Wikipedia’s climate doctor
How Wikipedia’s green doctor rewrote 5,428 climate articles
Posted: December 19, 2009, 2:53 AM by NP Editor
lawrence solomon, climate change, Wikipedia
By Lawrence Solomon
The Climategate Emails describe how a small band of climatologists cooked the books to make the last century seem dangerously warm.
The emails also describe how the band plotted to rewrite history as well as science, particularly by eliminating the Medieval Warm Period, a 400 year period that began around 1000 AD.
The Climategate Emails reveal something else, too: the enlistment of the most widely read source of information in the world — Wikipedia — in the wholesale rewriting of this history.
The Medieval Warm Period, which followed the meanness and cold of the Dark Ages, was a great time in human history — it allowed humans around the world to bask in a glorious warmth that vastly improved agriculture, increased life spans and otherwise bettered the human condition.
But the Medieval Warm Period was not so great for some humans in our own time — the same small band that believes the planet has now entered an unprecedented and dangerous warm period. As we now know from the Climategate Emails, this band saw the Medieval Warm Period as an enormous obstacle in their mission of spreading the word about global warming. If temperatures were warmer 1,000 years ago than today, the Climategate Emails explain in detail, their message that we now live in the warmest of all possible times would be undermined. As put by one band member, a Briton named Folland at the Hadley Centre, a Medieval Warm Period “dilutes the message rather significantly.”
Even before the Climategate Emails came to light, the problem posed by the Medieval Warm Period to this band was known. “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period” read a pre-Climategate email, circa 1995, as attested to at hearings of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works. But the Climategate transcripts were more extensive and more illuminating — they provided an unvarnished look at the struggles that the climate practitioners underwent before settling on their scientific dogma.
The Climategate Emails showed, for example, that some members of the band were uncomfortable with aspects of their work, some even questioning the need to erase the existence of the Medieval Warm Period 1,000 years earlier.
Said Briffa, one of their chief practitioners: “I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data’ but in reality the situation is not quite so simple. … I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago.”
In the end, Briffa and other members of the band overcame their doubts and settled on their dogma. With the help of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the highest climate change authority of all, they published what became the icon of their movement — the hockey stick graph. This icon showed temperatures in the last 1,000 years to have been stable — no Medieval Warm Period, not even the Little Ice Age of a few centuries ago.
But the UN’s official verdict that the Medieval Warm Period had not existed did not erase the countless schoolbooks, encyclopedias, and other scholarly sources that claimed it had. Rewriting those would take decades, time that the band members didn’t have if they were to save the globe from warming.
Instead, the band members turned to their friends in the media and to the blogosphere, creating a website called RealClimate.org. “The idea is that we working climate scientists should have a place where we can mount a rapid response to supposedly ‘bombshell’ papers that are doing the rounds” in aid of “combating dis-information,” one email explained, referring to criticisms of the hockey stick and anything else suggesting that temperatures today were not the hottest in recorded time. One person in the nine-member Realclimate.org team — U.K. scientist and Green Party activist William Connolley — would take on particularly crucial duties.
Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known – Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the band members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He rewrote Wikipedia’s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug.11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.
All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley’s global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia’s blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.
The Medieval Warm Period disappeared, as did criticism of the global warming orthodoxy. With the release of the Climategate Emails, the disappearing trick has been exposed. The glorious Medieval Warm Period will remain in the history books, perhaps with an asterisk to describe how a band of zealots once tried to make it disappear.
Note the timing of this Fox News Special: almost immediately after the end of the disastrous COP15 'summit' [doesn't it always snow on summits? Ed.] and in the middle of near-record breaking blizzards almost everywhere, even St. Tropez, France.
The timing has been clearly calculated to inflict maximum loss of face to Obi Wan in the (now very, very) White House. Starbucks, anyone?
Steve McIntyre on Fox news special tonight about Climategate
Fox News is running a one-hour special on climate tonight at 9 p.m. [6PM PST]
(which is being re-aired on Wednesday, I think.)
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was interviewed in Toronto by Fox News when they were in Toronto for the Munk Debates (Dec 1) – Nigel Lawson and Bjorn Lomborg v George Monbiot and Elizabeth May (Green Party of Canada leader). It’s my understanding that they will be using some of this footage in one of the segments of the program tonight.
They were extremely well prepared for the interview to say the least, even being acquainted with as small a nuance of the debate as the Starbucks Hypothesis. I suspect that I’m going to look pretty weary in the interview – I was in the process of going through the Climategate Letters, which are discourging [sic] even for third party readers.
I think that the producers are trying to make the show more nuanced than the usual effort in this field (on either side). Not an easy task.
For those who don’t know what the “Starbucks Hypothesis” is:
“Can a scientist have a cup of Starbucks coffee in the morning, head to the mountains and do tree ring sampling, and be back home in time for dinner”?
It was created in response to some scientists excuses that they don’t have the time or resources to update tree ring records or to take additional samples of some Colorado and California trees. The premise of the hypothesis being that such USA sampling expeditions are easily within driving distance of civilization in USA today, represented by Starbucks.
Steve demonstrates the proof of the Starbucks hypothesis here where he does his own sampling expedition, coffee in hand.
The head of the UN's climate change panel - Dr Rajendra Pachauri - is accused of making a fortune from his links with 'carbon trading' companies. Photo: EPA
No one in the world exercised more influence on the events leading up to the Copenhagen conference on global warming than Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and mastermind of its latest report in 2007.
Although Dr Pachauri is often presented as a scientist (he was even once described by the BBC as “the world’s top climate scientist”), as a former railway engineer with a PhD in economics he has no qualifications in climate science at all.
What has also almost entirely escaped attention, however, is how Dr Pachauri has established an astonishing worldwide portfolio of business interests with bodies which have been investing billions of dollars in organisations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations.
These outfits include banks, oil and energy companies and investment funds heavily involved in ‘carbon trading’ and ‘sustainable technologies’, which together make up the fastest-growing commodity market in the world, estimated soon to be worth trillions of dollars a year.
Today, in addition to his role as chairman of the IPCC, Dr Pachauri occupies more than a score of such posts, acting as director or adviser to many of the bodies which play a leading role in what has become known as the international ‘climate industry’.
It is remarkable how only very recently has the staggering scale of Dr Pachauri’s links to so many of these concerns come to light, inevitably raising questions as to how the world’s leading ‘climate official’ can also be personally involved in so many organisations which stand to benefit from the IPCC’s recommendations.
The issue of Dr Pachauri’s potential conflict of interest was first publicly raised last Tuesday when, after giving a lecture at Copenhagen University, he was handed a letter by two eminent ‘climate sceptics’. One was the Stephen Fielding, the Australian Senator who sparked the revolt which recently led to the defeat of his government’s ‘cap and trade scheme’. The other, from Britain, was Lord Monckton, a longtime critic of the IPCC’s science, who has recently playehe [sic] was handed a letter by two eminent ‘climate sceptics’.
One was the Stephen Fielding, the Australian Senator who sparked the revolt which recently led to the defeat of his government’s ‘cap and trade scheme’. The other, from Britain, was Lord Monckton, a longtime critic of the IPCC’s science, who has recently played a key pard a key part in stiffening opposition to a cap and trade bill in the US Senate.
Their open letter first challenged the scientific honesty of a graph prominently used in the IPCC’s 2007 report, and shown again by Pachauri in his lecture, demanding that he should withdraw it. But they went on to question why the report had not declared Pachauri’s personal interest in so many organisations which seemingly stood to profit from its findings.
The letter, which included information first disclosed in last week’s Sunday Telegraph, was circulated to all the 192 national conference delegations, calling on them to dismiss Dr Pachauri as IPCC chairman because of recent revelations of his conflicting interests.
The original power base from which Dr Pachauri has built up his worldwide network of influence over the past decade is the Delhi-based Tata Energy Research Institute, of which he became director in 1981 and director-general in 2001. Now renamed The Energy Research Institute, TERI was set up in 1974 by India’s largest privately-owned business empire, the Tata Group, with interests ranging from steel, cars and energy to chemicals, telecommunications and insurance (and now best-known in the UK as the owner of Jaguar, Land Rover, Tetley Tea and Corus, Britain’s largest steel company).
Although TERI has extended its sponsorship since the name change, the two concerns are still closely linked.
In India, Tata exercises enormous political power, shown not least in the way it has managed to displace hundreds of thousands of poor tribal villagers in the eastern states of Orissa and Jarkhand to make way for large-scale iron mining and steelmaking projects.
Initially, when Dr Pachauri took over the running of TERI in the 1980s, his interests centred on the oil and coal industries, which may now seem odd for a man who has since become best known for his opposition to fossil fuels. He was, for instance, a director until 2003 of India Oil, the country’s largest commercial enterprise, and until this year remained as a director of the National Thermal Power Generating Corporation, its largest electricity producer.
In 2005, he set up GloriOil, a Texas firm specialising in technology which allows the last remaining reserves to be extracted from oilfields otherwise at the end of their useful life.
However, since Pachauri became a vice-chairman of the IPCC in 1997, TERI has vastly expanded its interest in every kind of renewable or sustainable technology, in many of which the various divisions of the Tata Group have also become heavily involved, such as its project to invest $1.5 billion (£930 million) in vast wind farms.
Dr Pachauri’s TERI empire has also extended worldwide, with branches in the US, the EU and several countries in Asia. TERI Europe, based in London, of which he is a trustee (along with Sir John Houghton, one of the key players in the early days of the IPCC and formerly head of the UK Met Office) is currently running a project on bio-energy, financed by the EU.
Another project, co-financed by our own Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the German insurance firm Munich Re, is studying how India’s insurance industry, including Tata, can benefit from exploiting the supposed risks of exposure to climate change. Quite why Defra and UK taxpayers should fund a project to increase the profits of Indian insurance firms is not explained.
Even odder is the role of TERI’s Washington-based North American offshoot, a non-profit organisation, of which Dr Pachauri is president.
Conveniently sited on Pennsylvania Avenue, midway between the White House and the Capitol, this body unashamedly sets out its stall as a lobbying organisation, to “sensitise decision-makers in North America to developing countries’ concerns about energy and the environment”.
TERI-NA is funded by a galaxy of official and corporate sponsors, including four branches of the UN bureaucracy; four US government agencies; oil giants such as Amoco; two of the leading US defence contractors; Monsanto, the world’s largest GM producer; the WWF (the environmentalist campaigning group which derives much of its own funding from the EU) and two world leaders in the international ‘carbon market’, between them managing more than $1 trillion (£620 billion) worth of assets.
All of this is doubtless useful to the interests of Tata back in India, which is heavily involved not just in bio-energy, renewables and insurance but also in ‘carbon trading’, the worldwide market in buying and selling the right to emit CO2. Much of this is administered at a profit by the UN under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) set up under the Kyoto Protocol, which the Copenhagen treaty was designed to replace with an even more lucrative successor.
Under the CDM, firms and consumers in the developed world pay for the right to exceed their ‘carbon limits’ by buying certificates from those firms in countries such as India and China which rack up ‘carbon credits’ for every renewable energy source they develop – or by showing that they have in some way reduced their own ‘carbon emissions’.
It is one of these deals, reported in last week’s Sunday Telegraph, which is enabling Tata to transfer three million tonnes of steel production from its Corus plant in Redcar to a new plant in Orissa, thus gaining a potential £1.2 billion in ‘carbon credits’ (and putting 1,700 people on Teesside out of work).
More than three-quarters of the world ‘carbon’ market benefits India and China in this way.
India alone has 1,455 CDM projects in operation, worth $33 billion (£20 billion), many of them facilitated by Tata – and it is perhaps unsurprising that Dr Pachauri also serves on the advisory board of the Chicago Climate Exchange, the largest and most lucrative carbon-trading exchange in the world, which was also assisted by TERI in setting up India’s own carbon exchange.
But this is peanuts compared to the numerous other posts to which Dr Pachauri has been appointed in the years since the UN chose him to become the world’s top ‘climate-change official’.
In 2007, for instance, he was appointed to the advisory board of Siderian, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm specialising in ‘sustainable technologies’, where he was expected to provide the Fund with ‘access, standing and industrial exposure at the highest level’,
In 2008 he was made an adviser on renewable and sustainable energy to the Credit Suisse bank and the Rockefeller Foundation.
He joined the board of the Nordic Glitnir Bank, as it launched its Sustainable Future Fund, looking to raise funding of £4 billion. He became chairman of the Indochina Sustainable Infrastructure Fund, whose CEO was confident it could soon raise £100 billion.
In the same year he became a director of the International Risk Governance Council in Geneva, set up by EDF and E.On, two of Europe’s largest electricity firms, to promote ‘bio-energy’.
This year Dr Pachauri joined the New York investment fund Pegasus as a ‘strategic adviser’, and was made chairman of the advisory board to the Asian Development Bank, strongly supportive of CDM trading, whose CEO warned that failure to agree a treaty at Copenhagen would lead to a collapse of the carbon market.
The list of posts now held by Dr Pachauri as a result of his new-found world status goes on and on.
He has become head of Yale University’s Climate and Energy Institute, which enjoys millions of dollars of US state and corporate funding.
He is on the climate change advisory board of Deutsche Bank. He is Director of the Japanese Institute for Global Environmental Strategies and was until recently an adviser to Toyota Motors.
Recalling his origins as a railway engineer, he is even a policy adviser to SNCF, France’s state-owned railway company.
Meanwhile, back home in India, he serves on an array of influential government bodies, including the Economic Advisory Committee to the prime minister, holds various academic posts and has somehow found time in his busy life to publish 22 books.
Dr Pachauri never shrinks from giving the world frank advice on all matters relating to the menace of global warming.
The latest edition of TERI News quotes him as telling the US Environmental Protection Agency that it must go ahead with regulating US carbon emissions without waiting for Congress to pass its cap and trade bill.
It reports how, in the days before Copenhagen, he called on the developing nations which had been historically responsible for the global warming crisis to make ‘concrete commitments’ to aiding developing countries such as India with funding and technology – while insisting that India could not agree to binding emissions targets.
India, he said, must bargain for large-scale subsidies from the West for developing solar power, and Western funds must be made available for geo-engineering projects to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere.
As a vegetarian Hindu, Dr Pachauri repeated his call for the world to eat less meat to cut down on methane emissions (as usual he made no mention of what was to be done about India’s 400 million sacred cows).
He further called for a ban on serving ice in restaurants and for meters to be fitted to all hotel rooms, so that guests could be charged a carbon tax on their use of heating and air-conditioning.
One subject the talkative Dr Pachauri remains silent on, however, is how much money he is paid for all these important posts, which must run into millions of dollars. Not one of the bodies for which he works publishes his salary or fees, and this notably includes the UN, which refuses to reveal how much we all pay him as one of its most senior officials.
As for TERI itself, Dr Pachauri’s main job for nearly 30 years, it is so coy about money that it does not even publish its accounts – the financial statement amounts to two income and expenditure pie charts which contain no detailed figures.
Dr Pachauri is equally coy about TERI’s links with Tata, the company which set it up in the 1970s and whose name it continued to bear until 2002, when it was changed to just The Energy Research Institute. A spokesman at the time said ‘we have not severed our past relationship with the Tatas, the change is only for convenience’.
But the real question mark over TERI’s director-general remains over the relationship between his highly lucrative commercial jobs and his role as chairman of the IPCC.
TERI have, for example, become a preferred bidder for Kuwaiti contracts to clean up the mess left by Saddam Hussein in their oilfields in 1991. The $3 billion (£1.9 billion) cost of the contracts has been provided by the UN. If successful, this would be tenth time TERI have benefited from a contract financed by the UN.
Certainly no one values the services of TERI more than the EU, which has included Dr Pachauri’s institute as a partner in no fewer than 12 projects designed to assist in devising the EU’s policies on mitigating the effects of the global warming predicted by the IPCC.
But whether those 1,700 Corus workers on Teesside will next month be so happy to lose their jobs to India, thanks to the workings of that international ‘carbon market’ about which Dr Pachauri is so enthusiastic, is quite another matter.
The Prime Minister also rounded on the “flawed” and “chaotic” summit process and demanded that it be overhauled.
And Mr Brown, who is angry at the failure of the talks, warned that never again could “a handful of nations” hold the rest “to ransom.”
Mr Brown invested a large amount of time in the process, but yesterday was forced to admit that the results were far from what had been hoped for after years of lobbying. He said the European Union was prepared to go to cut emissions by 30 per cent, but other [sic] needed to follow.
He said: “What we need is not just one part of the world going to higher ranges of ambitions, we need the other parts of the world as well," Mr Brown said.
“If America and China were able to show that they were doing more, and I believe that they could, then all countries - Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea - all these countries that have got ranges would be prepared to go to their highest level of ambition.”
The Copenhagen talks went through the night on Friday and ended only with a tentative agreement between countries. More than 190 countries produced an accord which simply noted that average world temperature rises should not exceed 2C but without commitments to emissions cuts to achieve it.
The way the late-night and last minute bartering went on clearly upset Mr Brown who had staked much on getting a meaningful text which could be signed up to by all countries.
That the decision-making process was "at best flawed, at worst chaotic", Mr Brown said.
On a Downing Street podcast he added: “Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down those talks; never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries.
"One of the frustrations for me was the lack of a global body with the sole responsibility for environmental stewardship. I believe that in 2010 we will need to look at reforming our international institutions to meet the common challenges we face as a global community."
The fall-out from the failure of the talks continued yesterday with charities, environmentalists and governments all joining the blame game.
Mr Brown and Ed Miliband, the Climate Change Secretary, clearly believes China is responsible for blocking progress at the UN-sponsored summit and he called for a new international body to take charge of future negotiations.
Oxfam joined the calls for a revamp of the negotiating system to avoid a repeat of what Archbishop Desmond Tutu, its ‘global ambassador’ called the "profoundly distressing" failure of the talks to get a binding deal.
The aid charity warned that by the time of the next scheduled round of UN-sponsored talks, in Mexico in December, around 150,000 people would have died and a million been displaced as a result of climate change.
David Cameron, the Conservative leader, said: “It’s disappointing overall because there are no carbon reduction targets, the details on help for poorer countries to tackle global warming is vague and it's not a legally binding treaty.”
*FOUR Greenpeace wankers are being held without trial in a Danish prison until next year. The four are being held in isolation until 7 January after three of them got onto the red carpet at a banquet being hosted by the Danish Queen for world leaders last week and unfurled small banners which read “Politicians Talk, Leaders Act”.
Joined: 11 Feb 2006 Posts: 2950 Location: 36ï¿½ 3'N x 86ï¿½40'W
Posted: Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:43 am Post subject:
Below is a playlist of the full Fox News Special mentioned above.
It's a very professional presentation of the
serious issues raised by ClimateGate....
Yeah, but we all know how Faux News LIES all the time.
I remember asking myself, when Murdoch first established this channel, "What is the purpose of this?" Now I know. They're the "untrustworthy bad guys."
Fox News has done for journalistic integrity what most ufologists and chemtrail 'investigators' have done for the Truth Movement. Poisoned the evidence pool, and clearly established the "Lunatic Fringe", who now can be totally trusted to... be totally untrustworthy.
Yes indeed and how easy it is to deceive when the tools you use are mostly big chested blonds. Pity the average viewer has no clue that Climate-Gate is a pissing contest over money. Who owns most of the carbon credits?
Why that Tennessee Hillbilly of course.
Being a weather buff most all my life I wanted to mention that if you pay attention to your local Weather Channel, you'll notice a key word when it comes to Temps. The word is ( average ) it was changed from ( normal ) when those with a stake starting pushing Global Warming.
Above average has a better ring to it than above normal does. Average Temps have a different implication than Normal Temps do. Remove normal from the equation and you remove it from the discussion all together.
Five deaths as snow sweeps across America
Published: 10:13AM GMT 20 Dec 2009
There were five deaths during the storms which stretched from the Carolinas north to New England. The 16 inches of snow that fell at Reagan National Airport in Washington was the most ever recorded for a single December day, and 16 inches had also fallen in Philadelphia.
Nearly two feet of snow fell in some areas, and the capital was under a blizzard warning.
Jesse "The Body" Ventura, former wrestler and governor of Minnesota, has produced a shockingly one-eyed, and bizarre, TV 'investigation' about climate change
Who do you turn to when you want to blow wide open the conspiracy that is global warming? That's right. — the man who has variously been a special forces operative, motorcycle gang member, WWF wrestler and governor of Minnesota, and who now promotes himself as a seeker of the "truth" in a new TV show called Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura.
Having completed the job of exposing the 9/11 conspiracy in the previous episode of the series for the US cable network truTV (slogan: "Not Reality. Actuality"), last week Ventura set his investigative sights on global warming. In just 60 minutes, he proved once and for all that we've all been duped by a small cabal of profiteers obsessed with creating a new world order. The whole scam, according to Ventura and his team of investigators who interview a smorgasbord of expert witnesses, can be pinned on just two men — Sir Maurice Strong , a former UN bigwig, and Edmond de Rothschild , the late billionaire banker. They, the programme alleges, dreamt up the whole thing and duped the world into believing that carbon emissions are driving up global temperatures just so they could profit from carbon trading.
Quite a bold claim, so you would expect the programme to be positively dripping in hard evidence of such skulduggery. Ah, that's where things begin to unravel a little for Ventura. The programme is, in fact, little more than an unchallenged airing for a veritable Who's Who of climate scepticism. This is probably the most blatantly one-sided "documentary" on climate change since filmmaker Martin Durkin's now-notorious Great Global Warming Swindle first aired in 2007. That Martin Durkin himself appears in Ventura's investigation as an expert witness speaks volumes.
But joining Durkin in this hit job are MIT's sceptic-in-chief Richard Lindzen , Newsbuster's Noel Shepard (although he's just described as an "investigative reporter"), right-wing shock jock and PrisonPlanet.com editor Alex Jones , and, of course, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, who boldly testifies that there has been collusion between government officials, scientists and businessmen to develop the theory of global warming simply in order to make money. Little, if any, room is given throughout the programme to airing any defence of the accused. Instead, the programme takes on the veneer of an undercover cop show, with frankly hilarious scenes in which Ventura and his investigators are seen meeting shadowy characters in car parks and warehouses to receive tip-offs about who to chase down.
One scene in particular will divert the attention of any British viewer. In a mystifying bit of casting, June Sarpong is hired as one of Ventura's investigators to interview a scientist who is living incognito in the "wilderness" for fear of his life because he holds the view that the sun, not carbon emissions, is driving global temperatures up. To the uninitiated, Sarpong is best known in the UK as a former presenter of a youth entertainment programme called T4 , who has interviewed, among others, Tony Blair and Al Gore (who, unsurprisingly, is one of the targets in Ventura's programme).
In 2007, she was awarded an MBE for "services to broadcasting and charity". What's more, she co-hosted the UK leg of Live Earth from Wembley Stadium in 2007 and her website says that her production company Lipgloss Productions has a TV series about climate change "in the pipeline". All of which begs the question: what on earth led her to get involved in this transparent piece of unsubstantiated propaganda?
Gore-backed Hara sees profit from low-carbon economy
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An environmental start-up backed by Al Gore's venture capital firm aims to take advantage of coming U.S. climate change legislation by helping companies like Coca Cola and even cities cut pollution.
Hara, a 25-employee company that debuted in 2008, provides online software to help companies reduce their carbon footprint -- a $2.5 billion market that will grow 10-fold if the proposed energy bill, which will require companies to get permits for emissions, becomes law, Chief Executive Amit Chatterjee said.
At the heart of the legislation is a "cap-and-trade" system that will gradually reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by industry, by requiring them to have permits to spew their emissions.
"Then companies will be forced to act, as opposed to seeing the business benefit of acting," he said in an interview, "The debate alone of 'cap and trade' is a driver for our product."
Hara will have to compete with business software companies SAP and Oracle, as well as lesser-known players such as Carbonetworks and Enervity, all of which are hoping to grab a slice of a potential boom market.
Cap and trade sets an ever-decreasing limit on carbon emissions and offers permits for companies exceeding it. Those lacking permits must trade with companies that emit less.
Paying for carbon emissions will mark a sea change in the country's pricing of energy, said AMR Research analyst Stephen Stokes.
"The details need to be worked out but it is absolutely undoubted that carbon markets will be arriving," he said.
Positioning itself for the new market, Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins last year invested $6 million in Hara -- which counts the city of Palo Alto as a client -- with the endorsement of former U.S. Vice President Gore, who is a partner.
"This company would not have existed if Al Gore had not bought off on the idea," said Chatterjee.
The venture firm has also snagged important customers, persuading Coca Cola to agree to a three-month test.
Bryan Jacob, who directs Coke's climate protection efforts, liked Hara for its comprehensiveness.
"It's kind of one-stop shopping for all of my greenhouse gas management needs," he said, as opposed to three programs he used before that "don't talk to each other."
Individuals interviewed for this story spoke with Reuters last week.
Hara software first collects information on a company's use of electricity, water, gas and chemicals and compares it to outputs of greenhouse gases, solid waste and waste water.
Then, the online software helps prepare strategy and run "what-if" scenarios. Finally, it tracks the changes.
Analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group said Hara is less precise than rivals but "vastly faster to implement and can be used ... to create a more comprehensive planning and reporting system.
"That is important for government reporting and for providing incentives for change," he said.
(Reporting by David Lawsky; Editing by Edwin Chan and Carol Bishopric)
Where there's smoke: organised criminal activity is said to be "endangering the credibility" of the carbon trading system Photo: AFP/Getty Images
It is a building site, formerly a derelict car park, in a deprived part of West London, where the neon glow of curry houses and late-night grocery stores could not be further from the wealth and glamour of London's financial markets.
Described as a "consulting" business, this is the address of a UK company that has signed up to trade carbon permits under the European Emissions Trading Scheme in Copenhagen. But there is no trace of its existence on the Companies House database.
At the newsagent next door, nobody has ever even heard of emissions trading – the system where companies buy and sell the right to emit carbon dioxide – and there has not been a building there for many years.
It is not the only oddity to emerge from the Danish Carbon Registry. All the expected big players are on the list – utilities, oil and heavy industry – the only sectors obliged by law to own permits to cover emissions.
Quite a few investment banks are also signed up, on behalf of industry or trading to make a profit.
But outnumbering these familiar names, hundreds of UK companies selling anything from hair loss treatments to electronics have mysteriously registered to buy and sell carbon permits in the Scandinavian nation – mostly in the last 18 months.
Many give addresses in the regions such as Yorkshire, Lancashire, Essex and other places not known for their links to the world of finance.
The appearance of these obscure British companies – among them businesses with unreachable addresses and Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo email accounts for company representatives – has recently come to the attention of the Danish authorities.
While many are bound to be genuine individual private traders playing the carbon markets, investigators are examining the possibility that some of these unknown UK-based companies have used the system to commit "carousel" fraud linked to VAT.
As the Copenhagen summit on global warming began this month, Denmark, the host nation, was bringing in an emergency ban to halt VAT on carbon. This followed similar suspensions in Britain, France, Spain and Holland.
According to sources, the Danish registry may be at the heart of Europe's problems with carbon trading fraud. Local media has repeatedly raised the fact that few, if any, checks are done on new traders and approval can be much quicker than in other countries.
Criminals profit by importing goods VAT-free, selling them through a series of companies, each liable to VAT, before exporting them again. Then, the first link in the chain often goes missing without accounting for the VAT and the final link reclaims the VAT it has paid from the state before disappearing.
It might sound like the tinpot scheme of local small-time crooks, but fleecing the tax man can bring in big money.
Just a few weeks ago, Europol, the cross-border police force, said that carbon trading fraudsters may have accounted for up to 90pc of all market activity in some European countries, with criminals mainly from Britain, France, Spain, Denmark and Holland pocketing an estimated €5bn (£4.5bn).
"It is estimated that in some countries, up to 90pc of the whole market volume was caused by fraudulent activities," Europol said.
Figures from New Energy Finance show the value of the global market falling from $38bn (£23bn) in the second quarter to $30bn in the three months to the end of September after several countries cracked down.
The London platform, the European Climate Exchange, where banks and energy companies tend to trade, is not affected by the fraud because it does not offer the spot contracts on which VAT was payable. But British traders can still defraud authorities by buying and selling permits on other European exchanges.
This organised criminal activity has even "endangered the credibility" of the current carbon trading system, according to Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol.
So why have fraudsters particularly targeted carbon trading? And what is being done to iron out problems in Europe before other areas – such as the US – start to trade carbon in the next few years?
Carousel fraud has been a known scam for years among mobile commodities, such as phones, computer chips and cigarettes.
But the attraction of carbon permits is their intangible nature, so there is no need physically to ship goods across borders. All is done at the click of a mouse.
It now looks like Europe will start a so-called "reverse charge" mechanism, which would remove the need for VAT to change hands between carbon traders every time permits are sold.
But will this remove all problems from the system? It should certainly eradicate VAT fraud, but the very nature of carbon credits makes them "an incredibly lucrative target for criminals", Rafael Rondelez, who was involved with the Europol investigation, has warned.
His message is clear: other types of carbon fraud could soon spring up because there are "no strong regulations or checking principles as there is in banking to prevent such activities as money laundering."
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