The Stephen Harper War on Climate Science

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The government of Prime Minster Stephen Harper just appointed two “climate skeptics” with connections to the oil industry to important federal scientific bodies. The scientific community is appalled.

Mark Mullins, Executive Director of the right wing Fraser Institute has just been installed on the board of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), which funds university research projects including studies on climate change.

The Fraser Institute has a long history of unethical tactics around the so-called climate debate. Desmog blog readers will remember their ham handed attempts to discredit the largest peer-review exercise in scientific history, including a video targeted at youth. They have so-far received $120,000 from ExxonMobil.

Mullins (trained as an economist) makes no bones about his understanding of climate science: “the climate-change issue is somewhat sensational and definitely exaggerated.” You can listen to his entire wacky podcast here.

Besides his complete lack of scientific expertise, his obvious political bias and of course potential conflict with his current employer, Mullins does have one significant qualification important to the Harper government: his was a former policy advisor for Harper’s former party, the Canadian Alliance.

The other jaw-dropping intervention in the Canadian scientific community was the appointment of Harper’s “best friend” and climate denier John Weissenberger to the board of Canada Foundation for Innovation, which funds large research projects.

This is the second time that Harper picked a plum for his old buddy. In 2007, he appalled political observers by quietly appointing Weissenberger to be chief of staff to the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration.

Weissenberger was Harper’s former campaign manager, and a geologist for Husky Oil in Alberta. He has also spilled the beans that he his at odds with the entire scientific community around climate change, opining about his “skepticism about global warming.”

A sampling of quotes about climate change from these two men can be found here.

Scientists were rightly disgusted by these moves. Garry Clarke, a leading international glaciologist at the University of British Columbia called the appointments “dreadful”.

University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver, another lead author of past IPCC reports said it is “very disturbing” that people who dispute global warming are making strategic decisions on scientific research.

“What would the public think if we appointed outspoken proponents of the fallacy ‘smoking doesn’t cause cancer’ as members of the boards funding medical and, in particular, cancer research?” Weaver asked.

All this smacks of an obvious effort to stack the boards of important federal scientific bodies with a fringe group of compromised climate deniers.

In 2007, Harper installed Christopher Essex as an NSERC director. This was the same year that Essex co-authored a Fraser Institute attack on the IPCC. For an annotated evisceration of this piece of garbage, have a look at the critique by the actual scientists at Real Climate.

Essex is also on record as stating: “The claim that there is a global warming crisis threatening to bring chaos and destruction upon the world is so feeble you were probably feeling skeptical anyway. You were right.”

The outdated Republican war on science is apparently spilling across the border, thanks to our own George Bush junior, Stephen Harper.

This month we’re giving away FREE copies Anthony Barnosky’s Heatstroke: nature in an age of global warming.

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when Harper stops trying to shore up the tar sands and addresses the real issues we are all facing as humanity.  There now.  There’s a bit of “over-the-top” rhetoric for you. 

Mr Harper is a man torn between two realities. On the one hand, he can’t believe that his God would set up humanity with this kind of conundrum (look it up).  On the other, he has voters clamouring for action. I am ready to give the man credit for believing what he says, and not automatically assuming that he is a lying, deceitful profit monger like the tobacco barons.  The trouble here is that our PM does not “believe” the scientific facts staring him in the face.  For him, they are a matter of opinion, or worse, a matter of faith, and everyone’s opinion counts as much as the experts.  He has given us all proof that he is prepared to stay in power by any means available, so we are seeing a few bones tossed out to the environmental “fringe” to try to appease the growing masses that understand the threat.  Meanwhile he is stacking the deck with cronies and yes-men/women. 

I see a leader scrabbling for a toe-hold on government.

Would “War on science that the energy companies and libertarian fantasts find inconvenient” suit you better? More precise, but only just.

What possible business does an executive from the Fraser Institute, who would not know science if it bit them in their corrupt lying asses, have working for NSERC, other than to corrupt the adjudication process and, more seriously, brazenly fuck with the research priorities to be exactly those of the PMO? This, of course, has already been happening.

So you might want to drop the condescending linguistic purity and look at what is at stake.

Spam seems to be taking over the comment section here at the moment - unless desmog is just a front for selling colon cleanse products? - just kidding

Harper is obviously all about heating up the econmomy and keeping the tar sands going. It will be interesting to see how his government reacts to any pressure from the Obama administration on that. That pressure, if it’s coming seems to be taking a long time.

Hope it comes soon….. the end for faith based science, that is. Man made climate change. It’s not a topic, it’s a sentence.

Excellent sleuthing, Mitchell.

It’s amazing with the lengths that climate deniers will go.  Harper as a leader is a disgrace to Canada.  We need a prime minister with some sort of integrity (yes, it’s difficult to find among all those politicians).  I’m surprised that no one has brought up the issue of “conflict of interest” whereby Harper hails from dirty oil-rich Alberta and “rigs the system”, so to speak, of federal scientific bodies.  I wonder how many shares Harper has in the Alberta dirty-oil companies?  I wouldn’t be surprised.

It’s interesting that media coverage of the Obama administration’s milestones are reported (regardless of the news publication being pro-Democrat or not, aside from Fox News) so that citizens can follow a path of deliberate, positive measures.  Harper seems to be on a path of destruction at the cost of the environment and the health Canadian citizens.

Perhaps climate change deniers should pay a higher, out-of-pocket price for healthcare?

More Canadians voted for Harper and the Conservatives then any other party. Canadians got the party and the policies they wanted. Remember how well the Green Party did in the last election? Yell

Although prime minister Harper is truly in complete denial of global warming, which is consistant with his far-right view of the world, the previous Liberal government has done little to attain the Kyoto protocol. Indeed, the objectives of Kyoto have already been achieved or will be in  quite a few locations in Canada, but only because of the motivation of local communities and governments rather than the federal government. The same thing happened in the United States, where a few states have already well passed the Kyoto Protocol’s goals, although the US’ goverment has never ratified it.

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