Bombshell exclusive: Leading expert withdraws name from Climate Shift report, explains how key conclusion that environmentalists weren’t outspent by opponents of climate bill “is contradicted by Nisbet’s own data”

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"Bombshell exclusive: Leading expert withdraws name from Climate Shift report, explains how key conclusion that environmentalists weren’t outspent by opponents of climate bill “is contradicted by Nisbet’s own data”"

Nisbet’s data actually shows enviros were far outspent, especially where it mattered most: Lobbying, advertising, and election spending

Brulle’s letter of withdrawal is reposted with permission at the end.

UPDATE:   The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard just reposted my entire piece with this headline and lede:

Killing a false narrative before it takes hold

COMMENTARY | April 18, 2011 Busting an embargo, ClimateProgress.com’s Joe Romm blisteringly dismantles an upcoming academic report on climate change advocacy in hopes no reporters will be taken in.

Prof. Matthew Nisbet of American University has written an error-riddled, self-contradictory, demonstrable false report, Climate Shift: Clear Vision for the Next Decade of Public Debate [big PDF here].   The 99-page report’s two central, but ridiculous, claims are:

  1. The environmental movement outspent opponents during the climate bill debate.
  2. Media coverage of climate change has become balanced and was not a factor in the defeat of the cap-and-trade bill.

The report makes these untenable claims in order to shift the blame for the bill’s failure to climate scientists, environmentalists, foundations, and most especially Al Gore.

None of the report’s major conclusions can stand the light of day, particularly those two.  Climate Shift is not a revisionist history.  It is a counterfactual history.

Now I don’t think progressives have tried hard enough to explain why the climate bill failed — including what we and our allies did wrong — leaving the door open for bogus analysis.  So in a series of posts, I will not merely refute every aspect of Nisbet’s paper, I will try to explain what in fact did go wrong (and right) — and why. This post will serve as an overview of the paper’s myriad flaws.

The bombshell is that Dr. Robert J. Brulle of Drexel University had his name pulled off the report’s list of expert paid reviewers late last week when he finally saw the whole finished report — and he returned Nisbet’s check. In an exclusive series of interviews, Brulle, whom the NYT called “an expert on environmental communications, explained to me that “I think it is really bad and I don’t want to be associated with it.”

Brulle told me the study has “many flaws,” and “selectively used the literature.”  Indeed, Brulle, who is past chair of the Environment and Technology section of the American Sociological Association, says “I gave him refereed articles that countered his thesis and he ignored them.”

UPDATE:  Nisbet has replied to this post and Brulle responds at the end.

NISBET’S FINANCIAL MISANALYSIS

  • Nisbet in the Executive Summary: “The national environmental groups working on climate change have closed the financial gap with their longstanding opponents among conservative think tanks, groups and industry associations.”
  • Brulle:  “I say ‘no’ and Nisbet’s own data contradicts that statement.”

Brulle took me through Nisbet’s financial analysis — the report’s big ‘news hook’ — to explain how Nisbet’s own data proves the exact opposite of his main conclusion.  Nisbet’s own data proves environmentalists were outspent at least 4-to-1 on advertising and beaten 10-to-1 on election spending.

Brulle pointed out one “extremely dubious assumption” that will make your head explode.   Nisbet counted the entire lobbying budget on all issues from major corporations like BP, Bank of America, GE, and ConocoPhillips, in the total of what was “representative of the capacity for power and influence” that the environmentalists supposedly had to bring to bear on the climate bill debate.  Lobbying experts I spoke to said it was a “complete joke” to think companies like BP spent any signficant amount of its lobbying budget pushing for the climate bill.

Even with this assumption, Nisbet’s numbers show that opponents held a spending edge in lobbying.  But absent this absurd assumption, Nisbet’s own numbers would suggest opponents of the bill had more than 10 times the lobbying muscle of environmentalists.

Nisbet asserts, “The analysis of lobbying expenditures is based on data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.” Yet, last August, Open Secrets blog, which investigates money in politics, published “Pro-Environment Groups Outmatched, Outspent in Battle Over Climate Change Legislation,” which concluded, “the oil and gas industry unleashed a fury of lobbying expenditures in 2009, spending $175 million — easily an industry record — and outpacing the pro-environmental groups by nearly eight-fold, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis.

Since that eight-fold ratio is not inconsistent with Nisbet’s (corrected) numbers, it stands as the most plausible estimate until something far more thorough is published in the peer-reviewed literature.

Brulle said that after his detailed review of the financial data, “My overall analysis is that the rest of the report eviscerates the executive summary. On Tuesday, I’ll publish a detailed debunking and reanalysis of the financial data.

NISBET’s MEDIA MISANALYSIS

I interviewed a number of experts about this report, including Max Boykoff, one of the country’s leading authorities on the media coverage of climate.  Boykoff was also a paid expert reviewer, and, like Brulle, he also didn’t see the finished report or Executive Summary until it was also distributed to the press late last week.

  • Nisbet in Exec Sum:  “The era of false balance in news coverage of climate science has come to an end. In comparison to other factors, the impact of conservative media and commentators on wider public opinion remains limited.”
  • Max Boykoff:  “This particular conclusion reaches beyond the findings in the study.”
  • Brulle:  “I think this conclusion is bogus.”

So the second, shaky pillar of Nisbet’s analysis is built on quicksand.

What’s unfortunate is that, according to Boykoff, Nisbet did an interesting, but narrow piece of research that “just looked at media coverage surrounding the human contribution to climate change” and the reality of climate change in a few print and online news sources, but not television.  That said, Boykoff explained to me that he stands behind his 2010 analysis that “exaggeration of outlier voices [“denialism”] continues within the U.S. media” (see Boykoff on “Exaggerating Denialism).  Both he and Brulle believe the impact of the disinformation campaign and media miscoverage can’t be dismissed.  Many other experts ignored by Nisbet agree.

Amazingly, Nisbet, who doesn’t do any analysis of his own on the impact of Fox News, repeatedly asserts that watching Fox News has no net impact on viewers since but merely reinforces the views of those who choose to watch it (p. 66):

… the use of conservative media outlets such as Fox News and focusing events such as Climategate tend to reinforce existing views about climate change rather than altering them.

The problem for Nisbet is that both of the major papers he cites on the subject come to a different conclusion.  In particular, he cites a study led by Jon Krosnick of Stanford, “Frequent Viewers of Fox News Are Less Likely to Accept Scientists’ Views of Global Warming.”  Nisbet claims this is an accurate reading of the paper (p. 67):

Krosnick attributes the findings to motivated reasoning.  Conservative-leaning individuals who already hold stronger doubts about climate change are more likely to view Fox News, and this viewing reinforces these doubts.

But that isn’t what Krosnick concludes, as anyone can see.  Krosnick notes that his “Figure 1 shows how more exposure to Fox News was associated with less endorsement of the views of mainstream scientists about global warming,” and says while he can’t know for sure whether people were persuaded by Fox or selectively chose Fox:

We therefore suspect that the relations documented in Figure 1 are likely to result from a combination of persuasion by Fox News coverage and of selective exposure by Republicans and conservative viewers to Fox News.

Nisbet himself correctly notes that the second study he cites, “Climate on Cable: The Effects of Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC on Global Warming Beliefs and Perceptions,” led by Feldman found that “the views of Republicans on climate change may be less solidified than Democrats, thereby making them more easily influenced by the content of cable news,” specifically Fox News.  In fact, Feldman’s study itself explicitly says its findings are “suggestive of direct persuasion, whereby the views of conservative-Republicans are reflective of the cable news outlet they watch.”

So the two key papers Nisbet cites find that the viewers of Fox News’ biased climate coverage are less likely to accept scientists’ views of global warming — and that direct persuasion appears to have played a role in shifting their views.  So much for his Exec Sum assertion “The era of false balance in news coverage of climate science has come to an end.”  For more background on why Nisbet’s claim is absurd, see “Foxgate: Leaked email reveals Fox News boss Bill Sammon ordered staff to cast doubt on climate science.”

Also, you have to wait until page 57 for Nisbet to briefly mention journalists Eric Pooley’s devastating analysis of how the U.S media miscovered the economic debate over climate change in 2007 and 2008.  Nisbet notes, “Pooley strongly criticized his colleagues for balancing the assessment provided by academic economists and nonpartisan agencies with the exaggerated economic impacts claimed by many conservative organizations and Republican leaders.”  Indeed, as I reported, Pooley concluded, The media’s decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress. He found, “The press misrepresented the economic debate over cap and trade” and “The press allowed opponents of climate action to replicate the false debate over climate science in the realm of climate economics.”

There are many other biases in coverage that Nisbet’s 99-page report ignores entirely, which I’ll cover in a separate post.  One of the most obvious is simply the overall collapse in coverage of the story of the century (see, for instance, the work of both Brulle and Boykoff cited in  Media herd’s coverage of climate change “fell off the map” in 2010).

UPDATE:  MediaMatters further debunks Nisbet’s media analysis here:  “Report Glosses Over Media Failures In Climate Coverage.”

NISBET GOES AFTER GORE

Nisbet writes head-exploding stuff about Al Gore:

  • Nisbet in Exec Sum:  “Gore has consistently sought to mobilize progressives politically, pairing his messages about climate science with attacks on Republicans.”
  • Boykoff:  “I don’t agree with that statement.”
  • Brulle:   “His claim about the role of Vice President Gore has no valid empirical data behind it.”

Another counterfactual.  Gore reached out to Republicans in his famous WE campaign — remember Gingrich and Pelosi on the couch.  Many major Republicans, including Gingrich in 2007, supported cap-and-trade before flip-flopping in 2009, suggesting it was something other than Gore’s advocacy to blaim (see Tim Pawlenty: “Every one of us” running for president has flip-flopped on climate change).

The discussion of Al Gore ignores basic scholarship on the climate denial efforts, and supports an ideological position that is not grounded in an empirical analysis,” as Brulle put it to me.  In a later post on Gore, I’ll show how Nisbet ignores facts and mis-cites scholarship on this subject to make his case.  Nisebet’s counterfactual report should be retitled Blame Shift.

In the report, Nisbet actually calls the Nobel-Prize winning former VP ‘the Goracle’ — “the media widely speculated as to whether the Goracle would run for president” (p. 65) — which Brulle considers “totally unprofessional.”

Later Nisbet writes of “Gore’s divorce and news stories alleging sexual misconduct” and how it “contributed to a 14 percent drop in his favorability (see Figure 4.2)”!  Seriously.  For the record, Gore is separated, one of countless small, but telling mistakes that accompanying the large blunders in Nisbet’s report.

The ideology Nisbet is pushing is The Breakthrough Institute’s, as we’ll see in a later post.  And like TBI, we have someone who seems to be an environmentalist launching a trumped up attack on the role of environmentalists and Gore in the climate bill — with a report and major media briefing right before Earth Day to maximize media coverage and media sensationalism.

WHAT THE STUDY’S PRESS ADVISORY TELLS US

Consider what happened when Nisbet sent out the embargoed report to the media (not CP, though) along with a press advisory.  NY Times opinion blogger Andy Revkin immediately ran the press advisory on his Tumblr page (his headline):

13th April 2011

Greens Far Outspent Fossil Fans in Cap-Trade Fight

Most intriguing press advisory of the day (same was true with California climate-bill ballot initiative):

For Immediate Release
In Cap and Trade Fight, Environmentalists Held Spending Edge Over Opponents, New Report Finds

American University Study is First to Compare Funding, Media Coverage and  Strategy of Green Groups and Industry-Linked Organizations

Web Media Briefing April 19, 2011, 2:00pm ET”¦.

Washington, D.C. – New research counters the commonly-held view that cap and trade legislation failed because of the spending advantages of opponents and false balance in news coverage.

The report, Climate Shift: Clear Vision for the  Next Decade of Public Debate, will be released April 19 by American University Professor Matthew Nisbet, Ph.D.

Nisbet will host a web-based media briefing on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at  2:00 p.m.

The study is the first to systematically analyze the financial resources, strategies, communication activities and impacts of those advocating for action  on climate change and to draw comparisons to those opposing action among  conservative groups and industry”¦.

As you can see, the claim in the release — “New research counters the commonly-held view that cap and trade legislation failed because of the spending advantages of opponents and false balance in news coverage” — is disputed by two of the five original reviewers, is eviscerated by the data in the report, and is inconsistent with a number of studies that Nisbet cites (and miscites).

The headlines of the press advisory and of Revkin’s reposting tell you what the news hook for this study is — the financial (mis)analysis.

And these quotes on the shifting characterizations of the funding “gap’ between environmental groups and the opposition tell you all you need to know about how this study is being over spun to the media and how it might be wildly overspun by the media:

  • Full Report (p. 1):  “As the analysis indicates, the environmental movement has made sizable gains in closing the spending gap with their conservative and industry opponents.”
  • Exec Sum (p. 2): “The national environmental groups working on climate change have closed the financial gap with their longstanding opponents among conservative think tanks, groups and industry associations.”
  • Press Release headline:  “In Cap and Trade Fight, Environmentalists Held Spending Edge over Opponents, New Report Finds.”
  • Revkin’s headline for Tumblr:  “Greens Far Outspent Fossil Fans in Cap-Trade Fight.”

Yet Revkin routinely accuses others of exaggerating the findings of reports or being too quick to jump on one single new study without checking it with independent experts or other studies!

Updated Final Note: In the original embargoed report [big PDF here], on the very first page, we can see Nisbet trying to give his treatise the veneer of scholarship by assembling an expert panel of paid “formal reviewers,” which he states was done “to make sure that the report meets the highest standards for rigor, evidence and accuracy.”  Brulle withdrew his name in part because he does not believe the report meets any of those standards.  Nisbet later revised this section, but the veneer remains.  I was sent the (slightly) revised report [big PDF here].

As an important aside, normally I would not break be the first to break an embargo, even for a report that was sent to me by a third-party.  But once it became clear how the analysis was being misrepresented to the media, and how the media itself might further misrepresent the supposed findings — as Revkin’s Tumblr posting makes clear — I realized that if I waited until the report was released, there was a good chance that extremely erroneous stories would be written.  Since I had no idea who the report and press material were sent to, the only way to be sure it was widely seen was to do this post.

I have no doubt the right wing media, whose impact Nisbet discounts, will take up his misinformation unquestioningly.  I hope the traditional media dig harder based at least in part on the reporting and sources in this post.

UPDATE:  Nisbet has posted a reply to this post at climateshiftproject.org. He doesn’t rebut the central critique, and I’ll respond to it tomorrow.  Brulle has emailed me a reply and his original email asking to have his name removed.

Joe:

I would like to make a couple of points regarding this [Nisbet] commentary for the record.

1. Dr. Nisbet does not respond to the evidence presented that the data in Chapter One of his own report contradicts the conclusions and executive summary regarding the financial differences between supporters and opponents of cap and trade.

2. The conclusions in Chapter 1 were added after I had reviewed the document. Specifically, I never saw the material contained in the third and fourth paragraphs on page 1 (continuing on to page 2), and the conclusion to Chapter 1 that starts on page 23.

3. I never saw or reviewed the Executive Summary. In fact, Dr. Nisbet never has provided me a copy of this document, and I only learned of what was written here from a third party providing me with this document.

4. I requested to be removed from the report because I felt that my role was being used to create a veneer of academic legitimacy that I do not believe the report merits. The specifics of my rationale for resignation are detailed below in the email I sent to Dr. Nisbet.

Best
Bob Brulle

From: Robert Brulle
Sent: Thursday, April 14, 2011 1:03 AM
To: ‘Matthew C. Nisbet’
Subject: Climateshift Report

Dear Dr. Nisbet:

Now that I have seen the entire report, I have major disagreements with some of your conclusions, and your characterization of my role in this process. Your description of my role in this effort is misleading at best (and which I had never reviewed or approved). I believe that this report is using my participation in the review process to legitimate its contents, and to try to create the impression that this report meets the criteria of a refereed publication. In my opinion, it does not. I don’t believe that the report as written meets what you call the “highest standards for rigor, evidence and accuracy.”

Accordingly, I am returning the honorarium check and formally request that you remove my name from the report.

Sincerely,

Dr. Brulle

« »

38 Responses to Bombshell exclusive: Leading expert withdraws name from Climate Shift report, explains how key conclusion that environmentalists weren’t outspent by opponents of climate bill “is contradicted by Nisbet’s own data”

  1. Leif says:

    You the MAN, Joe! Sick-em.

    I am hauling this report to my local Editor…

    Two Palms Up,

    Leif

  2. Nick says:

    Once upon a time in a political science class, I came to the (obvious) realization that an understanding of political science can be used for vastly different goals: (1) to improve governance (e.g., resolving collective action problems), or (2) to win (aka the Rove-ian application). Surely, the same can be said for employing one’s knowledge of strategic communications.

  3. Nick says:

    …And I’m not only referring to Industry’s use of strategic communications to muddy the waters, but Nisbet’s own use of strategic communications to frame an incredibly enticing set of unexpected (read: misleading) results. I mean, that was pretty hack, but nicely framed – and he’ll ultimately benefit from publishing it. Awaiting the throngs of vehement supporters of his work…

  4. Peter Bellin says:

    I found it curious, in Revkin’s post: “Most intriguing press advisory of the day (same was true with California climate-bill ballot initiative)”

    I am surprised to learn that Prop 23 opponents spent on a par with Prop 23 supporters.

  5. Isn’t Nisbet the crankological ‘science communications’ professor who’s known for writing crankological things about his crankological theory of ‘framing science’? Over at ScienceBlogs, Mark Hoofnagle had already been calling him out on his nonsense back in 2008.

    Strange, I’ve always understood ‘framing’ an issue to mean using the right words to describe and highlight things that are true — rather than saying things that are untrue! Yet the most ardent proponents of the whole approach of ‘framing’ seem to hell bent on saying false things just to please certain people (I won’t name names, but you know who you are). I wonder why.

    frank

  6. Andy Hultgren says:

    Good decision to break the embargo Joe. This report needs a very good dose of reason and fact-checking — hopefully that happens and the media do not simply run with it blindly.

  7. Kevin Pratt says:

    WTF is this paid formal reviewer thing anyway? We have a basically free service that works great already it’s called PEER REVIEW in respected journals. Any reporter with an ounce of sense (a group I would have thought included Mr. Revkin) should realize that any “report” that bypasses such a system deserves AT MINIMUM some serious scrutiny before its claims are repeated.

  8. The never ending barrage of disinformation from the Climate Denial Machine is beyond my words to describe — I’m glad you have retained the ability, Joe.

  9. The environment, even the fate of the Earth, was always the wrong argument to make regarding renewable fuels.

    The winning argument is this. We’ve spent 5,000 years looking for stuff to burn. Our economy today is as uncivilized as that of the caveman. It is time to start farming, time to harvest the abundance all around us.

    The Sun shines. The wind blows. We live on a molten rock. There is no energy shortage. It’s a myth created by cavemen to raise the value of what they’re digging up and burning.

    Change the frame and you change the game.

  10. Andy Revkin says:

    My Tumblr.com post was of the *summary* and was designed to attract attention to the paper without judging its conclusions — in other words to foster the kind of analysis you seek.

    By jumping the embargo, you simply force the “traditional” media now to rush to conclusions even faster than they might otherwise have done — without the kind of independent analysis you call for.

    I will say that if the California Prop 23 battle was any indication, there is a far more balanced $$ playing field on such climate fights than you imply (a three-to-one advantage for the AB32 side in that case, by some estimates, with a nice summary by Bryan Walsh here: Climate: Money Vs. Money in the Battle Over California’s Climate Law http://t.co/INQbsRL )

    [JR: No, Andy, your Tumblr post, as I showed, ran a splashy headline that was not a “summary” of anything — it went well beyond the press advisory, which itself went beyond the Exec Sum, which itself went far beyond the data in the actual report. Maybe you shouldn’t just repost press advisories, let alone slap headlines that are an over-reach?

    Had YOU looked at the report before you posted this comment, you would know that, yes, greens did have the spending edge in Prop. 23. That’s probably one reason why they won! I will be doing another post on the financial data.

    BUT, to reiterate, it was in part because of your over-hyping the key finding that I was motivated to break the embargo. I had no idea if you — or many others — were going to run with that false meme. I have no idea who was sent the press advisory and report. I only know that once the false meme is out, it can’t be put back into the bottle.]

  11. Not A Lawyer says:

    @ Peter, Re: Prop 23 — that’s because Prop 23 was largely funded by just a couple of companies — Valero, Tesoro and a Kock subsidiary. Most of the major oil companies that operate in California stayed out of that fight. Also, the anti-Prop 23 side had a lot of support from some very wealthy people and companies — Google executives, Silicon Valley venture capitalists, etc. Some of whom had no problem writing checks for up to $5 million.

  12. Not A Lawyer says:

    typo there… obviously should say Koch subsidiary. D’oh.

  13. Who pays Nisbet?

    [JR: It’s on the first page. I’ll have more to say on it later.]

  14. BlueRock says:

    PZ Myers has regularly skewered Nisbett, e.g. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/03/clueless.php

  15. Kevin Pratt says:

    re:11

    Mr Revkin brings up a interesting problem in his response – which is basically the “hey don’t shoot the messenger” defense that I think at some level is perfectly justified but also problematic in the following sense. There are really, two Andy Revkins, at least in this big snarl we could call the media universe or electrosphere or whatever. One is a knowledgeable, measured guy who spends an inordinate amount of time sniffing the ether and is an extremely effective guide to the myriad sources of data and opinion available on a spectrum of topics that we lump together under “environment”. And those of us who are actually busy doing other things like sleeping and researching and teaching depend on him as a source of information. But there’s another Andy Revkin who works for the New York Times, a paper that has, last I checked (@!#$!! paywall!), this little box on the front page that reads All The News That’s Fit To Print, which implies that there’s lots of news that is not fit to print. Which is a clear statement of both the reality and ambition of the Times – to be a validating institution; a role that, if you read the press releases, is at the core of the Times internet business model and why they pay smart people to produce relevant content. So the question is, can Andy 1 tumble (very useful activity) without implicitly performing the (perfectly legitimate) function of Andy 2? And to what degree is the inseparability of these two characters a function of the autonomic networking systems of the internet, with their page rank and influence weighting algorithms that analyze connectivity but not content? I don’t have a good answer, but my suspicion is that when a Times reporter who is not Ross Douthat posts to Tumblr he is putting something in the fit to print category whether he really means to or not.

  16. climate undergrad says:

    Andy,

    “My Tumblr.com post was of the *summary* and was designed to attract attention to the paper without judging its conclusions — in other words to foster the kind of analysis you seek.”

    This sounds semi-reasonable if we accept that your goal is to gather attention rather than inform.

    Of course;

    “By jumping the embargo, you simply force the “traditional” media now to rush to conclusions even faster than they might otherwise have done — without the kind of independent analysis you call for.”

    You mean like this one?

    “Greens far outspent fossil fans in Cap-Trade Fight”

    Come on man, was the extra traffic you got from that headline worth the intellectual dishonesty? Really?

  17. Chris Winter says:

    Peter Bellin wrote: “I am surprised to learn that Prop 23 opponents spent on a par with Prop 23 supporters.”

    Yes. As I understand it, a small group of private donors stepped in at the last minute to contribute funding that (in effect, if not in amount) balanced the earlier torrent of cash from out of state (much of it from fossil-fuel interests.)

    The details of that story must be very interesting. More to the point, it appears that such balance in funding is the exception that proves the rule: fossil-fuel proponents generally outspend their opposition.

  18. Chris Winter says:

    Later Nisbet writes of “Gore’s divorce and news stories alleging sexual misconduct” and how it “contributed to a 14 percent drop in his favorability (see Figure 4.2)”! Seriously. For the record, Gore is separated, one of countless small, but telling mistakes that accompanying the large blunders in Nisbet’s report.

    Yes, and the alleged sexual misconduct has been debunked in several ways — even, IIRC, by the lawyer for the woman who made the charge.

    It’s true that lying by innuendo can damage someone’s reputation. But repeating long-discredited stories has no place in what claims to be a professionally produced, unbiased report.

    Nisbet actually calls him “The Goracle”
    And distorts the account historical
    That is well-founded news,
    Instead pushing views
    That are bogus (to get categorical.)

    From the press release Revkin cited:

    The study is the first to systematically analyze the financial resources, strategies, communication activities and impacts of those advocating for action on climate change and to draw comparisons to those opposing action among conservative groups and industry….

    I guess Joe Barton’s panel (chaired by Wegman) and Cuccinelli the Virginia DA (among others) never looked into that sort of thing…
    /sarc

  19. Tony Sidaway says:

    I know Nisbet’s propensity for head-in-the-clouds contrarianism of old, but I didn’t know he’d blundered into this area. The results, it seems, are predictable.

  20. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Micheal Tobis (Only in it for the Gold) has also commented on Nisbet’s strange framing references, and how he appears not to know just how deficient his knowledge is (he doesn’t use the words Dunning-Kruger, but I feel the definition might fit).

  21. MarkF says:

    once again, thanks Joe.

  22. Thomas Morrison says:

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    Thomas Morrison
    twmorrison75@gmail.com
    http://twitter.com/twmorrison75

  23. A little Googling shows Nisbet to be a Dartmouth graduate who hangs out at Fox News. And the corruption of our discourse by money continues.

  24. Quoting your article:
    “Brulle pointed out one “extremely dubious assumption” that will make your head explode.
      
    Nisbet counted the entire lobbying budget on all issues from major corporations like BP, Bank of America, GE, and ConocoPhillips, in the total of what was “representative of the capacity for power and influence” that the environmentalists supposedly had to bring to bear on the climate bill debate. 

    Lobbying experts I spoke to said it was a “complete joke” to think companies like BP spent any significant amount of its lobbying budget pushing for the climate bill.”
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Excuse me for being dense but that paragraph confused me
    who, what, how?

    Can you explain that in a more detail?
    thank you

    PS. thanks for getting this info out.

  25. Mike Roddy says:

    You do a great job debunking bad media articles and reports, Joe, but will this ever be done systematically, by a journalism professional organization? It’s badly needed.

  26. Andrew Revkin:

    My Tumblr.com post was of the *summary* and was designed to attract attention to the paper without judging its conclusions

    Oh jeez. By trying to get the scoop, you ended up getting scooped. In less than the amount of time the NYT could figure out ‘hey, how can we get our bogus headline writers to concoct the most attention-grabbing headline we can give to this bogus story so that it’ll just nicely fill up this space we’ve allocated to it?’, Joe Romm was able to go further and obtain responses from Boykoff and Brulle.

    You have just a rehash of a press release; Joe Romm has the real story. You lose.

    frank

  27. Steve Bloom says:

    Joe, I wonder if it would be more apt to say that the ideology that both BTI and this report are pushing is that of their common funder, the Nathan Cummings Foundation. At this point I think Cummings needs some serious daylight.

    Also, I must confess that my first thought upon viewing the report’s cover page was “Jump! Jump!” :)

    [JR: Well, I think they all agree and it is mutually developed. I’ll have more to say on that later.]

  28. Steve Bloom says:

    I’ll look forward to that, Joe.

    In the meantime, a quick check of NCF plus Teague (a Democratic Party operative with apparently zero history in the environmental movement who became head of Cummings enviro programs in ~2000) turns up much material of which I had not been aware.

    In particular, the chronology included in this piece from Ecoshock Radio is of great interest. They seem to blame Adam Werbach for starting the ball rolling downhill.

    In any case, it’s unsurprising that the likes of Nordhaus and Shellenberger, joined by many others of that ilk and now Nisbet, would have smelled the money (and as enviro funders go it’s some *serious* money, although apparently somewhat of a sideline for the $.5G-endowed NCF) and reacted predictably.

    I hope there’s some means of reaching and influencing the Cummings family members who control the NCF board. While the whole “death of environmentalism”/techno-pony/adaptation/reframing meme probably had considerable appeal as a new direction to try, one would think that by now its failure as some short of shortcut to climate policy nirvana would be apparent to even its strongest proponents.

    Maybe a post on the sort of cutting-edge programs that the NCF should be funding, or more to the point what their funding strategy ought to be? IMHO, while coordination and planning will always be needed, the emphasis needs to be on the grassroots, 350.org and the Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign being obvious exemplars.

  29. John McCormick says:

    As the dust continues to billow on this Nesbit fiasco and the Grey Lady’s hand in bringing his report (news) to the attention of its readers –sans fact checking –tomorrow morning’s edition might change its famous slogan to read:

    All the fits that’s news to print.

    John McCormick

  30. David Fox says:

    Blistering. Good word. We need more blistering reports, or reports about blistering. Both may affect our attitudes towards climate change.

  31. Uzurbrain says:

    What TV shows did he watch? Watch any show on NatGeo, Discovery, PlanetEarth, etc., etc. The last five minutes is how the beautiful scenery, fish, coral, whatever, will be GONE as a result of GLOBAL WARMING and we need to do something about it.

    A recent show on the planets explained how Venus was 400 degrees (C) warmer than the Earth DUE TO GLOABAL WARMING from CO2. Not one word about how that since Venus was 1/3 the distance closer to the Sun it received more of the Suns energy. The average grade school age child would get the impression that CO2 is going to do that to the Earth. There is a show like that EVERYDAY.

  32. caerbannog says:

    Uzurbrain,

    Venus is almost twice as far from the Sun than Mercury is, and has a much higher albedo to boot. Yet Venus’ average surface temperature is significantly higher than Mercury’s. Can you figure out why?

  33. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Uzurbrain, I’m afraid you set yourself up there. Read up on why Venus is hotter than Mercury, but father away. Good luck!

  34. “Uzurbrain” is just another drive-by troll spewing off-topic talking points.

    * * *

    Mike Roddy:

    You do a great job debunking bad media articles and reports, Joe, but will this ever be done systematically, by a journalism professional organization? It’s badly needed.

    Well, I think that’s why Climate Progress is intending to do its own investigative journalism…

    frank

  35. Mike Roddy says:

    Steve Bloom,

    I liked your comment. It’s time to go after The Breakthrough Institute, by letting the Cummings heirs and the Board know that they are in their own way just as damaging as The Heritage Foundation and The American Enterprise Institute.

    My sense of the Nathan Cummings Foundation is that they are hands off, well meaning people who want to do the right thing, but not disturb their portfolios too much. Well, they need to learn that you can’t have it both ways. Someone from the East needs to call on them and let them know that Shellenberger and Nordhaus are a couple of ill informed bullshitters, whose niche is to comfort those who are terrified of change.

    Frank Swift Hack,

    Joe has an incredible work ethic, but the task of properly monitoring media coverage of climate is too big for any one person, or even two or three. Since Columbia and SEJ have abdicated, a new and independent organization needs to do this, with input from Joe, Mandia, Sinclair, and others.

    So much to do- and so little time.

  36. Eli Rabett says:

    So let Eli understand this, Andy Revkin posts the press release for Matthew Nisbit’s manuscript which someone paid for five people to review, cause the release says for immediate release and that is just fine, Joe Romm posts on the report and that is verboten? GEAFB, well, ok, they gave the bunny a good laugh. Churnalism at it’s best

  37. The Heritage Foundation and The American Enterprise Institute are backed by the Koch brothers who are some of the largest polluters in the world. We need to see exactly who backed this latest trash propaganda. No matter, it backfired as the conclusion shows we have global warming and climate change. When someone yells fire you don’t look around for the fire. You find a way to save yourself and your loved ones. Anyone over the age of 50 knows the climate has changed dramatically in their lifetime, and for the worse. As Dylan wrote, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.