Matthew Nisbet: This is an agenda setting throw down!

I adore Matthew Nisbeth’s research but he is off his rocker in this comment he posted on his blog and that he presented in an interview on The World. I did not see him at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York, and this is not the first time I catch researchers I respect in their lack of actual grounding in facts before they present research on an issue.

At the first ever research conference I attended as a graduate student, I attended a panel on the ethical issues on plant biotechnology. I won’t mention names, but some old geezer who had not left his ivory tower for quite a few years was talking about the problem of having one genetically modified plant growing all around the world. He was a bit shocked to find out that the GMO trait was bred into more than 70,000 local varieties, because the corn that will grow in the Midwest will not grow in India quite as well. But that is the reporter in me, I call people, and I ask what they actually do.

A communications professor whom I adore got into my car when I gave her a ride to a conference, and she saw a name tag from The Heritage Foundation with my name on it hanging from my rear view mirror (yeah, it’s a quirky habit, but good for conversations). She said, “but Lene, aren’t those conservatives?” Hell yeah they are, and I don’t like them much for it, but every year they put on a conference where you meet everything from the pro-life think tanks from St. Louis (Phyllis Schlafly & Co.) to the hippie libertarian lawyers from San Francisco. At one of these conferences I got to have lunch with the guys whot organize some of the bioconservative groups to which Nisbeth is comparing the Heartland Institute. I need to know those groups; it is my job and my research passion. And trust me, Nigel S. Cameron, David Prentice, or their left-wing ally Wesley Smith would never publish any of my work, but Joe Bast would.

Nisbeth is off his rocker, because he is applying theory as a map without checking the terrain. I am a reporter first, communications researcher second. I call the people who I don’t think will ever talk to me again, and ask them to show me their way (I might have my facts wrong, after all).

So maybe, just maybe, I should challenge the guy to put on a climate change panel for AJMC in August, because I know that I have access to enough data to prove that his point in the World segment is doggone wrong, and I think the coverage from the conference proves it. There is no way Heartland’s view of climate change is the predominant framework on this issue, no matter how right those scientists and policy wonks are in their assessment of the consequences and lack of scientific justification for current public policy on the issue.