Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oxfam Study: Network Analysis of Climate Change Debate

This is a rather interesting study purportedly funded by Oxfam and produced by a digital mapping agency Profero. In the context of the all out war between climate alarmist and skeptics, the study was designed to shed some militaristic insights into the way the former's networks operate, so that these inputs could be used to counter their aggressive onslaught.

The study is still to be put in the public domain by Oxfam though extracts were apparently  leaked to the a climate warmist website - Left Foot Forward. The diagram below is however suggestive of its contents.

"Combating the growing influence of climate skeptics" as the title of the study goes is in fact a tacit confession by the climate alarmist network that they all but lost the PR war. 

Factors like Climategate and severe winter in the Northern Hemisphere are readily admitted as not only radically altering their public  support base but the tone and tenor of the report additionally paints the bleak picture of doubters clearly succeeding in putting climate alarmists on their back-foot.

That the climate alarmists is demonstrating some element of denial is indicated by the the construction of a network model that still places the likes of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian and the BBC as key supporter propaganda nodules of the climate alarmist network. Much of the global media, including its Indian counterparts, who had been the its staunch propaganda pillars, have been neutralized. In fact, some of the most telling blows on climate alarmism in the recent past has been inflicted by the likes of the Guardian and the BBC.

The study also does not factor-in their modeling, the impact the great climate skeptic surge had in catalyzing major splits and defections within the alarmist scientific community, including the IPCC. Perhaps a more worrisome omission is  factoring-in the cleavages within the climate alarmist NGO movement  which have now  come into open and now more or less, formalized. More radical leftist members within are accusing typical aid agencies of the likes of Oxfam and Christian Aid of supporting 'Green Capitalism'. The clubbing of institutions like the World Bank within climate alarmist supporter network is not going to help matters further and perhaps one of the reasons why this report is yet to be made public.

In short, the rapid battle reversals faced by the global warming movement has left its stock much bewildered,  highly demoralized and wandering leaderless and aimlessly around the battle field like a defeated army. In this context, the study offers some constructive guidelines to making of a last ditched stand though falling short however of spelling out a full-fledged counter-offensive strategy.

The Oxfam report deludes itself that tactics alone  matters in a PR war. Unfortunately, the most grievous blow that climate skeptics inflicted on the climate warmist movement was robbing them of the credibility of their science - the very soul of the movement itself.  Unless this is restored, the climate alarmist movement can have little hope of regaining the momentum and the high moral ground they enjoyed till just a couple of months ago.

Read the full story at the Left Foot Forward website here

 An Update on Profero

The study was actually undertaken by a Profero subsidiary called Unsimplify.

 1. Projected Image

This is how Profero pompously project their image in their website:
"Our agency is a collective of brilliant, original thinkers who have been doing things differently since day one".
So how differently do they do things? We can gain an insight by switching back to the Unsimplify website:
"If this sounds complex and challenging then that’s intentional because what Unsimplify does is complex, hence the name."
Taken together, all this means that this corporate group takes great pride making simple things complex! That's what's different how they do things!  And to think that Oxfam actually bought this  boast, inviting on themselves the very recipe to guaranteed failure.

In contrast to their projected image, the landscape map of Profero shows how sloppy their research is. Rather than capture the full complexity, the diagram suggests that all they could manage was over-simplification.

Profero further boosts
"We pride ourselves in our creative solutions and in achieving exceptional results by thinking beyond the traditional mindset."
Apparently thinking beyond traditional mindsets traps Profero in bias - portraying the IPCC as neutral is one such example.

Profero further claims that they possess
"broad local and global insight".
By portraying the World Bank as a significant supporter (read warmist) player in their landscape map, Profero demonstrated that they held no such insights.The World Bank is considered offensive by much of the NGO network throughout the world and the Profero landscape map will only succeed to fueling their increased suspicion of the whole global warming issue.

2.  Oxfam's Future Strategy

Unsimplify website:
"We've been working with Oxfam for a number of months on a project to assist them in helping to make sense of how the growth of online peer-to-peer news generation has and could in the future impact their campaigning activities. We were commissioned by Oxfam to do this because they were looking for an approach that goes deeper than just monitoring and mapping online conversations - although this does form a part of what we do"
This my suggest that Oxfam is exploring whether blogging can be more impactful as a communication media. for their climate advocacy programmes.  

The very fact that the study was deliberately leaked to the website Left Foot Forward ("hats off to LeftFootForward for getting the scoop on this piece of work") means that they could be one of the blogs who would shoulder this responsibility, probably with Oxfam' generous funding. Left Foot Forward is probably being built up as the NGO sponsored climate alarmist website just as Real Climate is to the alarmist scientists of the CRU, East Anglia. So this perhaps explains why the report entailed many months of consulting.

But for peer-to-peer news generation to succeed as an Oxfam communication strategy, a prerequisite is that peers must be self-motivated. Self-motivation and self-starters are what basically defines skeptics. Unfortunately the media expose of the leading lights of the Global Warming movement as carbon profiteers, Climategate and the multiple errors in the IPCC report, have cast huge blows on the credibility of Global Warming science. The peers within the climate alarmist movement instead of being self-motivated are at the moment, a much beaten lot displaying poor morale. Oxfam's strategies on peer-to-peer news generation will likely to lack impact until and unless credibility of Global Warming science regains faith among the public. This looks a highly unlikely prospect in the short to medium term.

3. Quality of Research

"Some of the key conversations in the form of a landscape map as it should be understood in the context of an entire report (120 pages or so) which hasn’t been made public."
Perhaps yes. But whatever the intention of the purposeful leak, this had been a total PR disaster starting with the title "Combating the growing influence of Climate Skeptics" which suggest a connotation of defeatism. The landscape diagram was too full of holes that made the climate skeptic community roll over with laughter.

The most significant omission are NGOs and environmentalist groups such Greenpeace, WWF, Christian Aid and Oxfam themselves who have a mind boggling spread of money around supporting the Global Warming theory. The most obvious mistake is categorizing media such as Wall Street Journal, Guardian etc within the supporter network. This might have been the case some months ago but not as of now as they take a more balanced stand.  Why their map left out the likes of the Economist among the faithful remains totally incomprehensible.

The study describes ClimateGate as a the first wave of climate attack and bemoans that no one defended the climate science. It fails to mention that  these e-mails reveal collusion, falsification of data, suppression of contrary opinion, political interference and fraudulent scientific conclusions - that moulded public perception away from the science. It makes no mention of the steps needed to restore credibility of the science. This gives the impression that Oxfam is in a state of denial and that as long as warmists  continue to  act as ostriches, skeptics need not worry. We will still control the way issues are framed and accordingly, the climate debate itself.

The element of staleness is provided in the checklist of how "Climate Progressives" (read warmists) can counter skeptic blogs. No one any more get distracted about funding (i.e. opting for ad hominem attacks). This is a two way sword as the likes of Oxfam, Profero and Left Foot Forward may have to disclose first their funds they use for their climate advocacy which they aren't prepared to, and as such a puerile strategy. Moreover, the public  now concentrate on the substance of the blog - they reason for much of the the skeptic surge.  Innuendo attacks besides only succeed in arousing public curiosity and act in the skeptic's favour.

The most that the Unsimplified study could come up as a counter to deniers (read skeptics) is to use of the handy checklist of arguments -  refer to  Skeptical Science; Real Climate and Climate Safety to cast doubt on the validity of arguments. This a tacit admission that most "peers" lack climate science expertise that they need to refer to sources. This is where climate skeptics score in leap and bounds. They know the climate science well enough on their own The way the hockey stick was exposed as a fraud proved legendary of the extraordinary commitment among skeptics to do research and fine comb data. This fact of their extra-ordinary commitment  is admitted by Unsimplify  themselves:
"A small group of dedicated people coming from a diverse range of positions and perspectives but working together as a loose federation held together by shared values and beliefs succeeded in accomplishing the most impressive PR coup of the 21st century. The climate change skeptics did this by significantly influencing public perception of anthropogenic global warming by single-mindedly applying concerted and consistent pressure at critical junctures in the media ecology here in the UK and abroad."


  1. Thanks for the informative article.

    I read the Left Foot Forward piece. It says four out of five popular climate websites are those of skeptics. And why not? Who wants to read warmist propaganda? They have taken us for a ride a long time

  2. "NGOs feared they would be simply seen as the usual suspects in rebutting deniers" So commented the Left Foot forward article.

    What they failed to appreciate is that NGOs place a premium on credibility. NGOs are keeping silent because they do not want to be branded as supporting a scam.

    That should be a thought to Oxfam which commands respect the world over. It seems that they are intend on throwing all this by their continued support to global warming

  3. Claudia from the USMarch 23, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    Oxfam hasn't done enough on climate change. In the US, Oxfam supports the cap-and-trade bill - a legislation that is supportive of continued fossil fuel pollution.

    Its mind boggling how Oxfam's slogans scream for Climate Justice while its policies support carbon trading that is so oppressive for the third world

    Watch this video http://vodpod.com/watch/3161215-oxfam-scams-environmentalists

  4. Its not for nothing that China kicked Oxfam out. India should do the same.

    Great by accident to come across this blog site

  5. Just the type of inputs we need. Kudos to Oxfam for publishing such a study. The full study should be published so that the entire climate change movement can benefit. Wish Oxfam will fund similar studies

  6. This blog is presumptuous to create the impression that global warming movement is dead and buried.

    Read this excellent article instead -

    Global warming: How skeptics can win every battle but lose the war


  7. The Oxfam report doesn't piss me. But continued support to global warming scam does. I will no longer support Oxfam or any other charity that uses global warming as a reason to support their cause.

  8. Oxfam recently released a report on the Climate Change impact in Tajikistan. Oxfam is one of those NGOs who pretend Climategate and the subsequent IPCC errors never happened. This is a comment from the Guardian who by no stretch of imagination a skeptic:

    I have read the Oxfam report. Its style is typical of NGO’s that engage in political advocacy for “dangerous AGW” and all the references are from NGOs that are engaged in the same political advocacy.

    The report is riddled with ambiguities, for example, high rainfall events are increasing but the country is in drought.

    Example of ridiculous claims: “The main problem of melting glaciers is floating broken ice and debris which can block rivers and form glacial lakes and reservoirs and this is happening now.” The Geneva academic who wrote this has clearly never seen a glacier, and the accompanying picture shows (with inaccurate captions) minimal change in the Fedchenko glacier in 73 years.

    The report reveals more about the political orientation of Oxfam than it does about the social and economic problems of Tajikistan, which are very real. It is a pity that this country’s problems are being exploited for another political agenda.

    People are getting wiser every day about AGW and organizations like Oxfam a that continue to produce this sort of propaganda should be treated with the contempt that they deserve.

  9. While congratulating Oxfam for bringing out such a report, it seems they goofed up the network diagram by putting climate deniers on the left and climate progressives on the right.

  10. Oxfam Directors use classy 7 Series BMWs and S Class Mercedes and get six figure salaries.

    That itself should be a telling comment on their commitment for cutting carbon emissions.

    There are NGOs and NGOs but most are disguised businesses who only serve their own interests. The less seriously we take them, they better we are

  11. Compare the networks:

    One network is mostly a bunch of blogs

    One network has major media outlets and major financial players (BBC, New York Times, World Bank, George Soros and other unnamed financial heavy weights — yes, we know there is a shadowy network of huge money supporting AGW, not to mention government funding to the tune of literally billions of dollars).

    It’s a contest of biblical proportions between David and Goliath.

    We know who won that one — it’s looking right now like a repeat performance.

    Well, in the first contest, there is some thought David had a helping hand from the “big guy” upstairs.

    In this contest this little band of brother blogs has the poor scientific work by the other side — “hide the decline” — and all the rest, ect, plus, excellent work by mostly individuals determined to apply reasonable scepticism and an open-mind to empirical observation & measurement.

    And, frankly, I’d like to think the truth of the physical relationships of the constituent parts of the atmosphere.

    But, hey, that’s what Science is out to find out — what are those physical relationships — that is the question, and, thus, the watch word of the hour.

    And, hopefully, it always will be.

    To a large extent the credibility of Science depends on it.

  12. Funny, funny. You would think the Oxfam intention through this report was to give a boost to warmists.

    Instead the whole impression one gets is the warmists lying on the ground dying with we skeptics swarm around them like vultures.

    This gives us a kick while warmists a new low in their depression.

    If this report is any indication, Oxfam must be squandering the money they get as donations.

  13. eft Foot Forward broke the story and skeptic websites like Watts Up With That (WUWT)carried it. You don't have to guess who got more hits - just look at the list of reactions at WUWT and compare it to Left Foot Forward and you will get the picture at once.

    We skeptics are not only winning by a mile but are focusing on the end game. All warmist like Oxfam can do is to react with a sloppy research - money poured down the drain.

    What else can we say but pathetic as a reaction to the Oxfam study. It spells L_O_S_E_R all the way.

  14. Dear all,

    I've done an imagemap that makes the image clickable. Please feel free to copy the HTML code at


  15. @EcoTretas. Its great. Some of links don't work. It can be a useful tool for all those who follow the climate debate. And it helps if a Portuguese to English translation facility exists.

    Thanx again

  16. Desperation is setting in among climate alarmists who by their own calculations can see that the window is rapidly closing on “saving the planet. This Oxfam study is one such manifestation.