Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.

Scientists and Their Petitions

Most of the Alliance of World Scientists 23,000 members DID NOT sign the climate emergency petition. But professional journalists didn’t notice.

Many scientists are now activists. They’re just another flavour of politician. Armed with a particular worldview, they’re willing to do questionable things to advance that worldview – including dragging the good name of science through the mud.

As I’ve explained recently, this isn’t a new phenomenon. It was well underway by the 1970s. Those of us who are aware of this history aren’t likely to get overly excited by the latest 11,000 scientists say it’s time to panic headlines (see here, here, here, and here).

The typical journalist, on the other hand, is a babe in the woods, totally lacking in historical perspective. Every iteration of this very old song gets treated like something fresh and new.

2019’s statement/petition is published in BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Down in the ‘Conclusions’ section we read the following. The bolding has been added by me:

As the Alliance of World Scientists, we stand ready to assist decision-makers in a just transition to a sustainable and equitable future…such transformative change, with social and economic justice for all, promises far greater human well-being…prospects will be greatest if decision-makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency…

Nope, these people don’t have a messiah complex. If all of humanity drops whatever it’s doing and follows their advice, they won’t just save us from the climate emergency. They promise to toss in universal justice and equity, as well.

They call themselves the Alliance of World Scientists. Signing onto their petition is as easy as clicking a hyperlink that takes you to the Oregon State University website. But Australian commentator Joanne Nova has noticed that two years ago the same Alliance of World Scientists on the same Oregon State website was boasting that more than 15,000 scientists had signed a similar document. That one was pompously titled World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice.

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These are people who make a habit of scaring the kiddies and scolding us grownups.

But let’s pay attention to some numbers for a minute. If 15,000 signed two years ago, but only 11,000 signed now, what happened to the other 4,000? Moreover, the Alliance of World Scientists says it consists of “23,000 subscribing members.” In other words, a majority of its own members – a full 12,000 of them – chose not to sign this latest statement. The news stories didn’t mention that part.

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Here in Canada, Rebel News has produced a skeptical, 23-minute video (embedded at the top of this post). It demonstrates the shallow and credulous manner in which this story was presented to the public. Host Ezra Levant then spends some time examining the purported scientific credentials of many of the Canadians who signed their name to this petition.

One is an occupational therapist. Then there’s the environmental lawyer, the retired family physician, the data analyst employed at a children’s hospital, the post doctoral fellow who studies ‘romantic relationships,’ and the environmental sociologist. A significant percentage of the 11,000 signatures may not, in fact, belong to scientists at all. Certainly not as the public understands that term.

A few days after the story first appeared, follow-up news reports were obliged to admit that Mickey Mouse had signed this petition, as had the fictitious Hogwarts headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. Nevertheless Canada’s Global News did its very best to persuade the public that this was a legitimate exercise. Forget about the “few pranksters” and the “administrative error” that permitted fake signatures, we were told. Nothing at all to see here.

Instead, TV viewers were invited to believe that this petition represents some glorious new idea under the sun. On camera, at 18 seconds into this Global News video, we see Halifax earth scientist Shannon Sterling declare: “finally someone’s doing this.”

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This entry was posted on November 11, 2019 by in activist scientists, media and tagged , , , .
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