Climate Denier Countdown! 5 PR “Experts” Lying To You

This first edition of Climate Denier Countdown examines five people who are paid to deny the science of climate change…and they aren’t scientists. Funded directly or indirectly by coal or oil companies or just angry rich people, these people want your ear. Don’t lend it to them.

5. “Lord” Christopher Monckton – Climate Drama Queen, Professional Nazi-labeler

The Honey Boo-Boo of climate denial, Britain’s Christopher Monckton’s irrelevance is only noteworthy for the sheer ludicrous nature in which he conducts himself. His fabricated expertise include mathematics (he took a university level math class) and an “expert reviewer” for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—a completely unspecialized position that anyone in the world can register for.

Monckton loves comparing both scientists and activists with Nazis. Check out these videos of him pompously accusing youth at the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference of being the “Hitler Youth” (some of those kids were Jewish…) and his display of a Nazi Swastika during the mindless slander of an Australian professor (which even tiffed Anthony Watts, leading to an apology from Monckton).

When not displaying the Nazi flag, Monckton is busy egging on tea party activists to chant that “global warming is…[bullshit!],” or awkwardly dressing up in Arab garb at the United Nation’s climate conferences, where he was banned after “impersonating a delegate from Burma.”

As for Christopher Monckton’s lordship—he has been ordered by the British House of Lords to stop claiming any association with them in a letter posted on the British Parliament website.

4. Anthony Watts - retired TV weatherman

Anthony Watts writes a blog, heavily trafficked and trolled by what appears to be a loyal, regular cabal of pseudo-scientific thinkers with a deep-rooted ideological opposition to the reality of global warming and a strange distrust of scientists. Watts’ projects have been funded by Chicago billionaire Barre Seid through The Heartland Institute ($44,000 last year).

While making no factual additions to the scientific dialog around global warming’s current and future impacts, Watts’ blog provides the smoldering coals for the fire of attacks on real climate scientists and real climate research. This includes promotion of not one, not two but THREE non-scandals involving hacked and published personal emails of climate scientists—the first of which was investigated nine times and revealed absolutely no misconduct by scientists (this was nicknamed “climategate” by deniers and readily eaten up by an uncritical media desperate for perceived political controversies).

Ironically, while Watts’ work is incapable of passing a scientific peer-review and formal publication (a key indicator of scientifically rigorous work), he has attacked actual peer-reviewed research. Responding to a peer-reviewed study confirming 97% consensus among relevant scientists of the existence and human-causation of global warming, Watts accused the researchers of “fuzzy math” and telling “an epic lie of all proportions.”

The majority of Watts’ audience, subjectively speaking, seems to be the typical, tireless social media “trolls” we all know well, like the gentleman profiled in this video from The Guardian. Which begs the question: what’s with retired men and denying global warming?

3. Steve Milloy – JunkScience.com blogger, Tobacco Apologist, Climate Denier

Here’s an interesting video clip: Steve Milloy’s oddly honest admission that “a band of about 25 people” run the entire PR campaign that has duped many American people and politicians into dismissing the reality and threat of global warming. Milloy used to take money and instruction from tobacco giant Phillip Morris (now owned by Altria) to deny the proven link between secondhand smoke and cancer through a front group under the misnomer “The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition.” Milloy has moved on to full-time climate change denial, employing the tobacco denial playbook he knows well.

Milloy is shameless in his fossil fuel shilling—check out this clip of him lambasting ExxonMobil shareholder activists (including nuns and the Rockefeller family itself) who were using their partial ownership of Exxon to demand the company end some of its most destructive business practices. Milloy used his Exxon stock to propose a ban on “poser shareholder” proposals because his belief was that ExxonMobil was “a company with a track record of true social responsibility,” and telling those trying to leverage Exxon stock to make positive change to “get out!”

“You’ll hear from shareholders that say they’re concerned about global warming,” Milloy told attendees of the 2008 ExxonMobil annual shareholders meeting, “yet they willfully ignore the latest forecasts from UN scientists that calls for global cooling,” he invented, just before citing a denier petition signed by the Spice Girls. Check here to read the science that Milloy doesn’t bother to, in the UN’s

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Report.

2. Myron Ebell - talking head at the Competitive Enterprise Institute

Myron Ebell has made a career advocating for extractive and polluting industries and wealthy ideologues under the guise of “free markets” (i.e. zero liability) and “private property rights” (i.e. sucks to be you if I own something that poisons you).

His background is in economics, not science—good enough to become a public relations agent for companies that profit from their contributions to climate change (hello, coal industry!).

Ebell’s branch of CEI—the ‘Competitive Enterprise Institute’—focuses on denying climate science and reducing the liability of heavy polluting industries, often by attacking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. CEI’s anti-environmental work is funded by fossil fuel interests and billionaire David Koch. ExxonMobil used to fund CEI until CEI’s positions were too embarassing to publicly support.

At CEI and other Koch-linked groups, Ebell’s job is to appear to be relevant where he is not. This is made obvious when you take a lot at his perceived credentials on the CEI website, Myron Ebell’s goal is made clear by his self-promotion of press that heavily criticizes his career of undermining science: Who cares what they say, so long as they say my name, too.

Admittedly, just including Ebell in this blog falls into that exact pattern, so reporters and blogger beware: Myron Ebell has no relevance in the real world of climate science.

1. James Taylor - lawyer at The Heartland Institute

James Taylor has no expertise in climate change science, or any science for that matter. He has a law degree and is paid to publish newsletters dismissing global warming and to repeat those lies on bombastic talk radio shows.

Since James Taylor takes a distinctly unscientific approach to climate change policy, it matters that coal companies like Murray Energy fund his work.

For decades the Heartland Institute has received funding from Murrary Energy and other fossil fuel interests like ExxonMobil and the billionaire Koch brothers for their work attacking environmental regulation. However, Heartland’s primary climate-denial sugar daddy is a secretive Chicago billionaire named Barre Seid, who funneled money to Heartland through a Koch-connected piggybank named Donors Trust.

In 2013, Taylor flew from Chicago to testify before the legislatures of Kansas and Ohio to support a national attack renewable energy incentives, in coordination with other Koch-funded interests like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans For Prosperity, the Beacon Hill Institute and other front groups coordinated by the “State Policy Network.”

Taylor is in kooky company at Heartland. His co-workers and affiliates include:

• “Science director” Jay Lehr, who defrauded American taxpayers $200,000 during contract work for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the early 1980’s, resulting in a $25,000 fine and a six month sentencing in federal prison.

• President Joseph Bast (who defends tobacco marketing toward children and has a raspy voice “from years of smoking”) even alienates other veteran climate science deniers, like Ken Green of the American Enterprise Institute, for not being hardline enough in their denial of global warming or their willingness to consider a national carbon tax.

• Contractor Craig Idso, who has been pumping out junk science for years, promoting the false and simplistic claim that more atmospheric CO2 means good things for planet earth, period. This is a re-hashed argument from an old coal industry front group Idso’s family helped orchestrate, called the “Greening Earth Society.” The demonstrably false claims made by the Greening Earth Society are still used by denier front groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who made this inane “CO2 is Life” advertisement. Heartland’s James Taylor continues to promote this particularly ripe form of global warming denial.

Dealing in Doubt - more on professional climate change deniers

For more details (and cartoons!) on the climate denial machine and how PR professionals have politicized science, check out Dealing in Doubt.

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