The Risk-Monger

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?

 

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Comments

  1. A set of idiots to say the very least.

    But just another death knell in the coffin of creating a dynamic economic EU. These people running the EU just have no understanding of the power of science, technology, innovation and engineering. But one can clearly understand this as all are bureaucrats who have no knowledge or understanding how innovation and those who create it provides a dynamic economic bloc. Indeed, they have not a clue what innovation is and how it is the fuel of economic dynamism. ‘Why the ‘Innovation Chain’ is so Important for the Future World and Why things have to Change for Humanity’ – http://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/why-innovation-chain-is-so-important.html

    We have to change the mentality of our EU leaders and to do these we have to get far greater creative minds in the driving seat. They are a bit like Blatter in comparison , all bluff and talk but a destroyer of the FIFA. Let’s hope that we can get rid of the current incumbents but if anything like FIFA, they will be there until they wish to go and where this is definitely no good for any economic prospects in the future

    1. Thank you for your comment David and the link – interesting moreso as today I had a conversation with several business students of mine. We were talking about how to spot opportunities. I told them, more importantly, that they have to learn to make opportunities (this happens more easily when one is hungry). As for those in Brussels, well, they are pretty well fed and prefer to confront and challenge opportunities. I wrote a blog a while back called Brussels, a town where nobody works to address this problem – I think it is in line with your views that innovation via regulation is a bit of smug joke.

  2. Well said, Risk Monger! Anne Glover did a fantastic job, and the post was a vital one. Now the upper ranks of the Commission will base decisions ENTIRELY on lobby pressure, without a clue about the disasters the policies might cause.
    The green GMO activists who made that nasty personal campaign against her will live to regret it. Now useful climate change legislation is doomed because climate policy will be decided by competing lobby groups looking for subsidies, rather than the most cost-effective way to stop climate change.
    Since I guess Juncker is unlikely to u-turn on this, the best he could do now to mitigate his disaster is to at least elevate the Commission’s own Joint Research Centre to a proper policy role, instead of its present role as a servant of the policy DGs who ignore it when they don’t agree with constantly appeasing the lobbies.

  3. Well said also Climate Guy.

    The whole political system is controlled behind closed doors by the ultra-powerful corporations. They pull all the strings to the detriment of democracy and all people other than the super-rich et al. That is why our political decisions are overwhelmingly wrong and biased towards the bottom-line of the multi-nationals and where according to Forbes a mere 2,000 of them (Global 2000) controlled 51% of the total economic output of the world last year. With such financial power they literally buy and sell politicians at will. The EU is no different and where western governments around the world are destroying the health and livelihoods of the vast majority of the world’s populous. In a very recent article GMOs are killing people – ‘Dramatic Correlation Shown Between GMOs And 22 Diseases’ – http://www.opednews.com/articles/Dramatic-Correlation-Shown-by-Kevin-Zeese-Glyphosate_Gmo_Gmo-Labeling_Monsanto-141119-853.html

    How any politician can let this happen I do not know, other than the old adage states that ultimate power corrupts. Unfortunately that is exactly what we have now got and it does not matter which political bloc gets into power, the corporations always get their way. Indeed just wait and see how the EU/USA push the TTIP through and which will be another disaster for the people of the EU and the USA. Unfortunately not many Europeans or Americans even know or have heard of what the TTIP is ! – ‘The TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) will be an Absolute Disaster for the People of the EU (European Union) and the People of America (USA) in the long-term – We simply have to Vote AGAINST this behind closed doors Transatlantic Trade deal before it is signed up and too late for the People to do anything about it’ – http://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-ttip-transatlantic-trade-and.html

    Things just go from bad to worse.

    1. Thank you for your comments Climate Guy and Dr Hill – and sorry for the delay in uploading your contribution Climate Guy – the non-existent BlogActiv spam filter sends every contribution into the spam folder, unless it is in Bahasa Indonesian (and then I get an email notification for each spam) – it is becoming unworkable.
      My biggest concern is not the absence of science, but the wrong science being used as evidence by decision-makers. Everybody is coming up with some scientific study showing X, Y or Z and there needs to be a filter to judge what is credible science and what is inadequate, poor methodology or politically motivated. That filter is gone now (like my spam filter!) and there is no way for non-scientists in the European Commission to make sense of all the noise. A blog on that is coming.

  4. The Risk Monger

    Your blog is greatly needed (actually vital in a great deal of respects) and I am sure there would be many contributors. Let me know when you have created it?

    Only by fully informed information and evidence based information ‘might’ our political classes think differently, as presently the main soundings are from very narrow minded vested-interests. This is why political decision making is so flawed, it is predominantly wrong and why the other side of the coin is so important to get out to our political decision-makers.

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