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Friday, July 11, 2014

Pollution advocate Rachel DeJong and her unsavoury smear campaign at WUWT

Sou | 12:47 PM Go to the first of 22 comments. Add a comment

At WUWT today there's another good example of a right wing extremist misrepresenting facts. Anthony Watts was sent an email by Ashley Thorne, Executive Director, National Association of Scholars. This association promotes the work of another right wing, anti-science lobby group (dressed up as a "charity"), called the ITSSD or the "Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development". I've written about both these dubious entities before.

I guess the email was about an article by Rachel DeJong because that's what Anthony copied and pasted (archived here). The article was just more of the same faked up insinuations and allegations about the EPA. Rachel DeJong apparently favours dirty air and polluted water. She doesn't want pollution to be regulated.

I won't go through her entire spin. I'll pick out one point to illustrate her unsavoury smear tactics. It's typical of pro-pollution advocates everywhere.


At one point Rachel DeJong wrote:
But there is increasing concern that GHGs are not quite so harmful to the planet as the EPA might have us think, and that the agency may have rigged its data and hidden the evidence. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has acknowledged in a speech before the National Academy of Sciences that her job requires shielding the data “from those not qualified to analyze it.” Partly in response, Congress is considering a bill, the Secret Science Reform Act, that would further elucidate transparency standards that the EPA must meet, and would forbid the agency from practicing any “secret science” that hides important details from the public.

Needless to say, all it takes is for someone to claim that greenhouse gases are "not as harmful to the planet as the EPA might have us think" and deniers go bananas. Especially people who deny that greenhouse gases cause global warming.

Toss in an unsubstantiated faked up allegation that the EPA "may have rigged its data and hidden the evidence" and you've got an uproar from the illiterati.

What about the claim that Gina McCarthy " has acknowledged in a speech before the National Academy of Sciences that her job requires shielding the data “from those not qualified to analyze it.” ? Rachel DeJong didn't link to the speech itself, for reasons that will become obvious. Instead she linked to someone else who quoted those six words out of context. That someone else was Senator Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, who is Chair of some US Government Committee and another advocate for pollution. He wrote:
Speaking before the National Academy of Sciences two months ago, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said that her Agency needed to protect the science “from those not qualified to analyze it.” 

That's a good trick for people when they want to misrepresent someone's words. Link to someone else who also misrepresents someone's words. Support your fake claim by linking to someone else, preferably someone with whose ideology you yourself espouse. Someone else who takes a direct quote and puts it into a sentence with a completely different meaning from the original. Someone else who, like you, intends to mislead. Fake sceptics rarely check any links but if there was a stray reader who decided to check for themselves they might just check one link and not go further. 


Rachel DeJong's lack of ethics


Why didn't Rachel DeJong or Anthony Watts or Senator Lamar Smith quote Gina McCarthy's words in context? Take a guess. It turns out that Rachel DeJong and Senator Lamar Smith object to research ethics. In health studies, ethical standards require that individual data relating to people who take part in such studies is kept confidential. Only anonymised data is published.  This is what Gina McCarthy said (my bold italics):
Those critics conjure up claims of "EPA secret science" -- but it's not really about EPA science or secrets. It's about challenging the credibility of world renowned scientists and institutions like Harvard University and the American Cancer Society. It's about claiming that research is secret if researchers protect confidential personal health data from those who are not qualified to analyze it -- and won't agree to protect it. If EPA is being accused of "secret science" because we rely on real scientists to conduct research, and independent scientists to peer review it, and scientists who've spent a lifetime studying the science to reproduce it -- then so be it! 

Yep. Science deniers are doing an about face. When deniers protest in public, on as many websites as they can find to print them, wanting all the world to read their weird conspiracy mutterings - when they get quoted by anyone else in a research study no less, they go bezerk and start wailing and moaning about "ethics". But when it comes to ethics around anonymised personal health data, suddenly they want de-anonymised confidential personal information pertaining to individuals to be out in the public domain.


Empty allegations at the work of experts


Gina McCarthy's speech is worth a read. She speaks plainly and could be speaking about the sort of unethical behaviour that people like Ashley Thorne, Rachel DeJong, Lamar Smith and Anthony Watts appear to be engaged in.  And she points out their lies and fallacious arguments. Here is more:
Those critics are playing a dangerous game by discrediting the sound science our families and our businesses depend on every day. I bet when those same critics get sick, they run to doctors and hospitals that rely on science from -- guess who -- Harvard and the American Cancer Society.
I bet they check air quality forecasts from EPA and the National Weather Service -- to see if the air is healthy enough for their asthmatic child to play outside. I bet they buy dishwashers with ENERGY STAR labels, and take FDA approved medicine, and eat USDA approved meats. I don't blame them! People and businesses around the world look to EPA and other federal agencies because our science is reliable, and our scientists are credible. 
But still -- for some reason -- those critics keep launching empty allegations at the work of experts without regard for the damage left behind. Let me share one example.
A while back, the National Academy of Sciences recommended that EPA conduct limited studies with real people as participants -- to better understand biological responses to different levels of air pollutants. These studies were limited in duration -- and only involved levels of pollution found in urban areas across the country. They helped connect the dots in risk and exposure studies that inform ambient air quality standards. 
As you know, studies with real people are not new. They happen in universities and industries nationwide. That's why there are protocols to follow to ensure the safety of participants -- and EPA goes above and beyond them -- with independent scientists evaluating the studies before, during and after. 
Safeguarding health is our top priority at EPA. In spite of all the safeguards to ensure that no one was put in harm's way -- the scientists conducting these studies have been publicly vilified. Their livelihoods have been threatened, their property has been damaged, and they faced the risk that their facility would be shut down. How does that make sense? ...When they were just doing their jobs as scientists -- in the safest, most professional, most transparent way possible. They were finding facts and laying them out for all to see. These scientists have devoted their lives to making our lives better. 
My guess is that those critics that distrust the most trustworthy institutions -- and vilify the work of reputable scientists and EPA -- are not trying to provide scientific clarity. My guess is that they're looking to cloud the science with uncertainty -- to keep EPA from doing the very job that Congress gave us to do. 
As scientists and public health professionals -- we have an obligation to speak up when sound science is unfairly criticized -- just as we have an obligation to question science that is truly secret. 
To those calling EPA untrustworthy and unpopular -- newsflash! People like us. They want safe drinking water. They want healthy air. And they expect us to follow the science -- just as the law demands. And to those failing to see the need to fund scientific research -- tell that to Google, built by a couple of students empowered by a National Science Foundation grant. Don't believe me? -- just Google it! 
People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. You can't just claim the science isn't real when it doesn't align well with your political or financial interests. Science is real and verifiable. With the health of our families and our futures at stake, the American people expect us to act on the facts, not spend precious time and taxpayer money refuting manufactured uncertainties.
And what about the worn-out argument that science-driven policies come with unbearable economic costs? Well that just doesn't jive with the facts. The truth is: science has supported regulations, policies and programs that have been good for public health, our planet, and our pocketbooks; for consumers and companies. 
You can read Gina McCarthy's speech in full here.

So do Ashley Thorne, Rachel DeJong, Lamar Smith and Anthony Watts want polluted unclean water, filthy dangerous smog for the USA? Are they advocating that all their personal medical records should be put out in the public domain? That's the logical extension of their arguments.

Look, it's one thing to reject scientific facts. It's one thing to not accept that gravity exists or that the earth revolves around the sun. To publicly question basic science just makes you look like a fool. To deliberately make up stuff about agencies that have helped make sure your drinking water is potable, that you have clean air to breathe, with the aim of undermining their work - just because you think our current life span is too long or for whatever other weird reason you have, is wrong in my book.


From the WUWT comments


JohnWho says:
July 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm
Ah, the Institute for Trade, Standards, and Sustainable Development (ITSSD) has the potential for being a “tipping point”.

Alan Robertson lives in la-la land and says:
July 10, 2014 at 3:50 pm
We can root for the ITSSD efforts against the rogue EPA, as futile as they are likely to be against the usurped power of the Obama administration, but we won’t know just how close to the edge of the abyss our nation really stands until after January 3rd, 2015, when the new US Congress is sworn in and has the first real opportunity to put a stop to the madness.

Reg Nelson doesn't understand the water cycle or the carbon cycle and says:
July 10, 2014 at 4:32 pm
Am I missing something?
If this applies to all GHG’s, not just CO2, it means that water vapor is also a pollutant, and therefore must be regulated. Certain cities, states and countries will now be subject to a Cloud Tax and be forced to buy Blue Sky credits from sunnier regions. I’m looking at you Seattle. Pony up. 

Bob is another pro-pollution advocate and says:
July 10, 2014 at 4:56 pm
Anthony, you may or may not realize that this will turn out to be your most important post. Please keep on it.

bw thinks scientists need a science lesson and probably thinks his logic is impeccable when he says:
July 10, 2014 at 6:46 pm
CO2 is not pollution. CO2 is the basic component of all life on earth via photosynthesis.
For example, a tree is mostly wood, ie cellulose. Cellulose is made from many glucose units plugged together like a chain. You could also say a tree is made of polyglucose or plastic sugar.
Glucose is made from CO2 and water in a plant cell exposed to sunlight.
6CO2 + 6H2O produces one glucose (C6H12O6) with 6 oxygen molecules are disposed.
By mass, 264 grams of CO2 plus 108 grams of water produce 180 grams of glucose and 192 grams of oxygen.
A tree is mostly carbon dioxide, from the air. The roots are needed mostly for the water. Wood is more than pure cellulose, so some minerals from the ground are needed for other chemical components. When wood is burned, the reverse occurs. The solid ashes are oxides of the minerals.
Anyone who says CO2 is pollution and should be removed from the atmosphere is also saying that all life on earth should stop.
I have this image of balloon trees that are "mostly carbon dioxide, from the air" floating way up into the sky.


22 comments:

  1. Its stuff like this, going way beyond scientific ignorance and into realms of stupidity and vileness that a nine year old could see through, that convinces me that it is only the billion dollars a year of fossil fuel industry cash that keeps climate change denial going.

    And who would ever take somebody seriously when they have chosen a name that can be confused with the real NAS? When he carries stuff like this Watts betrays his real position.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bravo, Sou! This is one of your best articles to date. And that is one heckuva powerful and incisive speech by Gina McCarthy. I got goose bumps reading that. She is beyond a doubt one of the best people they could have put in that position.

    Quote mining out of context is about the only thing the AGW deniers have left, just like the creationists. And when you catch them out on it, they aren't in the slight bit embarrassed or shamed. It seems they'll go to any lengths to shelter themselves from reality.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A slight correction, Lamar Smith is a Representative and not a Senator. However both Senators from Texas are at least as evil!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mistake. Thanks for picking it up, Rattus.

      Delete
  4. Fortunately, Peter Wood no longer seems to get to blog on climate at Chronicle of Higher Education, unless something has changed lately.

    See Bottling Nonsense. about a few of wood's posts there Complaints were raised with CHE, and while this may be coincidence, a bit alter, they rearranged their blogs..

    ReplyDelete
  5. However, I see they have kept beating the drums, for example, here are recent "sustainability" articles.

    A few years ago, I incldued a financial analysis., and just recently acquired the 2012 Form 990.
    Membership dues were slowly declining, and in 2009 were $80K.
    Then:
    2010 $76K
    2011 $90K (I think they did a promotion)
    2012 $61K
    SO, From a membership view, thsi seems a shrinking organization.

    As noted in my report, the long term biggest funder of NAS was the Sarah Scaife Foiundation, i.e., Richard Mellon Scaife, who just died recently. That may not change things, or it may.

    ReplyDelete
  6. From the NAS website:
    'Rachelle DeJong joined NAS in 2013 as a research associate analyzing the campus sustainability movement. She graduated from The King’s College in May 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics.'

    See p.29 of Bottling Nonsense.
    1) Wood was Provost of King's 2005-2007, and that is not King's College, London, but in NYC. In 2008 it had 258 students. Now, it has 856 students and 26 full-time staff. The older handbook said students "will not lie, cheat, steal, or turn a blind eye to those who do."

    Ashley Thorne also got her degree from The KIng's College.


    :

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops, and from Staff list, MICHAEL T. TOSCANO attended The KIng's College, as well.

      So, NAS had Wood, plus 3 young folks who all attended a small school not overly strong in science, but "We prepare principled leaders..
      Here's the P P & E curriculum they all took.

      Delete
    2. Good work, John.

      It didn't take young Rachel long to give up on the pledge "will not lie, cheat, steal, or turn a blind eye to those who do" if she ever bothered with it. Does a leopard change it's spots?

      Interesting home page for The King's College, given the behaviour of some of its alumni.

      https://www.tkc.edu/

      Reminds me of another aphorism "The lady doth protest too much, methinks"

      Delete
  7. The King's College track record of "truth, knowledge and integrity" is mixed at best.

    Recent Past President - Dinesh D'Souza

    Chair of the Board, Wm Lee Hanley Jr, was involved in Eagle and Regnery Publishing, which publishes denier tripe (among other things) from people like Chris Horner and others associated with denier lobby groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

    Richard and Helen Devos are also on the Board. I haven't checked out the other board members.

    Murky relationships with the "World Journalism Institute" are described here at DailyKos - if you're into that sort of thing.

    Here is one insider's view of The King's College.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, too bad I didn't catch that Insider's View, but when I wrote the earlier report, there was just one NAS staffer who'd graduated from there, now there are three.

      However, this follows a patter I'd seen in 2010, see Bethany Stotts (p.158) in Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony.

      “Bethany Stotts, Staff Writer, joined the American Journalism Center as an intern in June 2007 shortly after graduating from Messiah College."

      She wrote for another thinktank, Accuracxy in Academia, which was actually run by Accuracy in Media, whose biggest funder was Richard Mellon Scaife. (see p.94 of CCC, wher Carthage+Sarah Scaife gave most of the money.

      Anyway, Ms Stotts wrote articles bashing Mann, other scientists in Climategate.
      Monica Goodling was likely Messiah College's most famous graduate. From WIkipedia:
      "According to David Ayres, senior chief of staff to Attorney General John Ashcroft, "She was the embodiment of a hardworking young conservative who believed strongly in the president and his mission".[7] According to Bud Cummins, one of the fired prosecutors and an Arkansas Republican, "She was inexperienced, way too naïve and a little overzealous".[5]"

      There seems a pattern, which does not necessarily reflect on these schools overall, but it certainly seems that some of their graduates make fine candidates for certain roles.

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anonymous,

      So many questions! The only thing that I can provide an insight on is the "Stellar credentials".

      In the genre of cryptic crosswords, 'stellar credentials' = 'astrophysicist'.

      Happy cross words,

      George

      Delete
  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear anonymous,

      Why don't you try to follow the first link at the top of this post and read what Sou has to say about the ITSSD "findings"?

      Do links frighten you?

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I didn't write that Sou was an astrophysicist but ... In terms of being able to express a considered opinion on the "science", Sou is light-years (Note: unintentional, loose connection with astrophysics) ahead of Anthony W., non-graduate from Penn State (the university not the penitentiary).

      As for your vituperative comments towards Sou, I suggest that you be less judgemental and leave out the buzz-words. I mean really, "post-modern"? You know my advice makes sense.

      Warmest Regards,

      George

      PS I quite like The Who's classic "Who are you?"

      PPS If we all followed Jeremy Clarkson's advice: "Leave climate science to the climate scientists", there wouldn't be too many people having a conversation. Although ... of that relatively select few that were conversing, 97 per cent would be in agreement.

      Delete
  11. If Anonymous or anyone else wants to read the deleted comments by Anonymous, they have been shifted to the HotWhoppery.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous

    And your point is ...?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous, I comment as a rare poster but regular reader.

    It does not help your "argument" when you patronise people by using terms such as "Deary". In fact all that does is alert readers as to your general disposition. It’s just not how polite people conduct themselves when seeking to make progress through dialogue. It is thus a dead giveaway.

    You end by saying "I rest my case", but I have not got a clue what your case is - or its connection to climate change. I see what I think you are alluding to, but allusion is just allusion. A joined up argument would at least help readers to assess your claims, whatever they may be.

    And is it really a (patronising) “lesson” in civics or comparative law? Are you are not just providing contrasting cross-cultural perspectives on Positive Freedom/Liberty v Negative Freedom/Liberty by using a quirky example interlaced with ideological allusions?

    But why write this guff at such length without explaining why ....??

    ReplyDelete
  14. Went to the HotWhoppery to read Anonymous comments - seriously, WTF? I can't make heads or tails of all the huffing and puffing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Couldn't resist to go and see the last comments. Anonymous surely displays nice copy and paste skills!

      http://www.academia.edu/5096954/EXPORTING_PRECAUTION

      Delete

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