[Coral-List] global warming
eshinn at marine.usf.edu
Fri Nov 17 09:37:33 EST 2006
Dear Mike, It all makes for good press regardless which side you
choose. Flip a coin. No one is arguing that the earth has not been
warming since the little ice age. What seems to be lacking is
undeniable evidence that increased Co2 is the major cause. Models
based on theory may be acceptable to many but to geologists aware of
previous periods of warming (before SUVs) remain a little suspicious.
Was it modelers who promised us an intensive Atlantic hurricane
season this past summer? Is an advertisement for a CBC TV special a
good source of scientific data? Here is a reply to the CBC TV special
that came out in the press just yesterday. It would seem there are
financial motives on both side of the coin. Gene
*Who is James Hoggan? *
*Terence Corcoran *
*16 November 2006*
To viewers of last night's edition of CBC-TV's The Fifth Estate, a
"documentary" titled The Denial Machine, the name James Hoggan will
be familiar. Mr. Hoggan is the talking head who loomed late in the
program to issue lofty pronouncements on the science of climate
change. His main role, though, was to provide a Canadian link in the
program's grand conspiracy theory about scientists who are skeptical
of global warming. For non-viewers of last night's presentation,
here's a hint of the show's theme: Exxon did it.
Not much was said about Mr. Hoggan. He's mostly just allowed to run
on with his story, which by no coincidence is exactly the story The
Fifth Estate told. For a first-rate demonstration of dishonest
manipulation masquerading as investigative journalism, it's hard to
beat The Denial Machine. Using smear-a-minute techniques, host Bob
McKeown, under executive producer David Studer, advances the idea
that one or two U.S. global warming science skeptics -- particularly
Fred Singer and Pat Michaels -- have single-handedly turned the
media, plus the Bush and Harper governments, into climate change
Now, there isn't space here to snip away at all the anti-corporate
threads woven through Bob McKeown's warped tale. In brief: Exxon has
paid money to groups and organizations connected in some way with S.
Fred Singer, a distinguished environmental scientist and atmospheric
physicist. In 1990, he founded the Science and Environmental Policy
Project (SEPP), dedicated to exposing junk science. SEPP has produced
science reports on second-hand smoke, CFCs and ozone depletion,
ultraviolet radiation and cancer, plus much work on climate change.
In each case, Mr. Singer has taken contrary positions. His latest is
a book, Global Warming: An Unstoppable 1,500-Year Cycle, just
published by the Hudson Institute, also a likely recipient of Exxon
Foundation funds, as are the Brookings Institution and hundreds of
other U.S. organizations.
As a recipient of corporate funds, directly or indirectly, Mr. Singer
is painted by The Fifth Estate to be a hack scientist for hire, a man
without credentials or expertise or integrity who should be ashamed
of himself for fronting for the likes of Exxon. Mr. McKeown confronts
Mr. Singer with the CBC's high moral rectitude: "Isn't that
misleading the public? Isn't that letting us think that it's coming
from an objective source, but it's not?"
The smear here is the implication that Mr. Singer is not an objective
scientist because some corporate money supports his work, even though
the money may be only remotely linked. This is standard
anti-corporate fare, deployed to discredit ideas and people one
doesn't like. The main theme is that no corporation should be allowed
to support any activity anywhere that might coincide with a
As an aside, the fact that BP, Shell, the nuclear industry, giant
ethanol firms and others all support climate theory for their own
self-interested purposes seems not to bother environmental activists.
Confusingly, although not mentioned last night, Fred Singer is also a
big proponent of nuclear power, which he thinks is safe and
economical and would benefit from a major plan to put Exxon and coal
out of business. How does all that work in the conflict arena?
This brings us back to Mr. Hoggan. The Fifth Estate follows the
currently hot green story line -- science skeptics are funded by
corporations, therefore science skeptics are dishonest fronts who
cannot be trusted. Scores of reports from green groups and leftist
media in Canada and abroad have pushed the idea. Earlier this year,
The Globe and Mail ran a lengthy piece by Charles Montgomery,
featuring Mr. Hoggan, claiming that the oil industry was behind
Canadian climate skeptic Tim Ball. Essentially the same story, also
featuring Mr. Hoggan, appeared in This Magazine, home of Canada's
left. Headline: "Playing dirty: Coming clean on climate change spin
-- how the PR industry sold the 'made in Canada' solution to global
Mr. Hoggan told This Magazine writer Zoe Cormier and the Globe's
Charles Montgomery (who rents space in Mr. Hoggan's office) the same
message. Essentially, "ethical" public relations firms and
corporations should not be engaged in "manipulating public opinion"
in important matters of public policy. If corporations do try to
fight policy, they run a risk. "If you don't want to end up looking
like those cigarette executives standing in front of Congress a few
years ago ... don't fight something that you are inevitably going to
lose." It is no surprise that the cigarette executive image is a
visual tipping point in The Denial Machine's nasty little piece.
The essence of Mr. Hoggan's message is that PR agencies and
corporations should not be able to support and fund climate science
that runs contrary to the official global government science. "I
don't think that the people who are involved in this should be able
to get away with it."
So who is James Hoggan? He's a public relations man, based in
Vancouver. His firm, James Hoggan and Associates, is positioned as a
feel-good local operation with clients in all the "right" public and
private sectors. He also sits on the board of the David Suzuki
One of his side efforts is a blog operated out of Hoggan and
Associates. Funded by retired Internet bubble king John Lefebvre, the
blog has one full-time and three part-time staff. They spend their
time tracking down and maliciously attacking all who have doubts
about climate change and painting them as corporate pawns.
There has been no mention on the blog, nor on The Fifth Estate, of
James Hoggan's client list. They include or have included the
National Hydrogen Association, Fuel Cells Canada, hydrogen producer
QuestAir, Naikun Wind Energy and Ballard Fuel Cells. Mr. Hoggan, in
other words, benefits from regulatory policy based on climate change
But it is as a climate commentator that Mr. Hoggan gets carried away.
On The Denial Machine, Mr. Hoggan is allowed to go on at some length
about how climate skeptics are not true scientists, are not
qualified, or have no expertise.
That takes some gall. Here's a totally unqualified small-town PR guy
making disparaging comments about scientists he says are unqualified
while he lectures the rest of us on the science. "If you look in the
scientific literature, there is no debate," he tells Mr. McKeown. It
doesn't seem to bother Mr. McKeown that Mr. Hoggan has no expertise.
It is also a little rich to have a member of the Suzuki Foundation
board pronounce other scientists unfit and unqualified for climate
assessments, while geneticist David Suzuki roams the world issuing
barrages of climate change warnings at every opportunity.
When I called Mr. Hoggan yesterday and asked, among other things,
whether he thought David Suzuki is qualified to comment on climate
issues, Mr. Hoggan said, "I'm not interested in doing an interview
with you. Thanks very much for your call."
At the end of The Denial Machine, Mr. Hoggan confidently declares
that most of the 60 scientists who signed a letter earlier this year
asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reopen the climate science
issue are science hacks. The letter was first published on this page
last April 6. "We looked into the folks who were on that, and all but
19 were Americans and most of them are kind of infamous characters
from the states who worked for the tobacco industry."
In fact, only 12 are Americans and at most two, counting Mr. Singer,
have done past science work on tobacco. About 20 are Canadians, while
others are from about a dozen other countries, from France to Norway
to Australia and the Netherlands. Readers can check the names on the
letter, which we've reposted today as an Online Extra at
Through the whole episode, The Fifth Estate did not do one bit of
science verification. No mention, for example, of Mr. Singer's role
as one the first to notice that the United Nations' claim that we are
living through the hottest period in 1,000 years had to be
statistically wrong. Without spending one second looking at the
science, the CBC crew smeared and discredited the skeptical
scientists with corporate associations. Exxon did it. James Hoggan,
however, is the real villain.
>I can always depend on Gene to turn my crank, but this time I will hold
>my tongue. Instead, I will direct -listers to:
>-which is a CBC TV special shown last night, tracing the histories of
>those scientists who are global-warming "skeptics." It may be viewed
>on-line, and for those who have access to CBC TV, will be repeated at
>some future times.
>Turns out there are no surprises, and some surprises.
>No surprises: the skeptics aren't skeptical at all, they are funded by
>Big Oil, in most cases through channels that are hard to uncover. They
>are paid to say what they say, no matter what the science. Amongst
>serious climate scientists, the debate is over. Was over a decade ago.
>One surprise, at least to me: many of these so-called "skeptics" are
>retreads from the Great Tobacco Court Cases! Remember all those PR
>firms, and those "scientists", who kept saying "correlation is not
>proof?" Well, their job was to delay action while the cigarette
>companies raked in more dough. The same people now show up as "climate
>skeptics." Their role, again, is to delay action. It's a dirty game
>On Thu, 16 Nov 2006 14:27:55 -0500
> Gene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu> wrote:
>> Co2 global warming advocates might find this of interest.
>> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
>> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
>> University of South Florida
>> Marine Science Center (room 204)
>> 140 Seventh Avenue South
>> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
>> <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
>> Tel 727 553-1158----------------------------------
>> Coral-List mailing list
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>PO Box 1195
No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
Marine Science Center (room 204)
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158----------------------------------
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