The Global Wonky Policy Foundation
The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is actually a very appropriately-named organisation; because it is advocating policies that will ensure global warming is maximised.
The GWPF was founded by former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson (now formally known as Lord Lawson of Blaby) and social anthropologist Benny Peiser on 23 November 2009 (i.e. in the run-up to the UNFCCC COP15 summit in Copenhagen), declaring itself to be “…open-minded on the contested science of global warming [and] deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated…” (GWPF 2009). Therefore, as well as necessarily invoking conspiracy theory to dismiss most climate science as unreliable, this is also a very clear statement of what John Dryzek and others call Economic Rationalism.
Nigel Lawson published his Appeal to Reason in hardback (2008) and in paperback (2009) with an additional Afterword (but otherwise unchanged). The book contains a wide range of sceptical arguments but, in the 2009 Afterword (responding to his many critics) Lawson, despite acknowledging his own scientific illiteracy, still felt that it was legitimate to claim the “three greatest lies” to be that (1) the science is certain and settled; (2) global warming is actually happening; and (3) carbon dioxide is a pollutant (Lawson 2009, page 107).
In his former biographical entry on the Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) website (http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis) Dr Benny Peiser was described as a social anthropologist with his research interests having been focused “…on the effects of environmental change and catastrophic events on contemporary thought and societal evolution”. Arguably, however, Peiser has become notorious (amongst climate scientists at least) for challenging research findings published by Naomi Oreskes and then having to retract his criticisms when they were shown to be invalid (De-Smog Blog). Despite this, he has continued to maintain that fears over global warming amount to “hysteria” subject to waning public concern due to so-called “issue fatigue”; and public cynicism regarding the motives of politicians espousing contentious policies (Peiser 2011).
There is much more to say about both Lawson and Peiser but I think it best to defer that to two separate future posts. However, I would like to conclude this sorry story by referring to the GWPF’s ludicrous decision to ask Chartered Accountant and Bishop Hill blogger Andrew Montford to produce a critique of the Climategate enquiries. (See my Category Index (above-right) for more detailed criticism of Andrew Montford and his totally fallacious Hockey Stick Illusion book.)
In the topsy-turvy sceptical world that people like Delingpole and Montford inhabit, it might not be that surprising that the GWPF would ask Montford to write a report into what they feel were 3 totally inadequate inquiries into the scientific research being undertaken by the UEA/CRU. However, unsurprisingly, Montford finds evidence of a state-sponsored conspiracy to provide excuse to tax people more heavily:
“With the government embarking upon a radical decarbonisation programme, global warming is one of the most important questions facing the people of the UK today… While attempts to hide the truth from the public might have worked in the past, they simply wilt under this kind of scrutiny” (page 6).
However, it would seem that, in reality, few people believed him. For example, Montford’s GWPF report was considered in a further review of the matter by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee (The Reviews into the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit’s E-mails: First Report of Session 2010–11), which concluded (on 25 January 2011) that:
“The disclosure of data from CRU has been traumatic and challenging for all involved. While we have some reservations about the reviews which UEA commissioned, the key point is that they have made a number of constructive recommendations. In our view it is time to make the changes and improvements recommended and with greater openness and transparency move on” (page 4).
Anyone who doubts the legitimacy of these conclusions (upholding the original findings that found no reason to doubt the actual science) is, as conspiracy theorists always do, just widening the scope of the perceived cover-up to avoid dealing with reality. Furthermore, it would seem that this is still, even now, exactly what the GWPF is doing.
UPDATE (30 November 2011) – Despite repeated emails from me and a letter from Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP, the GWPF has still not modified its position. Quite the opposite in fact; they are still content to cite the same discredited contrarian sources of prejudiced misinformation.