Patterico's Pontifications

2/21/2012

The Latest Climate Change Kerfuffle

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:15 pm

I have gotten some emails regarding the latest climate scandal.

First, let’s look at the L.A. Times, long a paragon of objective journalism, and see if we can read between the lines to see where the reporter stands:

Once in a while, there comes along a reason to believe in karma.

Earlier this week, the Heartland Institute, a self-described “free-market think tank” that pilloried climate scientists whose stolen emails were released in 2009 as part of the so-called Climategate flap, found itself duped out of several confidential fundraising documents that were then distributed widely over the Internet, offering a glimpse of its priorities.

It’s pretty difficult, but a professional like myself can discern tiny hints that point to a point of view.* Come with me as I walk you through the analysis. The use of the word “karma” in the first sentence of the article — not an opinion article, as you might think, but an actual news story — is what Sherlock Holmes used to call a CLEW. Let’s read on:

Heartland is working with a consultant named David Wojick to develop a K-12 curriculum “to help teach the scientific debate regarding climate change.”

In an email, Wojick said he approached Heartland to fund his project, which would help educators “teach one of the greatest scientific debates in history. This means teaching both sides of the science, more science, not less.”

The problem is that there is very little debate among the world’s climatologists about the vast body of peer-reviewed data that has shown that human consumption of fossil fuels has led to a warming of the planet. The debate in the United States is largely political.

OK, so we have a pretty good idea where the L.A. Times stands. So where did the documents come from? A guy named Peter Gleick from the Pacific Institute — and here is his statement, thanks to Watts Up With That:

Since the release in mid-February of a series of documents related to the internal strategy of the Heartland Institute to cast doubt on climate science, there has been extensive speculation about the origin of the documents and intense discussion about what they reveal. Given the need for reliance on facts in the public climate debate, I am issuing the following statement.

At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it.

Given the potential impact however, I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget. I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues. I can explicitly confirm, as can the Heartland Institute, that the documents they emailed to me are identical to the documents that have been made public. I made no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication.

I will not comment on the substance or implications of the materials; others have and are doing so. I only note that the scientific understanding of the reality and risks of climate change is strong, compelling, and increasingly disturbing, and a rational public debate is desperately needed. My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved. Nevertheless I deeply regret my own actions in this case. I offer my personal apologies to all those affected.

Peter Gleick

I have a feeling you have not heard the last of this.

The (allegedly) high cost of campaigns

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 6:50 am

[Posted by Karl]

MoJo’s Kevin Drum acknowledges what most progressives will not:

From 1964 all the way through 2000, the cost of presidential campaigns was pretty stable, ranging around $300-600 million in inflation-adjusted terms. It was only in 2004 and 2008 that costs suddenly went through the roof.

And that happened without the eeevil Citizens United ruling from the Supreme Court.  That decision paved the way for super-PACs, much-demonized on the left, despite the fact that they increase the transparency of campaigns and level the playing field. If not for super-PACs, Mitt Romney’s rivals (save Ron Paul) would likely have been out weeks ago.

Instead, Romney is running into fundraising troubles.  Of course, a guy worth $200 million can write himself a check.  However, that would only play into narratives about Mitt’s wealth and weakness that he would surely prefer to avoid if possible.

As January fundraising numbers became public Monday, some noted Romney’s $6.5 million take was far less than what Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and even John McCain raised four Januarys ago.  On the other hand, Obama raised much less now than four Januarys ago, and the Romney-Santorum total is competitive.  The fundraising to date — and Obama’s hypocritical embrace of super-PACs — suggests that overall campaign spending may not set a record this cycle.

Campaign spending should not be the progressives’ bete noire in the first place.  As George Will is fond of noting, total campaign spending is roughly what Proctor & Gamble spends advertising its products in one year, or what Americans spend on yogurt in a given year.  Given that the government now bails out everyone from Goldman Sachs to the UAW, turns the health insurance industry into a tax collector for the welfare state, and works a regulatory stranglehold on domestic energy production while dumping money into the crony capitalism of so-called “green jobs” programs, the shock ought to be that more people aren’t trying to buy elections.

Progressives fixated on the allegedly high cost of campaigns ought to be more concerned with the very real costs of the government leviathan.  The progressives’ concern ought to be that a government this corrupt and intrusive invites capture by the wealthy and powerful.  But it never was their concern, dating back to the progressive era of Teddy Roosevelt.  For all of the prog posturing about being for the people against the powerful, they have always been accomodating to the latter if it serves their statist agenda.

–Karl


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