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Scientific Alliance

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Learn more from the Center for Media and Democracy's research on climate change.

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

In 2001, Foresight Communications helped launch the Scientific Alliance which claims to offer a rational scientific approach to the environmental debate "in response to the growing concern that the debate on the environment has been distorted by extreme pressure groups". The Scientific Alliance is a UK-based organisation of industry-friendly experts which states that it is "committed to rational discussion and debate on the challenges facing the environment today" [2], and populated by many of Britain's most prominent biotechnology enthusiasts and climate change sceptics. The last of it's key principles states "Aims to ensure that proposed environmental policy is based on actual environmental damage, not speculation" [1]

The website of the Scientific Alliance seems designed to downplay any sense of extremism. Its colours are muted. The prose style is generally measured and its logo combines a microscope with a pair of scales. However, a careful reading of the views it projects reveals something less than balance. The Alliance is frequently critical of the scientific consensus on issues that do not fit with that agenda - for example, climate change. It is anti-environmental, anti-organic and pro-GM and pro-nuclear power.

Origins

According to The Scotsman, the Scientific Alliance was originally set up by quarryman and director of the British Aggregates Association, Robert Durward, and political consultant Mark Adams.[3]. (British Aggregates Association is another client of Foresight Communications). Durward says he is "a businessman who is totally fed up with all this environmental stuff... much of which is unjustified, such as the climate change levy. We also have the aggregates tax, which will put the UK quarry industry out of business." [4]

According to The Scotsman, Durward has spoken out on many issues, including the 'witch-hunt' against drunk drivers, the 'media-fuelled circus of Kyoto', and the 'bluster emanating from the collective witch-hunt referred to kindly as the green movement'. He has also written,'Perhaps it is now time for Tony Blair to try the "fourth way": declare martial law and let the army sort out our schools, hospitals, and roads as well. Who knows, they might even manage to put the 'great' back into Britain.'[http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?id=83662003&tid=733

The Scientific Alliance's old phone number was also the contact telephone for both the British Aggregates Association and Cloburn quarry in Lanarkshire. The domain name for the Scientific Alliance was initially registered to Cloburn quarry. though this was changed in 2002. Two years after its launch The Scotsman newspaper reported that on contacting the Alliance to ask about Durward's role, 'after some uncertainty, the switchboard it shares with a number of other firms denied any knowledge of Mr Durward's existence. Matthew Drinkwater, the one person responding to calls to its offices, could also be contacted by ringing the offices of Foresight Communications.'

The Scientific Alliance are advised by Foresight Communications. The executive handling the Scientific Alliance account is Mark Adams OBE, who was a private secretary for parliamentary affairs at No. 10 for nearly four years. He also worked as private secretary to Tony Blair for six months after the 1997 election.[5]Adams has subsequently gone on to become Director.

Conferences

The alliance has organised a series of conferences along with other corporate front groups. In November 2002 it organised a conference on GM called Fields of the Future. The conference chairman was Lord Taverne of Sense about Science, and Tracey Brown of Sense about Science helped to find speakers for the event. In 2003 Bill Durodie, who like Brown is part of the Living Marxism network, joined the Scientific Alliance Advisory Forum. One of the speakers at Fields of the Future was Professor Brian Thomas from Horticultural Research International. An article based on Thomas's speech appeared on both the Scientific Alliance website and that of Spiked, a website run by the former editor of the magazine Living Marxism (later LM). Tracey Brown and Bill Durodie are also Spiked/LM contributors.

In November 2004 the alliance organised a one-day seminar Cautionary Tales: Rethinking Environmental Decision Making and Risk Assessment. Key sessions were "Organic Farming and Pesticides", "Wind Power and its Risks", "Mobile Phones: Public Fear and New Technology" and a series of workshops addressing the precautionary principle.

In December 2004 the alliance teamed up with the George C. Marshall Institute to publish a paper criticising the science of global warming and the Kyoto treaty.

In January 2005 the alliance hosted a half-day conference for climate change sceptics, Apocalypse No - Assessing catastrophic climate change. Speakers included David Bellamy, S. Fred Singer, Richard S. Lindzen, Nils-Axel Mörner, Benny Peiser, and Colin Berry. [6]

Pro-nuclear activities

At the Labour Party Conference in 2004(?), the Alliance held a pro-nuclear meeting with the Nuclear Industry Association[7].

In a Letter to the Editor of the Financial Times, Mia Nybrant of the Scientific Alliance finds "worrying that the British government has chosen to ignore the advice of many eminent scientists on the issue of nuclear policy, including those of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineers". She considers the government's decision to abandon fuel reprocessing evidence of its "neglectful attitude to the nuclear programme and highlights genuine problems with its energy policy". She believes that "a comparatively efficient and emissions-friendly alternative has yet to be discovered". She also laments the "blind faith" of the "anti-nuclear argument" which relies on the "ability of innovation to make renewables economically viable." (Financial Times, September 1, 2003)

Advisory panel

The Scientific Alliance maintains an Advisory Forum which includes the following:

Networks

Some of the key links are as follows:

Martin Livermore of Independent Science Communications, a PR consultant formerly with Dupont, is also a Fellow of the International Policy Network.
Professor Michael T. Wilson of Horticulture Research International is advisor to Lord David Sainsbury's company Diatech and one of the world's leading climate sceptics.
Professor Vivian Moses of King's College London runs the pro-biotech organisation CropGen and is therefore linked to Lexington Communications
Mike Wilson and Vivian Moses are also part of Sense About Science.
Wilson, Moses, Livermore and other leading GM proponents, including Tony Trewavas, ex-living Marxists Bill Durodie and Philip Stott serve on Alliance's Advisory Forum
Dr. Sallie Baliunas, George Marshall Institute Senior Scientist, is also associated with Global Climate Coalition; the right-wing Hoover Institution; ESEF; Anapolis Center, and the American Enterprise Institute. Also the Wise Use group, the Committee for A Constructive Tomorrow and Tech Central Station

Against organic farming

On organic farming, for instance, the Scientific Alliance says:

'Many scientists maintain that the organic movement follows ideological principles which are not supported by science. Indeed, Dr Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, has argued that if all farming were to be organic, productivity would be so low that almost all forests around the world would have to be destroyed to make way for agricultural land. If the whole world went organic, it could support only 3-4 billion people, with a high risk of pest and disease epidemics.'

Organic farming, then, if widely adopted, would bring ecological catastrophe, mass starvation and in all probability pest and disease pandemics. Not mentioned is the fact that, since leaving Greenpeace nearly 20 years ago, Patrick Moore has spent much of his time countering environmental concerns as a paid front man for Canada's lumber industrialists. As well as running a website, the Scientific Alliance regularly organises conferences on environmental issues.


Staff

Current Scientific Advisory Forum (accessed January 10, 2008)


The Director of the Scientific Alliance is Martin Livermore
Scientific Advisory Forum (as of Nov. 2003)[8]

Former member: Philip Stott

Contact

The Scientific Alliance
Golden Cross House
8 Duncannon Street
London, WC2N 4JF, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (020) 7484 5094
Fax:+44 (020) 7484 5100
info@scientific-alliance.org
Web:http://www.scientific-alliance.org/

External links

References

  1. "[1]"