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.