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Climate & science - Feb 22

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We need to know who funds these thinktank lobbyists

George Monbiot, Guardian
Shocking, fascinating, entirely unsurprising: the leaked documents, if authentic, confirm what we suspected but could not prove. The Heartland Institute, which has helped lead the war against climate science in the United States, is funded among others by tobacco firms, fossil fuel companies and one of the billionaire Koch brothers.

It appears to have followed the script written by a consultant to the Republican party, Frank Luntz, in 2002. "Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate."

Luntz's technique was pioneered by the tobacco companies and the creationists: teach the controversy. In other words, insist that the question of whether cigarettes cause lung cancer, natural selection drives evolution, or burning fossil fuels causes climate change, is still wide open, and that both sides of the "controversy" should be taught in schools and thrashed out in the media.

The leaked documents appear to show that, courtesy of its multimillionaire donors, the institute has commissioned a global warming curriculum for schools which teaches that "whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy" and "whether CO2 is a pollutant is controversial".

... These organisations are not trying to restore historic buildings or rescue distressed donkeys. They are seeking to effect political change in highly contentious areas. The minimum requirement for all such groups – whether they are on the left or on the right – is that they should disclose their major sources of income so that we know on whose behalf they speak. The commission is providing cover for multimillionaires and corporations who are funding undisclosed campaigns to enhance their own wealth under the guise of charity, and obliging the rest of us to pay for it through tax exemptions. If that's charity, a police siren is music.
(20 February 2012)


Climate scientist Peter Gleick admits he leaked Heartland Institute documents

Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian
A leading defender of climate change admitted tricking the libertarian Heartland Institute into turning over confidential documents detailing its plans to discredit the teaching of science to school children in last week's sensational expose.

In the latest revelation, Peter Gleick, a water scientist and president of the Pacific Institute who has been active in the climate wars, apologised on Monday for using a false name to obtain materials from Heartland, a Chicago-based think tank with a core mission of dismissing climate change.

"My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts – often anonymous, well-funded and co-ordinated – to attack climate science," Gleick wrote in a piece for Huffington Post.

The admission – nearly a week after Heartland's financial plans and donors' list was put online – looked set to further inflame the climate wars, in which a network of fossil fuel interests, rightwing think tanks and politicians have been working to block action on climate change.
(20 February 2012)
Related:
Heartland Institute Leak Exposes Strategies of Climate Attack Machine
Deception Aside, Scientist Who Leaked Heartland Docs Called 'Hero'




On the environment Canada is a rogue state

Murray Dobbin, Rabble
There are so many areas of conventional democratic governance being challenged or eliminated by the Harper wrecking crew it is hard to keep up. Those searching for a line in the sand that even this government won't cross still haven't found it. So far, it seems, there is nothing in the broad field of democratic governance (save the military and prisons) that is sacrosanct.

Minimally, all governments take seriously the protection of their citizens; otherwise there is scarcely any point in having one. Yet a recent CBC report reveals that that the Harper government has virtually eliminated monitoring of the ozone layer over Canada. The government has shut down four of five very sophisticated monitoring stations leaving only a single station -- at UBC in Vancouver -- still gathering information about this critical aspect of our environment.

In doing so, Canada is once again demonstrating that it is becoming a rogue state. The monitoring of the ozone layer -- which protects the earth from harmful radiation -- is an international task requiring the co-operation of many countries. Canada, because of its enormous territory and its large share of the Arctic where the ozone layer is most threatened -- is absolutely key to global monitoring. Last week, according to CBC TV's Environmental Unit, "...five scientists from high-profile U.S. universities and NASA released a scathing critique of Canada's cuts to its ozone monitoring, saying it is jeopardizing the world's ability to watch for holes in the ozone layer and pollutants high in the atmosphere."

But beyond the contempt shown for the international community, the deliberate sabotage of ozone monitoring again demonstrates two of the most prominent features of the Harper government: its disdain and even hostility towards science (and it own scientists) and its determination to promote the oil industry and protect it from any possible criticism.
(20 February 2012)



Stark warning emerges from summit: science is ‘under siege’

Agence France-Presse via Raw Story
A stark theme emerged from an annual scientific get-together in Vancouver: the world must be helped to believe in science again or it could be too late to save our planet.

Science is “under siege,” top academics and educators were warned repeatedly at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting as they were urged to better communicate their work to the public.

Scientific solutions are needed to solve global crises — from food and water shortages to environmental destruction — “but the public now does not understand science,” leading US climate change expert and NASA scientist James Hansen told the meeting.

“We have a planetary emergency, and very few people recognize that.”

The theme of the five-day meeting, attended by some 8,000 scientists from 50 countries, was “Flattening the world: Building a global knowledge society.”

“It’s about persuading people to believe in science, at a time when disturbing numbers don’t,” said meeting co-chair Andrew Petter, president of Simon Fraser University in this western Canadian city.

Experts wrangled with thorny issues such as censorship, opposition from religious groups in the United States to teaching evolution and climate change, and generally poor education standards.

“We have to plan for a future, considering the risk of climate change, with nine to 10 billion people,” said Hans Rosling, a Swedish public health expert famous for combating scientific ignorance with catchy YouTube videos.
(21 February 2012)

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