KBU

by John Quiggin on March 16, 2012

After long delays[1], GMU has come down with a self-contradictory whitewash on the plagiarism case against climate delusionist Edward Wegman.  One committee conceded plagiarism on a paper that had already been retracted by the journal in question, and recommended a reprimand, while another cleared Wegman of all charges, against the judgement of every external expert who’s looked at the case, and in the face of copious evidence of direct cut-and-paste copying.

With this and the Cato takeover, I think those both on the left and parts of the right who have presented views extremely critical of the “Kochtopus” network can rest their case. Any institution that relies on Koch Brothers money, whether it presents itself as a university, a thinktank or a grassroots organization, has to be regarded as a propaganda outfit.

That’s true, even if, as in the case of Cato and GMU, some genuine and valuable research is produced. The use of genuine material as a cover for industry propaganda is now a well established technique – the most famous blogospheric example was that of Tech Central Station.

For people working at Koch-controlled organizations who value a capacity to undertake independent research and to maintain a credible claim to independence, this is a big problem. Not everyone is in a position to write a presignation letter like that of Julian Sanchez, but the alternative of staying on is not particularly attractive either.

 

fn1. Which I will claim as an excuse for posting this several weeks after the event

{ 56 comments }

1

Darin London 03.16.12 at 10:07 am

Alas, even something as respectable as NOVA on PBS is being tainted :(

http://www.observer.com/2010/09/could-david-koch-be-calling-the-shots-on-pbss-emnovaem/

2

Barry 03.16.12 at 12:52 pm

And, of course, the Koch wh*re Cuccinelli (VA AG) will now open an investigation into GMU and Wegman’s possible misuse of government funds?

3

Henry 03.16.12 at 1:40 pm

I don’t think that you need to invoke Koch money as the causal factor here, much less that this is necessarily an indictment of the Kochtopus. First – while GMU’s law school and economics program are well known for libertarianism, this isn’t true of the institution as a whole. The public policy school for example, is the usual anodyne-with-occasional-hints-of-left-of-centrism. Second, American universities (and academic associations) in general do a _remarkably shitty_ job of policing plagiarism and punishing plagiarists. See this classic investigation by Tom Bartlett (which I’ve blogged before – it is a little terrifying to realize that Crooked Timber has been in existence for nearly nine years). I’d be surprised if the university would have taken serious action against Wegman, even if Koch had never contributed a penny – universities very rarely do. NB that I think that the Koch brothers’ influence is pernicious in a wide variety of ways – but I don’t think that it’s needed to explain what happened here.

4

jwinters 03.16.12 at 2:12 pm

You need to fix that DeSmog Blog URL; it was entered twice in the same link.

I find it interesting that, as they get older, the Kochs seem interested in outing themselves as the funding source for hard right-libertarian causes. It would be easy enough to launder their money through a maze of interlocking foundations with banal names — in fact, they had been doing that until recently with outfits like Americans for Prosperity and, before that, Citizens for a Sound Economy. So what changed that made them less willing to be the men behind the curtain?

5

Steve LaBonne 03.16.12 at 2:18 pm

They’ve begun to believe their own propaganda, think they’re the saviors of the country, and expect to be thanked for it, would be my guess.

6

Barry 03.16.12 at 2:28 pm

“So what changed that made them less willing to be the men behind the curtain?”

Probably impatience, and the fact that the entire right is coming out of the closet. The past few years have seen them do their stuff in public, and not suffer for it.

7

Jonathan H. Adler 03.16.12 at 2:58 pm

Henry is spot on. Few universities come down hard on their own academics who commit plagiarism. If it’s not done at Harvard, why would we expect it to happen at GMU?

You also need to distinguish between Koch-funded and Koch controlled. The Cato Institute is trying to resist becoming a Koch-controlled entity, but Cato does not currently receive Koch money. Even if it did, funding does not necessarily bring control, and the Kochs have funded plenty of things that did not reach conclusions the Kochs may have preferred, such as Richard Muller’s BEST project on climate data.

JHA

8

mds 03.16.12 at 3:17 pm

Even if it did, funding does not necessarily bring control, and the Kochs have funded plenty of things that did not reach conclusions the Kochs may have preferred, such as Richard Muller’s BEST project on climate data.

Hey, speaking of BEST’s inconvenient truths, have you heard any buzz about when Cato’s going to engage in another major ad buy, acknowledging that their previous “global warming myths” ad campaign contained falsehoods? Since they go where the facts lead them no matter who their paymasters are, that is.

9

ajay 03.16.12 at 3:24 pm

You also need to distinguish between Koch-funded and Koch controlled. The Cato Institute is trying to resist becoming a Koch-controlled entity, but Cato does not currently receive Koch money.

This turns out not to be true, according to its most recent annual report, which lists David Koch as one of its 200 most generous supporters.

10

Kevin K 03.16.12 at 3:48 pm

Is the reverse true? Are organizations you happen to agree with which accept money from others automatically “propaganda outfits” for the donor?

And four percent – or zero percent this year – of funding is hardly enough of an amount to say that Cato ‘relies on’ it to exist.

And if the Kochs funded ten or twenty or sixty percent of Cato, but didn’t have votes to control it, Cato still wouldn’t be under their control. You may imply or believe that, voting or not, the threat of recission of Koch funding steers Cato’s work. Even if you turn a blind eye to the myriad of positions Cato supports in direct opposition to major GOP policy, you can’t look at the outright, open, and loud opposition from practically every Cato scholar and supporter against the Koch maneuvering to take control.

11

MPAVictoria 03.16.12 at 3:55 pm

“And if the Kochs funded ten or twenty or sixty percent of Cato, but didn’t have votes to control it, Cato still wouldn’t be under their control”

I didn’t know that people this naive knew how to operate computers….

12

Marie 03.16.12 at 3:57 pm

There’s a huge difference between receiving some financial support and “relying” on a specific doner. Jerry Taylor reports that the Kochs have only provided 4 percent of Cato’s donations over the past decade. It’d be mildly disappointing to lose that (as Cato clearly has), but that kind of money is not a matter of not life and death for the organization. Indeed, the reason the Kochs are suing Cato is because they *don’t* control it, not because they do.

13

Ted Kirkpatrick 03.16.12 at 4:02 pm

If it’s not done at Harvard, why would we expect it to happen at GMU?

The extent of the similarities and the number of papers affected put this case in a class by itself. There’s simply no comparison.

And the problems extend beyond GMU to Wiley. For several years, Ed Wegman and Yasmin Said have been editors-in-chief (along with David Scott) of a Wiley journal. Last May Wiley received formal complaint that two articles written by Wegman and Said had overwhelming similarities to previous work. As a response to the complaints, the journal quietly replaced the problematic versions of the papers with revisions that removed the similarities and corrected the errors. Said and Wegman remain editors-in-chief. As Deep Climate shows at the link, this doesn’t begin to follow Wiley’s stated process for plagiarism complaints.

Academics reconsidering their opinions of GMU might also start reconsidering their opinions of Wiley.

14

Manta1976 03.16.12 at 4:05 pm

jwinters @4, we would like to think of the big money on the “other” side as evil masterminds.

In reality, it turns out that they often make mistakes, are prone to vanity, etc: in a phrase the are “average guys with lots of money”.
This is long way to say that I find both @5 and @6 plausible (albeit not together…).

(I think that the world would be better if the guys in charges _were_ evil masterminds, and not simply bumbling fools…).

15

Josh McCabe 03.16.12 at 4:10 pm

Umm wasn’t the Wegman report a federally funded study? What does Koch funding of the economics department and law school at the same university have to do with anything? I guess in John’s eyes, guilt can be infered by playing six degrees of David Koch.

16

Substance McGravitas 03.16.12 at 4:28 pm

17

Manta1976 03.16.12 at 4:48 pm

I am not sure that I completely agree with the content of your link, Substance: it says “students also have to know their professor is engaged in intellectually honest discourse without fear that if they happen to deviate from their benefactor’s ideologically guidelines they could lose their jobs.”, but the article does not specify if the hired professor is tenured or not.

However, I agree with the main gist of the linked article, which fits quite neatly (in a sad way) with the topic discussed here.

18

John Mashey 03.16.12 at 4:49 pm

Go look at See No Evil @ GMU, which is the broken link of JQ’s.
Specifically, read Appendices A.4 and A.5 to see some info on GMU’s funding and connections. Public Policy dept is mentioned, as it has Pat Michaels as a Distinguished Senior Fellow, and I give a reference to a course syllabus of his.
Problems clearly extend beyond Mercatus, Institute for Humane Studies (where Fred Signer used to be), Economics, etc. Wegman’s lawyer used to be Ken Cuccinelli’s law partner.

In the US, the Office of Research Integrity is the watchdog for all the health-related research, and it *regularly* debars researchers for academic misconduct, typically for 3 years, but can vary. That means: zero Federal funding from anyone. They actually have the power to debar an institution, which has never happened.

I know quite a few American academics who have been following this. Nobody can believe GMU has been doing what it has been doing, because 2 of the papers come under ORI. *Nobody* messes with ORI the way GMU has, especially when health research is the biggest government funder for GMU.

Hence, those actually familiar with this look around for intense motivations.
Read Appendix A.5. GMU is completely enmeshed in the machinery that does climate anti-science (and learned with cigarettes), the same funders (not just Kochs), the same thinktanks (including Heartland), etc.

19

John Mashey 03.16.12 at 5:08 pm

I don’t see the Kochs behind every tree, although they may have planted the seed in the first place, watered it for a while, and then turned over the gardening to some of their allies. In VC terms, they have often done “seed funding” and some continuing help, while bringing in additional investors. See for example p.3 in Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax,
and the itemized gifts on p.58 (where Kochs don’t show up, but they gave more in late 1990s).

See p.70, with another example.

The Kochs have 3 foundations: Charles Koch, David Koch and Claude Lambe.
They can also give indirectly via DONORS CAPITAL /DONORS TRUST (p.65-),
which hides who gave what, so we don’t yet know. DONORS is filled with Koch allies, ex-staffers, etc.
The GMU Board of Visitors has at least one ex-Koch person, Nancy Mitchell Photenhauer. Kimberly Dennis runs Searle Freedom Trust, and Chairs DONORS, both of which have specifically funded climate anti-science at Heartland.

The money-laundering maze is opaque, even if you spend as much time looking at IRS Form 990s as I have.

Note that Pat Michaels is affiliated with CATO and it publishes his books.

20

Barry 03.16.12 at 6:21 pm

JHA: “Even if it did, funding does not necessarily bring control, and the Kochs have funded plenty of things that did not reach conclusions the Kochs may have preferred, such as Richard Muller’s BEST project on climate data.”

He missed me, so he must not be shooting at me.

21

Barry 03.16.12 at 6:23 pm

“Note that Pat Michaels is affiliated with CATO and it publishes his books.”

And those oh-so-honest folks at CATO still haven’t figured out that Pat wasn’t quite the honest scholar, have they?

22

John Quiggin 03.16.12 at 7:45 pm

Henry, the evidence in the article is that a lot of plagiarists don’t get caught, and when they are caught, they are quietly sent on their way, rather than being publicly outed.
That’s a familiar and deplorable pattern of institutional response, but, as John Mashey says, not comparable to a case where large-scale plagiarism, the subject of an official complaint, is simply ignored.

23

John Quiggin 03.16.12 at 7:50 pm

At least in Australia, plagiarism is a big deal

http://www.abc.net.au/pm/stories/s604692.htm

24

Henry 03.16.12 at 8:32 pm

John – there was a follow up article in the _CHE_ (read down a bit here. Of the four cases that the _Chronicle_ covered (all of which, _ipso facto_, were high profile for the university), one resulted in a professor’s contract not being renewed (as best as I can see he was not tenure line), another in a professor retaining his position, but having substantial penalties (stripped of an honorary chair, no teaching), and two where there was no externally visible punishment. As best as I can tell from their websites, both of the latter two still have their jobs. The problem seems to me to be endemic rather than specific. This is not to say that political considerations might not have played a role. It is to say that, given that this seems to be a problem in non-politicized cases too, I think that stronger evidence is needed before you infer that this indisputably proves the Kochtopus’s stranglehold. More generally – and this is highly non-scientific and based only on anecdotal impressions – I would guess that university high officials have a tougher time, by and large, than professors, when plagiarism is demonstrated (no tenure and more enemies).

25

John Mashey 03.16.12 at 9:00 pm

Actually, I disagree with the “whitewash” label.
This is more like an “invisible-wash” that tries to make it disappear entirely.
In GMU’s case, they did their best to minimize the inescapable retraction for 1.5 pages of plagiarism in the CSDA article, while ignoring the 5.5-page superset in the Wegman Report. Note that the CSDA article thanked the NIAAA, which is covered by the Office of Research Integrity, so that could not be disappeared.

26

Kenny Easwaran 03.16.12 at 10:06 pm

I don’t know about the GMU case, so I’m only addressing the Darin London mentions in comment 1.

Nova isn’t the only institution that has been discussing the importance of climate change in the history of human evolution with support from Koch money – the Smithsonian and various others have as well. However, I don’t think things are quite as problematic as that link suggests. In both cases, the thesis does seem to have interesting scientific support – human ancestors seem to have expanded their range and increased their tool use in response to climatic conditions that quickly changed back and forth over a relatively short period, while other species were coming and going. But the Smithsonian exhibit had a section at the end about how current climate change is unprecedented in many ways and will clearly cause unpleasant changes in our lives (though I don’t remember if there was anything about how this could possibly affect future human evolution) including threats to many species that we depend on for our livelihood. The only potentially objectionable thing is the fact that they dilute the word “climate change” by applying it to the advance and retreat of ice ages in the past, without immediately contrasting the gradualness of these changes with the quickness of current climate change.

27

JM 03.16.12 at 10:19 pm

Great, does this mean we can get on with prosecuting Wegman for lying to Congress?

28

John Quiggin 03.16.12 at 10:42 pm

Henry, of the two cases where there was no visible punishment, one was in the UK, and appears to have been a slap on the wrist, although it looks as if he is a terminal senior lecturer now.

The Arizona case involves a supervisor ripping off one of his grad students. That is certainly an area which gets handled very badly. Something similar was a side issue in the Wegman case, where he tried to shift the blame onto grad students – this wasn’t even addressed by GMU.

The most direct comparison is the Oklahoma State case, where a well-regarded much honored professor is discovered to have a pattern of systematic plagiarism. I wouldn’t have been surprised by a similar outcome, with a symbolic punishment followed by a rapid retirement. But a straightforward denial that the plagiarism even happened is, AFAICT, unprecedented.

As regards the Kochs, they are certainly not the whole problem (for example, there’s Ken Cuccinelli.) Nonetheless, I think the level of institutional dishonesty exhibited by GMU here is unforgivable, and not to be excused by comparison with problems elsewhere.

29

JM 03.16.12 at 11:35 pm

Is the reverse true? Are organizations you happen to agree with which accept money from others automatically “propaganda outfits” for the donor?

But there’s noting “automatic” about it, as anyone could tell you who actually read what John wrote. The organizations in question have a long track record of operating as glorified advertising firms for sleazy interests … which was the point.

Asking about “the reverse” is just playing the both sides game, and anyone who wants to be that stupid can go watch TV.

30

ezra abrams 03.17.12 at 2:10 am

I object to the lack of scholarlyness in this blog post, which is about blog posts about blog posts about reports about papers….like 87th hand, and some of the key stuff, the GMU reports, aint even public.

To step back a bit, what is *the control*
I think the right control for the Congressional wegman report is to analyze at random, 100 similar reports – has anyone done this ?

as for the papers in the journal CSDA,I think we all know that 90% or so of the scholarly lit is total crap, stuff that no one ever reads, taht exists soley to make money for the publishers (in the old days, 20 years ago, a publisher like wiley knew that any jornal they published would be bought by a certain number of libraries; money for old rope) and of course the other reason for crappy journals is people need to publish, even if no one ever reads the articles..I think we all know that most cases of plaigarism are detected solely because someone actually bothers to read the article…
I’m remindedof the case of KAL007; as older readers may recall, korean air flight 007, a boeing jumbo jet, was shot down by the soviets.
Among the many facts that emerged was that the KAL flight had strayed way off its path , as monitored by radar in alaska (the last civilian radar station)
so far as i know, despite the 1,000s of hours devoted to this story by the press, no one went up to alaska to ask the radar operators how often this happened (I think it had to do with prevailing winds and fuel usage)

31

ezra abrams 03.17.12 at 2:22 am

I am willing to bet there is not a single person who reads this blog who understands the hockey stick
by understand, I don’t mean you looked at agraph of CO2 conc vs time, and looked up the molar absorbtion coefficient of CO2 in the infra red, and calculated the albedo of the earth in that range….
no, you went thru the 100 other feedback loops you have to know of to accurately calcualte the effect of [CO2] (in biology and chemistry, squar brackets denote concentratin), like how increased temprature leads to increased wave activitywhich leads to increase aerosols over the ocean which leads ot increased sink of CO2 in the ocean….
and the hockey puck is like 10X worse, all sorts ofcomplex statistics (remember, the original debate was about how diff data sets were merged with principal component analysis – how many of you understand PCA ??)

The point is, *none of us* understand this stuff – its like debating Einstein deWitter space time theory and Spinor calculus,or quantum mechanics,or how complex exponential fourier equations are useful in electrical engineering….

Since we are all taking the word of the pro climate people, we should make clear that we arerepeating what someone else told us,

32

John Quiggin 03.17.12 at 2:44 am

Speak for yourself, Ezra. Judging from your post, I agree that you aren’t well qualified, and therefore should pay attention to the entire scientific community, rather than to a bunch of rightwing hacks.

OTOH, I’m perfectly well-qualified to understand that a claim like Lindzen’s “no significant warming since 1993″ is mendacious crap, trading on the fact that his audience doesn’t understand what “statistically significant” means. Anyone who can compare two blocks of text can see that Wegman has engaged in extensive plagiarism, with changes that manage to mangle the text he has stolen, and anyone with a nodding acquaintance with network theory can see he makes a hash of it. Then there’s Monckton, at which point further comment becomes superfluous.

On the positive side, there’s nothing particularly difficult about the basic theory of the greenhouse effect. It’s true that you have to rely on experts to do the detailed calculations, but that’s true of every complicated problem.

33

mds 03.17.12 at 2:58 am

The point is, none of us understand this stuff – its like debating Einstein deWitter space time theory

You probably meant “de Sitter” there, if we’re talking about a solution to Einstein’s field equations. “DeWitt” is a quantum field theory thing. It’s a common mistake.

34

JP Stormcrow 03.17.12 at 3:55 am

t’s a common mistake.

So says you.

35

nick s 03.17.12 at 4:03 am

Faculty plagiarism : certain strands of academia :: sexual abuse : certain religious denominations?

36

John Quiggin 03.17.12 at 5:39 am

Since we’re specifically on the subject of the hockey stick, I forgot to mention the litany of howling errors committed by Ross McKitrick (his co-author, McIntyre doesn’t have much a printed track record outside this specific topic). As Google will tell you, McKitrick has published an entire paper based on confusing degrees with radians, invented his own temperature scale, denied the meaningfulness of the arithmetic mean for temperature and so on. Of course, it’s only thanks to my in-depth knowledge of spinor calculus that I can explain such complexities as the distinction between degrees and radians, so the rest of you will just have to trust me.

For those too lazy to google, here you go (with bonus reference to TCS)

http://crookedtimber.org/2004/08/25/mckitrick-mucks-it-up/

37

John Mashey 03.17.12 at 5:55 am

Ezra:
1) The Wegman Report was very high profile, and it was almost entirely irrelevant or wrong, except for swathes of plagiarized text that weren’t mucked up, the 3 pages that David Scott wrote (straight math), and a few others.

2) in US, plagiarism cases rarely get covered by multiple articles in USA Today.

3) Likewise, few plagiarism cases incite editorials in Nature, urging a school to move expeditiously.

Some school may wish to sweep something under a rug, and to be fair, given a professor near retirement, it may be much less hassle to do something quietly, especially if the school screwed up in some way and opened themselves to potential lawsuits.

But, by October 2010, it was very clear this wasn’t going to be invisible, so strong motivation must have been there to do what GMU did.

“See No Evil” p.28 speculated on 4 hypotheses to explain the odd behavior.

Only one of them was “Kochs and allies.”

38

LFC 03.17.12 at 1:45 pm

I’m remindedof the case of KAL007; as older readers may recall, korean air flight 007, a boeing jumbo jet, was shot down by the soviets.
Among the many facts that emerged was that the KAL flight had strayed way off its path , as monitored by radar in alaska (the last civilian radar station)
so far as i know, despite the 1,000s of hours devoted to this story by the press, no one went up to alaska to ask the radar operators how often this happened (I think it had to do with prevailing winds and fuel usage)

Since several books about this incident were written, advancing different arguments and theories about what happened, I would be extremely surprised if every person who knew anything first-hand about this, including the Alaska radar operators, had not been interviewed by someone.

39

Dave 03.17.12 at 3:48 pm

Well, they got Ward Churchill.

40

Eli Rabett 03.17.12 at 4:22 pm

ezra abrams 03.17.12 at 2:22 am

I am willing to bet there is not a single person who reads this blog who understands the hockey stick

by understand, I don’t mean you looked at agraph of CO2 conc vs time, and looked up the molar absorbtion coefficient of CO2 in the infra red, and calculated the albedo of the earth in that range….

It would be interesting if that had anything to do with the hockeystick papers, but it merely shows Ezra to be an ?unpaid? Kochup. The hockeystick papers (and there are probably over 50 now) calibrate measured proxies from the past 150 years(like coral structures) against the instrumental records (e.g. for the hard of learning like Ezra, temperatures measured by thermometers). This allows estimation of temperatures far into the past. How far depends on the proxies and your confidence.

As to Ezra’s question, yes and yes, so he (Eli makes an assumption) is wrong on both sides of that

41

Barry 03.17.12 at 5:34 pm

ezra abrams
“I am willing to bet there is not a single person who reads this blog who understands the hockey stick”

I’ll bet that you don’t have the slightest clue about how your computer works.
Or economics, although I’d bet that you have strong opinions on that.
And I’ll be a test of recent history would leave you in the dust.

42

John Mashey 03.17.12 at 6:05 pm

Eli got here first regarding Ezra’s comment, and I think I understand this stuff well enough, see Strange Scholarshiop for example and I attend AGU meetings, as does Eli.

However, in this case, Dunning Kruger Effect may be more relevant.

43

guthrie 03.17.12 at 9:29 pm

Just this partial sentence indicates ezra is seriously deluded or a troll:
“like how increased temprature leads to increased wave activitywhich leads to increase aerosols over the ocean which leads ot increased sink of CO2 in the ocean….”

CO2 absorbs into the ocean because thats what gases do, and theres some comparatively simple equations allowing you to work out how much will be absorbed at certain partial pressures of CO2 in the atmosphere. Take home fact – increase CO2 concentration and more dissolves in the oceans. I could do the calculations but I’d have to revise my 15 year old undergraduate chemistry books.

44

William Berrys 03.18.12 at 1:15 am

@guthrie: “CO2 absorbs into the ocean . . .”

Not to defend Ezra here, as I agree with him on very little, but I think he might have been referring to the very considerable increase in surface area that results from wave activity. As you know, surface area is a major factor in absolute rates of adsorption/ absorption.

45

William Berrys 03.18.12 at 1:17 am

William Berry, that is. Trying to get used to virtual keyboard on iPad.

46

John Mashey 03.18.12 at 2:14 am

guthrie: have you ever seen trolls attempt to derail a discussion they don’t like?

Back to the real topic:
In any case, lawyer Brian Schmidt brings up the Copyright issue and its potential side-effects. While Wikipedia is not copyrighted, Bradley(1999) and the two Social Network Analysis texts were.

47

William Berry 03.18.12 at 2:40 am

@John Mashey: If you are calling me a troll, why are you being so rude? As to the derailment issue, it was guthrie who was on about CO2 absorption. I was making a modest technical point.

48

John Mashey 03.18.12 at 4:37 am

William Berry: why on earth would you think I was referring to you?

49

piglet 03.18.12 at 5:36 am

7: “If it’s not done at Harvard, why would we expect it to happen at GMU?”

23: At least in Australia, plagiarism is a big deal.

In Germany too. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/books/merkels-possible-successor-resigns-in-plagiarism-scandal.html)

50

Arkie 03.18.12 at 5:49 am

Perhaps a case in point: ethics.uark.edu is the web site of the “Office of Academic Integrity & Student Conduct” at the University of Arkansas. In other words, Ethics and Academic Integrity are considered student affairs. There are no official ethics guidelines for faculty or administrators.

51

guthrie 03.18.12 at 4:12 pm

I wasn’t aware that any actual respectable evidence linked wave action with temperature with sea surface area with CO2 absorption. Or at least enough to distinguish it from background noise in a signal dominated by the absorption kinetics of CO2 into water. Perhaps someone knows of some?

52

Barry 03.18.12 at 6:39 pm

53

John Mashey 03.18.12 at 7:35 pm

I note the irony of thsoe promoting “freedom and liberty” who take money from tobacco companies, who stay only by addicting children, the earlier the better.

) Fake science is mostly about other thinktanks, like SEPP and Heartland but CATO shows up:
p.3 graph of interactions.
Note Philip Morris / Roy Marden box, with money flowing to most of these thinktanks.

p.12 table of fundees and key funders (Kochs, Scaife, L&H Bradley, DONORS TRUST (whose staff is totally entangled with Kochs, CATO, etc)

p.39 Philip Morris funding 1991-2001, from tobacco archives. Of 39 thinktanks, CATO is #3 with $965K, after WLF and ATR.
Note GMU shows up as does Mercatus; I missed Institute for Humane Studies
p.40-41: what the thinktanks did for their tobacco money It’s too bad the archives effectively stop after that.

pp.65- DONORS TRUST/CAPITAL: a great mechanism for letting donors avoid saying where their money is going.
President&CEO Whitney Ball used to be at CATO, but the interlocking directorates are well-filled with Koch folks, AEI, heritage, PRI, Acton, PLF, etc.

2) See No Evil… shows how GMU has defended Wegman in ways that astonish my academic friends.
p.28 includes a summary of possible reasons, of which one is:
“GMU may be so enmeshed in funding by Kochs, Scaife, Searle, etc and involved with thinktanks and politicians pursuing climate anti-science, that it simply could not allow criticism or retraction of the WR.”

p.39 Appendix A.5 summarizes GMU funding: at the same time as it gets money to attack Federal government, it was getting $85M in Federal research grants.
pp.40-44: money flows and known relationships.

The tobacco folks are right there alongside the Kochs and their allies, like Scaife, Searle Freedom Trust, L&H Bradley, etc.

Freedom and liberty are important, but it looks like that means helping transfer such items from large numbers of people to a few funders.

54

William Berry 03.19.12 at 10:18 am

@John Mashey: Punchy and thin-skinned from too much overtime through too many long nights in the laboratory I work in. Sorry about that.

@guthrie: “I wasn’t aware that any actual respectable evidence linked wave action with temperature with sea surface area with CO2 absorption. Or at least enough to distinguish it from background noise in a signal dominated by the absorption kinetics of CO2 into water. Perhaps someone knows of some?”

I’m just an analytical technician, not a climatologist, and I’m not aware of any such research myself. It struck me that the wave activity/ aerosol bit could involve variation/ increase in surface area that could plausibly affect the rate of absorption. On reflection, however, I think you are right; the increase in absorption rate from these factors alone probably wouldn’t be much, if any, more than the system noise.

But to go a little further, doesn’t the entire hydrologic system come into play here? Rising temperatures increase evaporation and precipitation rates, too, and isn’t this increase in hydrologic system through-put part of the CO2 solution equation? Couldn’t an atmospheric CO2 equilibrium be reached at some point by this means?

Unfortunately, given the faster-than-expected increase in temps that we’re seeing, and the rise in sea-levels we can expect from that, such an equilibrium will probably be well beyond the boundary of anything like acceptable environmental conditions for humans, and for much other life on the planet.

And, in any event, increased solution of CO2 in the oceans would not be the unalloyed good thing it was once thought (I remember a Scientific American piece from the 1970s, “The Carbon Dioxide Question”, that dealt with this issue long before it had become a “story”). We now know that the increase in oceanic carbonic acid from increased solution of CO2 will itself eventually prove catastrophic. I have read that there are already signs that decreased ocean pH is having a deleterious effect on coral reefs; inevitably it will adversely affect the calcareous secretions of mollusks and planktonic life-forms as well.

I am aware that this is something of a side issue in this thread, but when one thinks of the staggering scale of the problems facing us as against the vile deceits and lying rhetoric (and plagiarism) of the denialists, it is to weep. It is little consolation that these deceivers — and their paymasters of the corporate plutocracy — might be viewed by future historians as the great criminals of our era.

Humans already are responsible for a rapidly accelating die-back of plant and animal life that will turn out to be among the greatest in the history of the planet. I don’t see how we can get out of the 21st century without a massive human die-back as well.

This won’t affect me directly: I am probably too old to witness most of the horrors. But I have nine grand-children, and will have great-grandchildren before much longer. And there are lots of other families with lots of grand-children and great-grandchildren. I feel sorry for all of them.

Anyway, I’ll shut up now. [3/18/2012, WSB]

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guthrie 03.19.12 at 11:11 pm

William, I don’t quite understand what you mean by:
“But to go a little further, doesn’t the entire hydrologic system come into play here? Rising temperatures increase evaporation and precipitation rates, too, and isn’t this increase in hydrologic system through-put part of the CO2 solution equation? Couldn’t an atmospheric CO2 equilibrium be reached at some point by this means?”

The water vapour feedback and other things is what makes doubling of CO2 equilibrium temp around 3C. But the lifespan of CO2 in atmosphere depends on a variety of factors, and IIRC it is something like 200 years, maybe as little as 40. It’s a while since I read the realclimate article on it. An equilibrium between ocean, atmosphere and plants will be reached, but it isn’t as if there’ll be massive amounts of CO2 locked up in water droplets because of the greater amount of water vapour. Feel free to do some back of the envelope calculations :)

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Barry 03.20.12 at 1:21 pm

William Berry: “But to go a little further, doesn’t the entire hydrologic system come into play here? Rising temperatures increase evaporation and precipitation rates, too, and isn’t this increase in hydrologic system through-put part of the CO2 solution equation? Couldn’t an atmospheric CO2 equilibrium be reached at some point by this means?”

Gee, ya think?

That’s been a major challenge (from my understanding): warmth leads to higher evaporation leads to more clouds, whose effect is mixed.

I would suggest that you go to RealClimate.org, or read a book (e.g., ‘The Discovery of Global Warming’[1]), so that you can get a handle on what is/has been done.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/The-Discovery-Global-Warming-Technology/dp/067403189X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332249655&sr=1-1

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