Saturday March 14th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉
Main Topic: New, Prominent Website With Distorted Climate Change Material
Dear Diary: At this critical juncture what the world does not need is another website denying science. As stated many times on this site I will not argue with those who think that there is no such thing as a climate crisis because we should be beyond any debate stage, but I will do my part to point to denialists, fingering or ferreting out those who are attempting to delay both mitigation and adaptation efforts. So today I will be giving a new Heartland site the finger…and yes I’m peeved. I learned that a new site, Climate at a Glance, has launched from Inside Climate News:
Heartland Launches Website of Contrarian Climate Science Amid Struggles With Funding and Controversy
Dogged by layoffs, a problematic spokesperson and an investigation by European journalists, the climate skeptics’ institute returns to its old tactics.
By Nicholas Kusnetz Mar 13, 2020
Naomi Seibt, a 19-year-old climate change skeptic and self-proclaimed climate realist, speaks during a workshop at the Conservative Political Action Conference 2020 on Feb. 28, 2020. Credit: Samuel Corum/Getty Images
The conservative Heartland Institute, which made its name undercutting mainstream climate science, has launched a new effort to try to influence public discussion and political debate about global warming.
The move comes as the organization is reportedly struggling financially and has fallen into renewed controversy over its work in Europe promoting climate denial there. Last week it laid off staff just weeks after it announced the hiring of a teenage German climate skeptic to counter the global popularity of environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
The new website, called Climate at a Glance, includes brief explanations of key climate science and policy issues, many of which are either misleading or inaccurate.
“It’s attempting to emulate a more scientific website than previously,” said Robert Brulle, a visiting professor at Brown University who has studied public relations campaigns by the fossil fuel industry. “Other than that it’s still the same sort of systematic distortion.”
An explainer of a carbon tax, for example, claims wind and solar power are “already very expensive.” In fact, those sources of energy are now competitive with or even cheaper than new coal or natural gas plants. A discussion of sea level rise claims that “there has been very little recent acceleration.” In truth, the rate of rise has more than doubled in recent years compared to during most of the 20th century.
The website comes amid evidence that the clout of Heartland and other groups that have promoted skepticism about climate change may be waning. An increasing number of Republican politicians have sought to distance themselves from climate denial. Last month, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a Republican, introduced a package of bills to promote carbon capture and sequestration technology. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), in her final year as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been attempting to lead a bipartisan effort to pass energy efficiency and technology investment.
“I think they’re becoming more and more marginal,” Brulle said of Heartland, noting that some major corporate funders such as ExxonMobil distanced themselves from the group years ago. “You have all the big fossil fuel companies, they’re not attacking climate science any more.”
Last week’s layoff was part of what Heartland called a reorganization. But the HuffPost reported that the downsizing of “more than half” the staff was a result of financial problems for the organization. Their report said it was primarily mismanagement, rather than falling revenue, that led to the problems. In recent years, the group’s funders have included hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who was President Donald Trump’s largest campaign donor in 2016.
It was just the latest bad news for the Illinois-based organization. In February, European journalists published an investigation about Heartland’s efforts to sow its climate denial in Europe. The journalists went undercover, posing as public relations consultants working for clients in the energy and auto industries. The report detailed Heartland’s methods for channeling donations through a third party, and “how disinformation is professionally scattered around society.”
Heartland did not reply to email or phone requests for comment for this article.
The organization has also come under fire for its hiring of a 19-year-old German woman to serve as the face of a new campaign against what it calls “climate alarmism.” Naomi Seibt, a YouTube star, has been criticized for her ties to Germany’s far-right and for comments that some challenged as anti-Semitic.
The new website is not Heartland’s first attempt to inject its materials about climate science into public discourse. And interviews suggest that, at least to an extent, the organization may be achieving at least some of its goal of spreading doubt.
Heartland has been trying to influence science curricula in schools for years. In 2017, it sent hundreds of thousands of copies of its publication “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” to teachers around the country.
Read more here:
One more thing. Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of our open American society, but when does that crossover to putting all in danger? Certainly a crime is committed if someone yells out “fire” in a crowded theater. As the climate continues to warm and change, harming millions, I imagine that eventually it will be a crime for sites like Climate at a Glance to remain online. Many are already laughing at and ignoring these, but some in the public will continue to be swayed by well written but deceitful articles contained on these climate change denying sites.
For now, though, we must continue to debunk sites such as Climate at a Glance. I’ll do my part continuing to update record count files and archives from National Center for Environmental Information data showing a warming trend. A warming trend is something that Climate at a Glance cannot and should not deny for the sake of all of our children and progeny to come.
Now, here are some of today’s articles on the coronavirus:
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Here is some more weather and climate news from Saturday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity.)
Here are some warm southern “ET’s” from Saturday:
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Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”