Friday, July 29, 2011

Conservative Think Tank Trys Climate Skeptic Damage Control Over Record-Setting Heat Wave Headlines

As a record heat wave grips the U.S. with new record temperatures set daily this summer the conservative messaging network of think tanks and media outlets continue to try to convince people its all just natural and normal.

Forbes Magazine this month published an OpEd titled, " New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism." This OpEd is now being picked up and reprinted in newspapers around the U.S. as a "new finding," rather than just a republication of old discredited claims.

The OpEd was written by James M. Taylor, a senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News. Taylor, a lawyer who lives in Florida, has no academic or research background in climate sciences. Referencing a paper co-authored by Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, Taylor says in his OpEd that:

"NASA [Terra] satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed. ... In addition to finding that far less heat is being trapped than alarmist computer models have predicted, the NASA satellite data show the atmosphere begins shedding heat into space long before United Nations computer models predicted."

Dr. Roy Spencer has long claimed that climate change is not caused by human CO2 emissions, which in anycase have minimal impact. Spencer is the author of least three books downplaying global warming - Climate Confusion (2008), The Great Global Warming Blunder (2010), The Bad Science and Bad Policy of Obama's Global Warming Agenda (2010) - all published by Olin, Koch, & Bradley-funded Encounter Books, an editor, publisher and distributor for conservative agenda books which have no traditional means of publication.

Source Watch writes that, "Dr. Spencer has been an active in advocating Intelligent Design over evolution, and he argues that its teaching should be mandatory in schools. Working with the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, Spencer has been part of an effort to advocate environmental policy that is based on a "Biblical view" rather than science. As a defender of the pseudoscience of "Intelligent Design" creationism, Spencer has asserted that the scientific theory of evolution is really just a kind of religion."

Dan Satterfield writes in, "A history of satellite measurements of global warming," that Spencer and colleague John Christy published a series of papers starting in the early 1990's that imply the atmospheric troposphere is warming at a much slower rate than the surface temperature record and climate models indicate." The discrepancy between Spenser's and Christy's claims and the rest of the climate research community, however turned out to be an artifact of Spenser's and Christy having applied incorrect adjustments to their UAH satellite temperature record data. Ray Pierrehumbert at RealClimate writes in an article, "How to cook a graph in three easy lessons:"

"Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing — indeed encouraging — the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong. They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess, as has now been done"

Mainstream climate scientists say that the argument advanced in Spencer's latest paper is neither new nor correct. "He's taken an incorrect model, he's tweaked it to match observations, but the conclusions you get from that are not correct," Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, said of Spencer's new study. Other researchers point to flaws in Spencer's paper, including an "unrealistic" model.

LiveScience: Several researchers expressed frustration that the study was attracting media attention. "I cannot believe it got published," said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The science of Spencer's work proved inextricable from the political debate surrounding global warming. The paper was mostly unnoticed in the public sphere until the Forbes blogger declared it "extremely important."

Dessler, the A&M climatologist said that he doubted the research would shift the political debate around global warming. "It makes the skeptics feel good, it irritates the mainstream climate science community, but by this point, the debate over climate policy has nothing to do with science," Dessler said. "It's essentially a debate over the role of government," surrounding issues of freedom versus regulation.

From Larry Miller's blog post - Beware of the Heartland Institute: Brought to you in part by the Koch Brothers:

The Heartland Institute is a Chicago-based right-wing ”think tank” that publishes polished newspapers under the banner of “free market” solutions to education, healthcare, taxes, the environment, telecommunication regulation and budgetary issues. The 5 slick monthly newspapers are:

  • Budget & Tax News
  • Environment & Climate News
  • Health Care News
  • Infotech & Telecom News
  • School Reform News

The Heartland Institute is a highly funded propaganda publishing house advancing the arguments of the most reactionary elements of corporate America. They are connected to Tea Party activism and see themselves as a “…clearinghouse for the work of 350 other think tanks and advocacy groups.”

Their claimed audiences are the nation’s 16,700 national, state and local government officials. They wish to affect policy at every level of government in the U.S.

In their most recent expenditure statement they reported spending over $28,132,000 since 1998 receiving funding from right wing foundations including the Heritage Foundation , Cato Institute, Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, Reason Foundation, Manhattan Institute along with corporations and individual. The Koch brothers are supporters.

This conservative “think tank” represents an ideological movement whose goal is for corporate America to have a free hand to do anything they wish for profit and without regulation. They are working for complete privatization of the public sector and either elimination or privatization of the public’s safety net at the federal, state and local level.

They are key propagandists to the present right wing movement in the U.S, supporting any position that increases corporate profits even if those positions work against the health, well being and democratic rights of the peoples. In education, vouchers to fund private corporate schools are at the center of their reform demands. Their healthcare goal is to cut and privatize Medicare and Medicaid, giving the insurance industry free reign over the market. They fuel the movements at the state government level with “data” and arguments against unions, for cutting education and any safety net spending, including healthcare for the poor and elderly, while supporting enormous tax breaks to businesses.

Their propaganda on the environment forwarded through their Environment and Climate News publication argues the U.S. economy should be free of EPA-mandated carbon dioxide restrictions. They are completely opposed to renewable energy sources publishing studies that say they “kill jobs.” They deny global warming even claiming that “rising CO2 benefits plant life.” One of their tactical goals is to eliminate the EPA and base environmental controls at the state level.


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