March 2010

[youtube: 285 234]

Climategate Whitewash

by Iain Murray on March 31, 2010

in Blog

The UK’s House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has issued its report into the so-called Climategate scandal.  As might be expected, it’s pretty much a whitewash, except as detailed below.  Only one MP dissented from its conclusions.  There seem to me to be some serious errors and omissions in the reports, but I’m not the only one.  For instance, Fred Pearce of New Scientist and The Guardian has some pretty serious things to say in his story, Hacked climate email inquiry cleared Jones but serious questions remain:

in their rush to judgment before parliament is dissolved for the general election, Phil Willis and his team avoided examining more complex charges, including those raised by the Guardian in its investigations in February.

Even so, they sometimes get confused. The MPs accept Jones’s claim that CRU’s habit of keeping secret much of its data, methodology and computer codes was “standard practice” among climate scientists. Yet they also note that Nasa scientists doing similar work are much more open. Not so standard, then.

And whatever standard practice may be, surely as one of climate science’s senior figures, Jones should take some responsibility for its misdemeanours? Jones has worked for the CRU for more than 20 years and been its director for six. The MPs found there a “culture of withholding information” in which “information may have been deleted to avoid disclosure.” It found this “unacceptable”. Doesn’t its director take responsibility?

The MPs kept their criticism for the university. Its “failure to grasp fully the potential damage [from] non-disclosure of FOIA requests was regrettable”.

Also possibly illegal, it might have added.

While Pearce is good on this point – essentially that Phil Jones fostered a culture of anti-scientific secrecy and collusion as head of the CRU – he is less good on the meaning of the “trick” by which jones aspired to “hide the decline” in one particular temperature series.  Bishop Hill is right on the money here:

Mike’s Nature Trick (66) – The committee’s
conclusions are eyewatering:

66. Critics of CRU have suggested that Professor Jones’s use of the
words “hide the decline” is evidence that he was part of a conspiracy to
hide evidence that did not fit his view that recent global warming is
predominantly caused by human activity. That he has published
papers—including a paper in Nature—dealing with this aspect of the
science clearly refutes this allegation. In our view, it was shorthand
for the practice of discarding data known to be erroneous. We expect
that this is a matter the Scientific Appraisal Panel will address.

I’m struggling to say something polite about this.  By way of an
illustration, can you imagine the reaction if a scientist reported in
the safety literature that there was a critical flaw in the design of a
nuclear power station, but told policymakers that everything was fine?
Do the committee really think it’s fine to hide important information
from policymakers so long as you report it in the literature?

Indeed.  Did anything good come out of the report?  Well, as Roger Pielke Jr points out, a broad reading of the report reveals an indictment of the state of climate science:

Reputation does not, however, rest solely on the quality of work as it
should. It also depends on perception. It is self-evident that the
disclosure of the CRU e-mails has damaged the reputation of UK climate
science and, as views on global warming have become polarised, any
deviation from the highest scientific standards will be pounced on. As
we explained in chapter 2, the practices and methods of climate science
are a key issue. If the practices of CRU are found to be in line with
the rest of climate science, the question would arise whether climate
science methods of operation need to change. In this event we would
recommend that the scientific community should consider changing those
practices to ensure greater transparency. . .

. . . A great
responsibility rests on the shoulders of climate science: to provide the
planet’s decision makers with the knowledge they need to secure our
future. The challenge that this poses is extensive and some of these
decisions risk our standard of living. When the prices to pay are so
large, the knowledge on which these kinds of decisions are taken had
better be right. The science must be irreproachable.

And, as Climategate and the multiple subsequent revelations about the shoddiness of the IPCC’s science have shown, the science is in no way irreproachable as it stands.  Yet in the end, Prof. Frank Furedi is right about what the Committee meant in this segment:

In other words, the CRU’s real failing was to dent the authority of the
climate-change morality tale, with its idea that, with the end of the
world fast approaching, there is an urgent need to monitor people’s
behaviour and lower their horizons. A cynic might conclude that when
moral entrepreneurs say that the ‘prices to pay are so large’, their
investigations into public controversies will inevitably have a
perfunctory character, since there is allegedly a higher, more pressing
truth to be defended.

Which is exactly what happened here.

Looks like Greenpeace finally got off their greenhouse gas kick and has realized that clouds have as much to do with how climate changes as anything else.

Wait — check that. They say cloud computing is leading us down the path towards catastrophic global warming:

In a study issued Tuesday, environmental organization Greenpeace said the computing “cloud” powering the Internet is becoming a major source of pollution, as companies build data centers powered by coal, according to a Reuters report from Monday.

The study (PDF) singles out a Facebook facility that relies on a coal-powered utility, along with Apple’s North Carolina data center, also powered by coal.

According to Reuters, in the report Greenpeace concludes that “the last thing we need is for more cloud infrastructure to be built in places where it increases demand for dirty coal-fired power.”

The organization also points to Microsoft, Yahoo and Google as having data centers that rely on “heavy” use of coal power.

That’s right, another polluter demon has been unleashed from the pit of corporate hell: Big Internet.

In a lengthy interview in The Guardian yesterday, James Lovelock, scientist and inventor, prominent global warming advocate, and originator of the Gaia theory, has some startling comments on recent scandals relating to the science of anthropogenic global warming, AGW skeptics, adaptation and global governance.

His view on the scandals:

“Fudging the data in any way whatsoever is quite literally a sin against the holy ghost of science. I’m not religious, but I put it that way because I feel so strongly. It’s the one thing you do not ever do.”

Lovelock has some surprisingly good words to say about climate skeptics – the good ones, of course:

Lovelock says the events of the past few months have seen him warm to the efforts of some climate sceptics: “What I like about sceptics is that in good science you need critics that make you think: ‘Crumbs, have I made a mistake here?’ If you don’t have that continuously, you really are up the creek.

“The good sceptics have done a good service – but some of the mad ones, I think, have not done anyone any favours. Some, of course, are corrupted and employed by oil companies and things like that. Some even work for governments. For example, I wouldn’t put it past the Russians to be behind some of the disinformation to help further their energy interests. But you need sceptics, especially when the science gets very big and monolithic.”

What probably is most startling in the interview is Lovelock’s call for a “more authoritative world” to deal with what he sees as the consequences of global warming:

“We need a more authoritative world,” he says resolutely. “We’ve become a sort of cheeky, egalitarian world where everyone can have their say. It’s all very well, but there are certain circumstances – a war is a typical example – where you can’t do that. You’ve got to have a few people with authority who you trust who are running it. They should be very accountable too, of course – but it can’t happen in a modern democracy. This is one of the problems.

“What’s the alternative to democracy? There isn’t one. But even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”

It’s clear that Lovelock — in his nineties now — hasn’t changed his dystopian views, as were expressed in his book, “The Revenge of Gaia” and in an interview a few years ago – in 2006 – when the book was published:

“We are in a fool’s climate, accidentally kept cool by smoke, and before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.”

See what CEI has previously written about Lovelock here and in an extensive and thoughtful article by Myron Ebell here.

Today on, the free-market energy blog, I explain how EPA, by granting the California waiver, finding endangerment, and perhaps even by pulling its punches in the Massachusetts v. EPA Supreme Court case, has positioned itself to regulate fuel economy, set climate and energy policy for the nation, and amend the Clean Air Act – powers never delegated to the agency by Congress. 

It is time to rein in this rogue agency. The Congressional Review Act Resolution of Disapproval introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is the way to do it.

Headquartered in Melbourne, the second largest city of the land down under, National Australia Bank is firmly attached to its home country. The primary trading venue for stock in the bank is the Australian Securities Exchange in Sydney, Australia’s biggest city. It was from this exchange shares in the company were bought by three Australian investors who are now suing the firm for securities fraud.

So see if you can guess in which Australian locale this lawsuit is proceeding. Melbourne? Sydney? Perhaps in the Australian state or territories where one of the shareholders live?

Sorry, trick question! The lawsuit isn’t proceeding in Australia at all. It was brought in U.S. federal courts in New York and was heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is Morrison v. National Australia Bank.

If you didn’t think the “trick” in this riddle was very funny, you’re right in more ways than one. It’s hard to overstate the seriousness of the outcome of this case for the American economy. If the Court grants the Australian plaintiffs “subject matter jurisdiction” and allows the case to proceed in U.S. Court, it will make the U.S. a litigation magnet for foreign shareholder lawsuits from all over the world.

And this very same magnet that attracts the foreign plaintiffs and their lawyers will repel many foreign businesses who are considering making even the most minor type of investment in the U.S. Jobs would suffer, as foreign firms would think twice about forming a U.S. subsidiary that employs American workers, for fear of establishing what courts have called a “nexus” that could establish a tangential connection for litigation in U.S. courts.

That’s why the Competitive Enterprise Institute, filed an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief urging the justices to establish a bright-line rule to bar U.S. courts from hearing what are called “foreign cubed cases.” A “foreign cubed” shareholder case is one in which a foreign corporation is sued by foreign investor who brought their shares on a foreign exchange.

The bank has maintained it did not commit fraud, and fraud charges have never been brought by securities regulators in the Australia or the U.S., which had jurisdiction due to the fact that the bank was listed at the time on the New York Stock Exchange. But even if fraud did occur, both conservative and liberal justices seemed perplexed as to what this case was doing in U.S. courts any more than one involving something like an Aussie bank robbery or any other purely domestic Australian.

“Australian plaintiffs, Australian defendants, shares purchased in Australia. It has Australia written all over it,” liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in her exchange with the Australian plaintiff’s attorneys. “Isn’t the most appropriate choice the law of Australia rather than the law of United States?

Ginsburg’s questions seemed to be in line with points raised by CEI. CEI’s brief, written by CEI general counsel Sam Kazman and international law specialist Ernesto J. Sanchez, argues that “these types of lawsuits, in which plaintiffs circumvent the legal systems of countries where their disputes arise to take advantage of what they see as the U.S. legal systems ‘s more favorable aspects, amount to nothing more than global forum shopping.”

Although the appeals court had ruled against the Aussie plaintiffs, CEI urged a more “bright line” rule to remove uncertainty in these types of cases. “The Court should reiterate its own precedents presuming that U.S. laws do not apply beyond U.S. territorial boundaries unless Congress has clearly expressed its intent for such extraterritorial reach.”

CEI pointed out the potential for other countries to violate U.S. sovereignty if U.S. courts were to presume that other countries offered inadequate protection. The brief pointed to the stretching of the Alien Tort Claims Act of the eighteenth century to be utilized in lawsuits over such modern issues as global warming.

CEI’s amicus brief in support of the defendants joins those of the governments of the United Kingdom, France, and Australia, all of whom maintain they should be allowed to police their own securities’ markets with their own laws. Justice Stephen Breyer, another member of the Court’s liberal bloc, seemed to agree. According to Reuters, “Breyer questioned whether a win for the plaintiffs would interfere with efforts of foreign countries, such as Australia, to regulate their securities markets.”

Oh, the glory days of almost a month ago, when advocates promoted the promise of solar energy in the United States. As one industry publication reported:

Of all the reasons that solar energy is capturing record levels of investment and spurring frenetic activity, its tremendous potential, laid out by Dan Cunningham of BP Solar (Frederick, MD), is the primary driver for the market. Participating in the Chemical Development & Marketing Assn.’s (CDMA) “Opportunities for Chemicals and Materials: Capitalizing on Wind and Solar” conference held last December at the University of Pennsylvania’s chemistry department, Cunningham addressed a crowd that included the biggest names in plastics supply—BASF, Bayer MaterialScience, Dow, and DuPont to name a few—all of which appreciate the extraordinary opportunity the burgeoning solar energy sector holds for plastics.

As impressive as the current boom is, Mike Eckhart, president of ACORE (American Council of Renewable Energy), forecasted an even brighter future for solar at the same CDMA event, particularly for the United States, which has only recently thrown the full weight of government subsidies and tax benefits behind the technology. “My prediction is in two years, solar will really take off,” Eckhart said. Admitting that the U.S. is the “laggard” in solar, Eckhart said he believes the country will catch up to the current market leader, Germany, which had 2000 MW of new solar capacity installed in 2009.

Fast-forward to a report in today’s Washington Post:

BP will close its solar-panel manufacturing plant in Frederick, the final step in moving its solar business out of the United States to facilities in China, India and other countries.

Just 3 1/2 years ago, in an announcement widely hailed by Maryland officials and promoters of “green jobs,” BP unveiled a $70 million plan to double output at the facility and erected a building to house the production lines.

But on Friday the company said it would lay off 320 workers and keep only a hundred people involved in research, sales and project development. BP said laid-off employees would receive full pay and benefits for three months, followed by severance packages and job-placement assistance. The company, unable to sell or lease the building, will tear it down.

“We remain absolutely committed to solar,” BP chief executive Tony Hayward said in an interview Friday. But he said BP was “moving to where we can manufacture cheaply.”

As usual, the charlatan promoters of unreliable, inefficient and costly energy projects once again show the success of their “green jobs” initiatives, driving employment to India and China.

You may have heard something about tonight’s “Earth Hour” (this is not the weekend you want to visit Vegas), in which the World Wildlife Fund co-opted my team’s quarterback to promote a global power-down in order to draw attention to evil human consumption.

As for me, tonight our family will host a large group to celebrate my son’s birthday, so we will have even more lights on than usual — both inside and outside our humble abode. And on top of that, we will force many more vehicles out on the road at the very moment this special hour hits, as parents come to pick up their teenagers. So if my friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute are handing out any prizes for Best Celebration of their Human Achievement Hour, I hope I am at least among the top nominees.

After yesterday’s revelation about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s dismantling of his state’s global warming regulatory infrastructure, a grassroots citizens group said they would attack the renewables rent-seeking industry via a Colorado ballot initiative. The Western Tradition Partnership announced:

(Two) Colorado citizens submitted to the Legislative Legal Council Wednesday a proposed ballot initiative restoring the right of consumers to lower their utility bills by choosing less-expensive forms of energy….

If approved, the initiative allows a utility’s customers to submit a petition requesting an election among customers on whether to opt out of so-called “renewable energy standards.” Renewable energy standards are government mandates forcing a utility to buy a certain percentage of their power from more expensive sources such as wind and solar, driving up utility bills.

Renewable energy standards are a favorite tool of speculators, who invested in the more expensive, less efficient sources and cannot attract consumers in a competitive market.  By lobbying politicians to make purchasing their product mandatory, speculators pass their losses to captive customers.

Of course the foundation for the passage of these measures has been the hyped fear from the threat of global warming, which has been proven fraudulent. WTP, which placed some fairly strict requirements in the measure’s language in order to trigger a utility customer election, reports that it is only trying to restore an opt-out provision that Colorado voters supported in a previous ballot initiative.

It has become so trendy now to challenge the crumbling global warming establishment.

In the News

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Overrated
Myron Ebell, Standpoint, April 2010

Another Classic Colorado Ballot Initiative
Paul Chesser,, 26 March 2010

Cap-and-Trade Loses Standing
John Broder, New York Times, 26 March 2010

Green Meanies
Christopher Orlet, American Spectator, 25 March 2010

James Hansen Finds FOIA Request Too Burdensome
Chris Horner, Men’s News Daily, 2010

Scandal, Nature, Economy Undercut Agenda
Marlo Lewis, National Journal, 24 March 2010

We’re Saving Whales, Why Not Jobs?
State Senator Dave Cogdill, Orange County Register, 24 March 2010

There Is No Global Warming Consensus
Senator James Inhofe, U.S. News and World Report, 23 March 2010

WWF Hopes To Find $60 Billion Growing on Trees
Christopher Booker, Telegraph, 20 March 2010

News You Can Use

California Poll: Global Warming Least Important Issue

A Field Poll was released this week that asked California voters to rate the importance of twelve issues. The economy was first. Global warming was last.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

What’s Next?

With healthcare reform triumphantly enacted, several environmental pressure groups have started the “We Got Next” campaign.  That is, the next item on the agenda to turn America into a Peronist regime should be energy-rationing legislation.  Unfortunately for them, I think many Members of Congress are still having nightmares about the public’s reaction against House passage of the Waxman-Markey bill last 26th June by a 219 to 212 vote.  I mention the vote totals because the Senate healthcare bill passed the House on Sunday by the same 219 to 212 margin.  It should be recalled that the Senate planned to take up Waxman-Markey in July, but instead turned to healthcare legislation after seeing how unpopular cap-and-trade was with voters. 

My guess is that the Senate just isn’t going to get around to global warming until after it considers several other major issues, including new financial regulations, the anemic economy, the continuing mortgage foreclosure crisis, immigration reform, and what to do about the heartbreak of psoriasis.  In other words, not this year.

On the other hand, the three Mouseketeers-Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.)-continue to talk a good game.  The latest news is that they hope to have their middle-of-the-road omnibus energy-rationing bill ready to go by Lenin’s birthday (also celebrated as Earth Day), 22nd April.  They may actually have a bill put together by then.  But the chance of getting it to the Senate floor before the November election is slim.  Graham has already acknowledged that any action likely won’t occur until next year.

Murkowski Resolution

The Senate spent most of the week on the House-passed reconciliation bill, which perfects the healthcare reform bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday.  Congress will be in recess for the next two weeks.  This means that Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has approximately six weeks in which to offer her resolution of disapproval of the EPA’s endangerment finding, S. J. Res. 16, after Congress returns on 12th April.  The Congressional Review Act specifies that such resolutions must be offered within sixty legislative days after the regulation is officially transmitted to Congress.          

Across the States

West Virginia

The Environmental Protection Agency today announced its intention to veto a Clean Water Act permit granted three years ago by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Arch Coal’s Spruce Mine 1 in West Virginia. It is the first time that the EPA has proposed to veto a permit that had already been issued. The EPA is acting in order to protect an insect species that is not listed as an endangered species. The proposal will be published in the Federal Register, initiating a 60-day public comment period, and the EPA pledged to hold a field hearing in West Virginia.


The California Air Resources Board released a study on Wednesday claiming that AB 32, the state’s global warming mitigation law, would increase economic growth and create 10,000 jobs by 2020. Evidently, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) wasn’t convinced. On Thursday, he sent a letter to CARB questioning whether its AB 32 implementation plan is “too abrupt” and thus “posing high short-term costs to capped companies.” This wouldn’t be the first time that CARB released a misleading report-a similarly rosy economic analysis on AB 32 was eviscerated in 2008 by a non-partisan panel of scholars, who concluded that the report was politically motivated.

Around the World


Last year President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a carbon tax to fight global warming. But polls indicate that two-thirds of French voters oppose this policy, and this week Sarkozy dropped it. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said that the government’s new priorities are now “growth, jobs, competitiveness and fighting deficits.”

The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary check out the Coalition’s website,