Climate Change Denial at the Frontier Institute for Public Policy

Posted: September 23, 2007 in Uncategorized

Peter Holle, of the Frontier Institute for Public Policy (FIPC), writes in the September 23 issue of the Winnipeg Free Press (Parable of the drug dealer):

“The idea that our carbon emissions are destroying the planet, however, is beneficial to anyone involved in this particular science. As long as we think we face a choice between our industrialized way of life and saving the planet, global warming is a big research topic, a big lobbying issue, a big political opportunity and a big media story.”

He goes on to suggest that various groups expressing concerns about global warming are motivated by financial interests (Greenpeace, the news media, etc.) and anti-capitalist political interests (coyly described as “the older class-struggle and state ownership types“).

He even attaches a dollar value to this conflict of interest:

If conservative estimates of the dollar amounts of U.S. government research grants are correct, climate change is a $2 billion a year industry.”

Even if Holle’s unsourced “conservative estimate” of $2 billion is accurate, it is chump change compared to the reported profits of the major oil companies in 2006:

  1. Exxon Mobil ($39.5 billion),
  2. Royal Dutch Shell ($25.4 billion)
  3. BP ($22.0 billion)
  4. Chevron ($17.1 billion)
  5. ConocoPhillips ($15.55 billion)

Holle continues

If, as many contend, we are experiencing natural warming with minimal impact, more research is unnecessary.”

Who are these “many” who are contending that we are experiencing “natural warming”????

Perhaps one of Holle’s “many” is FIPC research advisor Tim Ball. Ball, who taught at the University of Winnipeg until 1996, has made a name for himself as a climate change denier. According to DeSmog Blog:

Ball is listed as a “consultant” of a Calgary-based global warming skeptic organization called the “Friends of Science” (FOS). In a January 28, 2007 article in the Toronto Star, the President of the FOS admitted that about one-third of the funding for the FOS is provided by the oil industry. In an August, ’06 Globe and Mail feature, the FOS was exposed as being funded in part by the oil and gas sector and hiding the fact that they were. According to the Globe and Mail, the oil industry money was funnelled through the Calgary Foundation charity, to the University of Calgary and then put into an education trust for the FOS.”

According to Holle:

There is no global warming conspiracy. But there is a group of people, let us call them translators, who inform us about scientific issues we cannot understand first-hand. These translators have their own incentives, which mostly tend toward keeping the man-made global warming hypothesis alive. When the warming lobby warns of perverse incentives distorting the debate, they just might be right.”

The same might be said for Holle and his organization. FIPC is a neo-liberal think tank whose raison d’etre seems to be promotion of untrammeled economic growth, deregulation, smaller governments, and so on. FIPC preaches the mantra of freedom through wealth creation and property rights.

Holle’s personal history includes a stint as senior policy advisor in the Saskatchewan government of Grant Devine during the 1980s, according to SourceWatch. Devine’s rule was marked by large scale privatization, reductions in public services and corruption. Devine left the people of Saskatchewan with a $15 billion debt. One might wonder what role Holle played in the sell-off of Crown corporations and natural resources that destroyed Saskatchewan’s public institutions and history of balanced budgets.

I agree with Holle on one thing. There is no “global warming conspiracy.” But the “climate change deniers conspiracy” — that is another question.

For a lighter look at climate change denial . . .

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