Friday, May 8, 2015

Pope Francis and Jeffrey D. Sachs get the Heartland Institute into a sulk about climate, at WUWT

Sou | 2:46 PM Go to the first of 23 comments. Add a comment
Jeffrey D. Sachs has written an opinion piece: "Climate Change and the Catholic Church", directed at people in the USA. In a well-written article, he targets the political and other vested interests that are working against any and all action to mitigate climate change.  He frames climate change as both a moral and a scientific issue, which it is. His article starts with:
Pope Francis is calling on the world to take action against global warming, and many conservatives in the United States are up in arms. The pope should stick to morality, they say, and not venture into science. But, as the climate debate unfolds this year, most of humanity will find Francis’s message compelling: we need both science and morality to reduce the risk to our planet.

He goes on to cite research that I've mentioned here briefly, writing:
In a survey of Americans conducted in January 2015, an overwhelming majority of respondents (78%) said that, “if nothing is done to reduce global warming,” the future consequences for the US would be “somewhat serious” or “very serious.” Roughly the same proportion (74%) said that if nothing is done to reduce global warming, future generations would be hurt “a moderate amount,” “a lot,” or “a great deal.” Perhaps most tellingly, 66% said that they would be “more likely” to support a candidate who says that climate change is happening and who calls for a shift to renewable energy, while 12% would be “less likely” to support such a candidate.

The Heartland Institute is in a sulk

At one stage Dr Sachs mentions the Heartland Institute and its funded opposition to addressing the problem of global warming.

The Heartland Institute is one of several organisations forming a closely aligned network of anti-science lobby groups in the USA. It specialises in disinformation propaganda, but really isn't very good at it. Although it reflects the views of some powerful interests, who've managed to snag puppets in Washington to do their bidding, it does seem intent on becoming a laughing stock.

Today it's managed to persuade Anthony Watts to post a sulk at the world in general and Jeffrey Sach's article in particular. I'd call it a hissy fit, but it's not even that. It's as if Joe Bast, Christopher Monckton and Anthony Watts had a phone hookup. Ranted and railed at being laughed at, and decided to fight back - by writing an article for WUWT! Anthony needed no bribe or arm-twisting. He is a fan of the Heartland Institute, has used them to get money for one of his various projects, and has been a speaker at its conferences (yes, the Institute is that desperate these days). (Anthony has forgiven Heartland for it's pro-smoking campaigns. He doesn't ever mention them when he goes off on an anti-smoking rant, let alone condemn them. He's in denial about that too.  Another case of the triumph of ideology over principle.)

Heartland is in a snoot because the Vatican not only accepts mainstream science, but sees it as a moral imperative that we address the rapid climate change we are causing. It's probably especially peeved that the Vatican has a body of some of the world's most respected scientists to advise it, whereas all the Heartland Institute has is a diminishing and motley lot of ageing creationists, pastors, disinformation propagandists, potty peers and anti-science bloggers. I'm imagining Christopher Monckton hunkered down with Joe Bast wondering what the heck to do about the Pope. A professional disinformer with a somewhat insane denier entertainer up against the head of the Catholic Church. Are they deluded or desperate? They decided on an action that was only slightly less ridiculous than their terrorist posters. They sent a bunch of doddering denialati to Rome.

Talking to an empty room

I've no idea what they expected to achieve in Rome. From what I saw, no-one attended their "presentations" except for nine people, all of whom were journalists. It was an empty room. Few reported the nonsense they said, but if you want to get the gist of it, there's a report at DeSmogUK. How a straight face was kept I've no idea - or if it was kept.

The "audience" of the Heartland Institute deniers - no-one but nine reporters! Credit: Photo by Brendan Montague. Source: DeSmogUK

Solution: An anti-science blog "of record" to post a "press blog release"

Anthony Watts dutifully complied with a directive from the Heartland Institute and copied and pasted a Heartland Institute "blog release". He headed up his copy and paste with this, which encapsulates the depths of despair the Heartland deniers must be feeling - to have had to beg a conspiracy blogger to post their article, since no-one else would bother:
NOTE: Since WUWT has the broadest reach of any climate blog and is essentially a “publication of record”, I have been asked to carry this opinion piece by the Heartland Institute. I have not received any compensation directly or indirectly for publishing this rebuttal. – Anthony Watts

What can I say? A denier blog that specialises in wacky conspiracy theories of the climate and non-climate kind. And I do mean wacky conspiracy theories. Give a WUWT-er two explanations for anything and they'll opt for the "black helicopter" theory every time, whether that is an option they've been offered or not. Did you like Anthony's "publication of record"? I wonder who fed him that line.

Buzz words from the Denier 101 manual

Here are some bits from Anthony's copy and paste. Note the buzzwords from the denier manual - "population control", "alarmists", "real scientists", "opinion":
Observing that only alarmists and advocates of population control – most notably, Jeffrey Sachs – were on the program, I decided Heartland should send some real scientists and other experts to Rome to provide a different opinion. 

Though they decided to send real scientists they had a problem. The problem was that the Heartland Institute couldn't find any "real scientists or other experts" who would promote their nonsense, so instead they sent a rag-tag mob of deniers. Namely:

  • E. Calvin Beisner, who has pledged to disregard science and theology and follow an anti-environmental cult, the Cornwall Alliance
  • Hal Doiron, one of the many engineer deniers
  • Richard Keen, a retired "instructor" who has wacky ideas about climate
  • Christopher Monckton, the potty peer and professional entertainer
  • Marc Morano, professional disinformer
  • Tom Sheahen,  one of Cato Institute's 100 science deniers whose name is spelt in a variety of ways on the internet
  • Elizabeth Yore, J.D., former general counsel at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Virginia - who went to Rome looking for a lost child?

The Institute sook continued:
Jim Lakely and Keely Drukala, Heartland’s director and deputy director of communications, respectively, traveled to Rome as well and managed the complicated and last-minute logistics of the trip.

Logistics? What logistics are there in booking a room in a hotel and inviting nine reporters to fill it up? Jim and Keely figured April is a fine time to visit Rome.

Oddly enough, given that the only "promotion" that I read was scathing or at best mocking, the Heartland press officer wrote:
Our presence generated extensive worldwide press attention. We were able to reach millions of people with our simple message that “climate change is not a crisis.”

They had to use paid advertising to get their "simple message" out there. (I had to block their ads.)  And talk about wishful thinking. As if the Pope doesn't already know there are vested interests in the USA intent on making global warming worse as quickly as possible. Here is how the Heartland Institute spins things:
The Vatican and United Nations seemed shocked that anyone would criticize their bias or the lack of scientific credentials of their speakers. Peter Raven, a speaker at the summit, devoted several minutes of his remarks to commenting on our presence, and now Sachs’ essay appears to be part of the UN’s effort at damage control.

To claim that the Vatican and the United Nations lacks access to scientific experts is ridiculous in the extreme, particularly so given the pathetic mob the Heartland cobbled together. What's even sillier is that in the very next sentence they refer to Professor Peter Raven. They do love it when anyone mentions their name though, probably thinking that any publicity is good publicity.

The Heartland Institute admitted that no-one came to hear them, apart from a few reporters. In their article they wistfully write: "To our knowledge, none of the persons scheduled to speak at the “summit” chose to attend our public events." Yep - to their knowledge did anyone, apart from the people in the photo above "attend"? And of the nine reporters who did attend, how many would have preferred to be elsewhere?

The Heartland "press release" or should I say "blog release" claims that they don't get money from Koch brothers, apart from $25,000 some time ago. That none of their $7 million, much of which is probably funnelled through whatever organisations have been set up to funnel donations to right wing lobby groups, originates from any part of the Koch empire. They could be right or not. (Maybe John Mashey knows.)

The "blog release" then disputes climate science, asks a rhetorical question to make sure the readers understand that the Heartland Institute is a climate disinformation organisation, and ends up using one of the favoured denier 101 buzzwords "truth" - a red flag if ever there was one.

From the WUWT comments

The Heartland Institute will be gratified that so many intelligent people have read their sook. Here's a sample of the erudite "thoughts":

csanborn plays "mix the metaphor" 
May 7, 2015 at 6:15 pm
Ditto in spades. And much thanks to Anthony for posting. The efforts of the many Davids against the insidious juggernauts – the UN, IPCC, and various political machines are paying off. We know David wins in the end saving this canary in this mine. Unfortunately, there will be more canaries to save – another topic…

Gunga Din tries out a new word he just heard:
May 7, 2015 at 4:20 pm
They have a lot to lose. No wonder they’re to bellicose!

Ray Boorman  spouts his own version of the climate conspiracy scam:
May 7, 2015 at 4:21 pm
...Well said Joseph. It is very sad that so many otherwise intelligent people have allowed their genuine concern for the environment to blind them to the fact that the CAGW theory has been hijacked by totalitarian left-wing elements to bring about their own control over the people of the world. 

climanrecon regards the Catholic Church and the world's leading scientists, scientific institutions and academies as a "fringe group". What is he smoking?
May 7, 2015 at 4:23 pm
Good response to a fringe group of environmental zealots who fail to see that fossil fuels have allowed Man to deal with Weather of all types, and Man is not going to give them up just to stop miniscule changes in Weather, with any such changes being more likely than not to be beneficial.

Pippen Kool had a comment deleted
May 7, 2015 at 5:01 pm
“[snip -policy violation -mod]”

trafamadore wondered why, when it was the most interesting "thought"
May 7, 2015 at 5:58 pm
This was the most interesting “thought” on this post, and it’s deleted? As Pippen said, “What a joke”. 

Pippen Kool ponders the likely answer. (What's the bet that the WUWT mod is a creationist themselves.)
May 7, 2015 at 6:42 pm
So what is the policy violation? Calling out an creationist “scientist” that has a PhD but has never done any scientific work? Really, that’s who you are protecting now, just because they work for Heartland?? Pretty sorry. Or are you that scared of Heartland? That’s interesting.

Mike Maguire is really upset with his Pope and embarks on a silly tirade:
May 7, 2015 at 5:32 pm (extract)
We should understand that this position on the science of climate change by Pope Francis is being driven by his scientific advisers, The Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
These so called climate change “experts” of the Catholic Church that Pope Francis is relying on to provide him with guidance so that he can morally advise Catholics and the world, regarding good decisions for the poor and being good stewards of this planet have catastrophically failed him.
It is that group, The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, that has been corrupted and fails to use the scientific method as they fall in line with the ideology(s) of the UN.
Faith in the predictive power of falsified global climate models has no place in the world of science.
If you are interested in the list of scientists, including many Nobel Laureates, who form the Pontifical Academy of Sciences - click the names in the sidebar on this page. There are more listed under the Academicians link on the top menu. Eat your heart out, Heartland Institute.

Paul Westhaver mixes with other deniers socially, or religiously, or something, who find their religious leader deeply offensive:
May 7, 2015 at 7:19 pm (extract)
Joe Bast and Anthony,
You guys are heros of truth and I am so happy you made the effort and sent a delegation.
There are many Catholics who are deeply offended that the church has been seduced by fake science, to lend moral credibility to this latest push to tax carbon etc. I know many who are quite besides themselves.


  1. I suspect that more than a few of the clerics in the Vatican are leaning toward the Spong view of theology, and realising that they need to be more aware of the secular sin of environmental destruction and that salvation comes from repenting of that.

    In other words, heaven is immanent rather than abstract, and if humans don't accpet that then the punishment for their sin will be to replace that heaven with a living hell for themselves and their decendants.

    As guardians of a moral faith they need to be on the front-line of doing something to protect the pasture.

  2. The Catholic Church is very conservative as an institution. It's also huge and not every member organisation or individual is conservative. It's grossly paternalistic and led by an all male hierarchy. If you think of the more liberal organisations in the Catholic Church, they are more likely to be made up of women than men. (Think some of the charities led by nuns, working with and advocating for the disadvantaged in society, often having to work around opposition from conservative clerics.)

    It's also pluralistic, with parts being nothing more than superstitious idol-worship (mixing pagan with Christian ceremonies) - mostly at the bottom of the hierarchy. The hoi polloi.

    It's always had a strong intellectual and academic base, including not just theology and philosophy but science and the arts. (Think Gregor Mendel, not just Thomas Aquinas; or Teilhardt de Chardin who was a physical scientist as well as a theologian and philosopher.)

    As a sign of just how conservative the Church is, many people regarded John XXIII as a radical for trying to lift the Church into the twentieth century - sixty years or so after the century started. It can take decades to centuries for the Church to officially catch up with the world at large (think contraception).

    It would be a mistake to right it off. As a body it has enormous influence, even in today's secular world. That's why the Heartland Institute is in such a sulk. Their Cornwall Alliance is a joke, compared to any of the established religions. It's not based on any rational theology (in so far as theology can be termed "rational"). It's a weird little cult, that's all.

    I'd not be surprised if many career priests and nuns have a very nuanced view of their religion - many would be quite pragmatic. They'd also have a myriad of different reasons for sticking with it, even if they don't any longer "believe" lots of things (like heaven and hell, original sin, transubstantiation etc). Humans have an enormous capacity for rationalisation. And humans as a group need their magic, spirituality or whatever as evidenced by human history going way back across the entire world. I don't think that will change, despite the best efforts of evangelistic atheists :) The Catholic Church and other religions provide a framework for people to express/indulge in rationalisations of events that would otherwise be overwhelmingly debilitating (death and life's tragedies in particular.) It supports them when they need it.

    It's not the first time that the Church has spoken out about the environment. Their activities aren't for everyone - too much "Jesus" and "shepherd" analogies for lots of people I'd think. But if you want to mix religion and environment, there are avenues:


    Disclaimer: I was raised a Catholic but grew out of it. I'm tolerant of people's religious beliefs as long as they don't result in actions that are detrimental to other people or the earth as a whole. I don't have respect for the Church's male hierarchy. Too many misogynistic, paternalistic, hypocritical ultra conservatives. Some individuals are okay.

  3. I was raised a Methodist, but I got better. ;-)

    For all that, I like this pope. I really do. Had he been around in my formative years he might even have managed to capture me for longer than did my childhood church. I hope that he has a taster though, because I'm sure that I am in an ever-increasing minority!

  4. I am an ex-catholic atheist but I admire the values of Australian and South American Jesuits. (Needless to say American Jesuits are outliers). My son (also an atheist) was educated by the famously left wing Sydney Jesuits and the results are spectacular.

  5. Bert from ElthamMay 8, 2015 at 6:34 PM

    As someone who was schooled in science to look at ALL available evidence. I find these illiterati and self selecting ignorati that call themselves sceptics when they are actually denialists that cannot see they are pooing/vomiting on the carpet as a group of utter idiots. My dog knows better.
    Just because a Pope who is a rational scientist as well as a deluded fool when it comes to beleiving in
    a bearded sky god has an opinion that agrees with yours does not make it correct.
    The final arbiter is the totality of the evidence. Not how many delusional well meaning people agree with the evidence without any real understanding.
    The rightwing denialist industry nuts cannot tell the difference between evidence and mere delusional opinion.
    When this next El Nino rears up like Godzilla and it looks like it is going to be very soon in a totally new unpredictable way. These morons will regroup and make up more idiotic taking points and reiterate these until a majority of the lesser mortals get fooled again. They hope!

    1. And to add insult to injury Bert, the Australian parliament has apparently settled on 33,000 gigawatt-hours as the target for renewable energy generation in 2020. This is piss-weak compared to the original target of 41,000 GWh, and effectively destroys any chance of any future solar projects in Australia.

      The Government, with the abject capitulation of the Labor Party, has consigned to the scrap heap any appreciable renewable energy industry in Australia, and has especially forever forgone any chance that Australia might have been a world leader in renewables. The social and environmental implications of this limp target are profound and I suspect that too few people have cottoned on to what a travesty and tragedy this is.

      It'll all be far too late when they eventually wake from their comas.

    2. If there was one industry that Australia could have led the world in, it was photovoltaics. Ideal climate for it, plus some talented engineers and scientists. (Uni NSW was doing some ground-breaking R&D in this, way back in the 1970s if I recall correctly.) Now we're just a backwater, stuck with dirty technology maybe for decades thanks to short-sighted politicians (am I being too generous?) - some probably with an eye to a lucrative retirement (on both sides of the political fence). Combine that with the predicted climate change we can expect, we're hurting a lot sooner rather than later. (We're already getting ever worsening floods, drought, fires, storms, water shortages/bad water quality, and heat waves.)

      BTW - "write" not "right" up above - sometimes muscle memory defeats the brain :(

    3. Bert from ElthamMay 8, 2015 at 7:37 PM

      Bernard we led the world in in PV solar panels years ago it all ended up in China due to lack of support in Australia..

      As someone who has worked all his life in science for the people of Australia I am very angry!
      When elected people are dolts and remove the smart people in the public service we are in deep shit!
      I was a first hand witness to the deterioration of CSIRO from within by a class of dimwit bean counters who had no idea what our basic charter was.
      These morons would follow our support staff around for a week and then decide that their contribution was marginal.
      As an example these twits decided that our four story building in Parkville with some of the most complicated systems that were beyond their paltry comprehension could be managed from Clayton over twenty miles away.
      There was an inevitable failure of a high pressure water valve in the above building plant room which was flooding the whole building.
      The management asked an ex member of the building management to sort it out. He said ' you assured us it could be managed from Clayton, I would like to see how you manage this. It is not my job or problem. We warned you!'

    4. Bert from ElthamMay 8, 2015 at 7:52 PM

      What these bean counters did not and could not understand that we were a family and we looked after each other. When something went wrong we all chipped in. We all helped each other outside of our narrow disciplines.

    5. Bert from ElthamMay 8, 2015 at 9:37 PM

      They got rid of $70.000 salary to have over a million dollars damage to the building. Way to go! bean counters!

    6. Australian investment in renewables dropped 90% in a year.
      Climate revisionists have also couped the US, http://insideclimatenews.org/news/06052015/pollute-will-bill-enjoys-widespread-support-house-republicans .

      I'm getting more and more in the mood of sitting back to relax & enjoy the mayhem, the civil war that wil start in/around Sao Paulo of a kind mapped out in the Levant; and California will be next. Burn. Sorry mates, I think we lost the planet and will seriously have to plan for that.

    7. "The Government, with the abject capitulation of the Labor Party ... "

      Even now the government can't resist the urge to pull a swiftie.

      The Labor Party thought they had a deal (bit like Nick Xenophon I suppose). Now they discover that the so-called commitment to renewables includes burning chipped forest "waste".

      Don't know whether they're renegotiating the total or putting their foot down or going back to the industry to consult. (I thought that was the government's job, but what do I know?)

      They might just cave - if the industry's caving in - or they might fight for something more sensible. It's a shame that they can't just put it on the back burner until the next election, but they and the industry want there to _be_ an industry to support if they get there.

  6. Bert from ElthamMay 8, 2015 at 6:52 PM

    Yes I did Latin until year eleven. This is how the brothers taught us!



  7. Bert from ElthamMay 8, 2015 at 7:10 PM



  8. YES https://www.facebook.com/groups/climatechangedebate/permalink/1483094501980937/

  9. Found this from John Paul II - from 1990. A fairly strong statement on the environment, if a bit mixed up about science (ozone depletion and greenhouse effect), and anti-GMO. It does show that at the top level, the Catholic Church has been warning about climate change for more than 25 years at least.

    The gradual depletion of the ozone layer and the related "greenhouse effect"has now reached crisis proportions as a consequence of industrial growth, massive urban concentrations and vastly increased energy needs. Industrial waste, the burning of fossil fuels, unrestricted deforestation, the use of certain types of herbicides, coolants and propellants: all of these are known to harm the atmosphere and environment. The resulting meteorological and atmospheric changes range from damage to health to the possible future submersion of low-lying lands.

  10. Bert from ElthamMay 8, 2015 at 9:18 PM

    It is only scientific evidence Sou! There is no point on believing this stuff. It is all a plot.

  11. Lomborg snookered!

    1. Missed this on my first pass through the thread. That is excellent news, Bert! A travesty of science narrowly averted.

  12. In other news Tony Abbots senior business advisor Maurice Newman has gone the full-tinfoil-hat-Agenda 21-conspiracista in a bizarre rant in The Australian newspaper. The full dummy-spit is behind the paywall, but coverage can be found at the excellent (but soon-to be retired?) Loon Pond.

    Christiana Figueres, one of Newman's "conspirators", is in Australia at the moment, and responded to questions about it with typical grace:
    "The only thing that I can say there is that's really good fun. The UN agenda is very clearly to support governments, certainly federal governments, in doing what federal governments after due consideration consider to be in their own interests.

    "We live in a world of free press and free opinion and, you know, if that's the humour in Australia then that's the humour in Australia."

    "I have my own sense of humour. It's quite fine."


  13. From the LOL, WHUT?! comments:

    Good response to a fringe group of environmental zealots who fail to see that fossil fuels have [allowed > forced] Man to deal with *increasingly extreme* Weather of all types...

    There, FTFY :-)

    [Meta: Sou, you should allow the HTML 'strike' tag as it makes it much more elegant to do Fixed That For You.]

    1. I wish I could allow the strike tag (and blockquote), MM. Blame Google.


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