The 30,000 Global Warming Petition is Easily-Debunked Propaganda

The 30,000 Global Warming Petition is Easily-Debunked Propaganda
on

To say that the oft-touted “30,000 Global Warming Petition” project stinks would be an understatement.

I thought it would be timely to once-again breakdown this flawed piece of global warming denier propaganda after it was mentioned last night in Daily Show host Jon Stewart’s interview with US Energy Secretary of Energy, Dr. Stephen Chu.

.1% of Signers Have a Background in Climatology

The Petition Project website offers a breakdown of the areas of expertise for those who have signed the petition.

In the realm of climate science it breaks it breaks down as such:

Atmospheric Science (113)

Climatology (39)

Meteorology (341)

Astronomy (59)

Astrophysics (26)

So only .1% of the individuals on the list of 30,000 signatures have a scientific background in Climatology. To be fair we can add in those who claim to have a background in Atmospheric Science, which brings the total percentage of signatories with a background in climate change science to a whopping .5%.

The page does not break out the names of those who do claim to be experts in Climatology and Atmospheric Science, which makes even that .5% questionable [see my section on ‘unverifiable mess” below].

This makes an already questionable list seem completely insignificant given the nature of scientific endeavor.

When I think I’m having chest pains I don’t go to Dermatologist, I go to a Cardiologist because it would be absurd to go to skin doctor for a heart problem. It would be equally absurd to look to a scientist with a background in Medicine (of which there are 3,046 on the petition) for an expert opinion on the science of climate change. With science broken down into very narrow specialties a scientific expert in one specialty does not make that person an automatic authority in all things science.

In this way the logic of the 30,000 petition is completely flawed, which isn’t surprising given its questionable beginnings.

The Petition’s Sordid Beginnings

The petition first emerged in April 1998 and was organized by Art Robinson of the self-proclaimed “Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine” (OISM) [their headquarters are the Photo Inset].

Along with the Exxon-backed George C. Marshall Institute, Robinson’s group co-published the infamous “Oregon Petition” claiming to have collected 17,000 signatories to a document arguing against the realities of global warming.

The petition and the documents included were all made to look like official papers from the prestigious National Academy of Science. They weren’t, and this attempt to mislead has been well-documented.

Along with the petition there was a cover letter from Dr. Fred Seitz (who has since deceased) a notorious global warming denier (and big tobacco scientist), who over 30 years ago was the president of the National Academy of Science.

Also attached to the petition was an apparent “research paper” titled: Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. The paper was made to mimic what a research paper would look like in the National Academy’s prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy journal. The authors of the paper were Robinson, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon (both oil-backed scientists) and Robinson’s son Zachary. With the signature of a former NAS president and a research paper that appeared to be published in one of the most prestigious science journals in the world, many scientists were duped into signing a petition based on a false impression.

The petition was so misleading that the National Academy issued a news release stating: “The petition project was a deliberate attempt to mislead scientists and to rally them in an attempt to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was not based on a review of the science of global climate change, nor were its signers experts in the field of climate science.”

An Unverifiable Mess

Time and time again, I have had emails from researchers who have taken random samples of names from the list and Google searched them for more information. I urge others to do the same. What you’ll quickly find is either no information, very little information or information substantiating the fact that the vast majority of signers are completely unqualified in the area of climate change science.

For example,

“Munawwar M. Akhtar” – no info other than the fact that he is a signatory on the petition.

“Fred A. Allehoff”  – no info other than the fact that he is a signatory on the petition.

“Ernest J. Andberg” – no info other than the fact that he is a signatory on the petition.

“Joseph J. Arx” – no info other than the fact that he is a signatory on the petition.

“Adolph L. Amundson” – a paper by Amundson on the “London Tunnel Water Treatment System Acid Mine Drainage.” [PDF]

“Henry W. Apfelbach” – an Orthopedic Surgeon

“Joe R. Arechavaleta” – runs an Architect and Engineering company.

And this is only names I picked in the “A’s.” I could go on, but you get my point. The list is very difficult to verify as a third-party, but this hasn’t stopped the Petition from bouncing around the internet and showing up in mainstream media.

Given all this it seems to me that anyone touting this as proof that “global warming is a hoax” completley misunderstands the process of scientific endeavor or has completely exhausted any real argument that rightfully brings into to doubt the reality of climate change.

Or, then again, they could just be in it for the money.

The 30,000 Global Warming Petition is Easily-Debunked Propaganda

Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmogBlog.

He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning.

Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks.

Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder.

Prior to DeSmogBlog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health.

In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications.

Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

Related Posts

Opinion
on

More proposed rules to fix a broken regulatory system are a distraction from the real issue of the government failing to hold the oil industry accountable.

More proposed rules to fix a broken regulatory system are a distraction from the real issue of the government failing to hold the oil industry accountable.
on

More than 40 cities have enacted bans on new gas infrastructure, but in the Pacific Northwest one company is trying a new tactic to head off climate policy.

More than 40 cities have enacted bans on new gas infrastructure, but in the Pacific Northwest one company is trying a new tactic to head off climate policy.
on

For nearly a decade, pipeline companies have relied on the contested Nationwide Permit 12 when their projects cross waterbodies in the U.S.

For nearly a decade, pipeline companies have relied on the contested Nationwide Permit 12 when their projects cross waterbodies in the U.S.
on

Campaigners say there is growing dissatisfaction among Barclay’s shareholders over the bank’s approach to climate change.

Campaigners say there is growing dissatisfaction among Barclay’s shareholders over the bank’s approach to climate change.