Wednesday, February 22, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: BeeGate








How Green Campaigners Subverted Science

In this newsletter:

1) BeeGate: How Green Campaigners Subverted Science
The Risk-Monger, 18 February 2017

2) U.S. Congress Launches Probe Into Climate Data That Duped World Leaders Over Global Warming
Mail on Sunday, 19 February 2017

3) Scott Pruitt’s Back-To-Basics Agenda For The EPA
The Wall Street Journal, 17 February 2017

4) New Nuclear Power Plants In Doubt As UK Govt Demands Price Cuts
Financial Times, 17 February 2017

5)  Neil Collins: Dash For Gas — And Move On From Nuclear Power Folly
Financial Times, 17 February 2017

6) Christopher Booker: Remembering the BBC Star who Became Appalled by Auntie's Groupthink
The Sunday Telegraph, 19 February 2017
 

Full details:

1) BeeGate: How Green Campaigners Subverted Science
The Risk-Monger, 18 February 2017
David Zaruk

BeeGate shows activists behaving badly —  lying, subverting and fear-mongering
 

 Image result for Bees EU ban

Almost ten years ago, when there were indications of stresses on honeybee populations (known as colony collapse disorder – CCD), different activists were jockeying for the right to claim this crisis for their campaigns. Climate activists wanted to show bees were suffering because of warmer weather; biodiversity campaigners saw land-use issues as the source for the crisis; anti-GMO stalwarts wanted us to know there was something unknown in the pollen; anti-EMF  fear-mongers wanted to highlight the confusion bees suffered due to our love of mobile technology. Nobody mentioned the main causes (cold winters and Varroa mite) … seriously, who would donate to that???

In an early blog, the Risk-Monger had predicted that the anti-pesticides lobby would win this issue as their own … and how right he was! It doesn’t matter that there was no science behind the bees and pesticides campaigns; it doesn’t matter that the campaigners lied and fear-mongered their way to the top; it doesn’t matter that farmers, the environment and bees suffered from the consequences of their self-serving dogmatic bias. The organic food lobby, that funded these cosmopolitan zealots, focused the campaign on the most advanced, least detrimental line of crop protection products: neonicotinoids (neonics)
Watching this crisis unfold, the Risk-Monger saw an enormous amount of unethical, unscientific and unacceptable behaviour from the save-the-bees groups. This is the story of BeeGate – how activist scientists and seasoned campaigners used Age of Stupid tactics to trick policymakers, seduce the media and terrify the public – litigious liars and lamentable fear-mongers have caused incomprehensible damage to the public trust in dialogue, science and policy. Winning might be everything to these activists, but destroying food security and trust in policy and science hardly merits such hypocrisy!
 

The BeeGate Trilogy

In 2014, I leaked a confidential activist strategy document that showed how a group of anti-pesticide scientists aligned with the IUCN conspired to ban neonics – putting policy first and looking for evidence later. That was only the first part of the scandal. I then showed in Part 2 how the scientists were conflicted and funded by interest groups that would benefit from an increase in organic food sales. After that I revealed how activists worked their way onto the EFSA Bee Risk Assessment Working Group to game the RA process to ensure that the available field trial data would not comply, leading to EFSA’s limited advice that would result in a precautionary ban on neonicotinoids.
 

Part 1: IUCN’s Anti-Neonic Pesticide Taskforce: An Exposé into Activist Science
This blog exposed the misleading activist science, opportunism and campaign-driven malpractices of some of the anti-pesticide campaigners. They had met in 2010 to strategise what they needed to do to get neonicotinoids banned. One little problem: they put the campaign results first before they produced the evidence. One other little problem: they published the details of their campaign strategy online. I thought it was worth sharing. Within six months of my releasing this document in 2014, the taskforce seemed to have disappeared.
 

Part 2: The IUCN’s Activist Science Bee-Team: Who’s Who and Who’s Funding Them
It was interesting to see who was behind the anti-neonic pesticide taskforce. These activist scientists were funded by a cabal of anti-industry, pro-organic foundations that had found a non-transparent way to fund their activists. They never published the amounts that were funded, for what, or even the full list of scientists belonging to the IUCN taskforce. A quick review of some of the main actors showed they did not include many of the leading bee researchers.
 

Part 3: The Bee-Sting: Activist Scientists and the Abuse of Power
The third part of the BeeGate exposé showed how certain activist scientists had worked their way onto the EFSA Bee Risk Assessment Working Group to create the Bee Guidance Document. This document was never accepted into law since its guidelines for field trials were impossible to comply with. But that did not matter. It allowed EFSA to reject bee field trial data that did not comply with their proposed draft guidance, leaving the authority to advise that there was insufficient data (hence the need for the European Commission to  conclude the need for a precautionary ban of neonicotinoids). One little point. This blog also shows that the European Commission had clear evidence that neonics were not the cause of an decline in pollinator health. But due to the bias of one DG Sanco director, the European Commission was able to ignore that evidence.
 

Full exposé
 
2) U.S. Congress Launches Probe Into Climate Data That Duped World Leaders Over Global Warming
Mail on Sunday, 19 February 2017
David Rose

Revelations by the Mail on Sunday about how world leaders were misled over global warming by the main source of climate data have triggered a probe by the US Congress.




Republican Lamar Smith, who chairs the influential House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, announced the inquiry last week in a letter to Benjamin Friedman, acting chief of the organisation at the heart of the MoS disclosures, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

He renewed demands, first made in 2015, for all internal NOAA documents and communications between staff behind a controversial scientific paper, which made a huge impact on the Paris Agreement on climate change of that year, signed by figures including David Cameron and Barack Obama.

The paper – dubbed the ‘Pausebuster’ – claimed that contrary to what scientists had been saying for several years, there was no ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in the rate of global warming in the early 21st Century, and that in fact it had been taking place even faster than before.

The ‘pause’ had been seized on by climate sceptics, because throughout the period, carbon dioxide emissions continued to rise.

This month, this newspaper revealed evidence from a whistleblower, Dr John Bates, who until the end of 2016 was one of two NOAA ‘principal scientists’ working on climate change, showing that the paper based its claims on an ‘unverified’ and experimental dataset measuring land temperatures, and on a then newly issued sea-temperature dataset that is now to be withdrawn and replaced because it exaggerates both the scale and speed of warming.

The ‘Pausebuster’ paper’s claims were trumpeted around the world when it was published by the journal Science in June 2015, six months before the UN Paris climate-change conference. Its assertions were highlighted in scientific briefings to officials who hammered out the Agreement – which commits the developed world to sweeping greenhouse-gas emissions cuts and pledges an additional £80 billion every year in ‘climate-related’ aid to poor nations.

In his letter to NOAA, Congressman Smith expresses frustration that previous demands for documents about the Pausebuster were not met, although his committee took the unusual step of issuing a legal subpoena. NOAA’s decision to withhold the documents was, he wrote, ‘without any justification in law’.

As for the revelations by this newspaper, Mr Smith said they ‘raise additional questions as to whether the science at NOAA is objective and free from political interference’. NOAA has said it intends to bring in ‘independent outside parties’ to investigate the Pausebuster and the flawed datasets.

Last week Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the UK Met Office, admitted that notwithstanding the Pausebuster, it was clear ‘the slowdown hasn’t gone away’.

The ‘pause’ is clearly visible in the Met Office’s ‘HadCRUT 4’ climate dataset, calculated independently of NOAA.

Since record highs caused last year by an ‘el Nino’ sea-warming event in the Pacific, HadCRUT4 has fallen by more than half a degree Celsius, and its value for the world average temperature in January 2017 was about the same as January 1998.
 


 

3) Scott Pruitt’s Back-To-Basics Agenda For The EPA
The Wall Street Journal, 17 February 2017
Kimberley A. Strassel

The new administrator plans to follow his statutory mandate—clean air and water—and to respect states’ rights.
 


ILLUSTRATION: KEN FALLIN

Republican presidents tend to nominate one of two types of administrator to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. The first is the centrist—think Christie Todd Whitman (2001-03)—who might be equally at home in a Democratic administration. The other is the fierce conservative—think Anne Gorsuch (1981-83)—who views the agency in a hostile light.

Scott Pruitt, whom the Senate confirmed Friday, 52-46, doesn’t fit either mold. His focus is neither expanding nor reducing regulation. “There is no reason why EPA’s role should ebb or flow based on a particular administration, or a particular administrator,” he says. “Agencies exist to administer the law. Congress passes statutes, and those statutes are very clear on the job EPA has to do. We’re going to do that job.” You might call him an EPA originalist.

Not that environmentalists and Democrats saw it that way. His was one of President Trump’s most contentious cabinet nominations. Opponents objected that as Oklahoma’s attorney general Mr. Pruitt had sued the EPA at least 14 times. Detractors labeled him a “climate denier” and an oil-and-gas shill, intent on gutting the agency and destroying the planet. For his confirmation hearing, Mr. Pruitt sat through six theatrical hours of questions and submitted more than 1,000 written responses.

When Mr. Pruitt sat down Thursday for his first interview since his November nomination, he spent most of the time waxing enthusiastic about all the good his agency can accomplish once he refocuses it on its statutorily defined mission: working cooperatively with the states to improve water and air quality.
“We’ve made extraordinary progress on the environment over the decades, and that’s something we should celebrate,” he says. “But there is real work to be done.” What kind of work? Hitting air-quality targets, for one: “Under current measurements, some 40% of the country is still in nonattainment.” There’s also toxic waste to clean up: “We’ve got 1,300 Superfund sites and some of them have been on the list for more than three decades.”

Such work is where Washington can make a real difference. “These are issues that go directly to the health of our citizens that should be the absolute focus of this agency,” Mr. Pruitt says. “This president is a fixer, he’s an action-oriented leader, and a refocused EPA is in a great position to get results.”

That, he adds, marks a change in direction from his predecessor at the EPA, Gina McCarthy. “This past administration didn’t bother with statutes,” he says. “They displaced Congress, disregarded the law, and in general said they would act in their own way. That now ends.”

Mr. Pruitt says he expects to quickly withdraw both the Clean Power Plan (President Obama’s premier climate regulation) and the 2015 Waters of the United States rule (which asserts EPA power over every creek, pond or prairie pothole with a “significant nexus” to a “navigable waterway”). “There’s a very simple reason why this needs to happen: Because the courts have seriously called into question the legality of those rules,” Mr. Pruitt says. He would know, since his state was a party to the lawsuits that led to both the Supreme Court’s stay of the Clean Power Plan and an appeals court’s hold on the water rule.

Will the EPA regulate carbon dioxide? Mr. Pruitt says he won’t prejudge the question. “There will be a rule-making process to withdraw those rules, and that will kick off a process,” he says. “And part of that process is a very careful review of a fundamental question: Does EPA even possess the tools, under the Clean Air Act, to address this? It’s a fair question to ask if we do, or whether there in fact needs to be a congressional response to the climate issue.” Some might remember that even President Obama believed the executive branch needed express congressional authorization to regulate CO 2 —that is, until Congress said “no” and Mr. Obama turbocharged the EPA.

Among Mr. Pruitt’s top priorities is improving America’s water infrastructure. “I’m going to be advancing this with the president, this idea that when we talk about investing in infrastructure, we need to look more broadly than bridges and roads,” he says. “Look at what happened in Flint,” the Michigan town where lead was found in the water supply. “Look at what is happening in California,” where the Oroville Dam’s failure endangers tens of thousands of homes. [...]

He faults President Obama’s EPA for its “attitude that the states are a vessel of federal will. They were aggressive about dictating to the states and displacing their authority and letting it be known they didn’t trust the states.” Mr. Pruitt has numbers to back up the claim: During the combined presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the EPA imposed five federal air-quality implementation plans on states. Mr. Obama’s EPA imposed 56.

States’ rights were the motivating impulse behind Mr. Pruitt’s lawsuits against the Obama administration, and he has plenty of examples of the benefits of letting states take the lead on pressing environmental problems. He mentions the progress that a state coalition has made on improving the habitat of the lesser prairie chicken, a threatened species. States have also clubbed together to tackle water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

“There is this attitude that has grown of late that Oklahomans and Texans and Coloradans really don’t care about the air they breathe or the water they drink,” he says. “That’s just not the case.” As a demonstration of his commitment to the devolution of power, he pledges to vigorously defend the portion of the EPA’s annual $7 billion budget—roughly half—that goes to the states as funds and grants: “This is the front line of a lot of the work on air and water quality and infrastructure, and its very important that money continue.”

Mr. Pruitt argues that his renewed focus on statutes and federalism will help produce regulatory certainty, which will be good for business: “The greatest threat we’ve had to economic growth has been that those in industry don’t know what is expected of them. Rules come that are outside of statutes. Rules get changed midway. It creates vast uncertainty and paralysis, and re-establishing a vigorous commitment to rule of law is going to help a lot.”

Full interview
 

4) New Nuclear Power Plants In Doubt As UK Govt Demands Price Cuts
Financial Times, 17 February 2017
Andrew Ward

Companies vying to build nuclear power stations in the UK have been told they must offer a price for their electricity sharply lower than that approved for the Hinkley Point plant last year, raising further questions about the viability of Britain’s plans for a new generation of reactors.

Government officials have indicated that future projects will be expected to deliver a discount of at least 15-20 per cent on the price of electricity from the £18bn Hinkley plant in Somerset, a settlement widely criticised for its high cost.

Lower prices compared with Hinkley are seen as crucial to maintaining political support for new nuclear plants, which are at the heart of UK plans to maintain energy security while lowering carbon emissions.

However, the prospect of less lucrative contracts will add to the financing difficulties facing reactor developers and intensify their demands for government help to meet multibillion-pound construction costs.

Full post
 

5)  Neil Collins: Dash For Gas — And Move On From Nuclear Power Folly
Financial Times, 17 February 2017

If an industry cannot finance itself after decades, it’s time to try another industry


FT5

Remember “Nuclear power? No thanks”? That sunny, smiling sticker which was almost standard on the back of every Citroen Deux-Chevaux? How we smiled at such naivety. Nuclear power was the future! The fume-belching little 2CV may have gone the way of the Trabant but, after another grim week for the nuclear industry, it seems those stickers may have been right after all.

A financially viable nuclear power station looks increasingly like a mirage. Even the eye-watering guarantee from the UK taxpayer for Hinkley Point C is not enough to cover the risk that building it will bankrupt EDF. Toshiba’s woes have claimed the scalp of its chairman. Hitachi is signalling that its project in Anglesey needs government backing to proceed.

It’s telling that after 60 years of mostly successful operation, commercial viability still eludes the nuclear power industry. …

The cheapest and quickest fix is to build gas-fired power stations, to tap into worldwide abundance and increasingly diverse supply, even before domestic fracking gets going in the UK. Unfortunately, the artificial barriers imposed by today’s energy policy are preventing this subsidy-free solution….

Abandoning nuclear means facing reality on the likely path of future carbon dioxide emissions. It means repealing the Climate Change Act with its arbitrary targets for dramatic cuts, passed near-unanimously by parliament in 2007 in an orgy of self-indulgence. Legislate in haste, repent at leisure.

Full post
 

6) Christopher Booker: Remembering the BBC Star who Became Appalled by Auntie's Groupthink
The Sunday Telegraph, 19 February 2017
 
 
 Yes, Minister starring Paul Eddington a Jim Hacker, Nigel Hawthorne as Sir Humphrey and Derek Fowlds as Bernard

Yes, Minister - starring Paul Eddington a Jim Hacker, Nigel Hawthorne as Sir Humphrey and Derek Fowlds as Bernard

Yesterday I was among those who spoke at a splendid lunch in Somerset to celebrate the life of my good friend Sir Antony Jay, best-known as one of the co-authors of Yes Minister. I first met him more than 50 years ago as one of the so-called “Young Turks” then leading the way in changing the formerly staid values of the BBC out of recognition; not least through the satire show TW3, of which I was, with David Frost, the chief political scriptwriter.

But, unlike the others, Jay never fell for what was to become the BBC’s all‑pervasive tendency to self-congratulatory groupthink. Almost his last publication was a foreword to a long report I published in 2012 itemising how the BBC has so shamelessly betrayed its statutory obligation to impartiality in its coverage of global warming. He described how appalled he had become by much of what has become of the institution where he began his working life.

He was a good, generous and clever man, who, unlike his former colleagues, knew how to think for himself. It was an honour to join in paying tribute to him.

 
 Image result for GWPF Anthony Jay
David Henderson, Sir Antony Jay, Benny Peiser, Christopher Booker and Nigel Lawson in December 2011
at the launch of 
The BBC and Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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