Thursday, 10 February 2011

Peter Vereecke’s Belfort Group

Belfort group klimaatverandering citizens in action Peter Vereecke
I often wondered why in Holland there are so many climate sceptical groups, while in Belgium there’s no such movement (anyone has an idea?), but finally there’s a Belgian contrarian group too. Or at least sort of.
Climate scepticism often isn’t a result of scientific scientific objections, but merely a result of some sort of paranoid vision towards the government and/or science. The best known example are the libertarian think thanks who are both very vocal, but very unscientific and blinded by their political view.
What you don’t meet often is the blogosphere are sceptics who have a total different paranoid bias,a clear example is the Belgian Belfort Group lead by Peter Vereecke, the former CD&BV Mayor of the village of Evergem. The group’s primary fear is not climate change at all, but the chemtrail conspiracy theory, a theory saying airplanes are deliberately spraying us with chemicals, hidden in their condensation trail. Of course this conspiracy is complete nonsense, but you’d be surprised how internet sites of believers there are.
Other issues often dealt with on such sites are the New World Order, forced vaccinations (p.ex. when you’re sleeping) and of course it’s no surprise those people think global warming is a hoax too, because it’s all about communist illuminati wanting to gain complete control over the world.
o please Vereecke, current CD&V minister Joke Schauvliege, while still being a MP in September 2008 did ask a parliamentary question about chemtrails. The reply of Minister Hilde Crevits was of course predictable, and contained the phrase : “The specialists in my administration do not believe in the danger and existance of chemtrails. Through Google you can surf from one site to another with all kinds of theories that are non-scientific. Every time the same words are being used and one site has even more spectacular explanations than the previous one
Nevertheless, in November 2009, having become the Minister of environment, Schauvliege did meet the Belfort Group in her cabinet, promising to use the Flemish environmental measuring network to look for pollution of heavy metal on places where there are no industrial activities. Maybe Schauvliege, a lawyer, should listen more to the environmental administration and less to conspiricists ?
Meanwhile, the Belfort group started to be interested in global warming after Eric Cornand, an alternative medicine, joined the group. January 31, Peter Vereecke sent around a press release (in Dutch) titled ‘Global Warming ? Sure, and earth is flat’ containing a lot of low brow nonsense :
  • CO2 is pictured as a poisonous gas, while it’s vital for life
Err no it’s not pictured as poisonous. That is to say, of course it is poisonous once you’re dealing with extremely high concentrations, but this is irrelevant for the climate change debate.
  • CO2 is merely 0,0385 % of the atmosphere and 90% of that content is natural
it’s bit strange a group pretending to work on food safety doesn’t know a percentage as such isn’t very meaningful. The well know toxic botulin has an LD50 of 0,005-0,05 µg/kg (or 0.000000005% !) just to say a percentage is meaningless. Above that some 80% of the atmosphere contains the inert N2. Besides, the statement 90% of atmospheric CO2 is natural simply is wrong, the pre industrial level was around 280 ppm, the current level is around 390 ppm, meaning some 28% of the current atmospheric CO2 is man-made.

And clearly Vereecke isn’t aware that you have to look at the wavelenghts of IR-absorbance for the specific gasses.
  • So the big climate conferences (Kyoto, Copenhagen, Cancun) are talking about decreasing 10% of 10% of 0.00385 % in a 10 year period.
Wrong again, on so many levels : the conferences are not just talking about CO2, the conferences are talking about future levels, etc. and i don’t think Vereecke is saying he wants an even bigger decrease in CO2-emissions.
  • All ice-cores show a CO2 lag.
Of course real scientist are well aware of this and by no means it proves CO2 does not cause warming.
  • IPCC isn’t THE world authority on climate change, their reports are nothing but an supposition by a limited group of scientist who wrote a study ordered by politics.
Once again Vereecke is wrong, IPCC summarizes the peer-review literature, you know, the literature where real science is published… If climate sceptics have some deep scientific insight, they shouldn’t be talking on the internet or the local newspaper, but should be writing real scientific literature.
  • The Al Gore movie contains errors and a British judge forbid airing it in schools
Al Gore is politician, and his movie doesn’t have much scientific relevance. Again : science is published in peer review literature. the fact a movie of a politician contains some minor errors doesn’t affect science at all.
  • Climategate : in the East Anglia institute (the most important provider of IPCC data) thousands of emails emerged showing during ten years (!) there was a fraud with data, numbers and statistics
Of course Vereecke is wrong again, the East Anglia temperature series is just one of many, and they all show the same image. Above that Vereecke is clearly not aware every investigation showed there was no scientific fraud at the institute.
  • And finally : do take notice of the real temperatures. for the moment the entire world (especially the northern hemisphere) is showing abnormal low temperatures. How does this rhyme with global warming.
And another misconception by Vereecke. There’s no global cooling in, contrary 2010 was one of the warmest years in the record. earth is bigger than Belgium…
Of course Vereecke ends his piece with what really drives him : his conspiracy ideas. Summarized :
  • Chemtrails are a tool for geo-engineering and controlling earth’s climate. The Nagoya Moratorium proves it is happening.
  • HAARP is not a conspiracy theory because it exists ! ELF-waves are used to influence weather
  • The BP oil-spill caused the gulfstream to slow down.
Maybe it would be wiser if Peter Vereecke would inform himself just a little bit better, instead of shouting “hoax” while only demonstrating his ignorance. I wonder if minister Schauvliege will invite Vereecke again.
The website Poppenkast (entirely in Dutch) has much more to say about the Belfort Group. According to Poppenkast, the Belfort Group has around 1500 members, which may not sound as a lot, but the Flemish region only has around 6 million people, so actually it is a significant number. There are lot of people around who could use a little more critical thinking.
The Belfort Group of course has good contacts with other conspiracists in the low countries, like We are Change Belgium, We Are Change Holland, Argusoog, … The worrying part is the Belfort Group seems to radicalize, and often is in contact with groups flirting with anti-Semitic ideas.