Friday, October 30, 2009

Stephen Harper and the Fraser Institute Wage War on Climate Science

Despite irrefutable evidence that Climate Change is happening, Stephen Harper is complicit in false advertising against it. But as part of a 'climate change denial' network, he is getting 'a little help from his friends'.

Still referring to global warming as a "theory", he has gone out of his way to ensure that Canada does not become part of the solution. From appointing climate change deniers to the science board, to hiring a climate change-denier to write his speeches; we can see exactly where this is going.

If we are stuck with the Reform Conservatives for awhile, we have to demand that they start taking this seriously, and stop their games. The rest of the world is giving up on us. Are we really ready to give up on ourselves?

Climate Change Denial and the Fraser Institute

Though certainly not the only neo-conservative "think tank" denying the science of climate change, the Fraser Institute is one of the most vocal, and unfortunately, for reasons that baffle me; one of the most respected. According to author Gordon Laird: "And though the FI is the most widely quoted and footnoted organization in Canada, seldom are its proposals or statistics questioned".

According to Brooke Jeffrey: "The Fraser Institute is another formerly obscure group whose rise to prominence coincided nicely with the advent of Canada's neo-conservative politicians, and it has been front and centre of the far right's fight to rethink Canadians' political values and beliefs.... the Institute was set up in the same fashion as several other right-wing groups in the United States, employing a core group of researchers and also engaging like-minded neo-conservative academics from other countries to conduct specific studies.

"To further heighten the international and academic cachet of its work, a second board was set up and given prominence in institute literature, deliberately overshadowing the real power and corporate funds behind the organization. While the Board of Trustees represents a Who's Who of the business elite in Canada, it is almost never referred to; instead, the board of advisers has successfully been established as the academic window dressing. (Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg 420-421)

Donald Gutstein has written a book called; Not a Conspiracy Theory: How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy, that explains in detail how these so-called "think tanks" like the Fraser institute operate. They are not academic institutes but merely disreputable PR firms, who engage in spin. He suggests that 'we follow the money' and that is certainly the case with Climate Change denial.

The Fraser Institute is listed on Greenpeace's website as one of the groups receiving money from ExxonMobil to handle the 'big lie' on global warming. Scientists have concluded that there is better than a 90% assurance that climate change is a reality, yet these tanks capitalize on the less than 10% margin of doubt, and use that to promote their cause.

According to James Hoggan in his new book on the subject: "This seemed like an excellent example, however, of some of the activities of a large group of 'think tanks' that have come under public scrutiny for accepting funding from major industrial sources such as ExxonMobil and then challenging the science of climate change. I put the term 'think tanks' in quotes because it is so difficult to even define these organizations accurately, much less understand what they do." (Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, by James Hoggan, Greystone Books, 2009, ISBN:978-1 55365-485-8, pg. 77)

As Canadians we have to be smarter than this. Do we want to take the advice of world renowned, peer reviewed scientists; or ad agencies funded by the fossil fuel industry?

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