Climate change deniers: Facts and fictions

Please see through the misleading guest commentary by Tom Harris of the Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC), published by TGI on Sunday, May 18. 

Harris said it is “ridiculous” to think that only industry-funded “deniers” are claiming that climate change is not real. What’s ridiculous is that Harris and the ICSC themselves are industry-funded climate change deniers.

Here are some basic facts that anyone could discover from a few minutes of web research:

Trained as a mechanical engineer, not as a climate scientist, Harris previously was the executive director of the defunct Natural Resources Stewardship Project (NRSP), which shut down in 2008 after public revelations the group was controlled by energy industry lobbyists from the High Park Group.

Harris himself had been the Ottawa operations director of the High Park Group, a Toronto-based public policy and public relations firm specializing in energy industry clients like the transnational Areva nuclear power group, the Canadian Electricity Association and the Canadian Gas Association.

According to geochemist and U.S. National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell, author of The Inquisition of Climate Science (Columbia University Press, 2011), rather than supporting open-minded scientific inquiry, closed-minded “denier organizations like the ICSC know the answers and seek only confirmation that they are right.”

For example, Harris and the ICSC last year promoted a skeptical climate change report produced by the Heartland Institute, identified by SourceWatch and others as a front for the ultra-conservative Koch Brothers, the primary backers of the Tea Party. Turns out that at least part of ICSC’s funding and most of its key staff members come directly from the Heartland Institute.

The July 2011 edition of Nature magazine reported that the Heartland Institute “makes many bold assertions that are often questionable or misleading” with the goal of “muddying the waters” about the reality and importance of climate change, second-hand smoke hazards and other ecology or health issues that invite government regulation.

At the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, hosted by the Heartland Institute, Harris disclosed among like-minded allies the ICSC public relations strategy of saturating newspapers with articles casting doubt on the ample scientific research showing that modern climate change is mostly caused by human activity (See the May 19 TGI article that increasing western U.S. wildfires are driven by manmade global warming).

The latest ploy in this PR strategy is a claim that climate change deniers are being frightened into silence. Reflecting this plan in his TGI commentary (submitted to many newspapers worldwide), Harris alleges death threats by environmentalists against Dr. Tim Ball, described as a “former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg.” Harris does not reveal that Dr. Ball today is a paid science policy adviser to oil companies along with being the past chairman of the NRSP, which Harris managed.

In his contention that environmentalists are dangerous, Harris is using the same propaganda trick being used here on Kauai to discredit the supporters of Bill 2491 (now Ordinance 960) by labeling peaceful citizen activists as “eco-terrorists.”

Among the tactics too often deployed to suppress evidence-based logic and critical thinking, the misleading irrationality and fear-mongering by Harris and ICSC smacks of the McCarthyism in the 1950s that repressed progressive post-war urges for social justice and open democracy. In the eyes of the climate change deniers, apparently, yesterday’s reds are today’s greens.

Let’s praise TGI for publishing diverse views on public issues. Now let’s do our part as readers to spot the fictions of propagandists posing as honest scientists.


Judah Freed is the author of The Dawn of Global Sense and is a Kauai resident.


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