Open Thread, August 2012

This month we kick things off with the renewed attacks on Tides Canada by oilsands booster (and Canadian Conservative government surrogate) Ethical Oil [h/t Holly Stick].

Meanwhile, Canadian environment minister Peter Kent is touting an improved outlook for meeting Canada’s 2020 goal for GHG reduction, even though any progress is more due to luck, accounting changes and strong action by some provincial governments, rather than any concrete action by the federal government. Not to mention that current projections for 2020 still leave Canada only 3% under 2005 levels, 19% above the promised target. I’m working on a couple of related posts, but they may take a little time yet.

The latest release from the Berkeley Earth team has unleashed a major kerfuffle in the blogosphere, out of all proportion with its scientific import. (By the way, I have a post on Berkeley Earth coming very soon, looking at some curiosities in the various Berkeley results).

Getting back to the science, arctic sea ice continues to melt at an extraordinary pace, and may well set a new record low this September.


23 responses to “Open Thread, August 2012

  1. I heard the GHG reduction news on CBC a couple of days ago. Even in that short segment it seemed fairly obvious the reductions had come about due to accounting (we have trees, apparently) and provincial work, not federal.

    Will self-edit and not rant about environment minister who doesn’t know much about the environment….

  2. Marlowe Johnson

    Deep if you’re bored you may want to take a look at how EC’s methodological changes over the years to the GHG inventory have affected provincial level emissions. There’s some interesting underlying trends 😉

    The changes to forestry accounting are only part of the story.

  3. Stephen Maher about Barry Cooper, “Ethical” Oil, Tides, etc.:

  4. Here’s Peter O’Neil looking closely at “Ethical” Oil and citing one of your posts:

    “…Organizations that hope to win the trust of the public, and the media, should be more explicit – especially when they are demanding more open and ethical behaviour from environmental organizations they criticize.”

  5. Woohoo! A complaint has been laid with Service Alberta against “Ethical” Oil for violating its Memorandum of Association with the Alberta government, reports David Climenhaga:

    also at

    • Climenhaga takes some swipes at the Fraser Institute too, including this link:

    • The answer to Tony Clark from Canadian revenue minister Gail Shea opens up a line of inquiry that is in line with my own thoughts on the Fraser Institute.

      Ms. Shea also told Mr. Clark that “a charity whose object includes the advancement of education must take care not to disregard the boundary between education and propaganda. To be considered charitable, an educational activity must be reasonably objective and based on a well-reasoned position, that is, a position based on factual information analyzed methodically, objectively, fully, and fairly. In addition, a well-reasoned position should present serious arguments and relevant facts to the contrary.”

      The Fraser Institute may possibly be underreporting its political activity, but I’m not sure that they are in technical violation of the law as regards such activity.

      Rather, I believe a complaint based on the clear illegitimacy of much of the “research” and “education” emanating from Fraser would be much harder to refute, especially if it was supported by rigourous critiques from subject matter experts.

  6. The words are slightly different than in US, but it’s the same idea as in Fake science, ….

    It is much easier to critique a thinkank’s public communications than it is to find the behind-the-scenes political stuff.

    • In Canada, the political activity can be no more than 10% of activity/budget. Of course, it’s not always easy to draw the line between overtly political and public policy education or research. For example, ENGOs opposing unbridled oil sands development for reasons of sound public policy is not political in my opinion (even though Ethical Oil and the Canadian government would like to bend the rules that way). By the same token

      Canadian law also distinguishes between political activity and partisan activity; the former is limited as mentioned and latter is not permitted at all. For example, it’s OK to send material regarding a public policy issue to every elected official; it’s not OK to invite only one’s preferred party to speak at public policy events. (So Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver speaking at FCPP was probably in violation).

      By the way, partisan activity was the reason given by U of C for shutting down Barry Cooper’s “climate change” research account (essentially a conduit for Friends of Science PR projects run by APCO, Fleishman-Hillard and Morten Paulsen). But apparently there were no consequences even for that egregious flouting of CRA rules.

  7. Hey folks, has anyone else noticed a personalized, haute couture cavity being prepared for you in the media demonic-narrative-o-sphere?

    To call it out increases the threat, but if others besides me are being smothered into silence, better to speak up.

    (maybe I AM getting special treatment, but only because my private life has no raw material worth repurposing.)

  8. If it’s happening to others, they’ll know. If not, ’nuff said; no need to fuel the soap opera/wurlitzer, which is, at this point, probably desperate to distract from the heat and the science.

  9. Letter to editor at Chronical of Higher Education about that Peter Wood piece:

  10. Keith Stewart of Greenpeace has posted a bunch of Gov’t of Canada documents acquired through ATIP about climate, tar sands or pipelines:

  11. Many may have seen this, but if not, see See No Evil, Speak Little Truth, Break Rules, Blame Others.
    It’s worse that I thought in March.

  12. New lols from GMU: I heard an econ professor complain about regulations to his students before physics lecture – they preach and don’t teach and they can’t think about anything other than money .