The genesis of RealClimate.org appears in the Climategate emails, and surprise, the BBC's Roger Harrabin seems connected

This email in December 2003 shows what appears to be the genesis of the idea of setting up the RealClimate.org website.

There a BBC (impartiality – ho ho) connection. Roger Harrabin at this meeting at Tyndall (why was he there in the first place?) of the BBC apparently “…wanted something more pro-active.” according to the email.

Bishop Hill writes:

#2974 is an email from Prof John Shepherd, a Tyndall advisory board member, to RealClimate’s Stefan Rahmstorf. Dated December 2003, it is a response to an email in which Rahmstorf has suggested setting up a website to counter sceptic arguments (perhaps the germ of the idea for RealClimate itself?). That’s not the point though. The point will be clear when you read Shepherd’s report of a meeting of Tyndall’s advisory board.

Many thanks for your very helpful comments. Essentially I agree on all counts, and indeed the “sceptics ask, scientists answer” web-page that you have set up is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind as a possible minimal response that we (Tyndall et al, and even maybe the Royal Society if it wants to get involved) might undrertake. Wherever possible this could/should refer to other reputable sites (incl IPCC, Hadley Centre, the ones you mention, etc etc) rather than duplicating the material. I would envisage that such a site could be maintained by a consortium of the willing, in this case involving (say) Tyndall, Hadley & PIK. We could then asked the RS (et al) to mention it and link to it on some sort of “sound science” page on their own web-site(s) (Rachel, do you think that this might fly ?).

We had an interesting debate on this at the Tyndall Advisory Board last week, and the consensus was very much in line with your views, except for the journalist present (Roger Horobin), who wanted something more pro-active. I am more sympathetic to his view than most of you, I think, but the question is what more would be useful, effective, and not too burdensome ? So far I don’t think I have identified anything, but I do think that the sort of web-page mentioned above would be a start, and so I am copying this to Asher Minns, for him to consider and discuss with John & Mike at Tyndall Central.

The date of this email is Wed, 03 Dec 2003

Academia moves slowly in most things. They had to build consensus and then search for money to do it, perhaps money that couldn’t be from NASA or other publicly funded research due to the conflicts of interest that would have created with such an outreach. They found money in the form of Fenton Communications, now Environmental Media Services.

According to whois RealClimate.org was registered as a domain almost a year later  19-Nov-2004 16:39:03 UTC

Domain ID:D105219760-LROR

Domain Name:REALCLIMATE.ORG

Created On:19-Nov-2004 16:39:03 UTC

Last Updated On:13-Jan-2011 00:25:24 UTC

Expiration Date:19-Nov-2015 16:39:03 UTC

Sponsoring Registrar:Active Registrar, Inc. (R1709-LROR)

Status:OK

Registrant ID:ACTR1011142017

Registrant Name:Betsy Ensley

Registrant Organization:Environmental Media Services

Registrant Street1:1320 18th St, NW

Registrant Street2:5th Floor

Registrant Street3:

Registrant City:Washington

Registrant State/Province:DC

Registrant Postal Code:20036

Registrant Country:US

Registrant Phone:+1.2024636670

Registrant Phone Ext.:

Registrant FAX:

Registrant FAX Ext.:

Registrant Email:betsy@ems.org

Admin ID:ACTR1011149427

Admin Name:Betsy Ensley

Admin Organization:Environmental Media Services

Admin Street1:1320 18th St, NW

Admin Street2:5th Floor

Admin Street3:

Admin City:Washington

Admin State/Province:DC

Admin Postal Code:20036

Admin Country:US

Admin Phone:+1.2024636670

Admin Phone Ext.:

Admin FAX:

Admin FAX Ext.:

Admin Email:betsy@ems.org

Tech ID:ACTR1011143071

Tech Name:Betsy Ensley

Tech Organization:Environmental Media Services

Tech Street1:1320 18th St, NW

Tech Street2:5th Floor

Tech Street3:

Tech City:Washington

Tech State/Province:DC

Tech Postal Code:20036

Tech Country:US

Tech Phone:+1.2024636670

Tech Phone Ext.:

Tech FAX:

Tech FAX Ext.:

Tech Email:betsy@ems.org

Name Server:NS1.WEBFACTION.COM

Name Server:NS2.WEBFACTION.COM

Name Server:NS3.WEBFACTION.COM

Name Server:NS4.WEBFACTION.COM
Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

journolist – Climate style.

Steven Rosenberg

Someone clever needs to coin a phrase for “astroturfing” in this realm, which is what RealClimate seems to be, Gastroturfing (CO2 is a gas)? Nah, something more clever is possible….

John A

Where better to get funding than from the Environmental Defence Fund? Lots of cash and lots of fingers in the carbon trading pie.

Interstellar Bill

The nefarious conspiring that they try to pin on us climate realists
is in fact their very own practice.
Typical Leftie projections.
Which side has all the money and spreads gigaTons of disinformation?
Which side is it that seeks to force dangerous policies on the world?
Which side is it that squelches debate and ignores counterveiling data?
Which side is it that rails against CO2
while 14,000+ of its adherents trek 15,000-mile round trips by jet?
Which side is it that emulates the Inquisition, or sells indulgences?

sailboarder

I can understand academia wanting to do this, ditto research organizations.. but for the media to ‘want something more pro-active’… I get sick to my stomach. I would not ever have thought the BBC would stoop that low. This guy needs to be fired NOW, along with his bosses!

Chris B

Does the name Betsy Ensley show up in any of the Emails? That might be interesting.

Scott Covert

Shill Climate?

Skiphil

Fenton Communications?
well for all who may be interested in the “watermelon” nature of much radical environmentalism (green on the outside, pink/red on the inside), there is quite a backstory to the activities of Fenton Communications. I wonder how they and the Tyndall/CRU people found each other and worked out the Real Climate website? That would be an interesting tale — here’s something on David Fenton and his development of Fenton Communications:
http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=814

wsbriggs

For those who have not read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, in it she points out that for the parasites on the left, it is essential to their self esteem to think that they are getting away with their deceits. When we point out the intellectual dishonesty and the patently obvious fraud which is being committed, we are attacking their “souls”, such as they are. The Warmbies respond accordingly.

crosspatch

Anthony, this is going to get real political. The thing here is that “Environmental Media Services” is actually

EMS is closely allied with Fenton Communications (where they shared the same office space and personnel),[3][4] “the largest public interest communications firm in the [United States]”[5] which specializes in providing public relations for nonprofit organizations dealing with public policy issues.

That is according to wikipedia. Might want to grab a screencap before it gets changed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_Media_Services
Fenton Communications is basically the primary “Progressive” PR agency in the US. Their basic role is one of “astroturf” For example, they were responsible for the “Alar” apple scare many years ago. One thing they will do is create several different “grass roots” groups to make it appear as if there are several different organizations working on an issue when in fact it is all orchestrated by Fenton. Rather than creating different “chapters” of the same organization, they will create entirely separate organizations to make it look like an issue has more interest. For example during the Iraq war such groups as Veterans for Peace, Win Without War, Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, etc. all shared one thing … Fenton Communications as their PR agency.
That EMS “shares office space and personnel” with EMS basically says that EMS (and Real Climate) are for all practical purposes part of the Fenton Communications PR machine. I don’t need to hear any more at this point, I already know the game now. NOTHING published at that site should be believed. It is a purely political propaganda site. That is all Fenton Communications does.

TomRude

..UN scientist: fighting climate change saves costs
By ARTHUR MAX
“..DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — The U.N.’s top climate scientist cautioned climate negotiators Wednesday that global warming is leading to human dangers and soaring financial costs, but containing carbon emissions will have a host of benefits.
Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, summarized a litany of potential disasters at a U.N. climate conference in the South African city of Durban. Although he gave no explicit deadlines, the implication was that time is running out for greenhouse gas emissions to level off and begin to decline.”
Heat waves currently experienced once every 20 years will happen every other year by the end of this century, he said.
Coastal areas and islands are threatened with inundation by global warming, rain-reliant agriculture in Africa will shrink by half and many species will disappear. Within a decade, up to 250 million more people will face the stress of scarce water. (…)
AP and fact checking… LOL

crosspatch

I would say at this point “Real” Climate has lost any benefit of doubt I might have given it. It’s sole purpose in life is to present a very specific viewpoint. They will never allow a balanced discussion there because if they did, Fenton would kick them out. Fenton will not allow a real balanced serious discussion as it goes against their primary objective.

Skiphil

evidently the questions about RC working with EMS and Fenton Communications came up in 2005, and RC issued a flat denial there there is any kind of funding or editorial relationship at all:
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/02/a-disclaimer/
still, looking at the kinds of stuff done by EMS and Fenton, I think any ‘reasonable’ person has to be at least a bit suspicious about how/why RC ended up linked with such activist left-wing partners if RC is truly only about the science:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_Media_Services
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenton_Communications
http://www.ewg.org/

Michael Eiseman

“Someone clever needs to coin a phrase for “astroturfing” in this realm, which is what RealClimate seems to be, Gastroturfing (CO2 is a gas)? Nah, something more clever is possible….”
Gasroots/Gasrooting = that propaganda which seeks to appear as a legitimate grassroots movement but which is in fact an orchestrated gas (CO2/bowel based) movement.

Charles.U.Farley.

The plot sickens…..

Richard Lawson

‘Roger Horobin’
Brilliant. That could stick!

crosspatch

There is absolutely NO POSSIBLE WAY that “The Cause” can claim political neutrality. This has exposed that they are absolutely politically driven. EVERYTHING that Fenton does is politically driven, it is the purpose of their existence. For Jones or Mann to claim that someone who disagrees with them is politically driven is simply an expression of them projecting their own motivations.
This is actually quite normal. A person likes to believe that they are “normal” and pretty much like other people. A person with a political agenda on an issue will likely see a person who doesn’t agree with that agenda as also politically motivated for the other side. So that the first thing out of the mouth of Mann would be that an opponent is political makes perfect sense when he himself is politically driven.
Jig’s up on this, I’m afraid. They have all been outed as left wing political shills.

Coke

Wow, and there I was, listening to the pro-AGW side of the argument, hearing how the 2nd round of emails should all be taken with a collective yawn because they contain nothing new! This particular slice of “nothing” was indeed most edifying 😉

Weren’t fenton communications linked to Pachauri by Richard North?
I think they may be connected with thinkprogress too

crosspatch

Interesting blog post in how Fenton sees ways to exploit the Internet for its agenda:
http://dis-engaged.blogspot.com/2009/03/enter-fenton-communications.html

Brian

Environmental Media Services isn’t even Environmental Media Services anymore.
Now, it’s Science Communication Network. Same front group, different name. Makes it harder to keep up with what they’re doing.

There are at least 24 BBC (impartiality – ho ho) people included in the UEA emails: http://climatologyplagiarism.blogspot.com/2011/11/shilling-for-living.html
Depressing stuff – when your broadcast monopoly is fused with corrupt charlatans – well, we now know what you get on TV.

mtwapiti
Skiphil

If I may quote (see below) in full the “disclaimer” I linked above, I think that the RealClimate statement may be a piece of artful mis-direction, since it only refers to denying (possible) specific funding or planning aspects of Fenton Communications and Environmental Media Services…. i.e., in denying that RC was a creation of or funded by FC or EMS, that does not begin to answer the questions about (1) how RC was in fact developed, and (2) who’s funding it, etc.
So even if the checks or editorial decisions don’t come from FC or EMS, that does not begin to explain how RC came to be using FC and EMS. A supposedly ‘neutral’ science-driven site (RC) linked at the hip with two of the most highly partisan left-wing (or “progressive” as David Fenton prefers to say) centers of propaganda and agitation.
Here’s the carefully worded RC disclaimer — think about all that it does not exclude, even if it *might* be accurate as so carefully stated:
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/02/a-disclaimer/
“Readers of the Feb. 14th, 2005 Wall Street Journal may have gotten the impression that RealClimate is in some way affiliated with an environmental organisation. We wish to stress that although our domain is being hosted by Environmental Media Services, and our initial press release was organised for us by Fenton Communications, neither organization was in any way involved in the initial planning for RealClimate, and have never had any editorial or other control over content. Neither Fenton nor EMS has ever paid any contributor to RealClimate.org any money for any purpose at any time. Neither do they pay us expenses, buy our lunch or contract us to do research. All of these facts have always been made clear to everyone who asked (see for instance: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/vol306/issue5705/netwatch.shtml).”

Mike Davis

Tip of the ICEBERG! There is much more beneath!

Charles.U.Farley.

#4959, they really are just basing this codswallop on faith… one of thems even a “christian” and a scientist, talk about an internal conflict.

crosspatch

And lo and behold, a great deal of the contributions to EMS comes from: (drum roll) … Tides Foundation!
Oh, my goodness. We basically have the number one financial organ of activist “progressive” causes. You have to be in pretty good standing with all the right people to get money from Tides. No way they are going to give money to anyone who is actually objective. They ONLY provide money for activist organizations that further their agenda.
Actually, in a web search I see this link being made in 2010 in a thread called “Catholicism and Climate Change” on a religious website.

Skiphil

gosh, Betsy Ensley was a busy bee in 2004, and of course her work for the RealClimate project had nothing whatsoever to do with her work for EMS and MoveOn.org
“Betsy previously managed advocacy websites for Environmental Media Services and MoveOn.org in the build up to the 2004 election cycle.”
http://chicago2011.drupal.org/user/betsy-ensley

to Steve Rosenberg: How about this term: RealClimate and James Hansen practice CLIMASTROLOGY.

“and the consensus was very much in line with your views,”
————————————————————————————————————————————
What is it with these guys and consensus? Why does everything have to be a consensus?
I was in an organization once that tried to do everything by consensus, a majority vote wasn’t enough, a super majority might be, but only if every effort to get everyone on board had failed. Needless to say almost nothing got done and the organization fell apart. Furthermore there was no proof that decisions made by consensus were any better than decisions made by one person or a majority vote. I wonder if it is this love affair with consensus that is driving these people to try to force everyone to believe their view on global warming.

LazyTeenager

Crosshatch says
I don’t need to hear any more at this point, I already know the game now. NOTHING published at that site should be believed.
—————
How convenient. A bunch of made up stuff you can’t possibly know is correct is an excuse so you can justify closing your eyes to evidence.

TerryMN

Anthony, after looking at the “Copyright legal eagles” thread over at Lucia’s you may want to preemptively hot-link or otherwise figure a workaround for the post image. Seems like a snit the team would love to engage in (probably because they’d have a chance of prevailing for a change 🙂 )

clipe

Tides Canada
Over the past year, I have been going through the tax returns of American charitable foundations in order to figure out who is funding the environmental movement in Canada, and why. So far, I’ve traced about $300-million over the past decade that has been paid to various green groups, mostly in B.C. By far, the largest B.C.-based recipient organization is Tides Canada which has been paid nearly $60-million by U.S. foundations, tax returns say.
http://www.financialpost.com/news/funding+Mayor+Robertson/5723451/story.html

crosspatch

LazyTeenager says:
November 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Not a single bit of “made up stuff” went into my decision. That Real Climate is affiliated with SCN or ESN is all I need to know. That organization exists for one single purpose: to further a political agenda. They themselves are affiliated with FC which exists for one purpose: to further a political agenda. A significant amount of funding comes from Tides which exists for one purpose: to further a political agenda.
One can not be a Fenton client if they don’t share the correct political agenda nor can they get funding from Tides. There is absolutely no way they would allow a balanced discussion to happen on that web site any more than a balanced discussion would be allowed on MoveOn. If they tried to allow balance, SCN would cut off their support because Fenton would withdraw THEIR support because Tides would cut off the money.
I am not basing my decision on one thing that is “made up”. Find me a right wing organization that is a Fenton client and gets funding from Tides. There isn’t one. Often the organizations are CREATED by Fenton for a specific agenda.
This is nothing more than left-wing political games on an international scale. I think “Real” Climate has lost any credibility it ever had as a “science” site and this explains why they actively suppress opposing points of view on their site. It’s an activist (or should I say, more “proactive”) website. It is its purpose, it is that way by design. There is nothing scientific at all about RC.

crosspatch

On “consensus”:
You only need “consensus” where it is explicitly desired not to have a “leader” or an executive in charge. It is a way for attempting to do things where all stakeholders are treated equally without having any one of them actually having a say. That does not allow things to get done and it causes drama. You often see the group breaking into factions and lobbying for various solutions with more time spent on the arguing about the “consensus” than in actually doing whatever they are arguing about.
“Consensus” also leads to bullying. It puts an extremely large amount of pressure on a minority opinion that might actually be correct. An executive would possibly be able to see this and make a decision that could be unpopular but the correct course. This is impossible with “consensus” . One holdout member eventually begins to get abuse/pressure for holding everyone else up and eventually gives in or is afraid to speak out when something goes wrong.
Actually, one place where I have seen this first hand is in a social/artistic activity I engage in. There are several groups who engage in this activity and many of them attempt to operate on a consensus model. They factionalize, lobby, have constant drama, and eventually don’t meet their goals and often break up. Our group operates differently. We have a designated “decider” and state quite clearly at the outset that we are not a democracy, if you don’t like the decision, there is another group for you. We have a “benevolent dictatrix” as we like to call her, whose word is the final say and she is actually quite talented in very lovingly allowing other people to own their own crap without making it everyone else’s problem.
Consensus is great for a place like the UN. It has absolutely no use whatsoever in deciding where to spend a country’s money when they are broke.

LazyTeenager says:
November 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm
Crosshatch says
I don’t need to hear any more at this point, I already know the game now. NOTHING published at that site should be believed.
—————
How convenient. A bunch of made up stuff you can’t possibly know is correct is an excuse so you can justify closing your eyes to evidence.
======================================
LT, it bothers people when they are told one thing and then find out the sole purpose for existence is to propagate propaganda, not science. Personally, I don’t have anything against, privately funded and supported advocacy sites. As long as they’re honest about what they are. For instance, if you click on my blog, I’m very upfront about where I stand on various issues. Here, we see this wasn’t the case for RC. There is no more impetus for Crosspatch to go to see RC than there is for anyone else to come to mine. Well, except I’m not supported by anyone. And I don’t delete/edit comments.

pat

PIC: 2011-2012 Knight-Wallace Fellows at Michigan
Roger Harrabin, environmental analyst, BBC (London); Scarcity: How many rich people can the Earth take?
http://www.mjfellows.org/fellows/

…the “sceptics ask, scientists answer” web-page that you have set up is exactly the sort of thing…
The Team realized how important information is. We know how important truth is. They’re inspiring me with more wiki ideas. Why not a “scientists claim, fraudbusters answer” website? – if Soon & Baliunas and all the rest arising from FOIA 2011 don’t precipitate the real Watergate-type exposure and “impeachments” in the near future.
I think the Soon and Baliunas story deserves to fly. This is where I hear commenters feeling physically sick at the corruption (the de Freitas story, and the “right kind of people on board” story. The spaghetti graph exposure at Climate Audit seriously amplifies “Hide The Decline” and I think there’s more slime to discover there. Soon and Baliunas’ paper is good, important, and deserves rehabilitation, quite apart from using their story as key evidence in future enquiries.

pat

29 Nov: BBC Ariel Mag: Roger Harrabin: A controversial conversationThe flak’s been flying again over BBC coverage of climate change
Roger Harrabin is taking unpaid leave on a Knight Wallace Media Fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ariel/15937222

Skiphil

re: the RealClimate “disclaimer” quoted above,
As a matter of logic, it is a very carefully constructed disclaimer leaving open (even if one can take RC at their word) vast areas unaddressed. As I mentioned above, it says nothing about any person(s) or organization(s) in the background who may have brought these entities together, influenced their partnership, and/or funded them for their shared purposes, and it does not actually exclude various kinds of possible non-cash “support” from EMS and/or FC to RC:
“neither organization was in any way involved in the initial planning for RealClimate, and have never had any editorial or other control over content.”
[“initial planning” might only exclude one or a few early meeetings, and excluding “control” over content leaves open myriad possible influences, content supplied, etc. Yes, perhaps RC has “final control” in editorial terms, but notice that nothing has been said to exclude a multitude of potential interactions between RC and EMS/FC and their unnamed benefactor(s), supporters, string-pullers, etc.]

The RC header is one of the best Freudian slips I’ve seen:
(1) “It’s the sun, stoopid” especially those magnetic loops
(2) You’ve got to take note of the huge modulating effect of Earth’s oceans (temp inertia, 800-year CO2 lag, COI2 exchange, El Nino etc)
(3) The important modulating effect of clouds

“sceptics ask, scientists answer”
Skepticism is what science is. If they’re not skeptics they’re not scientists period!

Skiphil

@pat
The project statement for Harribin at your link says so much about his left-wing “progressive” agenda in news reporting:
“Roger Harrabin, environmental analyst, BBC (London); Scarcity: How many rich people can the Earth take?”
It requires a truly bizarre view of science and economics to think that the earth is in danger from “How many rich people” — oh well, of course, if one assumes CAGW then maybe something must be done about “How many rich people”

crosspatch

Well, except I’m not supported by anyone. And I don’t delete/edit comments.

And I have no problems with someone who arrives at a different conclusion and no problems in asking them how they arrived there or explaining how I arrived at mine. I am not interested in “echo chambers”, really. What interests me in the “Global Warming” debate is that the whole hypothesis goes against both history and physics. We know from recorded history that what much of these people say isn’t true. We know from physics that much of what these people say can’t be true. We also know from how they act that something strange is going on. For example, how they “lose” data, obstruct inquiry, accuse anyone questing them of being stupid, political, vexatious, etc. When we ask them to explain or point out something we believe is incorrect, we are called names or our questions are erased as if they never existed.
This is not a matter of “belief”. It should be provable without “models”, without “adjustments”, that this is actually happening if it is as extreme as has been claimed. If one says that AGW will warm the atmosphere and create a “hot spot” that radiates heat back to Earth, then we should be able to find it. It should be there. It isn’t. In fact the contrary is the case. If the warming is the hottest in the past 1000 years, we should be able to go back in 1000 years of chronicles and see that to be the case. We can’t. In fact we find the contrary.
I am not asking what someone “believes”. I am asking them to present the reasons they reached that conclusion. I see no EVIDENCE that climate today is warming at a rate greater than we have seen at other times in history. I see no EVIDENCE that this is the warmest time in the last 1000 years. I do see EVIDENCE of the contrary.

crosspatch

The AGW issue is not about climate and it is not about “saving” the planet. It is about finding an issue that can be used as a lever to implement a global political agenda and today’s revelation simply added one more piece of supporting evidence to validate that hypothesis.

Justa Joe

Joe Romm formely a Clinton administration energy official – He must have tons of left wing connections. Are there actually people that honestly believe this guy coulld/would present a strictly scientific case regarding AGW?

D. King
cui bono

Re: Steve Rosenberg
They practice ‘Cargo Cult Science’, but one of the letters may need changing.
Erm…I don’t expect this to get through moderation…