Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Afternoon Thoughts

The ugliness continues: Now a donor and Fellow and of the Heartland Institute, Ross Kaminsky, also accuses Peter Gleick of faking the memo, on absolutely no evidence whatsoever except the document's apparent time zone, and that Gleick hasn't been "preening and dancing in glee" on his blog and Twitter. [Actually, Gleick tweeted yesterday afternoon.]

Of course, if Gleick were writing about this the HI would accuse him of reacting based on a claimed-to-be fake memo.

Isn't Kaminsky's article libelous? Or just super-sleazy?

The Heartland Institute's behavior in this has not been very...inspiring. They have clung to the thread of claimed fakery as a way to try to seize the high ground, writing, "Those persons who posted these documents and wrote about them before we had a chance to comment on their authenticity should be ashamed of their deeds, and their bad behavior should be taken into account when judging their credibility now and in the future." But as others have noted, such as Andrew Revkin, they were very quick to condemn scientists after Climategate I. They are pushing the fakery hard as a way, apparently, to draw attention from the other documents.

Just as hypocritical was Anthony Watts complaining of Desmogblog's attempt to "demonize skeptics." Of course they are! So is he -- I'm not sure who's better at it, him or them. Talk about the pot calling the kettle a blackbody.

America has really adopted the talk radio schtick they've been hearing for the last 25. The climate issue has devolved into the taunting between fans of rival teams, full of Pete's from Albany who never played beyond junior varsity, but who all know exactly how to score from the 40-yard line with 2 minutes left on the clock.

Then there's the "funding for sceptics is literally microscopic compared to the massive swill trough available for the consensus" argument. It's not a question of funding consensus views versus 'skeptic' views -- it's funding science versus non-science. OK?

You have to love the open letter written to the Heartland Institute by seven of the victims of the Climategate hack. That was very clever on someone's part. There is clearly a concerted effort by a core group to fight back hard.

A study by John Christy finds no decline in snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the last 130 years.

Finally, why are US taxpayers spending $850,000 to study how climate change will affect prairie dogs in Boulder, Colorado?? Knowing that answer is really worth that much? When I lived in Boulder they were studying how to get rid of prairie dogs by sucking them out of their holes with large vacuum cleaners. (Really)


Dano said...

Just part of the game: slimy, foul scurrilous pushback. No need to do the horserace or keep score 4x/day. The hopeless and clueless will focus on the 'faked' and use that to deceive themselves. The deceivers will concentrate on the 'faked' to dupe the gullible.

The rest knew all this already and look for a few tasty bits for flavoring.



bigcitylib said...

Note that the Kaminsky piece suggests HI staffers were fooled more than once which suggests that the docs came in more than one bundle.

suyts said...

David, thought I'd drop you a line and say "well done".

In spite of your followers, you're taking the high road. Agreed that Kaminsky shouldn't have cast those dispersions, but, reading Dano, I'm wondering if Dano doesn't see the irony.

We're studying prairie dogs because some rent seeking researcher can.

Can anyone tell me, minus the "Confidential Memo" what's in there that's so damning?

The funding is only brought up because "alarmists" continually bring up some imaginary "well funded machine." meme. Clearly, if there is one, HI isn't part of it.

For those so dearly clinging to the idea that the memo isn't a fake, think just for a minute.... who writes like that? No one, not even the people at Heartland.

Then, there's always the importance angle. While I support what HI does, they really aren't that important to the skeptical world. In writing my blog, I've probably only used HI as a resource or got an idea of a post from HI a couple of times.

About the only thing that one can take from this debacle is the delineation between journalism and blogging. Sadly, this lesson seems lost on the commentators here. They seem to cling to the notion that places like DeSmog actually gives unvarnished truth. Clearly, they've no interest in that pursuit.

Anna Haynes said...

"preening and prancing"? ick. Accusing Gleick like that? Double ick.

But we need to be clear that faking documents and pretexting are beyond the pale. We may be dealing with game theorists; expect a "tu quoque" strategy, such that anything you tolerate - or for that matter, anything you decry when it's used against science-aligned figures - will be intensified & used as feedstock/justification for the next, amplified operation.

So, a good precautionary rule of thumb: consider that the provocation/event you're responding to, may have been crafted to elicit a particular response.
(maybe it ain't so, but we need to consider what kind of strategist the fossil fuels industry would hire, & what they'd do for a strategy when the science runs overwhelmingly against them.)

Steve Bloom said...

Anna, note that we have only Heartland's word as to the manner in which the documents surfaced, and that broadly speaking we can expect them to lie about anything and everything when it serves their purposes.

n-g said...

Abstract of the prairie dog study (from the NSF web site):


Grassland plant communities along the Colorado Front Range are responding to directional changes in climate, increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, increased nitrogen deposition, and invasion by many non-native plant species introduced by humans over the last century. A warmer climate and relatively wetter non-growing season appear to support a new group of plant species adapted to the new conditions. These species may also be affecting the ecological role of an important plant consumer known to have very large impacts on the biological diversity of grasslands. Prairie dogs, animals whose presence is critical to the presence of many other species, are believed to interact with invasive plants such that plant community dynamics are dramatically altered from what they were under historical reference conditions. This study will measure how the new plant species are exploiting climate and resource changes, document how grazing activities by prairie dogs are influenced by these species, and assess the effects of the interactions on plant species change and soil erosion.

This research is important because it tests the hypothesis that directional changes in climate and concurrent changes in plant species can alter the role that an animal has in maintaining the structure and function of grassland communities. This project will train undergraduate students, graduate students, and a postdoctoral researcher in environmental change ecology, and will provide the subject material for a senior-graduate course in scenario planning for natural areas in an era of rapid environmental change. The researchers will use this study to engage K-12 students, teachers, stakeholders and managers in searching for solutions to conservation problems.

Dano said...

but, reading Dano, I'm wondering if Dano doesn't see the irony.

Yes, thank you for making my point for me: it is in Heartland's interest to make the waters as muddy as possible. Thank you for doing your part.



Anna Haynes said...

Steve, Mashey doesn't think Heartland did it.

And a rethink re my "We may be dealing with game theorists" - that's not necessary, it could equally well be someone(s) with a penchant for outsized retaliation/escalation.
(or something/one entirely different, I suppose)

Anna Haynes said...

(folks, whoever you are, think about how you want to be remembered by people in the future, and about what actions you can take now, that your descendants will thank you for.)

Steve Bloom said...

Anna, did you perhaps miss the recent Doonesbury "honest man" strip? Concern about the future is a language the die-with-the-most-toys crowd doesn't speak.

Dano said...

Concern about the future is a language the die-with-the-most-toys crowd doesn't speak.

And mankind can't change the earth anyway, so that point is moot.



Anna Haynes said...

Steve, there's a great documentary on the lunch-counter sit-ins for desegregation, that I saw at an event last week. And the point they made, was that you don't know when you'll be able to reach people who've been thinking differently; the only guarantee is that, if you treat them with hostility & as your enemy, that's who they'll be.

There was a wonderful quote - (and I've probably got the details wrong) - activist (Rev. James Lawson?) coming in to meet with the mayor, & saying straight out, "we're going to desegregate your city"; mayor sitting back, amused & distant, saying "and just how do you think you're going to do that?" - & the activist replied - "with your help".

Their enemy was injustice, not people.

I'll see if I can find the video online.

Steve Bloom said...

Anna, the fight against segregation was against the last gasps of a moribund social system. Consider how the climate struggle is much different. (IIRC quite a lot has been written about the parallels.)

Yes, we should not needlessly alienate people whose fear causes them to embrace comforting lies. But there really are a lot of evil people at the heart of the problem, involved, and not calling them out hobbles us.

Re Lawson, it probably would have been more accurate for him to say "With the help of all those northerners watching on TV," but that's another discussion.

Anna Haynes said...

> "Yes, we should not needlessly alienate people whose fear causes them to embrace comforting lies. But there really are a lot of evil people at the heart of the problem."

Agreed & agreed (& agreed that the zeitgeists are different)
But what if it's not clear which of these 2 categories the person belongs in? what if the person's being coerced? what if the outsized individual with outsized over-reactions has a mahout?

(i.e., grey areas)

Ross Kaminsky said...

Was my article about Gleick libelous (or sleazy) as you suggest? I accept your apology.

Steve Bloom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Bloom said...

Speculating about people based on minimal evidence is what it is, Ross, and criticism of such isn't grounds for an apology.

Anna Haynes said...