Climate Change Deniers Appointed to Top Boards by Harper Government
Posted June 9th, 2009
OTTAWA–In another behind the scenes attack on science, the Conservative government has appointed well-known climate change deniers to key funding agency positions, setting the stage for shutting down much needed research in Canada. The Conservative government continues to be anti-science. We are losing our top researchers to the United States and other countries where the urgent need for research on climate change is recognized.
The Fraser Institute’s Mark Mullins, a critic of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has been appointed to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), joining mathematician Christopher Essex, who calls climate change a myth. Another climate change denier, Harper’s former chief of staff John Weissenberger (who works for Husky Energy in Alberta) was appointed to the board of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. These two funding agencies are a significant source of research monies for academic work on climate change. The very fact that these appointees refuse to acknowledge the scientific consensus surrounding climate change calls into question their competency to sit on these funding boards. Credibility in the scientific community should be an important qualification for deciding which academic studies will be funded.
The Conservative government is becoming known for its record of inserting politics into science. In the spring of 2006, all IPCC material was yanked off of the Environment Canada website and Environment Canada scientists have been muzzled ever since. When the Nobel Prize was awarded to 200 of Canada’s top scientists, the Harper government utterly failed to recognize their achievement. Many climate change related programs have been forced to fold due to funding cuts. The future of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Research is also in jeopardy, as their funding is not being renewed.
The Conservative government’s latest attack on scientific research in Canada is way over the top. Part of the purpose of having independent granting agencies such as NSERC is to insulate the funding of science from political interference. We are missing opportunities, losing scientists, and losing the respect of researchers worldwide.