London, 16 March: The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) has welcomed Government plans to review and reform the role of scientific advice over fears that scientists hold too much power in policy making.
According to media reports, Government officials have admitted that they “bowed to” scientists too often, rather than appointing a so-called “red team” to challenge their claims, evidence and advice.
The GWPF has been calling for the introduction of scientific ‘Red Teams’ for some time. We welcome the apparent acknowledgment by ministers that red teaming offers elected policy makers significant benefits if they wish to receive the full spectrum of expert advice and quality controlled information.
As European governments and scientific organisations scuffle over claims and counter claims about the AstraZeneca vaccine, the current format of ‘evidence-based science advice’ is facing a momentous crisis of credibility and public trust.
Scientific modelling, warnings and predictions based on widely differing assumptions are now exposed as contradictory and flawed as never before. As a result, institutional science advice is haemorrhaging trust while facing the biggest crisis in modern history.
Politicians cannot duck political decisions and absolve themselves of democratic accountability by declaring themselves as merely following “the science.”
Whether it concerns the pandemic, the environment, energy or vaccines, different scientific views and priorities must be balanced against each other, and against economic, social, and security concerns. This is the very essence of politics and can never be ceded, fully, to politically unaccountable scientists.
For the wellbeing of our democracy, the public should be educated in these matters as scientific opinions are playing an increasingly prominent role in public policy matters.
The coronavirus crisis is causing the biggest economic and scientific crisis since the end of the Second World War. The introduction of institutional red teams into the way science is organised and funded in open societies should be the top priority of a scientific reformation after the end of the Covid-19 crisis,” GWPF director Dr Benny Peiser said.
This kind of scientific paradigm shift will be absolutely essential if we want to learn the most important lessons of the coronavirus disaster.”