Nisbett's war

This row isn’t something I’ve covered yet on WUWT, and I’ve generally stayed out of the fight going on between Nisbett and Mann’s best friend, but I thought Nisbett’s rebuttal article linked below deserved the wider audience WUWT can provide.

This all got started with a breach in journalistic standards, by ignoring a media embargo, which gets you on the fast track to isolation. Keith Kloor has commentary on it.

This issue all seems to be over who gets more money in the climate wars. Nisbett correctly pegs the greens, writing:

Based on the analysis in Chapter 1 of the Climate Shift report, it is no longer tenable to assert a David vs. Goliath narrative when it comes to comparing the financial resources of the major national environmental groups and their opponents among conservative groups and industry associations.  Greens bring in vastly more in revenue, spend more on all programs, and spend more on all activities specific to climate change and energy policy than these longstanding opponents.

Dr. Michael Mann says in this Mother Jones interview:

“Climate science has basically been at the receiving end of the best-funded, best-organized smear campaign by the wealthiest industry that the Earth has ever known—that’s the bottom line”

Reality says otherwise, take for example the greens outspending the supposed “big oil” campaign of AB32 in California last November:

California’s Prop 23 and the “big oil money” campaign – outspent 3 to 1

Here is Nisbett’s response. It is well worth a read.

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April 22, 2011 11:56 am

Mann’s statement is correct if you remove a few unneeded words.
Climate science has basically been at the receiving end of the best-funded, best-organized smear campaign by the wealthiest industry that the Earth has ever known—that’s the bottom line”

April 22, 2011 12:13 pm

I think there is another question that needs to be asked. How is it that the poor enviromentalists ended up with more money in this fight than the mammoth fossile fuel energy companies? Did they have a very good grass roots fundraising campaign or were there corporate donors that footed the bill. I also wonder the role of Wall Street Bankers and other investors as these people had the most to gain by a cap and trade mechanism. (Actually they were the only group that came out ahead.) I suspect that certain environmental organizations create what looks like a popular front in the climate change fight while traders and hedge fund managers pull strings behind the scene. I’m sure the management of “Big Green” is a willing accomplice in all of this but I’m not so sure the regular foot soldiers in the environmental movement look at is this way.

April 22, 2011 12:43 pm

I think this analysis grossly underestimates the amount of money spent promoting the global warming fraud. According to this report:
“The US Government has spent more than $79 billion of taxpayers’ money since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, propaganda campaigns, foreign aid, and tax breaks.”
And as the writer recognizes:
“This distorts the science towards self-serving alarmism.”
Because that enables the government to seize more control over our economy and our lives. I can’ t vouch for the accuracy of the numbers, but we know the US government spends billions on global warming research every year, and we can see with our own eyes that the vast majority of that money is spent on pseudo-science meant to promote climate alarmism.

April 22, 2011 12:44 pm

Sean says:
April 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm
“I’m not so sure the regular foot soldiers in the environmental movement look at is this way.”
Surely not. You can’t walk through a German shopping district without being attacked by several idealistic mid-age women giving you anti-nuclear leaflets. I happily take them; i love to follow the links printed on them to find out about the financial backing which is, unsurprisingly, mostly German renewable energy trade associations.
In the US, i would suppose GE with its wind turbine business to be one of the backers, and of course everybody else who stands to make a dime from the renewable (subsidy) business.

April 22, 2011 12:45 pm

One of the reasons why Big Environment must act like they are begging from pennies on the street is because if people really knew how rich they were, they would have to work for a living. They are like the mafia: If you threaten their money, you better watch your back forever.

April 22, 2011 12:51 pm

Is this related to the fact that Big Green (incl. our Gov.) outspends the skeptics by at least 3400 to 1?
At JoNova

April 22, 2011 12:51 pm

A lot of that green money is our tax dollars funneled to green groups by the government.

Henry Galt
April 22, 2011 12:53 pm

Everything, and by that I mean every thing, that we are served up by the Main Stream Media is, at best, lies. Mostly, and by that I mean very nearly all of, it* is the exact opposite of what is actually occurring. Even the pleasant stuff is not immune.
The mystery, and in this I include myself, is why any of us believed that climate fell outside their remit.
When someone steps out of the enclosure and reveals a glimmer of truth it seems strangely exciting and surreal, as opposed to expected, demanded and adhering to the Code of Journalism.
*(apart from the occasional sad/funny puppy/kitten story)

April 22, 2011 1:51 pm

DirkH says:
“… In the US, i would suppose GE with its wind turbine business to be one of the backers…”
You mean the “paid minimal (if any) US taxes yet squired a sizable chunk of the TARP handout” GE?
Yeah… no doubt.

Rob Potter
April 22, 2011 1:58 pm

Having had some contact with Matthew Nisbett on a completely un-related matter, I was interested enough to read the summary before I saw any of this controversy. It is clear to anyone who reads the summary information that this is written by someone very much of the “consensus” mainstream view (i.e. alarmist) and the report itself was funded by a known activist organization (the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).
What Matthew has done is to look at the real situation and put it all out there in order to point out to the alarmists what they have done wrong – ostensibly (I would guess) in order for them to get it right next time. And for that he has been thrown under the proverbial bus! I feel very sorry for him that he has has to go through this, but if you read some of the stuff, he really does have it in for conservatives and conservative scientists.
Maybe he should use some of his excellent analytical skills to look at the claims of alarmists – I am willing to hazard a guess that he would find a much better response to his writings on this side of the fence – even if he didn’t come to the same conclusions as others.

April 22, 2011 2:26 pm

One asked where all the money comes from for the Green movement. Research the big foundations, Ford, Rockefellor, Carnegie etc. They are all throwing boatloads of money into the the Green/Left causes.

April 22, 2011 2:28 pm

SSam says:
April 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm
“You mean the “paid minimal (if any) US taxes yet squired a sizable chunk of the TARP handout” GE?”
Yes; and the GE who’s CEO is adviser to the POTUS.

John David Galt
April 22, 2011 2:45 pm

@EJ: Here’s a site everyone should read, which collects information about the sources of funding for environmental groups — and especially eco-terror groups. Many are quite successful in making themselves look harmless to donors, and/or making themselves sound like scientific experts (for instance, “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine”) to lazy journalists.

April 22, 2011 2:48 pm

I thought it was an excellent analysis. But one thing Nisbett didn’t mention was the ongoing censorship of opposing view at Romm’s blog and at other alarmist blogs.
Romm deliberately obfuscates facts and observations in his attempt to propagandize the debate. Unlike WUWT, Romm [and other CAGW propagandists] are nothing more than partisan advocates for Cap & Tax. The scientific method is completely ignored by Romm and his like-minded blusterers. As Nisbett says:

Romm’s intent as a professional blogger working for an advocacy group appears aimed at making discussion of the Climate Shift report an endless debate over uncertainty and data, all fixed to a supposed personality clash between researchers, a strategy that he often accuses Republicans of doing on climate science.

If it weren’t for psychological projection, Joe Romm wouldn’t have much to say.

Jim Cole
April 22, 2011 3:11 pm

There are three big sources of money for the Green Lobby/activists.
1. Greenmail protection money extracted from corporations to avoid negative publicity (of course, the Greens still bash the corp’s, but they keep paying the protection). Jesse Jackson owns the patent on this scheme
2. Lefty trust-a-farian philanthropic funds like RW Johnson, Pew, MacArthur, etc. This is second/third generation “evil corporation” money that is paid out by comfortable heirs who never really had to work for anything, but who desperately want to add meaning to their lives by “saving the planet”. Prince Charles is the poster boy here.
3. Government grants. This is the well-established money laundering scheme that has also been well exploited by the public-sector labor unions. Gummint money (AKA your tax dollars) is granted to favored institutions (unions, 501-c-3 groups, etc.) for “non-political” purposes, which then mysteriously shows up in campaign contributions after the fingerprints have been scrubbed
Those of us on the conservative/skeptical side actually have to go out and produce something of value in order to donate it to organizations that support/enhance our message.
The Green Left clearly has the more efficient money-extraction model.
We just have to beat ’em with the facts

April 22, 2011 4:41 pm

It is important to note that BIG OIL has also been funding Climate Scientists yet we don’t hear them complaining about it.,9171,1079483,00.html
A for Pachauri he has his hands full dealing with BIG OIL

April 22, 2011 4:47 pm

“Enron, joined by BP, invented the global warming industry. I know because I was in the room. This was during my storied three-week or so stint as Director of Federal Government Relations for Enron in the spring of 1997, back when Enron was everyone’s darling in Washington.”
Chris Horner

April 22, 2011 5:08 pm

On Nisbett’s Climateshift website I read:

Who funded the report and project?
“Climate Shift’s inaugural report and web site was funded by a $100,000 grant from the Ecological Innovation program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation. The goal of the Ecological Innovation program is to “address the challenges of climate change and to promote vibrant and sustainable ecological systems that support healthy communities and a just economy.” ”

And the foundation:

“We seek to build a socially and economically just society that values nature and protects the ecological balance for future generations; promotes humane health care; and fosters arts and culture that enriches communities.”

At least the report can’t be attacked for being under the pay of BIG OIL. ;O)

Darren Parker
April 22, 2011 5:35 pm

Has everyone seen the Jesse Venture expose of Maurice Strong?

Theo Goodwin
April 22, 2011 5:52 pm

Mark Luedtke says:
April 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm
I think this analysis grossly underestimates the amount of money spent promoting the global warming fraud.
Well, yeah! I bet the government did not count the money spent indoctrinating my 16 year old in his public school. The indoctrination was way over the top. It reeked of communist Russia. Fortunately, what American high schoolers hear at school is “in one ear and out the other.” Teachers, administrators, parent groups, the US government, and all who promote ideology under the name of education should recognize that they are creating for themselves a powerful feeling of distrust that will be their undoing.
Fortunately for my son and my family, next academic year he will be attending a first rate Christian high school. It has the highest percentage of National Merit Scholars in the nation. Take that, communists!

Doug Proctor
April 22, 2011 8:03 pm

The climate wars if indeed political or ideological, pit the authority supporters against the free-thinkers. The free-thinker element has, historically, been a marginal group driven by personal opinion, distrust of authority in principal, and extremism rooted in minor points not considered significant by the group. The free-thinker element has, historically, not been powerful because it is idiosyncratic and disunited by its nature of distrusting the opinions, supportive or not, of others. The fact that there is a large portion of the populace uncertain or unsupportive of the current environmental movement vis-a-vis climate change reflects not the marginal free-thinker, but the more-or-less mature consideration of people from all walks of life and political persuasions. True, there is a split along party lines in the US, but the question to be asked is whether the split is based on green ideology or whether green ideology is what splits the political vote (do you support AGW meme because you are a Democrat, or are you a Democrat because you support the AGW meme?).
Neither side of the climate wars is fully political. It is posited that the Republican side is political, while the Democrat side is science-based. This is foolish. If anything, it is the reverse, because science teaches the observer to be critical of another’s conclusions, while politics teaches the observer to “get on the team”, “block for the quarterback”, and in general “get with the programme”. Science encourages distrust; politics encourages consensus.

Eric Anderson
April 22, 2011 8:51 pm

“. . . it is no longer tenable to assert a David vs. Goliath narrative when it comes to comparing the financial resources of the major national environmental groups and their opponents among conservative groups and industry associations.”
Was it ever tenable? If it ever even arguably was, it certainly hasn’t been for a long, long time.
Of course if he were to reverse the order, Goliath vs. David, then it would be a factual narrative.

April 22, 2011 10:07 pm

It’s odd to find myself agreeing with Mann, but

is perfectly correct. Of course, he’s thinking of the Evil Oil Industry and I’m thinking of Big Government. David vs Goliath indeed.

Larry in Texas
April 22, 2011 11:58 pm

The Nisbet report confirms my own personal experiences with environmental groups in my work while at the City of Dallas. They are not just a bunch of little old ladies in tennis shoes. They are a well-heeled bunch, and they play the media as smoothly as playing the strings of a Stradivarius violin. I would believe Nisbet’s observations on how much money they have spent. They are a powerful force. Reducing their undue lobbying and propaganda power in Washington, D.C. is going to take a lot of effort.

Martin Brumby
April 23, 2011 1:25 am

In the UK and in the EU, Millions of taxpayers’ Pounds / Euros are funnelled to Enviro-activist groups. There are loads of references to this. A good one to start with:-

April 23, 2011 4:56 am

Why is anyone surprised to see oil company money supporting the climate change cause. They know there is no substitute for oil in transportation and they don’t own much of the oil reserves anyway. However the oil companies are long on natural gas, there is abundant supply, and it’s easy and economical to change electric generation to natural gas. So oil (& gas) company support for climate change is actually a mechanism to sell more product to power the grid.
P.S. If you want to p__s-off you green friends, explain to them how Exxon and BP will benefit from their climate change advocacy.

April 23, 2011 4:59 am

Climate organisations, left wing groups and other lobbying bodies have a natural advantage in the finance stakes over most companies, after all they don’t have to provide a financial payback for their investors/share holders. All they have to pay back is hot air, sorry I mean rhetoric. It would be a totally different ball game if their future revenues were based on their actual performance, most would be broke by now.

Gary Pearse
April 23, 2011 8:07 am

It is interesting how much each side directly spends, but this pales in the light of the hundreds of billions spent by governments for scientific grants to Universities, funding their own gov scientific organizations and in the “propaganda hardware” such as UK’s 50B+ outlay on wind generation – you don’t need cap and trade if you can shut down coal (and nuclear) plants and preferentially select non-carbon (high cost, low reliability) energy generation and charge the “customers” 4 times the cost of fossil -fuel energy generation. These huge expenditures on hardware and the enormous PR costs to put them over should be counted in the battle costs – here it is a ratio of 100sB to zero for the green Czars.

April 23, 2011 8:14 am

I’m still going through it, but I find Dr. Nisbett’s report very interesting. So, too, the controversy: Dr. Brulle, as a compensated reviewer, spent several weeks trying to shape Dr. Nisbett’s message, then, after sharing the report before publication decided to step out of the line of fire. I suspect Dr. Nisbett’s conclusions were not really surprising to anyone, including Joe Romm, and that Dr. Nisbett’s primary error is releasing a public report. Joe is protecting the narrative, even though he knows it to be false.

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