Chris Mooney refutes claims that a skeptical report was suppressed by the EPA. (See also Deep Climate’s analysis of the origin of the report.

Another story about skeptics being suppressed has been concocted by Christopher Booker:

Dr Taylor had obtained funding to attend this week’s meeting of the [Polar Bear Study Group], but this was voted down by its members because of his views on global warming. The chairman, Dr Andy Derocher, a former university pupil of Dr Taylor’s, frankly explained in an email (which I was not sent by Dr Taylor) that his rejection had nothing to do with his undoubted expertise on polar bears: “it was the position you’ve taken on global warming that brought opposition”.

Dr Taylor was told that his views running “counter to human-induced climate change are extremely unhelpful”. His signing of the Manhattan Declaration — a statement by 500 scientists that the causes of climate change are not CO2 but natural, such as changes in the radiation of the sun and ocean currents — was “inconsistent with the position taken by the PBSG”.

It is hard to imagine more unreliable sourcing than a Christopher “white asbestos is harmless” Booker second-hand report of an email, but I thought I should check the story to be on the safe side, so I asked Derocher about Booker’s article:


Dr. Taylor retired from the Nunavut government last year and was replaced on the Polar Bear Specialist Group by Dr. Lily Peacock. Further, Dr. Taylor was not re-appointed the to the PBSG by the Canadian government that decided to appoint 3 other people to the PBSG meeting here in Copenhagen. Involvement with the PBSG is restricted to those active in polar bear research and management and Dr. Taylor no longer fits within our guidelines of involvement. Dr. Taylor years ago was involved in drafting the rules that govern our Group – we are restricted to 20 members of which 15 are appointed by the 5 nations with polar bears in their range and 5 members are appointed by the Chair. I appointed 5 people that are active in polar bear issues on an ongoing basis.

It was an unfortunate article and it was grossly misleading. For example, I never was a student of Dr. Taylor’s and for him to suggest so is more than a little surprising to me. I have know Dr. Taylor for over 25 years but I can assure you that at no point did he ever supervise me in any capacity.

I am unsure what the intent of Dr. Taylor’s comments were but I can assure you that the PBSG has broad representation. Given the 20 members and my appointing of only 5, it is largely up to the 5 nations to construct the Group that I Chair. The Chair position rotates by nation – my term is up and it will be up to the next Chair to appoint 5 members because my term will end and my membership in the PBSG will end. I will also note that our former Chair, Scott Schliebe of the US Fish and Wildlife Service is not attending this meeting. He also retired in 2008 and is no longer active in the field.

I hope this clarifies the situation some. This meeting is about coordinating ongoing and future research and management. Dr. Taylor is no longer in a position to assist with such issues. The PBSG has heard Dr. Taylor’s views on climate warming many times. I would note that Dr. Taylor is not a trained climatologist and his perspectives are not relevant to the discussions and intent of this meeting.

So Taylor is no longer a member of the PBSG because he retired from his job working for the Nunavut government. Don’t expect to see a correction from Booker.

Comments

  1. #1 dhogaza
    July 2, 2009

    How long until they make a movie … “Expelled … the Climate Science Sequel” ?

  2. #2 sod
    July 2, 2009

    i simply had to quote this paragraph from Mooney:

    Alan Carlin is simply not James Hansen, arguably the most famous of many scientists who claimed to have had their work suppressed or in some way interfered with during the Bush administration. You will recall that the Bush administration had taken a stance critical of mainstream climate science; Hansen felt compelled to defend it; and then NASA underlings interfered with his access to the media. That’s a vastly different story from the present one: The Obama administration has taken a stance aligned with mainstream climate science; Carlin is criticizing it; and his scientific claims are not standing up very well. Of course the Environmental Protection Agency can’t use them to help make policy. According to the EPA, Carlin’s claims were, in fact, considered—and rejected.

    but i doubt that the political right and the denialist blogosphere will ever understand what “suppression” is.

    their definition of the term “suppresion” obviously is: “any (even if only falsely PERCEIVED) action against our right wing policy”

  3. #3 bigcitylib
    July 2, 2009

    As an employee of the Nunavut government, Taylor might have been inclined to argue against endangerment simply because many Nunavut settlements need the bear hunt to survive. I actually did some reading on him a year or so back and the territorial gov. thanked him quite explicitly for his work defending their interests on this issue.

    Canada’s far North inhabitants are kind of conflicted over AGW. On the one hand they are being quite severely impacted by AGW; on the other hand, hosting yankees that want to come up and kill a bear is a good business for some very poor communities.

    Sometimes their reps wind up making quite contradictory arguments: yes its effecting us terribly, but not the polar bear.

    Or: the polar bears are wandering into our communities because the ice is so thin; the polar bears are increasing in numbers because we see them right in our communities.

  4. #4 Dave Andrews
    July 2, 2009

    Tim

    “I would note that Dr. Taylor is not a trained climatologist and his perspectives are not relevant to the discussions and intent of this meeting.”

    Presumably, however, Dr Taylor knows what he is talking about in relation to polar bears. So while there may be beaurocratic reasons why Dr Taylor should no longer be a member of PBSG why on earth has Derocher made this comment? He could just have stuck to the formal situation regarding membership. The fact he didn’t suggests other factors were also in play,

  5. #5 TrueSceptic
    July 2, 2009

    I’ve just made the mistake of skimming (again, and why do I do this?) through the comments on Booker’s [piece of disinformation](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/5664069/Polar-bear-expert-barred-by-global-warmists.html)

    With desperately few exceptions, we see the same old list of:-

    Hilarious CTs being repeated by extreme right wing loons;

    “Science” being discussed and redefined by the desperately innumerate, scientifically ignorant, and logically incompetent;

    Outright lies being told by, well, outright liars.

    So sad. Does Booker have no shame? Or is it some ploy to discredit the above?

  6. #6 Michael
    July 2, 2009

    Dave, I think you should be awarded a Nobel Prize Gold Pin for conspiracy wingnuttery.

    I think it’s pretty clear he mentioned this because that was the whole thrust of the Booker nonsense that he was asked to address – that Taylor is not part of the PBSG due to his AGW views. Hence, “Dr. Taylor’s views on climate warming……..are not relevant to the discussions and intent of this meeting.”

    Why can’t we attract a better class of dills?

  7. #7 eNeMeE
    July 2, 2009

    Why can’t we attract a better class of dills?

    ‘Cause if they’re any better they get to head a think tank?

  8. #8 ilajd
    July 2, 2009

    Interesting that Derocher did not simply provide a copy of the email communication with Dr Taylor to clarify what was actually stated. If he did indeed state that “it was the position you’ve taken on global warming that brought opposition” it is quite a serious case of bias that requires some investigation. Perhaps Tim could chase this email down for us, unless of course it came via Godwin Grech.

  9. #9 Paul (UK)
    July 3, 2009

    I just see Booker as an isolated nut job with a posse of nut job followers.

  10. #10 Ilajd
    July 3, 2009

    By the way Tim , you may want to read up on the latest asbestos research. Booker is quite right in regard to chrysotile. Low levels of exposure represent a negligible risk for mesothelioma and asbestosis.
    Of course once you start scare mongering about one subject I guess its hard to stop.

    See for example YARBOROUGH C. M. 2006. Chrysotile as a cause of mesothelioma: an assessment based on epidemiology. Critical Reviews in Toxicology 36, 165–187.

  11. #11 Mark
    July 3, 2009

    > Presumably, however, Dr Taylor knows what he is talking about in relation to polar bears.
    >
    > Posted by: Dave Andrew

    But when he says that someone is an ex-student of theirs and this is a lie, presumably, they lie quite a bit with no remorse.

    So maybe he’s lying here.

  12. #12 Mark
    July 3, 2009

    > Low levels of exposure represent a negligible risk for mesothelioma and asbestosis.

    But that’s the definition of “low levels of exposure”.

    Tautology.

  13. #13 Steve Chamberlain
    July 3, 2009

    Michael (6): Why can’t we attract a better class of dills?

    Because dills don’t evolve, they just multiply?

  14. #14 Ken Miles
    July 3, 2009

    By the way Tim , you may want to read up on the latest asbestos research. Booker is quite right in regard to chrysotile. Low levels of exposure represent a negligible risk for mesothelioma and asbestosis. Of course once you start scare mongering about one subject I guess its hard to stop.

    Ilajd, you forgot to update us on the effect of chrysotile exposure on lung cancer.

  15. #15 Nelthon
    July 3, 2009

    > See for example YARBOROUGH C. M. 2006. Chrysotile as a cause of mesothelioma: an assessment based on epidemiology. Critical Reviews in Toxicology 36, 165–187.

    Sometimes one finds beautiful symmetry with Google searches. Yarborough’s institution is Exponent Inc., a product defence company with a long history in the asbestos field.

    Rather ironically I found mention of this in a Google book excerpt of David Michael’s _Doubt is Their Product_. On the very same page is a mention of the Competetive Enterprise Institute’s attempts to undermine climate research.

  16. #16 Chris S.
    July 3, 2009

    Re: #14

    See for example:
    Richardson, DB. 2009. Lung cancer in chrysotile asbestos workers: analyses based on the two-stage clonal expansion model. CANCER CAUSES & CONTROL Volume: 20 Issue: 6 Pages: 917-923

    Murr, L. E.; Garza, K. M. 2009. Natural and anthropogenic environmental nanoparticulates: Their microstructural characterization and respiratory health implications. Atmospheric Environment Volume: 43 Issue: 17 Pages: 2683-2692

    Uibu, T; Vanhala, E; Sajantila, A, et al. 2009. Asbestos Fibers in Para-Aortic and Mesenteric Lymph Nodes. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF INDUSTRIAL MEDICINE Volume: 52 Issue: 6 Pages: 464-470

    Berman DW, Crump KS. 2008. Update of potency factors for asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma. Crit Rev Toxicol 38(Suppl 1):1–47.

    etc. etc. etc.

  17. #17 bi -- IJI
    July 3, 2009

    Some non-examples of non-suppression:

    1. Jim Salinger. See, that’s not suppression, that’s just an act of righteousness against Big Government! If Jim Salinger was fired from his government job, the real Inquisitor is actually Salinger himself!
    2. Dave Hansford. Now, Hansford isn’t actually a government official, but since he supports something that has some distant relationship with something that can be called ‘something Marxism something something something’, therefore we can treat him as a government official for all intents and purposes. A Communist government official, to be precise. Therefore, if the Listener tries to suppress Hansford, the real Inquisitor is still… Hansford himself!
    3. Gareth Renowden. Now, Gareth Renowden is on Hansford’s side, so by the Wingnut Law of Transitivity of Big Governmentness, it follows that Renowden is a secret Leninist agent himself. Therefore, the Listener‘s lawsuit against Gareth Renowden is the Iwo Jima Battle of Liberal Fascism.

    So there you go.

  18. #18 ilajd
    July 3, 2009

    Obviously some here with very little appreciation of the notion of risk. Perhaps one day you will all manage to escape your inner suburban plastic bubbles and walk in the real world. Things aren’t that scary out here. BOO!

  19. #19 bi -- IJI
    July 3, 2009

    ilajd:

    Of course the world is scary. With all the secret Marxists, secret Muslims, secret eugenicists, and secret Freemasons out there, one can’t be too careful.

    I guess “Oh noes! We’re being suppressed by a secret worldwide conspiracy!” is the “Things aren’t that scary out here” of Liberal Fascism.

  20. #20 anthony
    July 4, 2009

    That iljad is one mean hombre. I hear he gets his toast out with a fork.

  21. #21 Ilajd
    July 4, 2009

    H lt th d hms flw: nthn: hr s th srt f blk wh wrs lycr n bsh wlk. Tm Lmbrt: hr tll h lks lk Ptr Hllr nl fttr, nd lss fnn. Sd: s n trf? r sdmt?

  22. #22 bi -- IJI
    July 4, 2009

    Shorter ilajd:

    The fact that I have to make up my own ad hominems proves that Global Warmists are making ad hominem attacks.

    Things aren’t scary, except when they are.

  23. #23 Hank Roberts
    July 5, 2009

    New source of putatively evenhanded scientific information showing up frequently all of a sudden:

    http://www.climatedata.info/Impacts/impacts.html and click on Polar Bears. Where Dr Taylor was unwise was to comment on causes of global warming which is …
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/Polar-bear-expert-barred-by-global-warmists.html

    Al Gore’s polar bears have failed to drown. The ice in the Antarctic is …… http://www.climatedata.info. Sea levels are rising no faster than in the 19th …
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/Global-warming-and-a-tale-of-two-planets.html

  24. #24 S2
    July 5, 2009

    I heard Booker on Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday morning. Among other things, he claimed:

    Terrorism is nothing to worry about.
    Swine Flu isn’t a pandemic, obviously, because it has only killed 238 people.
    The UK hasn’t been experiencing a heatwave at all, obviously, because it’s been hotter in India.
    He also claimed that by the middle of next week the UK will have terrible weather with temperatures 20 degrees below average.

    He appeared to be quite proud of the fact that he can’t convert 45 °C into Fahrenheit.

    I’m waiting for the day when someone asks him what he thinks about the heliocentric model.

  25. #25 Richard
    July 5, 2009

    I appreciate the info… I had been looking for the background on Taylor after reading about him at The Telegraph.

  26. #26 QrazyQat
    July 5, 2009

    I’ve read, but don’t know for sure, that Booker also denies that abestos causes health problems.

  27. #27 S2
    July 5, 2009

    Re. 26 -I’m sure you’re right.

    According to George Monbiot:

    Since 2002, he has published 38 articles on this topic, and every one of them is wrong.

  28. #28 Dave Andrews
    July 5, 2009

    S2,

    “Since 2002, he has published 38 articles on this topic, and every one of them is wrong.”

    And exactly how many articles has George M published since 2002 that are wrong? As a regular Guardian reader, I’d say George’s record is probably quite similar, although I haven’t been counting that closely.

  29. #29 John Mashey
    July 5, 2009

    re: #23 Hank

    I actually agree with their comment on polar bears:

    “They demonstrate that for many sub-populations the information is insufficient to make a reliable estimate of numbers or to assess changes in the population.”

    as I had earlier looked carefully at that same report they cited.

    I think that polar bears are likely to be in serious danger, but that’s looking forward. It’s hard to say that the data is good enough to see the signal emerging from the noise. The estimated numbers are interesting. Polar bear census is not the easiest task in the world. :-)

    climatedata.info =

    Ronald E Manley, a hydrologist and Director of Water Resource Associates

    and

    Dr Patrick Reynolds, whose climate change page is here.

    By and large, the quick sample of material that I saw looked fairly rational, with occasional opinions or fuzziness that might come from someone who wasn’t quite up to speed on some details (like UHI corrections). But, it not a bad compendium of information. They clearly did some work.

    Reading waterstress, it “feels” like this is a way to:

    a) Provide a website that might draw traffic, including from companies.

    b) Get people to look at water issues, in which they do consulting, and that are certainly related to climate change. More places ought to be worried about climate change issues and water.

    That seems like a legitimate marketing approach for water consultancy services, if the basic website is reasonable.

    My temptation would be to politely point out errors or fuzzinesses and see what happens.

  30. #30 dhogaza
    July 5, 2009

    I think that polar bears are likely to be in serious danger, but that’s looking forward. It’s hard to say that the data is good enough to see the signal emerging from the noise. The estimated numbers are interesting. Polar bear census is not the easiest task in the world

    It’s a bit misleading, though, because the finding by the USF&W isn’t based on bear census numbers per se, but best judgement as to what will happen to those numbers as habitat disappears. The rate at which the habitat is expected to disappear was based on model projections.

    Similar situation with northern spotted owl, where census numbers were also incomplete (though the data available showed a decline), but the science demonstrating that in the mixed-conifer forests of the PNW the species needs forests with the structural characteristics almost entirely found in old-growth forests was rock solid. Clear-cut a chunk that’s supporting owls, and the owls disappear. We had good data on how large nesting territories need to be for adequate fledging numbers, etc.

    So pointing to incomplete census data is, as I said in the beginning, misleading as it doesn’t address the science underlying the listing decision by the USF&W. And why break out polar bears at all if you’re not going to talk about that? Without context this page screams “nothing to worry about”, and that’s simply not true.

    Perhaps they’re not aware of the science underlying the decision (or concerns world-wide among polar bear specialists about the species) and aren’t intentionally trying to spin it.

  31. #31 dhogaza
    July 5, 2009

    So, for instance, why didn’t point out the linkage between the 20% decline in the Western Hudson Bay population to the average three-week advance in ice breakup in the area, and the fact that this is the only subpopulation where – thus far – changes in the arctic ice melt/freeze cycle are significant?

    They would’ve been much better off leaving the section out altogether if they’re not going to tie the data together in a useful way.

    As it’s presented, it’s a veritable treasure-chest for denialists to mine. But then again, they’re doing it already, so making it easier for them is probably not going to have a significant impact.

  32. #32 John Mashey
    July 6, 2009

    re: #30 dhogaza

    Yes, that’s what I meant when I said “looking forward”, which is quite akin to, say Hansen’s 1988 analysis, based on physics fundamentals, without having had 30 years of warming trend. [Realistically, polar bears are probably toast, unless they can “learn to eat grass” or “evolve backwards” … but the data shown doesn’t particularly prove that. At least at one point, that was as a good a dataset as I could find.

    My sense from their website is that they’re accumulating data sources, and presenting them fairly straightforwardly, without very much deep analysis.

    I don’t think their polar bear page is particularly good, but I think it falls more into the “non-science” or “not-so-good-communication” than into anti-science. Like they say, polar bears are iconic.

    Recall my comments in poor science reporting.

    I’d suggest it is *counterproductive* to lump every bit of poor/incomplete communication into anti-science. Napoleon’s “Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.” is good to remember.

    Anyway, that site doesn’t *feel* like a denialist site to me, but one never knows.

    In any case, serious anti-science folks can cherry-pick *anything* :-)

  33. #33 Mark
    July 6, 2009

    > I’d say George’s record is probably quite similar, although I haven’t been counting that closely.
    >
    > Posted by: Dave Andrews

    If you can’t find the statistics, then you’re likely wrong.

  34. #34 TrueSceptic
    July 6, 2009

    28 Dave Andrews,

    Given that Booker is wrong (lying or incompetent) **100%** of the time, it’s highly improbable that anyone else would be as bad.

    In fact, however, Monbiot rarely gets things wrong. Perhaps you have copious examples to support your claim?

  35. #35 dhogaza
    July 6, 2009

    I don’t think their polar bear page is particularly good, but I think it falls more into the “non-science” or “not-so-good-communication” than into anti-science.

    I agree, and haven’t labelled them “anti-science”. But climate issues are so politically charged that if people can’t do an exceptional job, at this point they should consider butting out.

  36. #36 Chris S.
    July 6, 2009

    There’s a good indication here: http://www.badscience.net/2009/07/asking-for-it/ of the way the Telegraph treats science stories.

    Headline: “Women who drink alcohol, wear short skirts and are outgoing are more likely to be raped, claim scientists at the University of Leicester.”

    Oddly, though, the title of the press release for the same research was “Promiscuous men more likely to rape”

    Delving further: “I rang Sophia Shaw at the University of Leicester. She was surprised to have been presented as an expert scientist on the pages of the Daily Telegraph, as Sophia is an MSc student, and this is her dissertation project. It’s also not finished. “We are intending on getting it published, but my findings are very preliminary.” … she told me, every single one of the first four statements made by the Telegraph is a flat, unambiguous, factually incorrect misrepresentation of her findings.”

  37. #37 John Mashey
    July 6, 2009

    re: #35 dhogaza

    Well, which do you think is likely to be more productive:

    a) Saying in Deltoid they should butt out.

    b) Emailing them and telling them so.

    c) Following strategies like I mentioned in poor science reporting.

  38. #38 Mark
    July 6, 2009

    or
    d) treat them with the scorn and disdain they so richly deserve

    For those like Ray and DA, they WILL NOT change.

    So make their lives as much a burden as they are doing to others.

    Karma.

  39. #39 John Mashey
    July 6, 2009

    re: #37

    The developers of that website have replied quite politely in a thread over at RC.

    It is really easy to help the cause of anti-science by automatically blazing away at anyone who doesn’t get something quite right. First, figure out whether or not they are shooting at you, and if so, whether or not it’s purposeful and unstoppable … unless you want to drive them (or onlookers) to anti-science.

  40. #40 Mark
    July 6, 2009

    > It is really easy to help the cause of anti-science by automatically blazing away at anyone who doesn’t get something quite right

    But that isn’t the ones that need basting over the slow fires of ridicule.

    It’s the Ray’s of this world. The DA’s of this world.

    THEY ARE *NOT* just “getting something not quite right”.

    They are all-out died-in-the-wool hatstand denialists.

    And treating them with anything more than the contempt they deserve (and demonstrate they deserve) is treating them far better than they have others.

    After you’ve turned every cheek, what else is left? Throwing the tables over.

  41. #41 Interrobang
    July 8, 2009

    I heard an interview with Taylor this morning on the CBC radio news. He claims that he got an e-mail from someone on the PBSG saying that the reason he was disinvited is because he doesn’t believe in anthropogenic climate change. He also ran the usual “I’m not a climate change denier; I just think it’s part of a natural cycle!” thing. The article was very much weighted in his favour, and was superficially structured in that he said/he said format.

    This is another disappointing turnout from the CBC news, which seems to have taken a hard rightward turn in the last year or so. If there’s any kind of a political conflict story appearing on the CBC radio news, expect the single kook and/or fringe rightie to get more airtime than all of their critics combined.

    (Between that and the stammering interview with the blathering curator of the local museum, by quarter after 8 I was repeatedly slamming my head into the pillow…)

  42. #43 Ed Darrell
    August 2, 2009

    It’s a bit misleading, though, because the finding by the USF&W isn’t based on bear census numbers per se, but best judgement as to what will happen to those numbers as habitat disappears. The rate at which the habitat is expected to disappear was based on model projections.

    US Fish and Wildlife Service has been getting those projections right much more often than not, and not far off when they are not spot on, for more than 60 years. They are very trustworthy in that regard.

    As we learned in the RARE I and RARE II cycles, and in the early days of the Endangered Species Act, and in a dozen other cases since 1940, USFWS was very conservative. When they missed projections, it was usually because the damage to the environment was worse than had been expected and endangered populations declined faster than they projected.

    Which means, so far as the polar bears, that we cannot dismiss USFWS projections cavalierly, or without a lot of really solid data to refute them