Hard News by Russell Brown


Birthday Cheer for Ricky the Special-Needs Monkey

One of the more straightforward reasons to distrust groups touting climate change "scepticism" is, quite simply, the way in which those groups conduct themselves. The Heartland Institute has provided a particularly acute example with its release of a paper challenging global warming theory, citing 500 climate scientists as "co-authors".

The claim has been explored over the past few days by DeSmogBlog, which broke the story and suggested that many on the 500 list would be horrified to find their names associated with the paper.

They were right. The site's authors emailed 122 scientists on the list and quite quickly got responses. And some more.

Some of the scientists proved to be dead or imaginary.

Stinging repudiations from scientists on the list include one victim's declaration that "using my name (and many others) in this way is a major ethical transgression."

Five New Zealanders on the list -- including NIWA's Jim Salinger -- have now released a statement that says they "strongly object to the implication that they support Heartland’s position."

Heartland CEO Joseph Bast eventually issued a snippy statement declaring that the scientists "have no right -- legally or ethically -- to demand that their names be removed from a bibliography composed by researchers with whom they disagree."

He went on to attack the credibility of the scientists who complained. There was one concession:

In response to the complaints, The Heartland Institute has changed the headlines that its PR department had chosen for some of the documents related to the lists, from “500 Scientists with Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares” to “500 Scientists Whose Research Contradicts Man-Made Global Warming Scares.”

DeSmogBlog points out that the unwilling scientists are still being listed as "co-authors".

The story has been picked up by the Herald, Radio New Zealand and others.

The most excellent fellows at the Flat Earth Society NZ are 

We are very disappointed with the Heartland Institute, with whom we agree so wholeheartedly. Not only are we deeply saddened by the fact that our very own Nathanial Pipe-Blower [Tzar and 33rd degree Grand Wizard master of the first Inverted Pancake lodge of the totally Awesome Flat Earth Society Ltd] was not mentioned in this list of top skeptical scientists, but it seems that the Heartland Institute have been extremely sloppy in compiling their list of 500 "co-authors". It turns out that so many of the scientists they list don't agree with the "global warming isn't happening" line. Guys, you're letting us all down here!!! How are we meant to be seen as true conspiracy victims when the people who we say support our claims actually don't?!

All joshing aside, what Heartland and Bast (who you may recall had a furious letter published by The Listener after Dave Hansford questioned his organisation's credibility -- without reference to Hansford himself, I gather) are doing is not an aberration. It's absolutely form for the "sceptics". Remember Sen. James Inhofe's list of "prominent scientists" who denied global warming? The one stuffed with "prominent" TV weathermen and three TV gardening show hosts?

The arrival of the story here and in the local media isn't an accident: Greenpeace, with an eye on Heartland beneficiary Owen McShane's select committee submission yesterday, has been shouting it from the rooftops. But that doesn't mean it's wrong.

Meanwhile, this week's Media7 focuses on the topic we couldn't get a single print publisher to talk about: freelance ay rates, which have remained essentially unchanged for the last 15 years and lag far behind those in similar countries.

This has an impact not only on the livelihoods of freelance journalists (who fill 60% of our magazine pages and a third of those in weekly newspapers) but on the performance and quality of print media here in general. Our panel is Kim Griggs, David Cohen and Deborah Hill Cone.

The programme also contains and excellent and amusing report on last week's Radio Awards by Simon Pound.

If you watch the show (or even just the first few minutes), you will understand the heading for this post …

The ondemand version is here.

The Windows Media clips are here.

The podcast is here.

And the YouTube version will be along any time now.

The Media7 blog has links from the programme, including additional material on the latest Freedom House Press Freedom Index.

Meanwhile, some media you haven't been able to see here: the Ross Kemp on Gangs episode on New Zealand, posted in full by Spare Room.

And Sam Tobin pointed me to the Kick a Migrant game from Australia. It's rather clever.

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