Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015.

The Walrus and the Power Tool


The New York Times is running a long feature on the Paris climate talks. One of the points made in the article is that melting ice sheets are causing Pacific walruses to pile up on land to rest, where they tend to crush each other to death.

John Hinderaker the Power Tool calls bullshit, and says the New York Times is just lying. There’s a website called Climate Depot that debunked this already. Walruses always pile up on land and crush each other to death.

It probably won’t surprise you to know that Climate Depot is a climate-change-denying site. In fact, it proudly calls itself a “special project” of CFACT, or Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.  According to Sourcewatch, Climate Depot is the website of 0f  “Marc Morano, a conservative global warming denier who previously served as environmental communications director for a vocal political denier of climate change, Republican Sen.James Inhofe. ” CFACT itself receives a big chunk of its funding from the ExxonMobil Foundation and foundations associated with the billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, Sourcewatch says.

Of course, it isn’t just the New York Times saying that the walrus populations are environmentally challenged. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says so, too. Yeah, Walruses do pile up on land sometimes, but nowhere near in the same numbers they’ve been doing it lately.

See also National Geographic, “Biggest Walrus Gathering Recorded as Sea Ice Shrinks.”

Bloomberg Business has an article up on the network of climate change deniers whose disinformation campaign gets in the way of addressing the crisis:

New research for the first time has put a precise count on the people and groups working to dispute the scientific consensus on climate change. A loose network of 4,556 individuals with overlapping ties to 164 organizations do the most to dispute climate change in the U.S., according to a paper published today in Nature Climate Change. ExxonMobil and the family foundations controlled by Charles and David Koch emerge as the most significant sources of funding for these skeptics. As a two-week United Nations climate summit begins today in Paris, it’s striking to notice that a similarly vast infrastructure of denial isn’t found in any other nation.

The role of ExxonMobil and the Kochs in influencing climate denial hadn’t been empirically studied before now, according to Justin Farrell, an assistant professor of sociology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the author of the new paper. He said the flow of money from group to group and person to person is often opaque to researchers.

Whether the Power Tool is receiving money from the “infrastructure,” or whether he’s just a tool, I do not know.

Farrell said he focused on ExxonMobil and the Koch foundations because “they are reliable indicators of a much larger effort of corporate lobbying in the climate change counter-movement.” He examined Internal Revenue Service data showing which groups in the network of climate contrarians accepted funding from ExxonMobil or Koch foundations between 1993 and 2013. Recipients from those two sources tend to occupy central nodes in what he calls a “contrarian network.” Groups funded by ExxonMobil or the Kochs “have greater influence over flows of resources, communication, and the production of contrarian information,” Farrell wrote.

The actual paper is behind a pay firewall, so I can’t check to see if CFACT is listed as one of the 164 organizations in the denier network, but I suspect it is.

The above-mentioned Farrell also studied how the contrarian network influenced media, including the New York Times.

Over the 20 years under review, climate contrarianism increased the most in major media sources—more even than in presidential speeches or congressional floor statements. Farrell’s research took him through 40,785 documents from contrarian groups; 14,943 from the New York Times, Washington Times, and USA Today; 1,930 from U.S. presidents; and 7,786 from Congress.

For Robert Brulle, a sociology professor at Drexel University who has conducted research on the topic, Farrell’s research helps define how climate denial works. “Corporate funders create and support conservative think tanks,” which then pass off climate misinformation as valid. The mainstream media pick up on it, which helps shape public opinion.

“This brings up the following question,” Brulle said. “Why is the media picking up and promulgating the central themes of climate misinformation?”

Because they’re owned by corporations and because they’re a bunch of squishes who are afraid of making the Right mad at them, is why.

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