Environment

"FriendsOfScience" Organization Do Not Fucking Love Science

June 9, 2014 | by Lisa Winter

Photo credit: Via Hemant Mehta, Patheos.com

A billboard in Calgary reads: “The sun is the main driver of climate change. Not you. Not CO2.” It was funded by the poorly-named group FriendsofScience.org (which I'll come back to later).

The billboard’s message takes aim at the idea of anthropogenic climate change or any possible effects of greenhouse gasses. Allow me to state outright, in no uncertain terms, that this claim does not represent the vast majority of scientific data.

The claim that the Sun is chiefly responsible for climate change doesn’t have much merit. Studies have shown that slight fluctuations in solar activity actually don’t affect Earth that much. Of the 1°C the planet has warmed in the last 300 years, a study found that the Sun probably contributed to less than 0.15°C of that. Any data that does point the finger of blame toward the Sun does not fit observational trends as well as humanity’s production of pollution. Claiming that humans and CO2 are not to blame doesn’t comport with the evidence and disagrees with the vast majority of the scientific literature. 

Now, let’s get down to the sponsoring group itself. Friends of Science (FoS) was founded in 2002 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. On their website, they describe claims of anthropogenic influence on the climate as “weak science” and decry public policies founded on that information. They also describe the belief in those causes as “cult indoctrination” and those who support it as “religionists.” On the most basic level, a reputable organization advocating science would not resort to name calling for anyone who disagrees.

There are other clues that FoS isn’t all it claims to be, in the form of receiving money from petroleum companies. In 2006, Charles Montgomery published an exposé for Globe and Mail, illustrating the money to be made and the political power to be had in perpetuating the rumor that the scientific community hasn’t come to a consensus. If voters aren’t confident in the science, they can be persuaded. Most importantly, there’s no way to regulate what the claims of people like those from FoS. They can spread as many fallacies as they want, and there’s not a lot that can be done about it.

FoS releases articles describing current research in climate change, and they may speak to groups or get on TV, but it isn’t put through the scrutiny of peer review. That review process is a critical part of scientific integrity, but is lacking in the claims of FoS. It’s a lot easier to say whatever you want when nobody is checking your work over to ensure it is accurate or done in good faith.

At the end of the day, which group seems like the one with the agenda? The diverse group of the majority of scientists from around the world who collect and interpret data under limited budgets and who just so happen to agree on several major points? Or the group with ties to the petroleum industry that admits to pushing a particular slant on scientific data that is advocating against environmentally-responsible policy, which would hurt said petroleum industry?

This billboard’s content is complete nonsense.

[Hat tip: Hemant Mehta, Patheos.com]

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