Who is a scientist? Discerning activist science from credible science

Not all scientists follow standard practices or operate according to agreed upon codes of conduct. Some are motivated by other ambitions. How can we determine who a credible scientist is? Is the science proposed by politically motivated and very vocal activists the best available evidence? Without a chief scientific adviser, how do we know?

Greenpeace: Pushing the limits of PR into dangerous waters

Posted by The Risk Monger on 17/11/14
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Greenpeace risked the lives of its volunteers this weekend, leading to a 23-year-old woman being taken to hospital when Spanish authorities tried to stop their attack on an oil installation. Greenpeace has to learn to stop promoting acts of “environmental heroism” among its young recruits and then putting their lives in danger for cheap PR stunts.

Europe without a Chief Scientific Adviser? Oh Dear!

Today is a sad day for the European Union. After a clever and persistent lobbying campaign, Corporate Europe Observatory and the Green 10 have succeeded in removing the post of a Chief Scientific Adviser. There is no longer a safety mechanism within the European Commission to ensure, better, more evidence-based policymaking.

Why I am proud to be a climate sceptic!

Posted by The Risk Monger on 04/11/14
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I, the Risk-Monger, am a climate sceptic. There, I said it. I came out and it is a relief.

Supply Chain Shame

Supply chains are hardly the source of innovation and product development. As the soft spot of industry competition and dirty tactics, the lack of cooperation and coordination along the supply chain signify industry weakness and opportunity for others. It will only worsen.

Ebola: Scary? Yes! Significant? No!

While the latest outbreak of Ebola is certainly a tragedy, its use by the media and political activists is sadly opportunistic. This crisis should provide the opportunity for us to consider fast-tracking development programmes in these poor West African countries.

The “Save the Bees” Ban: Failed Crops and another Precautionary Fail: Who is to Blame?

The recent precautionary ban on neonicotinoid pesticides to save the bees has gone badly wrong in less than a year. Oilseed rape crops are being devastated and Member States are now allowing neonics to be used as emergency measures. Farmers and scientists had warned anyone who would listen, but no one in the European Commission was interested in dialogue. Remember the basic maxim: Never outsource policy-making to campaign-driven activists.

The Revolving Door Turns in Both Directions

Posted by The Risk Monger on 11/09/14
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As the new Commission team sets up in Brussels, the Risk-Monger would like to take the opportunity to congratulate those who have served the European Union over the past years. Many of them will take up positions in the private sector. Good on them!!!

In Praise of Anne Glover

As activists along the halls of the Mundo-B building smell blood and put their PR machines into high gear, a bit of rationality should be restored to the question of the role of the Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission. It is high time to acknowledge the great work that Dr Anne Glover has done. In short, high-level advice must be given to the president in confidence by a single individual.

The sorry state of the Risk-Monger’s liver

The Risk-Monger sincerely hopes this is the last time he will ever have to blog on the irresponsible antics of the activist campaigner cum journalist, Stéphane Horel. Quite simply, his liver cannot take much more.

The need for a European Transparency Registry … FOR JOURNALISTS!

This week, as a known activist and anti-industry lobbyist releases a “documentary” where she pretends to be a journalist, we see a good illustration of the need for a mechanism to separate the real journalists from the predators. Like lobbyists, journalists should have a transparency registry so innocent policy-makers and industry representatives can communicate in good faith, without deception and ulterior motives.

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.