, do not operate in a vacuum. In the absence of demand they will not be Big. One especially striking aspect of the recent arguments is that it seems that those who have reaped the most benefits from our present energy-supply systems are among those that use energy (create demand) for applications that are in no way necessary. I use a personal computer, have audio and video systems and other electronic ‘toys’, car and other modes of transport, comfortable heating when needed, etc., for examples.

    Additionally, as is readily seen in many markets, profit margin is not necessarily a function of size. Many companies have established very profitable niche markets. Many companies have much larger profit margins than the ‘Big Oil’ companies; these latter run at about 10% to 12% of gross revenue. And, although I have never been in management, I can easily see that managing a smaller company can potentially be very much easier than managing larger enterprises. At the same time many of these smaller companies make larger profit margins.

    In the case of energy and hydrocarbon fuels, a necessary and absolutely vital service is being performed. These vital services cannot, and will not, simply be ‘cut down to size’. There is frequently presented real-world evidence that energy generation and distribution systems in several industrialized countries run at the margins; usually at peak-demand times in extreme weather conditions. Additionally, when this occurs we see the tragic results in deaths of human beings. Not all deaths result directly from the lack of energy services, but some preventable deaths do occur.

    Decreasing our dependence on hydrocarbon fuels will be a major undertaking; probably unequaled in history. The vital services and products must continue to freely flow as very significant changes are developed and implemented on enormous scales. And not only for the already-industrialized countries. All humans on the planet, present and future, must absolutely have the opportunities and benefits that have been realized in the industrialize countries.

    So far it seems that actually-viable, real-world solutions to dependence on hydrocarbon fuels do not exist or are subject to other political, non-scientific debates. Demands for energy services and products will only continue to increase in the future all over the planet. Existing energy production systems will be required to continue to operate as additional systems are developed and implemented. Simply cutting off supply is not viable. Taxes on the supply will of course be passed on to the consumers of energy products and services, and these taxes will generally fall on the people who can least afford them. As demand is not elastic the ‘Big Oil’ companies will continue to be ‘Big Oil’. The ‘Big Oil” elites and ‘big-oil-based wealthy’ will continue to as if nothing has happened and all us regular people will pay. What is missing from the let’s-change-Big-Oil community are actual solutions that will, additionally, successfully operate in an manner that ensures an equal burden in the real world.

    The time scales for change-over to other fuel sources are very long; on the order of several decades. And this would only occur on such a short time frame if some kind of required mandate is forced upon all the people on the planet. Under such conditions it is always those that have-not who suffer and pay an unfair share, while the ‘haves’, which very likely includes everyone reading this, make out like bandits.

    True scientific and engineering research cannot be influenced by the funding source; the math will not allow solutions to be influenced by political agendas. News releases and soft-sciences aspects can be tailored to meet almost any agenda; we see this every day from all sides. The climate-change research community is probably entirely funded by public sources. In the United States about 55% of these public sources come from industry, including ‘Big Oil’.

    The only “Big’ organizations that get big in the absence of demand are government bureaucracies. These seem to operate on momentum alone because there are no stopping criteria. In the case of climate change we hear daily that ‘the science is settled’. Yet we at the same time hear, with alarm, that ‘funding is being cut’. In a private enterprise setting this would not be allowed to occur. When a problem is solved work does not continue on the problem. Implementation of the solution is the next process.

  34. 34
    Mark Shapiro says:

    Re 28 – Eachran: “Does anyone know of anyone collecting ideas to fix things please?”

    Yes. Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute, http://www.rmi.org , has been working on this since 1973 or so. RMI’s latest book “Winning the Oil Endgame” has 300+ pages of ideas, it’s available free for download, and they don’t even include public transit! Their latest newsletter, also free, shows how they’re working with Wal-Mart to make them much more energy effficient and eventually fossil-free. RMI pushes efficiency as profitable even if you assume AGW costs nothing. And, RMI’s economics is basically libertarian, so it’s good to toss the RMI name to Cato and CEI, who could agree on the economics.

    Gar Lipow is writing a book on how to make the economy fossil free profitably. And try the Innovation Modelling Comparison Project, a German project showing how the economics could be done.

    Chin up! And remember to be nice to coal miners — they’re afraid of us, and they needn’t be.

  35. 35
    Eduardo says:

    Savegaia:

    the 2006 heat wave was not global. We in the Southern Hemisphere have been cooling since long time (in my city, Córdoba since 1987, and you should check New Zealand…), and the little warmth we had recently corresponds to our version of the Indian Summer you have in the USA. A thermal inversion aided when it produced a quite usual Zonda wind runnig eastwards from the Andes. The Zonda is a very warm wind.

    BTW, there are still more than 5000 trucks blockqued in Andean pass to Chile at Cristo Redentor by one of the biggest snowstorms ever seen. Of course, blame Global Warmnig. Forecast for tomorrow is 0º C (at 34º S) and -4º C for the next day.

    Not much global warming down here… We hoped to have some, but unfortunately it keeos cooling.

  36. 36
    Jody Clarke says:

    Dear Gavin,

    IREA was not correct when it stated in its letter that Ford and GM funded our ad campaign. At our news conference May 17, we made it clear that we produced and were airing the ads without any involvement from our donors. Some news stories erroneously inferred a corporate connection to our ads, which we believe may have led to the error in the IREA letter.

    Regards,

    Jody Clarke

    Vice President for Communications

    Competitive Enterprise Institute

    1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 1250

    Washington, DC 20036

    Direct: 202.331.2252 Cell: 703.863.9021

    Fax: 202.331.0640 Email: jclarke@cei.org

    http://www.cei.org

    Blog: http://www.ceiopenmarket.org

    http://www.controlabuseofpower.org

    http://www.bureaucrash.com

  37. 37
    cp says:

    re 32

    This is correct as far as the scientific community is concerned but it doesn’t really apply to the general public. You may have as many well documented proofs as you like, but this will only work among scientists. If you need some changes in people’s behaviour, energy consumption and other details which may help with climate change, it’s the people outside of scientific societies you’ll have to persuade and they do tend to believe what seems logical to them. Unfortunately, logical often means well presented.
    I’m not reading Journals and the like,I can’t understand most of the jargon there, but I’m reading the daily papers. How are you going to persuade me that you are not part of a political agenda and make me avoid things that lead us to climate changes?

  38. 38
    Stephen Berg says:

    Re Gavin’s: “If ‘balance’ was the goal, where are the funds going to showing that gravity is really global sucking?”

    Isn’t it “Intelligent Falling” instead of “global sucking”?

  39. 39
    Javier Gonzales says:

    ABC News broke this story yesterday, although they are entirely too fair to Lewandowski, I think:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/GlobalWarming/story?id=2242565&page=1

  40. 40
    Peter Williams says:

    Who is Absudamatov?

    Lewdandowski refers in his letter to the Russian scientist Khabubulo Absudamatov.

    A web search on Absudamatov gets tons of hits – lots of news articles about how we are due for another cold spell due to 200-year solar variations in output.

    I have to say as an astrophysicist that I have never heard of the guy. Of course that alone doesn’t mean anything, but I can’t find him (even considering the variations in transliterating from the Cyrillic) in the primary literature databases. Basically this guy does not seem to exist in peer-reviewed literature, nor even on arxiv.org which is NOT peer-reviewed.

    Anyway this comment is a sideline to the main issue here, but just be aware of this. It started with an article on newsru.com, picked up by mosnews.com on Feb 6 of this year. You will probably hear more about how this solar expert (???) has shown that the world is going to get cooler in the next few decades.

    I for one prefer to get my info on the Sun from my friends at the Max Plank Institute, Harvard-CfA, the National Solar Observatory, and so on. And, more to the point, I prefer to get my info on the significance of solar forcing on climate variation from climatologists and not solar scientists (being an astrophysicist myself I can tell you that being an expert on the Sun does not qualify you to know anything about how solar activity affects the Earth).

    It is well-known that the Sun’s activity undergoes variations, including what looks like a periodic variation on a roughly 200-year timescale. This isn’t news. In fact, it’s an important thing to know if you do radiocarbon dating. Solar activity is not the same as solar output (luminosity), however.

    It’s an old idea that variations in solar output are large enough to drive most of the warming this century, and as I understand it this has been rather thoroughly debunked. Apparently this old canard just won’t die, however.

  41. 41
    vaughan says:

    I think another analogous situation was with the findings and then “skepticism” about the use of lead in gasoline. The auto/oil companies fought that and won for many, many years. The paint industry as well (lead paint was known to be toxic in the 1910′s–it was outlawed in New Zealand by the 1920s–here in the US the paint lobby kept it going till the 1970s). Eventually the cost/benefit analysis showed that the cost of treating and caring for inner city kids who would be made mentally retarded due to lead poisoning was greater than the cost to industry to take the lead out of gas.

  42. 42
    Peter Williams says:

    P.S. Solar forcing probably is important at some level – I didn’t mean to imply that it wasn’t – but with a few notable exceptions in the astrophysics community (e.g. W. Soon?) most astronomers I know think this is small compared with anthropogenic effects, for the warming in the post-industrial age. And after all, the ones to ask are the climatologists, not the astrophysicists; we just have to remind them about solar variation, which they are well aware of.

  43. 43
    Hank Roberts says:

    >15, >26
    Updating 26:
    ————–
    (AP) At least 132 deaths, mostly elderly residents, were likely linked to a nearly two-week heat wave in California, county coroner’s offices reported Friday.

    The big jump from a day earlier came primarily from Los Angeles, Merced, and Stanislaus counties, where coroners struggled to keep up.

    “This is unprecedented for the county,” said Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services spokesman David Jones. The county typically suffers one heat-related death a year, he said. On Friday, he reported 29 deaths in a survey by The Associated Press.

    The state’s elderly may have underestimated the potential for harm…..
    ———

    Anyone who can check into the article cited in #15, please comment:
    “… the 2003 climate science “Paper of the Year” awarded by the Association of American Geographers, for the demonstration that urban heat-related mortality declined significantly as cities became warmer.”
    link provided, this one, doesn’t have the article:
    http://www.cato.org/people/michaels.html

  44. 44
    Dan says:

    re: 37 What a minute. So the lies, mistruths and slander by various people with blantant political agendas such as George Will, Crichton and the oil company-funded types constitutes “logic”? How backwards is that? Science and its results are the logic here, without any political agenda. It is fundamental. To treat them as equal is simply absurd.

  45. 45
    pr ciszewski says:

    How can a average layman check resources from an article in their local news paper via the internet to see if they have published peer reviewed articles? I am specifically interested in James O’Brien and Philip Klotsbach. I am researching the Keay Davidson article in the SF Chronicle July 25th… Scientists split on heat wave cause…

    As a layman reading newspaper articles and having a healthy amount of distrust with the media, the peer review process seems like a very good litmus test for measuring credibility.

    I have learned a great deal from reading this thread, thank you.

  46. 46
    Dan says:

    re: 35. See http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/mann2003b/hemisphere.jpg.
    Per the article, “conclusions for the southern hemisphere… are limited by spareness of the available proxy data.” However, the trend does not support the idea that it is cooling there.

  47. 47

    OK the heat waves , note “s” , simultaneous and pervasive, originate from places in the world which were more than +5 C above normal on a consistent basis during last winter, need not look at city thermal Islands in the middle of the Arctic archipelago or lake Superior! I’m very curious about which thermal dynamic new law, the anti-gw folks are proposing in order to confirm that these warm days are nothing short but part of a normal cycle. If it is warm everywhere, it is because “average” temperatures were pushed upwards world wide in the NH. A text book definition, as someone proposed about GW. The disinformation stems from a personality war, when a publisher pits one view against another, by emphasing on personalities rather than science. When it comes down to facts and solid explanations, personalities should melt like snow in summer.

    Going to observe the sun now, spotless like the “little ice age” , in a time where its hot everywhere. Capich cycle theorists?

  48. 48
    cat black says:

    I’ve been thinking lately that, if things really do go as badly as they might in the environment, we may be seeing the last of politics as we’ve come to know it. By that I mean, the absolute long-term end of special interest driven political obfuscation, monied access to power, and moral and ethical fence sitting. In all areas, not just environmental protection.

    If things go badly enough then once we’ve emerged from the near/total collapse of everything we’ve collectively worked toward over 1,500 years (assuming we emerge at all) intelligent people are going to recognize that their political systems have failed them at a time when they were most needed. Further, they will recognize the mechanism for failure and will be looking at serious, fundamental, structural changes in government and especially in the formation, operation and regulation of corporations (which I suspect now are skipping gaily into the jaws of a monster). I will not prognosticate further; any one of us could come up with a dozen such trajectory models over the morning coffee.

    I only say this in this particular forum as a way to recognize that while AGW may have become wrapped up with policial machination, this may not turn out to the benefit of those creating the package. The Law of Unintended Consequences is no doubt in play.

  49. 49
    Mark Bahner says:

    “However, environmental groups do not have a vested interest in the exsitence of global warming – there are of course many other environmental problems they could be (and are) dealing with – but they do not stand to gain personally if global warming is more serious.”

    Sort of like how the authors at Real Climate don’t stand to gain personally if global warming is more serious?

  50. 50
    S Molnar says:

    Re #32: “Every major scientific society in the world (yes, the world; it is not hyperbole) supports the science behind global warming.” Let’s not get carried away here: the British Mycological Society has not taken a position on the issue.

    Re #34: Gar Lipow has already written his book; now he needs a publisher:
    http://www.nohairshirts.com/
    Any publishers out there? Based on the available excerpts and some of his other writings I would guess it’s quite marketable. Then again, most of the books I buy struggle to break into the Amazon top one million list, so a second opinion might be in order.


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