Tag Archives: contrarians

The climate change denial machine

Here’s an interesting diagram I found at Climate Progress (see Organized Climate Change Denial “Played a Crucial Role in Blocking Domestic Legislation,” Top Scholars Conclude). It’s taken from the book  chapter,Organized Climate Change Denial,” by Riley E. Dunlap and Aaron M. McCright in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society.

This describes the situation in the USA where Joe Romm points out:

“the fact is that what the deniers have accomplished in this country is unique in the world, going far beyond the spread of disinformation.  They have allowed fossil fuel interests to “capture” almost an entire political party — at least these in national office (see National Journal:  “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones”).”

The New Zealand denial machine

OK. things are nowhere as bad in New Zealand. But I still think a similar diagram applies here – providing we include international connections.

We have some local corporations and financial interests supporting climate change denial, but they themselves have international inks. And many of the fossil fuel interests in the US have connections down under.

At the next level we even have our own conservative think tank – The NZ Centre for Political Research. This has important links with local big business, overseas business and conservative think tanks, local politicians and news media. Links with the NZ ACT Party are clear – and one can’t help thinking that this was the organisation pulling the strings behind the recent leadership coup in that party. Especially as the plotters were not even members of the party!

Links with astroturf climate denier and contrarian organisations like the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition and the NZ Climate Conversation Group are also clear. The Centre for Political research also has a forum which displays plenty of evidence of links with some way-out conspiracy theory organisations and individuals.

These links with media, politicians, astroturf organisations., blogs and internet forums form the local denier echo chamber. Individuals involved in the echo chamber also spread their influence more widely, for example, to conservative Christian and political blogs, by their cut and past activity.  Follow one of these blogs and you get the impression of a few very active individuals passing on links to denier sources, and disparaging comments about science and scientists. They rely very much on the “authority by hyperlink” process.

The authors of the chapter from which this diagram is taken say in their conclusion:

“We have argued that because of the perceived threat posed by climate change to their interests, actors in the denial machine have strived to undermine scientific evidence documenting its reality and seriousness.  Over the past two decades they have engaged in an escalating assault on climate science and scientists, and in recent years on core scientific practices, institutions and knowledge.  Their success in these efforts not only threatens our capacity to understand and monitor human-induced ecological disruptions from the local to global levels (Hanson 2010), but it also weakens an essential component of societal reflexivity when the need for the latter is greater than ever.”

Again, this denial machine has far less influence in New Zealand than in the USA. But I think, if we remember the activity of the local components (as for example their attacks on our NIWA scientists), this conclusion does describe the local denial machine as well.

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440 FOI requests in one day! From one person!

The Australian Age has highlighted the practice by climate change deniers/contrarians/skeptics of using freedom of information requests to harrass scientists ansd insitutions invovled in climate change research (see Think tank warned over climate information requests).

“RIGHT-WING think tank the Institute of Public Affairs has received a warning from the Department of Climate Change after it submitted more than 750 freedom-of-information requests in four months.

The institute, which strongly opposes carbon pricing, has made more than 95 per cent of FOI requests lodged with the department since April.

The department last week wrote to the institute’s director of climate change policy, Tim Wilson, and asked that he stop submitting requests so it could deal with the backlog.”

The shear numbers of  these FOI requests show that they are uses as harassment and are politcally motivated.

“It is believed Mr Wilson submitted about 440 information requests on one day in late July and more than 140 on one day last week.

A government source said it took about 39 hours of staff time to process each application.

”He is conducting a political campaign against the government’s policy on climate change and this is coming at significant cost to taxpayers,” the source said.”

The local, New Zealand, equivalent of The Institute of Public Affairs is The NZ Centre for Political Research. They are closely aligned with the NZ ACT Party and local climate change denier/contrarian groups like The Climate Conversation Group and the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. These last groups have been doing a little FOI harrassment of their own. Of course, they also hope this sort of activity will create an illusion that the scientists or their insitutions are guilty of something. A sort of “When are you going to stop beatin g your wife?” type tactic.

With thanks to Graham Readfearn (@readfearn)

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Climate change deniers live in glass buildings

There seems to be a big mobilisation of climate change deniers at the moment. Someone on Twitter described selective use of stolen emails, “Climategate”, as pre-Copenhagen smears. They added a quote from Churchill which I think is very apt: “A lie is halfway round the world before the truth can get its pants on.”

Most of the local media seems to be taking a relatively balanced approach to the Climategate email issue (see for example A climate scandal, or is it just hot air?). However, we now have  a “controversy” manufactured by the local Climate Science Coalition an Climate Conversation Group. A group of climate change deniers, none of them climate scientists themselves, who attempt to cast doubt on the science produced by real climate scientists. This started with a press release (Are we feeling warmer yet?). picked up and promoted by Ian Wishart (a local conspiracy theorist and climate change denier) and some local conservative and religious apologist blogs (see for example I confess I now believe in manmade Global Warming, Climate scientists caught lying and New Zealand not warming?).

Basically, it was a manipulation of raw data from NZ weather stations to support their preconceived claim of no temperature change over time. Accompanied by a claim that NIWA has dishonestly adjusted the same data to produce a temperature change.

The issues, and the scientific facts, are well covered by Garth at Hot Topic (NZ sceptics lie about temp records, try to smear top scientist) and items at the NIWA web site. I recommend reading these.

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