The Stephen Harper War on Climate Science

A news scoop by Mitchell Anderson of DeSmogBlog

VANCOUVER, May 11, 2009 — The government of Prime Minster Stephen Harper just appointed two “climate skeptics” with connections to the oil industry to important federal scientific bodies. The scientific community is appalled.

Mark Mullins, Executive Director of the
right wing Fraser Institute has just been installed on the board of
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), which funds university research projects including studies on climate change.

The Fraser Institute has a long history of unethical
tactics around the so-called climate debate. Desmog blog readers will
remember their ham handed attempts to discredit the largest peer-review exercise in scientific history, including a video targeted at youth. They have so-far received $120,000 from ExxonMobil.

Mullins (trained as an economist) makes no bones about
his understanding of climate science: “the climate-change issue is
somewhat sensational and definitely exaggerated.” You can listen to his
entire wacky podcast here.

Besides his complete lack of scientific expertise, his
obvious political bias and of course potential conflict with his
current employer, Mullins does have one significant qualification
important to the Harper government: his was a former policy advisor for Harper’s former party, the Canadian Alliance.

The other jaw-dropping intervention in the Canadian scientific community was the appointment of Harper’s “best friend” and climate denier John Weissenberger to the board of Canada Foundation for Innovation, which funds large research projects.

This is the second time that Harper picked a plum for his old buddy. In 2007, he appalled political observers by quietly appointing Weissenberger to be chief of staff to the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration.

Weissenberger was Harper’s former
campaign manager, and a geologist for Husky Oil in Alberta. He has also
spilled the beans that he his at odds with the entire scientific
community around climate change, opining about his “skepticism about
global warming.”

A sampling of quotes about climate change from these two men can be found here.

Scientists were rightly disgusted by these moves. Garry Clarke, a leading international glaciologist at the University of British Columbia called the appointments “dreadful”.

University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver,
another lead author of past IPCC reports said it is “very disturbing”
that people who dispute global warming are making strategic decisions
on scientific research.

“What would the public think if we appointed outspoken
proponents of the fallacy ‘smoking doesn’t cause cancer’ as members of
the boards funding medical and, in particular, cancer research?” Weaver

All this smacks of an obvious effort to stack the boards
of important federal scientific bodies with a fringe group of
compromised climate deniers.

In 2007, Harper installed Christopher Essex as an NSERC director. This was the same year that Essex co-authored a Fraser Institute attack on the IPCC. For an annotated evisceration of this piece of garbage, have a look at the critique by the actual scientists at Real Climate.

Essex is also on record
as stating: “The claim that there is a global warming crisis
threatening to bring chaos and destruction upon the world is so feeble
you were probably feeling skeptical anyway. You were right.”

The outdated Republican war on science is apparently spilling across the border, thanks to our own George Bush junior, Stephen Harper.


Read ongoing and sometimes lively comments to DeSmogBlog‘s original post at:


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