Thursday, December 26, 2013

Who's Funding the Climate Change Deniers?

A recent article by a sociology professor at Drexel University, Robert Brulle, has uncovered the semi-secret network of funding for the climate change deniers. It's not just the Koch brothers and Exxon-Mobil any more. These two funders are now anonymous, as the climate change denier network has shifted to untraceable sources. Most of the funds are now laundered through trusts that give anonymity to both the donor and the recipient.

Prof. Brulle found 91 think-tanks and other organizations, handling $7B from 2003-2010. Nearly 80% of these organizations are incorporated as non-profit charities for tax purposes.

Many of the donors are from the fossil-fuels industry. Are you surprised? Me neither.

But I have to admit being surprise at the billion-dollar-a-year level of funding.

The article, published in Climatic Change, can be found along with the *excellent* news release from the Drexel University website, located here.

I found out about it from an article by Duncan Geere, on the UK edition of Wired., whose story was picked up by the David Packman show,which in turn was picked up by the Common Dreams news aggregator, where I picked it up.

It's an old story, which has gotten worse recently, since a Supreme Court decision in which the Supremes declared that corporations are people, with rights protected by the Constitution. Some of the right-wingers on the Supreme Court claim to be strict constructionists, holding to the original intent of the Founding Fathers, authors of the Constitution. Three questions for anyone believing this nonsense: where does the Constitution declare that corporations are people? Can a corporation be put in jail? Can a corporation be given the death penalty?

Earlier I reviewed a book by James Lawrence Powell, The Inquisition of Climate Science, in the May 2012 issue of Monthly Review magazine(which can be found on their website). The editor of MR said nice things about the article. And I advertised the article on Rabett Run for the gentle and (not-so-gentle) readers.


John Mashey said...

See also this, which shows off the key graph.

Also, Bob is very careful and some of the news reprots got it wrong: there is ~$B/year to the thinktanks that do climate anti-science. That does not mean that all that money goes to that task, since many of these entities do other things. It is very difficult to figure out who the money actually gets spent.

When I wrote about this in early 2012, I'd found about $330M/year to ~50 of the groups, but Bob's study was much more extensive.

Tom Curtis said...

If a corporation is an individual under the law, isn't winding up a corporation murder? A violation of its right to life? Come to that, isn't ownership of shares in a corporation a violation of its right to liberty? A form of slavery, in fact?

Just because the law has decided to be asinine does not mean it cannot be applied consistently once the absurd premise has been accepted. That it is not shows the justices in question to have indulged in political ideology rather than legal interpretation when they made their decision.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

"I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one."--Robert Reich

Cue the denialists saying "Nothing to see here..." and drawing a false equivalence between federal climate research dollars and the slush fund for liars run by fossil fuel interests.

John Mashey said...

The fundamental issues in Bob's piece are:
1) the misuse of 501(c0(3) status
2) the amount of money that is dark, i.e., that we can't find through reportable Foundation giving.
3) The use of entities like DONORS to anonymize even the reportable giving of 2).

Anonymous said...

I'm worried that I might be a denier, but no one has paid me.

Can you tell me what I would believe to make me a denier?

And if I believe that, can you tell me where to go to get paid?

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

That depends on whether you are merely interested in lying for money or whether you really believe that we aren't warming the planet. If the former, by all means apply and become a Koch sucker. OTOH, if you really believe we aren't warming the planet, though, you are just an idiot.

Anonymous said...

A number of years ago on Deltoid I said that it would be interesting to see a social network for climate change denial - figure 4 in this paper doesn't disappoint, although the resolution of the image and the >1% funding restriction might leave a little to be desired...

A general comment - this camouflaging of funding is effectively money laundering. Legal dubiousness aside, I can't fathom why the Denialati imagine that there's no ethical problem with masking the involvement of vested interests in the anti-science campaign.

And if they were coming from a position that had any basis in objective truth, why the cloaks and daggers?

This also raises for the a tangential issue relating to the Australian coalition spiel about cliamte change,

But it's the wee hours here so I might touch on this after a few hours sleep.

Bernard J.

Anonymous said...


How about if I believe that the planet is warming but that there may be as much or more benefit than harm - can I still get some cash for that?

Anonymous said...

With your very biased and minimal understanding of SC rulings...

"It's an old story, which has gotten worse recently, since a Supreme Court decision in which the Supremes declared that corporations are people, with rights protected by the Constitution. Some of the right-wingers on the Supreme Court claim to be strict constructionists, holding to the original intent of the Founding Fathers, authors of the Constitution. Three questions for anyone believing this nonsense: where does the Constitution declare that corporations are people? Can a corporation be put in jail? Can a corporation be given the death penalty?"

Are you now arguing that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right? Sure sounds like it.

A-ray's "Koch Suckers" comment sums up well the content and importance of this post and its comments.

Oh and Merry Christmas to Michael "The Liar" Mann and he has to start all over with his foolish case against Mark Steyn. I tried to comment on that dumb judges ruling this summer, but the RR idiots would have none of it. Nothing would ruin their ignorant cheering. This time Mikey Mann has to present a case in front of a judge that will actually understand the law.

I think all the liberals are mad, because corporations now get to spend money on elections with the same rules as unions, bummer for them.


dhogaza said...

"Are you now arguing that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right? Sure sounds like it."

Corporations aren't governments, either.

"Oh and Merry Christmas to Michael "The Liar" Mann and he has to start all over with his foolish case against Mark Steyn."

Steyn and the NRO had their appeal denied.

Once you understand that, we can discuss the rest of the ruling in more detail.

John Mashey said...

See the link I gave earlier: attached there are the full-size figures, including the social networks one.
And do recall, most of these thinktanks have long shilled for the tobacco companies, too. Heartland is now going all-out for e-cigarettes.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Anonytroll@7:05 asks: "How about if I believe that the planet is warming but that there may be as much or more benefit than harm - can I still get some cash for that?"

Voicing beliefs about scientific matters doesn't sound that bright to me. Do you have any evidence to support that belief--preferably peer-reviewed and published? If not, you fall into the idiot class again.

Anonymous said...


But can I still get paid?

I really need the cash, you know, I gotta get home.

guthrie said...

Anonymous in need of cash-
You can still get some money, the problem is that you need to build up your brand first. You can do this by writing articles for media outlets setting out a position like you have suggested above, but you have to make sure that your policy prescriptions are to do nothing.

Are you well enough connected or have founded your own website pushing your point of view? If not, I urge you to suck up to the right people or found a website saying that warming will be great. How about "COme on in, the water's lovely". Once you start getting lots of followers and media attention you stand to get some money.

Anonymous said...


If I wanted, could I make that income by also claiming the end is nigh?

Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

could I make that income by also claiming the end is nigh?

Nope, not even guaranteed ice storms, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns, nuclear war, asteroid strikes and super volcanoes are enough to even get them to build even a reasonable insulated storm shelter anymore. The only things that seems to work are high food and gas prices. lol. You have to pay to be in the end is nigh business nowadays. Lol, even the journals seem to want money now.

Daniel Wirt said...

Dr. Farley, I wanted to let you know that I came across and read your review of The Inquisition of Climate Science about six weeks ago, and based on that, recently purchased the book

Russell Seitz said...

I'm a bit worried about John.

Is he writing as an anti-smoking activists , a tobacco prohibitionist, or someone who can't stand the thought of people being at liberty to enjoy nicotine laced steam ?

Mal Adapted said...

Russell, John's only mention of tobacco has been in regard to astroturf organizations like Heartland, who have demonstrated their willingness to oppose any public good for money. Are you a defensive smoker who can't stand the thought of anyone restricting your liberty to pollute the air around you?

John Mashey said...

Actually, I have said more, quite consistently:

1) See my review of Bob Proctor's Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition, which includes:
'Adults can do as they wish, but very few adults start smoking and keep doing it. The typical age when adult smokers first started has moved down from the late teens to early teens. Proctor traces the various marketing campaigns that accomplished that goal (pp.71-83).'

2) Then there was Fake science, where pp.37- discusses the role of tobacco in advocacy anti-science, (fn196) says:
'If an adult wants to start smoking, I do not care, but what do readers think of people who help tobacco companies damage children?'

3) As it happens, my short bio @ DeSmogBlog notes:
'He has also lectured several times at UCSF in 2013 on Cigarettes, Climate and Confusion Creators and is member of the Advisory Committee for UCSF's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education'

Unsurprisingly, I'm up @ UCSF half a dozen times a year, attend events, like E-Cigarettes: The Vapor This Time?, regularly talk with top researchers in this field, etc. The experts generally think many lives would be saved if nicotine addicts switched from cigarettes to e-cigs, but the problem is using them to increase the rate of teenage addiction.
As it happens, not only do secondhand and thirdhand smoker matter, but vapers' exhalations are not just water vapor, despite the marketing...
these things are new enough that research results are minimal,s but it is clear that the e-cig folks are in a race against time to acquire a bunch of addicted teenage vapers before rules tighten up.

Daniel Wirt said...

A few comments about tobacco, individual health and public health. In the course of my profession I have dealt with the pathology caused by tobacco use several times per week for decades. In 2001 I had the great privilege of participating in an academic ceremony and speaking with Sir Richard Doll, in Oxford. Richard Doll was the great epidemiologist who is credited (with several others) for proving that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease. Obfuscating the real science of people like Richard Doll were the shills financed by the tobacco corporations, the Merchants of Doubt as Oreskes has described. This profit-driven obfuscation by a small minority has resulted in many millions of deaths. It was a profound ethical abdication on the part of people like the Fred duo (Seitz and Singer). (Ethics, as in professional morality.) This issue is much more complex than just Dr. R. Seitz's libertarian appeal for the "liberty to enjoy nicotine-laced steam." Dr. R. Seitz wrote, "The nation’s 50 million smokers remain at liberty to vote en bloc for a fussbudget-free Congress. Are the pols ready to accommodate smokers?... Enough of this puritanical witch-hunt. Rather than banning what many people regard as pleasure, why not spend some money to make it safer?" ( I share the concern of others that "safer" (as in nicotine delivery devices like e- cigarettes) is a ruse to permanently addict people before they are capable of fully informed consent. The issue of external costs is pertinent here (as it is with fossil fuel production). The cost to the medical system due to tobacco use is very large. Physicians do not treat cancer patients differently based on whether their cancer was self-induced based on really bad judgment. It is clear that prohibition of drugs is a losing strategy --- it only creates a violent black market and other social ills (including fueling the prison- industrial complex) and paradoxically increases the supply of dangerous substances available for misuse, including increasing the supply to children. The answer is for government to exercise its legitimate job of protecting the commons. Rigorous public health education, tight regulation, relatively high taxes on consumers (so that users at least partially pay their way in the health care system), high taxes on producers to pay for external costs, criminal prosecution for conspiracies by tobacco companies to employ Merchants of Doubt in order to increase addiction and harm for profit. The punishment for people like Singer and F. Seitz has already been prescribed: their place in the history of science.

John said...

More on the topic of smoking...

Much research has been conducted about threats to public health, such as smoking, obesity, unsafe sex. But relatively little research has been conducted about how to influence behavior.

Many well-meaning people assume that the problem is lack of information. It isn't. If you ask smokers whether or not they have heard that smoking causes lung cancer, they do NOT respond, "Holy mackerel, I never knew that!"

Most US adults are now overweight or obese, leading to increasing rates of diabetes, and that's not because of lack of information either.

An invaluable book on the subject is Prescription for a Health Nation, by Tom Farley (MD) and Deborah Cohen.

Tom Farley is now the Commissioner of Public Health for New York City. Disclosure alert: he is also my brother.

For further reading about On anti-smoking campaigns, from the perspective of public health,

Russell Seitz said...

Daniel Wirt neglects to mention the conclusion of my 1997 Forbes piece- it called on the NIH to advance the health of its large smoking constituencey with R&D on high nicotine, low tar tobacco, the better to reduce carcinogens at their source.

It is hardly surprising that ,two decades later, prohibitionists are appalled that technology has arrived at combustion-free limit - the no-tar e-cigarette.

The salient source of cognitive dissonance is the disparity between policy responses on AIDS and smoking.

David B. Benson said...

I'm stepping out for a smoke.

John Mashey said...

'But relatively little research has been conducted about how to influence behavior.'

Actually, the folks at CTCRE I see spend a lot of effort researching that, although compared to epidemiology studies, it is relatively recent.

Really, there are 2 populations:
a) Addicted adults, most of whom wish they'd never started, will try to quit, and won't succeed, unsurprising given that serious nicotine addiction can be as strong as cocaine or heroin. About the only behavior modification that seems to help much is for someone who has managed to quit to stay away from smokey places.

b) Teenagers/young adults for whom nicotine addiction is not yet set, which is where a lot of the behavior research goes. I attended a presentation about focus groups of such ages, with some videos.

The dominant themes were:
- *I* can quit when I want to, but for now it's cool.
- I *will* quit when I'm 30 (specifically, magic age) or if I'm married and we have a child.

You might ask your brother if he knows Bob Proctor's book, and I really, really recommend that.

Mal Adapted said...

John Mashey, I was referring to your first mention of tobacco on this thread. I was unaware of some apparent history between you and Russell Seitz.

I started smoking in my teens, and quit twice, the second time for good at age 30. My motivations for quitting were my inability to continue denying the risks to my own health, and the increasing opprobrium of my friends and co-workers (this was before widespread bans on smoking in restaurants, etc.) When you know you're being stupid, and your friends are telling you that too, any bad habit is easier to break.

As a consequential rather than ideological libertarian, my position is that if smokers harmed only themselves, they should enjoy the liberty. But as John Mashey and Daniel Wirt point out, there are inevitable social costs, aren't there? What it comes down to, Russell, is that your liberty to poison yourself ends where the legitimate interests of others begin.

And please, give us a break -- are you seriously claiming that eliminating tar eliminates the hazard?

John Mashey said...

I think we agree:
if people (or more specifically adults) want to do dumb things, and it doesn't hurt others or get others to pay for it,* then fine with me. For instance, I like NZ's approach to extreme sports, not that I ever want to try many of them.

Again, most societies try to protect their children, not from making mistakes and growing up, but from making mistakes likely to cause long-term permanent damage. As far as I know, the age-dependency factor in nicotine addiction is pretty rare.*

Here's an (impossible) thought experiment: suppose extra cigarette taxes essentially disappeared for anyone 21 or older, but could 100% stop smoking (and vaping)under 21. I'd go for that and I think, so would quite a few health professionals. What are the chances tobacco companies would agree? See The importance of younger adults, from ~1984, a few years before Joe Camel fired up. The LTDL is a fascinating resource, especially if one searches to see which people were going all-out for Big Tobacco.

(If you're willing to say, when did you start smoking? I am glad you were able to stop, as many cannot.)

*Above all, the tobacco industry fears 2 things:
a) anything that gets in the road of addicting children, like higher cigarette taxes, which selectively inhibit younger (not-yet-addicted) folks much more than older ones.

b) any healthcare system less fragmented than in the US, i.e., anything that gets Federal government closer to it, especially even the slightest steps in direction of single-payer systems, because that makes the costs more visible, and if more people can see that and think they're paying for it, that is not a plus for the tobacco industry.
Likewise, in terms of research $, the US spends a lot of money on researching cancer and other tobacco-related diseases, which could have been better spent. Most of the tobacco-control professionals I know would be happy to see a man-made problem disappear, so they could go work on other problems. I know of no business as good as tobacco at privatizing the profits and socializing the costs/risks.

Needless to say
a) is helped by a reflexive fight against any taxes and
b) against the Federal government,
so tobacco's role in helping the Kochs create the Tea Party makes excellent sense. Superb strategy, since "smokers rights" efforts didn't really work very well.

Russell Seitz said...

I started smoking when I was 33

I wish someone had told me about high nicotine -additive free Indonesian clove cigarettes sooner- one measure of their virtue that the neoprohibitionist tendency has taken steps to ban their import.

I suppose there must be someone out there who frowns on diet soda as the first step towards teens mainlining high fructose corn syrup, and erstwhile historians of science dodging primary sources.

Daniel Wirt said...

Dr. Seitz,

You keep using the word "prohibitionist", but at least with regard to me, it is a strawman. Like I said before, it is clear that prohibition of drugs is a losing strategy. Whether it's unfiltered Camels or e-cigarettes, the pushers must be held accountable for any and all of the objectively demonstrable external costs (damage to public health), to be subtracted from their profits.

I'm intrigued by your phrase, "erstwhile historians of science dodging primary sources". Can you cite primary sources that would exonerate Fred Singer? Fred Seitz? Yourself?

Russell Seitz said...

Easy on the whey protein, Wirt- you evidentlyhave not checked the references of the work you cite, let alone my own.

Had you done so- something I invited John to do several years ago you might have noticed.

1. That I started criticizing Singer years before 'Merchants' appeared, and the polemic framing of science to fuel controversy three decades ago.

2. 'Merchants' scholarly appartus has holes you could drive a Tesla through- foremost among the missing references on which what you style its 'history of science' depends is Hartsgaards Vanity Fair hit piece-- Oreskes did not conduct a single interview with her erstwhile principles, myself included

Instead of quarrying the archives at Rockefeller University, which chronicle how it, and its retired ex-president took up Reynold's offer to give the university fifty million dollars in prion research support, no strings attached - if the then-octagenarian would chair their research committee.

'Merchants' overlooks this ,instead relying on an interview Hartsgaard conducted when Seitz was 93, an age Oreskes fails to metion entirely. Not to be outdone, Singer, already infamous for hounding the aged and ailing Roger Revelle into coauthoring a 'skeptical' Cosmos Club magazine article, went on to visit Seitz on his literal deathbed to claim the blind 96 year old's unwitnessed endorsement of Singer's 800 page NIPCC report .

'Merchants' avoidance of primary sources in my own case speaks for itself- I introduced myself to Oreskes during her semester here but she never availed herself of the opportiunity of a first hand interview , and instead resorted to an egregious exercise in selective quotation. Having been frustrated by reality in their effort to include me in their narrative of 'climate denial' Oreskes & Conway instead use the ellipsis of an op-ed version of a 7,000 word article on on another topic- 'Nuclear winter', in hope of persuading those unacquainted with my work that I must at least be a 'science denier' instead.

While I find their book's invented motives and anachronistic re-arrangement of events absurd, your remarks suggest they have found their lawful political prey.

Daniel Wirt said...

Dr. Seitz,

Thank you for your version. However, I think your characterization of yourself as a defender of science from political polemics of others is projection (or, if you are not very familiar with psychologic terminology, "the pot calling the kettle black". Just in the brief interchange here it is very obvious that you categorize any effort to regulate or tax a very dangerous drug (nicotine), orders of magnitude more dangerous than marijuana, as "prohibition", even when remarks are prefaced by antiprohibitionist language. Your right wing, neoliberal/libertarian free market uber alles fundamentalism is palpable.

Regarding Hertsgaard (not "Hartsgaard"), sounds like F. Seitz was being candid. Your logic regarding the money given to Rockefeller by Reynolds is certainly convoluted (denial and rationalization). I'm sure that Reynolds did not mind that some of it went to prion research --- instead of smoking-disease epidemiology. As Hertsgaard says, "Call him the $45 million man. That's how much money Dr. Frederick Seitz, a former president of the National Academy of Sciences, helped R.J. Reynolds Industries, Inc., give away to fund medical research in the 1970s and 1980s. The research avoided the central health issue facing Reynolds --- "They didn't want us looking at the health effects of cigarette smoking," says Seitz, who is now 94 --- but it nevertheless served the tobacco industry's purposes. Throughout those years, the industry frequently ran ads in newspapers and magazines citing its multi-million-dollar research program as proof of its commitment to science --- and arguing that the evidence on the health effects of smoking was mixed." The Wikipedia entry on F. Seitz says, "In 1979, Fred Seitz was hired by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, makers of Camel cigarettes, to head their Medical Research Committee. In this position, Seitz was in charge of the campaign to smudge the facts regarding the harmful effects of tobacco. Seitz directed $6.3 million to researchers who consistently found no evidence conclusively linking tobacco to serious medical problems." What a pathetic joke... I'm sure you know what someone like Sir Richard Doll, a real scientist who wasn't politically obfuscated, could have done with 6.3 million 1970/1980 dollars...

(Part 1 of 2)

Daniel Wirt said...

Dr. Seitz,


Regarding you and "climate denial" (as you put it), your writings on AGW that I have seen so far make me think that you belong in the Merchant of Doubt category. Science is never "settled", but scientific certainty can be achieved, and your apparent (to paraphrase) "things may be warming up a little but there is no crisis" appears to be classic Merchant of Doubt sowing given the massive scientific consensus on AGW and the danger of anthropogenic destruction of the biosphere (but, then, the danger of nuclear winter from a massive nuclear exchange is overblown, eh? Some polemics vs science from a committed Cold Warrior?)

Finally, you say that you started smoking at age 33? That would have been about 1980? Again, Sir Richard Doll: "Doll himself stopped smoking as a result of his findings, published in the British Medical Journal in 1950, which concluded, 'The risk of developing the disease (lung cancer) increases in proportion to the amount smoked. It may be 50 times as great among those who smoke 25 or more cigarettes a day as among non-smokers.'" So, Dr. Seitz, I would like to ask you... You are a scientist. Why could you not recognize a brilliant scientific discovery 30 plus years after it was published? Was it that river in Egypt (de Nile)? Was it your politics clouding your scientific judgment? Was it the power of that fantastically addictive drug, nicotine holding sway over you?

And speaking of sway, you suggest that I might be overindulging in whey protein. Actually I subscribe to the one Guinness Extra Stout per day regimen. Regarding those problematic dietary supplements and alternative medicines, I take a conservative approach, like the great physician Sir William Osler did with Woodbridge's snake oil for typhoid fever. Show me the data...

Anonymous said...

"While I find their book's invented motives and anachronistic re-arrangement of events absurd..."

If you have issues with any part of Oreskes' and Mashey's work regarding the tobacco industry you are always welcome to write your own essays analysing any putative errors, and to submit those essays to a journal of repute so that your side of the story is on the offcial record.

It's in everyone's interests (except perhaps the vested ones...) to optimise the accuracy of the work on the subject.

Bernard J.

Russell Seitz said...

Bernard J

O&C's book has a website, but the authors have declined to post offered copies of both the primary literature they misrepresent, and supporting materials contradicting many of their assertions , not just from myself, but William Nierenberg's son as well.

While this may be in the best tradition of Vice-Presidential court historians, witness Oreskes' cameo appearance in Gore's last telethon , and her article in the CHE last fall , the politically disinterested might elect to take a less partisan look , not just at what has driven scientists out of the Republican fold, but the active measures she has taken to shepherd them into the Democratic camp.

But that is less a matter of climate science than counterpropaganda, my conclusion concerning which you will encounter at the end of the National Interest article the second link provides. - I commend both to Wirt as well.


As to who needs exhonoration, as a matter of record it is Oreskes & Conway who have branded evidenced based historiography that contradicts their narrative construction 'anti science' and eschewed primary sources in favor of political journalism.

Daniel Wirt said...

Dr. Seitz,

Regarding my estimate of your age above, I think I have underestimated. If you were currently in the range of 70-90, and started smoking at age 33, that would put the start date between 1956 and 1976. Still well after Richard Doll's seminal work and seminal paper in 1950.

Russell Seitz said...

Mr. Wirt, though I intend to persist in doing many things more dangerous, like coexisting with internal combustion engine owners, I am quite touched by your concern.

Daniel Wirt said...

Dr. Seitz,

Yes, defensive driving is to be highly recommended.

But, what was it that kept you from recognizing, acknowledging and/or acting upon the seminal work of Sir Richard Doll? Same question for your cousin, Fred...

I don't see the issue as whether you are a "science denier " (your words). As I see it, and as I think Dr. Oreskes sees it, the issue is choosing "science" to fit ones rigid political ideology --- something that occurs on both the right and left.

If you don't think that Oreskes has treated you or your cousin or the historical record fairly, then why don't you gather it all up and publish it (at least online)? Why don't you write a detailed rebuttal and back it up with all those primary sources you talk about? (That raises the question, are your papers archived somewhere besides your basement?)

Regarding your reading suggestions, I had already read "A War Against Fire". Thank you for "A Climate of Here".

Russell Seitz said...

Mr. Witz: I have never heard of Doll.

While Fred Seitz' seminal 1938 work, The Modern Theory Of Solids is still in print, ithas nothing whatever to do with medical research or climate change.

The primary source Oresekes misrepresented is the one to which I referred you earlier, and appeared in the same journal as A War Against Fire

Cf In From The Cold, The National Interest, Summer 1986.

It identifies as the locus classicus of polemic misbehavior in the climate wars Carl Sagan's 1983 decision to hire a PR firm to orchestrate 'nuclear winter's press conference before submitting it for peer reviewed publication, an act that invited the observation that:

" Having known Sin at Hiroshima, science was bound to run into advertising sooner or later."

A generation later, the history of science seems to have suffered a similar collision-
the words you misattribute to me, 'science denier ' are not mine, but an epithet of Oreskes' invention and it his to her that dissatisfaction at not finding primary materials sent her posted on the 'Merchant's' website should be addressed.

Daniel Wirt said...

Dr. Seitz,

You say, "I have never heard of Doll." I don't think you realize how revealing that short sentence is. When I read this, I just had to slap my head and stand speechless (ala Georg Hoffmann, in response to the atrocious Gerlich and
Tscheuschner paper that somehow escaped or survived peer review

Further evidence that you chose science to fit your political dogma. Just to remind you, Doll, in concert with several others, did THE SEMINAL WORK to prove epidemiologically, to a scientific certainty, that smoking causes lung cancer, and the seminal paper was published in 1950. Let's review just that much: 1950.

In fact, you and your cousins are the poster boys for adverse political influence on and perversion of science. You have the temerity to complain about polemics in science. You accuse others of what you are most guilty of, the only difference is that your polemics and political dogma differ from that of your enemies. You suffer from massive projection, denial and rationalization, and as is typical of that condition, your ideation is delusional (fixed, false beliefs) and not subject to change by virtue of facts or rational argument. Your "Climate of Here" article impresses me as your lament that there is insufficient representation of your brand of political polemics in climate science... I have reread Oreskes' entries about you, and as I remembered, she does not say that you are a "science denier" --- so, indeed these ARE your words. She documents how you injected massive amounts of political polemics into the scientific debate, again, exactly what you accuse others of. She quotes and paraphrases liberally from your opus, "In From the Cold". I have long been aware of The Merchants of Doubt website, and Oreskes addresses your complaint: "Russell Seitz has raised concerns about the summary of his arguments on p.62. While the excerpt from his article is paraphrased, the meaning is intact." So, again, if you feel you have been misrepresented, write an essay or a book with your version of the history and publish it. Until you do, Merchants of Doubt stands. Like Sir William Osler, I insist: show me the data, not just the hand waving...

Finally, you say, "While Fred Seitz' seminal 1938 work, The Modern Theory Of Solids is still in print, it has nothing whatever to do with medical research or climate change." I wasn't aware that we were discussing solid state physics. Were we? No matter how brilliant your cousin may have been in solid state physics, there is no getting around the fact that he directly contributed to the morbidity and mortality of millions because of his venal alliance with Reynolds to obfuscate the science regarding smoking and cancer. Let's review just that much: scientific certainty was reached in 1950 (Sir Richard Doll). Who was using the media to pervert and obfuscate science based on rigid political dogma, to publish and advertise polemics via Reynolds? Too bad that Hertsgaard didn't ask your cousin the same question that I asked you regarding Sir Richard Doll. Richard Doll is a seminal thread in the history of science. Too bad your cousin didn't confine himself to solid state physics, because the rest of his record is shameful.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Dr Seitz, In "A War Against Fire" you wrote,
... any pretension to oracular foreknowledge of how, over the next quarter century, the earth will respond to our presence lies in the realm not of science but of intuition ..."

I'll disregard the polemical nature of your characterization of scientific knowledge as "pretension to oracular foreknowledge" and simply submit:

Hansen, J., I. Fung, A. Lacis, D. Rind, Lebedeff, R. Ruedy, G. Russell, and P. Stone, 1988: Global climate changes as forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies three-dimensional model. J. Geophys. Res., 93, 9341-9364, doi:10.1029/JD093iD08p09341.

It's 2013; a quarter century since Hansen, et al. You obviously are not the extremist flavor of AGW denier; like Spencer you know the physics and won't crawl out on the ledge with many of the lunatics and pretend the basic physics are incorrect. But your Judith Curry-like insistence that science could not predict what would happen is simply contradicted by the facts. Yet I do not see you significantly changing your tune. This failure to mark your beliefs to market is typical of the *non-scientist* -- among whom prejudice and ideology trump data and facts.

Looking back in time, how do you justify to yourself the statement you made vis a vis "oracular foreknowledge"? It did not take an oracle to predict the earth's temperature was going to rise - merely a scientific assessment of the known facts. Obviously these facts were available - had you even read Hansen's modeling studies circa 1990? If so, why did you disregard them?

Lionel A said...

Russell Seitz:

"Mr. Witz: I have never heard of Doll."

That is astonishing considering how you have defended your late relative on the topic of tabacco related health and mortality issues.

Fortunately for the world, Robert Proctor was not so 'absent' (or should it be parochial) on the work of Sir Richard Doll when he wrote 'Golden Holocaust', where we find in the index no fewer than eight page references and one to a figure. The latter being, "Figure 27. Lung cancer mortality as a function of cigarette consumption in eleven nations..."

I recall not so long ago having to counter some flippant remark of yours with respect to the so called freedom of smokers to engage in the habit wherever they see fit. I seem to recall you making a case for electronic cigarettes at that time. Nice, minors could be allowed these and will then move on to the real thing. I know, I know....

Lionel A said...

On Indonesian clove cigarettes Dr Seitz, now Wiki is not always a reliable source but the article on such cigarettes provides little optimism that the deleterious health effects of smoking are ameliorated by the use of these.

"Djarum Black cigarettes sold in Europe, South Africa and South American countries have 10–12 mg tar and 1 mg nicotine, as indicated on the pack. This level of tar and nicotine is comparable to the majority of other regular or "full-flavor" cigarettes available. However, Djarum Black cigarettes produced for consumption in Indonesia contain a significantly higher quantity of tar and nicotine, 25 mg and 1.6 mg respectively. In Canada, Djarum Black cigarettes are listed as containing 44.2–86 mg of tar and 1.73–3.24 mg of nicotine, a significant amount more than most other cigarettes."

But do carry on doing a Dick Lindzen and enjoy your puffs.

Russell Seitz said...

Kevin asks" had you even read Hansen's modeling studies circa 1990?"

as 'A War Against Fire' was drafted in 1989 that would have required oracular foreknowledge, and it is such oracles as three decades ago predicted temperatures rising a whole degree by 2020 who are presently out on an exponential limb.

Thank you for yet another illustration of the ubiquity of ellipsis and quote mining noted earlier - the quote you so shamelessly truncate continues :

"And just as surely, any denial that unrestrained C02 injection can transform the world within five generations lies beyond the pale of both-especially if China's vast coal reserves are exploited at a per capita rate approaching that of the U. S. today."

Russell Seitz said...

Dear Daniel Wirt:

I've never heard of you either.

As to publishing articles fisking Oreskes , , it has been done.

Try looking for 'science denial' if the phease 'science denier' continues to elude you.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Dr Seitz, "circa" means approximately. A War Against Fire was drafted in 1989. The Hansen paper I cited was published in 1988. Both are circa 1990. So, no, it didn't require oracular foreknowledge to have read Hansen's modeling paper before writing A War Against Fire. But you avoid the question. I'll ask again: Had you read Hansen before writing A War Against Fire?

Nor does the rest of the article change the meaning of the quote I used. That you also cast the same uncertainty monster around deniers only shows a false equivalence - not insight.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Dr Seitz writes: "... it is such oracles as three decades ago predicted temperatures rising a whole degree by 2020 who are presently out on an exponential limb."

I am bemused by this. Not, watching Monty Python's Holy Grail bemused, but bemused nonetheless. I suppose in certain circles this is taken as 'truth' - but many of us know better - as I'm sure Dr Seitz himself knows better.

Hansen's 1988 paper is stunning in retrospect for all that it got right. Given the uncertainties involved the results have more than borne out the ability of even rather coarse (by today's standards) GCMs to adequately model the earth's global climate as pointed out in <a href="> What do we learn from James Hansen's 1988 prediction?</a>

Russell Seitz said...

Hansen et al 1988 , and his Congressional testimony, were indeed among the sources included in the rubric:

"Some say they are 99 percent sure they can perceive it in the data; some say those who say that are completely out of scientific bounds. Others say they see nothing, and many more that they just can't tell-both nature's static-ridden transmission and science's still-crude receivers make the message far from plain. "What bothers a lot of us is, " one modeler remarked, "telling Congress things we are reluctant to say ourselves." "

The end quote by the way , is from Alan Robock.

I frankly don't recall reading the issue of JGR in which Jim's article appeared, as I focused on interviewing Jerry Mahlman on the state of contemporary GCM's

Russell Seitz said...

Kevin , having often and publicly defended Steve Schneider against the truncation of his remarks on simplifying complex conclusions am not amused by your tendentious misrepesentation of words that speak for themselves when quoted in their entirey.

Why not post a link and let the readers judge?

I do recall watching Jim Hansen 's 1988 testimony on CSPAN.

Daniel Wirt said...

Dr. Seitz,

You say, "I've never heard of you either". This is complete nonsense, of course. There is no reason for you to have heard of me. On the other hand, there are many reasons that you should have heard of Richard Doll --- that is, if you were really interested in the science regarding smoking and lung cancer (in 1950, just to remind you). Instead, I conclude that you were more interested in protecting and justifying and promoting your rigid political doctrine and ideology than discovering the scientific certainty about this issue. That you had not heard of Richard Doll until a few days ago is incredibly revealing... (I'll leave my specific conclusions to myself. However, with regard to your cousin, it was scientific malpractice for him to not immediately use part of that 6 million plus 1970/1980 dollars to confirm Doll's work in the U.S. --- it would have rapidly and definitively reproduced Doll's results; I doubt if you have any idea of the suffering and death that his venal delaying and dissembling contributed to --- and I suspect you know very little about the pathophysiology or epidemiology of smoking).

Your link to Oreskes is all about Nierenberg. I thought we were talking about you and your cousin, ie your claim that Oreskes has misrepresented you and F. Seitz. You have not convinced me yet...

Please show me where Oreskes uses the words "science denial" or "science denier" specifically referring to you.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Dr Seitz, your comments on the quotation I pulled from A War Against Fire and the lack of a link are rather silly. You wrote the article and should have no trouble finding it. Besides, in case you'd misplaced it, you already gave the link in a previous comment in this thread. Besides, editing a quotation with the intent to mislead is hardly likely to work when the person you're quoting and the person you're discussing the quote with are one and the same person.

More important, how is the selection I quoted changed by the selection you added - or any other selection from A War Against Fire?

My point was that you claimed then that "any pretension to oracular foreknowledge of how, over the next quarter century, the earth will respond to our presence lies in the realm not of science but of intuition ..." and that Hansen's 1988 paper showed that statement to be nonsense. Nothing you wrote in A War Against Fire mitigates that charge.

In effect, what you wrote is: "Science cannot answer the question: Over the next 25 years, what will be the effect of greenhouse gases on global temperatures? And any scientist who claims he can is a charlatan."

As for selective quotations - you should look in the mirror. Alan Robock was *NOT* talking about James Hansen's congressional testimony and climate modeling vis a vis 99 percent confidence because Hansen's 99 percent remark was not based on climate modeling - it was based on the instrumental record.

From Hansen's congressional testimony transcript: "The observed warming over the past 30 years, which is the period when we have accurate measurements of atmospheric composition, is shown by the heavy black line in this graph. The warming is almost 0.4 degrees Centigrade by 1987 relative to climatology, which is defined as the 30 year mean, 1950 to 1980 and, in fact, the warming is more than 0.4 degrees Centigrade in 1988. The probability of a chance warming of that magnitude is about 1 percent. So, with 99 percent confidence we can state that the warming during this time period is a real warming trend."

So, the anonymous quote that you used in A War Against Fire, that you now attribute to Robock, was a bald attempt to conflate Hansen's 99 percent confidence statement and the fact that he also worked with climate models - but the 99 percent remark had nothing to do with climate models and relied solely on the instrumental record. Shame on you.

Russell Seitz said...

I see only you have not in fact read the original article, in which you will find the Robock quote is duly footnoted - the Adamant repost linked is of the body text .

Adding tendentious ellipsis to selective quotation but serves to reinforce and illustrate the article's conclusion, and the moral of this exchange :

"At all times, and in all polities, science politicized is science betrayed."

Kevin O'Neill said...

Dr Seitz, the quote I selected would only be tendentious or misleading if the rest of the article gave context contrary to what the selection implied. The rest of the article does nothing of the sort. As I paraphrased above, you were saying this is a question science cannot answer. It can, it did.

You chose to ignore or disregard the best science available then and, nearly a quarter century later, it appears you are unwilling or unable to own up to this.

Making mistakes is a fairly common human endeavor and hardly even interesting or worth mention. The true judge of a man then is not whether he's made mistakes, but whether he is able to own up to them. This was my only interest in pursuing this thread - to see whether you would own up to having erred in your judgement 23 years ago. I have my answer.

Russell Seitz said...

"As I paraphrased above,"

Who asked you to paraphrase at all?

I mean what I wrote and wrote what I meant. If you cannot grasp the intrinsic intellectual dishonesty of substituting your words for mine, instead of being governed by the explicit meaning of my text, it is hardly surprising that the inanity of proceeding to criticize your own creation should elude you as well.

In 1990, I wrote:

"My personal expectation-and I reserve the right to change my mind if the evidence does-runs more to centimeter-per-year rises in sea level and a lot more climatic variability than actual temperature rise in that lifetime.'

Res ipse dixit

Daniel Wirt said...

Russell Seitz says, "At all times, and in all polities, science politicized is science betrayed."

Not only is this a pinnacle of hypocrisy, denial, rationalization and projection, but it evidences a profound misunderstanding of the nature and history of science.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Russell Seitz wrote: "Who asked you to paraphrase at all?"

Dr Seitz, it's obvious you live in a predominantly monologue universe. I do not need to ask anyone's permission to explicate, paraphrase, interpret, or critically evaluate your writing.

Communication exists at the intersection of what the writer intended and what the reader comprehended. You wrote, "... any pretension to oracular foreknowledge of how, over the next quarter century, the earth will respond to our presence lies in the realm not of science but of intuition ...". I interpret this to mean: Science cannot answer the question. Rather than engage and agree or disagree with my statement you resort to another lecture and faux outrage.

The analysis goes further; science had already answered the question (most notably the Charney Report in 1979 and Hansen et al in 1988). You were aware of this at the time. So your statement was also a denial of the science.

As you wrote then, and quote yourself now, "I reserve the right to change my mind" - but it's obvious you haven't. You still deride Hansen et al, 1988.

You may not think of yourself as such, but it is pretty clearly shown that you are still a denier of the science.

Anonymous said...

Russell Seitz.

You're obviously a fairly smart fellow. So I'm curious - whether it's oncology, thermodynamics, or climatological physics, at what point and on what evidence do you dismiss or disregard the understanding of the best experts in their respective fields and replace it with an interpretation that is more amenable to your world view, where such seems not to coincide with the best professional understanding?

I'm genuinely curious - I'd like to know where it is that someone's informed train of thought derails from the track of best objective, scientific understanding.

Bernard J.

Daniel Wirt said...

"A War Against Fire" has many problems. Among those: it is full of the Saturation Fallacy (see Ray Pierrehumbert's excellent piece in Physics Today for a quick sidebar explanation

"A War Against Fire" is an epitome of the merchant of doubt genre. Even the title shouts it...

Daniel Wirt said...

Bernard J asks Russell Seitz: "I'm genuinely curious - I'd like to know where it is that someone's informed train of thought derails from the track of best, objective scientific understanding."

The answer is the point where the best science (including scientific certainty) diverges with the rigid political doctrine of some people, including some scientists. This happens on both the right and left. On the right, it is often associated with neoliberal free market fundamentalism. In the case of Dr. Seitz, political doctrine dictates which good science gets subjected to the merchant of doubt treatment. Perhaps Oreskes got some of the details wrong or glossed over some of the details, but her big picture is correct with regard to the tail of political doctrine (right wing in this case) wagging the dog of science. Alexander Cockburn is an example of a train wreck on the left/libertarian side. The irony is that Seitz accuses others of exactly what he is most guilty of --- perversion of science in the name of political dogma...

J Bowers said...

"Heartland is now going all-out for e-cigarettes."

That probably means they're also going all out for cash from Big Pharma.

Russell Seitz said...

Let's try the Socratic method: How does your quote chopping, or for that mater Oreskes differ from what many a yack radio hack has done by deliberately omitting the italicized half of this well-known quote from Steve Schneider on " working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change ?"

" To do that we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to off up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.

This ‘double ethical blind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both."

- Stephen Schneider, quoted in Jonathan Schell, “Our Fragile Earth,” Discover Magazine, October 1989, p. 47.

As to reserving the right to change one's mind if the evidence changes, fifteen years after Hansen's article appeared, one merchant of doubt still had the temerity to write :

“Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue…. Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions.”

Identifying the culprit is left as an exercise for the reader.

Daniel Wirt said...

Daniel Wirt said...

Daniel Wirt said...

Training to be a Merchant of Doubt (subspecies: right wing zealot) begins early.

Daniel Wirt said...

From the front page of Jules Klimaat Blog: "The target audience of denialism is the lay audience, not scientists. It's made up to look like science, but it's PR." David Archer

J Bowers said...

"That probably means they're also going all out for cash from Big Pharma."

Yep. Big Pharma's trying to corner the market in e-cigs, and guess who's now champeening their cause.

Familiar Think Tanks Fight For E-cigarettes

This really p****s me off because I switched to vaping (not cigalikes) to get me off normal cigs. All they'll end up lobbying for is strict controls that only Big Pharma and Tobacco can afford.