By Tom Harris
This above article, “Facing the Facts and Fictions of the Climate Change Deniers”, by Judah Freed, is certainly good to see—we appear to be frightening those who apparently would rather the uncertainties in the science of climate change be kept out of the public eye.
Happily, they are not succeeding as, despite our very small size, ICSC averages more than one significant media hit a day now. I suspect this is because editors, at least those who are not climate activists themselves, are usually suspicious when any group of campaigners overplay their hands and engage in exaggerations and attempts to suppress open dialog and rational debate on important public policy issues.
Here are my responses to Mr. Freed’s error-riddled article (BTW, according to his YouTube page, Mr. Freed is “a journalist, book publishing coach, life coach, energy healer, and visions quest guide. He lives on the garden island of Kauai in Hawaii.”)
Mr. Freed writes: “Please see through this misleading public relations campaign by paid climate change deniers.”
Tom Harris responds: I am not now, nor have I ever been involved in a “public relations campaign,” paid or otherwise.
Freed writes: “Tom Harris from the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) is touting guest editorials across North America that it is “ridiculous” to think that only industry-funded “deniers” are claiming that climate change is not real.”
Harris responds: We are not climate change deniers. Climate change has been “real” since the formation of the atmosphere billions of years ago. We advocate helping people adapt to the sometimes dangerous impacts of climate change and continuing the research so that someday we may be able to forecast future climate states. We have essentially no chance of controlling them, however.
Freed: “What’s ridiculous is that Harris and the ICSC themselves are industry-funded climate change deniers.”
Harris: ICSC funding has been 100% confidential since I took over as Executive Director in March 2008. This is obviously to protect our donors from attacks by aggressive climate campaigners, a tactic that has been SOP in past environmental campaigns (see “war in the woods”, for example). So, Freed’s speculations about the identities of those people generous enough to help us cover our small operating costs are simply that—speculations. I find it interesting that he seems to have no problem with climate campaigners who share his point of view receiving industry funding. I have no problem with that either, which is why we do not criticize them for it. It would be a motive intent logical fallacy to do otherwise. Indeed, we are jealous of their access to the vast resources of corporations.
Freed: “Here are some basic facts that anyone could discover from a few minutes of web research”
Harris: An honest researcher should spend more than a few minutes on the Web before coming to conclusions about anyone. Even then, I would suggest, a quick phone call or e-mail to the intended target to verify the accusations before going to press would be a professional, considerate approach. Much of what Freed writes seems to be derived from apparently disreputable groups out to discredit anyone who dares disagree with political correctness on climate change, and so is meaningless or wrong.
Freed: Trained as a mechanical engineer not as a climate scientist, Harris …”
Harris: Engineering is applied science and, particularly since my specialty is thermo-fluids, I am well equipped to understand many of the climate science papers and translate them into layperson’s language for the public. The atmosphere/ocean system is, after all, a vast thermofluids system. Besides, many of the climate alarmist science mistakes are obvious to a high school student.
Freed: “Harris himself had been the Ottawa operations director of the High Park Group, a Toronto-based public policy and public relations firm specializing in energy industry clients like the transnational Areva nuclear power group, the Canadian Electricity Association, and the Canadian Gas Association.”
Harris: For five months in 2006, I worked for High Park Group out of my basement office in Ottawa. Their clients included solar and wind power companies as well as those Freed names. Would this make them biased in the direction of the climate scare? No, they were just a communications company doing what communications companies do—conducting communications for their clients. I have never been involved in public relations or lobbying.
Freed: “According to geochemist and U.S. National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell, author of The Inquisition of Climate Science (Columbia University Press, 2011), rather than supporting open-minded scientific inquiry, closed-minded “denier organizations like the ICSC know the answers and seek only confirmation that they are right.””
Harris: The exact opposite is the case. ICSC repeatedly calls for “open-minded scientific inquiry” in which all reputable points of view are given a fair hearing. Perhaps Powell was speaking about climate alarmist groups when he spoke about entities that “know the answers and seek only confirmation that they are right.”
Freed: “Harris and the ICSC have promoted a skeptical climate change report produced by the Heartland Institute, identified by SourceWatch and others as a front for the ultra-conservative Koch Brothers, the primary backers of the Tea Party.”
Harris: According to the Heartland Web page http://blog.heartland.org/2014/04/response-to-a-critic-of-climate-realists-and-the-nipcc-reports/:
“None of the NIPCC reports — ZERO — have been funded with corporate money. They are funded by family foundations that have no interest in the energy sector. The Funding for the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change reports (see www.climatechangereconsidered.org) comes from two family foundations.”
Note: Heartland have repeatedly stated that the only funding they have received from Koch was $25K for healthcare-related matters, not climate or energy.
Freed: “Turns out that at least part of ICSC’s funding and most of its key staff members come directly from the Heartland Institute.”
Harris: Any statements about ICSC funding since March 2008 are, as I explained above, total fabrication. There is no way we would want to sic climate campaigners on those citizens generous enough to help us financially.
Freed: “The July 2011 edition of Nature magazine reported that the Heartland Institute “makes many bold assertions that are often questionable or misleading” with the goal is “muddying the waters” about the reality and importance of climate change...”
Harris: Heartland’s approach to climate change in the NIPCC reports is open and honest. It is summarized as follows in the introduction to the NIPCC 2013 volume on causes of climate change (extracted from https://www.heartland.org/media-library/pdfs/CCR-II/CCR-II-Full.pdf):
"NIPCC authors paid special attention to contributions that were either overlooked by the IPCC or that contain data, discussion, or implications arguing against the IPCC’s claim that dangerous global warming is resulting, or will result, from human-related greenhouse gas emissions."
"this volume provides the scientific balance that is missing from the overly alarmist reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which are highly selective in their review of climate science and controversial with regard to their projections of future climate change. Although the IPCC claims to be unbiased and to have based its assessment on the best available science, we have found this to not be the case. In many instances conclusions have been seriously exaggerated, relevant facts have been distorted, and key scientific studies have been ignored."
"A careful reading of the chapters below reveals thousands of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that do not support, and indeed often contradict, the IPCC’s alarmist perspective on climate change. This is not an exercise in “cherry picking”: There are simply too many articles by too many prominent scientists, reporting too much real-world data and not merely opinions. Either the IPCC purposely ignores these articles because they run counter to their predetermined thesis that man is causing a climatic crisis, or the
IPCC’s authors are incompetent and failed to conduct a proper scientific investigation.
"Either way, the IPCC is misleading the scientific community, policymakers, and the general public by telling only half the story about the science of climate change."
"If the IPCC truly considered and acknowledged all pertinent science in its assessment reports, there would be no need for a NIPCC."
Freed: “At the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, hosted by the Heartland Institute, Harris disclosed among like-minded allies the ICSC public relations strategy of saturating newspapers with articles casting doubt on the ample scientific research showing that modern climate change is mostly caused by human activity.”
Harris: A healthy public debate about the causes of climate change is needed before yet billions more are spent on this highly dubious cause. Covering only one point of view on crucially important topics, as so many media do, is damaging democracy and lessens our ability to come to rational decisions on how to deal with things like climate change.
If you want an example of activists saturating the media with articles and letters promoting their point of view, take a look at the Citizens’ Climate Lobby announcement when they got their 1000th letter to the editor published in 2013: http://citizensclimatelobby.org/nov-7-2013-1000th-ccl-letter-to-the-editor/. Since then, they have had thousands more media hits and give instructions to their members here: http://citizensclimatelobby.org/writing-letters-to-editors-and-congress/.
Rather than criticize them for this, I can only reluctantly admire them. If only ICSC had the manpower to “saturating newspapers with articles,” as CCL do. Sigh.
Freed: “Harris does not reveal that Dr. Ball today is a paid science policy advisor to oil companies...”
Harris: Dr. Ball has previously explained that this statement is a complete falsehood. The death threats against Ball are, sadly, very real, as are those against some other scientists we work with.
Freed: “Contending that environmentalists are dangerous, climate change deniers often label peaceful citizen activists as “eco-terrorists.”
Harris: I have never done that. Indeed, I am an environmentalist myself, just one that does not go along with political correctness on the causes of the climate scare.
Freed: “Among the tactics too often deployed to suppress evidence-based logic and critical thinking, the misleading irrationality and fear-mongering by Harris and ICSC smacks of the McCarthyism in the 1950s that repressed progressive post-war urges for social justice and open democracy.”
Harris: This is a complete straw man argument. We encourage rational thinking and a mature, respectful dialog, taken proper account of the importance of social justice and open democracy, discussions that are free of logical fallacies and name calling. I have written about this often; see http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/5257712-errors-in-thinking-are-sabotaging-climate-change-discussion/, for example.
Freed: “In the eyes of the climate change deniers, apparently, yesterday’s scary reds are today’s greens.”
Harris: That may be true for some on our side of the climate debate but it does not apply to me or ICSC since I have never made that point. Indeed, I am not even right wing and regularly criticize Canada’s Conservative government for stupidity and even dishonesty on the climate debate.
So, practically nothing that Judah Freed writes above is correct or even makes sense. It is good to see the attack though, as it shows we are right over the most effective target, the most vulnerable weakness of climate crusaders: the immature and highly uncertain science of climate change. It is revealing that Mr. Freed did not have anything to say at all about any of the science we promote. His piece, the parts that were not completely wrong, was mostly just logical fallacies.
Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (Mech.)
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)