Providing high quality educational resources to science classrooms is a noble task, but when those resources include deeply flawed global warming denial material, produced with funding from an anonymous source, red flags ought to go up. That is the scenario with The Cassiopeia Project’s video suggesting that climate change is bunk.
Cassiopeia was previously known for producing excellent videos exploring complex scientific concepts, but now all of its good work is being compromised by an unscientific and dishonest attack on global warming research.
That has fans of Cassiopeia’s more well-regarded videos flummoxed.
Incredibly, three of the twelve sources cited in the global warming video credits are the exact same press release posted in diferent locations and written by Marc Morano while he still worked for Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). Other sources of information used in the video include the widely-discredited Oregon Petition Project and the Heartland Institute.
Who is behind the Cassiopeia Project?
Cassiopeia’s website says the individual is “a retired physicist who has considerable means.” We know Mudbrick Media, based near Mobile, Alabama, produced the videos. The anonymous funder is described in another story about Mudbrick’s productions as “an entrepreneur who wants to keep a low personal profile” and, beyond his interest in climate denial, “wants to explore a new business model for the music industry.”
Beyond that, the stunning misrepresentations in the global warming video must, for now, speak for themselves.
The video’s tone is argumentative from the start. The very first line of the video says: “The opinion count stands at 31,000 to 52 but that’s just among scientists in the public eye.” This is confusing; is there a whole army of secret scientists out there who are less in the public eye than the 31,000 mentioned?
The narrator continues with leading rhetorical questions, baseless jabs at science and many graphs and images with no citations. It is as if they are trying to present a pursuasive case to a jury of illiterate and bored captives.
Is that how Cassiopeia now thinks of high school students?
The video employs selective ‘evidence’ such as the temperature record for a single spot in the ocean, the Sargasso Sea, which is an interesting area to single out for your data, until you realize that no other ocean location would support your pre-conceived theory. [Minute 1:30, report cited by producers: Keigwin, L.D. (1996) Science 274, pg 1504-1508]
At minute 2:25, the video cites the 126-year temperature graph for the contiguous United States. But the contiguous lower 48 U.S. states represent only 1.6% of the total surface of the earth, so why not show global temperature trends? Perhaps because they don’t support the deniers’ claims?
The video even uses a rapid succession of news articles at the 5:50 mark to give the impression of impending widespread cooling, but the articles are all taken from a short period of time, and all concern weather, not climate. It’s even tackier that the background image for this section is a snowstorm. So much for presenting clear and unbiased information to school kids.
The Cassiopeia Project’s unscientific portrayal of global warming is troublesome given the group’s distribution of otherwise helpful materials to overworked science teachers. Is this global warming video from Cassiopeia just an anomoly? Or does it continue the shady tradition of polluters infiltrating otherwise well-regarded organizations to target a captive audience of students with climate misinformation. Remember the children’s coal coloring book, or the DVD produced by Canadian ‘denier-in-chief’ Tim Ball for school students?
It remains to be seen whether the Cassiopeia Project is on the take from dirty energy industry interests, directly or indirectly, and why it is now putting out climate change misinformation. The producers have been contacted for clarification on this issue.
Since many climate deniers now claim they are deeply interested in transparency, they should be equally curious to know the identity of the anonymous retired physicist funding this video.
Who is this mysterious man?