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 :

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

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
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
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
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.

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.

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 …

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.

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.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Frits Böttcher

Roots of Dutch climate skepticism series, part 5
Next in the history of Dutch climate skeptics series is a man with an extraordinary CV : Carl Johan Friedrich (Frits) Böttcher.

After WW2, Böttcher (1915-2008) was a professor at Leiden University where he was teaching the remarkable combination of Chemistry and Graphology.

He had to give up the latter though around 1960 because by then the pressure of the academic world, considering graphology to be pseudo-scientific nonsense, became too big.

Somewhere in the 50's Böttcher also found the time to become a part-time scientific advisor for Shell. A position he'd keep for the next 30 years.

European Science and Environement Forum Frits Böttcher
European Science and Environment Forum
The Club of Rome
In 1963 Böttcher, having professional contacts with the Dutch ministry of education, told them he was surprised there was so little interest in the forthcoming conference of the just found OECD. This ultimately resulted in the ministry asking him to lead the delegation.

By that time he also became the first president of the Dutch Advisory Board for Science-Policy. In this position, he and some delegation- leaders from other countries were invited by the OECD to a conference on the results of population growth.

As a result of this involvement, Böttcher would become one of the founding fathers of the resulting Club of Rome, which in 1972 would publish the famous Limiths to Growth report.

It's considered to be one of the world's first expressions of a serious ecological concerns towards the future. It would also be one of the first to be attacked by environmental skeptics :-)

The quote
When his membership of the Dutch scientific board ended (1976), Böttcher started The Global Institute for the Study of Natural Resources. The financial resources for the institute were Shell and the automobile industry.

In the beginning of the 90's, Böttcher became a vocal climate skeptic. After a TV-debate in which Böttcher declared there's no CO2-problem, Lucas Reijnders said to Frits Böttcher : "You know very well yourself what you said is incorrect" to which Böttcher gave the legendary answer "yeah i know, but i'm against nuclear energy"

Big Tobacco Lobby
In 1994 (at age 79 !) Böttcher started the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF), together with Roger Bate and John Emsley. ESEF declared that, in order to remain independent, it would only accept funding from the sales of its publications. Two years later, Roger Bate would ask Philip Morris for a £50,000 grant.

ESEF is linked, via shared staff (Julian Morris and Roger Bate) and a shared web server, to the International Policy Network and the Sustainable Development Network.

ESEF can be considered as a European version of Steve Milloy's The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC). The aim of the now defunct ESEF was to bring tobacco advocacy into a larger field of environmental issues, like the ban on growth hormone for livestock (in Europe, it's illegal), restrictions on pesticides, etc.

In 1998, the academic members of lobby tool ESEF contained a lot of well known climate skeptics. Read and weep : Sallie Baliunas, Robert C. Balling, Sherwood Idso, Patrick J. Michaels, Harry N.A. Priem, Michel Salomon (the author of the Heidelberg appeal), S. Fred Singer, Willie Soon, Gerd-Rainer Weber, while Richard S. Courtney was listed as a bussiness member.

Böttcher in his turn would become a member of the advisory board of S. Fred Singers Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

Böittcher would publish two books on the subject of climate change :

  • Science and fiction of the greenhouse effect and carbon dioxide, The Global Institute for the Study of Natural Resources, 1992,
  • CO2, Klimabedrohung oder Politik? (in English : CO2, climate fraud or politics?), samen met H. Metzner, Paul Haupt, 1994
Böttcher called global warming a conspiracy involving a few hundreds of scientists and politicians.

The Heidelberg Appeal
It is in this environment of Big Tobacco lobbygroups like ESEF & TASSC that the Heidelberg Appeal would arise. Which is material for the next episode in the series.

The Heidelberg Appeal would lead into a Dutch division called Stichting Heidelberg Appeal Nederland (stichting HAN) which would become one of Hollands prominent anti-environmental groups.

HAN soon start to coöperate with Böttchers aforementioned private tool The Global Institute for the Study of Natural Resources and in 1997 they would start the Science and Society Forum (SSF). In a 2007 interview Böttcher stated the global institute still existed on it's own with one employee.

Frits Böttcher passed away on november 23, 2008.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

The Edmund Burke Foundation vs. Big Pharma.

Roots of Dutch climate skepticism series, part 4

As every sailorman knows, sometimes it is necessary to go sideways to move forward. Therefore, in my series on the roots of Dutch climate skepticism, i want to take a stop first at a conservative think thank called the Edmund Burke Foundation (EBF).

While being climate skeptics alright, the main reason for taking a closer look at it is that omerta was broken in Burke : due to fights between members within the foundation, some things came to surface which never were meant to.

Joshua Livestro Edmund Burke Stichting
Joshua Livestro
Having a stop at EBF will give us a much better insight in how think-thanks and can industry can help each other. Or break eachother.

The origine of the Edmund Burke Foundation
In 2000, the organsation was found by Andreas Kinneging, Bart Jan Spruyt and Joshua Livestro
Livestro would leave Burke in 2003 after a conflict and is working as a freelancer ever since. Until 2005, Bart-Jan Spruyt (see picture) would be the most important person in EBF.

The Edmund Burke foundation was set up with something like the Heritage Foundation in mind. Another early contact is the American Enterprise Institute.

About its activities, Wiki learns us that in first era, before 2005 :

the Burke Foundation regularly published reports and studies on a variety of topics, including the Dutch health care sector, privatization, wasteful government spending and conservative philosophy and thought.

Financial Resources. While getting some revenues from private donations, and getting a starting bonus from a Dutch company, the biggest resource would become multinationals.

The Burke Foundation has some political visions which suitd some companies, and this is how they became one the European groups receiving money from Microsoft (for the views on IP).

The jackpot though was hit with the cheques of Big Pharma company Pfizer, which would donate $431,000 between 2000 and 2005.

Geert Wilders
In 2005, president Bart-Jan Spruyt left the original mission of EBF to group conservaties from different Dutch directions. Spruyt openly flirted with the new movement of politician Geert Wilders who in that time was starting a new political party.

Not everyone of the board did share Spruyts' ideas, causing friction. Somewhere along the route, four of the five people of EBF's directive board resigned.
Wilders indeed is a man who is very controversial and who raises much resist by other people, even amongst other conservatives.

In 2006 Spruyt would ultimately end up joining Wilders Party, but only 6 months later he departed the party already, stating Wilders simply is too extremist.

On his weblog Bart-Jan spruyt wrote Wilders' party PVV is "the personification of conservatism based on fear", with "a natural tendency towards fascism"

For a commercial company, any association with Geert Wilders would cause bad publicity. The ties between Burke & Wilders were one of the reasons Pfizer in 2005 decided to stop funding EBF. The other reason is Pfizer started funding another thinkthank which pleased them better.

This left the Burke Foundation as the unbeloved ugly duckling. As said the majority of the Leading board resigned somewhere along the route. And started talking.

Pfizer explains its policy
In October 2005, the influential Dutch weekly magazine De Groene Amsterdammer ran an excellent article (in Dutch) on the events going on at Burke, and the magazine spoke with a lot of parties involved in this story.

One of the people the magazine spoke with is someone of the corporate affairs division of Pfizer, who had to say :
Indeed, last year we donated money to the Burke Foundation. But we haven't agreed on anything with them for the upcoming year. Nor did the Burke foundation approach us.
In every country where our company is active, we try to feed the public health debate and if the Burke Foundation for the next years has some more promising plans, we will have a serious look a them and take them into consideration.
As we would do with any plan of any thinkthank. But we do are aware of the current events at the Foundation [so funding for the moment isn't very likely].
Do notice the way this corporate man is talking : Pfizer is not just donating money to a thinkthank which has a view which suits them.

What their spokesman says cannot be misunderstood : if you have a plan to "feed the health debate" and tell us how much effort you will put into it, we can see how much money you get.

The story this man is telling is the industry is not just donating money to thinkthanks having a bias that suits them. What he describes is a nothing but an ordinary bussiness deal

You Loose
Pfizer ultimately stopped funding the Burke foundation, to fund a new thinkthank which suited them better than EBF. The consequences were dire :

  • Bart-Jan Spruyt's salary dropped from 75.000 € yearly to zero euro
  • His number of employees dropped to zero
  • thanks to the European Independent Institute (the Burke offshoot which Pfizer started funding after Burke) they were able to keep their office, which they could not offard to pay for themselves anymore.

It shows what every thinkthank accepting corporate money, and every skeptic entering the thinkthank world (which all the best known climate skeptics have done so) has to face: play the corporate game, or get kicked out, with all the consequences involved.

And while for some sort of backgrounds, getting kicked from a thinkthank isn't the end of you, for others it is, especially the scientists, it is more problematic : people like climate skeptics cannot return to regular science, that door is shot. I think that makes it very difficult to leave the lobbyworld.

About the influence of companies on thinkthanks, Bart-Jan Spruyt had the following to say :
Companies nowadays are only willing to donate if they are allowed to decide what our agenda is. An example is a pharmaceutical company which only wanted to support us if in return we'd attack the new plan of minister Hoogervorst of Public Health.
This way, the Burke Foundation would risk to loose its credibility and
independency. It is terrible. I had the choise : continue with this way of funding the foundation, or return to the basics EBF was set up for.

The Burke foundation took a restart and became a small unimportant group, without much media attention.

The bargain Pfizer did
But in the times before that restart, the influence of the corporate money on EBF was substancial : the Burke foundation was meant to be a conservative thinkthank where people thinking alike could gather and debate the big things in life.

The reality after five years accepting money from Pfizer : Nearly half of all the brochures Burke published were dealing with Health care related subjects, instead of dealing with theoretical conservatism.

Diplomat Jess L. Baily, at the time the number two in rank at the US-embassy in Amsterstam concluded :
Pfizer did a great bargain with that Spruyt-guy : for just a little bit of money they gave him, that man manifested himself excellently the way they wanted. The time it lasted, he was in the newspapers everywhere

The lesson we've learnt is clear : while a thinkthank itself may presume that, for a little favor in return, with corporate money they have the chance to promote their own political worldview; the reality is different : by accepting corporate money, a thinkthank automatically partially becomes a tool of its financers.

It's an important lesson for understanding the climate change debate, where nearly all climate skeptics seem to have close connections with free-market thinkthanks. Thinkthanks who in their turn depend on corporate money, like Exxon money.

And at the end, some climate skepticism before bedtime
Even though it never was their core bussiness, the Burke Foundation expressed climate skeptical views. And in 2003, the Dutch anti-environmentalism organisation De Groene Rekenkamer published a "greenbook" in which a lot of environmental issues were labelled 'non-existent' or 'exaggerated'.

Even though nearly everything involving the book was done by the Stichting-HAN (they will appear later in the series) and Kouffeld's Nuclear Energy Foundation, the Burke foundation is mentioned as one the four co-authoring organisations.

How they ended up being involved with a greenbook ? Nescio.

Friday, 7 August 2009

It's a fact. A CFACT.

EIKE Klima CFACT Holger Thuss
Yesterday i pointed out that the EIKE-group which is behind the '60 German scientists dissent over global warming' open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel has a lot of ties with some well known astroturf groups.

It seems the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) deserves more attention than i gave it, hence this follow up post.

CFACT lobbying international
Like any normal organisation, CFACT needs some humble money to survive. Luckily for them, the organization did find some sponsors as sourcewatch discloses :

Media Transparency calculates that between 1991 and 2006 CFACT gained $1,280,000 from 18 grants from only two foundations -- the Carthage Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.

The Carthage Foundation granted $1,105,000 to CFACT between 1991 - 2006, while the Sarah Scaife Foundation sent $175,000 to the group between 1996 - 2001.


Greenpeace's ExxonSecrets website adds that Exxon has contributed a further $577,000 between 2000 and 2007

While looking at climate skeptics, i often see numbers Exxon is spending on different astroturf groups. $577.000 to one and the same group is a lot. Even for Exxon.

So why is this humble organisation receiving all that money ? The website of CFACT says about how things started :
Holger J. Thuss EIKE CFACT director lobby
Holger Thuss
In 1985, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) was founded to promote a positive voice on environment and development issues. Its co-founders, David Rothbard and Craig Rucker, believed very strongly that the power of the market combined with the applications of safe technologies could offer humanity practical solutions to many of the world’s pressing concerns.

Actually CFACT is a free-market tool set up specifically to lobby for libertarian solutions for environmental issues. Therefore, it's not a surprise that the advisory board of CFACT is full of well known climate skeptics like Sallie Baliunas, Pat Michaels, Sherwood Idso & Robert C Balling, who all are connected to free-market thinkthanks.

The Good Dr Thuss
According to his own CV, in 2004 Holger Thuss, a master in history, law & politics founded and became executive director of CFACT-Europe.

As you can see from his CV, Thuss is a man who is in the middle of European politics, serving a.o. the former president of the European Union, Jacques Santer. This probably explains why wikipedia tells us CFACT-Europe "quickly garnered a strong reputation for its public policy work in Europe"

For CFACT, Holger Thuss did what a lobbyist for a free-market group has to do : attack climate science. Thuss, together with the Institute for Free Enterprise, was organising the 2007 Berlin Climate conference where G.E. Beck & lobbyist S. Fred Singer were allowed to present their views.

An event repeated in June 2009, where some more well known skeptics were invited to speak. Well, at least Thuss did what his job-description is telling him to do : try to spread and promote climate-skepticism as much as possible.

Now you probably all are wondering : why is Jules wining about CFACT all the time, while the '60+ scientists for Merkel' letter was sent by EIKE, not CFACT.

Well, here's the answer : the president of EIKE is noone else but CFACT-Europe's executive director Holger Thuss. Auch.

So in 2009, still the lobby is using fake grassroots organisations, like EIKE, to pollute the climate change debate.

On the open letter to Angela Merkel, EIKE & CFACT director Holger Thuss is signing as nothing but a "concerned citizen". Yarly

As a little bonus, try looking at lobby-tool EIKE's scientific council and see if you recognize any names of scientists.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Freedom of speech, Joshua Livestro style

Joshua Livestro censuur De Dagelijkse Standaard
As could be expected, the Rob Kouffeld video I commented on yesterday is spreading and was copied on right wing sites like Vrijspreker and on Joshua Livestro's site De Dagelijkse Standaard where Hans Labohm wrote a post about it.

As a reminder, it was on this DDS site where Hans Labohm lied when claiming he was unware S. Fred Singer received money from the industry.

The very first reaction on todays post of Labohm was a comment by someone named Marco, and whoms post contained a link to my blogpost.

Contained, in the past tense.

Livestro clearly says on DDS that links to my blog are unwanted & therefore he erased Marco's entire comment...

If you can't win an argument, censor the opponent.

Freedom of speech, Joshua Livestro style...

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Prof em. Rob Kouffeld on climate change

Purely coïncidental, two days after i was blogging about Rob Kouffeld, De Groene Rekenkamer on it's Klimatospoof website posted a video message from this very same man who, to refresh the minds, is the president of the Dutch Foundation Nuclear Energy.

The video is in Dutch, but i'll summarize below what Kouffeld has to say and show it's nothing but a bunch of red herrings and low brow misconceptions..

CO2 isn't the most important greenhouse gas

Kouffeld's arguments are old news and have been debunked so many times it is incredible people still use them. Kouffeld isn't really delivering new insights :
CO2 is considered to be the most important greenhouse gas (GHG). This is
incorrect, water vapor is.
Kouffeld immediately starts his video with a strawman argument : scientists don't consider CO2 to be the most important GHG as they are very well aware that water vapor accounts for most of the temperature rise due to GHG's.
In the light of the present discussion, this is rather irelevant though as by no means it implies CO2 is not a GHG.

After the invalid water vapor argument, Kouffeld continues to try to marginalise the role of anthropogenic CO2 even further by saying that methane is a GHG too.

Antropogenic rise of greenhouse gasses CO2 methane N2O
And he finishes by saying that the role of CO2 is minor, and from that CO2, only a limited part is antropogenic as volcanoes and forrest fires are emitting CO2 in the atmosphere too.
As most people know, of course it is true that methane is a GHG too. But Kouffeld fails to mention that in the previous century mankind caused the levels of methane to increase sharply...
The second part of his argument also isn't telling the complete story : while indeed there's natural CO2 in the air (duh), it isn't so that mankind did not alter the concentrations significantly : in pre-industrial time, CO2-levels were around 280 ppm.

At present they are around 390 ppm, and predictions say levels could rise to 600, 700 ppm or more. In other words : it is very well possible mankind will double the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. That is significant.

Emission of CO2 from volcanoes is less than 1% of what man pumps in the air annualy.
Temperatures aren't rising
Next, Kouffeld jumps on the train of using short time natural varation in
temperature trends to claim that while CO2 levels are rising, temperature isn't always following. Hence there's no 1:1 relation between CO2 and temperature.
The argument once again is a clear strawman : CO2 is not the only factor with an influence on climate, so naturally one simply does not expect to find a 1:1 relation. Antropogenic climate change comes on top of natural variation.
Kouffeld then continues using the well known claim 'the last ten years, earth hasn't been warming' which Coby Beck adresses here and is a clear cherry-pick as the period to be compared has been carefully selected to fit the conclusion.

Glaciers are meaningless
Kouffeld continues by saying glaciers were melting before man was emitting GHG's, but doens't mention earth was coming out of a little ice-age. And he correctly says the length of a glacier is an equilibrum that doesn't depend solemnly on temperature, but also on precipiation, and claims therefore it is possible to say if glaciers are melting due to a rise in temperature.

In other words, Kouffeld fails to notice we both have thermometers and snow gages, two devices which make it impossible to verify which of the two factors is dominant (temperature for the vast majority of the glaciers).

It's anything but man

Rob Kouffeld De Groene Rekenkamer klimaatverandering
He then continues by adressing the Svensmark cloud theory, which scientist never considered to be proven. Realclimate adresses Svensmark latest publication in their post : still not convincing.

Not very convincing either is his argument the present low activity of the sun is the cause of the present (cherry-picked) cooling period.

He ends his talk by mentioning Al Gore a couple of times. Which obliges me to say Cheers !

Did i mention Rob Kouffeld is part of the "scientific" advisory board of the climate skeptical group De Groene Rekenkamer ?

UPDATE : a reader mailed me Kouffeld is member of the International Climate Science Coalition. A group which received quite some attention lately because of its strong ties with the authors (McLean, de Freitas & Carter) of one of the most deeply flawed papers which appeared in a mighty long time.

Deepclimate has a nice post covering the biggest problems with the McLean, de Freitas & Carter paper and a follow up post which links the New Zealand division of the ICSC with a ... libertarian political party called ACT.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Roots of the Dutch climate denialists, part 3 : stichting kernvisie

The Stichting Kernvisie (or Foundation Nuclear Energy) was found in 2000 and the president is emeritus Rob Kouffeld, who was working on Energy Technology in the Technical University Delft.

In its newsletter, the Stichting Kernvisie's main focus of course seems to be promoting nuclear energy and it considers Nuclear Power to be one of the answers to the climate change problem.

Even though the reasoning is completely logical, there's something odd going on : De Groene Rekenkamer (DGR) is an organisation of climate skeptics claiming there's basically no man-made climate problem, while Stichting Kernvisie uses this same climate-subject as one of the reasons to be pro nuclear power. Apparantly Stichting Klimaat is satisfied by one side of DGR's story, being their applause for nuclear power.

But there's more going on, as is shown beneath the widget

Rob Kouffeld
On top of the apparant contradiction above, when having a closer look one sees Stichting Kernvisie's president Rob Kouffeld (who is member of the advisory board of DGR) is one of the people signing a letter published in the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant saying man is not altering climate.

So while the Stichting Kernvisie's publications may be accepting manmade climate change, Kouffeld himself clearly does not. How he manages to rhyme those two opinions is something i cannot explain, it looks like the man is playing double game.

As can be seen often in an enviro-skeptical environment, what matters is not the arguments used (they can be excluding each other, it doesn't matter), but what matters is the conclusion. In Kouffeld's case : the promotion of Nuclear Power. And both Stichting Kernvisie and DGR do so.

The S. Fred Singer letter
The letter mentioned above, which has spread widely over the internet, is extremely important as it reads as a "who's who" in Holland. Yet the truly amazing thing with this letter is the appearance of a name of a person without direct connections to Holland. That man is S. Fred Singer, the man who built a career as a lobbyist for anyone who needed an anti-environmentalist viewpoint.

It's the first yet not the last time we'll see Singers name appear in the history of Dutch climate skepticism, as it seems to be S. Fred Singer who seems to have been their most important international contact, and this from the very beginning of the Dutch anti-environmentalism.

Sending letters signed by a bunch of (supposed) experts, as we see here, actually is a tactic which the international climate change denialists have used over and over again. Looks like Singer has been a good teacher to Hans Labohm, the author of the letter. Obviously, there's also a clear connection between the names on that letter and De Groene Rekenkamer, as we will see later on.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Dutch climate skeptical organisations pt 2 : De Groene Rekenkamer (intro)

De Groene Rekenkamer libertarisme pseudoskepticisme
The next organisation which deserves some more attention is The Green Court of Audit or in Dutch : De Groene Rekenkamer (DGR).

As we will see, this is the organisation where different kinds of environmental skeptics (not just in the field of climate change) come together. Clearly, as will be explained later on, DGR is an organisation with a clear political focus.

De Algemene Rekenkamer is the Dutch court of auditors which on its website summarizes its task as follows : The Court of Audit checks that the government spends public funds and conducts policy as intended.

Of course it's this Auditing institute which inspired the name Groene Rekenkamer. Clearly, just from the name itself, one can already see what kind of organisation DGR will be. The organisation was found in 2008 by scientists and journalists and in the statutes DGR describes the aim they were formed as follows (§2) :

The aim of DGR is to critically look at the governmental policy on environment, health, technology & related areas and to encourage scientific analysis of risks, cost-effectiveness of the policy and to spread knowledge to a broader audience.
As a little sidenote i can't resist mentioning that, regarding what's to follow, i was surprised to see that under revenues the very first source the organisation sees is "subsidy". I was amused :-)

Before the official start of DGR in 2008, there already was a coöporation between the different groups which ultimately would join DGR, something MeerVrijheid's Theo Richel (as far as i understand, he became an employee of DGR) was already asking for in 2005 on the website (sic). The groups which ultimately would form De Groene Rekenkamer are :
  • Stichting Kernvisie, ("Foundation Nuclear Energy") which still exists independently.
  • Stichting Heidelberg Appeal Nederland ("Foundation Heidelberg Appeal Holland") which indeed found inspiration for its name in the international Heidelberg Appeal
  • Stichting klimaat ("climate foundation")
  • vzw de Chlorofielen which, as far as i know, was the one-man personal toy of Ferdinand Engelbeen
For a better understanding of what DGR is about, it is useful to have a closer look at the organisations behind DGR. Which will be the topic of the next couple of blogposts.