Thursday, May 12, 2016

Is 'criminally negligent'? Why not consider it?

Is misinformation about climate science criminally negligent?  I'm reminded of Professor Lawrence Torcello's question by the dialogue I'm having with some characters at an interesting YouTube video of Professor Stephen Schneider directly communicating with climate science contrarian types.  

In any event, this comments thread keeps getting dragged back to as though it were some gold standard, rather than the personal gold mine of the Idso clan, selling a deceptive and harmful fiction to a gullible public.  

All the while these commenters ignore the many huge differences between the internal variability driven "Medieval Warm Period" and today's atmosphere with it's vastly enriched (thanks to us) insulation medium which is holding more heat within our planet's global climate system, yes that would include the oceans.  They also insist that there's been no warming in the past 18 years, go figure.  

While researching my response to a comment I came upon "More for the annals of climate misinformation" where Alicia Newton does a good job of describing the dishonest manipulation of data that website is guilty of.  It makes me wonder why this sort of deliberate deception with far reaching political and societal consequences is so casually accepted.  

I've taken the liberty of reposting the text as a public service and hopefully an invitation to consider saying enough of the crafty lies, time to come to terms with the real world.  

I follow Newton's article with long tracts of another educational write up by Höskuldur Búi Jónsson who continues this exploration into the ways in which artfully reweaves and repackages serious scientific information in a way that totally distorts the actual truth within that information.  This I follow with various bits of biographical information regarding

19 Aug 2008 | written by Alicia Newton

I’m all for a website that distills climate science papers into something easily understood by the general public, especially if it avoids the hype and hysteria all too often employed by headline news.

Such is the claim of CO2 Science, a weekly newsletter published by the not for profit Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, with issues that include editorials, book and media reviews, and mini-reviews of the recent peer-reviewed literature.

But rather than its promise of “separating reality from rhetoric in the emotionally-charged debate that swirls around the subject of carbon dioxide and global change”, on the contrary CO2 Science twists the most recent science, ever so subtly, to suggest that there is no link between carbon dioxide levels and climate change.

For a case in point, check out the feature entitled “Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week”. This showcases records of temperature or environmental changes during the Medieval Warm Period (aka the Medieval Climate Anomaly). The conclusion is that if the MWP was warmer than present – still debated – obviously CO2 isn’t driving current warming. There is even a list of 576 scientists who have found evidence for the MWP – the thinly veiled conclusion being that they agree that an increase in CO2 isn’t behind the recent climate change.
FYI scientists – if you’ve ever compiled a climate record for the past 2,000 years, your name is probably there. These folks are thorough.

However, the most insidious feature of the website are the mini-reviews, where the editors (presumably the board) kindly reinterpret your results for you (beware of this in the MWP tracker as well). 

Here is their recent description of a 2007 Science paper by Stott et al:

Stott et al. conclude that the cause of the deglacial deep-water warming ‘does not lie within the tropics, nor can its early onset between 19 and 17 thousand years before the present be attributed to CO2 forcing.’ And since the rate of deep-water warming after the start of the increase in the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration did not increase (if anything, it declined), there is no compelling reason to believe that the deglacial increase in the air’s CO2 content had anything at all to do with any of the warming that led to the ultimate development of the current interglacial.

Hmmm…I don’t seem to recall Stott et al. reaching any such conclusion (beyond that directly quoted) in their paper. And technically the above paragraph doesn’t say that they do. But the casual reader would definitely come away with that conclusion. I’m usually willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, but there is no way that I can possibly conclude that the writer wasn’t trying to imply that a well respected scientist said that atmospheric CO2 has nothing to do with interglacial warmth. (bold added)

Although the mini-reviews do tend to highlight papers that show that plants like CO2, and can thrive under elevated CO2 conditions, I can’t imagine that an interpretive review of a palaeoclimate like the one above is an isolated incident. This goes way beyond any healthy skepticism and into the realm of active disinformation. 

What’s especially frustrating is the way they veil their agenda in peer-reviewed science, liberally using the names of well respected scientists who probably have no idea this site even exists.  (bold added)

The site – which, according to the information page is run by three PhD-level scientists and an additional eight board members –preys upon the casual reader, and exploits the scientific illiteracy of the general public all under the guise of a registered charity that accepts completely confidential donations.

Alicia Newton is an Associate Editor of Nature Geoscience


Medieval project gone wrong
Höskuldur Búi Jónsson | April 30, 2011

With regularity, you might hear skeptics mentioning a website called CO2 Science and its Medieval Project.  It is a front for a research center called Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and their goal is to distribute:

…factual reports and sound commentary on new developments in the world-wide scientific quest to determine the climatic and biological consequences of the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content.

The website is run by the Idso family (Craig, Sherwood, Keith and Julene).

Medieval Project

One of the Idsos' main projects collects temperature reconstructions of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) that claim to show local warming and then posts them on their website with the Idsos’ interpretation. They conclude that current warming is not unprecedented since there were warm periods in the past in various geographic locations around the globe.

The site is flooded with lots of references, but do the references say the same thing as the Idsos? CO2 Science has a powerful interactive map and by clicking on the dots on the map you get to a page where a summary of that study is displayed - or rather the CO2 Science interpretation of the study. ...

Interaction for healthy skeptics?

For people with healthy skepticism these interactive maps are quite good. It is crucial that those maps are viewed with a critical mind. On Skeptical Science (as opposed to Science Skeptical Blog) we have looked before at common graphical tricks used to exaggerate the Medieval Warm Period, which include the following:

  • Hide the temperature scale and/or the temperature values
  • Pick one area or location of the world
  • Cut out or ignore recent warming

The total effect of those maps is what is most effective for the casual reader. All of the selected articles on the map show at some point a period that can be interpreted as "Medieval Warming".  The quotation mark is because in some cases the research is only about the period itself - but not the temperature. For example we can find graphs showing changes in precipitation, like, Zhang et al 2003 - astudy from Tibet, which states in its abstract (emphasis mine):

... We find that the annual growth rings mainly reflect variations in regional spring precipitation. The greatest change in spring precipitation during the last two millennia seems to occur in the second half of the 4th century. The North Atlantic MWP was accompanied by notable wet springs in the study region during AD 929–1031, with the peak occurring around AD 974. ...

Few of the graphs in Figure 2 contain temperature data past the mid-20th Century, and thus do not reflect current temperatures; in addition the MWP is rather ill-defined. Usually the MWP is the period between 950-1250, but when you look at the graphs you see some inconsistency. In it you see a warm period during 800 AD, 1100 AD or even 1400 AD; that warming is - by their opinion - indication of a global warming during the MWP. ...

Another flaw is evident when looking at those graphs: the insistence on using old data. Many of the articles used has data that is old and outdated. It is difficult to imagine that there are no better and newer data on paleoclimate in New Zealand then a study of oxygen isotopes from the year 1979. There is also a tendancy to ignore corrected version of data. In the case of this map, they use for example Loehle 2007 instead of Loehle 2008 (See Kung-fu Climate).

CO2 Non-Science

On CO2 Science the problem is not just the way they pick the graphs, but how they change them and interpret them. As an example, there is research from the Alps (Mangini et al 2005) which CO2 Science interpret in a strange way and conclude that the MWP was warmer than today. The CO2 Science summary of the study says:

… at three different points during the MWP their data indicate temperature spikes in excess of 1°C above present (1995-1998) temperatures of 1.8°C.

In contrast, it states in the abstract of the paper:

…maxima during the Medieval Warm Period between 800 and 1300 AD are in average about 1.7 °C higher than the minima in the Little Ice Age and similar to present-day values.

Another misinterpretation of data can be seen by looking at the sea temperature data from the Indian Ocean (Oppo et al 2009). ...


Both CO2 Science and its sister site Science Skeptical Blog use various methods or tricks to make the case for a global warm period during the medieval times. As can be seen with a critical look at the original papers and graphs, their conclusions don't hold water. In those pages we have a large collection of articles about paleoclimate, and we can't trust their conclusion or the graphs that we see because of many misrepresentations.

The story is half-told by pointing at a large set of data. Some scientists have actually used some of this data to make comparisons between current warming and the past (Mann et al 2008):

Figure 7: The new hockey stick (Mann et al. 2008). Temperature proxies for the last 1800 years. The red line shows direct measurements and various indirect measurements (ISPs) are in different colors.

Further reading
Other reviews of "CO2Science" and its false interpretations can be found at Climate Shift, on Kevin Oxford and Climate Feedback



ALEC frequently schedules prominent climate change deniers to speak at its conferences, which it has described as providing the “motivation” for legislators to promote the ALEC agenda.



Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change

The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change is one of Mother Jones magazine's 2009 global warming skeptic "Dirty Dozen of Climate Change Denial"[1]. Founded in 1998 by members of the Idso family, its income has increased in recent years.  It employs Science and Public Policy Institute head Robert Ferguson.[2].

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

In August 2011, Center founder and Chairman Craig Idso spoke on "Benefit Analysis of CO2"[3] (previously known as "Warming Up to Climate Change: The Many Benefits of Increased Atmospheric CO2"[4]) at the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force meeting at the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Annual Meeting.[5] He was accompanied by Robert Ferguson of the Science and Public Policy Institute and MEP Roger Helmer, a Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands of Great Britain who represents the Conservative Party and has used his position on the European Parliament to fight increased regulation of member states through the European Union.[5]

Remarkable recent increases
The Center's yearly grants and contributions have increased since 2005:[11]
2009: $1,548,145
2008: $1,065,971
2007: $ 674,725
2006: $ 300,554
2005: $ 25,563
2004: $ 30,422
2003: $ 25,449

Policy: funding, funders kept confidential

On the Center's website, Sherwood B. Idso writes that "our typical response is that we never discuss our funding. Why? Because we believe that ideas about the way the world of nature operates should stand or fall on their own merits, irrespective of the source of support for the person or organization that produces them ... It is self-evident, for example, that one need not know from whence a person's or organization's funding comes in order to evaluate the reasonableness of what they say, if - and this is a very important qualification - one carefully studies the writings of people on both sides of the issue."[12]

The Center states on its website that it "accepts corporate, foundation and individual donations" and that "all donations are kept confidential".[13]

{This is all about hard-knuckle-power-politics, not a shred of concern about actually learning about how our planet operates or what is happening upon this planet we depend on for everything.  Nor is there the slightest concern for what we leave for our future generations.}

Craig D. Idso
  • Ph.D., Geography, Arizona State University.
  • B.S., Geography, Arizona State University.
  • M.S., Agronomy, University of Nebraska - Lincoln. 

Craig Idso is the chairman and former president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change ( The center's claimed mission is to “separate reality from rhetoric in the emotionally-charged debate that swirls around the subject of carbon dioxide and global change.”

The Center's publication is CO2 Science, a weekly magazine that features articles questioning the science behind man-made climate change. Craig's father Sherwood B. Idso is currently the president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide on Global Change, while his brother, Keith Idso, is the Center's Vice President.    
Craig Idso served as Director of Environmental Science at Peabody Energy from 2001-2002 in St. Louis, MO. According to ExxonSecrets, Craig and Keith Idso produced a report for the Western Fuels Association titled “The Greening of Planet Earth Its Progression from Hypothesis to Theory” in January, 1998. [2]

According to internal documents from the Heartland Institute, Craig Idso appears to receive $11,600 a month from the Heartland Institute through his Center for the Study of CO2 & Global Change.

Stephen Schneider talks to 52 Climate Change Skeptics [PART 3]

Uploaded on Dec 10, 2010
Professor Stephen Schneider fields concerns and misinformation from joe public.
The late Stephen Schneider was the Professor of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University. An internationally recognised leader in research on climate change, he served as a consultant on the issue to every U.S. President from Nixon to Obama.

He was actively involved with the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change since its inception, and was among the group of scientists to receive the Nobel Prize for their work with the organisation. His commitment to improving public understanding of science through extensive public appearances continued right up until his death in July this year

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