Thursday, February 16, 2012

Climate Under No Threat, Sceptics


Well at least that's how the cognoscenti funded by the Heart Land Institute in the US would have as believe. Notable among them is Australias own Bob Carter. The Fairfax press reports...
Scientist accepts 'cash for climate'
Ben Cubby
February 16, 2012

A PROMINENT Australian scientist has rejected as offensive any suggestion he is doing the bidding of a US climate sceptic think tank that is paying him a monthly fee.

Confidential documents leaked from inside The Heartland Institute, a wealthy think tank based in Chicago and Washington, detail strategy and funding for an array of activities designed to spread doubt about climate change science, paid for by companies that have a financial interest in continuing to release greenhouse gases without government interference.

Among the recipients of funding is Professor Bob Carter of James Cook University, a geologist and marine researcher...

The documents show Professor Carter receives a ''monthly payment'' of $US1667 ($A1550), as part of a program to pay ''high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist message''.

Professor Carter did not deny being paid by The Heartland Institute, but would not confirm the amount, or why it was paying him.

''Institutions or organisations simply pay for services rendered. In the same way that an architect is paid for their work, so are scientists. What they may make any payment to me for, I'm not discussing with anybody outside of my family.''

More than $US20 million had been spent funding and co-ordinating activities of climate sceptics and bloggers since 2007, the documents suggest.

Other cash recipients include Anthony Watts, a US climate sceptic blogger, who is to receive $US90,000 this year. Programs for funding include school curriculum modules that teach science from a climate sceptic perspective.

The documents discuss strategy to ''keep opposing voices out'' of the media and co-ordinate efforts with other ''groups capable of rapidly mobilising responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavourable blog posts''.
Also at the Sydney Morning Herald and Crikey.

The documents were originally published on DeSmogBlog which has followed up with a post detailing a report by John Mashey titled Fake science, fake experts, funny finances, free of tax. Specifically,
...this new report is painstakingly detailed and carefully referenced throughout. It both corroborates and is corroborated by the leaked Heartland documents, which reinforce Mashey's conclusion that Heartland is a for-profit public relations and lobbying firm that is operating with non-profit status by misrepresenting the nature of its activities in its own tax filings.
In totally unrelated news The Canberra Times reports that SA Senator Corey Bernadi wants the CSIRO to redact some of the information it is handing out to kiddies in its climate change kit.
Climate change kit for kids 'apocalyptic'
Rosslyn Beeby, 15 Feb, 2012

The CSIRO will review its new climate change education program for schools following claims made in Senate estimates today that the material is biased and frightens children by offering ‘‘an apocalyptic scenario.’’

South Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi said the CSIRO’s Carbon Kids education kit was ‘‘designed to scare kids’’ about future impacts of climate change.

It painted a frightening picture for children of a world where rising temperatures had created jobs losses and food scarcity, he said. The kit had ‘‘cherry-picked facts’’, offered no discussions of alternative views, and ignored positive steps such as future development of green jobs.
The Good Senator attended the Heart Land Institute sponsored “4th International Conference on Climate Change”. This from Crikey is an interesting read. also has this story. I liked the question in the poll accompanying the story.
Hot under the collar
Should schools teach the controversy?
What controversy?

Ian Plimer has had his totally unquestionable ethical scientific stance rewarded.

Rinehart appoints daughter, climate sceptic to key board

The Australian
February 16, 2012 12:00AM

AUSTRALIA'S richest person, Gina Rinehart, has continued to reshape the management of her business empire, appointing climate-change sceptic Ian Plimer and favoured daughter Ginia as directors of a company linked to a mine that generates annual revenues of $2 billion.

And even if the climate under no threat sceptics are wrong then there is always clean coal and CCS.

Clean coal 'unviable for two decades'

Michael Atkin, ABC News Online February 15

There will be no business case for developing clean-coal power plants in Australia or overseas in the next 20 years, according to a key Federal Government adviser.

National Low Emissions Coal Council chairman Dick Wells says even the introduction of a carbon price in July will not entice the coal industry to invest the billions required for clean-coal plants because it makes no financial sense and punishes shareholders.

He says carbon capture and storage (CCS) will not play a major role in combating dangerous climate change unless the Gillard Government dramatically increases industry assistance.

"If you want to wait for the carbon price to rise to levels where these will be commercially viable we're probably into the 2030s," Mr Wells said.

The Gillard Government has a $1.68 billion CCS Flagships program to get major projects off the ground and the coal industry's Coal 21 fund has committed $289 million to projects so far.

But the potential of CCS remains largely unfulfilled.

"We're a long way off it (the 2050 targets)," Mr Wells said.

The National Low Emissions Coal Council estimates $10 billion to $17 billion is required to have one industrial-scale, clean-coal power station and a portfolio of smaller projects operating commercially by 2020.

The CCS Flagships program originally had deeper pockets, with $2 billion pledged. However, its funding was reduced to $1.68 billion last year.

Just $57.26 million has been spent so far but Mr Wells defends the need to move slowly.

"I don't think there is any embarrassment about not spending the money too fast," he said.
No. Probably just as well, because the super tax that so enraged the mining industry last year may not return much to the real owners of the resource anyway.
Mining's small change
Peter Carey and Neil Fargher
February 16

Flaws in the mineral tax mean Australia may profit little from its resource wealth.

COULD Australia end up with little to show for its mining boom - as an echo of what happened to Nauru once its considerable phosphate wealth was exhausted?

Close examination of the proposed minerals resource rent tax reveals serious flaws that could leave the federal government well short of the forecast revenue. It is conceivable that some large and highly profitable mining companies could reorganise their affairs to pay little or none of the tax.

The first and most obvious shortcoming of the MRRT, in terms of its revenue potential, is that it applies only to coal and iron ore. All other minerals are exempt.

The main problem is that the tax is based not on an objective measure such as tonnes of material mined, but on ''super profit'' (mining profit less allowances). Profit at the best of times is a highly flexible concept that can allow accountants to apply creative techniques to minimise a company's tax obligations. With the MRRT, the incentives and opportunities for creative avoidance appear even greater than those applying to company tax.

The minerals tax is not based on audited company profits from statutory accounts, but on a narrow portion of profits from particular mining activities. It requires the taxpayers (that is, the mining companies) to determine the amount of proceeds and costs that relate to these activities.

This reliance on the miners themselves to determine the appropriate proceeds and costs creates a significant incentive to estimate profit from taxable activities in the most tax-efficient manner.

UPDATE to main story.

Scientist Peter Gleick has publicly stated that he obtained the documents from The Heartland Institute by impersonating a board member (presumably over the phone). He regrets taking this unethical step but states he was driven by frustration over the constant barrage of disinformation from such outfits as The Heartland Institute. Since the documents released were instantly denied (it's a reflex action) it probably became necessary to take this action if only to prove that the documents did in fact originate from The Heartland Institutes own email server. While this damages Peter Gleicks credibility, his simple deception is a different class of unethical breach from the hacking theft perpetrated at CRU. Climate denialists baying over ethical breaches need chew on that before publicly exposing themselves as hypocrites. Not that it will stop them as a brief survey of blogs and newspapers (also just blogs) will reveal.

The Origin of the Heartland Documents

Peter H. Gleick 20/2/12 a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else's name.

I can explicitly confirm, as can the Heartland Institute, that the documents they emailed to me are identical to the documents that have been made public.

Whistleblower Authenticates Heartland Documents


Climate scientist Peter Gleick has acknowledged that he was the person who convinced the Heartland Institute to hand over the contents of its January Board package, authenticating the documents beyond a doubt and further exposing the disinformation campaign Heartland has pursued in the last week, trying to discredit the information.

Without condoning or promoting an act of dishonesty, it's fair to say that Gleick took a significant personal risk - and by standing and taking responsibility for his actions, he has shown himself willing to pay the price.

Climate scientist Peter Gleick admits he leaked Heartland Institute documents

The Guardian, 21/2/12 (<- yesterdays word was palindrome)

Peter Gleick, a water and climate analyst, says he was blinded by his frustrations with ongoing attacks on climate science.

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.

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.