Monday, 28 September 2009

$50,000 space program Congo launch (en Français)

Scientific research in Africa ain't always easy.




No way Nasa could do better for this budget.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Willem van der Velden

I mentioned in my previous post about the silly overlap between the Dutch Climate Foundation and the Pro Automobiles Foundation. In 1997, a new political party emerged from this Pro Auto Foundation, called Nederland Mobiel (The Netherlands Mobile). Locally, this new party even managed to get some people elected, yet it would be wrong to call the party a big succes.
Nevertheless, it might be worthwhile to pay some attention at Nederland Mobiel’s former president, Willem van der Velden. A man whom’s political career was/is rather unusual.

So far, Willem van der Velden was :
-Member of the central left-liberal party D'66 : 1966 - 1970
-Member of the central right-liberal party VVD : 1970 - 2000
-in 2000, he became involved with a party for senior citizens which was called JOOP, a party of which no one really remembers it ever existed. The party leader, astrologist Ed Noordman, claims he predicted the 09/11 events.
-in 2001, van der Velden was the president of Nederland Mobiel
-van der Velden would keep working on his career and joined LPF (Pim Fortuyn List) until august 2006. This would become a success and in 2002 for six months he even became a member of the Dutch parliament. He also entered the local council in the city of The Hague.
There was some scandal because the political advisor for Willem van der Velden was Jurrien Boiten, a man he met in Nederland Mobiel. Boiten is a controversial figure who had an active role in the Centrumpartij, a party which was abrogated in 1998 by a Dutch court, because of their racist and xenophobic statements.
-After LPF became defunct, van der Velden continued with “Group van der Velden
-From august 2006 onwards he’d become Secretary of the Partij voor Nederland (“party for the Netherlands”) of Hilbrand Nawijn, an ex-minister of LPF who left the party after losing his prominent role in the party.
After the 2006 elections which were not very succesful for the PvN with only 0,05% of the votes, Nawijn stepped out of national politics. Nawijns last ‘important’ deed entering the show So you wanna be a popstar. Even though his singing became joke of the day, he recorded a single which you can see beneath the widget, music starts at 0:30. Listening at own risk.
-in 2008, van der Velden became president of the local party ONS Den Haag (‘our new Society The Hague’) which is trying to participate in the 2010 elections.

Van der Velden & climate change

In 2006, his LPF period when the party entered the local council in The Hague with one single representative. In a response to the question what one man can do, Willem Vander Velden wrote a statement about the support he was receiving from different corners :
above that, we can rely on the support of the scientific bureau of LPF, of the Foundation Pro Auto for subjects on mobility (…) and from the Climate Foundation (for realistic and pragmatic views on environmental issues.
Earlier this year, as an answer to the financial crisis, on march 29 Van der Velden filed a motion to the local council of The Hague to reduce the city spending with 50 million euro. This could be reached by :
stopping to fund ‘non-essential’ expenses like subsiding groups working on the right of immigrants, subsidising arts & culture & to stop subsidising actions on climate change
Willem van der Velden still is part of the board of the Pro Auto Foundation.

Seeing the political career of this man, i get depressed.

Hilbrand Nawijn – He Jumpen

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The Climate Foundation

Roots of the Dutch Climate Scepticism series, part 7
Before looking at the Heidelberg Appeal Nederland, i want to have a look at another organisation that ultimately would join the DGR-coalition : the Climate Foundation (in Dutch : Stichting Klimaat).

J.T. ‘Hans’ Grashoff

The climate foundation was an organisation with a clear vision : the only reliable sources of energy are oil and nuclear power. Any other alternative (wind, hydrogen) is dismissed.
The President of the Climate Foundation was J.T. Grashoff. This very same man also is president of the Foundation Pro Automobiles. Seriously.
The environmental views of Pro Auto are exactly the ones you would imagine. An example is their comment on a news article on new techniques to reduce CO2, on which they add themselves :
Comment of Pro Auto : the environmental mafia still did not proof that CO2 is the cause of climate change.
Globally, only 1 to 4% of CO2 is anthropogenic, therefore it’s terribly arrogant to claim this limited percentage is responsible for such a big phenomena.
[they fail to notice we ADD this percentage annualy, resulting in a rise from 280 ppm (1850) to 385 nowadays]
Former Dutch State Secretary Van Geel, while looking how the The Netherlands could reach their Kyoto-targets and reducing CO2-emissions, launched ideas like limiting the maximum speed for cars and by building more windmills. In a response, Pro Auto & Stichting Klimaat in 1993 organised a seminar with he aim of presenting the “real” facts about climate change.

Adriaan Broere


The Climate Foundation was found in 2001, and besides Grashoff one of the more vocal founding members was Adriaan Broere, a man who often described as a geophysic even though actually he only has the bachelor degree. He spent most of his professional career in the US, and returned to Holland after his retirement and started calling himself a climate researcher. Which he is not, nor has he ever been one.
The level of his criticism isn’t very impressive. An article on his visions (and the ones of Arthur Rörsch) starts as follows :
They can’t even predict the weather of tomorrow, and yet they say in a hundred years we all permanently will have to walk around in our swimming pants !
More interesting is a text Broere wrote himself. He drops a lot of red herrings and makes plenty of errors like stating “most of the 120.000 glaciers are actually growing”. The only thing to remember from his entire text is the name of a person Broere explicitly calls his mentor : S. Fred Singer. Once again there’s a clear connection between Dutch climate sceptics and Singer
Since the Climate Foundation joined the DGR-coalition, their website is no longer online, which is a pity. It used to contain prominent links to websites like Pro Auto and Libertarian.nl …

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Heidelberg Appeal

Roots of Dutch Climate scepticism series, part 6
A whole lotta astroturf groups
Before continuing the journey through Dutch climate scepticism, it is necessary to make a little side trip outside the country. In my post on Frits Böttcher, i mentioned the existence of an astroturf group called ESEF, which is considered to be the European counterpart of another astroturf group called The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. This seems to have been the mothership.
But as seen many times when looking at the work of the industry, several small astroturf groups were founded. One of them is the International Centre for a Scientific Ecology (ICSE) which despites it’s name had very little to do with science. Sourcewatch describes it this way :
This organisation purported to be a grassroots scientific think-tank, but it was actually a scientific lobbyshop funded by a coalition of tobacco, asbestos, oil, coal and energy interests. For this reason it is often referred to as the "Heidelberg coalition" or "Heidelberg organisation" in the literature.
ICSE was ran by Michel Salomon and was working closely with S. Fred Singer’s personal toy Science and Environmental Policy Project (or SEPP). Salomon eventually would join SEPP. Both men also were member of the advisory board of ESEF, while ESEF’s Böttcher was part of the SEPP advisory board. All over, there are very close connections between the several astroturf organisations.
The Heidelberg Appeal
Michel Salomon is the man who wrote the text of The Heidelberg Appeal as a response to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro
The Appeal stated that its signers "share the objectives of the 'Earth Summit'" but advised "the authorities in charge of our planet's destiny against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data. ... The greatest evils which stalk our Earth are ignorance and oppression, and not Science, Technology and Industry."
The Heidelberg Appeal was signed by a lot of scientist, including many Noble Prize Winners. The text nowhere mentions climate change, but remains vague all over. Nevertheless, with some bending and twisting, the lobby was able to make it look as if it did conclude there’s no consensus on the subject.
As stated many times before on this blog, the industry understood perfectly well that when someone is already biased against something, that person does not need to be convinced by proving science to be wrong, it's sufficient to create doubt that science is right, and this nothing but another example of how they are trying to create confusion.
Remarkably, the spreading of the document mostly went via … the tobacco industry.
Tobacco industry & Heidelberg appeal
This document and this one which were made public in the Tobacco Legacy Documents library leave no doubt about the roots of the Heidelberg Appeal. I’ve mentioned before that when the science was leaving less and less doubt that second-hand tobacco smoke indeed IS harmful; the tobacco industry in the 80’ies & beginning of the 90’ies was looking for a allies to form a broader coalition to attack science. this document by tobacco industry law firm APCO provides a brilliant insight in what the industry wanted :
As we stated during our meeting in London, we believe that a TASSC-like group can succeed in Europe. European policymakers place a significant amount of importance on objective research - particularly as it relates to technical issues. TASSC, if created properly, can become a credible commentator to complement or spearhead business objections to unfair public policies and pronouncements.
TASSC climate lobby tobacco astroturfing
Moreover, by creating a coalition that is dedicated over the long run to speak out on issues relating to scientific integrity, TASSC can become a frequent, consistent source of information for media, conferences, etc. - in essence a "watchdog group" that wants scientific facts, not emotional reactions, to determine public policy. When considering the formation of a TASSC-like group in Europe, we think it is important to begin where we started in the United States by identifying some key objectives Specifically, we recommend that a European TASSC be formulated to do the following:
  • Preempt unilateral action against industry. .
  • Associate anti-industry "scientific" studies-with broader questions about government research and regulations.
  • Link the tobacco issue with other more "politically correct" products.
  • Have non-industry messengers provide reasons for legislators, business executives and media to view policies drawn from unreliable scientific studies with extreme caution.
To achieve those objectives, we encourage a TASSC group in Europe to focus on a few key messages, such as: (i) science should never be corrupted to achieve political ends; (ii) economic growth cannot afford to be held hostage to paternalistic, overregulation; and (iii) improving indoor air quality is a laudable goal that will never be accomplished as long as tobacco smoke is the sole focus of regulators. Obviously, each of the messages needs to be modified to be useful in each of the European nations.

INTEREST AND SUPPORT IN EUROPE FOR THE ISSUE OF SOUND SCIENCE
Already, there are several opportunities to establish TASSC in Europe. We have had extensive conversations with our Grey/GCI network in Europe, which encompasses offices in 33 cities and 19 countries. They also are confident that scientists and businesses can be attracted to the group if it is positioned in a credible manner
As a starting point, we can identify key issues requiring sound scientific research and scientists that may have an interest in them. Some issues our European colleagues suggest include:
  • Global warming
  • Nuclear waste disposal
  • Diseases and pests in agricultural products for transborder trade
  • Biotechnology
  • Eco-labelling for EC products
  • Food processing and packaging
In each of these issues, there has been considerable discussion as to whether sound science is being used as a basis for these decisions. The diversity of these issues, and their tremendous impact upon business and industry, provides an excellent "tie-in" to the work TASSC is currently undertaking in the United States.
The document leaves no doubt : global warming scepticism was nothing but one of the many issues the tobacco industry hoped to use in a broad attack on science. It also explains why so many leading climate sceptics (Singer, Milloy, …) have their toots in the tobacco industry. The effort to create a European branch of TASSC finally would result in the ESEF organisation of Frits Böttcher. It is in this circle of lobby groups the Heidelberg Appeal has its roots.
In 1993 in Holland an organisation was found called Foundation Heidelberg Appeal Netherlands (HAN), and which would quickly work together with Böttchers Global Institute. HAN would later on become one of the organisations to form De Groene Rekenkamer, therefore i’m going to spent some more time on them in another post.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Not exxon again

On De Dagelijkse Standaard blog, Hans Labohm wrote an article titled "don't tell us it's exxon again" in which he dismisses the criticism on many skeptcis that they are receiving money from Exxon as trivial as Exxon 'only' spent 20.000.000 US$ which isn't all that much. To be honest, i think giving 20.000.000 US$ to climate skepticism without getting any scientific revenue IS a lot of money

An article on the website libertarian.nl in the side adresses the funding of Labohm himself :
One of the websites Labohm often publishes on (www.techcentralstation.com) is sponsored by Exxon and several car manufacturers. Doesn't this discredit his reliability ?

Labohm : "no of course not, for my articles i receive a fee like is normal for scientific articles"
TechCentralStation is a free-market website where all sort of very lowbrow climate denialism was publised by the same couple of climate skeptics appearing again and again in different astroturf groups.

The fact Labohm writes an article in defense of Exxon does raise a couple of questions :
  • Scientists normally don't get paid for their papers. Why does Labohm gets a fee for what he writes ?
  • Labohm says he get "a normal fee" : which amount of money are we talking about ?
  • Isn't the article on DDS in defending Exxon a case of "don't bite the hand that feeds you" ?
Any comments ? Hans ?