Prophets of doom forecasting gloom … while Gleick re-enters his room

Oh, well … another day, another decision by the CBC to engage in the practice of mediocre reporting characterized by the likes of the U.K. Guardian‘s Suzanne Goldenberg: that of making claims without providing a link to their alleged source, so that the reader may verify the validity of the reporter’s (misbegotten?!) perceptions and/or willful misperceptions.

In an article today, the CBC’s Kazi Stastna reports:

World’s environmental outlook grim, UN warns

Little progress made on goals set by nations

Two weeks before the start of a global conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janiero, the United Nations is warning that progress has stalled on key environmental goals the world’s nations have set for themselves, like tackling climate change, combating desertification and protecting biodiversity.

“The world continues to speed down an unsustainable path despite over 500 internationally agreed goals and objectives to support the sustainable management of the environment and improve human well-being,” the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) said when it released its Global Environmental Outlook Wednesday.

[...]

Once again, the CBC chooses to pepper its article with links, but none to the apparent source of the relevant details from which their reporter appears to have churned the quotes.

The UNEP, of course, has been a prime promulgator (if not creator) of scary stories since 1972; so I would expect no less of any report issued under their auspices – or that of any of the ever-increasing multitude of acronymic offspring they have spawned.

For the record, the UNEP’s headline, subhead and opening paragraphs:

World Remains on Unsustainable Track Despite Hundreds of Internationally Agreed Goals and Objectives

Ambitious Set of Sustainability Targets Can be Met, But Only with Renewed Commitment and Rapid Scaling-Up of Successful Policies

Rio, 6 June 2012 – The world continues to speed down an unsustainable path despite over 500 internationally agreed goals and objectives to support the sustainable management of the environment and improve human wellbeing, according to a new and wide-ranging assessment coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The fifth edition of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5), launched on the eve of the Rio+20 Summit, assessed 90 of the most-important environmental goals and objectives and found that significant progress had only been made in four.

But speaking of the UNEP and the GEO … have you ever noticed that there is virtually no report issued under its auspices which it has not described as the “most authoritative”? This one is no exception. From the “Notes to Editors” of this particular press release:

Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) is the most authoritative assessment of the state, trends and outlook of the global environment. The report was produced over three years in a process that involved more than six hundred experts worldwide, who collated and analyzed data from every continent to build up a detailed picture of the world’s wellbeing.

It’s almost as if the UNEP’s PR writer works with a fill-in-the-blanks one-size-fits-all-reports template! And for this, I’m sure s/he gets paid big bucks (which come from our pockets!). Oh, wait a minute … a little further down in this brief section I find:

For more information, please contact:

In Brazil:

Nick Nuttall, Spokesperson and Acting Director, UNEP Division of Communication and Public Information [contact details -hro]

Hmmm … Nick Nutall … now that name rings a very familiar bell! Oh, yes, I remember now! I’ve actually had some correspondence with him. Cheerful chap (particularly considering that he’s so closely aligned with an organization whose core business is the spreading of doom and gloom); but, sad to say, not well-informed – or informative. So good luck with getting “more information” from Nutall. Your chances of success are about as likely as Steve McIntyre’s recent efforts to obtain data from Joelle Gergis regarding her latest and greatest contribution to the annals of “climate science”.

But I digress … back to the Guardian‘s Goldenberg and her contributions to the world of “informed” reporting. Readers might recall that back in February, Goldenberg was one of the first off the mark to report as “fact” that which she had not – in fact – fact-checked. She seems to be an ardent fan and supporter of the notorious Peter Gleick (whose previous claim to fame was that of “reviewing” a book which he clearly had not read).

Goldenberg’s most recent venture into the realm of non-fact-checked “reporting” occurred last month when she published a column announcing the rehabilitation of Gleick while cleverly recyling his most serious unsubstantiated self-exculpatory myths and memes.

Turns out that Goldenberg’s May 21 “now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t, now-you-do” article – as documented by Anthony Watts at WUWT – was remarkably prescient. Although definitely written well before its time, as Gleick’s Pacific Institute confirmed announced in a press release today:

June 6 , 2012

PACIFIC INSTITUTE BOARD OF DIRECTORS STATEMENT

The Pacific Institute is pleased to welcome Dr. Peter Gleick back to his position as president of the Institute. An independent review conducted by outside counsel on behalf of the Institute has supported what Dr. Gleick has stated publicly regarding his interaction with the Heartland Institute. This independent investigation has further confirmed and the Pacific Institute is satisfied that none of its staff knew of or was involved in any way.
[...]

There was no mention whatsoever in this press release of any findings pertaining to the rather crucial aspect of Gleick’s “confession” – his involvement in the promulgation of an obviously faked “memo”. But perhaps in their wisdom (or that of their “in memoriam” Advisory Board member, the long departed bully and smear-artist par excellence, Stephen Schneider [h/t Donna Laframboise]), they determined that there was no need for them to do so: Goldenberg had very conveniently muddied the waters – and already did it for them on May 21!

Come to think of it … for all we know, Goldenberg may have taken a leaf out of Neil Wallis‘ book and/or might have been the “independent outside … counsel” on whose “report” the Institute decided to rely.

Certainly the Pacific Institute’s “press contact” was no more forthcoming (or informative!) than the UNEP’s Nick Nutall, as Anthony Watts quickly discovered shortly after he wrote to ask the following questions:

1. What organization, law firm, or group conducted the investigation?

2. Why has that investigation not been made public?

The response from the designated “Press Room Contact”:

It was conducted by an independent professional investigation firm. The independent review conducted by outside counsel on behalf of the Pacific Institute has supported what Dr. Gleick stated publicly and has further confirmed and the Pacific Institute is satisfied that none of its staff knew of or was involved in any way. It will not be released because it is a confidential personnel matter. [emphasis added -hro]

How very, well, convenient, eh?! Knowing that Gleick had absolutely no compunctions about demanding – and subsequently illicitly acquiring and releasing – the confidential material (including “personnel matters”) of Heartland, am I the only one who sees the utter brazen hypocrisy of this rationalization by Gleick and his Institute?! Talk about chutzpah … Gleick surely deserves some kind of “award” for this blatant subversion of …ethics.

Maybe its time to call in the used car salesmen – in order to inject a note (however feint) of integrity into the fields of “climate science”, environmental advocacy and “reporting”.

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2 thoughts on “Prophets of doom forecasting gloom … while Gleick re-enters his room

  1. Nuttall, as I recall, was involved in the IPCC press release promoting the Greenpeace scenario. Discussed last May.

    • Yes, Steve, you’re quite correct – as usual :-) Here’s the press release:

      http://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/press/content/potential-of-renewable-energy-outlined-report-by-the-intergovernmental-panel-on-climate-change

      ["Updated version" is http://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/press/content/srren-press-release-updated-version.pdf. But the only differences that I can see, on quick glance through, are those of style rather than substance]

      In this instance [May 9] Nutall’s “hat” was that of “IPCC Plenary Spokesperson” – slightly different to the one he was wearing on May 13: “Spokesperson United Nations Environment Programme”.

      Although, as he cheerfully explained to me during our brief correspondence (pertaining to the May 13 press release), he was “no longer on secondment to the IPCC plenary”. Alas, it would appear that the poor chap couldn’t even recall which hat he was wearing when.

      But that aside … Isn’t it hard to believe that in the whole year that has passed since that incident (along with the “disappearing” grey lit “flagging rule” about which I had written to Nutall), they don’t seem to have learned a damn thing.

      Then again, perhaps they just don’t care what those of us who – by their definition – are not part of “civil society” might perceive these UN organizational exercises in self-promotion and perpetuation.

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