Friday, September 7, 2012

Noble Cause Corruption - Climate Change Science

Noble Cause Corruption also referred to as 'Virtuous Corruption' is a concept originally applied to police who do whatever they think is necessary to get a conviction of someone they think is guilty (the ends justifies the means). It has recently been applied to the deceptions and fraud regarding climate change science but the connection might not be so sound. With climate change it might not necessarily be a 'noble cause' as much as a scam involving the pursuit of personal enrichment, for many involved anyway.

The phrase 'noble cause corruption' is believed to have first been used in the UK by Sir John Woodcock in 1992 when, as Chief Inspector of Constabulary, he was attempting to explain how miscarriages of justice occur.

Noble cause corruption is a mindset or sub-culture which fosters a belief that the ends justify the means. Noble cause corruption is a police crime in which police officers violate legal or ethical standards in pursuit of what they perceive to be the benefit of society at large.

An example of this is when police might justify fitting up people they "know" to be guilty, but for whom they can't muster forensic evidence that would satisfy a jury.

This mindset has expanded into many areas of contention including climate change science.

"The Climategate revelations opened the door to a frighteningly careless segment of the scientific world in which top climate researchers lose their raw data, "homogenize" data using non-validated computer programs, and resist FOI requests. Some of these scientists accept the precepts of "post-normal science". The late Steven Schneider expressed the basic philosophy of "post-normal science" when he said, "we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. . . . Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest."

The book written by Ansley Kellow - Science and Public Policy: The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science.

This book argues that the virtual nature of much environmental science and the application of non-science principles such as the precautionary principle facilitate the virtuous corruption of environmental science. Drawing upon examples from conservation biology and diversity Aynsley Kellow illustrates that the problem is more widespread than this area alone would suggest and is common in the important field of climate science. He argues the importance of reliable science as the basis for environmental policy and management also proposing that a purely scientific basis for public policy is a chimera - there is rarely a linear relationship between science and public policy, with scientific understanding leading to only one policy option.

'Crusading environmentalists won't like this book. Nor will George W. Bush. Its potential market lies between these extremes. It explores the hijacking of science by people grinding axes on behalf of noble causes. "Noble cause corruption" is a term invented by the police to justify fitting up people they "know" to be guilty, but for whom they can't muster forensic evidence that would satisfy a jury. Kellow demonstrates convincingly, and entertainingly, that this form of corruption can be found at the centre of most environmental debates. Highly recommended reading for everyone who doesn't already know who is guilty.' - John Adams, University College London, UK

(also read reviews and comments for author discussion)

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