At the risk of getting all Exxon-Secrets ‘on yo asses’… Thanks to the reader who let us know about Bob Ward‘s latest career move. Ward, if you remember, left his post of director of communications at the Royal Society to join global risk analysis firm RMS as Director of Global Science Networks. It was a perfectly natural progression that allowed him to continue both his pseudo-scientific catastrophe-mongering and his crusade against Exxon and Martin Durkin. Which he did.

Ward now pops up at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, where he has taken on the post of Policy and Communications Director. The Grantham is chaired by Professor Lord Sir Nicholas Stern of Brentford, author of a rather influential report on the economics of climate change, and who stands to profit admirably from institutional environmentalism via his carbon credit reference agency. It is no surprise that Ward and Sir Nicholas find themselves in the same company department, given their shared interests. Stern is also Chair of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP), which is funded by the UK government’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and which acknowledges that ‘Generous support for the Centre’s work is also provided by Munich Re’. Munich Re is the insurance giant that claims to know what the IPCC does not when it comes to the reality of climate change in the present.

Glancing down the profiles of Grantham’s management team, we spot another corporate Green to have found a new home among academic foliage. The last time we looked, Sam Fankhauser was Managing Director of IDEAcarbon:

IDEAcarbon is an independent and professional provider of ratings, research and strategic advice on carbon finance. Our services are designed to provide leading financial institutions, corporations, governments, traders and developers with unbiased intelligence and analysis of the factors that affect the pricing of carbon market assets.

IDEAcarbon’s parent company is IDEAglobal, where Stern is Vice President.

Fankhauser doubles up as a member of the Climate Change Committee, the ‘independent’ body set up by the UK government to advise the UK government on climate policies.

The CCC is chaired by Lord Adair Turner of Ecchinswell, a man whose CV includes stints of environmental activism as a trustee for WWF and membership of the Advisory Board of Climate Change Capital, a firm offering services as an ‘investment manager and advisor specialising in the opportunities created by the transition to the low carbon economy’.

After all this, we were slightly disappointed to gather that the Grantham Research Institute is not named after the birthplace of green pioneer Margaret Thatcher. That it’s named in honour of multi-millionaire sponsors Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham, whose Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment also supports such green multi-nationals as GreenpeaceOxfamWWF and the Union of Concerned Scientists, is no less appropriate, however.

Grantham’s raison d’être is, according to its Chair:

Professor Stern said: ’As scientists continue to play their role in analysing the causes and effects of climate change, it is crucial that social scientists take a lead in the building of policy. The Grantham Institute will produce high-quality, policy-relevant research, alongside a range of outputs designed to support policy development, raise public awareness and contribute to private-sector strategy formation.’

Climate Resistance would not stoop to suggest that the corporate and ideological interests of the Grantham Research Institute’s staff could conceivably influence the direction or quality of its research output.

In fact, it’s worth re-stating that we wouldn’t make so much of the financial interests of these folk were it not for the fact that Bob Ward and his cronies make so much about links with dirty oil money, as exemplified by Ward’s former boss at the Royal Society, Bob May, writing in the TLS:

Despite the growing weight of evidence of climate change, along with growing awareness of the manifold adverse consequences, there remains an active and well-funded “denial lobby”. It shares many features with the lobby that for so long denied that smoking is the major cause of lung cancer. […] Whoever got things started, this is a ball which ExxonMobile picked up and ran with, shuttling lobbyists in and out of the White House as it did so. Following earlier talks and seeking to exemplify its centuries-old motto – Nullius in Verba (which roughly translates as “respect the facts”) – the Royal Society recently and unprecedentedly wrote to ExxonMobile, complaining about its funding for “organisations that have been misinforming the public about the science of climate change”, and more generally for promoting inaccurate and misleading views – specifically that scientists do not agree about the influence of human activity on rising temperatures.

Likewise, we would be less interested in such dodgy dealings if it weren’t for the mainstream media’s tendency to decry Exxon funding as corrupting of the scientific method while deeming Munich Re’s pronouncements – let alone the pronouncements of those they sponsor – as above scrutiny. It’s also worth re-stating at this point that fear is to the insurance industry what oil is to Exxon.

The ESRC’s CCCEP is worthy of further comment. According to its home page:

Human-induced climate change could have enormous impacts on economies and societies if we persist with ‘business as usual’. This is the consensus view of climate scientists and one with which economists are increasingly finding agreement (eg The Stern Review). It is much less certain, however, that our economic, social and political systems can respond to the challenge. Will public, private and civic actors take action to create low-carbon economies? What emission reduction strategies will be efficient, equitable and acceptable? How much should we invest, and when, on measures to reduce vulnerability to climate change? Who will bear the costs and enjoy the benefits? […] The Centre is chaired by Professor Lord Stern of Brentford

So, Lord Professor Sir Nicholas Stern’s report on the economics of climate change is somehow representative of the ‘scientific consensus’, and he shall, therefore, chair the ESRC’s climate change body.

There was a time when the social sciences felt it necessary to scrutinise the natural sciences, on the basis that scientists weren’t quite as objective as they liked to think they were. They had a point, even if the scientists were probably more objective than the sociologists thought they were. It was a good fight. Now, however, the starting point of centrally-funded social science is that it accepts unconditionally that not only is there is a scientific consensus on climate change, but there is an economic one, too. Aren’t new-fangled scientific practices like consensuses and peudo-scientific creations like ‘sustainability’ precisely what the social sciences should be scrutinising?

The CCCEP assumes from the outset that it follows necessarily that something must be done – and, indeed, that is the duty of each of us to do something. From its mission statement:

Climate change and its potential impacts are increasingly accepted, but economic, social and political systems have been slow to respond. There is a clear and urgent need to speed up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to unavoidable climate change.

The Centre’s mission is to respond to this need by advancing public and private action on climate change through innovative, rigorous research.

This is not sociology as the study of social institutions. It is sociology as government department, scholarly discipline and activist group all rolled into one. As if the Science Wars never happened, ‘climate science’ is free once again to speak ‘Truth to Power’ unfettered. Except that now it is aided and abetted by those who would be scrutinising it were it not for the fact that sociology has lost any sense of mission, just as political parties, the media, environmentalist activists and a host of scholarly disciplines attempting to justify themselves in terms of ‘relevance’ have lost sense of their mission.

The environmental orthodoxy is a tangled web of corporate interests, policy-makers, -movers and -shakers, academics, NGO’s and activists – all pushing in the same direction. Which would be just fine if the idea had been tested democratically. But it hasn’t. We’ve said it many times… environmentalism has not risen to prominence through its own energies: it has not developed from a mass movement; it isn’t representative of popular interests. It is useful only to various organisations that have otherwise struggled to justify themselves over the last few decades. The political parties have bought it. Various ‘radical’ organisations have bought it. Large sections of the media have bought it. Academic departments and funding agencies have bought it. Little wonder that corporate interests have been able to jump upon the bandwagon and play their hearts out for personal financial gain.

Forget speaking ‘Truth to Power’. Today it’s all about speaking ‘Official Truth™ for Official Power©’.

11 Responses to activism.plc@gov.ac.uk

  • Excellent and scary analysis. Wrote to my MP recently and she sent me the Met Office alarmist propaganda which included an endorsement from Oxfam. The recent banning of vital agricultural pesticides was engineered by various European, and other anti-pesticide groups, including the UK Pesticide Action Network via some very, very well funded lobbying of the Commission plus inside sympathisers. PAN received over £150K IN 2005 & 2006 from NOVIB which is a Dutch part of Oxfam. Looks like Oxfam the charity is morphing into Oxfam the global political activist party. As political parties in the West die, completely unrepresentative ‘activists’ manipulate and influence for their own purposes and, as your article points out, for their own gain. Isn’t this what’s called “rent seeking” and isn’t it now happening on a huge scale?

  • Dear Ben and Stuart,

    Who needs ‘LinkedIn’ when you can have hilarious pages on spoof websites like this devoted to your career! Congratulations on one of the most imaginative attacks on me yet – it ranks alongside ExxonMobil’s attempts to convince Chris Huhne MP that there were question marks over my departure from the Royal Society! (http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.com/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/vo061012/debtext/61012-0013.htm)

    I was hoping to gauge whether I was demonstrably more corrupt than you, but sadly you seem to be a bit shy about revealing the identity of your paymasters. Do tell!

  • Bob,

    We aren’t able to reveal who our paymasters are because we don’t know.

    A spaceship beams down parcels of cash into our backyards once a month, and a mystery voice phones us up every week to tell us which stories we should write. We’ve only managed to catch a glimpse of the flying saucer once, but we didn’t see an Exxon logo on it.

    One thing we are sure about is that we make a great deal less cash out of our involvement with the climate debate than you and your associates do.

    As with your attempts to demonstrate that Exxon are behind ‘denial’, the implication that we are being funded is just stupid, and lacks any sense of proportion.

    You set the terms that you are being criticised by. If you didn’t spend so much time banging on about ‘funding’, we wouldn’t have wondered what kind of commercial interests you and your associates had.

    As it happens, it is clear that you and your colleagues have a great deal more cash at your disposal than can be attributed to any oil industry conspiracy to ‘distort’ the perception of ‘the science’.

    Moreover, you and your colleagues can be found taking as many liberties with the facts as you have accused Exxon. Our favourite was Bob May claiming that Martin Durkin had produced a three-part series of films denying that HIV causes AIDS. It is, of course, a lie.

  • I didn’t expect you to reveal your sources of financial support, and you didn’t disappoint. Or maybe you really are independently wealthy and don’t need to work for a living. Just like Prince Charles, eh chaps? Pip pip!

  • It is telling that the former director of communications at the Royal Society, and now the policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute can only engage in debate at the level of innuendo and rumour about funding.

    What does that say about the Royal Society and the Grantham Research Institute?

    We are not going to write anything about our own financial affairs here, other than to say that you couldn’t be more hilariously wrong, Bob. We’ll email you an answer if that makes you feel any better.

  • Interesting. What I want to know is which bits of this article Bob Ward objects to. He calls it “imaginative” but doesn’t say how, or why any of it is inaccurate. It reads to me as a list of observations about the various interests of various influential environmentalists. It’s Ward’s reliance on ad hom rubbish in his comments here that makes my imagination run wild.

  • First David Adam, Bob Ward – and neither engaged with or refuted any of the points made.

    If I were one of the Editors, I’d take that as a double compliment: one, that their original words were enough to provoke a response; and two, the response is so pitifully lacking in any substance.

    I think many are starting to fear their day in the sun (geddit?) is over.

  • It’s increasingly obvious to those of us who believe in freedom and liberty that Global Warming alarmism is nothing more than a naked power-grab on the part of self-interested parties who stand to gain a great deal in prestige and financing.
    Labeling a naturally occurring trace gas, one upon which all life depends, as a pollutant will be marked by future generations as the pinnacle of human hubris. Poking one’s finger at a point on a graph of atmospheric CO2 content and claiming that 280ppmv (+/-) is the optimal level for earth’s climate across all time – because that’s the level it was prior to the so-called industrial revolution – **is** hubris. Our atmosphere is presently starved for CO2. All life on this planet depends greatly on its presence. More is better as we attempt to feed a burgeoning world population.
    I, for one, will not “go quietly into the night” while environmental doomsayers attempt a takeover of the governance of human (actually, all…) life on planet earth. Make note of history. Take note that there are two – and only two – means of making it through this life. One is the economic means wherein we create wealth by producing things of value that others are willing to trade with us to acquire. They trade something they value less – in modern civilizations, money – for something they value more – the product of our labor. The other means is the political means whereby some attempt to live off of the fruits of the labor of the productive. This they do via corruptions of law. Global Warming alarmists wish to take (more) control of the political means. Doubt?: Go and read Frederick Bastiat’s “The Law”, then come back here and prove to me they’re not.
    Its history not yet being written, I believe the 20th Century will known as the century of “Death by Government”. If you persist (e.g.: alarmists) you may well be responsible for a level of misery and suffering unmatched by even that history. Mark well the fact that you are being watched. Take note that we (the people) now have this wonderful medium of information exchange called the internet. That we know who you are, and that there is a wealth of information out (t)here for the un-schooled to become educated and informed thinkers.
    Scarcely anyone alive in Europe or America today believes in the superiority of Western society. Guilt and shame hang around our necks like millstones (and to the political correctness mix, you add carbon footprints and other environmentally correct dogmas), dragging our emasculated culture to the verge of self-immolation. Whatever faults the British Empire-builders may have had, they were certain of themselves.
    Our forefathers built a technological civilization based on energy provided by carbon-based fossil fuels. Without the inexpensive and reliable energy provided by coal, oil, and gas, Western Civilization will collapse. This seems to be precisely what the prophets of global warming want.
    Alarmists promise that if we stop using carbon-based energy, new energy technologies will magically appear, notwithstanding the laws of physics and chemistry. No, those will be repealed by political (the Political Means, dear reader) will power. We will achieve prosperity by destroying the very means by which prosperity is created. These people are insane and need to be quickly locked away in the asylum and the key thrown away.
    While we in the West sit around confused, crippled with self-doubt and guilt (aided and abetted by the alarmists), the Chinese are building out an energy-intensive technological civilization – with a population of 1.3 billion. They have 2,000 coal-fired power plants, and are currently constructing new ones at the rate of one a week. More people there believe in free-market economics than in the US and all of Europe combined. If you believe the Chinese are going to emasculate themselves on the alter of Global Warming hysteria, you do not understand their way of thinking. Go and read Sun Tzu “The Art of War” and you will understand what you are up against. They may give lip-service to carbon emission reductions, to get **you** to do it, but they will not participate in your self-immolation.
    If we in the West do not reverse course, our Asian friends are about to be nominated by history as the new torchbearers of human progress, and yes liberty as well. There’s no way they can put the economic genie back in the bottle over there. There’s no way another Mao could arise there today and repeat the mistakes of the 20th Century. Go ahead, self-immolate. Lord Stern notwithstanding, Keynesian economics is dead, is rotting, and stinketh to high heaven, and it’s long past time that it be buried.

  • Dr. Bob Ward is projecting his own corrupt behavior on others, in which anyone’s motive is money-minded and anyone’s act is payed. His childish bullying against Durkin was already unbelievable and it is confirmed here.

    I don’t know what is leading him to such lows, desperation maybe, insanity probable, arrogance and impunity undoubtedbly. Anyway, they earn him no respect and are a disgrace to science, reason and civility.

  • Bob Ward is worried. Like David Adam and Monbiot, they are now resorting to desperate measures. See Moonbat’s latest on the evacuation of people from islands that are sinking rather than threatened by a rise in sea level.

    Even warming alarmists on the thread have admonished him for making it easy for sceptics to undermine their whole case. His scientific credential are in tatters as a result.

    Ward, Monbiot and Adam are old and established, and for a long time they could trumpet the disputed fact that young people make up the groundswell of their climate crusade, and that only older people in their sixties and seventies, as Monbiot wrote recently, are the climate ‘deniers’.

    They are down with kids and gain a lot of their legitimacy from portraying themselves as being at the forefront of a youthful rebellion.

    But, shock horror, the editors of this blog are young and it concerns them that this questioning might catch on in universities and might be more widespread among younger people than they thought.

    The nightmare scenario for them is that they end up looking like the authoritarian, controlling and hectoring old farts which they clearly are.

    An establishment which would want to stymie human progress, keep people in their place, and crucially, make a shitload of money doing so either as writers, or as advisors to green big business.

    This is what keeps them awake at nights: being regarded as an elite making big bucks or servicing a career on the back of a medieval, religious type scare which young people will identify as The Man to be rebelled against.

    That’s why they ‘found’ this site – and that’s what they fear as the earth cools and the general public turn a deaf ear to their nonsense.

    It’s going to be fun in the years ahead to see their reputations go down the shitter as scientists conclude that their ‘theory’ is disproved.

    Keep your eye on the cloud experiments at the LHC, the UHI effect on surface station temperatures leading to a swing toward emphasis on satellite data, and the quiet sun.

    Things are going to get interesting, and I predict a 1984 style ‘I never believed in man made climate change’ volte face from many in the scientific and political establishment.

  • BrianT at #8 makes many interesting criticisms of the warmist movement, but his basic thesis – that global warming alarmism is a conspiracy to control the world (“a naked power-grab on the part of self-interested parties”) – is a right-wing myth. The intention to use the supposedly incontrovertible nature of science to exercise illegitimate undemocratic influence on political decisions may certain be a motivation of certain key establishment figures in the world of science policy, like Maurice Strong and Lord Stern, and even, at a lower level, Bob Ward. But the argument that the environmentalist movement as a whole wants to control the world is a political accusation, usually emanating from the libertarian right and aimed at the statist left (the watermelon theory). The fact that BrianT has it in for Keynesian economics, as well as for Global Warming Alarmism, suggests that this is his position. It’s important to be clear that Global Warming Scepticism – and in particular, refusing to accept the argument from authority implicit in Warmism – is neither left nor right.

    to Pete #10
    I’m not sure that the age thing is very relevant. The Alarmists have got Lovelock and thousand year-old tree-rings, as well as the Tinkerbells and Lost Boys of Plane Stupid. I would guess Adam and Monbiot ”found” this site via Spiked or the Register, or maybe via my frequent plugs on Guardian Environment blogs. I find it hard to imagine the kind of sudden swing in opinion described in 1984 leading to Global Warming Alarmism”s sudden death, simply because too many politicians have invested too much hot air in the subject. Mind you, after the last week in British politics, who would venture any kind of prediction …?

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