Environmental activist groups should not be allowed anywhere near scientific research. Such groups have a set of beliefs which will almost invariably skew any such research in which they are involved – whether intentionally or inadvertently.
WWF Australia’s web site sets out its policy with regard to climate change:
Today, because of greenhouse gas pollution, the planet is heating up at a much faster rate than ever before and our oceans are becoming more acidic. Temperature rises can appear small, but small increases translate into big changes for the world’s climate and natural environment.
Hotter days, more severe storms, floods, snowfalls, droughts, fire and higher sea levels are expected in the foreseeable future. These changes threaten jobs, agricultural production, water supplies, industries, human lives and, ultimately, the survival of species and entire ecosystems. Scientists predict that a global temperature rise of close to 2°C (above pre-industrial levels) could result in 25% of the Earth’s animals and plants disappearing because they can’t adapt fast enough. (source)
Leaving aside the obvious errors in those paragraphs, in the view of the WWF, there is no room for doubt. Humans are to blame for climate change and we must do something to stop it. The science is settled, and the debate is over. WWF Australia also strongly supports the “Say Yes” campaign for domestic action on climate change, with links on its home page. There is no ambiguity: WWF has a very rigid political and environmental agenda.
So how can you expect such an organisation to be impartial when assisting with or carrying out scientific research, which, by its very nature, should be impartial and apolitical? There will be little or no incentive to consider the possibility that man’s influence is less than they already “know” to be the case.
We have seen the close links between WWF and the IPCC exposed (see here), which severely damages the credibility and impartiality of the IPCC’s reports, and today we have another doom-laden report, liberally sprinkled with alarming imagery:
The Greenland ice sheet can experience extreme melting even when temperatures don’t hit record highs, according to a new analysis by Dr. Marco Tedesco, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at The City College of New York. His findings suggest that glaciers could undergo a self-amplifying cycle of melting and warming that would be difficult to halt.
Professor Tedesco likens the melting process to a speeding steam locomotive. Higher temperatures act like coal shoveled into the boiler, increasing the pace of melting. In this scenario, “lower albedo is a downhill slope,” he says. The darker surfaces collect more heat. In this situation, even without more coal shoveled into the boiler, as a train heads downhill, it gains speed. In other words, melting accelerates. (source)
Sounds pretty dramatic. But what do we read at the very end?
The World Wildlife Fund is acknowledged for supporting fieldwork activities.
I am not making any suggestion of wrongdoing, or that WWF’s contribution to this work was anything other than entirely proper. What I am suggesting, however, is that not only should science be impartial and apolitical, it should be seen to be impartial and apolitical. There must be a level playing field and consistent standards applied to the involvement of advocacy and activist groups in scientific research. If it’s OK for WWF to be involved in the preparation of an alarmist report about Greenland ice sheets, it should also be OK for an oil company to assist with a report that challenges the consensus position.
That is clearly not the situation we find ourselves in today, which is more like “WWF – good, Exxon – evil.”
So, here’s the deal. Either vested interests (whether consensus or sceptic) should exclude themselves from involvement in scientific research altogether, or both sides must be treated equally. It has to be one or the other.