Daily Archives: June 25, 2015

June 25th, 1996 – Wall Street Journal finally publishes Ben Santer’s letter

The second assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released in 1995-6.  It was attacked by the denialists and the fossil-fuel lobby, in part because momentum was building for an international treaty to not just stabilise emissions, but reduce them.  The narrative that the denialists chose was that one scientist, Ben Santer, had somehow taken over the process and edited out all uncertainties.  This was nonsense of course, but nonsense that the Wall Street Journal was happy to print.  Santer tried to respond-

Santer immediately drafted a letter to the [Wall Street] Journal, which forty of the other IPCC lead authors signed. Santer explained what had happened, how he had been instructed by Houghton to make the changes, and why the changes were late in coming. At first the Journal wouldn’t publish it. After three tries, Santer finally got a call from the Journal’s letters editor and the letter was finally published on June 25. Santer’s reply had been heavily edited, and the names of the forty other cosigners deleted.

Oreskes and Conway, 2010 Page 208

The denialism continues down unto this day, almost 20 years later. There are some serious design flaws in the human species. Oh well.

Also on this day
The peak in articles in June 2008 is partly due to a Shell-sponsored CCS supplement in the Guardian on 25 June which contained 14-articles, all focusing on CCS.
Page 234 of Mander et al (2013)

Of eagles and geese – capitalising Aesop’s fables for capital accumulation

The word ‘natural’ is one of the busiest and slipperiest in the English language. One of its many shades of meaning is that something ‘natural’ is ‘right’ and ‘normal.’

Naturally (!), powerful actors hoping to become still more powerful will try to convince those who might constrain them that they are ‘natural’, and should be allowed to do whatever they like, free from ‘artificial’ (i.e. ‘unnatural’) regulation.

Two examples from the Australian mining industry (oh come on, you knew I was going there).

The first I only stumbled upon yesterday, in the State Library of South Australia. It is a 1992 publication by the Institute of Public Affairs, an extremely neo-liberal ‘think’ tank and policy mill based in Melbourne.

1992 clipping wings

The second is Rio Tinto’s submission to the 1998 Productivity Commission investigation of the Australian Coal Industry.


Bless you, Mr. Aesop.