A Black Hole of Denial? Email Print

Black holes collapse on themselves, with a such a density that they change the path of light with no light escaping them.  In coming days, the Global Warming disinformation organization, the Heartland Institute ("the leading propaganda mill sowing confusion about climate science"), will convene a Global Warming skeptic/delayer/denier coven with the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change.  RealClimate asked a great question:
What if you held a conference, and no (real) scientists came?

For anyone concerned about a polite (an overly polite) shredding of a front organization's event, take the time to read it.  

Heartland was a centerpiece of tobacco industry efforts to deny linkages between smoking and cancer. Many of the same "scientists' and Heartland have been involved in seeking to confuse the public's understand of Global Warming.  In face of the reality that skeptics and denialists can't stand up to scientific scrutiny and are unable to get published in peer-reviewed literature (since the work can't stand up to review), Heartland intends to create a "peer reviewed" journal that will give a stamp of approval for these people who are so intent on rejecting reality. In short, Heartland is trying to coalesce enough bodies, enough energy, to create a dense pack to have a black hole to bend and distort the light when it comes to Global Warming issues and the public understanding/discussion of them.

And, sadly, without a doubt there are going to be "journalists" at this coven who will be confused, who will report on it in complimentary ways, who will (knowlingly or unknowlingly) contribute to the Black Hole's effectiveness.

Heartland's Invitation

Heartland's invitation makes it clear where they are going:

Global Warming: Crisis or Scam?

Ah. This is not "crisis" or "long term issue" but a stark choice between the loaded "crisis" and even more loaded (and derogatory) "scam".  

The debate over whether human activity is responsible for some or all of the modern warming,

Guess what, there is no one sensible who argues that humanity is 100% responsible. So, this is yet another misleading line that seeks to put words into people's mouths.

and then what to do if our presence on Earth is indeed affecting the global climate, has enormous consequences for everyone in virtually all parts of the globe. Proposals to drive down human greenhouse gas emissions by raising energy costs or imposing draconian caps could dramatically affect the quality of life of people in developed countries, and, due to globalization, the lives of people in less-developed countries too.

Yes, this "debate" has tremendous implications. And, the efforts of paid denialists (see discussion below) to confuse this "debate", this "discussion" is making the long-term implications of global warming worse and the costs/risks to deal with it much higher.

The global warming debate that the public and policymakers usually see is one-sided, dominated by government scientists and government organizations agenda-driven to find data that suggest a human impact on climate and to call for immediate government action, if only to fund their own continued research, but often to achieve political agendas entirely unrelated to the science of climate change. There is another side, but in recent years it has been denied a platform from which to speak.

There is another side?  Another side to the science? No, not really.  Another side to the political debate? Well, that has really had very little problem being heard in the Oval Office and (too many) Republican politicians' offices. And, sadly, far too many reporters' ears, as they seek to have "balanced" reporting.  (Honestly, this one always gets to me. There are people who believe the earth is flat and those who believe that the Apollo missions were faked. When someone who worked on the Apollo missions dies, do newspapers feel obligated to provide "balance" and quote someone claiming the missions were simply faked as part of a government conspiracy?  That is, in essence, what this coven of denialists is: the flat-earthers when it comes to climate science.)

Back to RealClimate's excellent laydown:

"A number of things reveal that this is no ordinary scientific meeting:"

Normal scientific conferences have the goal of discussing ideas and data in order to advance scientific understanding. Not this one. The organisers are suprisingly open about this in their invitation letter to prospective speakers, which states:
"The purpose of the conference is to generate international media attention to the fact that many scientists believe forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events are not supported by sound science, and that expensive campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not necessary or cost-effective."

So this conference is not aimed at understanding, it is a PR event aimed at generating media reports. (The "official" conference goals presented to the general public on their website sound rather different, though - evidently these are already part of the PR campaign.)

This is amazing.  The event is absolutely not focused on science, but on the public relations. Perhaps it is held in New York so as to attract media attention, far more than it is to attract scientific knowledge and discussion.

RealClimate notes that Heartland is paying honorium for any/all who are willing to give a talk.  And, related to this, there is a selection process where those funding these honorium are choosing the speakers -- rather than a scientific panel.

The Heartland website is seeking sponsors and in return for the cash promises "input into the program regarding speakers and panel topics".

And, to add to the truthiness "influence" focus, rather than meaningful look at the science, Heartland is offering a free weekend at a good New York hotel, all expenses paid, to any/all elected officials who are willing to attend.

Now, the RealClimate had over 350 comments to this post. Many from denialists complaining about RealClimate's politization of the issue.  The best response to this came from Joe Romm with this post.

There are those who believe in the IPCC and peer-reviewed science, and those who don't. Those who don't aren't real scientists -- they can't be convinced by any evidence. Their conclusions aren't tentative and testable.

Conservatives and fossil fuel companies have politicized this -- not RealClimate or the IPCC.

Back to the "conference", as DeSmogBlog notes
If you doubt RealClimate's analysis, you can look to Heartland's program and participant list for confirmation. It's a who's who of apologists for tobacco, coal and oil; a long list of people like Christopher Monckton, who don't mind when they lie, or like Bob Carter, who don't make any sense when they are telling their truth.

Also there, of course, is Marc Morano, who is the communications director for the MINORITY side of the US Senate Committee on Public Works and a key player supporting Senator James Inhofe (R-EXXON).  Morano was key to the writing and timing of release for Inhofe's Peerless Work just before Christmas, with a truthiness embodied misleading (and dishonest) "report" of "over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims".  While without an ability to stand up to serious scrutiny, the deft handling of this report got it a lot of attention and fostered confusion.   What do we think Morano and Heartland expect from/hope for the coming few days of their "conference", their coven?

Sadly, expect to see this blasted gleefully in the right-wing blogosphere.  Even more sadly, expect to see this reported in the traditional media.  Yes, "objective" reporting requires giving attention to the 21st Century Flat Earth Society's coven of Global Warming Denialists.

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by quinceseed on 07/03/2008 01:32:46 AM EST

And, sadly, without a doubt there are going to be "journalists" at this coven who will be confused, who will report on it in complimentary ways, who will (knowlingly or unknowlingly) contribute to the Black Hole's effectiveness.

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