November 13, 2014
Today is a sad day for the European Union. After a clever and persistent lobbying campaign, Corporate Europe Observatory and the Green 10 (the umbrella group of environmental NGOs) 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. The activist foxes have free reign on the hen-house of EU policy.
First, a word of thanks to Anne Glover who has served Europe exceptionally well (especially given the high number of morons running around Brussels taking shots at her). With little budget and no permanent staff, she defined a role and spread the need for science to support policy across Europe. As a voice for reason and science, I could not imagine anyone else being able to find the right tone and pitch. Professor Glover, you will be sadly missed, although I hope that you continue to communicate and defend science (and feel free to openly share what you think about some of the activist scientists).
Secondly, OK, I, and others who feel that science and reason is what keeps Europe from sliding back into the Dark Ages, were unable to convince Juncker that having a scientist near his office was a good idea. We lost! So congratulations to the army of activists who lobbied successfully to keep recognised, credible science out of policy. As I said on the Risk-Monger Facebook page, you “don’t know shit” about science, facts or reality, but you know how to win campaigns. You now will be free to build a Europe around your Flat-Earth based ideology with little resistance from thinking people.
And what will this new, greener Europe be like without a science adviser? There will be a lot of “facts” being discussed by people with loud voices who claim to be scientists. One of the key roles of the Chief Scientific Adviser was to identify who were credible scientists voicing mainstream positions, and who were the politically motivated activist scientists who start from dogma and search for evidence to support their views or discredit their enemies. Some examples:
- When a group of activists campaigning against chemicals wrote the Berlaymont Declaration urging Europe to ban all so-called endocrine disrupting chemicals, the Chief Scientific Adviser could look at the list of signatories and decipher that most of them were not scientists, credible specialists or using reliable sources for their arguments. Non-scientists would not be able to easily recognise how this slick PR was deceptive.
- When Gilles-Eric Séralini cooked the research parameters to produce GMO-fed rats with huge tumours – the Chief Scientific Adviser was able to stand up to the hype (a fixed press conference, dramatic movie and campaign vitriol) and declare how unscientific the research had been. It took the rest of the scientific community a bit longer to realise this was a charlatan at work and retract the publication. How would non-scientists in the Commission be able to understand this?
- When Friends of the Earth campaigner, David Gee, finally got his Late Lessons from Early Warnings II to press, somebody in Brussels had to quietly calm the hysteria. It takes a scientist to recognise that most of the chapters were not written by credible scientists and promptly bin it. OK, this last point is a joke – most everyone in Brussels recognised this as pure activism and of no scientific value.
Without a Chief Scientific Adviser, activist scientists will be free to roam the halls of the Commission and Parliament freely giving their politically tainted advice, invited by Green MEPs and environmental NGOs. As they will be exalted by their activist minions while credible scientists will just shake their heads and go back to work, how will Europeans know the politicised nonsense from the real evidence? Not from industry scientists, the activists already succeeded in ensuring that they will never again be allowed to speak. Dialogue is dead.
Today, Brussels has made itself deaf to reason and science. This is what the activist green NGOs wanted, and this is what they got. They no longer have to listen to someone smarter than them telling them something they do not want to hear.
None of the activists praised their victory on-line (it was also not covered on this news site). Being smug in victory is not a good idea. In calls with contacts in Washington today, my American friends admitted they were baffled by this decision to remove science from policy. My reply: “Stupid people prefer not to be reminded that they are stupid”.
But then again, they won. Maybe we are the stupid ones … or just bitter?