Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Meet The Men Behind The Manhattan Declaration

Welcome to tonight's edition of the Weakest Link. Today's contestants are all signatories of the recently published Manhattan Declaration that sets out to dismiss the belief that climate change is man made.
We start with the strongest link from the last round, that's you Timothy Ball.

Anne: Timothy, which retired professor acted as a consultant for Friends of Science who are part funded by the oil industry?
Timothy Ball: Me.
Anne: Correct.

Anne: Robert M Carter, The Institute of Public Affairs is funded by Mining companies BHP-Billington and Western Mining Corp and oil companies Caltex, Esso Australia and Shell. Which global warming sceptic is a member of the IPA?
Robert Carter: That would be me Anne.
Anne: Correct.

Anne: Richard Lindzen, True or false, you act as a consultant to oil and coal interests and had your speech 'Global warming: The origin and nature of alleged scientific consensus' underwritten by OPEC?
Richard Lindzen: True.
Anne: Correct.

Anne: S. Fred Singer, which physicist runs the Science & Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) and has been a paid consultant for several oil companies and has received multiple grants from ExxonMobil to fund the SEPP?
S. Fred Singer: I do Anne.
Anne: Correct

Anne: Patrick J. Michaels, who has received funding from the German Coal Mining Assoc, the Edison Electric Institute, the Cyprus Minerals Company and the Intermountain Rural Electric Assoc. to fund his World Climate Review newsletter and blog?
Patrick J. Michaels: I have.
Anne: Correct

Anne: Robert C. Balling, Jr, which Geography professor had the Kuwaiti government pay for a version of his DVD 'A Heated Debate' to be released in the Middle East and conducted an ExxonMobil-funded study in 2002 entitled "The 2000 United States Historical Climate Network Update: What Changed?"
Robert C. Balling: That would be me Anne.
Anne: Correct.

Anne: Tom Harris, which former head of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, set up this organisation on the initiative of the High Park Group, a lobby organization with clients that include the Canadian Electricity Association and the Canadian Gas Association?
Tom Harris: Me Anne.
Anne: Correct

Anne: Tim Patterson, which scientist is a member of both the aforementioned Friends of Science and the Natural Resources Stewardship Project?
Tim Patterson: Me Anne.
Anne: Correct.

At the end of that round you managed to bank billions between you from anyone who has an interest in kicking the Climate Change debate into the long grass so as well as all being thoroughly discredited, you are all the weakest link. Goodbye!


Aaron said...

Anne: Who has benefited the most from the global warming hysteria?
Every single climate scientist on the planet: I guess, well, that'd have to be us.
Anne: Yes! Congratulations, you win the Grand Prize - a trip aboard Al Gore's LearJet to the Thank God for Global Warming Concert in the tropical paradise of Greenland.

Anonymous said...

And some of the very same people who were involved in denying cigarettes cause cancer back in the 60's are involved in climate change denialism. A few are now with the Cato Institute and other conservative think tanks.

Anonymous said...

Effay, please take your head out of your ass for a moment and stand up and take a bow!

You have won first prize for gross ignorance and infinite stupidity. Many, many of your countrymen came close to winning but you managed to clinch it.

Well done.

Envoteam said...

"Every single climate scientist on the planet:"

Ha ha. That is the lamest complaint possible. Scientists try to get the job done with very limited resources, often zero funding. Certainly nothing compared to the energy companies and their invester hangers-on.

Cheezy said...

Effay: That's right mate, it's all a communist plot designed to enrich those pesky 'scientists'... with their 'evidence' and 'data' and suchlike... goddam poindexters.

Hey, speaking of the oil industry, I take it everyone's heard the big 'oil news' of the week?

No? Actually, you'd be forgiven if you haven't heard it, since most major media sources seem to be ignoring it.

It's only this: The 4 major oil companies who were chucked out of Iraq in 1972 - that being Exxon-Mobil, Shell, BP and Total - are all back now ("alakazam"!) because they're about to sign - yes, you guessed it - NO BID CONTRACTS to start to exploit Iraq's oil fields.


A very minor story isn't it? It's no wonder we haven't heard much about it!

I would think this must be a very confusing and paradoxical moment for the Neo-cons... On the one hand, this is VICTORY! i.e. This development basically sets the seal on their ambitions from the war.

But on the other hand, because the 'official' war aims were so different, and remain so pathetically unfulfilled, they can't celebrate their great victory. Oh, the frustration!

Aaron said...

It's interesting that you all boldly assume I don't believe climate change is real and man-made. I was merely pointing out that the standard Lucy is using here is flawed because the climate scientists have a much greater stake in climate change being real than the energy companies do in it being a fraud.

Other points from my comment(since you all didn't seem to get it):

-Al Gore is a hypocrite.

-What if climate change is real, but not man-made? Does the world have the right to stop climate change thereby forcing Greenland to continue to freeze?

And envoteam, have you ever considered that your comment is, in fact, the lamest possible? Are you saying that, because climate scientists are supposedly so poorly funded, I am correct and they will be out of a job if their meager means evaporated because, say, the whole purpose for their existence were eliminated? Or are you saying that we should be skeptical of the findings of climate scientists because their studies are done without proper funding?

And david g, nice ad hominem attack devoid of any argument.

And cheezy, I have opposed the Iraq War since before we went in, and I oppose government intervention in markets, and I oppose national ownership of minerals, but bringing international oil companies into Iraq will be a boon to their decrepit oil industry.

Cheezy said...

"I have opposed the Iraq War since before we went in, and I oppose government intervention in markets, and I oppose national ownership of minerals, but bringing international oil companies into Iraq will be a boon to their decrepit oil industry."

Thanks for the excerpt from your biography. Fascinating stuff... Anyway, my point was just to alert others to this piece of news which, rather interestingly, is going unreported (or at least under-reported), at the moment. And I'm afraid your opinion about who will do well out the whole deal doesn't really strike at the moral nub of what I'm getting at.

Falling on a bruise said...

Mission accomplished then Cheezy, shame he used that line already just before it hit an even bigger fan.

effay, the overwhelming majority of scientists are campaigning against global warming because they believe it is our greatest threat and not because they are having their pockets lined by companies selling rubber dinghies and umbrellas unlike those few scientists who are whoring out their opinions to whichever company pays them. Companies with a vested interest in blurring the debate. You would have to be mind blowingly niave to not see what is going on and who is making from this manhattan declaration.

Stephen K said...

And effay, you accuse david g of making an ad-hominen attack, when that's exactly the nature of the attack you make on Al Gore.

Dismal Soyanz said...

Just to stick my oar in ('cos I can):

- Global is warming is happening - the question is whether it has been accelerated (not "caused") by humanity.
- Environmentalism has a positive side in that it should get people to think more about their current actions and the possible future ramifications, whether it be the look of their national parks or their retirement income. Humans are notoriously short-sighted for a supposedly self-aware species.

effay - yes. Weird Al is a hypocrite - as are 99.99% of all politicians. Come to think of it, just about everyone alive is a hypocrite in some form or another.

The environmental movement has cottoned on (some earlier than others) to the fact that people do not like to exercise their brains. So the message is served up in simplistic terms. Result? Lots of people who have a tiny fraction of knowledge looking for simplistic answers.

Personally, I'm with the guy who said it was a bad idea coming down from the trees.

O' Tim said...

That Sun article was a real eye-opener, Cheezy. I had no idea about the pre 9-11 history and the Unocal-Karzai connection - that is a serious smoking gun!

Aaron said...

"And effay, you accuse david g of making an ad-hominen attack, when that's exactly the nature of the attack you make on Al Gore."

Actually it's not, because I didn't call his argument into question. Let's refresh on what I said: Al Gore is a hypocrite because he flies around in jets while telling people not to. Ad hominem would be something like: Global warming isn't real because Al Gore, a hypocrite, says it is.

I suppose it is possible to say the same for envoteam's comment, but I assumed that he was attempting to attack my argument instead of just having a bout of Tourette's.

Lucy, with all due respect, I already addressed the baseless assertion that I am a global warming skeptic and that I don't agree that the people behind the Manhattan Declaration have ulterior motives. In fact, I did not comment at all on my views on global warming and its causes. I only wanted to point out that your standard is flawed. That's it.

Stephen K said...

Well, if you attack on Al Gore is not ad hominen, then it is completely irrelevant to Lucy's post. You called Gore a hypocrite. We all are, so what? It is much worse than hypocrisy to allow yourself to get paid off to hoodwink the population into thinking there is a scientific debate on climate change. It is intellectual dishonesty at its rankest on the most critical issue of our time.

And I'm guessing that the signatories to the Manhattan Declaration get paid quite a bit better than most climate scientists.

Anonymous said...

The likes of Lindzen and his gang of shysters have an ulterior motive for their actions effay. They get paid for screwing us all but you are either being willfully provocative to start an argument or you are just a useful idiot. These shoddy scientists must dream of meeting gullible people like you.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have said it better myself, Big Phil!

Problem is that the world is full of people like effay and those who rule us know that.

Falling on a bruise said...

Lenin didn't get much chance to pursue his dream but he did leave us with one of my all time favourite terms, useful idiot, so thanks Big Phil.
The standard i used effay was that scientists and academics dealing with such important issues as climate change should not have conflicts of interests. All these i have mentioned do and should therefore be ignored as unreliable.

Aaron said...
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Nog said...
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Aaron said...
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Nog said...

-I don't see how getting research funding from likeminded individuals is wrong. If only folks who have no interest in a particular answer (a.k.a. saints) can be considered credible, nobody is credible. Perhaps I can no more dismiss a scientist for getting money from a foundation funded by an oil company than I can dismiss a scientist getting money from a company that has a vested interest in trading pollution credits (e.g. Enron).

I know how much I'd love to dismiss John Grey or Noam Chomsky for being sell-outs, but I read them as objectively as I can anyways. I know that Jeffrey Sachs dropped half of his principles just so that he could be cool-enough to hang out with great musicians who know little about the social sciences, but I read him as objectively as my mortal psyche permits as well. Usually, people we disagree with tend to give the most provocative and intellectually stimulating arguments (as opposed to those who just preach to the choir).

Dismissal by association is a way for unintelligent individuals to duck questions that their subconscious knows it can't answer. It's the mind's reflex to knowing that it has backed itself into a corner by making bold claims about things that it doesn't know anything about. It is the mind admitting “I’m wrong.”

So, if I understand him correctly, Effay's original point, however bluntly given, hit the nail of the issue on its head: The completely rational individual (who we should all strive to become) doesn't dismiss someone's arguments because of some association or possible bias (to an oil company or to Al Gore). While Effay has been very provocative, his satire has been completely effective. By straw-manning Effay, you have completely conceded to him by proving the point of his satire. What was his point? I’d say Effay was, through rhetorical art, saying: “I’d love to have a rational conversation but you haven’t given me any material.” The response seems to have been: “Um…. Err…. We don’t have any material and we don’t know what we’re talking about. We are appealing to authority and confess our ignorance. You’re confusing us and we’re scared!” Y’all basically just got “Mohammed Cartooned” (if I may use what could be considered an ad hominem rhetorical attack).

The only way we can reasonably deal with ideas is by using reason (as opposed to fleeing to psychological reflex). But we cannot even begin to reasonably deal with a point if we, out of intellectual cowardice, hide from it.

So, although it is quite enjoyable to rip on Tim Patterson or Al Gore, arguments are not people. What if someone (like Gandhi or the Buddha) said that there were real ManBearPigs? I guess I'd have to think about it.


Stephen K said...

As far as I'm concerned, the rational/scientific debate with respect to climate change ought to be now that we know that it's happening , and that human activity seriously contributes to it, what do we do about it? And we do know that it is happening. That's no longer debated among the vast, vast majority of climate scientists. There may be the odd independent scientist who dissents, though I haven't come across any.

I'm all for dissent in principle, and like you I enjoy reading Chomsky. However, that doesn't mean accepting dissent on its face, without looking into it, checking their references, credentials, what their peers say about them, etc.

In addition to the scientific debate, there is also the uncovering of relevant sociopolitical facts which explain to us why some people may be acting as they do, and which should move us to take a closer look at the legitimacy of what they are trying to say to us. The is more the realm of the journalist or the social scientist, and helps us understand the broader picture. It is entirely legitimate.

Cheezy said...

...and while bloggers debate the earth-shattering matter of whether or not an American politician practices what he preaches, for the first time in human history ice is set to disappear from the North Pole:


It all puts me in mind of my favourite quote of the moment, from recently deceased comedian George Carlin:

"If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little."

Falling on a bruise said...

However much you muddy the waters nog, the bottom line is any scientists, not just these guys but anyone on whatever issue, if they are found to have a conflict of interest, their spoutings should be questioned.
If a scientist was advocating drinking more milk, and it was found he was getting his research paid for by Dairy producers or the milk board had bought him a boat, everyone would say of course he would say that. This is the same thing.

Nog said...

1- How long has "human history" been?
2- How are we to understand the things that have happened in that span of time in relation to things that have happened in larger spans of time?

3- "any scientist[']s...spoutings should be questioned."

I definitely agree.

Review said...

A post from Tom Harris, Natural Resources Stewardship Project, at Free Dominion

Post subject: If the science is wrong, then nothing else matters

"I completely agree with fourhorses that the ultimate aim is to create a situation where the CPC can say assertively, "The science no longer supports the assumptions of the Kyoto Accord."

However, politically this cannot be done overnight without the Conservatives taking what they consider to be an unacceptable hit (do people think they would really lose votes with this statement (from Canadians who would otherwise vote for them, that is?).

So, the solution put on this site a little while ago by Tina is one I would support as well - namely, they don't take sides at all and admit they don't know and so are holding unbiased, public hearings in which scientists from both sides are invited to testify. The resulting chaos, with claims all over the map, will do enough to thoroughly confuse everyone (which is appropriate, actually, since the science is so immature and, frankly, confusing) and take the wind out of the sails of the "we are causing a climate disaster and must stop it" camp entirely, and the CPC can quietly turn to important issues without really having had to say much at all.

What's wrong with this approach?

Tom Harris, Executive Director, Natural Resources Stewardship Project
Web: www.nrsp.com

Stephen K said...

To provide a little context here :

Free Dominion is a far right wing Canadian website. CPC stands for the Conservative Party of Canada, the current governing party, which has shown a strong a version to doing anything meaningful to address the problem of climate change.

Thanks for inadvertently revealing CPC and denialist strategy:

"The resulting chaos, with claims all over the map, will do enough to thoroughly confuse everyone (which is appropriate, actually, since the science is so immature and, frankly, confusing) and take the wind out of the sails of the "we are causing a climate disaster and must stop it" camp entirely, and the CPC can quietly turn to important issues without really having had to say much at all."

Falling on a bruise said...

Thank you for pointing out what the Free Dominion website is all about stephen.
The raison d'etre of these folks is to muddy the waters so much that nothing gets done. Glad to hear that people are increasingly seeing through this crude attempt and dismissing the so-called climate change sceptics.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting my comment on Free Dominion. Although I am no longer with NRSP, now being with the people who organized the Manhattan Declaration, I stand behind my comments on FD and ask again, "What's wrong with this approach?"

It is honest and both scientifically and politically sound.

Tom Harris

Anonymous said...

Some corrections to Luci's post:

"Today's contestants are all signatories of the recently published Manhattan Declaration' - I guess you didn't check the list - neither Professors Lindzen nor Michaels signed. Also, the group I now head has no relationship, and never has, with High Park Group (who also have solar and wind companies among their clients, I understand - Suzuki is supported by oil and gas companies, you know - check his annual report).

"At the end of that round you managed to bank billions between you from anyone who has an interest in kicking the Climate Change debate into the long grass" - I wish.

Anyways, does anyone spot the fallacy in Luci's approach? She attacks the messenger, not the message. This is right out of Dr. Michael C. Labossiere’s “Fallacies” – if fact it is an attempt to use tactic #27 Guilt By Association on http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ .

Tom Harris

Aaron said...

Damn Lucy, this blog's starting to get downright famous.

Stephen K said...

Yeah, it's definitely got the attention of the denialists. Way to go Lucy.

Falling on a bruise said...

Alas effay, famous but they still manage to consistenly get my name wrong.

Anonymous said...

"Denialists" - I haven't seen anything from Al Gore and Suzuki yet. They are the deniers, of course, denying that climate changes all the time no matter what humans do. Did you know, for example, that 10,400 years ago, in an era called the Younger Dryas, when the Earth was still pulling out of the last ice age, temperature rose 8 degrees C in 10 years, 100 times faster than the rate of change in the 20th century (most of which has been erased in the past 2 years because of recent cooling - er, I mean, "interrupted warming", the term warmers use for cooling.)

Tom Harris