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Billionaires Secretly Fund Vast Climate Denial Network 848

Posted by samzenpus
from the obvious-things-are-obvious dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Suzanne Goldenberg reports that conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120 million to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, helping build a vast network of think tanks and activist groups working to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarizing 'wedge issue' for hardcore conservatives. 'We exist to help donors promote liberty which we understand to be limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise,' says Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust. Ball's organization assured wealthy donors that their funds would never by diverted to liberal causes with a guarantee of complete anonymity for donors who wished to remain hidden. The money flowed to Washington think tanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions, even to buy up DVDs of a film attacking Al Gore. 'The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. It's also growing. Budgets for all these different groups are growing,' says Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, which compiled the data on funding of the anti-climate groups using tax records. 'These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable.'"
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Billionaires Secretly Fund Vast Climate Denial Network

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  • Disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:34AM (#42927567)

    Make lobbying equal to bribery and throw the fuckheads in jail for life.

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:35AM (#42927573)

    'We exist to help donors promote liberty which we understand to be limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise,' says Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust.

    And don't forget the disinformation. We can't have all that freedom with an informed public.

  • ok... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:39AM (#42927599)

    Let me get this strait, conservative billionaires are funding groups that are trying to discredit groups funded by liberal billionaires and this is news?

    Disclaimer: I have no doubts that climate change is happening and CO2 plays some role in that change.

  • Re:Secretly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:43AM (#42927627) Homepage Journal

    Was there somebody who didn't know this was going on? Petrochemical plutocrats were obviously behind this. In many cases they didn't even bother to hide.

    "Knowing" this is going on based on faith and knowing this is going on based on evidence are two very different kinds of belief. This kind cannot be questioned away; indeed, it is the result of questioning, and it can only make belief stronger. It's news because now there is evidence. It's interesting because it's not illegal to fund climate research or publication, so they wouldn't need to hide their activity unless they knew they were up to something illegal, like perpetrating fraud.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:46AM (#42927655)

    And accuse them of hiding terrorist organizations....

  • by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:46AM (#42927659)
    ...don't demonize them as neo-Holocaust deniers. One-hundred twenty million, but is their side true? Address the facts, don't engage in ad hominem attacks.
  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:51AM (#42927681)
    You poor soul. You seem to think that convincing people of anything has to do with facts. The school of sophistry teaches us that he who makes the best sounding argument wins, and the facts be damned. If you want to be sure of a victory, appeal to basic emotions: anger, hatred, triumph...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:00AM (#42927725)

    Address the facts, don't engage in ad hominem attacks.

    Skeptics are not the problem. Skeptics address the facts and the data - and they are becoming more and more rare because the data is damning. It's the people electing and directing public policy. The real problem are the folks with "opinions" spoon fed to them by the lying, incompetent, and irresponsible media - ALL the MEDIA - but especially Fox News.

    Listen to talk radio or watch Fox News sometime. I constanlty hear people (my neighbors) parrot what they say. They personally attack Al Gore and equate global warming with him. Actual facts or scientific data NEVER come up or if they do, it's a liberal conspiracy to tax more and for wealth transfer.

    Ad Hominem attacks are perfectly "logical" to those people - actually to people in general (how many times have you seen people being called "fanboys", "scientologists", or whatever for having an unpopular opinion here!)

    Add in the emotional hit of Liberal vs. Conservatives and BINGO you have a completely irrational response to an issue.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cforciea (1926392) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:00AM (#42927727)
    That's funny, whenever I do this sort of thing, the police keep calling it "fraud".
  • Re:Cuts both ways (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fche (36607) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:01AM (#42927729)

    "That said, when it's being exercised in such a non-transparent and intentionally misleading manner, I'd question whether it actually *is* even "free speech" in the first place."

    Are you saying that speaking anonymously makes it questionably "free"? Do I understand you correctly, AC?

  • This. I'm one of the ones who really doesn't know what to believe, but every time I hear the term "denier" used in this amazingly offensive and inappropriate context I stop listening, because it makes it sound like the one saying it doesn't have actual dispassionate arguments and has to rely on ad hominem. I won't say I agree with the skeptics, but mocking them is the antithesis of science, not the defense of it.

    Here's a longer, more nuanced verison of why crying "denier!" is anti-scientific [hiresteve.com].

  • Re:Secretly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:03AM (#42927737) Homepage

    True, but the people who don't look at the evidence or think about the data are in the majority. They get all their information from these guys. They vote, too.

    That's why this is bad - a bunch of rich guys are using the ignorant masses as a way to trade the future of the planet for their nth new mansion in some tax haven or other.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:03AM (#42927739)

    Wrong. Where corporations are concerned, in exchange for the limited liability and other special rights granted, which are not natural rights in the slightest, we as a society can demand accountability fr the money they spend and the lies they promote.
    .
    If a wealthy INDIVIDUAL wants to go buy propaganda shilling for their self interest against the rest of us, I can't stop that. The thing is, it's pretty hard to use money like that without being found out--that's its own check on excess. That we allow the funneling of cash through groups whose sole purpose is to hide it is called money laundering in any other context and should not be permitted here.

    This is also yet another reason, as if we need more, why corporate entities should not be permitted to spend any money or resources at all on politics. They are creations of law. They have no natural right to exist, and that the Supreme Court throws out ANY restrictions on their political behavior given that is just a sad example of how far we've fallen.

  • by siride (974284) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:11AM (#42927793)

    That article completely misses the point of why we use terms like "denier". The deniers are not people who having legitimate qualms with the theories and data behind AGW. Those are skeptics and those are fine to have and indeed important in the scientific process. The deniers are the people who *know* that AGW is wrong, or believe that it has to be wrong because the consequences are antithetical to their worldview (e.g., the idea that there could actually be downsides to American capitalism and industry) or for some other reason that has nothing to do with the science. That's denialism. These people would never be convinced by any amount of evidence in favor of AGW. They don't even care. As such, they are correctly labelled deniers.

    Now, perhaps some AGW fans are too broad with their use of the term, and perhaps some of them forget their own equivalents -- those people who just *know* AGW is right because capitalism is evil, facts or no facts. And that's a sad truth. That doesn't diminish or destroy the usefulness or correctness of the term "denier".

  • Re:Secretly? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by JWW (79176) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:22AM (#42927897)

    So what?

    People are funding client skeptics, and people are finding Climate Change studies.

    As soon as you say - "you can't study that" to people who may disagree with the perceived status quo, you are limiting speech, period.

    We understand so little about climate I think we can live with more funding from all sides, not just from those with preconceived notions.

    Heck there was even that one skeptic funded study that concluded that there is global warming.

  • Re:Cuts both ways (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:24AM (#42927921)

    Well it's more sponsored speech than free speech isn't it.

    Surely the free speech ideal is about letting anyone say what they want to say. It weakens it rather a lot when it's a small minority of people buying the speech of many.

    It's the classic difference between real grassroots opinions, and astroturf.

  • Re:Free Speech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cforciea (1926392) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:24AM (#42927923)
    Here's the problem. There have been thousands of societies that at one point had the sort of "Liberty and Freedom" that you are talking about, where there was little or no government to "nanny" people. Do you know what happened to all of those societies? Power centralized, and freedom went away.

    The thing that historically has made our country great is specifically the government. We fill the power vacuum with a democratically elected government so that some rich cabal of people can't take power and use it so their "freedom" is maximized and yours is minimized. The problem is obviously that if you let said cabals get enough influence, with mass media and the internet being what they are, they gain a new route to that tyranny anyway: buy enough public opinion and you can directly manipulate a democracy.

    So every single person in this country should give much more than a rat's ass when stories like this come up, because they directly relate to people trying to break the system that has protected your liberty and freedom for hundreds of years. And this isn't really about parties. I think that the conservative movement in this country has some properties that make this sort of action happen more frequently from their direction, but we should be vigilant against similar manipulation from anybody.

    I agree that Liberty and Freedom are what makes this country great. But right now, you are defending the Koch brothers' freedom to try to steal your freedom from you.
  • Follow the money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BergZ (1680594) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:24AM (#42927927)
    There's this game that "skeptics" of the scientific theory of Global Climate Change like to play.
    They assume that climatologists have come to their conclusions (that the Earth is warming due to greenhouse gas emissions and human activity is partly responsible) because the scientists (they say) "were paid by people and governments to come to that conclusion".
    While us "warmists" have been providing the scientific evidence; the "skeptics", on the other hand, argue politics "follow the MONEY!!!" (they say)
    The problem is that when you do take their advice and the money leads to conservative billionaires, the Heartland Institute [guardian.co.uk], Exxon Mobil [guardian.co.uk] (Fossil Fuel industries), and others who have a financial and political interest in denying the science of Climate Change:
    All of a sudden the "skeptics" want us to forget about following the money!
  • Re:Big deal... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jhoegl (638955) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:25AM (#42927941)
    Of course it is true.
    It is fine that everyone can have their say. It is fine that everyone can hear what they have to say, but the only thing that should change is the use of a persons brain.
    I am sure everyone has their excuses as to why truth and facts do not matter to them, but denial comes at a cost. It surprises me that so many people care so little about their offspring or family line.
  • Re:Cuts both ways (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KernelMuncher (989766) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:27AM (#42927951)
    Freedom of speech implies that the speech is true. If big donors are bribing scientists to falsify information then that's fraud.
  • Re:Secretly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:28AM (#42927963) Homepage Journal

    As soon as you say - "you can't study that" to people who may disagree with the perceived status quo, you are limiting speech, period.

    No one is doing that. That was my point; it's not ostensibly illegal to do what they are doing, and many people are doing it openly, so why are they hiding it? Answer, they're concealing some type of fraud. Either they or their agents are claiming to be studying climate change to see what we can do about it and they're actually working against studying climate change and therefore they've put the lie to some of their earlier statements, or they explicitly knew that their money would be going to fund fraud and they were trying to keep this fact out of the public consciousness. Their goal is likely not to avoid prosecution (what are the odds of getting in trouble for junk science?) but simply to avoid being caught in the typical, non-actionable kind of fraud engaged in by politicians and businessmen every day.

    Your logical fallacy is the straw man. Am I going to get a new logical fallacy with every reply to this thread? I would prefer some other prize, thanks.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:32AM (#42927991)

    we as a society can demand accountability

    Please don't use weasel words. You shouldn't say "we as a society" when you really mean "the government", and you shouldn't say "demand accountability" when you really mean "censor speech".

    There are some of us who believe that "no" mean "no" in the following sentence: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    If you feel otherwise, and think that freedom expression is not a fundamental right, but rather a privilege that can be withdrawn in some cases, then you are entitled to your opinion (for now), but you should be honest about what you are advocating.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by durrr (1316311) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:34AM (#42928001)

    It can be true with mutators like positive or negative bias applied.

    This is reported by an environment journalist. And while it may be entirely true that the money is explicitly used to attack global warming. There's no mention whatsoever of the money used to attack global warming skepticism that is channeled to the other side of the pond from sources like Al Gore and other people that are investors in greentech.

    This is why I hate the climate debate. It ceased to be science a long time ago, it's all about politics nowdays. Trying to objectively categorise it is the same as being as being a presidential candidate that claims to be 45% democrat and 55% republican: You'll get flakk from both sides and votes from none.

  • by taxman_10m (41083) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:36AM (#42928015)

    No, I don't think it follows that strenuous denial of a thing is tantamount to secret tacit acceptance. That's like saying Richard Dawkins is secretly a theist because he's so vocal about not being one.

    The real reason to question the sincerity of the denial by these billionaires is the stated aim: "We exist to help donors promote liberty which we understand to be limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise." They don't exist to promote science. They don't exist to even promote facts. They exist to promote a goal, and if facts and science interfere with said goal, they are to be cast aside. I consider myself to be mostly conservative and somewhat libertarian, but it seems that liberty minded people have trouble dealing with anything that is a global problem. A problem of such scope necessarily requires top down policy that is anathema to people who don't want to see any policy much less one with global aims. Because the solution to a global problem is unpalatable the response of such people is to deny the problem. It doesn't really matter that the issue is global warming. It may as well be an extinction level asteroid headed for central Africa. It's problematic nature would be denied until it can no longer be denied with one's own eyes (a point we appear to be reaching with global warming).

  • Bad journalism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jiro (131519) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:38AM (#42928023)

    Unless they surveyed all billionaires, and found that billionaires contributed disproportionately to groups that don't believe in global warming (which they didn't, of course), this headline is about as misleading as saying "billionaires contribute to anti-corporate groups to discredit opponents" or "billionaires kill cute puppies". But then a headline which says "billionaires believe in and contribute to all sorts of causes just like everyone else, and we're pointing to the causes we don't like" doesn't get a lot of ad views.

  • by cforciea (1926392) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:39AM (#42928029)

    IMHO, more graft and corruption on the pro-manmade climate change side.

    Luckily for me, there is actual data to examine, so I can safely ignore your humble opinion.

    Unluckily for me, there are millions of tools just like you who are perfectly happy to eyeball it and trust their gut reaction when there is perfectly good data around to examine, and you all get to vote, too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:43AM (#42928057)

    TFA was a bait piece and looks like everyone so far has fallen for it hook, line and sinker. Opening paragraph from TFA:
    "Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120 million to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned."

    There are only two supporting quotes detailing the specific allegations against these groups:
    "...those conservative donors have been pushing funds towards organizations working to discredit climate science or block climate action."

    "By 2010, the dark money amounted to $118 million distributed to 102 think tanks or action groups which have a record of denying the existence of a human factor in climate change, or opposing environmental regulations."

    Both statements make the same point. Both contain an OR clause, and both OR clauses are worded to include even those who agree 100% with the science but disagree about the chosen regulatory solution. TFA is stuffed to the gills with emotional hot-button rhetoric. Looks like even otherwise clear-headed rational thinkers are susceptible to well-crafted leading statements.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:50AM (#42928107)

    If there are people still around who say that the earth is flat, not round. What's a suitable term for them? Obviously there's a lot of choices, but a "Round Earth Denier" is certainly one of them. And an accurate one.

    What about people that deny that tobacco smoke is carcinogenic? It's fair enough to call them deniers too, yes?

    And sure enough, we do call people that say that the Nazi holocaust never happened "Holocaust Deniers".

    The reason is that we know all these things are true. And for whatever reason, these people that are saying the opposite are denying the truth.

    And it's exactly the same with AGW. The greenhouse effect is simple physics. The amount of CO2 released to the atmosphere by man is a matter of record, as is the increased concentration in the atmosphere. That predicts warming. And the warming trend has been measured, over and over again in many ways. It's beyond question that AGW exists. Only it's extent and the local effects are debatable.

    So, just as with the other three, anyone who says AGW doesn't exist can indeed truthfully be referred to as a "denier".

    I speculate that the reason you're uncomfortable with it is not to do with science at all, but to do with your politics. You find that the people on the other side of the political spectrum from you have no doubt about AGW. But that people who are your natural allies are where the deniers come from. That's obviously going to make you uneasy about it.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:08PM (#42928241)

    "No" doesn't mean "No" as the rather tired example of yelling fire in crowded theatres clearly establishes.

    Perhaps you should research the history of that phrase. It was used by Oliver Wendell Holmes [wikipedia.org] in the case of Schenck vs the United States. [wikipedia.org] Charles Schenck was a draft protester during WWI. The government arrested him, and the case went to the Supreme Court. Holmes wrote the majority opinion, and ruled that since the government could banning shouting fire in the theater, then hey, it could ban other speech too! So Schenck went to prison. Using "shouting fire" as a justification for limiting speech is not only a slippery slope, it is a slope we have slid down before.

    There are also libel/slander laws passed by congress that limit free speech

    Libel/slander laws do not limit speech. They can only be applied after the fact. So you can be held responsible for what you say or write, but you cannot be restrained from saying it in the first place.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:08PM (#42928247) Homepage

    It is fine that everyone can have their say.

    The real problem we're facing is that the 'say' you get with billions in corporate money is worth more than the 'say' you and I get as individuals.

    You can have your say, I can have mine, but when ExxonMobile speaks they blanket the airwaves.

    The Koch family billions also go to business schools, provided they let them make faculty appointments. How many faculty appointments have you made recently?

    Corporations use our own money against us and have a bigger say in government and policy.

  • Re:Disgusting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:28PM (#42928373)

    So, the government "solutions" so far have been to subsidize corn ethanol, windmills, electric cars, and solar panels.

    What we got from that are electric cars that start fires, don't move (as in need to have a forklift pick it up onto a flat bed truck since the wheels locked up), or are so expensive that only the hated "1%" can buy them.

    Somebody loves being fed lies, and regurgitating them to the rest of us. Hate to tell you this, but gasoline? It's flammable too. Every single gas-powered car is quite capable of bursting into flames. Just ask your local fire department about it. And yes, they do lock up too, that's why Tow-Truck drivers keep in business.

    And no, there's no reason you have to be part of the 1% to buy one. No more than any other car of the same value. Or did you think they're all high-end Tesla luxury vehicles? They're not. And we could make them cheaper, and more available, but we won't because we have to protect the free market, and so we don't have the government making cars.

    We get battery manufacturers that get government money but don't produce any batteries. We have government funded solar panel companies that, if they actually produce a solar panel, can get only government agencies to actually buy them.

    Don't know what battery company you're talking about, but Solyndra made solar panels, and they were bought by many people. Unfortunately Chinese ones came out cheaper.

    We have corn ethanol mandated in our fuel which raise the price we pay for our fuel, have a tendency to damage certain vehicles, and have a reduction in CO2 output that is pathetic if it even exists. The consumption of corn by our cars means the food that we consume costs more since, as it turns out, people eat corn too.

    You can check the price of corn, ethanol usage hasn't had the dramatic impact you want to attribute to it, and I'd rather damage vehicles that can be modified than lungs. You do realize it's relatively trivial to convert an engine to work with Ethanol, right? It's no different than any other change to gasoline.

    Since fuel companies are mandated to buy corn ethanol there is no motivation to actually reduce the price.

    Because fuel companies won't buy the cheapest ethanol they can get?

    I could keep going on how the lack of a free market is doing little to nothing to actually reduce our carbon output.

    You could probably come up with a few more lies and deceits, yes.

    Please don't waste your time.

    Some freedom returned to the marketplace is more likely to do more good for the climate than what we have now.

    We could be building nuclear power plants, but the government won't let us.

    Ah, this notion. Hate to tell you this, but the government is doing what the people have been told to tell it to do. The anti-nuclear agenda comes from the Petro industry.

    We could be using sugar beets or switch grass as bio-fuels but the government does not make that profitable.

    You're welcome to show the results of using these plants instead.

    Perhaps if we introduced some real competition in the markets we'd see some real development in windmill technology. As it is right now the windmill manufacturers make money whether or not the windmills actually produce any electricity.

    You probably don't know how much wind-baed energy has grown lately, do you?

    I believe we have a long way to go with solar power and electric cars before they are viable outside some very narrow niche markets.

    Solar Power and Electric Cars are viable today for far more usage scenarios than you realize. But far too many people are tied into what they do have to support a switch. Instead they'd rather fret over how they just can't drive a car that might run out of energy, even wh

  • by brianerst (549609) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:32PM (#42928397) Homepage

    That doesn't diminish or destroy the usefulness or correctness of the term "denier".

    Of course it does. Everyone, on both sides, knows that "denier" is the chosen term specifically because it parallels "holocaust denier". It's argumentum ad Hitlerum and designed and used to make the AGW side feel morally superior. AGW has become a morality play rather than a discussion of how to get rid of a troublesome pollutant (I personally favor a carbon tax).

    If you want to differentiate between legitimate skeptics and anti-AGW true believers, you could use any number of terms - from antagonists to refuters to truthers.

  • Biased summary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:42PM (#42928499)

    The quote is already biased regardless of the facts and theories presented. Simply by using the word "denial" implies truth. Were this a genuinely objective statement, an unbiased author would use a phrase such as "opposing viewpoint". Also using the word "anti" implies negativity and therefore why would anyone want to be associated with something negative. That's why the terms "pro choice" and "pro life" exist.

  • Re:Cuts both ways (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @12:54PM (#42928575) Journal

    Freedom of speech implies that the speech is true.

    Really? So any fictional statement or story is automatically not "free speech"? Meaning pretty much any editorial in any newspaper is not the exercise of "free speech"?

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ApharmdB (572578) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:00PM (#42928639)
    You speak as though you are positive there is parity in the amount of funding and lack of transparency. I have not seen data to either support or refute that hypothesis so it seems like pure conjecture. I am aware of individual funders such as Al Gore and George Soros but two famous sources doesn't mean there is parity.

    One can't prove a negative, someone will always say that you just haven't found it yet. But proving the positive is possible so if someone can, please do.

    Note that a major goal of the groups discussed in the article is to generate a sense of false equivalency in public opinion such that nothing is ever done.
  • heaven forbid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:14PM (#42928751)

    So, private citizens exercise their right to free speech and say something that differs from the "scientific consensus" preferred by the current administration and the press. That's what free speech and democracy is all about, folks: we let people proclaim whatever sense or nonsense they want to proclaim, and then we trust the voter to sort out right and wrong. People who claim that voters are being manipulated into making bad decisions by "secret denial networks" are saying that they can't come up with convincing counter-arguments. And that by itself means that their own case is weak.

  • Re:Secretly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by willy_me (212994) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:16PM (#42928779)

    People are funding client skeptics, and people are finding Climate Change studies.

    You're right in that we have two groups - but only one is involved in actually science.

    When you receive funding only when your "research" produces the desired results it becomes nearly impossible to have unbiased results. It becomes propaganda masquerading as research. To actually perform real research, the researcher must receive funding regardless of result.

    The problem with the skeptics is that their "research", which is always biased, is taking away from the real research that is being done. When an outsider observes two publications making opposite claims, both publications are discredited. And if you ask that outsider which publication they believe, they will usually pick the one they want to be right - which is the one that says they can keep on burning oil.

    The scientific community knows that climate change is real and that human activity is to blame. But the general populous does not partly because of the fake research and the arguments it spawns. So no, we shouldn't accept funding from all sides. Funding should only come from a neutral side - if the rich want to fund more they can donate funds to that neutral side.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:24PM (#42928861) Homepage Journal

    Everyone, on both sides, knows that "denier" is the chosen term specifically because it parallels "holocaust denier".

    No. People on one side of the argument use the word "denialism" because it accurately describes the practice of refusing to accept overwhelming evidence. People on the other side of the argument shriek "our opponents are calling us Nazis!" because it makes them feel better about their own ideologically imposed blindness.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by miltonw (892065) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:29PM (#42928895)
    While I'm not taking sides here, the "debate" (I use the term lightly) isn't between "the little people" and "big corporations". You can't call the United Nations, the U.S. Government and other very, very large and influential entities, who are heavily promoting the "Climate Change" message, "the little people".

    You could just as easily say, "Governments use our own money against us ...".

    If the United Nations, and major governments around the world are promoting only one side of a debate, who is big enough to challenge their assumptions in any meaningful way?
  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:31PM (#42928929)

    For a long time, it was easier to attack the science (a flanking maneuver).

    Then don't be surprised that those people are still viewed as being dishonest deniers.

    Increasingly, you will see a change to battling it out over policy - which was the proper place for this debate the entire time.

    I created the following some years ago. I've been amused as the mass of the denialist rhetoric has followed through it step by step. They don't get any more respect for having done so.

    The Republican 9 Step Global Warming Denial Plan
    1) There's no such thing as global warming.
    2) There's global warming, but the scientists are exaggerating. It's not significant.
    3) There's significant global warming, but man doesn't cause it.
    4) Man does cause it, but it's not a net negative.
    5) It is a net negative, but it's not economically possible to tackle it.
    6) We need to tackle global warming, so make the poor pay for it.
    7) Global warming is bad for business. Why did the Democrats not tackle it earlier?
    8) ????
    9) Profit.

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:33PM (#42928933)

    Actual facts or scientific data NEVER come up or if they do, it's a liberal conspiracy to tax more and for wealth transfer.

    I don't see any actual facts in your post either. And having checked a wide range of predictions and statements by AGW activists, I can say that a large fraction of them are scientifically either unsupported or plain wrong.

  • So about the world (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Internetuser1248 (1787630) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:38PM (#42928977)
    I am just going to say this every time climate change is discussed from now on:

    The climate change debate is a giant distraction that only serves the interests of those destroying the environment.

    At first it was 'is it happening?' then it was 'are we causing it?' and now we have discussions about the magnitude and the exact quantification, about whether it is a debate or not, about whose fault it is.

    Scientists have been saying for decades now 'we are destroying the environment we live in, it is unsustainable and if we don't curb this trend it will become critical.'

    Finding a new way to argue about one specific element of this problem is just another way of avoiding discussing the many things we already know are a problem, and finding solutions. The debate used to be about deforestation, fish stock depletion, groundwater and ocean pollution, unsustainable farming practices etc. After the climate debate is done and settled someone will come up with a new thing to argue about, maybe radio frequency or visible light pollution, or whatever, who knows. The point is we know we are doing things wrong, we have known for ages, why are we still arguing about it?

    These are the facts: The proliferation and industrialisation of the human race is having massive consequences for the earth and the environment, the changes are cumulative and usually either detrimental or unpredictable in their effects. These changes are greatly exacerbated by the unsustainable, greedy and ultimately unnecessary excesses of our consumerist society.

    Does anyone want to dispute these facts? Does anyone wish to make the claim that it would be better to exactly quantify in perfect detail every aspect and facet of each of the ways in which we are causing harm before taking any steps whatsoever to rectify any of them?

    Can we start doing something about it some time soon, please?
  • Re:Disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Sunday February 17, 2013 @01:50PM (#42929079) Homepage

    What we need to do is get money out of politics. There has been some suggestion of state funding of parties in the UK, where once you reach a certain size you get a fixed budget from the state to run your campaigns and no more. It helps stop people buying their way into office, or buying politicians.

    In Japan politicians are not allowed to buy advertising at all. They can go round and campaign in person, but not TV or billboard or newspaper ads.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:36PM (#42929477) Journal
    Don't like this and want to make a difference? Then put together a fund and put it where your mouth is. A good place is money for thorium reactors. You can do it directly, OR you can push O/dems to fund this. And it makes perfectly good sense to fund thorium reactors. The reason is that it can burn up 95% of our 'nuke waste'. That means that out of 70,000 tonnes of waste, we will only have to deal with 5,000 tonnes. In addition, that waste will be safe after less than 200 years, instead of 20,000 years. Hard to argue with that.

    All in all, we need to quit saying what we can not have, and start working towards REASONABLE solutions. It is a mistake to move to 100% AE. We should depend on it no more than 33%. And even that should require that solar/wind or any type that depends on weather/climate to be less than 15%.
    The one thought that so many are forgetting is that a number of nuke plants will have to be shut down over the next 20 years. If we do not have a decent replacement, then we will certainly use natural gas.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:42PM (#42929517) Journal

    If the long term effects are far worse for our species, then concentrating in short term benefit is not only greedy, but frankly evil.

    And none of the proposed solutions require we become hunter gatherers again. That's inflammatory to the point of outright dishonesty.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:46PM (#42929549)

    Unlike most, I'm comfortable admitting that I don't deal in climate science for a living, so my interests land on both sides.

    We spend billions of dollars every year (about $10b last I checked, iirc) on environmental action. We've passed countless laws and statutes, and created large bureaucracies specifically to deal with this stuff. I help pay for all this, by way of living here, paying taxes, and in what I'm allowed to own, buy, operate, do, etc. I'm fine with all of that, as long as I think it matters.

    So yes, I'd like us to know what kind of resources we should be dedicating to each problem, and why. Yes, it's obvious to me that dumping manufacturing waste in the local river is bad. No, it's not obvious to me what resources and laws are appropriate for dealing with global climate change. That doesn't at all mean I think the answer is "none", it means I want to know if there's a difference between ten billion and twenty, and if any of that would be better spent on other things that worry us too.

    I don't see why that's wrong or in any way irresponsible. And it sure doesn't look like we're doing nothing, from my perspective. It doesn't matter how much you bold the text, I think we should should know if we're talking about one degree over five years, or one degree over five thousand years, and what each billion we spend will do about it.

    Why is that wrong? Remember that I'm not a "denier" or anything, I'm everyone that relies on professionals to tell us "how much" and "why".

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thomst (1640045) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:53PM (#42929613) Homepage

    ShanghaiBill somehow got modded to +4 Insightful for blathering:

    we as a society can demand accountability

    Please don't use weasel words. You shouldn't say "we as a society" when you really mean "the government", and you shouldn't say "demand accountability" when you really mean "censor speech".

    Exactly how is requiring groups who engage in lobbying and who presume to weigh in on scientific debate to reveal their actual sources of funding censoring speech in any meaningful sense of the phrase? The overwhelming majority of climate scientists who publish papers that conclude our climate is, in fact, changing (and that the change is largely or exclusively due to human-generated greenhouse gases) and the institutions for which they work make their sources of funding public. Why shouldn't the government require deniers - especially those specifically engaged in high-pressure lobbying of elected officials on the subject - to reveal where their financing comes from? Because they have some supposed divine right to anonymity?

    Somehow the phrase "fair and balanced" springs instantly to mind ... and not in a good way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:56PM (#42929635)
    While, yes, water expands when frozen - and floating water displaces the exact (ignoring negligible differences due to varying salinity) volume in the ocean that the melted ice will occupy (howdy Archimedes). The melting of floating ice does not affect the sea level .

    But the vast majority of the ice on Greenland and Antarctica is on land, not floating, and does not currently affect the sea level, since it is on land! - as it melts and runs into the ocean it will though (Try filling that glass to 3/4 full with water, note level, add ice cube, let it melt, note level...)

    > Even if all the "in-land" glaciers melted, the amount of water that will make it to the ocean would be negligible.

    Ice volumes:

    Antarctica - 7 million (cubic miles) [Erickson, Jon. "Glacial Geology."1996, 161.]= 2.9 × 10^16 cubic meters
    Greenland - 2.8 * 10^6 cubic kilometers [Greenland." World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book, 1999: 325.] = 2,8 × 10^15 cubic meters
    Since Greenland ice is an order of magnitude smaller, let's ignore it for now.

    Ocean surface area:
    360 000 000 square kilometers [Lutgens, Frederick. Essentials of Geology. New York: MacMillan, 1992: 269.]= 3.6 × 10^14 square meters

    Let's (conservatively) call the melted volume of the ice 85% of the ice volume and spread it over the oceans: 2.9 × 10^16 * 0.85 / 3.6 × 10^14 =~68 meters. Negligible, huh?

  • Re:Cuts both ways (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @03:02PM (#42929687)

    It's marked "informative", rather than say "insightful", because it relates a matter of fact.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/13/tea-party-billionaire-koch-brothers [guardian.co.uk]

    That you don't like the fact being pointed out is neither here nor there. That's not what moderation is about.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday February 17, 2013 @03:51PM (#42930013) Homepage Journal

    And none of the proposed solutions require we become hunter gatherers again. That's inflammatory to the point of outright dishonesty.

    Not only that, but with our level of technology, how bad would that be? We could maintain production facilities in some areas, keep education and research going, et cetera. Hunter-gatherers with internet access (perhaps a mesh finally) and advanced medical care? Sounds awesome to me. The problem as always is that corporations are interested in making a buck first and giving us what we want second, only as a means to the first. If they give us too much of what we want (it would be nice if this stuff were reliable, too) then we'll stop giving them money, so they focus on what is most profitable and on driving anyone who might disrupt their business model out of the market.

    Those who profit most from the destruction of our biosphere are spending a lot of effort to convince us that it is not being destroyed. By the time it is effectively impossible to produce crops any way other than hydroponically and indoors, at this rate they'll own all of the water and all of the food production. This is the natural end result of so-called "Green Revolution" agriculture using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides which literally destroy topsoil by killing, washing away, or binding up the organic constituents, it is the natural result of burning CO2 more quickly that natural mechanisms can fix it and not introducing other mechanisms to take up the slack, it is a natural consequence of deforestation when trees are some of the most efficient fixers of CO2 — especially since larger trees of some species actually grow faster and therefore fix more CO2 than smaller, younger examples.

    We do not need to return to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but it might be not only a valid option for many people and places, but also a beneficial one.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sique (173459) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @03:53PM (#42930025) Homepage
    You can get the raw data since some time, but the problem was not the University of East Anglia, it was a lot of stations in different countries not wanting their data published without a fee. I know, this can be easily overlooked if you want to blame the evil and conspiring scientists. But this is the reality in Intellectual Property County, where even for raw data someone wants money.

    And now, all the data is in the public, but there is a profound lack of climate models contradicting the ones used by the IPCC. As ever, there are some differences about the details, and a lot of people delightful point out that there are models predicting 4.2 degree temperature increase and others predicting only 2.5 degree. But that's basicly complaining about the wet paint not being completely even on the building. It doesn't break the building down.

    So please tell me: Now, that all raw data the IPCC is basing the climate model on, is out in the public, why are there no competing models out there? Maybe, just maybe, it's because the raw data actually points to an AGW? And futhermore: Why is it that only the U.S., Russia and China seem not happy with the results of the IPCC, and the population of all other countries seem to agree that the models are quite correct, and actually describing what they are seeing?

    Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with the respective ideologies in all three countries, for which the mere existance of an AGW is dangerous, and thus all the prophets of the ideologies try everthing to make even the aknowledgment about facts unhappen by crying wolf and starting ad hominem attacks (you know, "characteristics of a cult" - purely an ad hominem attack without any argument supporting it) against people actually knowing what they are doing?

    So basicly: Put up, e.g. provide better models based on the raw data (which is aviable since 2006), or shut up!

  • by Shark (78448) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @04:25PM (#42930251)

    What exactly is 'Climate Denial'? Denying that climate exists? For people claiming the moral and scientific upper hand here we aren't very good at framing the issue. I thought the issue was over the 'man made' element of it all. The fact that one thinks the other side of that debate is wrong isn't really a very good excuse to completely misrepresent their argument. A little integrity would go a long way to validate one's position: if you're not capable of fairly state the opposing side's claims, how are you going to refute them?

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by miltonw (892065) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @04:36PM (#42930315)
    Excellent! You are equating any debate, any questions, any doubt about any of the "Climate Change" dogma with religious fundamentalists' religious beliefs. Wonderful! That takes care of that. No more debate.

    It is significant that you compare the religion of Climate Change to other religious beliefs. That is appropriate.

    However, if you want to abandon religious debate between the religion of "Climate Change" and the religion of the Bible -- and accept scientific debate, you'll have to stop your silly rhetoric and stick to actual discussions.

    There is actual debate here, as much as the "Climate Change" religion forbids it. Let's stop using the silly "Climate Change" phrase. The climate is always changing, has always changed and will always change. No one will be able to "stop climate change". That's a very ignorant "goal".

    Is the climate getting warmer? Probably. It appears that most scientists who study climatology think so.

    Do humans impact their environment? Obviously so. Should the harm that humans do to the environment be mitigated and, hopefully, corrected? Obviously.

    Are human beings the primary and most significant factor in the climate warming up? I don't think anyone has proven that. The Climate Change religion states that this is so but climatology scientists don't have nearly as much certainty.

    What is the most significant factor in the climate of the Earth? The sun. The problem is that the sun has so much influence that it is difficult to factor in the other influences. This is why the debate is far from over.

    To me "Climate Change" is just a ploy for political control. Until it has been definitively proven what are all the factors of global warming and then, any proposed mitigation steps have been proven to work it is silly to panic and give political control over to the Climate Change religious zealots.
  • Re:Big deal... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by riverat1 (1048260) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @04:50PM (#42930423)

    Funding for climate orthodoxy 10 times more? You must be including the cost of building and launching satellites, the cost of thousands of weather stations, over 3,000 Argo floats and all the other instrumentation used to study climate, the cost of gathering and collating all of that data, the cost of supercomputer time to help analyze it, etc, etc, etc. That's all basic science that you can't really attribute to one side or the other. You can argue that we're doing too much or too little of it but it needs to be done at some level. I guess you can argue that it's biased toward one side but I think the diversity of scientists and scientific institutions around the world make that extremely unlikely.

    Unless you know something I don't there was one paper recently with 4 or 5 authors that found a climate sensitivity below 2. It is a useful addition to the literature but by itself doesn't overturn all of the other work that's been done. There are a number of methodologies for determining climate sensitivity and it's not clear which if any are best. It's an area that continues to receive a lot of attention.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @04:51PM (#42930427)

    They are not "diametrically opposed". You and he are talking about things which are orthogonal. He's talking about the natural environment and you are talking about economics.

    What each of you said is fine so far as it goes. My question is for you though. Why is it only a minority that have got out of poverty? It's certainly not about working hard. Those poor people in the third world typically work a lot harder than those in the first world. Is it that there's only a limited number of resources? Or is it that the wealth in the first world requires poverty in the third world?

    And why will it be those who are still in poverty that are the worst effected by the damage being done to the environment?

    We can do things a lot better, both environmentally and economically.

  • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @05:49PM (#42930827)
    And what, exactly, distinguishes a lying sack of shit like Monckton or Watts from a holocaust denier? They know they are wrong, they are not that stupid. They lie, lie and lie again, each lie gets debunked multiple times by people actually giving a shit, and 2 weeks later, they spout the same lies in a slightly rephrased manner.
  • by Livius (318358) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @06:18PM (#42930983)

    If Al Gore, Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, et. al. are going to be held up as paragons of truth...

    Denialists are the only ones who say that. The rest of us think that actual scientists who have no conflicts of interest and who have actual evidence are the ones to believe.

  • Re:Disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quax (19371) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @07:12PM (#42931217)

    Soro's puts his money where his mouth is, and is not making his contributions untraceable.

  • Re:Big deal... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by miltonw (892065) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @09:29PM (#42931835)
    You are confusing those who believe there is global warming, which is a high number, with those who believe the primary cause of warming is human activities, which is less.

    But then that is a common confusion. "Climate Change" fanatics work very hard to muddy this distinction.
  • Re:Big deal... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @07:32AM (#42933987)

    The funding for "climate orthodoxy" is almost nothing. There are environmental groups who have strong beliefs about climate change (that don't necessarily come from scientific understanding) and fight politically to push what you would consider a "climate orthodoxy" agenda. They are not very well funded.

    Climate science is reasonably well funded. Science isn't politics. People say that scientists are biased by their need to seek funding, but that's a weak argument. Results and interpretations can be sensationalised to some extent, but scientists can't change reality, they can only investigate it. Moreover, such a bias could only have existed in the early days of research in this area, it can't really exist now. If any of the "scholars" you mention could find convincing evidence to contradict the current consensus on climate change, it would rock the scientific world. The consensus would change, and the dissenting scientist would become very famous and successful. The same goes for mainstream climate scientists. If they managed to prove themselves and their peers wrong, it would make their names. The simple fact is, the dissenting "scholars" don't have convincing evidence. They don't have convincing arguments for why the consensus interpretation of existing evidence is wrong. They are failing to convince. Moreover, the fact of their existence is not convincing either. Dissenting opinions always exist, because individuals spout all kinds of crazy nonsense for all kinds of mundane reasons.

    Without convincing evidence to the contrary, the prevailing scientific opinion is probably close to the truth. You say there is zealotry on this site, but I don't see much of that. Mostly I see people like me calmly trying to explain how the scientific process works and why the prevailing scientific opinion is usually much closer to the truth than any other opinion.

    The things people like you say, these arguments you make, they are wrong, plain and simple. There's a chance that some truly terrible things are going to happen. The things that could happen are so terrible and the chance is so high, we have to take steps to prevent it from happening. That's it. All you're doing is pointing at the probability and saying "it's not 100%". Great, you're right. The current consensus could be wrong. It could all be a conspiracy. We might be okay doing nothing. It doesn't matter. The risk is too great to do nothing. The arguments you are making, the agenda you are pushing, it is wrong and it is morally wrong for you to keep pushing it. You're part of an effort that might cause the deaths of a very large number of people.

    Image you're a climate change denier. Let's be optimistic and say there's only a 0.1% chance of a catastrophic climate change event which (being very generous) only kills 100 million people and otherwise nothing bad happens. Let's be generous and say that you're part of a movement of 100,000 people campaigning to deny climate change. 0.1% * 10 million / 100,000 = 1 expected death each. That's approximately 5.6 litres of blood on your hands (being super generous). That's why people are so hostile to climate change deniers. Because they're fucking murderers.

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