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Of bureaucratic capture

23 Sep 2020 | OP ED Watch

Now there’s a headline to repel readers. But the process by which a small dedicated group willing to work the internal machinery can take control of an organization, or at least parts of its publicity apparatus, matters because one argument put forward in favour of climate alarmism is that umpteen professional groups have endorsed it. It makes it sound like that 97% thing again: the members conferred and of their own free will went “RAAAAHR” about climate. So we’re intrigued to see David Wojick’s challenge to a similar initiative within IChemE, the Institution for Chemical Engineers. A small group inside is pushing a wacky climate statement that, they hope, will be uttered on behalf of over 35,000 scientists and professionals in about 100 countries. If it is, it will be hailed as proof that they agree with it. But can they stop it even if they try? Let’s find out.

Wojick hopes so. He quotes the opening paragraph that “Climate science is established – global climate change is upon us, exacerbated by human activities. IChemE accepts the veracity of the science and its conclusions published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). To avoid irreparable social, economic and environmental damage, it is essential that we accelerate our efforts to decarbonize our economic systems and stabilize the levels of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere, if we are to have any chance of limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C, beyond which catastrophic consequences are more likely….” and observes, just for starters, that “Nowhere does the IPCC suggest that 1.5 degrees of warming (with one degree already on their books) is a threshold to catastrophe. In fact the Paris Accord target is still 2.0 degrees.”

Wojick notes that the Climate Intelligence Group has sent a letter that “challenges IChemE to actually do the scientific and engineering analysis needed to back up a reasonable climate statement.” But he also points out a potential problem along the lines of the deniers-funded-by-Koch jeer except that it has some justification. The opening paragraph concludes “Chemical engineers are uniquely placed to take action in the industries that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions to arrest and reverse the damage we humans are doing to the life support systems of our single, shared planet.” Indeed. There’s a gravy train out there. And by endorsing, or at least not opposing, this statement on their behalf, chemical engineers position themselves to cash in on billions and billions in government-funded climate initiatives from alternative energy to mitigation to that cushiest of cushy gigs, consulting.

Bureaucratic capture works that way, appealing to people’s ill-informed idealism and decency, exploiting their well-informed distaste for bureaucratic infighting and dangling material rewards in front of them. No wonder it’s hard to stop. But it’s worth stopping, and we hope IChemE will do so in its own case.

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