The full weight of the radical environmental movement and its media arm, the CBC, is being brought down upon a small Calgary-based organization called Friends of Science, which has suggested that climate change should be the subject of debate. So it must be a front for “Big Oil.”
Friends has dared to produce a couple of radio ads that note that there has been no warming for 10 years, suggesting that the main cause of climate change is the sun, and recommending that it’s “time to get the facts and start thinking.”
Leading the charge against Friends is James Hoggan, a PR man who is also chairman of the David Suzuki Foundation. Mr. Hoggan has just co-authored a book called Climate Cover-Up, which suggests a massive industry-based programme of climate disinformation.
Mr. Hoggan, who is also responsible for a website that specializes in smearing climate skeptics, drew a bead on Friends during an interview yesterday morning with Anna Maria Tremonti on CBC’s The Current (there was also to be a segment on the Friends’ ad campaign on As It Happens last night). The Globe and Mail also took a drive-by swipe at Friends this week.
Mr. Hoggan’s broad claim is that there are hardly any credentialled skeptics, and those that do exist speak only as industry shills or right-wing mouthpieces. He notes that there isn’t much skepticism in peer-reviewed journals such as Nature.
However, the debate is lopsided — or non-existent — not because of the state of knowledge but because governments have poured billions into making the anthropogenic case and squashing opposition to “official” science, while skepticism has been effectively barred from peer-reviewed journals, which have taken an anti-corporate, quasi-religious stance.
An editorial in Nature in 2001 attacked “certain industrial groups,” who “worked to establish a bogus scientific debate…” But the editorial confirmed massive bias and sent the signal that skeptical scientists need not submit papers for publication. Thereupon the dearth of published skepticism was interpreted as meaning that the case was closed.
Friends of Science was formed by a group of mainly retired geologists and atmospheric scientists who were highly suspicious of the claims made by Al Gore and the UN that man-made climate change was a catastrophic threat. They put together a volunteer scientific advisor board and set up a website to promote research and ask questions about the distinctly non-scientific claim that “the science is settled.”
That would be a laudable objective even if funded by Shell and BP. Unfortunately, however, Shell and BP are busy funding alarmists rather than skeptics.
Friends was indeed given money several years ago by Jim Buckee, when he ran Talisman Energy, to produce a video. However, according to Doug Leahey, Friends’ president and a Ph.D atmospheric scientist, it has had no corporate money for several years. Indeed, Mr. Leahey points out that the organization was almost forced to “fold its tent” at the end of last year. Much of its funding comes from Rotarians, some of whom have oil industry connections — after all, it’s based in Calgary. But the organization’s operating budget is about $40,000, most of which goes to pay a part-time administrative assistant. That wouldn’t cover the Suzuki Foundation’s annual Starbucks’ bill. So suggestions that Friends is a “front” for Big Oil is patently ridiculous. “We’d love Big Oil to give us some money,” said Mr. Leahey.
Mr. Hoggan is part of a movement with infinitely more funding, but which assiduously avoids debate, preferring to rely on ad hominem slurs and emotionally-charged messages.
Ironically, on the CBC yesterday morning, Mr. Hoggan spoke of “astroturfing,” that is, the creation of phony grass roots organizations. Maybe the U.S. coal industry does such things. But there could be no more glaring current example of a phony grass roots operation than something called “Moms Against Climate Change,” a name that suggests a spontaneous outpouring of maternal concern by mothers about the global warming threat. In fact, it is an organization set up by two leading — and well-funded — environmental alarmist organizations, Environmental Defence and ForestEthics.
These groups have produced a video, available on YouTube, which features little kids holding handmade anti-climate change signs while facing off against — and then fleeing from — a phalanx of police clad in riot gear.
You can also find a making-of-the-video video which features Environmental Defence’s chief alarmist, Rick Smith, with a prop/child on his shoulders, and various advertising types and filmmakers displaying their moral conviction and scientific cluelessness. One waxes earnestly that climate change is one of those “get to yes” issues. But science isn’t about getting to “yes,” it’s about getting to the truth. One unfortunate truth is that corporations have been frightened away from even suggesting, let alone funding, scientific debate.
Three years ago, in the midst of shaking down catalogue companies for the eco-crime of using paper, ForestEthics executive director Todd Paglia told The Washington Post: “We are going to provide these companies with an option of doing it the easy way… If they want to do it the hard way, we can see a tremendous amount of negative press and damage to their brand.”
The same thuggish principle has worked in spades when it comes to closing down corporate participation in the climate change debate. But the public is growing increasingly skeptical, and the shrill desperation of the warmists is obvious in their bully-boy tactics against anybody who dares to stand up for free speech.