PM Harper's fishing buddy behind Kyoto attack group

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The DeSmogBlog has reported in the past the deep ties between the Barry Cooperclimate  change spin machine and Kyoto attack group, the Friends of Science, and Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party. These ties become even deeper when the chief architect of the Friends of Science is Dr. Barry Cooper, Calgary University Professor and long-time confidante of Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

Dr. Cooper is a very well-known member of the so-called “Calgary School,” a group of U of C professors attributed with the rise of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the ruling Conservative Party of Canada.

Cooper is also Stephen Harper’s fishing buddy. With Harper and his Conservatives scrapping climate change programs and moving away from the Kyoto Accord, the Friends of Science seem to be a well-timed, well-aligned third-party endorser that can create the public doubt Harper needs. And it's all orchestrated by one of Harper's closest allies.
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About a year ago I tried to have an intellectual email converstation with Barry Cooper after reading an editorial of his about his distrust of climate change science. It started off quite civil, with him providing me with some interesting political theories and me providing him with a list of all the scientific knowns as well as scientific unknowns. However, as soon as I had explained that some of his positions were unsupportable, he stopped discussing things civilly and shifted the conversation to unsupported conspiracy theories about socialist propaganda, abstract philosophies suggesting to me that atmospheric science is mostly fantasy, and even a couple of personal insults on me and me ‘gullibility’. It’s a real shame that the PM seems to actually take what he has to say seriously.    

Like so many blogs you add two and two and get five. Your comments on Kyoto sceptics are long on vituperation and short on facts. In fact, they are dead wrong. First, not-for-profit FoS was formed by retired earth and atmospheric scientists (of which I am one) over four years ago. Barry Cooper had nothing to do with it. In fact he is not on the Board. He is not even a member. He has assisted us in one of our more recent projects (the video on our website), but had nothing to do with the design or the opinions expressed in it. The fact that he may or may not be a friend of Stephen Harper does nothing for us. In fact, you should know, that while Harper’s Minister Rona Ambrose has met with Suzuki and with the Sierra Club, we have had no access to her or her department. So much for the political connection. We are about government abuse of science, not about politics. In fact, we would have liked politicians to stay out of it and not corrupt its method and its principles for its own purposes. youo owe the hard-working volunteers a correction and an apology.The same goes for Paulsen. He is a PR consultant who has done some work for us. He is neither a member nor an employee. He works for anyone who paays his fee. I am perplexed by your conspiracy theories. Do you realise that we advocate that the wastful Kyoyo billions (wasted by vainly fighting CO2 and to “stop cliomate change”) be applied to fighting pollution of air, water and soil?  Read our website and try to understand. And stop spreading all that muck. You may drown in it.

Thanks for replying Rocky, we have one big question about the Friends of Science that I am hoping you can clear up for us and all the journalists who have phoned us inquiring about you.

We here at the DeSmogBlog have been dying to know who funds the Friends of Science and it would be great, Rocky, if you could let us know. 

For a group that pleads so much innocence you sure have been quiet about who pays your bills. Of course, your most outspoken member and travelling show, Dr. Tim Ball, is very adament that he has “… never been paid a nickle by oil and gas,” so we are very interested then in who does.

We have tried to read your website, and find it quite confusing that you claim to be “Friends” of Science, yet most of your scientific references are not peer-reviewed science, but news articles, congressional testimony etc… We are trying to understand your viewpoint, but there is very little actual science behind many of the claims you make.

As I am sure you and the “Friends” of Science know, the world’s top scientist in the field of climatology all agree, as do the National Science Academies of the G8 nations, and finally the Academies of almost every developed country. If you are so “friendly,” why would you not agree with the mass consensus your “friends” have come to?

Finally, is it just mere coincidence that two very well-known and politically high-ranking Alberta reformers have played large roles in your organization? Sorry, their strong ties to you, as well as the Kyoto-bashing Conservative Party are fair game. 

Look forward to hearing from you Rocky, look forward to hearing from you on that funding question.

You should not act as if our funding has been kept a secret. You only had to ask; there is no secret.  “Friends of Science” is a not-for-profit membership Society, registered under the Alberta Societies Act. It has a few hundred members, drawing heavily on Calgary’s earth science community, which is the largest in Canada. Our daily expenses are paid out of membership fees and some donations from individuals.  Larger projects are financed through a Trust Fund set up at the University of Calgary which is dedicated to investigating debate on the science of climate channge. This way we funded our video, as well as our website and some other outreach. Funds are contributed to the Trust Fund through the Calgary Foundation, a large Calgary charitable trust. The names of donors are not disclosed to us and no ties of any kind exist between the donors and the society’s Board. -  Dr Tim Ball is not a member, but serves on our distinguished Scientific Advisory Board. For free, I may add. - To discuss the declining merit of “peer review” in climate science would take more than an answer to your blog. Suffice it to say, that surveys taken (like the one commissioned by SCIENCE editor Kennedy for U of California social sciences researcher Naomi Oreskes to carry out) have been laughed off the table, as she used incomplete keywords, did not not read the articles and looked only at the few main science periodicals in a field with at least a dozen subdisciplines (and their specialised publications) feeding information into the pot. Add to that the fear of funding loss that any scientist fears who tries to oppose the “consensus” and you should get the picture. -There is lots and lots of science published which disagrees with the UN’s political line and you would only have to go to Dr Peiser’s CCNet, Prof. Singer’s TWTW, or the Idso’s CO2Science websites to get a reading of new articles coming out all over the world. - As to all the Academies and Royal Societies that “agreed”, you should investigate the manipulations of Lord May, who pressured the G8 academies etc in signing on before Gleneagles, after which both Russia and the US withdrew their signatures in disgust. There was no  “progress” at Gleneagles.  And read the House of Lords report. -Finally, you should not be surprised that in a province where the PC have been King for decades, and which sends Conservaties to Ottawa that there are actually conservatives living here. I, for one, despise politics and am not a member of any party. —  This concludes my contrribution to your blog. I have better ways to spend my time in retirement than to take part in your mudslinging practices. -

Hey Rocky, hate to be a cynic, but your funding process looks like it was designed specifically to allow you to deny knowledge of your benefactors. I don’t understand otherwise why, if someone wanted to give you money, they would direct it through two intermediaries. Neither do I understand the laundering function apparently being performed by the University of Calgary. Can you help us out here?

The Friends of Science dude’s attempt to label Naomi Oreskes as a ‘social science researcher’ hasn’t done his own homework about the author. If you browse her CV, you can see that Oreskes has a very good scientific background in geology. Actually, she was an assistant geology professor at Dartmouth College which is an ‘Ivy League’ university, and she has what appears to be an interdisciplinary Ph.D in ‘Geological Research and the History of Science’ from Stanford University.

In any case, I don’t look too kindly on smug  engineers and scientists who seem to sneer at ‘social science research’. Academics who can bridge natural science and social science disciplines are invaluable for communicating with society and solving actual problems. Many engineers and geologists are ignorant about what social science actually is and how useful it can be in some instances.