Tuesday, February 19, 2013

More Heartland, Less Sense

Brian, the other Brian, Brian Angliss, has a post up at Scholars and Rouges about some recent published distortion from the Heartland.  James Taylor, Heartland's head flak, got ahold of a new paper by Lianne Lefsrud and Renate Meyer which surveyed petroleum geologists and engineers and same such in Alberta Canada.  Alberta is a hot spot for the petro industry and the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGA) has 40K members.  As one might expect there has been a rather contentious interchange within the APEGA about climate change, and the organization asked Lefsrud to conduct a survey to better understand what the actual position of it's membership was.

The survey has resulted in a published paper, which Taylor picked up, and wrote about at Forbes under the title of

Peer-Reviewed Survey Finds Majority Of Scientists Skeptical Of Global Warming Crisis

As Brian A put it
Taylor’s post is based almost entirely on the incorrect claim that the study’s results are representative. There is no mention that all the study’s respondents were only in Alberta, Canada. There is no mention that they’re all members of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). There is no mention that the membership of APEGA is predominantly employed by the Alberta petroleum industry and its regulators. And there is no mention that the authors repeatedly and specifically write in their study that their results are not applicable beyond the respondents and members of APEGA.  
It gets worse because Taylor falsely states the positions of the various respondents to climate change taking those who approve of Kyoto as the only ones who think that humans are changing our climate.  While Eli is none too fond of Lefsrud and Meyer's framing of positions wrt climate change, Taylor is happy to impose his own sense of denial upon it.  If you held Eli up to the wall, the results of the survey are what the Rabett would have expected given what happened when the American Association of Petroleum Geologists tried to come up with a statement on climate change.

Anybunny who wants to read more about the APEGA study in general or the blog version can start with the links above, and please do read the comments at Forbes.  Eli wants to concentrate on two points in the paper's conclusions:
Adherents of frames that support regulation (‘comply with Kyoto’, ‘regulation activists’) are – in our study – significantly more likely to be lower in the organizational hierarchy, younger, female, and working in government. . . . Conversely, adherents of those frames that are more defensive and oppose regulation (‘nature is overwhelming’, ‘economic responsibility’) are significantly more likely to be more senior in their organizations, male, older, geoscientists, and work in the oil and gas industry.  . . . The majority of command posts within organizations, especially in the industry, seem to be manned with opponents to the IPCC and anthropogenic climate science. While it may not be overly surprising that industry executives support the industry’s interests, taking into consideration that we have analyzed experts’ frames that are founded on a claim of being independent and non-partisan, it is also important to note that the two frames that especially dwell on the point of ‘real science’ versus ‘hoax’ at the same time represent core economic interests.                      
and the potential counterbalance, a point Eli has been making for some time
 A potential, yet so far unused discursive opportunity to ‘broker’ between pro-regulation frames and ‘economic responsibility’ may lie in a more comprehensive (i.e., including financial) understanding of risk (Hoffman, 2011b). Nagel (2011) discusses how the insurance and reinsurance industry is supremely concerned about exposure to financial risks associated with extreme weather events. The US military is concerned about security risks associated with ‘population displacements, increased potential for failed states and terrorism, potential escalation of conflicts over resources’ (Nagel, 2011, p. 206). Risk management is of fundamental concern to all – including energy – companies, insurance and finance industries, military and other government agencies. Professional engineers and geoscientists (and lawyers, accountants, corporate officers, etc.) are in the business of managing risk. Indeed, engineers have recognized these risks, been working behind the scenes, and revised the Canadian Building Codes to adapt to the changing climate.


Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Has Taylor been taking special pleading lessons from Heartland Science Director Jay Lehr Ph.D. ?

The jury wants to know .

J Bowers said...

Russell, your link doesn't work. I take it it's THIS?

Gaz said...

Scholars and Rouges?

Is that a web site dedicated to education and cosmetics?


Anonymous said...

It's enough to make a bunny see red...

Eli highlights two interesting passages though, which echoed something I heard on the way into work. I might muse on these matters later...

Bernard J. Hyphen-Anonymous XVII

(I think, therefore I am not a robot.


EliRabett said...

Eli suffers either from mild dyslexia or a warped view of the universe.

Miguelito said...

Yeah, Alberta is a haven for denialism largely because of the oil patch. Honestly, it's pretty pathetic and it's one of the reasons I hate belonging to the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, which has historically had a denialist bent.

Having said that, CSPG lunches or conference sessions that bring up climate science typically stay close to the consensus (not always, but usually and I can only think of a small number of instances in the past two years where contrarians have had their pulpit at the CSPG's expense). I wonder if the CSPG executive would like to change the CSPG's official position and make a firm statement about how climate change is real, but they're afraid of getting booted out of office and the entire executive from there on in becoming nothing but hard-core deniers (maybe do some education today and reap some rewards later).

Overall, though, the oil patch's denialism is two-faced, because they'll use climate change as a way to sell natural gas as a replacement for coal in power generation. Say one thing with one side of your mouth and another with the other.

And, finally and to be fair, climate-change denialism was one of the nails in the coffin for the Wild Rose Party in the last provincial election (Danielle Smith, the party leader, came out as a skeptic during the election and it really ended up hurting them in the polls).

Anonymous said...

Eli, my comment may have been pointed, but not worthy of being censored.


Thanx to Jbowers for discovering the missing link, to Heartland's latest Wyle E. Coyote moment:



Lars Karlsson said...

More shameless misrepresentation by Taylor.