Monday, 28 December 2009

Senator James Inhofe's trip to Copenhagen

Oklahoma's senator James Inhofe got wel known for calling climate change "a hoax".

Last year i paid some attention on my blog to the ridiculous Inhofe 650-report (here, here & here).

I cannot resist posting this video about his trip to the Copenhagen Summit. It does put climate skepticism in the right context : it's a small group of very vocal deniers, ignored by reality.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



As to be expected few, if any, US-senators receive more money from the fossil fuel industry than James Inhofe...

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Elsevier’s coverage of Sinninghe Danté’s research

The Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) on it’s website recently gave a little summary of the research of paleontologist Jaap Sinninghe Damsté who did research on the role of precipitation on the snow cover on Mount Kilimanjaro.

The conclusion of the article is (my emphasis) :

Al Gore used the melting icecap of Mount Kilimanjaro in his movie 4An inconvenient truth’ as a proof of global warming caused by human induced emission of greenhouse gasses. That wasn’t the best possible choice. According to Damsté’s research the melt is not solemnly man’s fault. The research shows natural climate variations matter too.

Upon the release of his movie many scientists already pointed out that Al Gore by picking Kilimanjaro did use a bad example to demonstrate glacier melt, so there's nothing new in this statement.

A while after the publication of the article, the NWO published this addendum :

After the publication, we noticed some people interpreted the article as direct proof the message of Al Gore in “An inconvenient truth” is incorrect. Sinninghe Danté wants to express this interpretation is wrong. I agree completely with Al Gore that increasing levels of CO2 will have a big impact for heating up of our planet and that we actively need to reduce CO2-emissions.

Research, including that of my own group, has demonstrated that in geological times with high CO2-levels, oceans were much warmer. I am seriously worried what’s happening with Earth.

All our research has shown is that large changes in precipitation in the past played an important role in the growth/shrinking of the icecap. It does not say anything about the cause of the present melt.

On grounds of recent studies, both increased sublimation as decreased precipitation matter, but the recent trend of lower and more irregular precipitation in that region partly also is a result of anthropogenic climate change. That influence of rainfall affirms our finds published in Nature.

While many Dutch newspapers and magazines covered the story correctly, once again the magazine Elsevier was the exception.

Elsevier already has a bad reputation as it’s the place where science editor and libertarian Simon Rozendaal regularly writes sloppy climate sceptical articles (and he did co-author this book). But it’s not just the climate issue : in Holland Rozendaal also has been loudly criticized for writing too friendly towards the Pharma industry.

Again, The magazine confirmed it’s bad reputation but this time by the interpretation made by Robin Van de Kloor who wrote that

Sinninghe Danté’s research in Nature disproves the story of climate-guru Al Gore. A natural process of climate-variability is the true cause, NWO said last Thursday.

It’s a little creative as the text of NWO (the first quote i gave) clearly did not say what Van De Kloor makes out of it. But what really worries me is that VDK uses words like '”climate-guru” and “climate-hype”. It’s a phrasing you except to read on very low-brow internet blogs, but not in articles of a magazine.

The good thing is Elsevier had the decency to publish Sinninghe Damsté’s complaints. The bad thing is Elsevier’s coverage of climate related subjects systematically is below acceptable.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

R.I.P. Vic Chesnutt

I just found out one of my favorite artists passed away yesterday after an overdose of muscle relaxants.

R.I.P Vic Chesnutt 11/12/64 – 12/25/09

I hope you will find the rest you were looking for up there in heaven Vic.



EDIT : do also read this message from Kristin Hersh and don't hesitate to give a little contribution to the family
Up until recently, Hersh and Chesnutt were planning to record a new album and tour together this year. Now that he’s gone, she’s set up a website to raise funds for his widow, Tina. Fans have already donated thousands of dollars. “Vic’s medical bills were astronomical. Like most musicians, he didn’t have insurance for a long time, and then when he got insurance, they wouldn’t pay his bills. I know that he was about 50 grand in debt just for medical bills….[Fans'] generosity is unbelievable.”

Monday, 14 December 2009

Phelim McAleer censored ?

the newest meme going around in the Dutch denialosphere is that the UN tried to censor a critical journalist :
Journalist Phelim McAleer ('Mine Your Own Business', 'Not Evil Just Wrong') asks Prof Stephen Schneider from Stanford University an Inconvenient Question about 'Climategate' emails. McAleer is interrupted twice by Prof Schneider's assistant and UN staff and then told to stop filming by an armed UN security guard.
It is accompanied with this video :



looks pretty bad you say ?

Well, here's the full version of the video. Look for yourself what REALLY happened when McAleer started asking questions.



McAleer did exactly what Schneider was afraid of

Of course, allover the place denialists are being furious by the intolerable censorship of the UN. And don't say it ain't so because they saw it with their very own eyes.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Jurrie’s Q&A

In the comments section of this and this post, “Jurrie” asked some questions which require such a lengthy answer that it’s literally too long to fit into the comment boxes blogger provides. Above that, his questions deserve a new post as they are addressing a couple of things that are important in the climate change debate.

The interview with Minister Frans Timmermans
First of all i have to say I'm a bit surprised you refer to this video shot by Theo Richel. Everything in this video shows Frans Timmermans dislikes and mistrusts Theo Richel a lot, to such an extent it clearly affects the way he is answering. Seems like Timmermans is fully aware that Richel & Co are about. The fact he calls them flat-earthers demonstrates this.
But to the point. You write :

after seeing this recent video of Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Timmermans and his explanation of Dutch national and international policy and current state of predictions. That scares the crap out of me. And I mean specifically the part in which he says that he chooses to believe the biggest pile of research papers has more credibility to him than a small pile.
You only quote this part, but it is really important to look at something Minister Timmermans said earlier in the video (2:06):
in science, there are always dissidents. But I’m not going to change the Dutch policy because some people still think earth is flat
This quote alters the context in which Timmermans said he is following the majority of science. And personally I don’t see what you find so shocking in it.

Indeed Frans Timmermans is correct : whatever scientific topic you look at there will ALWAYS be dissidents rejecting the current status. I don’t have to explain many people with a scientific degree dismiss Evolution. There are geologists truly believing the Grand Canyon emerged in six days or by the biblical flood.

When we look at AIDS, there are scientists believing there’s no relation between HIV and Aids. An example of such a scientist is Kary Mullis, a Noble Prize winner. Nevertheless “science” believes the relation is proven and Mullis’ view is ignored completely.

There are plenty of other examples where there are people with opposite viewpoints in a scientific domain that is considered to be settled. Expecting unanimity in science is an illusion : whatever scientific subject you choose, there’ll be a scientist disagreeing with “mainstream” science.
But saying science is wrong is one thing, proving it is another thing. And when you look beyond what people say and look into the real scientific literature you’ll notice climate scepticism suddenly vanishes almost completely.

Science does not work with unanimous agreement. The theory accepted by the vast majority of scientists wins. The fact there’s a Noble Prize winner denying the link between HIV & Aids doesn’t halt government policy on aids, nor should it.

The fact the world is full of people denying Evolution doesn’t change anything about the fact Evolution is the scientific theory. The fact creationists developed an entire alternative network outside science (with even their own creationist museum) in which they are publishing “their” science about intelligent design doesn’t alter a single thing about the conclusion that science says ‘Evolution’.
Taking those things into account Minister Timmermans in my opinion simply expresses the reality any science faces: when evidence is overwhelming and considered to be solid, you can and must take actions relying on that science. Despite the existence of occasional contrarian who talks a lot and disproves very little. Do also read my post "loose thoughts on some frequent fallacies" dealing with proof versus doubt and the role of a consensus.

It’s almost funny how we differ in opinion: while you are shocked by what Timmermans says, in my opinion his words express he understands how science works.

The importance of Bias
I dearly hope I don't ever have to read another argument suggesting a distinct influence of someone's (personal) bias based on employer or position in the Climate Discussion again. For, simply said, it holds no argumentative value but does a lot in terms of suggesting that it has any
I’m afraid that I disagree with you. Bias in my opinion is the single most important thing to understand the climate change debate.

When debating climate often i find it hard to have a real conversation as many people are twisting what you say, in a way it fits the original bias, or in a way the person wants to hear it. Instead of he's listening to what you really say. I cannot count the times i had to say : "that's not what i said" or "you are adressing a strawman"

Really, if there’s one thing I have learned by debating climate science, it is to acknowledge and never underestimate the importance of bias. It can make highly intelligent people say incredibly unintelligent things. I knew there would be an influence between the beliefs of a person and how he perceives facts, but I never realized just exactly how important it was. It is necessary to acknowledge that a strong bias is the best way to end up with pseudo-science .
Let me sketch a scene to explain myself some more. Imagine a person says :
My name is Bob and I don’t believe the scientific viewpoint in this specific subject. Ten million people agree with.
Could it be Bob be onto something ? After all, ten million people can’t be wrong, can they ?
Well actually it’s hard to address the two previous questions as Bob proved nothing and the entire phrase is so vague it’s impossible to have any real understanding what it is about . Nothing is said about science itself.
Now let’s have look again at what Bob said, but this time with just a little bit more info :
My name is Bob and I’m a Christian. I don’t believe the science about Evolution. Ten million Christians agree with me Intelligent Design is the correct theory.
Still not a single word has been said about science itself. Yet the entire context of the scene changes dramatically : adding Bob’s bias does clarify a lot. To such an extent that adding Bob’s bias is even essential : I believe it’s impossible to understand why Bob is rejecting the scientific findings without this extra context.

Of course, ONLY mentioning Bob’s bias isn’t sufficient to dismiss his findings and yes of course it absolutely is necessary to look at the arguments used to be able to decide who’s wrong and who’s right. Without doing so, you never know Bob might have come up with the proof ID indeed is true and Darwin was wrong.
Yet while looking at the scientific claim is necessary, I think the little example above makes clear that adding a person’s bias does add to the understanding of the subject.
We have to realize science isn’t an isolated thing that doesn’t leave university. Important scientific findings are a part of our society and should be treated that way. It is clear that the evolution-theory isn’t just a thing some obscure biologists care about. To fully understand why so many Christians dismiss Evolution, you really cannot think invalidating the pseudo-scientific arguments used by creationists will *ever* halt the debate and make them change their minds.

After all, the real reason for the debate of creationism; evolution isn’t scientific, but starts by the world view and consequences for this worldview for (the religious part of) a society. Only mentioning and understanding the bias can explain the deeper lying reasons for the discussion.
Just like people who believe ID disproportionally often are Christians, sceptics of climate science are often located in a couple of small subarea’s of the entire population.

I mentioned before on my blog the vast majority of the best known climate sceptics are directly connected to libertarian think thanks. Others are scared the government uses climate science as an excuse to raise taxes. More exotic are the people who believe in a conspiracy of the New World Order or the people who are scared the Copenhagen conference in reality is nothing but a disguise for the underlying plan to install a world government.

Another group of people disproportionally represented are employees in the fossil fuel industry. It’s not hard to see they have good reasons wanting climate science to be wrong. It’s a logical thing : there isn't a single hard-working dedicated employee who wants to hear that a little perverse side-effect of his labour is that his job actually is “destroying the planet” (of course I don’t mean the word destroying literally). It’s the perfect recipe for people to go in denial…

dr Tom Van der Hoeven is an amateur
Global Warming simplicity
The things mentioned above are the reason I mentioned Van der Hoeven is working for GasTerra. As apparently my post didn’t make clear to you why VDH is an amateur I will update that post as it seems to have missed it's target. In the meantime before rewriting, I’ll stick to repeating saying his ‘science’ is so bad that, with all due respect, it’s embarrassing to read it.
It’s clear Van der Hoeven doesn’t know anything about climate science. Which leads to the conclusion he must have a non-scientific motive to write an op-ed in a newspaper. That thing is bias. At least in my opinion it is and for me understanding the role of bias satisfactory explains why an intelligent man like dr Van der Hoeven could end up writing such an awful piece.

In conclusion : while you say you don’t want to read ever again suggesting an influence of bias I’m afraid from my side I am convinced that knowing a person’s bias is a vital part to understand why someone comes to a certain conclusion.

Yet of course only when it’s combined with looking at the actual content of what a person is saying. Bias doesn’t prove or disprove anything. Knowing the bias is nothing but a little extra.
I do have to add that I do not find it pretty obvious as to why Dr. Van Der Hoeven is an amateur. His article is mainly about his view on the scientific argumentation used in the discussion on Climate Change and with his scientific dissertation accepted in 2004 (http://tinyurl.com/yg48owd) I find it actually quite impossible to deny that he writes about a subject he studied and worked with on a professional level. Regardless if his claims are true or false for whatever reasons.
I have the feeling we do have a little misunderstanding here : i am not saying Van der Hoeven isn’t a scientist. He is. But he did not study and work on a professional level on climate change. Not even close.

That is important because having some sort of degree in sciences doesn’t mean you are a qualified expert in every other scientific domain. I clearly used the word ‘amateur’ in the context of ‘not a climate scientist’. As said I’ll explain why his statements make clear that his op-ed in the newspaper above anything else demonstrate that he doesn’t know the basics of climate science.
I looked up David Archer and he is "a computational ocean chemist at the University of Chicago [who] has published research on the carbon cycle of the ocean and the sea floor, at present, in the past, and in the future." (you can find this on realclimate.org). This subject is his job as well! His livelihood! You dismiss Dr. Van der Hoeven based on the same thing! Except for maybe that Gas-company sounds worse than University. But you are not talking about company interests, but about financial dependence of people that state claims.
I think (hope) that what i wrote above makes clear I don’t dismiss Van der Hoeven on the grounds he’s working for GasTerra. I‘m convinced he doesn’t have any financial motives in the climate change debate. Yes, his ideas might may also be in favour of his company's interests, but I'm sure that’s an undeliberate side-effect and is not part of a hidden agenda.
And of course I have to repeat Van der Hoeven isn’t working on climate science. I’m dismissing VDH because his article is flawed.

Climate Cover Up ?
You give away a trophy in the form of the book Climate Cover Up and say its an excellent book. I just want you to know that it's written by James Hoggan (PR president for a firm, working for Al Gore) and Richard Littlemore (journalist and employee for the PR firm of James Hoggan, trained by Al Gore)
You seem very keen on your blog do dismiss many people based on 'personal bias'. I mentioned this before in you other post. I'm just dumbfounded by the way you take double standards in this. Can you help me out here? You are losing me.

Climate Cover Up Desmogblog James Hoggan Richard Littlemore
First of all I want to repeat I don’t dismiss people just on their bias. It’s just an extra tool to understand things in a broader perspective.

And yes it works both ways : when reading a report from Greenpeace, I am fully aware it is important to know what kind of organization Greenpeace is. When I translated a text from the Dutch Environmental defence (here) I did warn John Mashey he should be aware the original text did come from a “green” organization. So I don’t have the feeling I’m using double standards.

Above in this text I did write that knowing a person’s bias doesn’t mean a person is wrong. I knew perfectly well who are the people behind the book Climate Cover Up and what their backgrounds are. In making my judgment to recommend it, it is important to know the book contains a lot of facts I learnt about from other sources. And yes Climate Cover Up is representing those facts in a correct manner. And I haven’t read anyone claiming otherwise. It looks like the book simply is correct...
Therefore, despites the background of the authors, I feel it’s safe to recommend the book to everyone I know as it does give a very informative summary of how the organized climate lobby is working and trying to pollute the scientific debate.
And yes, the title of this book will return in my upcoming post on must-read climate literature :)

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

TV Volt : fun quiz

Een lezer informeerde me dat Hans Labohm vanavond te gast is in het VRT programma VOLT om 20u45

In Kopenhagen is de wereldklimaattop aan de gang. Iedereen is het erover eens: de uitstoot van broeikasgassen moet gevoelig naar beneden, willen we de opwarming van de aarde omkeren. Een akkoord in Kopenhagen is van vitaal belang voor de planeet.

Maar stel nu eens dat die opwarming niet het gevolg is van het broeikaseffect? Dat er andere factoren aan het werk zijn? Dat uw pas geïnstalleerde zonnepaneel wel energie oplevert maar niets bijdraagt aan het klimaat? En is die analyse eigenlijk nog wel bespreekbaar?


Een discussie in de Voltstudio.

Quizvraag :

Tel hoeveel drogredeneringen, fouten en cherrypicks Hans vanavond ten gehore gaat brengen.

De persoon die het juiste aantal het dichtst weet te benaderen wint een exemplaar van het uitstekende boek Climate Cover Up.

Ja écht.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

The times are a-changin’

in 1962, one year Before Bob Dylan recorded his famous song, Humble Energy (now Exxon) ran the advertisement below which is hopelessly outdated. Times have changed indeed.

Exxon advertisement melting Glacier global warming
Exxon advertisement


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Ton Begemann cruisin’ the arctic

In an earlier post I mentioned professor Ton Begemann published a video in which basically he made the claim all scientists are following the money, making it impossible to be a climate sceptic when working for a university or so. A claim which was refuted by climate sceptic Bas Van Geel, working at the University of Amsterdam, who wrote he never met ANY attempt to oppress his visions on climate change
Yet the main subject of Begemann’s video was the fact he went on a couple of “semi-scientific” [sic] cruises through the arctic.
In the comments section on the Klimatosoof he makes the claim arctic ice is growing rapidly. For two years in a row now. He backs up his claim by linking to a NASA’s picture of the day section containing the two images below demonstrating, at least according to Begemann, that the arctic ice is “nearly back on the long term average!!!!”

seaice_graph_2009258 2

Clearly, the extent of the arctic ice is nowhere near both the long term median and the mean extent.
But there’s more : while the extent of the ice sheet of course is a way of obtaining information about the amount of ice, it’s not an absolute way : the 2007 decline was a bit of an outlier in the whole series, with a much bigger decline than to be expected.
The most probable explanation is heavy winds in the area in 2007 caused the ice to cluster together more than it would in an average year, leaving more open waters than normally. Making 2007 an anomaly which probably was more an indicator for ‘wind’ than for ‘melt’. It’s a fine example of how one has to be careful with interpreting data.
Luckily, modern techniques have been developed making it possible to have an indication of the age of the sea-ice, which is an indicator for the thickness, with one-year old ice of course being rather thin, while the older ice is thicker.
The image for the ice-thickness of the last three years is given below :
meerjarig ijs

The image supports the hypothesis from above that 2007 was nothing but an outlier. There’s no doubt that the amount of old ice, and therefore the amount of thick ice is decreasing, and the summer melt is compensated for any more by the winter freeze.
On the klimatosoof, i did comment that in the climate debate there’s no room for two year trends. And i gave a link to the image containing the arctic ice age. Here’s the reply of Tom Begemann :
Jules, nice that you are proving yourself wrong with the figure you present yourself, as it demonstrates the 2009 ice-area increased, just like i said.
Considering 2-year trends not belonging in a serious climate debate :
Then the same thing is valid for the dramatic stories in the years before when ice was melting, the melting polar cap with the Polar bear on a little iceberg which became the symbol of climate alarmists, the 2007 decrease and the incorrect claim that in 2008 there was a huge decrease in arctic ice …. headline news !!! … one day later NASA had to admit there’s been a mistake the size of California … and there was significant rise …. unfortunately no headline news any more … let alone it was headline news there was a 24% growth mid September 2009 !!!!!!!!!!
So there a more than relevant turn in the trend and is very important !!!! …. And if this trend continues for a couple of years the whole Global warming is lying on it’s scientific ass [I guess the meaning of this rather vulgar Dutch expression needs no explanation? - J] because this wasn’t predicted by climate models. And finally, but this isn’t decisive evidence yet (we need to wait a couple of years you say) the only place where earth still is warming is in climate models. It’s very probable all of them have been infected with the Gigo-virus (Garbage in, Garbage Out)
The main conclusion to be drawn from Begemann’s reply is that the professor really loves exclamation marks.
And that he doesn’t have a clue about the difference between weather and climate. Begemann is another amateur who gets lost in his bias.
Meanwhile, on the website of the National Snow and Ice Data Centre it’s possible to see how the arctic ice evolved after September :
N_timeseries

Due to warm winds in the arctic area, currently there’s little growth in winter ice. Despite’s Begemann’s claim of a fast increase in arctic ice the past two years, reality is that the ice-extent for the moment is exactly the same as in the record year 2007. Which is nature’s way of saying : ‘Ton Begemann, thou shall not use 2-year trends in a climate debate”

UPDATE : Begemann also takes about eskimo-farming in his video, while of course they never practised agriculture

Sunday, 15 November 2009

John Mashey really should start his own blog

But as unfortunately for some reason he seems to be reluctant to start his own blog, let me just draw attention this way to John Mashey's latest effort.

As p.ex. my series on Dutch climate scepticism have shown, often there are close connections between climate sceptics throughout personal contacts and non/pseudo-scientific networks or movements.

In an attempt to try to convince the general public "scientists don't agree amongst themselves", one of the beloved ways of the the climate sceptic lobby is to produce petitions signed by scientist (rarely climate scientists) which should "prove" the academic world disagrees on the subject of climate change. And as there's no consensus, there's no need for politics to act on a subject they claim to be "unproven".

In itself, the argument is flawed itself as of course science is all about right or wrong, but those petitions do manage to create confusion amongst the public, just as the lobby wants to.

The latest lobby-effort is a petition towards the American Physical Society (APS) in an attempt to make the APS alter it's position on Global Warming.

When looking closer at who sings such petitions and open letters, often the same names return, and often they are related to right-wing or libertarian think thanks.
John Mashey took the immense effort to make an analysis of the people who signed the APS-petition. He starts his explanation like this :
The American Physical Society (APS) was petitioned by 206 people, about 0.45% of the 47,000 members, to discard its climate change position and declare decades of climate research non-existent. The Petition was “overwhelmingly” rejected, but this anti-science campaign offers a useful case study. The Petition signers‟ demographics are compared to those of APS in general.

Then, the social network behind the petition is analyzed in detail, person by person for the first 121 signers. This might seem a grassroots groundswell of informed expert argument with the existing position, but it is not.

Rather, it seems to have originated within a small network of people, not field experts, but with a long history of manufacturing such things, plausibly at the Heartland Institute‘s NYC climate conference March 8-10, 2009. APS physicists can, do, and will contribute strongly to solving the 21st century‟s conjoined climate+energy problem, but this petition was a silly distraction, and rightly rejected. However, its existence was widely touted to the public.
The entire 128 page pdf can be found here

Politics and Lobby talking in one voice

Yesterday the New York Times published a devastating article demonstrating what happens when politicians are getting too close to an industrial lobby :
In the official record of the historic House debate on overhauling health care, the speeches of many lawmakers echo with similarities. Often, that was no accident.

Statements by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten, in whole or in part, by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech, one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies. E-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans.
Read the whole article on the NYT-site : In House, Many Spoke With One Voice: Lobbyists’

Taking the above into account, it makes you wonder what the effect is of all the money Exxon spent on lobbyism during the past years.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

dr Tom van der Hoeven needs to do his homework first, then talk

Under the title ‘there’s no climate crisis’, an op-ed of dr Tom van de Hoeven (in Dutch) appeared in a local newspaper last week.
Dr Van der Hoeven, who promoted on the subject Math in Gas and the art of linearization (PhD thesis here) works for GasTerra and his article presents exactly what you’d expect from someone working in the Gas-industry.
From the very first sentence the man writes, you know you’re not reading a highlight in climate-literature. His text is so silly i will stick to presenting a quick overview of the most blatant errors / confused parts :

1) Instead of warmer, global temperatures have decreased for the past decade
Wrong.
Van der Hoeven copies the “earth’s temperatures haven’t been rising for a decade” meme, whereas this is nothing but a cherry-pick on the 1998 El-Nino. Earth did not become colder.

2) The most important cause for the climate discussion is the hockey-stick
Wrong.
The hockey-stick represents a reconstruction of past temperatures, but predictions do not depend in any way on the hockey stick.

3) Wegman has ‘broken’ the hockey stick, thereby destroying the main argument around climate change
wrong and wrong
The political Wegman report did not ‘break’ the hockey-stick. The Hockey-stick controversy has shown that indeed there were some minor statistical issues around the original work of Mann et al, but the hockey stick is not broken, but bended. It still looks like a hockey stick though.
Above that, the proxy-reconstruction of Mann is not the main cause for climate concerns.

4) Scott Armstrong thinks climate models aren’t any good
Meaningless
Van der Hoeven calls Armstrong an expert in model-predictions, but doesn’t not mention Armstrong is a professor in Marketing. Hardly a specialist in exact sciences I’d say. Nor does Van der Hoeven present any facts why Armstrong should be right.
Anyway, Real Climate & James Annan already had a look at the claims of Armstrong.

The rest of Van der Hoeven's opinion piece is meaningless sloganesque-language and naturally there’s also some wining about Al Gore. Dr Van der Hoeven managed to write one of the most embarrassing pieces on climate change i ever read from someone with a degree. Tom van der Hoeven needs to do his homework first, then talk.
The only good thing from his text is the fact that you know that people who refer to it don’t have a clue what climate science is about, or don’t care. Van der Hoeven so far was cited by Hans Labohm and Theo ‘klimatosoof’ Richel.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

International Blog Action Day on Climate Change

Today, october 15 is the annual international Blog Action Day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. This years' topic is Global Warming. Check out the link to see how other bloggers are thinking about the subject.


For the Dutch speaking people i'd like to draw attention to a symposium in Brussels on October 26 organised by ARGUS, the environmental point set up by the belgian bank KBC.

Symposium, the Belgian EU-chairmanship : the climate is changing ?

Please note i'm not involved with the organisation, so if you have questions about the symposium please contact Argus.


And i'd like to conclude today's post with a little continuation on the accusation expressed by some climate skeptics that all "regular" science is corrupted as "scientists say whatever politicians want to hear because they are scared to loose their funding otherwise".

Besides this testimony of a skeptic denying this fear is the reality, another example falsifying this thought is an article (Dutch only, sorry) by Paul Luttikhuis demonstrating the Bush administration was trying to silence a report of the Environmental Protection Agency EPA.

Seems the EPA scientists weren't simply obeing the wishes of politics, were they ?

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

It's getting hot in herre ?

As the latest La Nina-conditions have passed, one would expect that earth's surface temperatures are rising again.

I've plotted all september months in the GISS-series and indeed, September 2009 was warm. Actually, it was the second warmest September ever recorded.



One swallow doesn't make a summer, but it's a nice answer to all those silly "earth hasn't warmed for ten years" cherry-picked claims. In fact, the GISS ten year moving-average (green line) is at all times high.

It's getting hot in herre ?

Monday, 12 October 2009

Warning : Alarmism ahead !

Oh well, as the latest comments on my blog once again were dealing with the subject , why not point out this one :

When talking about the correlation between CO2, often the Vostok ice core is given as an illustration (see right). It leaves no doubt there is a correlation, but unfortunately it only goes back a couple of 100.000's of years.

The latest edition of Science magazine presents an article by Aradhna Tripati (abstract) who has developped a technique by studying the ratio of the chemical element boron to calcium in the shells of ancient single-celled marine algae, allowing her to go back some 20 million year.

Tripati says :

The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — and were sustained at those levels — global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet [= 25 - 40 m - J] higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland.

Now thàt is alarming news.

a Dutch summary can be found here.

Currently reading : Climate Cover Up

This morning my copy of Climate Cover Up finally arrived (kudos to John Mashey for bringing it into my attention)

The book was written by some of the people behind the excellent Desmogblog and covers the machinery behind the orchestrated climate change denialist lobby.

Joe Romm explains why you should read it : the invention of lying about climate change.


An essential book for anyone interested in the subject of climate change. I'm sure it will open many peoples eyes on how dirty the game is played.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Universities : freedom of speech or politics ?

When being pointed out that the well known climate sceptics often are funded by Exxon, the answer often heard from sceptics side is "yeah, but all scientists are funded by the government and writing whatever politicians want to hear”.
While it is possible to demonstrate that this kind of reasoning is weak, p.ex. by pointing out that a libertarian like professor Frank Van Dun is working for the government (lol ?) , it is impossible to take away the deep mistrust behind such a claim.Unless maybe a sceptic himself testifies the paranoia is unjustified ?
On DGR’s klimatosoof, the latest post is a video-interview emeritus Ton Begemann. One of his claims is that emeriti have the freedom to say what they want, while scientists belonging to universities don’t have the possibility to say what they think, as it would cause them to loose their funding.
This resulted in this comment from Bas van Geel :
Professor Begemann’s claim in universities it is not possible to present a different opinion about climate change - certainly isn’t true for the University of Amsterdam. In my professional environment nobody has ever tried to "correct" me (a sceptic with an opinion based on strong arguments)
In the past 10 years,  i never have had a problem with finding funding either for my research on the role of the sun on climate changes in the past. It is (also) because of this research i started having an alternative opinion on what’s going on with the present-day climate : i still believe that natural variability is much more important than changes caused by mankind.
Dr Bas van Geel, UvA

In a case of extremely good timing, just today Labohm on DDS wrote an article stating scientists are threatened to loose their funding if they don’t follow the masses :-)

Monday, 5 October 2009

The Heidelberg Appeal Nederland

Roots of the Dutch climate skepticism series, part 8

The beginning of HAN
Karel Beckman het broeikaseffect bestaat niet
Karel Beckamn - Het broeikaseffect bestaat niet
When HAN (Heidelberg Appeal Nederland) Foundation was founded in 1993, one of the founding fathers was prof Rob Meloen (bio). In a 1997 article in hypothese (pdf) Meloen states he got interested in the subject after reading a book of former journalist Karel Beckman, a man who writes for the Free-market group i started my series on Dutch climate sceptics with, being the More Freedom Foundation. Currently, Karel Beckman is editor-in-chief for a magazine called European Energy Review.
in Hypothese, Meloen is quoted saying :
I was unhappy already with the way science is communicated towards the public. Then i read the book ‘the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist’ by Karel Beckman [and according to Beckman, nor does the hole in the ozone layer, acid rain, etc –J] and i thought by myself : if a PhD-student in English literature can unmask pseudo-science, than us beta’s certainly should be able to do so too.
Soon afterwards, and with aid of a donation by the Dutch Rabobank, the Heidelberg Appeal Nederland was formed, with Karel Beckman as a coordinator. Besides Meloen, the first board was formed by Aalt Bast, professor pharmacology and toxicology and professor Albert Cornelissen, a man who would become one of the Academic members of the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF), a tool for the tobacco lobby which was involved with the original international Heidelberg Appeal.

First Newsletters

In their first newsletter (pdf), HAN announces they want to set up “fast alert” groups able to respond to different subjects. The first one is the one around Agriculture and environment. It’s something you don’t meet often when looking at international climate scepticism, but HAN from the beginning had very close ties with the agricultural sector.
I’m not really sure how the situation is in other countries, but in Belgium and Holland, historically the agricultural world always has been hating everything involved with environmentalism.
HAN does launch a call to its audience to help them setting up more fast response groups, and they suggest some subjects :
Biotechnology, Soil remediation, Environmental toxicology, Climatology, Acidification, subjects involving raw materials & energy and Environmental philosophy.
It is clear : Even though in the beginning HAN locally in Holland was known as an organisation working mainly on agricultural subjects, from the beginning HAN was set up with the aim to launch a broad attack on science & environmentalism. The second part of the first newsletter is a text on SEPP, the tool of S. Fred Singer which as we have seen had close ties with the international Heidelberg Appeal too.

In the second newsletter (pdf), HAN proudly announce they will start cooperating with Frits Böttcher’s global institute. This is no surprise, as the international Heidelberg Appeal was a result of tobacco lobbyism around S. Fred Singer’s SEPP and the infamous TASSC which has a European branch called ESEF with Böttcher being one of the founding fathers of ESEF…
Also in this newsletter, they announce the start of two more ad-hoc groups : one around toxicology, with (contact person Aalt Bast) and one around biotechnology (contact : Albert Cornelissen). Also in this 2nd newsletter is an interview with a man maybe known in the blog world : Ferdinand Engelbeen. Yet at the time he was just the founding father of AKZO Nobel’s Chlorophyles, it’s only later in time he’d be joining DGR.
In 1999, journalist Martijn van Calmthout wrote a very critical article on HAN : doubt for sale , criticising the foundation and the fact their reports seem to unscientific.
In this article, word is given to environmental historian Wybren Verstegen, a former secretary of HAN who left the organisation after a fight. Before becoming on speaking terms with Cornelissen again, he is quoted stating HAN is incredibly biased and always looking at things one sided, having no criticism at all towards organisations criticising environmental problems. And this will always remain HAN’s weak spot.
Around the change of the millennium Cornelissen would stop leading HAN to become dean of the faculty of veterinaries.
While HAN started as an organisation in the agricultural sector, with the Dutch Union of Pork Keepers NVV as an important source of income, the focus did shift a little, and HAN would be offering “independent research

Jaap Hanekamp

From the beginning of HAN, the person offering research was dr Jaap Hanekamp, a man who quickly took over coordinating HAN from Beckman and who's name in the next decade keeps returning in corporate funded studies.
At present, Jaap Hanekamp is a lector for the Roosevelt College, which on it’s website presents this CV. As you can see, Hanekamp did not have a real academic career. His CV mentions he runs a “(small) company in which he conducts scientific research for third-party contractors.” That company is HAN-research, which indeed has been associated with the HAN-foundation.
Many people have wondered about the reliability of HAN and their links with he industry. An example is this 2005 article by Jeroen Trommelen which appeared in the newspaper Volkskrant :
But the Dutch antigreen movement has a weak spot. According to HAN, environmental groups and research institutes form a conglomerate of ‘heavily subsidized organisations which ‘strong independent scientists’ should avoid. But it’s just this independent & scientific character of the foundation which is questioned.
Since it’s formation, HAN is leaning on gifts and orders from the agricultural world. The first big donation came from Rabobank and one of the first studies was sponsored by a regional federation of farmers (Fries-Flevolandse Land –en Tuinbouworganisatie). The problems with livestock manure were researched for the Dutch Union of Pork Keepers. (..) The study showing hunting could have a possible positive effect on biodiversity was paid by a lobbygroup of hunters.
The research company of HAN, paying the salary, office-room and telephone of Dr Jaap Hanekamp in the last years was thriving on money coming from the Dutch Potato Processors' Association and a Dutch union for Industries working with Building Materials, as the financial books of HAN are demonstrating.
For the upcoming years, they count on a long-term project of the European Building Materials suppliers, worth 500.000 €. The building lobby at the moment is fighting against the new regulations for the Building Materials Law, costing the sector many handfuls of money.
It was the Pharma-industry (Pfizer) which ordered the study in which Hanekamp explains that relics of antibiotics in meat aren’t harmful. And it were the farmers of LTO who paid for the study on the use of pesticides. Summary : “are those pesticides harmful for people’s health ? The answer to this questions is a firm no”
According to sourcewatch, Jaap Hanekamp was part of the board of the lobby group the Committee for a constructive tommorow (CFACT) which recently was behind the fake grassroots organisation EIKE which ran the fake 60 scientists open letter Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The end of an era
in 2004, in the newsletter celebrating the 10th anniversary, HAN launched the idea of starting a Green Court of Audit. Even though by this time well known sceptics as Dick Thoenes, Hans Labohm & Arthur Rörsch had already joined the circles around HAN, the foundation seem to have been loosing it’s vitality.

In an attempt to revive it, HAN would start contact to other organisations to form this Green Court of Audit. They did find some partners like Ferdinand Engelbeen & his Chlorophyles, The Climate Foundation with it’s close connections to the pro-automobiles foundation. Another associate was the Foundation Nuclear Energy, the lobby group of professor Rob Kouffeld

HAN also did manage to publish a GreenBook (pdf) in which they summarized all the subjects they believed to be hoaxes. The publication of this book lead to a one time cooperation with the Edmund Burke Foundation and the pro-aviation lobby group the Platform Dutch Aviation

De Groene Rekenkamer Heidelberg appeal Stichting HAN
De Groene Rekenkamer
Yet it seems that only when libertarian Theo Richel, also part of the More Freedom Foundation, that HAN found a new spirit and would be transformed in the Green Court of Audit, or as it’s called in Dutch : De Groene Rekenkamer (DGR). Their double website Klimatosoof / Groene Rekenkamer is maintained by Theo Richel, who apparently currently is an employee for DGR, despites the fact he seems to have no formal education after high school, and certainly no scientific one.

The Advisory Board of DGR

At current, the advisory board of DGR still consists of HAN-foundation’s founding fathers Rob Meloen, Karel Beckman, Aalt Bast & Jaap Hanekamp. Furthermore there’s Rob Kouffeld of the Foundation Nuclear Energy.
Another person who heavily is pro Nuclear Energy is :

Prof.Dr.Ir. Frans Sluijter

as i wrote before, hidden somewhere in the comments section of a previous post :
Frans Sluijter did publish an article in a Dutch magazine SPIL which is the place where Dutch sceptics publish the things they consider to be their more "serious" works. Then I'm talking about people like Hans Labohm or Arthur 'earth hasn't warmed for 4 years now' Rörsch, and some others belonging to DGR.
Sluijter is an emeritus since 2001. He's HEAVILY pro-nuclear energy, which will come as no surprise given his academic background. He's a very vocal opponent of wind-power and building wind-mills.
In his article (in Dutch) in SPIL he writes an article against the use of windmills on land. Despite the subject, it's titled : "the position of the State : for or against it's civilians?'

i'm translating (very summarizing) some key sentences of his SPIL-article :

"the position of the State : for or against it's civilians?'
[after making plans to put them in the north sea], political pressure grows to start building windmills on land also (...) Minister Cramer apparently is horrified by the thought of building new nuclear plants and at the same time can't prevent new coal-power plants from being built. That's why he's so interested in CCS.

(...) then, after some complaining about government propaganda (…) :


everybody [government like] will come to explain, not only how you can save the world by building windmills on land, but mainly how to make civilians accept your saviour, either "friendly or the hard way"

[they'll even explain] how a local community, with one or two windmills, can stabilise the climate. The fact you can get the same amount of electricity, but then in a reliable way and on command, can be established by one nuclear plant is probably something none of them ill mention.

And that, if you're worried about CO2, you could think about a nuclear plant then will probably be considered 'swearing in church' by the target group of the study-day

He also wrote a comment on the news Toyota starts building a car powered by hydrogen. Sluijter writes :
What they don't mention is that the Hydrogen is made from ethane and this produces CO2. The only efficient way to produce Hydrogen is thermolysis, with the heath coming from a nuclear reactor.

I think it's pretty clear what drives Frans Sluijter in the climate change debate.

Ferdinand Engelbeen

Ferdinand Engelbeen was the chairman of the organisation Chlorophyles, a lobby group of employees of the Chlorine & PVC-industry. The group was founded some 15 years ago as a response to the Greenpeace campaigns against PVC, which was a lot in the news those days.
Engelbeen worked for the chemical company AKZO-Nobel, and it seems that in the circles around DGR, this industrial company is heavily overrepresented : Jaap Hanekamp worked for AKZO. Emeritus Dick Thoenes was research director for AKZO, as were Ernest ‘Noor’ van Andel and Jan Mulderink. It’s strange, because for the rest (with the exception of Huib Van Heel) there seem to be little direct connections between the Dutch climate sceptics and the industry.
It is very tempting to think Greenpeace’s campaigns around chlorines & ftalates against AKZO Nobel created an atmosphere of anti-environmentalism in the company. Of course, this is just speculation.
A person for whom it is pretty clear that a process like above happened is :

Huib van Heel

In the 70’s and 80’s Huib Van Heel was director of the chemical company Hoechst Holland in Vlissingen (which now has been split in smaller units). The company makes Phosphates from the raw Phosphor-ore minerals. Lots of it went to the washing-powder industries of p.ex. Proctor & Gamble.
In the beginning of the 80’ies, in Europe lots of attention went to water pollution and the role of phosphates and the relation in the exponential growth of algae. Finally, it was the Dutch minister for the social-democrat party Irene Vorrink who launched several rules to regulate the emissions of phosphates, which directly affected Van Heel’s factory.
Martijn van Calmthout in the newspaper Volkskrant writes a round-up what Van heel thought about Vorrink’s decision :
they had to go, not –according to Van Heel in his book “Nader Bezien” because Vorrink knows a lot of the effects of Freon's and Phosphates. It’s all about socialist politics. Aerosol sprays & soap were frequently used articles in household, and therefore a good starting point to learn the public the left-wing anti-consumerism.
One thing Van Heel’s book clearly shows is that ever since he’s on a personal vendetta against environmentalism. The thing that keeps him going seems to be rancour.
Huib van Heel would also be one of the Dutch skeptics to end up in the board of ESEF

Hans Labohm

As Hans Labohm already received way too much attention on this blog, so I'll keep it a short as possible. Labohm seems to one of the key-players in the Dutch organised scepticism network.
Libertarian Labohm, just like Richel & Beckman associated with the More Freedom Foundation. He seems to be associated with a lot of well known international organisations of climate sceptics. He appears on the website of the free-market organisation The Heartland Institute, published on the astroturf organisation Science and Public Policy group SPPI, is an allied expert for the Natural Resource Stewardship Project NRSP, etc
Like Hanekamp, Labohm is associated with the lobby group CFACT and Labohm was writing (and being paid for it) for Exxon funded Tech Central Station.
Labohm seems to appear at many places where S. Fred Singer passed by, a man about who's funding Hans Labohm has lied. Currently, Labohm publishes like crazy on DDS, a website of Joshua Livestro, one of the founding fathers of the Edmund Burke Foundation, and the man who brought in corporate funding into that foundation. Livestro also is the man who on his blog censors anyone placing a link to my blog.
Labohm, an economist, in his articles does nothing more than translating what the international lobby groups send around in their mailing lists. When commenter's question the things he writes, his most common tactic is to disappear and repeat his refuted claim elsewhere, even when it’s clear even he himself knows what he writes is incorrect. There are several examples how he does so, I’ve given one here (he’s still repeating his claim btw, i stopped updating my post as i got bored).
When Labohm does address rebuttals, the commenter's receive answers like ‘that’s what you say’ or “there are people who disagree” or “but the point is there’s no consensus” or something alike.
The blatant ignorance of Labohm is so frustrating for another Dutch climate sceptic, Geophysic Hans Erren, that on his own blog Erren sometimes writes blog posts with the sole purpose of teaching Labohm some absolute basics of climate science (example).

Politics and DGR

in the FAQ’s on the website, DGR addresses the question “is DGR a right-wing organisation” ?
of course we are generalising, but we assume that people supporting DGR are both pro a maximal personal as a maximal economical freedom, making them left nor right, but rather belonging to a philosophy called libertarism, which means they want to diminish the role of the government on every domain.
DGR consist of people who all have their own personal reasons to be attacking environmental science. Politics does seem to play a role for most of them, especially for the libertarians. Others are coming from fields of debate where environmentalism never has been popular, like agriculture, nuclear sector or the chemical industry.
Above that, there seems to be professional lobbyism involved in DGR. It seems the personal bias is troubling the scientific objectivity, and corporate funding helps closing the eyes some more.

Monday, 28 September 2009

$50,000 space program Congo launch (en Français)

Scientific research in Africa ain't always easy.




No way Nasa could do better for this budget.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Willem van der Velden

I mentioned in my previous post about the silly overlap between the Dutch Climate Foundation and the Pro Automobiles Foundation. In 1997, a new political party emerged from this Pro Auto Foundation, called Nederland Mobiel (The Netherlands Mobile). Locally, this new party even managed to get some people elected, yet it would be wrong to call the party a big succes.
Nevertheless, it might be worthwhile to pay some attention at Nederland Mobiel’s former president, Willem van der Velden. A man whom’s political career was/is rather unusual.

So far, Willem van der Velden was :
-Member of the central left-liberal party D'66 : 1966 - 1970
-Member of the central right-liberal party VVD : 1970 - 2000
-in 2000, he became involved with a party for senior citizens which was called JOOP, a party of which no one really remembers it ever existed. The party leader, astrologist Ed Noordman, claims he predicted the 09/11 events.
-in 2001, van der Velden was the president of Nederland Mobiel
-van der Velden would keep working on his career and joined LPF (Pim Fortuyn List) until august 2006. This would become a success and in 2002 for six months he even became a member of the Dutch parliament. He also entered the local council in the city of The Hague.
There was some scandal because the political advisor for Willem van der Velden was Jurrien Boiten, a man he met in Nederland Mobiel. Boiten is a controversial figure who had an active role in the Centrumpartij, a party which was abrogated in 1998 by a Dutch court, because of their racist and xenophobic statements.
-After LPF became defunct, van der Velden continued with “Group van der Velden
-From august 2006 onwards he’d become Secretary of the Partij voor Nederland (“party for the Netherlands”) of Hilbrand Nawijn, an ex-minister of LPF who left the party after losing his prominent role in the party.
After the 2006 elections which were not very succesful for the PvN with only 0,05% of the votes, Nawijn stepped out of national politics. Nawijns last ‘important’ deed entering the show So you wanna be a popstar. Even though his singing became joke of the day, he recorded a single which you can see beneath the widget, music starts at 0:30. Listening at own risk.
-in 2008, van der Velden became president of the local party ONS Den Haag (‘our new Society The Hague’) which is trying to participate in the 2010 elections.

Van der Velden & climate change

In 2006, his LPF period when the party entered the local council in The Hague with one single representative. In a response to the question what one man can do, Willem Vander Velden wrote a statement about the support he was receiving from different corners :
above that, we can rely on the support of the scientific bureau of LPF, of the Foundation Pro Auto for subjects on mobility (…) and from the Climate Foundation (for realistic and pragmatic views on environmental issues.
Earlier this year, as an answer to the financial crisis, on march 29 Van der Velden filed a motion to the local council of The Hague to reduce the city spending with 50 million euro. This could be reached by :
stopping to fund ‘non-essential’ expenses like subsiding groups working on the right of immigrants, subsidising arts & culture & to stop subsidising actions on climate change
Willem van der Velden still is part of the board of the Pro Auto Foundation.

Seeing the political career of this man, i get depressed.

Hilbrand Nawijn – He Jumpen

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The Climate Foundation

Roots of the Dutch Climate Scepticism series, part 7
Before looking at the Heidelberg Appeal Nederland, i want to have a look at another organisation that ultimately would join the DGR-coalition : the Climate Foundation (in Dutch : Stichting Klimaat).

J.T. ‘Hans’ Grashoff

The climate foundation was an organisation with a clear vision : the only reliable sources of energy are oil and nuclear power. Any other alternative (wind, hydrogen) is dismissed.
The President of the Climate Foundation was J.T. Grashoff. This very same man also is president of the Foundation Pro Automobiles. Seriously.
The environmental views of Pro Auto are exactly the ones you would imagine. An example is their comment on a news article on new techniques to reduce CO2, on which they add themselves :
Comment of Pro Auto : the environmental mafia still did not proof that CO2 is the cause of climate change.
Globally, only 1 to 4% of CO2 is anthropogenic, therefore it’s terribly arrogant to claim this limited percentage is responsible for such a big phenomena.
[they fail to notice we ADD this percentage annualy, resulting in a rise from 280 ppm (1850) to 385 nowadays]
Former Dutch State Secretary Van Geel, while looking how the The Netherlands could reach their Kyoto-targets and reducing CO2-emissions, launched ideas like limiting the maximum speed for cars and by building more windmills. In a response, Pro Auto & Stichting Klimaat in 1993 organised a seminar with he aim of presenting the “real” facts about climate change.

Adriaan Broere


The Climate Foundation was found in 2001, and besides Grashoff one of the more vocal founding members was Adriaan Broere, a man who often described as a geophysic even though actually he only has the bachelor degree. He spent most of his professional career in the US, and returned to Holland after his retirement and started calling himself a climate researcher. Which he is not, nor has he ever been one.
The level of his criticism isn’t very impressive. An article on his visions (and the ones of Arthur Rörsch) starts as follows :
They can’t even predict the weather of tomorrow, and yet they say in a hundred years we all permanently will have to walk around in our swimming pants !
More interesting is a text Broere wrote himself. He drops a lot of red herrings and makes plenty of errors like stating “most of the 120.000 glaciers are actually growing”. The only thing to remember from his entire text is the name of a person Broere explicitly calls his mentor : S. Fred Singer. Once again there’s a clear connection between Dutch climate sceptics and Singer
Since the Climate Foundation joined the DGR-coalition, their website is no longer online, which is a pity. It used to contain prominent links to websites like Pro Auto and Libertarian.nl …

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Heidelberg Appeal

Roots of Dutch Climate scepticism series, part 6
A whole lotta astroturf groups
Before continuing the journey through Dutch climate scepticism, it is necessary to make a little side trip outside the country. In my post on Frits Böttcher, i mentioned the existence of an astroturf group called ESEF, which is considered to be the European counterpart of another astroturf group called The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. This seems to have been the mothership.
But as seen many times when looking at the work of the industry, several small astroturf groups were founded. One of them is the International Centre for a Scientific Ecology (ICSE) which despites it’s name had very little to do with science. Sourcewatch describes it this way :
This organisation purported to be a grassroots scientific think-tank, but it was actually a scientific lobbyshop funded by a coalition of tobacco, asbestos, oil, coal and energy interests. For this reason it is often referred to as the "Heidelberg coalition" or "Heidelberg organisation" in the literature.
ICSE was ran by Michel Salomon and was working closely with S. Fred Singer’s personal toy Science and Environmental Policy Project (or SEPP). Salomon eventually would join SEPP. Both men also were member of the advisory board of ESEF, while ESEF’s Böttcher was part of the SEPP advisory board. All over, there are very close connections between the several astroturf organisations.
The Heidelberg Appeal
Michel Salomon is the man who wrote the text of The Heidelberg Appeal as a response to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro
The Appeal stated that its signers "share the objectives of the 'Earth Summit'" but advised "the authorities in charge of our planet's destiny against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data. ... The greatest evils which stalk our Earth are ignorance and oppression, and not Science, Technology and Industry."
The Heidelberg Appeal was signed by a lot of scientist, including many Noble Prize Winners. The text nowhere mentions climate change, but remains vague all over. Nevertheless, with some bending and twisting, the lobby was able to make it look as if it did conclude there’s no consensus on the subject.
As stated many times before on this blog, the industry understood perfectly well that when someone is already biased against something, that person does not need to be convinced by proving science to be wrong, it's sufficient to create doubt that science is right, and this nothing but another example of how they are trying to create confusion.
Remarkably, the spreading of the document mostly went via … the tobacco industry.
Tobacco industry & Heidelberg appeal
This document and this one which were made public in the Tobacco Legacy Documents library leave no doubt about the roots of the Heidelberg Appeal. I’ve mentioned before that when the science was leaving less and less doubt that second-hand tobacco smoke indeed IS harmful; the tobacco industry in the 80’ies & beginning of the 90’ies was looking for a allies to form a broader coalition to attack science. this document by tobacco industry law firm APCO provides a brilliant insight in what the industry wanted :
As we stated during our meeting in London, we believe that a TASSC-like group can succeed in Europe. European policymakers place a significant amount of importance on objective research - particularly as it relates to technical issues. TASSC, if created properly, can become a credible commentator to complement or spearhead business objections to unfair public policies and pronouncements.
TASSC climate lobby tobacco astroturfing
Moreover, by creating a coalition that is dedicated over the long run to speak out on issues relating to scientific integrity, TASSC can become a frequent, consistent source of information for media, conferences, etc. - in essence a "watchdog group" that wants scientific facts, not emotional reactions, to determine public policy. When considering the formation of a TASSC-like group in Europe, we think it is important to begin where we started in the United States by identifying some key objectives Specifically, we recommend that a European TASSC be formulated to do the following:
  • Preempt unilateral action against industry. .
  • Associate anti-industry "scientific" studies-with broader questions about government research and regulations.
  • Link the tobacco issue with other more "politically correct" products.
  • Have non-industry messengers provide reasons for legislators, business executives and media to view policies drawn from unreliable scientific studies with extreme caution.
To achieve those objectives, we encourage a TASSC group in Europe to focus on a few key messages, such as: (i) science should never be corrupted to achieve political ends; (ii) economic growth cannot afford to be held hostage to paternalistic, overregulation; and (iii) improving indoor air quality is a laudable goal that will never be accomplished as long as tobacco smoke is the sole focus of regulators. Obviously, each of the messages needs to be modified to be useful in each of the European nations.

INTEREST AND SUPPORT IN EUROPE FOR THE ISSUE OF SOUND SCIENCE
Already, there are several opportunities to establish TASSC in Europe. We have had extensive conversations with our Grey/GCI network in Europe, which encompasses offices in 33 cities and 19 countries. They also are confident that scientists and businesses can be attracted to the group if it is positioned in a credible manner
As a starting point, we can identify key issues requiring sound scientific research and scientists that may have an interest in them. Some issues our European colleagues suggest include:
  • Global warming
  • Nuclear waste disposal
  • Diseases and pests in agricultural products for transborder trade
  • Biotechnology
  • Eco-labelling for EC products
  • Food processing and packaging
In each of these issues, there has been considerable discussion as to whether sound science is being used as a basis for these decisions. The diversity of these issues, and their tremendous impact upon business and industry, provides an excellent "tie-in" to the work TASSC is currently undertaking in the United States.
The document leaves no doubt : global warming scepticism was nothing but one of the many issues the tobacco industry hoped to use in a broad attack on science. It also explains why so many leading climate sceptics (Singer, Milloy, …) have their toots in the tobacco industry. The effort to create a European branch of TASSC finally would result in the ESEF organisation of Frits Böttcher. It is in this circle of lobby groups the Heidelberg Appeal has its roots.
In 1993 in Holland an organisation was found called Foundation Heidelberg Appeal Netherlands (HAN), and which would quickly work together with Böttchers Global Institute. HAN would later on become one of the organisations to form De Groene Rekenkamer, therefore i’m going to spent some more time on them in another post.