Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Climate Change Deniers Get Political

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.)

22 comments:

Ti-Guy said...

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.

Man, what an amoral shill. Who's paying Mr. Harris again?

Anonymous said...

"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."

Not necessarily, asking Liberals why they didn't act on one of their main pledges while in power merely points up the truth that Kyoto is little more than a tool to be used by the left to fool the naive and gullible. They still need to be held accountable. McGuinty did the same with his lie about shutting coal-fired plants. Anyone with a moderate knowledge of energy economics and supply knew this wasn't going to happen.

Ti-Guy said...

Not necessarily, asking Liberals why they didn't act on one of their main pledges while in power merely points up the truth that Kyoto is little more than a tool to be used... blah, blah, blah...

We're talking about Mr. Harris's motivations here, anonymous, which is to politicise the issue, as illustrated clearly by his remarks. I realise it's an entrenched habit for righties to invent the intentions of other people, but you really should stop doing that. It's what re-enforces the general delusional thinking so common among righties.

Anonymous said...

On this page at FD:
http://www.freedominion.ca/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=73210&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15
concan says, in part:
"...Problem is as usual that mankind thinks they are way more important than God who is of course really in charge.

Our contributions to pollution and our use of resources is a drop in the bucket compared to seismic shifts, planets tectonic plates shifting, volcano eruptions, ocean rising / falling, El Nino, La Nina and so on... "
Yeah, sure.

and conscience responds:
"concan:

God isn't a rational argument. For, or in, anything.

Winning the hearts and minds of people who don't believe in God isn't going to go well if you start with "But in the Bible..".

In the future, and this goes for anyone who tries to bring anything as ethereal as God into the already-ethereal global warming debate, try to use the word "nature"--you believe God created that, so just leave it at being dwarfed by it and you'll get better results. "

Is this a PR guy?

So watch for anyone saying "Nature is too big for humans to affect it" because it is apt to be code for God. I'm sick of these fundamentalists who give religion a bad name.

Tom Harris said...

There is nothing I have said that is boosting one party over another and I did not say any of the material you posted that refereces God. Just a few postings earlier I uploaded a piece that was highly critical of the Conservative Party of Canada, just as we were in the Dec 5, 2006 edition of the National Post, which I imagine annoyed them no end. By the same token, Dion's policy on Kyoto came under attack from NRSP a week later.

By saying we are apoliticial, we mean we do not take sides in the game of politics, not that we have nothing to say about it. When policitians support sensible science-based policies, we compliment them; when they don't we criticize them. Do you believe this is the wrong approach for a non-profit group which has the goal of promoting science-based policy?

Sincerely,

Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (thermofluids)
Executive Director
Natural Resources Stewardship Project
P.O. Box 23013
Ottawa, Ontario K2A 4E2

Web: www.nrsp.com

Cherniak_WTF said...

Nice to see the shill show up here...

So Tom, instead of harping on what Dion did not do, will you be advising Harper and fiends on what they should do?
I imagine that you perused the "clean air act" where is your righteous indignation to that fluff piece?

Cherniak_WTF said...

Apolitical definition: politically neutral

Would the good Dr. please tell us the source of his donations?

Do you still work for the High Park Group?

I’ll eschew “political correctness” and venture to say you have facetious arguments and are not wholly honest.

Cherniak_WTF said...

Funny how your first blog post contains material from "Friends of the Earth"....

Sheesh Tom, don't you have any new propaganda material?

bigcitylib said...

Tom,

It sounds to me like what you are saying is not only boosting one party over another, but boosting one wing within one party over the other wings of that party (CPC).

Ti-Guy said...

Why does Mr. Harris even bother commenting here? He's won't address the real issue. What is "good science" in the following?...

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.

This is patently "bad science." Questions posed to Dion with regard to his record are entirely legitimate and would responded to with a set of possible answers. This is inquiry, plain and simple, and it's frankly bizarre that a scientist would advise against it.

Leave the GW-denial PR to the Exxon-funded PR people and the science to the scientists. It's not that difficult.

Tom Harris said...

Cherniak_WTF so politely asked, "I imagine that you perused the "clean air act" where is your righteous indignation to that fluff piece?"

Here is our press release on that:

http://www.cnw.ca/en/releases/archive/October2006/19/c2383.html

It is on www.nrsp.com if you look - and as I said, we are apolitical and we comment on the content of what is being said, not on who says it. We even agree with Suzuki that more funds should be alocated to helping our most vulnerable citizen adapt to climate change.

It is good (and indeed quite normal) science to question other science. That is what we are doing and will continue to do. We have no connection with Friends of Science, although I admire their video as something everyone should see:

http://www.friendsofscience.org/index.php?ide=3

It is worth the 23 minutes to watch it on-line.

Sincerely,

Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (thermofluids)
Executive Director
Natural Resources Stewardship Project
P.O. Box 23013
Ottawa, Ontario K2A 4E2

Web: www.nrsp.com

Ti-Guy said...

Evasive as usual.

You can tell a bullshit artist when he provides the answers to the questions he prefers you'd have asked, rather than the ones you actually did ask.

Cherniak_WTF said...

Mr. Harris,

Kudos where it is deserved; you have waddled into hostile territory with regards to your methods and rhetoric but answered politely…
I will try to do the same.

First, you have failed to answer many questions regarding the source of your corporate funding and as pointed out, deflected from answering direct questions.

I have read your Press Release and find that it peddles Harper’s inactions on the environment and has statements that only big oil would like.

The first plus you approve of is the gutting of Kyoto. No reasons are given. Colour me surprised but this echoes’ Harper’s stance…

The second is some nebulous consultation process. It’s not much of a stretch that this would be highly populated by the worst polluters in Canada. I won’t get into the bit about consultations not being done in the past – such an outright lie does should cast a negative light to the rest of the PR.

The third plus is the talk of “intensity targets” – in other words, companies are free to spew out more garbage in the name of profits. How convenient for the oil industry.

Now on to the “negative”
You call CO2 a benign gas. I’d love to lock you into a room with a high concentration of that gas – tell me how benign it is after a while… but on to your “negatives”

You call the study of CO2 a waste of resources, as you think it does not contribute to global climate change. Needless to say, the majority of scientists have implicated rising level of carbon dioxide in Global warming. Dissent is a normal part of science, you offer nothing to challenge that in a credible way.

Your second point is that you’d like no CO2 target – just like the oil industry - what a coincidence…

Your third point is that you question the need for enhanced pollution control – I’m not even going to comment on that superficial statement.


I find your charade amusing and specious at best.
The High Park Group was an Ottawa lobby group – its claim to fame was an article that stated that CO2 was not responsible for global warming.

The world is still waiting for some of your pet theories to be subjected to peer review (you know that pesky thing about the scientific method).

When I last looked, you were not climate scientists – basically you are the equivalent of a TV doctor that tries to pass himself off as the real deal.

You have a propensity to quote studies out of context to advance false conclusions.

All indicators indicate that you are a paid lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry.

Jan Veizer has indicated that his studies have been misrepresented by your methods.

Tim Ball was an outspoken member of “Friends of Science” and is now a chairman of your organization.

Who are you trying to fool with your poppycock?


But please report to your paymasters that you have converted this person to rally against you cause and I will not hesitate to be dismissive or you endeavors any time I can.

Cherniak_WTF said...

Mr Harris, where are you?

Anonymous said...

So, non-political? Yet happy to give advice to Conservatives here at Free Dominion:
http://www.freedominion.ca/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=73474&start=15

"Tom Harris
Member
Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Total posts: 37
Gender: Unknown

Posted: 01/ 10/ 07 2:20 pm Post subject: If the science is wrong, then nothing else matters

I completely agree with fourhorses that the ultimate aim is to create a situation where the CPC can say assertively, "The science no longer supports the assumptions of the Kyoto Accord."

However, politically this cannot be done overnight without the Conservatives taking what they consider to be an unacceptable hit (do people think they would really lose votes with this statement (from Canadians who would otherwise vote for them, that is?).

So, the solution put on this site a little while ago by Tina is one I would support as well - namely, they don't take sides at all and admit they don't know and so are holding unbiased, public hearings in which scientists from both sides are invited to testify. The resulting chaos, with claims all over the map, will do enough to thoroughly confuse everyone (which is appropriate, actually, since the science is so immature and, frankly, confusing) and take the wind out of the sails of the "we are causing a climate disaster and must stop it" camp entirely, and the CPC can quietly turn to important issues without really having had to say much at all.

What's wrong with this approach?

Sincerely,

Tom Harris, Executive Director, Natural Resources Stewardship Project

Web: www.nrsp.com"

He does not post his engineering degrees; not that FD'rs would know the difference between an engineer and a scientist.

Chat said...

I see that the Calgary Herald has more information on the Friends of Science, in the PDF linked here--

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/01/tim_ball_update.php

Joanne (True Blue) said...

After The Friends of Science were discredited this summer,

Do you have a reference for this? ie by whom? link etc.Thanks.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

After The Friends of Science were discredited this summer,

Do you have a reference for this? ie by whom? link etc.Thanks.

Cherniak_WTF said...

Joanne, do you really want to know?

bigcitylib said...

Joanne,the article was in the Globe:

Nurturing doubt about climate change is big business
CHARLES MONTGOMERY

Seems you can't get behind their firewall anymore, but there it is.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Actually I found it. Thanks.

Sorry about the double post.

Anonymous said...

Climate change is a fact of life. It has always happened and always will. Nothing we can do will change that. The best approach is to help our most vulnerable citizens adapt to climate change, cooling and warming. To try to "stop climate change" is clearly a mistake since progressively more scientists (and common sense) tell us we humans cause very little global climate change. Yet, to this point, almost all the money is going into the idea that we can stop it, leaving many vulnerable people with little or no support in coping with it. A sad situation indeed.

Sincerely,

Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (thermofluids)
Executive Director
Natural Resources Stewardship Project
P.O. Box 23013
Ottawa, Ontario K2A 4E2

Web: www.nrsp.com