Thursday, July 2, 2009

REAL or HOAX, part II

In my June 30 blogpost, , I asked some very cool people (scientists, environmental ethicists) what to think about the Heartland Institute's recent publication of well-written contrarian information to contest the reality of climate change. One of those cool people pointed me to Grist, a site focused on environmental journalism. I turned around and asked Grist (also cool people) what it thought of the Heartland material. I got a prompt reply from Ashley Braun, Grist's Community Coordinator, listing some articles Grist has written about Heartland.

I should note that the Grist articles raise doubts about Heartland, but aren't filled with the kind of hard core data that an academic wants to see. For me, the most interesting inference, and one which Grist reports blogger Kevin Grandia at DeSmogBlog is trying to back with proof, is the claim that the long list of scientists who supposedly side with Heartland on the status of climate change may be partially falsified. You can read about this in the fourth article noted below, "DeSmogBlog uncovers Heartland lies." And likewise, the second article, "A look at the non-experts speaking at Heartland Institute's denialist sideshow," raises questions for me about the validity of Heartland's conference speakers, but doesn't actually put the validity question to rest. As a lawyer and a researcher, Grist's objections (many of the speakers, on the face of it, seem under-qualified to be considered experts on climate change) raise the question, but I could see a circumstance where someone's job title doesn't account for other activities that may have created expertise. I want to know more about the speaker's own claims as to the source of their expertise. Finally, the June 30th post gave a weighty nod to ideology. Grist's last article on the list does a good job of outing the ideological bent of the web of climate change nay-sayers. As I said on June 30th, I don't begrudge anyone their ideology. But we are human, and ideology often colors our abilities to consider evidence that may be contrary to our belief system. When we're dealing with a problem as potentially devastating to the earth and its inhabitants (including us) as global warming, that warrants a mind open enough to consider the worst case scenario. I'm a pragmatist. I believe we should "plan for the worst and hope for the best," as opposed to planning for the best, and finding ourselves facing the worst.

Ashley's response is below.

"Hi Sandy,

Thanks for contacting Grist and for questioning what’s going on with the Heartland Institute. We’ve been keeping an eye on them and their climate denial conferences for a while now. Here’s a list of our coverage, which may be useful to you and your friends:

Heartland Institute terrified of Grist,

A look at the non-experts speaking at Heartland Institute’s denialist sideshow,

Do as Heartland says, not as it does,

DeSmogBlog uncovers Heartland lies,

Heartland’s climate experts: No actual expertise required,

The Heartland conference recycles the usual climate change skeptics in its speakers list,

Marc Morano’s secret list of climate deniers,


Ashley Braun Community Coordinator
206.876.2020 ext. 232
710 Second Ave, Seattle, WA 98104
Celebrating 10 Years as A Beacon in the Smog.®
Party crashers welcome."

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