After The Friends of Science were discredited this summer, the Alberta Petroleum Industry whomped up another front group to pose as climatologists concerned with fighting the "alleged" consensus around Global Warming. They called it the Natural Resources Stewardship Project (NRSP).
The main PR guy for the NRSP is a fellow named Tom Harris, who I have written about on several occasions, and who has even been kind enough to leave a few comments on this blog and elsewhere.
Well, Tom has been a busy guy, leaving messages on the Free Dominion site begging for donations and exhorting "principled Conservatives" to grill Dion on climate change issues when he visits Calgary and Edmonton next week.
And Tom's behavior raises a couple of interesting issues. The first is that the FOS and NRSP have until now attempted to pass themselves off as apolitical organizations. This is the first instance I know of where their representatives have "let the mask slip", as it were, and placed themselves on the political landscape.
The second, and I think really interesting point, can be found in Mr. Harris's response to this comment left on the Free Dominion message board:
I want to see [Dion] try to answer the fact that under his watch, there was a 35% increase in GHG emissions above target set by the Kyoto Protocol signed by the Liberals.
That would be a good question, as I think we can all admit. However, it's not a question Mr. Harris wants asked. His response is fascinating:
While I admit that it may be attractive politically for those who oppose Dion to ask why he did so poorly on reducing CO2 when he had the chance, I suggest this question just digs us further into the hole of climate change dogma and so it is a question that will benefit only the NDP and those on the left of the political spectrum on this issue inside the CPC.
In other words, its a slippery slope. Frame the argument this way--why didn't Dion do more about GHG emissions when he had the chance?--and you admit GHG emissions are an issue. You admit Global Warming is REAL, and that something should be done about it.
Instead, Mr. Harris wants people to keep denying (there follows a reprinted article of his from 2002 that questions the science behind the "consensus").
But note also the phrase "those on the left...on this issue inside the CPC". Harris indentifies a split within Conservative Party ranks, and at the same time locates the NRSP in relation to that split; Harris and company serve those on the Right of the Right.
So, a couple of conclusions:
1) The recent admission by Harper, Baird et al that climate change is real is in itself a victory for progressive forces. It can't be taken back once made, and changes the terms of the argument. Now its about what to do, not whether anything should be done.
2) There are elements within the Conservative Party that take the issue seriously. Hopefully, they include the PM and the man in charge of his enviro portfolio.
3) The NRSP has chosen to marginalize itself, allying with a sliver of a sliver on the ideological spectrum.
Good news, for the most part.
(As usual, h/t to Desmogblog.)