From 2006 until early this year, Marc Morano was the communications director for Senator James Inhofe's Environment and Public Works Committee, where he worked to back up the Oklahoma Republican's claim that climate change is "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." Morano periodically compiled the best ravings of crank bloggers, rebel meteorologists, and industry-funded denier groups and blasted them out to sympathetic reporters and lawmakers.
After Inhofe lost the committee to a Democrat, Morano reemerged in April as the editor of ClimateDepot.com. The site functions much as his email list did, slapping sensationalistic headlines on links to questionable science and frothing "experts." In the past two weeks, it has devoted itself almost entirely to criticizing the Copenhagen talks and trumpeting Climategate. It recently posted a link to a spoof video called "Hide the Decline," a creation of the parody website Minnesotans for Global Warming.
According to the Web traffic site Compete.com, ClimateDepot had as many as 168,000 unique visitors in a month, making it the most popular denial site. ClimateDepot is bankrolled by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a nonprofit with a $1.5 million budget, which in turn has received money from Exxon, Chevron, and foundations tied to conservative billionaire and Clinton nemesis Richard Mellon Scaife. Morano says he "can't assess the credibility of everything" he publishes, "but I usually go by a trusted source." One of those sources is Anthony Watts, a former TV meteorologist from California, who runs WattsUpWithThat.com. Morano has trumpeted Watts' claims that data showing rising temperatures across the United States are simply the result of federal weather monitoring stations that are too close to heat sources like air conditioners. When government scientists humored Watts by excluding stations he considered "flawed" from their data, they found virtually no change in the overall temperature readings.
"I think you'd have to talk to Anthony Watts to get a detailed rebuttal on that, but I still think that's a major issue," Morano says. (Watts has responded here and was debunked here.) "Anthony Watts has played a critical role in the climate debate in the innovative research he's done on these surface stations, and it's been badly needed and much appreciated."
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