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Grifo’s memo says that the UCS researchers had evaluated the Reason Foundation’s climate change website and concluded that “the foundation’s treatment of climate science was found to be misrepresentative of the scientific consensus.” I do note that the vast majority of the articles at the Foundation’s climate change site deal with climate change policy, not with science. In any case, I invite readers to go to Foundation’s climate change policy site and decide for themselves whether or not the scientific consensus on climate change is misrepresented. I cannot forbear observing that the Union of Concerned Scientists asserts in this study that a hallmark of misrepresenting science is "emphasizing unknowns" while simultaneously "ignoring what is known." Yet this seems to be precisely the strategy that the UCS pursues in its campaign against biotech crops. Perhaps Dr. Grifo, as the Union’s scientific integrity officer, could usefully spend some time getting the UCS to accept that scientific consensus.
The upshot is that a close analysis of this aspect of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ A Climate of Corporate Control report reveals severe shortcomings that do not inspire much confidence in the overall accuracy of the lobbying group's claims. "Follow the money" may be one of the hoariest maxims in journalism, but it's only good advice when the money you're following actually amounts to something.Up
*Update: The Union of Concerned Scientists has sent an email noting that in light of my reporting that they have now corrected their report with respect to claims about General Electric's support of various think tanks. From the email from UCS scientific intergrity officer Francesca Grifo:
I wanted to let you know that we’ve clarified one of the findings in our report, “A Climate of Corporate Control”.
As you pointed out, originally, we counted funds General Electric gave to several non-profit groups through an employee matching gift program. These matching gift programs allow individual employees to choose where their money (and GE’s matching money) go. By contrast, funds from GE and its corporate foundation are directed by company executives. Our updated report removes the matching gifts, which affects our analysis of which climate-engaged groups GE ultimately gave to. We also reviewed the rest of the data related to non-profit group support and found no further need for clarification beyond GE.
We now conclude that GE has only funded non-profit groups that support climate science. Previously, we had concluded they were funding groups that misrepresent climate science, too. However, GE has still taken contradictory actions on climate change overall, including its support for Proposition 23 in California and its membership in and board service to various trade organizations that work against one another on climate change. ...
We have alerted reporters who covered this aspect of our findings and provided them with updated information as well. We will post a blog with a fuller explanation of the update later today.
Well done. The corrected UCS report can be found here.
Now what about getting the UCS to stop its denialism against the scientific consensus with regard to biotech crops?
Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.