I’m talking about the lights going out at two websites, Ross Gelbspan’s beloved “The Heat is Online” and Greenpeace USA’s beloved “Greenpeace Investigations.”
Somebody forgot to pay the electric bill? Just askin.’
I ask in a somewhat facetious way just to inject a little levity into an otherwise dreadfully troubling overall global warming issue, but still serious questions when considering a recent development in the never-ending false accusation about skeptic climate scientists supposedly colluding with the fossil fuel industry to undercut the “settled science” of catastrophic man-caused global warming.
First, super sharp-eyed readers of this GelbspanFiles blog might have noticed in my June 30, 2022 blog post that for the first time in over nine years here, where I would have showed a screencapture image of Gelbspan’s most prominent, supposedly damaging web page, his “The Coal Industry’s ‘ICE’ Campaign,” I instead linked to an image of the Archive Today’s capture of that page. I didn’t mention it in that blog post, but the reason for the Archive version was because when I tried to view what should have been current, I was met instead by the default result my preferred web browser shows when it cannot load a website. It’s not an infrequent situation, I’ve seen it pop up even for my own blogsite, but usually a person just has to refresh the page, and it then works fine. I could not get his page to work at all every time I tried in subsequent days, just for curiosity’s sake.
Meanwhile, in a very recent quick glance at Gelbspan’s Facebook page, I saw his July 23 post that looked like it was the kind of article, complete with “(C)” for the word “copyright, which he’d publish at his website. But he included no link there for this piece. Since I knew his other Facebook “The Heat is Online” account had a link straight to his website, it was easiest to go there to see if he had announced a change/update for his website address. Instead, after a bit of poking around, I saw his explanation in the “About” section’s “Additional information” there:
… He maintained a website, heatisonline.org, until 2022, which tracked scientific and political developments in the climate arena and was used as a reference in several college courses.
Click on that link there, it automatically defaults to the Internet Archive version of his HeatIsOnline Home page. As it turns out, every link I have in my blog posts here that previously went to online specific pages now default automatically to that Internet Archive HeatIsOnline Home page version. Not to worry, I can change them all to specific Internet Archive page versions, when opportunities permit.
The heat is off, I guess. There was never much to see in his website, it was largely repostings of internet articles at prominent websites, and was really nothing more than a vehicle to promote his 1997 book. No enormous loss there, it just makes site-specific Google searches for curiosity seekers all but impossible now.
The question is, why drop the online maintenance of his website? It isn’t cost prohibitive, he can always beg for donations to cover that from a political movement that swims in megadollar cash if he is a little strapped himself lately, and if it contains such allegedly valuable info, why not simply keep it online as a personal archive, with just a simple note that active additions to it have ceased?
But the Greenpeace USA situation is a whole other mystery, concerning the flat out disappearance of its monstrously huge treasure trove of supposedly damaging “Greenpeace Investigations” industry documents. Truly worthy of examination by the next U.S. House and Senate investigators and/or by law firms defending energy company defendants in the 25+ “Exxon Knew”-style global warming lawsuits.
Sometime after April 26th this year, the lights went out for at the “Greenpeace Investigations” webpages. Try to go to their “research.greenpeaceusa.org” home page, and you eventually get a (screencapture for posterity) “The connection has timed out” result.
Unlike Ross Gelbspan’s little self-disclosed bit about his own shutdown, I can’t find a solitary word at Greenpeace overall – International or USA – explaining their own shutdown. Hugely ironic, considering the words within their “Greenpeace Investigations” home page.
Greenpeace Investigations is a searchable library that contains investigative campaign research conducted by Greenpeace worldwide. It consists of thousands of documents that were obtained through our campaign efforts, FOIA requests, legal proceedings and whistleblowers. We believe that our investigative efforts and campaign documents should be made public as part of our ongoing effort to expose environmental crimes and their perpetrators.
Uh, huh. And who else is also missing in action, with zero explanation for it? Greenpeace’s beloved website that helped regain lost member-donors after their whale-saving / ozone layer-saving days were over: the ExxonSecrets website. A total no-show, lamented by book author/blogger Andrew Rowell back in October 2021, as a self-admitted colleague of ExxonSecrets creator Kert Davies. (Yep, that Rowell).
There’s two reasons I can think of for the current Greenpeace USA administrators cutting off both “ExxonSecrets” and all the tens of thousands of old scratchy document scans links within “Greenpeace Investigations”; one is basically an educated guess, and the other is more of an ‘educated speculation.’
First, the bulk of those “Greenpeace Investigations” scans were clearly the pet project of Greenpeace USA 2000-2008 Executive Director John Passacantando, scanned and assembled under his direction when he ran the long-forgotten Ozone Action group (thank enviro-activist Sharon Beder for inadvertently alerting me to that!), which he subsequently merged into Greenpeace USA while taking over there and bringing in other major Ozone Action people – Phil Radford and Kert Davies. Radford was the last of the “Greenpeace USA neé Ozone Action” guys there in 2014, these days it’s “Phil-who??”
Amid Passacantando’s massive pile of scans are beauties such as a 1998 personal fax cover letter between George Woodwell and John Holdren (I covered that dicey bit here), and their 1995-era scans of climate scientists’ resumés (covered that dicey bit here) and their lousy scans of 1990s newspaper articles, some decorated with entertaining hand-written notes. It’s anybody’s guess whether the scan of a Greening Earth Society coverpage salutation to Passacantando with a forgery of the late Dr Patrick Michaels’ signature was purely a silly inside joke or something the “Greenpeace USA neé Ozone Action” seriously thought was worth archiving.
Who could blame the current Greenpeace USA administrators for having a “Not my circus, not my monkeys” attitude about those old scans.
There might be another reason to ditch them, though. Consider how the core idea about the fossil fuel industry is that they knew their products caused the harm of human-induced global warming, but in their greed to protect their industry and their profits, they created ‘disinformation campaigns’ to undercut that ‘settled science.’ It would not look good if all the so-called evidence for that accusation sources from a particular time frame at Greenpeace when it is possible that its major donations income was in jeopardy of crashing if the global warming alarmism was revealed to be vastly overblown by top-level climate science experts.
In the global warming lawsuits and in major news accounts, it would be a far better appearance to source those documents from either innocuous-looking ‘investigative’ organizations, wouldn’t it? Just askin.’
Say, for example, at a place named the “Climate Investigations Center.” Or alternatively at a place named “Climate Files.” (*ahem*) Or at a place named “Climate Files,” which apparently handily doesn’t disclose who runs it, such that a person needs to connect several dots in order to show that it is run by ….. ex-Ozone Action / ex-Greenpeace guy Kert Davies. A fellow who does not disclose where his pile of docs were previously housed.
Meanwhile, back to the “recent development” I mentioned at the top of the post here: It is the BBC’s July 23 “The audacious PR plot that seeded doubt about climate change” online report by Jane McMullen, which went on at considerable length to describe alleged shenanigans committed by the old Global Climate Coalition (GCC) group, and which also mentioned, in pure cursory fashion, John Passacantando as the former head of Ozone Action, while not saying another word why he would have an recollection about the GCC (not disclosed at Ms McMullen’s article was that her BBC piece was not much more then a rehash of a sizable segment of the Part 1 U.S. Frontline broadcast “The Power of Big Oil” which she produced/directed— her BBC report uses a verbatim quote without attribution. I covered the major faults about Frontline’s lack of disclosure about Passacantando / Davies here.)
If only the lights were still on at the “Greenpeace Investigations” webpages, a person could spend hours poring over the “Greenpeace USA neé Ozone Action” GCC scans collection.
I did, on assorted occasions over several years. John Passacantando featured numerous scans of newspaper articles (I’d be willing to bet this one was included among ’em) of companies bailing out of their membership to the GCC. Ross Gelbspan did as well at his HeatIsOnline website – here’s one example from a recent Google Cache capture (it needs overall highlighting to bring out the black text on a black background, since Google couldn’t otherwise handle the original multilayer background in his pages).
While the Western Fuels Association and the American Petroleum Institute at least had plausibly sinister-looking (albeit worthless / worthless!) leaked memos aimed at them as accusations both engaged in disinformation campaigns, I never devoted inordinate time to dissecting accusations from “Greenpeace USA neé Ozone Action” or Gelbspan, or even from Jane McMullen’s Frontline broadcast “The Power of Big Oil” against the GCC, simply because there really was no “there” there. Neither Passacantando et al. nor Gelbspan had anything remotely incriminating on them. In the blog posts where I did mention the GCC (tag category here, site-specific search results here), it was quite easy to point out just how easily the criticisms fell apart. Case in point: Gelbspan’s multi-repeated tale of the GCC having enormous power over the content of news reports about global warming instead reveals, under elementary digging, that the GCC was instead quite toothless.
What does that say about the BBC’s / Frontline’s Jane McMullen’s investigative reporting skills? In her BBC report, she quoted from a 1995 document “shared with the BBC by Melissa Aronczyk” and then she tweeted the same quote / citation source, while others beat her to this ‘stop-the-presses’ news flash months earlier. Read the doc’s quotation, and you’ll see what I mean by “no ‘there’ there”:
GCC has successfully turned the tide on press coverage of global climate change science, effectively countering the eco-catastrophe message and asserting the lack of scientific consensus on global warming.
Wow, goll-eee. That’s the best they got? This kind of declaration happens when the non-partisan public fully comprehends both science sides of the issue and makes an informed choice on which side made the more convincing argument. The GCC’s statement is not one bit different than the basic truism within the notorious API 1998 memo that declared “victory will be achieved when average citizens ‘understand’ (recognize) uncertainties in climate science.” There’s nothing sinister about either statement. When you have a news media that does not tell the public half the story (the U.S. PBS NewsHour just crossed a pair of thresholds on that), then the public can’t make fully informed decisions on the topic. When they do hear the pure science side of the issue, the Al Gore / IPCC side crashes and burns.
Question now is, who is “media historian” Melissa Aronczyk, and how much is anyone willing to bet that the GCC document she “shared” did not somehow arrive in her virtual hands via a citation cascade tracing back to the “Greenpeace USA neé Ozone Action” scans collection?
I wouldn’t bet the ranch on that wager. Where is a somewhat scratchy scan of that GCC document appear at the present time? At a DocumentCloud page contributed by Kert Davies, with zero credit going to Aronczyk for it. Instead, at his Climate Files page, he credits Brown University’s Robert Brulle for it (that Brulle). Brulle’s April 2022 paper does indeed quote the GCC memo verbatim, but perhaps conveniently for somebody, he does not say what his source of the paper is. Meanwhile over at “journalist” Amy Westervelt’s (that Westervelt) “Rigged” website’s Documents section, she has a crystal clear copy which she says came from Aronczyk. So why didn’t Kert Davies do the same with his April 11, 2022 “Climate Watchdog” tweet which features a scratchy copy? They are, after all, one big happy family over at Westervelt’s “Rigged” place …
Then there are the next overarching questions: why did McMullen directly ask the late Dr Michaels about his funding and his association with the the GCC (an outfit with so little influence that he barely remembered it) in her Frontline broadcast, but did not ask Kert Davies (he, of only “the Climate Investigations Center” there) about his funding, or ask about his association with John Passacantando, or ask a thing about the trove of GCC document scans both had at their now-MIA “Greenpeace USA neé Ozone Action” scans collection? And how did it work out that she coaxed Passacantando out of the multi-year shadows of his current, ‘who-knows-what-it-does’ “Our Next Economy LLC” business, which has received upwards of $10 million after he left Greenpeace?
As ever, it doesn’t matter where an objective, unbiased person jumps into the “crooked skeptics” accusation or examines any of the prominent promulgators of the accusation, it never attains clarity, it only worsens by raising more questions about why these people become less transparent as they continue to be devoid of irrefutable, concrete evidence proving skeptic climate scientists knowingly spread disinformation about the climate issue under a compensation agreement with the fossil fuel industry.