Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Canadian economist Mark Jaccard is falsely described as a Nobel laureate in the headline of a press release – and then on the front page of a newspaper.
Last week, Canadian economist Mark Jaccard was falsely described as a Nobel laureate in two headlines. The original didn’t appear above a news story. It wasn’t written by a rushed editor thousands of miles away from the action and sincerely unaware of the nuances and niceties of the matter.
Rather, the headline originated in a press release issued with forethought and deliberation by Hoggan & Associates. (My recent post, Public Relations Firms & Climate Change, discussed PR specialist James Hoggan – who is both president of Hoggan & Associates and chairman of the David Suzuki Foundation.)
On that day, a MarketWire press release was distributed far and wide. In addition to making the Nobel claim in its headline, the release contained this sentence near the bottom:
Professor Jaccard has worked on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since the 1990s and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. [bold added]
I’m taking deep breaths here, and exhaling slowly. First of all, Jaccard’s contribution to the IPCC process is not a large one. Last year, I wrote about him claiming to have “won the Nobel Peace Prize” in connection with a statement explaining why he intended to engage in civil disobedience against coal trains.
After some investigation, I observed that I could find no trace of his involvement in either the IPCC’s 2001 or 2007 reports. Instead, one needed to go “all the way back to 1993-1996” to locate his contribution.
The IPCC was awarded half the Peace Prize in 2007 (it was shared with Al Gore) and Jaccard appears to have re-engaged afterward.
His name appears in the 2011 Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation as a lead author for a chapter titled Policy, Financing and Implementation. 56 other people also contributed to that chapter.
I therefore concluded:
What it boils down to is that Jaccard seems to believe that:
- a 1/23rd contribution to one IPCC chapter (1993-1996)
- a 1/24th contribution to a second IPCC chapter (1993-1996)
- and a 1/57th contribution to a third IPCC chapter (2008-2011)
is somehow equivalent to having won a Nobel Peace Prize as a result of his own brilliance, courage, and tenacity.
Since I penned those words something of vital importance has occurred. The IPCC itself has issued a statement declaring unequivocally that the individuals who helped write its reports are not Nobel laureates. Released last November, it declares:
The prize was awarded to the IPCC as an organization, and not to any individual associated with the IPCC. Thus it is incorrect to refer to any IPCC official, or scientist who worked on IPCC reports, as a Nobel laureate or Nobel Prize winner [bold added; backed up here]
It beggars belief that Jaccard and his PR firm have no knowledge of that five-month-old IPCC statement. They are both active, ongoing participants in the climate debate.
But the ruse worked, didn’t it? I’m advised that the front page of the print edition of the Calgary Herald last Thursday (the day following Jaccard’s testimony) included the headline: [Premier] Redford challenges Nobel winner in D.C.
The public has been profoundly misled. By Jaccard. By Hoggan & Associates. By Darcy Henton, the journalist who wrote the story. And by the unknown Herald editor who could have determined in 10 seconds flat that Jaccard is not a Nobel recipient by typing his name into a search box over at NobelPrize.org.
Last year Jaccard merely looked sleazy. He was guilty of exaggerating his credentials in an unseemly manner. He was casually claiming to be a Nobel winner in order to magnify, enlarge, and enhance his own importance.
This year, by being party to a press release in which that false claim appears in the headline, he looks like the least trustworthy economist on staff at Simon Fraser University.