Monthly Archives: September 2009

John Broder of NYT looks at Carlin “suppression” by EPA

Yesterday, I discussed the latest essay on climate science and politics from New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin (along wirth Joe Romm’s critique). There I had a suggestion for Revkin and the New York Times:

Or come to that, how about looking at the farce playing out in Washington – one in which Patrick Michaels happened to have played a large, if unwitting, role – namely the so-called suppression of the EPA’s Alan Carlin.

Presto! Look at the gift Google Alert delivered scant hours later: a thorough re-examination of the Carlin saga by the NYT’s John Broder. According to Broder,  internal EPA documents and other material “paint a more complicated picture” and cast doubt on Republican claims that, as Broder puts it,  Carlin was “muzzled because he did not toe the liberal line”.

For the first time, a mainstream reporter has referred to the numerous problems in Carlin’s report, including dubious sources and the lifting of material verbatim. And, for the first time, Carlin has had to answer questions about these problems.

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NYT’s Andy Revkin backtracks (but not nearly enough)

In some ways it’s been the “same old, same old” this week in the blogosphere. First, there was another confused piece on climate change from New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin, this time postulating that “stable temperatures” and “a recent spate of relatively cool years” might blunt momentum for an international agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. That was followed in short order by a scathing critique from Joe Romm at Climate Progress, excoriating Revkin’s “litany of misinformation and confusion” as something that might be expected from disinformation specialist Marc Morano of Climate Depot.

But this time it was different. For a closer examination shows that Revkin has corrected two of the most egregious errors in his article, presumably after reading Romm’s convincing and detailed deconstruction. So perhaps there is still hope for Revkin, at least someday. Unfortunately, major misinterpretations of climate science still remain in Revkin’s piece, and even worse, he gives credence to the views one of the most  reprehensible fossil fuel industry apologists around, Patrick Michaels. All of that virtually ensures that Revkin’s latest essay will be a staple of contrarian disinformation for months to come.

[Update, Sept. 26: It's still not clear whether Revkin's corrections made it into the print edition of the Times. The article apparently ran on September 23 on page A6, a day or so after it appeared online.]

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Friends of Science behind Monckton’s Magical Mystery Tour

Lord Christopher Monckton‘s tour of the colonies (a.k.a. Canada), first reported here two months ago, is finally at hand. The details of Monckton’s Apocalypse Cancelled luncheon lecture series were released late last week by tour organizer Friends of Science, the Calgary-based “astroturf” group devoted to opposing the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. Fittingly, the centrepiece of the tour is a cluster of events in Calgary, the province of Alberta’s economic capital, and centre of the Canadian oil and gas industry.

Although event details have now finally been revealed, funding details for this latest Friends project remain mysterious. However, emerging evidence points to the possible role of the Calgary Foundation and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (the Winnipeg-based think tank that is also hosting two of the tour events).

[Update, Sept. 24: Be sure to read Monckton's comments and my reply below.

Update, May 2, 2010: See the end of the piece for information on ex-Fleishmann-Hillard lobysist and Conservative activist Morten Paulsen's possible involvement in the Monckton tour.]

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ABC claims Ian Plimer is “a legitimate voice”

A few days ago, I received a response from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation concerning a complaint I had submitted concerning climate contrarian Ian Plimer’s outrageous “Unleashed” online column. The email, from Kirsten McLeod of ABC’s Audience & Consumer Affairs, claims that the Plimer piece was “in keeping with the ABC’s editorial requirements for opinion content” and even calls Plimer’s opinion “a legitimate voice for the debate” on climate change.

However, it appears that ABC has not followed its own requirement that “reasonable steps” be taken “to ensure factual content is accurate”. Moreover, ABC policy on opinion pieces contains a major loophole: there is no requirement to disclose past and current affiliations to lobby groups or other political organizations, even when those links are clearly relevant to the subject matter at hand. In Plimer’s case, of course, such organizations include the Australian Climate Science Coalition and its progenitors, the Australian Environment Foundation and the right-wing Institute of Public Affairs.

[Update, September 8: As detailed below, ABC is now claiming that the requirement "to ensure factual content is accurate" does not apply to opinion content, even though that specific section of ABC's Code of Practice does explicitly apply to opinion content (as opposed to news or topical programming).]

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