The Democrats’ favorite denier


The Democrats’ favorite denier

Why enviros are cheering Chairman Inhofe.

James Inhofe is shown. | Getty

By Elana Schor and Alexander Burns

Jim Inhofe isn’t a scientist — and when it comes to climate change, he doesn’t give a damn.

The longtime Oklahoma senator is the Hill’s most flamboyant critic of climate research, denouncing the concept of man-made global warming as a “hoax” and a “conspiracy.” Now that he’s about to take charge of the committee that oversees environmental policy, Democrats aspire to make Inhofe the face of GOP know-nothingism, while at least one Republican consultant says his style of skepticism could create headaches for candidates up and down the ticket in 2016.

Already, the liberal opposition research group American Bridge plans to monitor Inhofe’s every utterance on climate change, and liberal strategists are planning how to use his chairmanship as political fodder to attack Republicans more broadly in the next election. One Senate Democratic aide called Inhofe’s promotion a “silver lining” to Democrats’ losing the chamber.

“Leave it to today’s GOP to put someone who doesn’t believe in basic science at the helm of the committee that oversees environmental protection,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin said in an email Monday, putting the party’s private smirking on the record. “It’s unfortunate that Republicans continue to put more stock in their rigid ideology than science and what’s best for the country.”

“What we’re looking forward to is giving Jim Inhofe room to run and then highlighting his extreme agenda as something the American people don’t support,” said one veteran strategist who works with environmentalists.

The turnabout threatens to put Republicans, who lately have deployed the artful dodge of “I’m not a scientist” when asked whether humans are altering the climate, in a tough position: Are you with Inhofe or are you with science?

“My own view,” Republican consultant and former George W. Bush adviser Mark McKinnon wrote in an email, “is that it would be helpful to the GOP brand that even if the candidates are not scientists, perhaps they could consult with some.”

A spokesman for Inhofe said the senator would have no comment Monday. But his allies warn that greens and Democrats hoping for him to play to the cameras on climate change underestimate the three-term Republican’s ability as a workhorse, as well as his flashes of bipartisanship. Unlike some hardcore tea-party lawmakers, for instance, he often expresses warm personal feelings toward some liberals, including former EPA chief Lisa Jackson and current Senate environment panel Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

“There’s no doubt that climate activists are going to try to make him into something he’s not, but he understands how to win,” one ex-longtime Inhofe staffer said in an interview.
The Jim Inhofe guide to climate denial

Still, Inhofe’s outspoken skepticism on climate science stands in contrast to the caution that other Republicans showed on the issue during the midterms. Wary of a rising tide of environmental sensitivity among younger voters, conservative leaders from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to House Speaker John Boehner have protested that they lack the academic credentials to pass judgment on the science, insisting that the real debate should be on the costs of President Barack Obama’s climate policies.

But Inhofe has never shied away from going much further.

The 79-year-old former insurance executive has cited the Bible as proof that climate science is a fraud and urged the Justice Department to investigate academic researchers working on the subject. In 2012, he wrote the book “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.”

During his previous turn chairing the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, from 2003 to 2007, Inhofe gave greens chronic heartburn and colorful combat. He wrote in a 2003 paper that rising temperatures “may have a beneficial effect” and compared the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to “a Soviet-style trial.” He invited author Michael Crichton to testify in 2005 about a novel that imagined eco-terrorist groups causing disasters to further their crusade against climate change.

Inhofe didn’t let up after Democrats took the majority in 2007. He traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009 for a splashy “truth squad” during U.N. climate talks. He told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow — another of his “favorite liberals” — that the White House-blessed statistic of 97-percent agreement among scientists about human-caused climate change “doesn’t mean anything.”

After a record-breaking snowfall blanketed the D.C. area in 2010, Inhofe’s family built an igloo decorated with a sign saying “Al Gore’s New Home” — even though climate scientists point out that cold winter weather doesn’t disprove a long-term warming of the Earth’s ocean and atmosphere.

All this makes the thought of a Chairman Inhofe downright heartening to some green activists still reeling from the Election Day defeat they suffered after spending $85 million trying to elect their favored candidates.

American Bridge Vice President Eddie Vale called Inhofe a prime target for the tracking-and-research outfit’s scrutiny. Bridge plans to turn a microscope on powerful committee leaders, Inhofe prominent among them, casting them as agents of special interests including the fossil fuel industry and billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

“The incoming Republican congressional majority’s races were bought and paid for by the Kochs and big corporations, who will now be looking to make even more money at the expense of working families,” Vale said. “While we will be watching all of the Republican caucus, we will be paying especially close attention to the committee chairs.”

To Republicans, Democratic threats to weaponize the climate debate may sound more than a little hollow after the 2014 elections. Over the last two years, Democrats in coal- and oil-producing states from West Virginia to Alaska have been on defense against Republican charges that they represent an aggressive environmentalist agenda — and they took the brunt of last week’s wipe-out.

Yet national GOP strategists also privately agree that the party must avoid a Flat-Earther image to compete in national elections. As damaging as the war-on-coal attacks may be against Democrats in oil country and Appalachia, the national electorate is not quite as enamored of fossil fuels — and is acutely wary of candidates who appear impervious to scientific evidence.

Strong majorities of Democratic and independent voters — but only 37 percent of Republicans — believe that “solid” evidence of global warming exists, according to the Pew Research Center. While many voters still balk at potentially costly measures to counteract climate change, political operatives say big chunks of the swing vote recoil from politicians who dispute “basic science.”

Democrats hope that means the familiar Inhofe bombast could backfire in 2016 for blue- and purple-state Republicans like New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who recently declined to join 41 other GOP senators in a call for Obama to yank his EPA climate rules. Republican presidential hopefuls who dodge climate change by noting their lack of scientific credentials, from Jeb Bush to Chris Christie, could also find themselves yoked to Inhofe.

But Inhofe won’t be boxed in so easily, his former staffer said, saying the senator knows that EPA’s regulatory agenda — on power-plant emissions, fracking, water quality and other issues — is “what people really care about” for the coming GOP majority. He said Inhofe, an outspoken fan of federal infrastructure spending, is also prepared to work with Boxer on a new transportation bill next year.

Another former Senate GOP staffer agreed, saying Inhofe would home in on the economic impact of Obama’s EPA rules and avoid giving Democrats any easy opening. “I don’t envision them having hearing after hearing, week after week, on climate science,” the ex-aide said of Inhofe’s committee.

“It all depends which Senator Inhofe shows up,” Kalee Kreider, a former Gore spokeswoman turned independent climate consultant, said by email. “If it’s the same old Senator Inhofe, known more for his grandstanding and posturing than policy-making, then I would suspect that the Senator will not only be seen as an ineffectual chairman but also a liability to his party. If, however, the new Senator Inhofe shows up, the one who wrote the Tulsa World editorial this Saturday which articulated a positive vision, then, I suspect that it could be a new situation that the environmental community hasn’t seen from him before.

“My wager?” she asked. “A leopard can’t change its spots.”

By Adam Sneed

1. “With all the hysteria, all the fear, all the phony science, could it be that manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? I believe it is.” (Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works)

2. “God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.” (Think Progress, Right Wing Watch)

3. “The claim that global warming is caused by manmade emissions is simply untrue and not based on sound science. CO2 does not actually cause catastrophic disasters. Actually, it would be beneficial to our environment and the economy.”(Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works)

4. “To my knowledge, nobody has uttered the term ‘global warming’ since 2009. It’s been completely refuted in most areas. … Those people who really believe that the world’s coming to an end because of global warming and that’s all due to manmade, anthropogenic gases, we call those people alarmists.” (POLITICO)

5. “Alarmists are attempting to enact an agenda of energy suppression that is inconsistent with American values of freedom, prosperity, and environmental progress.” (Senate Committee on the Enivronment and Public Works)

Global Warming Has Not Slowed


Global Warming Has Not Slowed

We’re seeing an onslaught of misinformation on climate in the build up to the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change release later this week.

Here’s some truth to push back.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week


Climate Denial Crock of the Week

with Peter Sinclair

WindBaggers hire “Grassroots” Anti Wind Activists: 20 Bucks a Head to Break Wind

jobs

Grist:

Important job opportunity, everyone. From Craigslist:

Our firm needs 100 volunteers to attend and participate in a rally in front of the British Consulate/Embassy in Midtown Manhattan on the East Side on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 12 noon. The event is being held in order to protest wind turbines that are being built in Scotland and England. Your participation will be to ONLY stand next to or behind the speakers and elected officials/celebrities that will be speaking at the rally.

“Volunteers” will each get $20. That’s the going rate in New York City for a closely held political principle.

See screenshot here.

Will they make their own signs?

ClimateProgress:

Most Americans like clean energy. So when conservatives wage campaigns against clean energy initiatives, they have typically resorted to fronting astroturf groups and paying fake protesters to generate noise.

Needing 100 anti-wind protesters by next week and apparently unable to find them, a mysterious firm advertised a “quick and easy $20″ on Craigslist. According to the ad, the only thing the “volunteers” would need to do for their pay is “stand next to or behind the speakers and elected officials/celebrities” at a rally against a wind turbine project in the UK.

UPDATE:

The Independent:

A secretive funding organisation in the United States that guarantees anonymity for its billionaire donors has emerged as a major operator in the climate “counter movement” to undermine the science of global warming, The Independent has learnt.

The Donors Trust, along with its sister group Donors Capital Fund, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is funnelling millions of dollars into the effort to cast doubt on climate change without revealing the identities of its wealthy backers or that they have links to the fossil fuel industry.

However, an audit trail reveals that Donors is being indirectly supported by the American billionaire Charles Koch who, with his brother David, jointly owns a majority stake in Koch Industries, a large oil, gas and chemicals conglomerate based in Kansas.

Millions of dollars has been paid to Donors through a third-party organisation, called the Knowledge and Progress Fund, with is operated by the Koch family but does not advertise its Koch connections.

Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia, has estimated that over the past decade about $500m has been given to organisations devoted to undermining the science of climate change, with much of the money donated anonymously through third parties.

Meet The Climate Denial Machine | Greed-Driven Shills for Corporate Oligarchs


Meet The Climate Denial Machine
Via JILL FITZSIMMONS
Despite the overwhelming consensus among climate experts that human activity is contributing to rising global temperatures, 66 percent of Americans incorrectly believe there is “a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening.” The conservative media has fueled this confusion by distorting scientific research, hyping faux-scandals, and giving voice to groups funded by industries that have a financial interest in blocking action on climate change. Meanwhile, mainstream media outlets have shied away from the “controversy” over climate change and have failed to press U.S. policymakers on how they will address this global threat. When climate change is discussed, mainstream outlets sometimes strive for a false balance that elevates marginal voices and enables them to sow doubt about the science even in the face of mounting evidence.

Here, Media Matters looks at how conservative media outlets give industry-funded “experts” a platform, creating a polarized misunderstanding of climate science.

Heartland Institute And James Taylor

The Economist has called the libertarian Heartland Institute “the world’s most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change.” Every year, Heartland hosts an “International Conference on Climate Change,” bringing together a small group of contrarians (mostly non-scientists) who deny that manmade climate change is a serious problem. To promote its most recent conference, Heartland launched a short-lived billboard campaign associating acceptance of climate science with “murderers, tyrants, and madmen” including Ted Kaczynski, Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. Facing backlash from corporate donors and even some of its own staff, Heartland removed the billboard, but refused to apologize for the “experiment.”

Heartland does not disclose its donors, but internal documents obtained in February reveal that Heartland received $25,000 from the Charles Koch Foundation in 2011 and anticipated $200,000 in additional funding in 2012. Charles Koch is CEO and co-owner of Koch Industries, a corporation with major oil interests. Along with his brother David Koch, he has donated millions to groups that spread climate misinformation. Heartland also receives funding from some corporations with a financial interest in confusing the public on climate science. ExxonMobil contributed over $600,000 to Heartland between 1998 and 2006, but has since pledged to stop funding groups that cast doubt on climate change.

Despite their industry ties and lack of scientific expertise, Heartland Institute fellows are often given a media platform to promote their marginal views on climate change. Most visible is James Taylor, a lawyer with no climate science background who heads Heartland’s environmental initiative. Taylor dismisses “alarmist propaganda that global warming is a human-caused problem that needs to be addressed,” and suggests that taking action to reduce emissions could cause a return to the “the Little Ice Age and the Black Death.” But that hasn’t stopped Forbes from publishing his weekly column, which he uses to spout climate misinformation and accuse scientists of “doctoring” temperature data to fabricate a warming trend. It also hasn’t stopped Fox News from promoting his misinformation.

Competitive Enterprise Institute

The libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute has sponsored paid advertisementsop-eds, and blogs that misrepresent scientific research to downplay the threat of climate change. CEI’s director of energy and global warming policy Myron Ebell shed light on their motivation to muddle the science on the PBS Frontline special “Climate of Doubt”:

We felt that if you concede the science is settled and that there’s a consensus, you cannot — the moral high ground has been ceded to the alarmists.

By dismissing the scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to climate change as “phony,” CEI can justify standing in the way of government action to reduce emissions. To make its case, CEI dispatches its “experts” — many of which have no scientific background — to do media appearances and op-ed pieces casting doubt on climate science and opposing any potential solutions. Ebell has been cited by Fox News, Forbes and even CNN as an energy and environmental policy expert. Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis Jr. has written in Forbes, National Review and the National Journal opposing clean air rules.

CEI has received funding from the American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil, Texaco, General Motors and the Koch Family Foundations among other fossil fuel interests over the last decade.

Chris Horner And The American Tradition Institute

Perhaps the most visible member of CEI’s environmental team is Chris Horner, a lawyer who often appears on Fox News to cast doubt on climate science and claim that scientists are manipulating temperature data to manufacture a warming trend. At both CEI and The American Tradition Institute (ATI), Horner has filed Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests in an attempt to access anything to embarrass climate scientists.

The American Tradition Institute (ATI) is a free-market think tank focused on blocking environmental regulations and “battling radical environmentalist junk science head on.” ATI was launched in 2010 by the American Tradition Partnership (ATP), an industry-backed advocacy group that has fought campaign finance disclosure laws and was accused in the 2010 election cycle of corruption and money laundering. ATI is funded primarily by ATP and a handful of individuals and foundations with ties to the oil industry.

ATI Executive Director Tom Tanton is an energy industry consultant who has conducted research for the American Petroleum Institute and formerly served as the vice president of the oil industry-funded Institute for Energy Research. Weather forecaster Joe Bastardi and climate skeptic blogger Steve Milloy serve as advisors to the think tank.

Manhattan Institute And Robert Bryce

The Manhattan Institute is a free-market think tank that advocates a “pro-growth” agenda on fossil fuels and downplays the scientific consensus on climate change. It’s website states that it is “unclear” whether human activity is contributing to rising global temperatures, adding: “Despite the certitude with which the media and politicians treat the issue, the science remains muddled.”

The Manhattan Institute has received funding from ExxonMobil and the Koch Family Foundations over the last decade. It previously questioned the science on the health effects of tobacco after receiving funding from the tobacco industry.
Robert Bryce, a Senior Fellow at the think tank, regularly authors op-ed pieces for prominent mainstream and conservative publications and appears on Fox News promoting fossil fuel production and downplaying the potential of renewable energy. On climate change, Bryce has said: “I don’t know who’s right. And I don’t really care.” In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Bryce claimed that the “science is not settled, not by a long shot.” He went on to suggest that a report of neutrinos that travel faster than the speed of light is sufficient reason to question climate science.

Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation, one of the country’s most influential conservative think tanks, casts doubt on the scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to climate change and opposes efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. A 2010 white paper states: “The only consensus over the threat of climate change that seems to exist these days is that there is no consensus.” Senior Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman has said that “global warming is clearly not a crisis and should not be addressed as one.” Citing presentations on “Climategate” at a Heartland Institute conference, he accused UN scientists of conspiring to “manufacture a global warming crisis.”

Heritage runs an online database of policy “experts” that includes climate contrarians Fred Singer, Cato’s Patrick Michaels, Heartland’s Joseph Bast, CEI’s Myron Ebell and Chris Horner, and JunkScience.com’s Steve Milloy.

The Heritage Foundation has received funding from ExxonMobil and the Koch Family Foundations.

Cato Institute And Patrick Michaels

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, contributes to the climate confusion by amplifying the voice of Patrick Michaels, the only climate scientist on our list of prominent climate contrarians. Michaels, who previously estimated that “40 percent” of his funding comes from the oil industry, is Cato’s sole climate change expert. He is frequently quoted by major media outlets and has a Forbes column that he uses to downplay the threat of climate change. Other scientists have criticized him for misrepresenting their work.

Cato was co-founded by Charles Koch and has received millions from the Koch family. Past corporate donors include ExxonMobil, General Motors and the American Petroleum Institute.

American Enterprise Institute

In 2007, The Guardian reported that the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) was offering scientists and economists $10,000 each to write articles critical of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report on climate change. The Guardian noted that AEI has received substantial funding from ExxonMobil and that former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond — a vocal climate change skeptic — served as AEI’s Vice Chair. AEI criticized the story, saying they merely sought to subject the IPCC report to “serious scrutiny and criticism” but were not doubting the “existence of global warming.”

Nevertheless, AEI scholars have repeatedly downplayed the threat of climate change. Steven Hayward, who writes for National Review, has said that climate concerns are based on “propaganda” and that efforts to reduce emissions are “based on exaggerations and conjecture rather than science.” Former AEI president Christopher DeMuth acknowledged in 2001 that the earth has warmed but claimed “it’s not clear why this happened.” But some other AEI scholars have endorsed a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Marc Morano

Marc Morano runs the climate denial website ClimateDepot.com. He previously worked for Rush Limbaugh and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) — both vocal climate change deniers.

Although he has no scientific background, Morano has declared that the science of manmade climate change is “collapsing.” He has called global warming a “con job” and said that climate scientists “deserve to be publicly flogged.” Morano often appears on Fox News to spread misinformation on climate change, and Rush Limbaugh has repeatedly used his material to attack climate scientists.

Climate Depot is sponsored by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a conservative think tank that has received funding from ExxonMobil and Chevron. CFACT dismisses the scientific consensus on climate change and maintains that “real world evidence” shows that “global warming claims are failing.” To spread its message, CFACT organized the Copenhagen Climate Challenge — a conference of climate contrarians — to coincide with the UN climate conference in 2009.

Anthony Watts

Anthony Watts, a former television weatherman and climate skeptic who believes the U.S. temperature record is “unreliable,” runs the blog Watts Up With That. The blog features the fringe views of climate misinformers like Christopher Monckton and Fred Singer as guest authors and conservative media have previously seized on its misleading content.

In 2009, Watts was a driving force behind the controversy over leaked “Climategate” emails. In September 2012, he was at the center of a controversial PBS segment that aired his views as a “counterbalance” to climate experts without mentioning his ties to the industry-funded Heartland Institute. Watts was paid by the Heartland Institute for his work on temperature stations and is a regular speaker at Heartland conferences.

Steve Milloy

Steve Milloy is a lawyer and former tobacco industry consultant who was hired by the American Petroleum Institute to develop a PR strategy to downplay the threat of climate change. He has called those concerned about global warming “whacked out, intellectually and morally bankrupt.” The Washington Times regularly publishes columns by Milloy, and he frequently appears on Fox News to dismiss the need for government action to address climate change and air pollution.

Milloy runs JunkScience.com, which has previously obscured the risks of pesticides, ozone depletion, breast implants, asbestos and secondhand smoke and now seeks to similarly “debunk” global warming.

The site was initially sponsored by The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), a now-defunct PR front group funded by tobacco giant Philip Morris to downplay the danger of cigarette smoke. TASSC later received funding from Chevron, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, Occidental Petroleum and other corporate donors. JunkScience.com is currently run by the Citizens for the Integrity of Science (CFIS), which does not disclose its donors.

Joe Bastardi

Joe Bastardi is a meteorologist for WeatherBell Analytics, where he provides weather forecasts for energy companies and other corporate clients. He also serves as an advisor to the American Tradition Institute and a Fox News contributor. Although he has no climate expertise, Fox regularly turns to him to analyze climate research. Bastardi, who has called manmade global warming “an obvious fraud,” has often been criticized by scientists for his “utter nonsense” on climate change.

Bastardi is not the only dubious source of climate misinformation on Fox News. Fox anchors and contributors regularly mock the threat of climate change and suggest that winter weather invalidates global temperature records. Rather than talking to actual climate scientists, the network turns to industry-funded climate denialists — including CEI’s Chris Horner, the Manhattan Institute’s Robert Bryce, Climate Depot’s Marc Morano and JunkScience.com’s Steve Milloy — to mislead its viewers on climate science. Fox Nation, a branch of FoxNews.com, regularly cites the British tabloid The Daily Mail and distorts climate research to declare that global warming isn’t happening.

Matt Ridley

Science writer Matt Ridley frequently uses his Wall Street Journal column to dismiss the threat of climate change and argue that climate scientists should not be trusted. Ridley has suggested that “the threat of a dangerously large warming is so improbable as to be negligible” and has compared climate scientists to eugenicists. The Journal does not disclose that Ridley is an unpaid advisor to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which was founded by the chairman of a company that represents several major oil companies.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has also cast doubt on climate change, calling it a “fad-scare” and claiming that the science is “disputable.” In January 2012, the Journal published an op-ed by 16 scientists and engineers — most of which do not conduct climate research — to muddle the science and undermine action on climate change, yet reportedly rejected a climate change essay by 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences.

Larry Bell

Larry Bell, an architecture professor who has not published any peer-reviewed climate research, wrote Climate of Corruption, in which he argues that “politics is responsible for the global warming hoax.” Forbes provides Bell a weekly column where he often casts doubt on manmade climate change, which he incorrectly says is “based upon speculative theories, contrived data and totally unproven modeling predictions” when in fact there are several observed lines of evidence of rapid climate change.