Saturday, 2 August 2008

A whole lotta lobby

In this previous post I quoted a nice phrase demonstrating the tactics of the notorious Competitive Enterprise Institute. The CEI heavily defends the libertarian thought that all problems solve themselves, without the need of any government action.

The best way to reach this goal is to attack a possible government action, is to be close to the government and/or to have some control of the administration.

I posted before that there has been a conflict between politics and science in NASA where there was a political inspired attempt to mischaracterize climate change science.

Unfortunately yet non surprisingly, it's not just this one single case where such an attempt has been made.

Another fine example of how political beliefs can result in trying to silence science is the famous Philip Cooney case.

In the beginning of the decade, Cooney was a member of the Bush administration where he was appointed chief of staff of the Council on Environmental Quality, a division of the White House that coordinates federal natural environmental efforts in the US.
In June 2005, The New York Times published a memo internal to the CEQ which showed in 2002 and 2003 he had repeatedly edited government climate reports in order to play down links between emissions and global warming.

The New York Times reported that "In a section on the need for research into how warming might change water availability and flooding, he crossed out a paragraph describing the projected reduction of mountain glaciers and snowpack. Cooney's (a lawyer) note in the margins explained that this was 'straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings.'

Cooney, who says he had been planning to resign for two years, resigned two days after the scandal broke "to spend more time with his family."
The very next day (!) he started working for Exxon.

Cooney's attempts to downbeat the results of scientific research weren't the work of a longe ranger :
in June 2002 memo Cooney received this memo from Myron Ebell who is the Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)

The memo is outlining the strategy for dealing with what Ebell saw as problems caused by the Climate Action Report 2002, which the US government had submitted to the UN. The crucial paragraph of this memo reads:

As I said, we made the decision this morning to do as much as we could to deflect criticism by blaming the EPA for freelancing. It seems to me that the folks at the EPA are the obvious fall guys, and we would only hope that the fall guy (or gal) should be as high up as possible.

I have done several interviews and have stressed that the president needs to get everyone rowing in the same direction. Perhaps tomorrow we will call for [Christine Todd Whitman] to be fired.

I know that that doesn't sound like much help, but it seems to me that our only leverage to push you in the right direction is to drive a wedge between the President and those in the Administration who think they are serving the president's best interests by publishing this rubbish.

Ebell was also member of the team that wrote the quote in my previous blogpost, which was extracted from another internal memo from the American Petroleum Institute.

A longer extract gives better insight in how climate change "scepticism" is very well orchestrated :
Victory Will Be Achieved When
* Average citizens "understand" (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the "conventional wisdom"
* Media "understands" (recognizes) uncertainties in climate science
* Media coverage reflects balance on climate science and recognition of the validity of viewpoints that challenge the current "conventional wisdom"
* Industry senior leadership understands uncertainties in climate science, making them stronger ambassadors to theose who shape climate policy
* Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appears to be out of touch with reality.

Do notice that the description below is labeled "strategies and tactics". There's absolutely no doubt there's a bigger plan in how they are trying to mess up science.

Strategies and Tactics
I. National Media Relations Program: Develop and implement a national media relations program to inform the media about uncertainties in climate science; to generate national, regional and local media coverage on the scientific uncertainties, and thereby educate and inform the public, stimulating them to raise questions with policy makers.
Tactics: These tactics will be undertaken between now and the next climate meeting in Buenos Aires/Argentina, in November 1998, and will be continued thereafter, as appropriate. Activities will be launched as soon as the plan is approved, funding obtained, and the necessary resources (e.g., public relations counsel) arranged and deployed. In all cases, tactical implementation will be fully integrated with other elements of this action plan, most especially Strategy II (National Climate Science Data Center).
Identify, recruit and train a team of five independent scientists to participate in media outreach. These will be individuals who do not have a long history of visibility and/or participation in the climate change debate. Rather, this team will consist of new faces who will add their voices to those recognized scientists who already are vocal.
* Develop a global climate science information kit for media including peer-reviewed papers that undercut the "conventional wisdom"on climate science. This kit also will include understandable communications, including simple fact sheets that present scientific uncertainties in language that the media and public can understand.
* Conduct briefings by media-trained scientists for science writers in the top 20 media markets, using the information kits. Distribute the information kits to daily newspapers nationwide with offer of scientists to brief reporters at each paper. Develop, disseminate radio news releases featuring scientists nationwide, and offer scientists to appear on radio talk shows across the country.
* Produce, distribute a steady stream of climate science information via facsimile and e-mail to science writers around the country.
* Produce, distribute via syndicate and directly to newspapers nationwide a steady stream of op-ed columns and letters to the editor authored by scientists.
* Convince one of the major news national TV journalists (e.g., John Stossel ) to produce a report examining the scientific underpinnings of the Kyoto treaty.
* Organize, promote and conduct through grassroots organizations a series of campus/community workshops/debates on climate science in 10 most important states during the period mid-August through October, 1998.
* Consider advertising the scientific uncertainties in select markets to support national, regional and local (e.g., workshops / debates), as appropriate.

The available budget for reaching this target : 5.000.000 $

That's a whole lotta money.

Certainly enough money to conduct a lot of scientific research.

Here's the 'surprising' thing : the combined forces of all sceptics never managed to publish a single serious scientific paper in which they were able to demonstrate climate science (or a piece of it) was wrong.

This overwhelming silence on the scientific front certainly isn't a result of lack of funding to conduct "sceptical" research, so there must be another reason why they aren't able to prove their case.

Anyone wants to make a guess ?

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