Newspapers around North America are being asked to publish guest editorials by Tom Harris from the Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). Please see through this misleading public relations campaign by paid climate change deniers
Tom Harris from the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) is touting guest editorials across North America that 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 have 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 is “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 wire service article that increasing western U.S. wildfires are driven by man-made global warming.)
The clever ploy in this PR strategy is a claim that climate change deniers are being frightened into silence. Reflecting this plan in his editorial commentaries (submitted to many newspapers), 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 advisor to oil companies along with being the past chairman of the NRSP, which Harris managed.
Contending that environmentalists are dangerous, climate change deniers often label 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 scary reds are today’s greens.
Judah Freed is the author of the forthcoming book, Making Global Sense (globalsense.com)