Monday, 20 September 2010

Canada Muzzles Its Scientists; Can the U.S. Be Far Behind?

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Canadian scientists are learning the truth of the old maxim, “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” While the general public and most scientists believe that science should be a search for truth, government ministers in Ottawa have a different notion. Since March, the role of Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Christian Paradis has become that of scientific gatekeeper.

According to the Vancouver Sun:

The Harper government has tightened the muzzle on federal scientists, going so far as to control when and what they can say about floods at the end of the last ice age.

Natural Resources Canada (NRC) scientists were told this spring they need "pre-approval" from Minister Christian Paradis' office to speak with journalists. Their "media lines" also need ministerial approval, say documents obtained by Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation.

The documents say the "new" rules went into force in March and reveal how they apply to not only contentious issues including the oilsands, but benign subjects such as floods that occurred 13,000 years ago.

They also give a glimpse of how Canadians are being cut off from scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers, critics say, and is often of significant public interest — be it about fish stocks, genetically modified crops or mercury pollution in the Athabasca River.

Allegations of governmental muzzling of scientists could not come at a less auspicious time for the scientific community. Since news of the Climategate scandal spread around the world in late 2009, public confidence in the accuracy of the theoretical basis for ‘science’ behind sweeping collectivist legislation has collapsed. For example, polls have shown that as many as 67 percent of Americans doubt that climate change will pose a significant threat during their lifetimes — a significant erosion in the number of citizens prepared to be swept up in the storm of governmental and media hysteria.

News that a Western government is allegedly attempting to turn scientists into little more than shills for a party line — right down to “media lines” they would be expected to present to the public — threatens to further undermine the credibility of the entire scientific community.

According to the Vancouver Sun:

"We have new media interview procedures that require pre-approval of certain types of interview requests by the minister's office," wrote Judy Samoil, NRC's western regional communications manager, in a March 24 e-mail to colleagues.

The policy applies to "high-profile" issues such as "climate change, oilsands" and when "the reporter is with an international or national media organization (such as the CBC or the Canwest paper chain)," she wrote. ...

Samoil later elaborated, saying "the regional communications managers were advised of this change a couple of weeks ago."

The documents show the new rules being so broadly applied that one scientist was not permitted to discuss a study in a major research journal without "pre-approval" from political staff in Paradis' office.

One of the chief accusations raised during the Climategate scandal was that scientific data detrimental to the theory of manmade climate change was being suppressed; the claim was often made that critical studies were being denied publication in peer-reviewed sources. However, the alarming development in the Canadian government is that it has established a means by which scientists would be effectively muzzled, literally unable to speak out against what they believe to be bad science. Regardless of the position any scientist might take on a given issue, such a policy threatens the credibility of the entire scientific process.

However, Americans need not look outside our borders for hints that such heavy-handed manipulation of scientific debate may not be far away in our own future. President Obama’s radical director of Science and Technology Policy, John Holdren, is aiming to alter the terminology used for discussing theories of manmade global warming.

It would seem that not only the “global warming” language is passé, having suffered repudiation some time ago on account of the pesky problem posed by contradictory data. Now even the “climate change” term has been weighed on the political scales and found wanting.

Director Holdren has now decreed that the new terminology shall be “global climate disruption” — a term so ludicrously broad as to refer to any meteorological activity in which humans may or may not be believed to be an influence.

According to a report by Eric Scheiner at CNSNews.com:

At the Environmental Protection Agency's 40th celebration of the Clean Air Act on Tuesday, Holdren said, "I think one of the failures of the scientific community was in embracing the term 'global warming.' Global warming is in fact a dangerous misnomer." And in a speech last week in Norway, echoing remarks he made at a 2007 speech at Harvard University, Holdren said the term "global climate disruption" should be used instead of "global warming."

At the 2010 Kavli Prize Science Forum in Oslo, Norway on Sept. 6, Holdren gave a presentation entitled “Climate Change Science and Policy: What Do We Know? What Should We Do?” The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has posted a PDF-version of Holdren's speech on the White House website. One panel in the presentation says: “‘Global warming’ is a (dangerous) misnomer. That term implies something … uniform across the planet, mainly about temperature, gradual, quite possibly benign. What’s actually happening is … highly nonuniform, not just about temperature, rapid compared to capacities for adjustment, harmful for most places and times. We should call it ‘global climate disruption.’”

Holdren’s new nomenclature is one more demonstration of the fundamental scientific weakness of the entire theory of manmade climate change. Given the drubbing the theory has taken the past year, its advocates are now seemingly left with few alternatives but to mount a defense of the theory in its most minimal formulation. In fact, it is hard to see how Holdren’s definition of “global climate disruption” is even scientifically falsifiable; it simply becomes a boogyman for the Age of Aquarius, a catchall "explanation" capable of seizing on isolated environmental or meteorological events and proclaiming their relation to this nebulous “global climate disruption.”

Part of the problem with such talk of “disruptions” is that the term immediately evokes a sense of an event which is limited in extent and duration, without significance for the functioning of the larger system. Thus a “disruption” in phone or internet service is, by definition, an anomaly which contrasts with a system which is otherwise functioning normally.

If Holdren’s “global climate disruption” language gains widespread usage, it will no doubt soon become the "explanation" for particularly powerful hurricanes, freak snow storms — even an unusually warm day in June. Such an absurd exercise can only hope to work if any possible opposition can be silenced. Perhaps Holdren will ask likeminded Canadian authorities  to kindly export some of their media muzzles for use with government-funded scientists in the United States.

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