Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why We Should Act to Stop Global Warming--And Why We Won't

 
 

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Last week, when I was all over the Heartland fakes, people demanded to know why I don't post more about the problem of global warming, if I'm all in favor of a carbon tax and all.  That's a somewhat complicated answer, so bear with me.

The first reason I don't post a lot is that I'm not an expert, and I'm not planning to become one.  I've basically outsourced my opinion on the science to people like Jonathan Adler, Ron Bailey, and Pat Michaels of Cato--all of whom concede that anthropogenic global warming is real, though they may contest the likely extent, or desired remedies.  

If they say the planet is warming, then I trust that this is very likely to be true--not just because I like them, but because if you've convinced leading libertarians that humans are contributing to global warming, you've convinced me.

Climate skeptics are going to call this a cop-out, and I understand why, but here's the thing: I cannot be an expert on everything.  I don't know what the speed limit should be, how we should redesign the military to counter 21st century threats, or the best way to allocate scarce water resources between competing claims, even though I recognize that in a modern society, these are all the proper concerns of the government; even though I think that these questions are important, I am willing to leave them to experts on traffic patterns, national defense, and water rights. So with global warming.  Time spent brushing up on the science is time spent not reading up on things where I have greater comparative advantage, like tax policy or the budget.

So I don't blog about the science, because what am I going to say?  "This article I don't understand very well sure sounds convincing?"  And I don't blog about the economics because they're so. damn. depressing.



Years ago, when I was a young journalist, I was locked in an ongoing debate with a fellow journalist who kept proclaiming that the European carbon trading scheme was practically the greatest thing since the invention of breathing.  I would point out that it didn't, well, seem to be working.  At least, not if by "working" you meant "reducing carbon emissions".

"That's because it had growing pains," this journalist would assure me.

After one such exchange, I remarked to a colleague that the European carbon trading scheme was beginning to very much remind me of this:

I once saw a comedian doing a bit about some blues musician. "I have all thirteen of his albums," said the comedian. "As far as I can tell, he's having some trouble with his woman."

Audience roar.

"I keep buying each new album," continued the comedian, "thinking 'This time it's going to be different. This is going to be the happy album. This is going to be where he gets it all together.' I just downloaded his fourteenth album tonight."

Audience chuckle. Long pause.

"He's still having some trouble with his woman."
And indeed, years later . . . it's still having a spot of trouble.  I believe Europe managed to meet its Kyoto targets, but thanks largely to two factors:  the global economic collapse of 2008, and two secular shifts (the closure of heavily polluting East German factories; the British shift from coal to natural gas as their cost-effective coal supply ran low) that had nothing to do with environmental targets.

This for a set of targets that, from the planet's perspective, did roughly nothing to delay the onset of global warming.  If it's this hard to make weak targets work, how are we going to get a global consensus for strong ones?

Addressing global warming is the mother of all collective action problems.  The reductions needed to avoid catastrophe are very sizeable, and they must occur across the globe.  Yet fossil fuel resources are fungible.  Oil that is not burned in the United States does not stay tidily in the ground; it gets shipped somewhere else, like China.  This is especially true these days, when there's basically no spare capacity; close to every available barrel is being pumped.  

In this environment, lowering our oil consumption lowers the price, but not supply.  This is a nice charitable gift to emerging nations, but the climate does not care whether the carbon comes from fat, disgusting Americans thundering around in their mongo SUVs, or soulful Indian peasants getting their first tractor.  It will warm up, or not, just the same.

And I've seen no evidence that the Chinese, or the Indians, plan to do much of anything to reduce their emissions in the near-term.  They talk a bunch about green initiatives, which makes westerners all excited, but from what I can tell, their green initiatives with teeth are aimed at reducing their deadly, ubiquitous air pollution, not their carbon emissions. Oh, they may reduce the carbon intensity of their Gross Domestic Product as their economy upskills.  But the United States is actually relatively carbon-efficient per dollar of GDP compared to China or India.  It's just that we have a lot more dollars worth of GDP.  

For China to grow while merely holding its emissions steady--and their carbon output already surpasses ours and Canada's combined--then the improvement in carbon intensity will have to match their rate of growth.  So far, this hasn't happened, and given that China has vast coal deposits that it's using to bring electricity to its citizens, it doesn't seem likely to in the near future.  Yes, they've made a big investment in solar panel production . . . for export to rich countries that subsidize them.

I'm not criticizing China or India, mind you--I'd be less than enthusiastic about a bunch of rich countries telling me that I wasn't allowed to get rich, too, because that would be bad for the planet.  But I don't find the alternative--a one-for-one offset by the rich world--very plausible either.  Energy is a key input into GDP.  And note how cranky we've gotten about a fairly small and temporary reduction in our national income.

The best hope is that policy in the rich world leads to innovations which make alternatives to carbon super cheap.  But we should also take seriously Jim Manzi's objections.



So why do I still support action--especially, climate skeptics demand, when the science is so uncertain?

Well, because we've only go the one climate.  I don't like running large one-way experiments on vital systems we don't know how to fix.  The risk of a catastrophic outcome may be small, but it would be pretty darn terrible to find out that hey, we hit the jackpot!

Of course, in some sense, this is a cheap belief, because I don't think that we're going to do anything about it--nay, not even if Megan McArdle spends all her time advocating for such an outcome.  The forces arrayed against action are just too powerful--and no, I don't mean the Cato Institute.

Indeed, I think that this is where Peter Gleick went off the rails.  As much as I disagree with Heartland on global warming, they may influence a bare handful of people.  What really influences people is contemplating their own lives with doubled or tripled electric bills and $8 a gallon gas.  To paraphrase Chesterton, serious belief in global warming--the kind that makes you stop climbing aboard $@#! planes to climate change conferences in scenic and distant locales--has not been tried and found wanting.  It has been found difficult, and left untried.

Even if he'd found something much more damaging than he managed to fish out of their confidential files, it wouldn't have meaningfully altered the global warming policy debate.  That debate really isn't much about whether this is happening, because most people don't have the scientific background, the intellectual ability, or the interest to determine whether this is happening.  (I am speaking now of both sides: the average person who drips contempt for those mouth-breathing climate deniers has exactly as much personal knowledge about climate change as some talk radio host arguing that global warming is a crock because hey, it snowed last week!) 

No, the debate is about how unpleasant it would be to prevent it--which really isn't much of a debate, either, because the obvious answer is "very, except maybe for DINK urbanites".  And that's where the discussion pretty much stalls out.


Full disclosure: in 2011 the Heartland Institute received a small donation from the Charles Koch foundation, which in the past also sponsored a journalism fellowship for my husband.


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More from Judge Mark Martin (of the Zombie Mohammed Incident), on CNN

 
 

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via The Volokh Conspiracy by Eugene Volokh on 2/27/12

From a CNN interview (starting at 2:15):

Interviewer: When I spoke to him over the phone, Judge Martin acknowledged it's his job to protect the rights of people like the atheist, no matter how offensive they might be.

Interviewer to Judge Martin: … There are some who believe you were failing to protect that right.

Judge Martin: No, I don't think so. Here's the thing: It's a right, it's not a privilege, it's a right. With rights come responsibilities. The more that people abuse our rights, the more likely that we're going to lose them.

But I don't quite see how this is "the thing," at least in the sense of an explanation of the judge's actions at the trial. I don't think that we're in danger of losing our free speech rights because some people say things that are offensive to Muslims. I do think that free speech rights are in danger when judges berate alleged crime victims for their anti-Islam speech, and thus convey the message that the legal system may be biased against those who engage in such speech and may fail to protect those people because of such speech.


 
 

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Grossly Misrepresenting Virginia's Proposed Ultrasound Law

 
 

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via The Weekly Standard Blog by John McCormack on 2/21/12

Ultrasound laws are fairly common in the realm of abortion politics: 22 states already have them on the books.* But the proposed Virginia law--which would require an ultrasound to be performed 24 hours before an abortion and would give the mother the opportunity to view it--has been presented by pro-abortion activists, and even some in the mainstream media, as an unusually invasive regulation imposed on women. Slate's Dahlia Lithwick, for example, wrote that the ultrasound requirement amounted to state-mandated rape. But as Commentary's Alana Goodman reports, "ultrasounds are already part of the abortion procedures at Virginia Planned Parenthoods." 

According to a recording from Planned Parenthood's abortion hotline, a doctor will perform an ultrasound on a woman prior to performing a surgical or a medical (i.e. drug-induced) abortion:

"Patients who have a surgical abortion generally come in for two appointments. At the first visit we do a health assessment, perform all the necessary lab work, and do an ultrasound. This visit generally takes about an hour. At the second visit, the procedure takes place. This visit takes about an hour as well. For out of town patients for whom it would be difficult to make two trips to our office, we're able to schedule both the initial appointment and the procedure on the same day.

Medical abortions generally require three visits. At the first visit, we do a health assessment, perform all the necessary lab work, and do an ultrasound. This visit takes about an hour. At the second visit, the physician gives the first pill and directions for taking two more pills at home. The third visit is required during which you will have an exam and another ultrasound."

In other words, a woman seeking an abortion is already required by standard practice to show up for a separate doctor's visit and receive an ultrasound. A woman seeking an abortion would only be affected by this law in one way: the doctor would offer her the chance to view the ultrasound. 

It's not just pro-abortion activists who have left out this important context regarding the ultrasound legislation. Bob Lewis of the Associated Press wrote last week that the "ultrasound legislation would constitute an unprecedented government mandate to insert vaginal ultrasonic probes into women as part of a state-ordered effort to dissuade them from terminating pregnancies, legislative opponents noted." But the Associated Press reporter completely failed to exercise due diligence and never noted that Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion practitioner in America, already performs an ultrasound prior to performing an abortion.

*Correction: This post originally cited a Washington Post blog that reports 26 states have ultrasound laws. In fact, 22 states have such laws.


 
 

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Study: 99% of Abortion Clinics Perform Ultrasounds

 
 

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via The Weekly Standard Blog by John McCormack on 2/22/12

Liberals and the mainstream media have been denouncing a proposed ultrasound law in Virginia as akin to rape (Jon Stewart and Meghan McCain joined in the demagoguery last night). "[T]he law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason," wrote Slate's Dahlia Lithwick. But as Alana Goodman reported yesterday, Planned Parenthood clinics already require ultrasounds prior to performing surgical and drug-induced abortions. Today, Steven Ertelt reports on a 2003 study that found 99% of abortion clinics perform an ultrasound prior to performing an abortion. If there is "no medical reason" for these ultrasounds, as Lithwick and friends contend, then why are Planned Parenthood and other abortionists requiring them?


 
 

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Leaked Docs From Heartland Institute Cause a Stir—but Is One a Fake?

 
 

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via Megan McArdle : The Atlantic by Megan McArdle on 2/16/12

The climate blogs have been swept by quite a scoop in the past few days.  An anonymous leaker identified only as "Heartland Insider" has dumped a cache of documents on climate blogs purporting to reveal the inner workings of the Heartland Institute, a vigorous promoter of skepticism about anthropogenic global warming.

Over the course of a few days, details have emerged.  According to Heartland, someone contacted them pretending to be a board member, and requested that the organization "resend" their annual meeting board package to an alternative email address.  And apparently some gullible staffer actually complied. The result is here. There are loads of juicy details about who donates what, and who gets money from Heartland.

Predictably, climate blogs are having a field day.  Much of the attention has centered around an explosive document titled "2012 Heartland Climate Strategy", which contains stuff like their plans for "dissuading [K-12 teachers] from teaching science".

Heartland has confirmed the provenance of most of the documents, in a blustery press release which I think they're going to end up regretting heartily:

The individuals who have commented so far on these documents did not wait for Heartland to confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents. We believe their actions constitute civil and possibly criminal offenses for which we plan to pursue charges and collect payment for damages, including damages to our reputation. We ask them in particular to immediately remove these documents and all statements about them from the blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions.
But in that press release, they unequivocally deny that the "Climate Strategy" memo came from them, or anyone in their employ.  And after reading through the documents, I'm inclined to believe them.  

Full disclosure: One of the donors in the apparently authenticated documents is Charles Koch, and my husband did a year-long fellowship with the Koch Foundation. However, nothing I'm going to write either defends or indicts Mr. Koch, who's actually pretty incidental to both Heartland's funding, and this story. 

I should also probably note that I disagree pretty strenuously with Heartland's position on global warming.  I not only believe that anthropogenic global warming is happening, but also support stiff carbon or source fuels taxes in order to combat it.  While I've expressed some dismay at the behavior revealed in the leaked Climategate memos, they haven't changed my mind about the reality, or the danger, of global warming.  I'm not defending Heartland's stance on climate science; I'm mostly interested in this because I have a longstanding fascination with fake quotes and documents.

Now, caveats out of the way, here's why I think that memo is probably fake:

1.  All of the documents are high-quality PDFs generated from original electronic files . . . except for the "Climate Strategy" memo. (Hereinafter, "the memo").  That appears to have been printed out and scanned, though it may also have been faxed.

Either way, why?  After they wrote up their Top Secret Here's All the Bad Stuff We're Gonna Do This Year memo, did the author hand it to his secretary and say "Now scan this in for the Board"? Or did he fax it across the hall to his buddy? 

This seems a strange and ponderous way to go about it--especially since the other documents illustrate that the Heartland Institute has fully mastered the Print to PDF command.

It is, however, exactly what I would do if I were trying to make sure that the document had no potentially incriminating metadata in the pdf.

2.  The date on the memo file is different from the other documents. And indeed, when you look at the information on the PDFs that Heartland acknowledges, almost all of them were created by printing to PDF on January 16th, the day before Heartland's board meeting.  There is a Board Directory that was created on the 25th of January, also by printing to PDF.  And then there is the memo, which was created via an Epson scanner at 3:41 PM on February 13th.  

That seems to be just about 24 hours before this broke on the climate blogs.  The timing seems odd, and somewhat suspicious. The fact that this document, and it alone, was scanned rather than printed to PDF or emailed as a word document, is even more so.

2.  Every single verifiable fact that's in the memo is found in another one of the documents, or available in a public source; in fact, many of the sentences are cut and paste jobs from the fundraising document, the binder insert, or the budget.  

Substantial overlap is to be expected.   But perfect overlap is surprising--there was nothing they wanted to elaborate on about their Climate Strategy that wasn't found in their fundraising or budget documents?  There's actually much less information about their climate efforts than can be found in the budget and fundraising packets. The only new material is a bit of editorializing, and suspiciously, it is editorializing that makes Heartland sound much worse than the authenticated documents do.

The editorializing tends to fall into one of two categories: they leave out the facts that make Heartland sound not quite so bad (like a huge drop in corporate donations) or they recast the activities of the Heartland Institute in a somewhat less favorable light than the presentation in the authenticated documents.  

It's hard to imagine why someone at Heartland would have written a memo that didn't contain any new information, or even useful new spin.  On the other hand, if I were trying to make sure that the memo couldn't be conclusively shown to be a fake, this is exactly the approach I'd take: borrow 100% of the facts, and most of the language, from real documents.

3.  The style is different.  Most institutions have a sort of house style for things like board packages.  That style drives writers nuts, because it's flabby and repetitive, but it's also generally consistent, and professional-sounding. The other documents are all written in the same basic style: formal-ish, overlong, and written at about a tenth grade reading level.  A lot of fairly brief paragraphs, a carefully titrated modicum of self-praise.  Except for the required legal notices, which are double spaced, they're all using approximately the same formatting.

Then there's the memo, which uses a different format and what seems to be a different font size or weight.  It's in run-on paragraphs that read as if they had been exhaled in one long breath.  The writing is sloppy in many places, including word choices ("dissuading them from teaching science") that should never have made it past a second set of eyes, and certainly not all the way to the board.

4.  It's too short.  Memos like this are usually padded with references to the bright future, the glorious past, the sterling efforts of the team members. The other documents are far longer than they need to be to make rather simple points, and larded with tables, charts, bullet points, and headers.   As I mentioned above, the memo is a clip job that contains less information than the other documents the board is already getting, and the person who wrote it could barely be bothered to bold their paragraph headers.  Why waste their time, or yours, with tedious and poorly-formatted repetition?

5.  The worldview is different.  In my experience, climate skeptics see themselves as a beleaguered minority fighting for truth and justice against the powerful, and nearly monolithic, forces of the establishment.  They are David, to the climate scientists' Goliaths. This is basically what the authenticated documents sound like.

The memo, by contrast, uses more negative language about the efforts it's describing, while trying to sound like they think it's positive.  It's like the opposition political manifestos found in novels written by stolid ideologues; they can never quite bear (or lack the imagination) to let the villains have a good argument. Switch the names, and the memo could have been a page ripped out of State of Fear or Atlas Shrugged.

Basically, it reads like it was written from the secret villain lair in a Batman comic.  By an intern.

6.  There's no name, date, or identifying information in the memo.  Memos are usually written by someone, to a specific audience.  In this case, the writer says "I propose that at this point it be kept confidential and only be distributed to a subset of Institute Board and senior staff".  Okay, so where's the distribution list?  Who is "I"?  People do not usually chattily speak in the first person without identifying themselves.

Of course, maybe this was sent in an email or a Word doc from the original author--but in that case, why was it scanned rather than printed to PDF?

Or maybe the memo was scrubbed . . . but why?  The other documents weren't, and this memo was never supposed to be seen by outside eyes.  

If I weren't too familiar with Heartland's internal personnel, this is the sort of information I'd probably leave off, to make sure that I didn't name someone who was, say, verifiably on vacation or at a funeral when the memo was allegedly written, or simply obviously not senior enough to have written it.

7.  Heartland says that this was erroneously emailed to someone impersonating a board member.  If this memo is so secret, how did the staffer get a hold of it to email?  Did a "senior staffer" really not recognize a member of the board's inner circle?

Related question:  Why is this memo super-secret, when there's nothing in it that isn't also in the materials distributed to the entire board?

Overall, like the fake documents and quotes of earlier posts, it just feels too convenient.  It's a super-handy roadmap to all the most incendiary portions of the other documents, and it contains absolutely nothing that does not serve that purpose--no formulaic self-puffery, no mentions of problems that you would think a legitimate memo would have covered, like the precipitous cuts in their global warming programs that they were forced to undertake when their anonymous donor delivered less cash than expected in 2011.  It reads like it was written for climate activists.  And I don't get the feeling that the folks at Heartland are much interested in helping out their friends at ClimateProgress and Grist.

Below the fold, my section-by-section analysis of what makes me uncomfortable.



This is the memo's opening.

January 2012
Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy

Given the increasingly important role the Heartland Institute is playing in leading the fight to prevent the implementation of dangerous policy actions to address the supposed risks of global warming, it is useful to set priorities for our efforts in 2012. This document offers such a set of priorities. I propose that at this point it be kept confidential and only be distributed to a subset of Institute Board and senior staff. More details can be found in our 2012 Proposed Budget document and 2012 Fundraising Strategy memo. In 2012 our efforts will focus in the following areas:
This seems like the sort of strained declaration I would have given a novel villain when I was in high school--where I take what I think is actually true, and add swinish sarcasm, and SEE! VILLAIN!!!

Sadly, this was not as artistic as I believed at the time. But I digress.

Another question quickly springs to mind: If the memo was written in January, as it claims, how come it was scanned into a computer on February 13th, instead of being made into a PDF along with the rest of the board package in mid-January?

And why aren't there any other strategy documents, on things like health care, net neutrality, and so forth?  

Did the anonymous leaker leave them out because they weren't relevant to the climate blogs?  (But why not email them to, say, open internet blogs?)  

And if so, why did they include less-than-exciting filler like the legally required notice of an impending board meeting?

The next section is their climate change fundraising strategy:

Our climate work is attractive to funders, especially our key Anonymous Donor (whose contribution dropped from $1,664,150 in 2010 to $979,000 in 2011 - about 20% of our total 2011 revenue). He has promised an increase in 2012 - see the 2011 Fourth Quarter Financial Report. We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests. Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.
This is all accurate. In fact, it's almost too accurate. The Anonymous Donor data comes from this table:
Screen shot 2012-02-15 at 9.09.02 PM.png
Here's the first Koch reference in the same document:

The Charles G. Koch Foundation returned as a Heartland donor in 2011. We expect to ramp up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to the network of philanthropists they work with.
It's almost eerily similar to the language in the memo above -- as if someone were being very careful not to make any claims beyond what is backed up in the other documents.  

To be fair, people do cut and paste from their memos.  But this paragraph is as notable for what it does not say, as for what it does.  The document has a lot to say about the gyrations in support from "Anonymous".  Yet it doesn't mention two things which feature fairly prominently in the original fundraising document: 

1.  Corporate donations fell by nearly $1 million in 2011

Receipts from corporations were almost exactly $1 million below budget, whereas income from individuals was almost exactly (101%) of the budgeted amount. Corporate gifts were down partly due to economic changes - our corporate donor base is mostly older manufacturing businesses that were especially hurt by the economic downturn - but largely because of staff turnover. Rachel Rivest was new to corporate relations management in 2011 and did no traveling. We expect this will be an area of major recovery and improvement in 2012.
2.  The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation gave nothing in 2010, and only $25,000 in 2011.  

Note that the fundraising excerpt does not say that they expect global warming to be at the heart of their corporate strategy.  Moreover, this is not how they describe it anywhere else in the document, and clearly not the source of all their corporate donations--they get some donations from energy companies, but they also get large sums from technology firms, presumably for their work on net neutrality.  

Here's how Heartland describes their corporate and large-donor strategy in the fundraising document:  "While ideologically motivated individual donors are apt to contribute for general operating, corporations and (increasingly) foundations want project-specific proposals. We try as best we can to tailor our programs to meet both the requirements of our mission - to discover, develop,and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems - while also exciting new donors to make the contributions needed to fund our programs" 

Of the ten major programs they list, three involve global warming, and one involves a weakly related topic (fracking).  The rest are in health care, finance, public unions/debt, and education.  Obviously, global warming is very important, particularly to their anonymous donor.  But it's far from the only issue. And more to the point, they do not self-describe their efforts as marketing their services to corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.  They describe themselves as "promoting free market solutions".   

Nor does this section mention the apparently huge impact that the decline in donations from the anonymous donor had on their climate programs in 2011; apparently, almost all of the lost money came out of those programs: "The anonymous donor reduced his giving from $1,664,150 in 2010 to $979,000 in 2011. We are extinguishing primarily global warming projects in pace with declines in his giving, and we were careful not to hire staff based on his past generosity."

It seems odd to be so specific about "Anonymous" and so vague about the others.  It also seems odd to be so specific about the general size of the donations from Anonymous, and so vague about the funds earmarked for global warming.  And it does seem to me that the omissions tend to run in the direction of making Heartland sound scarier, more powerful, and better funded--particularly by anti-AGW corporations--than they actually have been, at least for the past few years.

The next section has attracted a great deal of attention from climate bloggers:

Development of our "Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms" project.
Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. To counter this we are considering launching an effort to develop alternative materials for K-12 classrooms. We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain - two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science. We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $100,000 for 20 modules in 2012, with funding pledged by the Anonymous Donor.
Again, this is basically a summary of what's found in the fundraising plan:

Many people lament the absence of educational material suitable for K-12 students on global warming that isn't alarmist or overtly political. Heartland has tried to make material available to teachers, but has had only limited success. Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. Moreover, material for classroom use must be carefully written to meet curriculum guidelines, and the amount of time teachers have for supplemental material is steadily shrinking due to the spread of standardized tests in K-12 education.

Dr. David Wojick has presented Heartland a proposal to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools that appears to have great potential for success. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. He has a Ph.D. in the philosophy of science and mathematical logic from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.S. in civil engineering from Carnegie Tech. He has been on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon and the staffs of the U.S. Office of Naval Research and the Naval Research Lab.

Dr. Wojick has conducted extensive research on environmental and science education for the Department of Energy. In the course of this research, he has identified what subjects and concepts teachers must teach, and in what order (year by year), in order to harmonize with national test requirements. He has contacts at virtually all the national organizations involved in producing, certifying, and promoting science curricula.

Dr. Wojick proposes to begin work on "modules" for grades 10-12 on climate change ("whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy"), climate models ("models are used to explore various hypotheses about how climate works. Their reliability is controversial"), and air pollution ("whether CO2 is a pollutant is controversial. It is the global food supply and natural emissions are 20 times higher than human emissions"). 

Wojick would produce modules for Grades 7-9 on environmental impact ("environmental impact is often difficult to determine. For example there is a major controversy over whether or not humans are changing the weather"), for Grade 6 on water resources and weather systems, and so on.

We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $5,000 per module, about $25,000 a quarter, starting in the second quarter of 2012, for this work. The Anonymous Donor has pledged the first $100,000 for this project, and we will circulate a proposal to match and then expand upon that investment.
But as with the previous section, whoever wrote the memo has offered a gloss which is either incredibly clumsy, or purposely designed to make them sound as bad as is plausible in a memo that is supposed to come from Heartland itself.

The next section covers "funding for parallel organizations".  Here's what's in the strategy document:

Funding for parallel organizations. Heartland is part of a growing network of groups working the climate issues, some of which we support financially. We will seek additional partnerships in 2012. At present we sponsor the NIPCC to undermine the official United Nation's IPCC reports and paid a team of writers $388,000 in 2011 to work on a series of editions of Climate Change Reconsidered. Expenses will be about the same in 2012. NIPCC is currently funded by two gifts a year from two foundations, both of them requesting anonymity. Another $88,000 is earmarked this year for Heartland staff, incremental expenses, and overhead for editing, expense reimbursement for the authors, andmarketing.
Now, here's the same activity described in the fundraising document:

Heartland sponsors the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), an international network of scientists who write and speak out on climate change. Heartland pays a team of scientists approximately $300,000 a year to work on a series of editions of Climate Change Reconsidered, the most comprehensive and authoritative rebuttal of the United Nations' IPCC reports. Another $88,000 is earmarked for Heartland staff, incremental expenses, and overhead for editing, expense reimbursement for the authors, and marketing. 

NIPCC is currently funded by two gifts a year from two foundations, both of them requesting anonymity. In 2012 we plan to solicit gifts from other donors to add to what these two donors are giving in order to cover more of our fixed costs for promoting the first two Climate Change Reconsidered volumes and writing and editing the volume scheduled for release in 2013. We hope to raise $200,000 in 2012.
I can believe that someone at Heartland is going around clipping the content of other documents into some sort of a strategy memo.  I find it harder to believe that they are rewriting those activities to make themselves sound more evil.  Have you ever heard anyone describe themselves as "undermining" something?  It's a word that implies sneaking and underhanded behavior, which is why only bad movie villains usually apply it to their own activities.

Note also that whoever wrote the memo has hashed the math--they added in the $88,000 for internal resources twice. And they changed "scientists" to "writers", which is not consistent with how these same people are described in the authenticated documents.  It is, on the other hand, consistent with how climate activists view the kind of people who work for Heartland.  Which makes it feel as if the paragraph had been written by someone who couldn't quite bring themselves to deploy Heartland's self-approving language.

The next section involves external personnel:

Funding for selected individuals outside of Heartland. Our current budget includes funding for high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message. At the moment, this funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals, but we will consider expanding it, if funding can be found.
The salaries are taken from the annual budget. The description, interestingly, is not. This is how the budget describes these payments:

The two tables below summarize the multi-year budget for the project and personnel costs for the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), an international group of scientists that produces critiques of the reports of the United Nation's IPCC. Heartland hosts and funds the effort. A growing number of scientists have been recruited by Craig Idso to be contributing authors and editors of NIPCC's major reports, a series titled Climate Change Reconsidered. Two volumes have been published so far.

Table 2 presents the proposed budget as it appears in the fundraising proposal for the NIPCC project. Table 3 shows projected personnel expenses for 2012. We do not expect to produce an interim report of Climate Change Reconsidered in 2012, so the only incremental expense for this project other than personnel is $1,000/month in expense reimbursements for Fred Singer. That amount appears in the Communications Department budget.
It seems to me somewhat telling that the memo's single biggest divergence from the authenticated documents comes in a section dealing with outsiders with whom climate activists have been doing battle for some time.

The final section involves Heartland staff.  And it's just . . . weird.  

Expanded climate communications
Heartland plays an important role in climate communications, especially through our in-house experts (e.g., Taylor) through his Forbes blog and related high profile outlets, our conferences, and through coordination with external networks (such as WUWT and other groups capable of rapidly mobilizing responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavorable blog posts). Efforts at places such as Forbes are especially important now that they have begun to allow highprofile climate scientists (such as Gleick) to post warmist science essays that counter our own. This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out. Efforts might also include cultivating more neutral voices with big audiences (such as Revkin at DotEarth/NYTimes, who has a well-known antipathy for some of the more extreme AGW communicators such as Rornm, Trenberth, and Hansen) or Curry (who has become popular with our supporters). AVe have also pledged to help raise around $90,000 in 2012 for Anthony Watts to help him create a new website to track temperature station data. Finally, we will consider expanding these efforts further, or developing new ones, if funding can be obtained.
To start with, why does the document feel a need to provide a bio for Wojick--who works closely enough with Heartland to have a bio on their website--but not for all the climate scientists and writers that it cites in this section? 

Then there's the tone. I have never heard a warming skeptic refer to themselves as "anti-climate", or to their opponents as "communicators".  And believe me, I get chewed out by climate skeptics with great regularity.

And in a way I find it hard to put my finger on, the worldview just feels . . . off.  There are a bunch of little things--this is the only document in which the word "warmist" appears, for example.  But it's much more than that. It's too nice to opponents ("high profile", "communicator"). And it views climate skeptics as far more powerful than they (in my experience) actually feel, and opponents as combating their messages, rather than the other way around.  It seems to fundamentally misunderstand the paranoia of a movement that sees itself as under siege.  

The commenters who attack me on my global warming views do not see us as equals doing battle on the plains of Mordor.  They think of me as having been captured by a dubious consensus that is manufactured and maintained by social pressure, the general human tendency to alarmism about complex threats, and the self-interest of a few scientists--and in truth, they can point to some instances, like the longstanding belief that humans had 48 chromosomes, which were maintained against all evidence by a very powerful social dynamic.  Obviously, I disagree with their analysis, but I do understand their reasoning process--and that they have a reasoning process.  I don't feel like the writer of this memo understands either. It's more like they sat down at the computer and said, "What would I write IF I WERE AS CRAZY AS AGW SKEPTICS?"

And the stuff about Forbes is sheer lunacy, on multiple levels.  The idea that conservatives view Forbes as their beachhead for control of world opinion is . . . well, I spend a fair amount of time with conservatives and libertarians, including those who work for think tanks, and I have never once heard them express such an opinion.  If they did, I'd point out that neither their editorial, nor their readership, is that monolithic.  Of course think tanks puff up their influence for donors, but they don't usually make themselves sound like they're on the verge of a megalomaniacal break.

Which makes it especially crazy to talk about how Heartland can "keep opposing voices out" of the Forbes editorial page.  If they thought they had any shot at this, I'd expect to hear details about friendly editors, not mad ranting about the amazing power of Taylor's blog.  But everything I know about the Forbes digital strategy indicates that they're interested in driving traffic, not a conspiracy to deny global warming.

Need I point out that this seems almost expressly designed as a counterweight to the ClimateGate emails which talked about keeping opposition voices out of journals and the IPCC report?  Except ludicrous--even if it were true, can anyone imagine a climate skeptic saying to themselves, "Well, they've got the IPCC and the peer-reviewed jouranls, but thank God, we've got Forbes!"

The bottom line is that while the Times thought that "its tone and content closely matched that of other documents that the group did not dispute", to me, they aren't a close match at all. Rather, they read like, well, like someone without the imagination--or motivation--to pass an Ideological Turing Test wrote up a neat little executive summary for their ideological fellows.

The textual analysis alone would make me suspicious--but the fact that the document was created much later, using a different method, with different formatting--makes me fairly sure that while the other documents are real, this was written after the fact, by an author outside of Heartland.  If there were any way to get conclusive proof, I'd bet heavily against this document being real.

That said, I think it's impossible to prove -- at least with my forensic skill levels.  People do write crazy memos sometimes--there are lunatics in every movement, and most organizations.  While this just doesn't feel like the right kind of crazy to me, it's possible I'm wrong.  

And at some level, I'm not sure it really changes the story.  The memo doesn't add new facts, just new spin.  Naturally, because the spin is more lurid, it's what a lot of the climate blogs seized on -- I suspect, in the same way that Twitter and Facebook seized on the half-fake part of the Martin Luther King quote that went viral after Bin Laden was killed.  The appended material had more momentary punch than the original, because it had been written for the moment.

In the next few days, there will still be entirely legitimate discussions of Heartland's funding sources, and what it was doing with the money.  But we should probably be cautious about leaning too hard on this memo.  And if its provenance can't be ascertained, we should probably also be asking questions about who wrote it -- and why.


The documents presented by the blog indicate "[the Foundation] returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012...if our focus continues to align with their interests." But this is not so. The Foundation gave just $25,000 to Heartland in 2011 (the only such donation to that organization in more than 10 years) and that funding was specifically directed to a healthcare research program, and not climate change research, as was erroneously reported.

Statistically speaking, the Foundation's contribution represents approximately one-twentieth of one percent of Heartland's total funding over that ten year period. The Foundation has made no further commitments of funding to Heartland.
And indeed, when you look at the fundraising document, the coding next to Koch's donation is "HCN" which certainly seems to be their health care code--other donors with that code include Bayer, Amgen, EliLilly, and GlaxoSmithKline.

Screen shot 2012-02-16 at 12.59.48 PM.png

Unless there's an explanation I'm missing, that seems to clinch it--why would health care donations show up in their climate strategy report?  Unless of course, it was written by someone who doesn't know anything about facts of the donation, but does know that the Kochs make great copy.



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Why Capitalism Isn't Going Anywhere - Reason Magazine

Link: http://reason.com/archives/2012/02/20/why-capitalism-isnt-going-anywhere (via shareaholic.com)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sorry #Occupy Commies… Income Inequality Is Actually Plummeting in US

 
 

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via The Gateway Pundit by Jim Hoft on 2/22/12

It figures. After all of the protesting and rapes and vandalism and murders and arrests we now find out that income inequality is actually plummeting in the United States. It looks like the #occupy movement was all based on misinformation. Who could have guessed it?

Your whole movement was based on a lie.

But great job eating that pepper spray, kids.

Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters reported:

Since the first Occupy Wall Street protest, you haven't been able to swing a dead cat in this country without hitting an Obama-loving media member carping and whining about income inequality.

Yet according to this chart created by the nation's largest federation of trade unions the AFL-CIO, the difference between average CEO and average worker pay has been plummeting since the year 2000:

As you can see, the real explosion in income inequality happened in the '90s as stock prices went through the rough during the tech bubble.

Yet from 2000 through 2009, this disparity actually declined by 50 percent.

To assist in furthering the point, NewsBusters member Gary Hall has added to the AFL-CIO's chart:


 
 

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Climategate Turnabout

 
 

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via The Volokh Conspiracy by Jonathan H. Adler on 2/21/12

In 2010 and 2011 the climate science community was rocked by the release of e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit showing that climate scientists can be just as petty, political and (at times) unethical as any other group.  To this day, it has not been determined who obtained the e-mail files and posted them online.

Last week, another potentially explosive trove of climate-related private documents was released on the web, in this case a set of documents prepared for a board meeting of the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Chicago that sponsors the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change and other efforts designed to downplay the threat posed by anthropogentic climate change and discourage the adoption of climate change policies.  Among the documents was a "Climate Strategy" memorandum purporting to outline Heartland's secret efforts to, among other things, suppress "warmist" views and discourage the teaching of climate science in schools.  Someone calling himself "Heartland Insider" distributed these documents to several progressive bloggers who promptly posted the materials on the web.

Other than the "Climate Strategy" memo, the documents were relatively pedestrian — revealing but not earth-shattering.  If anything, these documents suggested that the Heartland Institute's efforts — and those of climate skeptics generally — are less well-funded than some suspect (and certainly less well-funded than major environmentalist groups).  Yet almost immediately, questions were raised about the memo's authenticity.  The content and tone of the memorandum were a bit off, and it contained subtle errors of the sort someone on the inside would have been unlikely to make.  Megan McArdle dissected the memo here and here, while others identified evidence the memo had a different provenance than the other purloined materials.  Heartland, for its part, declared the memo a fake (while also making threats and going on the warpath against anyone who dared post the purloined documents).  Meanwhile, speculation swirled about the memo's actual author.

Yesterday, a big part of the mystery was solved when a climate scientist, Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, came forward as the source of the documents, but not as the author of the suspicious memo.  Wrote Gleick:

At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute's climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute's apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it.

Given the potential impact however, I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else's name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget. I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues. I can explicitly confirm, as can the Heartland Institute, that the documents they emailed to me are identical to the documents that have been made public. I made no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication.

This is just incredible (and not only because Gleick was chairing a working group on scientific integrity at the time of his actions). McArdle, again, is all over this.

The very, very best thing that one can say about this is that this would be an absolutely astonishing lapse of judgement for someone in their mid-twenties, and is truly flabbergasting coming from a research institute head in his mid-fifties. Let's walk through the thought process:

You receive an anonymous memo in the mail purporting to be the secret climate strategy of the Heartland Institute. It is not printed on Heartland Institute letterhead, has no information identifying the supposed author or audience, contains weird locutions more typical of Heartland's opponents than of climate skeptics, and appears to have been written in a somewhat slapdash fashion. Do you:

A. Throw it in the trash

B. Reach out to like-minded friends to see how you might go about confirming its provenance

C. Tell no one, but risk a wire-fraud conviction, the destruction of your career, and a serious PR blow to your movement by impersonating a Heartland board member in order to obtain confidential documents.

As a journalist, I am in fact the semi-frequent recipient of documents promising amazing scoops, and depending on the circumstances, my answer is always "A" or "B", never "C".

In this case, however, we are to believe that Gleick was so overcome with his rage at the Heartland Institute that he chose option "C" and, upon receiving additional documents from Heartland, sent the whole package of materials around without ever doing any investigation of his own as to the authenticity of the "Climate Strategy" memo. It's hard to believe, but it's also hard to believe that Gleick himself would have forged the document (as many suspected even before he came forward). Is there a third alternative?

In any event, Gleick's actions will have serious repurcussions. From the NYT's Andrew Revkin:

Another question, of course, is who wrote the climate strategy document that Gleick now says was mailed to him. His admitted acts of deception in acquiring the cache of authentic Heartland documents surely will sustain suspicion that he created the summary, which Heartland's leadership insists is fake.

One way or the other, Gleick's use of deception in pursuit of his cause after years of calling out climate deception has destroyed his credibility and harmed others. (Some of the released documents contain information about Heartland employees that has no bearing on the climate fight.) That is his personal tragedy and shame (and I'm sure devastating for his colleagues, friends and family).

The broader tragedy is that his decision to go to such extremes in his fight with Heartland has greatly set back any prospects of the country having the "rational public debate" that he wrote — correctly — is so desperately needed.

Others have reached similar conclusions, but the feelings are not universal.

Much of the clmate science community seems unable to condemn Gleick's conduct (see, e.g. here), just as some environmentalist groups and climate activists have a hard time acknowledging the frequent exaggeration or "sexing up" of climate studies to accentuate the threat posed by climate change. (And I say this as someone who believes climate change is a problem and supports appropriate policies to address the threat.)

McArdle again:

When skeptics complain that global warming activists are apparently willing to go to any lengths–including lying–to advance their worldview, I'd say one of the movement's top priorities should be not proving them right. And if one rogue member of the community does something crazy that provides such proof, I'd say it is crucial that the other members of the community say "Oh, how horrible, this is so far beyond the pale that I cannot imagine how this ever could have happened!" and not, "Well, he's apologized and I really think it's pretty crude and opportunistic to make a fuss about something that's so unimportant in the grand scheme of things."

After you have convinced people that you fervently believe your cause to be more important than telling the truth, you've lost the power to convince them of anything else.

 

UPDATE: Here is how the NYT initially covered the document release, and here is Heartland's response. Here is the NYT's coverage of Gleick's confession.  David Appell also has an interview with AGU President Michael McPhaden on the controversy and its likely impact on climate science, and Judith Curry reflects on "Gleick's 'Integrity'."

Heartland's effort to force bloggers and others to take down the purloined documents seems like bluster to me.  Unless they were to try and assert copyright, I don't think they have much legal recourse.  They may, however, be able to go after Gleick for his deception.  Gleick seems aware of this possibility, as he has retained a lawyer (and a "crisis manager') on this matter.

Speculation about the provenance of the faked memo continues, and some are challenging Gleick to provide evidence for his account.  Others are offering coffee mugs.  Are t-shirts next?

 


 
 

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Notes on the faked Heartland document

 
 

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via Watts Up With That? by Anthony Watts on 2/15/12

UPDATE: there's even more evidence that the document was faked. The Koch Foundation and The Atlantic weighs in in update 3 below. As a follow up to the post Notes on the Heartland Leak, I've prepared some notes on the … Continue reading

 
 

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