NRSP: Not Really Science People

Fri, 2006-10-13 07:45Jim Hoggan
Jim Hoggan's picture

NRSP: Not Really Science People

NRSP: no grassroots hereThe new public relations group calling itself the Natural Resources Stewardship Project is a classic example of an astroturf group - a surprisingly well-funded PR team that presents itself as a grassroots organization.

NRSP (think: Not Really Science People) sets this out as it's First Priority Project:
“Understanding Climate Change”
A proactive grassroots campaign to counter the Kyoto Protocol and other greenhouse gas reduction schemes while promoting sensible climate change policy.
Think about that for a minute. A true grassroots campaign occurs when a bunch of people who share an interest rise up spontaneously to fight for a common interest. Which of your neighbours might be inclined to rise up spontaneously to “counter the Kyoto Protocol and other greenhouse gas reduction schemes”? Conscientious objectors in the war on climate change don't join astroturf groups. They drive SUVs and grumble about gas prices (which, by the way, still don't reflect any taxes linked to global warming.)

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I still cannot accept that the various national bodies of scientists are not coming down like a ton of bricks on these pseudo scientists and fraudsters.

If I set up an organization called “Not Really Accounting People” and tried to tell everyone that all the accounting principles that they had been taught and believed to be true were in fact wrong and I produced a wealth of shoddy information on how accounting really should be conducted, oops wait a moment, this has already been done, Enron, Worldcom etc and the people conducting these frauds are now going to jail for significant periods of time. What is the difference between the accounting fraternity and the science fraternity? The accountants police themselves and expose fraud when they see it since they know they will be tarred wirh the same brush. Scientists sit on their hands and tut tut among themselves and do nothing.

Well, surprise surprise, the credibility of science and scientists is being compromised by this “do nothing” approach. Get off your butts and speak up about the lies, distortions and misrepresentations these people are making.

Ian Forrester 

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Problem is scientists are too busy doing science. Hmmmm…. The science police, there’s an idea!

The problem is that scientists aren’t professionally licenced or subject to professional censure by a professional body.  The politicization of environmental science and the perception that it’s somehow less a science than ‘real’ science means quacks get attention because they support particular political messages or corporate goals.  Until science is governed as a professional body, this won’t change.

If you had a licensing system for scientists, it would quickly become corupted.  Calling someone a scientist is a lot like calling someone a musician.  Everyone can tell the difference between a John Lennon and a [name of someone who thinks he can play, but who sounds awful].  

Scientists and musicians get judged by their record.  Fake scientists, like the kind who are hired by PR companies, have a record too.  It’s easy to judge just as long as it’s not covered up.  

You have spent too much time at CEI surrounded by pseudo scientists to know what a real scientist is. Do you consider your pal Steve (junkman) Milloy to be a scientist? The problem with the fake science put out by these frauds is that real scientists are capable of understanding what is wrong with the “information” put out by the flashy reports of astroturf organizations. But, as you well know, it is not the science fraternity you are trying to persuade but the average person in the street and gullible politicians.

If you have something real to contribute to the debate then get it out into the peer reviewed scientific literature where a proper scientific debate can take place. Otherwise, take your self and your cohorts and live on a deserted island which is barely inches above sea level and study some real effects of science as the waters encroach upon you.

Ian Forrester 

[name of someone who thinks he can play, but who sounds awful] = Robbie Williams!
But I digress. I thought that the scientific method itself was devised as a quality control mechanism for a knowledge about the universe. And peer review. And, less perfectly but still adequately, bodies of consensus like IPCC
Of course it’s not about science, but doubt. Climate change is really, really, really…annoying. The changes that are taking place on our planet are almost unfathomable–literally. Can you really <i>imagine</i> a world without polar bears or…the arctic? Or some 50% of the species you grew up with? And the societal changes we’ll need to make in response, whether it’s to ward off or to adapt to climate change, are just as difficult to imagine.
The thing is, you and I and everyone alive would rather stick needles in our eyes than face up to such a huge uncertainty. So we’re entirely grateful when someone comes along and tells what we want to hear. We don’t need to worry–we don’t need to do anything, in fact. 
But things have changed, and this NRSP stuff is just a last, desperate attempt. But the boat’s already sailed. People have finally accepted climate change, and it’s going to take a lot more than a phony group to turn that ship back around. Efforts like this and the CEI’s now look laughable. They’re self-parodying, and every time they bring their oily hides into the light, all we’ll see is how ugly they are.