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.

23 thoughts on “The Walrus and the Power Tool

  1. Oh my God… I’m back. I’m home. All the time, it was…
    The left-wing Main Stream Media finally really did it. [falls to his knees screaming]

  2. “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.”

    Now, isn’t that speeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeecial!

    They have a CFACT.
    But they have no CFACDAT:
    Committee for a Constructive Day after Tomorrow.

    And, also too – you always have to laugh at the titles conservative come up with!
    Like CFACT.
    There’s nothing “constructive” in anything they do.
    It’s all DESTRUCTIVE!!!

  3. Doug,
    That’s a relief!

    It can’t happen if you don’t use the term(s).

  4. Another mass-shooting (or two).


    Maybe if we banned the terms for mass gun slaughters, there wouldn’t be any more of them, right?
    After all, if we don’t mention global warming or climate change, then there’s nothing going on with our environment.
    So, let’s be consistent in our (il)logic.

  5. So you’ve successfully executed an ad hominem argument (although just because something is funded by Exxon or the Kochs doesn’t necessarily make its conclusions wrong!), but also neglected to counter the actual substance of Power Line’s counter-argument (“denial”), linked here:

    I know that your approach above is simpler, but your movement would be better served if you demonstrated an open-mind to criticism, and were able to consider alternate views–and then were able to substantively counter the alternate views with evidence.

    That your readership (through its commenters) seems to have fully reactively swallowed the rationale that “Exxon-funded research must be wrong” without any apparent reflection is saddening.

    I’d truly love to see an educated, fair-minded rebuttal to Susan Crockford’s document, and would love to learn something from you about your point of view!

    • jaydub — The Tool’s “argument” is based on the authority of hacks, and I countered with links to the actual science. Climate change denialism is in the same category as creationism and flat-eartherism. Don’t waste my time.

  6. Maybe if we banned the terms for mass gun slaughters

    Henceforth it shall be called “a gathering of the faithful.”

    There was a gathering of the faithful in San Bernardino this afternoon, early reports 14 dead and the same number injured. Possibly three shooters. It occurred at a center for developmentally disabled people.

    I mean… what the frak?

    Ted Cruz would be quick to point out that the faithful, who gathered with their firearms to pointlessly dispatch the innocent, were all Democrats.

    (Ted will be employed by Fox News after this electoral season.)

  7. the rationale that “Exxon-funded research must be wrong” without any apparent reflection

    Uh, “research” funded by a commercial enterprise with a huge economic stake in the outcome… only a moron would refuse to be skeptical.

    But thanks for sharing.

    • // Fossil fuel companies (Exxon, perhaps? Kochs?) are funding the Paris talks! Awkward…. //

      Of course they are. Possibly because they want to co-opt the results. But the Paris talks aren’t research, and so far we don’t know if they’re going to do a damn bit of good. I take it you thought that was a gotcha? Please.

  8. maha–thanks for the courtesy of the reply, and for reinforcing my point more elegantly than I could have without it.


    Onward, to more open minds!

  9. OK, @jaydub, you first!

    Maha almost always provides links for her readers – and not links to other liberal blogs, which is common in the right wing’s bubble-world.
    Many of us read those before commenting.
    And, thus informed, we can have a discussion – whether we agree with her, or not, is up to us.
    And she only permanently “86’s” the truly stupid/ignorant/bigoted after they prove they have nothing to add beyond the typical Righties talking points.

    And did you try to leave a comment that’s doesn’t agree with the Righties “Zieg Heil” zeitgeist on a conservative blog?
    You get the full wrath of the rabid lemmings, before you moment is deleted by the blog-master!

    A few years ago, on a conservatve website I’d never heard of, let alone commented on, I was “outed” as an especially evil Liberal when some miserable wretch with no life and too much time on his hands, went and did some research, and then broadcast my real name on his website. And he wasn’t too far off from the town I live in.
    I think that was completely uncalled for. If I had personally insulted the sociopathic twit, I might understand some desire for some sort of response, but I’d never even heard of him before!

    I wasn’t worried for myself, but my elderly mother.
    I’m a big strong ol’ boy, who, on top of playing a bunch of sports and working-out most of my life, was a bouncer in several bars and after-hours joints and clubs on the Lower East Side and “Alphabet Jungle,” in NYC, back in the late 70’s to late 80’s.

    So, I’m all for “open minds.”
    Let those of us on the left who take math and science seriously, know when the people on the right start.
    Maybe a good place to start opening right-wingers minds, will be after Sen. Inhofe throws out the first snowball of the Winter Congressional session.
    You know, if it’s snowy and cold anywhere, then global warming/weird in and climate change are a hoax!

  10. Uh, “research” funded by a commercial enterprise with a huge economic stake in the outcome… only a moron would refuse to be skeptical. 🙂

    Yeah, ya don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

  11. Actually, we know that a lot of Exxon research on global warming was correctly done, and that it pointed out decades ago that global warming as a result of human activity – including, in a major way, Exxon’s business – was happening and was a major problem. We also know that Exxon then covered up that research and started funding denialism.

  12. Another mass-shooting, another call from conservatve and their GOP “preznenshul” candidates, for prayers for the dead and wounded.

    We don’t need more prayers, you fucking stupid dipshit psychopaths!
    We need rigid fucking gun-control legislation!!!

    FSM, I wish I was wealthy enough to get the fucking hell out of our 21st Century, nation-wide Dodge City.
    But but I ain’t!
    And neither are the vast majority of us.

    So, welcome to the new, 21st Century fucking “Duck & Cover!”

    I’d cover your ass, and you’d cover mine, but we’re all too far away…….

  13. You can’t go interrupting a blog comment section every time there’s a mass shooting in the USA, c u n d gulag, cause you’ll be interrupting every single damned one!

  14. Heard (but cannot verify) that there were 350 or so large-scale shooting incidents in the prior 12 months, or nearly one per day.

    JDM is correct…

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