Postcard from Tacloban

The Risk-Monger recently went to Tacloban and was shocked to see how a new industry of aid risks undermining the long-term resilience of the local inhabitants. While there is still much to do, the first thing that must be done is remove the international directors and project managers of the aid NGOs. They are creating a master-slave culture of recipientism and, as they are first and foremost concerned with their donor PR, they do not seem to be capable of listening to the needs of the local population.

UNEP: Corrupt, conflicted and woefully incompetent. Shut it down

When disgraced former EEA head, Jacqueline McGlade was appointed the chief scientist to UNEP, the Risk-Monger could only find one answer to this corrupt, conflicted and incompetent organisation: Shut it down.

Why Transparency is not a Virtue

Posted by The Risk Monger on 28/05/14
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We keep talking about transparency as a social good and a basis for trust. The Risk-Monger finds this to be contradictory – the demand for transparency is indicative of a lack of trust and a social malnourishment.

Normative Reflux: How values dictate our use of precaution

The Risk-Monger shows that if the implementation of the precautionary principle were rational, then coffee would need to be banned. Fortunately, in this case, normative reflux steps in – our values and love of the benefits blinds us to the real risks and allows us to enjoy coffee despite the evidence.

How not to beat your wife: Precaution and the Pesticides Directive

The more the pesticides industry denies safety accusations, the more guilty they look. The erosion of trust is built into the precautionary blacklist game – a game the industry will never win.

Furthering Hollywood’s latest identification of evil: Humans (“Noah” film review)

The Risk-Monger took his children to see Noah during the Easter break. Rather than celebrating a Biblical story, he found himself trying to explain why environmentalists were portrayed as good and those embracing technology and human endeavour suffered the wrath of God.

My advice to the crop protection industry

The Risk-Monger recently spoke at a crop protection industry conference on how to prepare data requirements for implementing the new pesticides legislation. I am not sure they liked my main point: that the data they will generate does not matter … at all. Still, they were polite.

What marathons teach us

Posted by The Risk Monger on 03/04/14
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As marathon season gets started, the Risk-Monger ponders how those with passion can go the distance, and how business leaders that don’t seem to have the stamina continue to lose.

I Pollute

Posted by The Risk Monger on 18/03/14
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Imagine a religion that looks at the problems in the world and concludes that it is because others sin. “If only they could be more like me!” A faith without humility and mercy is hypocritical – a congregation of zealots. As environmentalists build their beliefs into their new temple, the eco-theologians need to remind their followers of the virtue of humility – that they are not without sin.

Sustainability Bias

We need a new term to be able to capture how people can be self-contradictory or outright hypocritical when pushing personal environmental decisions they have been told are sustainable. Like a symptom that finds a name (and then becomes a disease that can be treated), we can now begin to look at how we can treat sustainability bias.

IKEA’s unauthentic concept of sustainability

The Risk-Monger understands that IKEA is considered one of those sweet, well-loved retail chains that most consumers want to believe does good things. Unfortunately, if IKEA were to be looked at beyond their Allen key PR, their sustainability record would be rather sour. Why don’t we look?

The Need for an Academic Chair in Chemical Policy Management

Posted by The Risk Monger on 07/01/14

As issue managers in chemical companies lurch from one policy catastrophe to another, seeing public trust disintegrate and policies work against them, now is the time to do some basic thinking. What is needed are more philosophers and fewer lawyers

My dinner with Axel

Posted by The Risk Monger on 19/12/13
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Last month the Risk-Monger was seated at a table with Axel Singhofen, the adviser on health and environment for the Greens in the European Parliament and former toxics campaigner for Greenpeace’s European Unit. Axel spent a good part of the evening telling those around the table his stories about how “industry” had been so wrong over the last decade.

2013 – A Dark Year for Science

In 2013, European science has been weakened by poor publication practices and the infiltration of politics within the production of data. From Séralini to Kortenkamp, activist researchers have used their white coats to whitewash evidence-based policymaking, diminishing the public perception of research. The Risk-Monger fears the politicisation of science will only get worse.

Who Made me Fat? The Usual Suspects

Posted by The Risk Monger on 03/12/13
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We hear the warnings every day: Obesity rates exploding. Diabetes epidemic looming. Lifestyle and diet crisis will cut life expectancy rates. And of course: The fast food industry is making killer profits while killing us! Did the food industry make me fat?

Typhoon Haiyan – A Human Story

Typhoon Haiyan did not teach us a lesson on climate change, nor to respect the wrath of God. Rather, it showed us nature at its worst, and humanity at its best.

The Death of Dialogue

The Risk-Monger spoke at a stakeholder dialogue event organised by PlasticsEurope. Why is industry the only actor trying to engage and reach out to other stakeholders (in keeping with the European Commission’s ideal expressed in the 2001 White Paper on Governance)? Can you have a dialogue when activists are attacking your right to be a player in the process? In my enclosed speech base document, I told them that their public trust has been eroded because they are too nice and too tolerant towards the activist attacks.

Anti-Social Media

The Risk-Monger has seen a lot of narrow, myopic thinking finding reaffirmation on social media sites. As prejudiced thinking surrounds itself in silos that give comfort and support, dialogue and consensus-building suffers. In that spirit, the Risk-Monger has started micro-blogging on Facebook to further reinforce his bad ideas.

My Sperm is Fine – The Myth of Endocrine Disruption

A recent 16 year study taking 5000 samples of blood and sperm from young males entering the Danish military from two towns (using the best available analytical technology) found no decrease in sperm counts or evidence of endocrine disruption. The researchers chose not to publish their findings. Why not? That is a very good question.

It’s about Innovation – Deal with it! An open letter to Corporate Europe Observatory

Dear CEO, I am really ready to give up. I have written to you, and about you, many times hoping to get you to see things more objectively. I have even offered to come to your offices (at no charge) and explain to your staff what it is like to work in a company. I can only conclude that you are not interested in listening to anyone you might not agree with. Thus I have resorted to writing you this open letter.