Year 3, Month 2, Day 29: Let’s Play “Let’s Pretend!”

The Toronto Star addresses the Heartland scandal:

Is Peter Gleick a heroic whistleblower or a climate scientist in disgrace?

Gleick, president of the California-based Pacific Institute, placed himself in the middle of controversy this week after admitting he had assumed a false identity to verify the authenticity of documents he says he received anonymously through the mail.

The documents in question reportedly came from within the Heartland Institute, a right-wing, libertarian U.S. think tank that disputes the consensus scientific view of climate change: that the planet is warming and human activity is the primary cause.

Critics say Heartland, under the guise of serious debate, has put great effort into planting doubt and sewing confusion around climate science, with the intention of delaying or halting government action aimed at reining in greenhouse-gas emissions.

The package of documents Gleick obtained backed up such criticisms. “It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy,” he wrote this week in a Huffington Post commentary.

Here we go again. Notice the absence of Thomas Jefferson! Sent February 24:

To save time, let’s all agree that in a perfect world, Dr. Peter Gleick would not have misrepresented himself to the Heartland Institute’s office staff as a way of obtaining their proprietary documents. Shame, shame! But in a perfect world, the Heartland Institute would not be misrepresenting climate science to the public. Shame, shame, shame, shame!

On the one hand, a single scientist of impeccable reputation; on the other, a secretive right-wing think tank with a multi-million-dollar budget. On the one hand, the scientific facts of the greenhouse effect and its catastrophic consequences; on the other, a program of climate-change denialism masquerading as a neutral “teach the controversy” curriculum. On the one hand, an overwhelming scientific consensus; on the other, David Wojik, an epistemologist who is being well paid to foster confusion and uncertainty.

Has Dr. Gleick’s fib helped the truth emerge? He has nothing to be ashamed of.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 2, Day 28: You Know You Know

More pearl-clutching over the fib heard round the world, this time from the San Francisco Chronicle:

The latest national uproar over climate change science has damaged, if not ruined, the reputation of one of the Bay Area’s most prominent scholars and raised serious questions about ethics during what has become a roiling political and ideological debate.

Peter Gleick, a MacArthur Foundation fellow and co-founder and president of Oakland’s Pacific Institute, admitted Monday that he had posed as someone else and obtained confidential internal papers from the Heartland Institute, a libertarian group that has questioned the reality of human-caused global warming.

I used yesterday’s letter to the WaPo as a model. Sent February 22:

Let’s all shed a few tears in sympathy for Heartland Institute. Massively subsidized by some of the world’s most powerful corporations, these industrial-scale liars have finally been exposed as, well, liars. Who wouldn’t cry victimhood under such circumstances? And who cares that Heartland’s massive misrepresentations of scientific fact have been a core component of conservative obduracy on addressing climate change? It’s more fun to pillory climatologist Peter Gleick, who used a single strategically-targeted misrepresentation to expose Heartland’s mendacity.

Heartland’s plans to teach climate-change denial in our nation’s schools are profoundly unpatriotic. Remember Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a “well-informed citizenry,” and ask yourself: would the Sage of Monticello (a man who loved scientific truth as much as he loved his country) be outraged by Peter Gleick’s fib, or by the institutionalized anti-science pseudo-education that prompted it?

Warren Senders

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Ravi Shankar Needs No Introduction

Raga Hemant

“Bengali Kirtan”

I will be posting more 78s in the next couple of days.

Strings Against Climate Change: Durga Krishnan’s Set

I am finally getting it together to post the videos from last fall’s Climate Concert. The sound from the video camera was cruddy, so I had to replace it with the recording from my digital recorder. This took more time than I had anticipated — no excuse, of course, but an explanation, anyway.

Here’s Durga Krishnan’s wonderful set, with Gaurishankar Chandrashekhar on mridangam.

Mahaganapathim Manasa Smarami – Raga – Nattai – Tala – Chathusra Ekam, Composer – Muthuswami Dikshitar

Steve Elman reviewed the concert in ArtsFuse, and wrote this:

Durga Krishnan’s performance was a rich and satisfying introduction to the veena, perfectly assembled and marvelously executed. Her improvisations were structured as beautifully as Sonny Rollins saxophone solos, with motifs introduced casually, then brought back over and over for cumulative effect. And Gaurishankar Chandrashekar’s mrindangam solo showed off some very impressive chops.

Needu Charanamule – Raga Simhendra Madhyamam, Tala – Misra Chapu, Composer – St. Thyagaraja

The Boston Globe’s Andrew Gilbert interviewed Durga before the concert and included her thoughts in his article:

Durga Krishnan, another tireless educator who has collaborated widely with jazz musicians, is also committed to working across genres. Performing in a duo with Gaurishankar Chandrashekhar, an expert on mridangam (a two-headed drum), she’s presenting a set of heavily improvised Carnatic music on the veena, a plucked lute that plays an essential role in the classical South Indian tradition. Eager to participate in Playing for the Planet, she feels that environmental consciousness is inextricably linked to her music.

“I belong to the Hindu religion where we worship the five elements of nature as god,’’ Krishnan says. “One of the pieces we’ll be performing is from a group of compositions that are prayers to these five elements. There’s a deep connection between the kind of music that I perform and nature. It’s very important to do whatever we can.’’


Raghuvamsasudha – Raga – Kathanakuthuhalam, Tala – Adi, Composer – Patnam Subramanya Iyer.

The mouths of babes…

…watch this:

Year 3, Month 2, Day 27: Because The Water Hyacinths…Had Clogged The River

The Washington Post weighs in on “Denialgate.” Pearl-clutching:

Legislation to fight global warming has disappeared from Washington’s policy agenda, but the battle over climate science continues to escalate.

The latest skirmish culminated in the admission Monday night by Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and author, that he assumed a fake identity to obtain documents that would expose the inner workings of a climate skeptic group.

“My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved,” Gleick wrote in a post on his Huffington Post blog.

Gleick’s admission “is the latest in an escalating spiral of polarizing warfare between self-described ‘Climate Hawks’ and so-called Climate Deniers,” which leaves the majority of scientists and the public “caught in the crossfire,” American University professor Matthew C. Nisbet, who studies the issues, wrote in a blog entry.

What Gleick deserves is pretty far removed from what he’s gonna get. Sent February 21:

Heartland Institute’s claim of victimhood in the wake of the release of its confidential documents is absurd. They are heavily funded by some of the most powerful corporations in the world, with an agenda built around the wholesale propagation of falsehoods in the public sphere. When a single individual (the justifiably infuriated climatologist Peter Gleick) carries out a specifically-targeted sting operation (a “retail” falsehood, if you will) that exposes a massive infrastructure of mendacity, he deserves the thanks of the nation, not a fusillade of obloquy.

Given that climate change deniers routinely distort the truth in grotesque and massively harmful ways, why should Gleick’s fib give us the vapors? Heartland’s “educational” programs undercut the Jeffersonian ideal of a “well-informed citizenry.” Gleick’s actions, conversely, reflect a deep and abiding patriotism that our third President, a man whose love of scientific truth matched his love of country, would surely recognize and applaud.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 2, Day 26: Won’t Somebody Please Have Pity?

The Kansas City Star reprints the LA Times editorial on Climate Denial In The Classroom.

Fortunately, if we’re about to enter a battle over classroom instruction on climate change, it won’t go on for decades, because the impacts of global warming are already patently obvious. Seven of the 10 warmest years since global record-keeping began in 1880 have occurred in the 21st century. Despite an intense campaign to discredit his work, Pennsylvania State University professor Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph, which shows that temperatures in the latter half of the 20th century soared to their highest level in 1,000 years, has been validated repeatedly. Last year set a record for the most climate-related disasters in the United States costing more than $1 billion in damage each – drought-fueled wildfires in Texas, Hurricane Irene, and Mississippi River flooding were among the 14 cases.

These are facts, not philosophical or religious dogma. Another fact: Sophisticated climate models show that things are going to get a lot worse. It’s bad enough that we’re gambling our children’s futures by doing so little to fight this problem; let’s not ask their teachers to lie to them about it too.

Now that Peter Gleick has emerged as the whistleblower in the Heartland case, let’s watch the poor bastard get pilloried, shall we? Sent February 21:

When the Heartland Institute claims the mantle of victimhood in the “denialgate” scandal, they are continuing a pattern of cynical manipulation of the media and public opinion. There is no doubt that Heartland’s role in muddying the debate on climate change is a crucial one; the organization has been active in promoting conservative causes across the policy spectrum, and has long done so through the dissemination of half-truths, strategic omissions, and (when necessary) outright lying. Their faux-outrage at finally being caught with their mendacious pants down as laughable as their attempts to undercut necessary action on climate change are deplorable.

Dr. Peter Gleick’s act of courage in blowing the whistle on these heavily-funded hoodlums will, of course, not go unpunished. We can anticipate hearing the morality of his actions debated endlessly in the media, while Heartland Institute’s mendacity and duplicity are ignored and minimized. While the world grows steadily hotter.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 2, Day 25: These People Make Me Want To Bring Back Public Shaming

It’s good to read these words in the Los Angeles Times:

The culture wars have been fought in the classroom for decades, waged over such issues as school prayer, the teaching of evolution and whether the Pledge of Allegiance should include the phrase “under God.” But the conflict usually pits backers of religious instruction against secularists. The latest skirmish, by contrast, is centered on a scientific issue that has nothing to do with religious teaching: climate change.

Leaked documents from the Heartland Institute in Chicago, one of many nonprofits that spread disinformation about climate science in hopes of stalling government action to combat global warming, reveal that the organization is working on a curriculum for public schools that casts doubt on the work of climatologists worldwide. Heartland officials say one of the documents was a fake, but the curriculum plans were reportedly discussed in more than one. According to the New York Times, the curriculum would claim, among other things, that “whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy.”

That is a lie so big that, to quote from “Mein Kampf,” it would be hard for most people to believe that anyone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” On one side of the “controversy” are credentialed climatologists around the globe who publish in reputable, peer-reviewed scientific journals and agree that the planet is warming and that humans are to blame; on the other are fossil-fuel-industry-funded “experts” who tend to have little background in climatology and who publish non-peer-reviewed papers in junk magazines disputing established truths. These are quickly debunked, but not before their findings have been reported by conservative blogs and news outlets, which somehow never get around to mentioning it when these studies are proved to be badly flawed.

Heartland is a repository of, essentially, species traitors. Sent February 20:

The likely consequences of global climate change go far beyond inconvenience or annoyance. In fact, the probability of unprecedented disaster is so great that one wonders what’s happening in the minds of denialists like the ones at the Heartland Institute.

Are they caught in a loop of wishful thinking, where the reassuring words of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists outweigh the hundreds of other scientific associations which acknowledge the magnitude of the emergency? Are they end-of-times Armageddonists, anticipating a rich harvest of souls from a planetary cataclysm they’re actively enabling? Are they secret disaster capitalists, seeking ways to profit from a climate emergency that will disrupt billions of lives and cause untold misery over the coming centuries?

While resolving these speculations may be impossible, there is one question with a clear and definite answer. Should the Heartland Institute’s climate-change curricula find a place in America’s schools? No, no, no.

Warren Senders

In case anyone wondered, this is the first reason I’m vehemently pro-choice:

This was uploaded to the 1in3Campaign’s website. Please go there and participate as fully as you can.


Year 3, Month 2, Day 24: Narcissistic Nihilist Edition

USA Today covers the varied sources of influence on climate change opinion, with a special emphasis on the role of a certain drug-addled gasbag:

“I’ve come up with a list of at least ten different reasons that people are confused about climate science. It’s different for each person,” says Texas Tech University climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe, author of A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, written with her husband, an evangelical pastor, Andrew Farley.

Hayhoe has learned a lot about politicians and climate in the last two months. In December, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told an Iowa voter, alarmed by something the voter heard mentioned by radio personality and climate science naysayer Rush Limbaugh, that he was dropping a chapter that Hayhoe had written for a book he planned on environmental topics . Alakazam, no more distracting climate science.

The vanishing act for her chapter by Gingrich came as news to Hayhoe. “I’ve never spoken to him and he has never spoken to me,” she said, this week. (The Gingrich campaign did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.)

What came next out of the rabbit’s hat was an even bigger surprise. Hate mail. Threats against her and her child. So much that she told the Toronto Globe and Mail that she had lost count of all the angry messages aimed at her, a mother who happened to be a scientist telling people what all the evidence suggests is the truth about their world.

“There’s a pattern of attacking people who speak out on climate change, by figures in the political elite such as Rush Limbaugh, that is almost rehearsed,” Brulle says. “That’s how it works,” he says. “That’s how public opinion on climate is shaped in our country.”

Almost rehearsed, huh? Sheesh. Sent February 19:

It is a peculiar irony that Newt Gingrich, a self-described “historian,” should find his rhetoric on climate change so completely controlled by the right wing’s loudest and least reflective spokesman. Since Rush Limbaugh’s sense of history barely extends to the beginning of the current day’s radio appearance, it’s no wonder that he derides scientists who are thinking in hundred- or thousand-year time spans.

For Mr. Gingrich to excise Katherine Hayhoe’s chapter on climate change from his book is a pathetic capitulation to political exigency. This bow to the power of a proudly ignorant buffoon is one of the most ignominious moments in a career already jam-packed with low points, but as we face what is possibly the single gravest threat human civilization has yet encountered, it’s not just a personal humiliation. Newt Gingrich’s reversal on climate change ensures that the former speaker is truly “on the wrong side of history.”

Warren Senders