Natural Resources Stewardship Project

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Learn more from the Center for Media and Democracy's research on climate change.

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Natural Resources Stewardship Project (NRSP), a Canadian non-profit group, including a number of leading climate change sceptics, was launched October 12, 2006. [1] The website for the site, nrsp.com, was taken down in March 2008[1] and the group now appears to be defunct.

The NRSP has been exposed as being controlled by energy industry lobbyists.[2][3]

NRSP describes itself as a group that "will promote responsible environmental stewardship through:

  • broad-based media, government and public relations;
  • consumer education and advocacy;
  • private initiative and the promotion of private property rights;
  • market-based approaches; and
  • sensible and efficient legislative and regulatory frameworks, particularly at the federal level." [2]

NRSP's Genealogy

The NRSP maintains it has no direct connection with the Calgary-based group of climate change skeptics the "Friends of Science" [3] (FoS), even though the FoS's most outspoken member, Tim Ball, is now the Chairman of the NRSP. With the exact same purpose and goals, and most of the same scientific allies and members as the Friends of Science, the NRSP is viewed by many as a reincarnation of the FoS, after the FoS was "outed" by The Globe and Mail newspaper in August 2006 as being partly funded by the oil and gas industry. [4].

The NRSP project is led by Executive Director, Tom Harris, who, in November 2002, while in the employ of the public relations firm APCO Worldwide, organized a press conference titled "International Climate Experts Speak Out Against Climate Change Myths." [5]. The press conference was sponsored by Talisman Energy Inc. and Imperial Oil (ExxonMobil's Canadian subsidiary). [6] Many of the same scientists and advisors now linked to the NRSP were present, including Tim Ball.

NRSP describes its "first priority project" as being "Understanding Climate Change: A proactive grassroots campaign to counter the Kyoto Protocol and other greenhouse gas reduction schemes while promoting sensible climate change policy." [7]

Incorporation and Canadian "Letters Patent" and Energy Lobbyists

The Canadian Federal Corporations (CFC) Data Online for the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, Corporation #4326741 BN #818837072RC0001, reports that the Natural Resources Stewardship Project was registered effective "2005/10/21" under the Canada Corporations Act - Part II.

According to the Department of Industry, Canada Corporations Act, the Natural Resources Stewardship Project of "Toronto, Ont." was granted letters patent number 432674-1 on "21/10/2005".—Government Notices published December 3, 2005, in the Canada Gazette [8]

NRSP's original address was 263 Roncesvalles Avenue Suite 2, Toronto, Ontario M6R2L9. [9] This is the same address as that for the High Park Advocacy Group, which is located at Suite 4.

As of "March 31 of the year of filing", the three directors were Timothy Egan, Julio Lagos, and Rohit Gupta. However, a "Notice to Clients" on CFC's webpage for the NRSP states: "Please note that directors residential addresses are no longer available online. The request for this information can be made in writing directly to Corporations Canada by: E-mail: corporationscanada AT ic.gc.ca or Fax: (613) 941-0601 or 941-5789. [10]

According to research conducted by Jim Hoggan for DeSmogBlog:

  • Timothy Egan is "the president of the High Park Advocacy Group, and a registered lobbyist for the Canadian Gas Association and the Canadian Electricity Association."
  • Julio Legos is "the High Park Group’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, whose biography says, 'Julio’s practice at HPG is focused on federal and provincial energy and environmental law and policy, particularly as they affect Canadian industry.'"

Personnel

Executive

  • Dr. Tim Ball, Chairman, resigned from the Science Advisory Board of FoS to head up NRSP (although he has since returned to the FoS Board). His credentials as a climatologist were challenged in an April 23, 2006, letter to the editor of the Calgary Herald by a Professor at the University of Lethbridge, Dr. Dan Johnson. Ball has filed a statement of claim against Dr. Johnson, the University of Lethbridge and the Calgary Herald.

Science Advisory Committee

The following are members of the group's Science Advisory Committee:

  • Dr. Ian Clark, Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa
  • Dr. Tim Patterson, Professor of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, Ottawa
  • Dr. Vincent Gray, Expert Reviewer for the IPCC and author of The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of 'Climate Change 2001, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Dr. Fred Michel, Director, Institute of Environmental Science and Associate Professor of Earth Sciences, Carleton University
  • Professor Bob Carter, Australia, Research Professor at James Cook University (Queensland) and the University of Adelaide (South Australia)

According to NRSP's October 12, 2006, launching announcement, the original Science Advisory board also included Tad Murty and Sallie L. Baliunas.

NRSP Chairman Tim Ball, Baliunas and Patterson and are all members of the Friends of Science's Science Advisory Board, while Murty is a former FoS Board member.

Allied Experts

NRSP lists as "allied experts" a number of climate change sceptics from North America, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Germany, England and Sweden. [20] These experts included Paul Copper, Madhav Khandekar, Rob Scagel, Tad Murty, Garth Paltridge, Ian Plimer, Gary Sharp, Lee Gerhard, Fred Singer, David Legates, Nils-Axel Mörner, Richard Lindzen, Robert Balling, Al Pekarek, Wibjörn Karlén, Peter Dietze, Hans Erren, Hans Labohm, David Wojick, Art Robinson, Hugh Ellsaesser, Howard Hayden, Zbigniew Jaworowski, and Richard Courtney.

NRSP Activities

The NRSP has pursued its "grassroots" campaign on climate change through online and print articles, letters to the editor, open-line radio appearances and a 2007 radio campaign in Canada and the U.S. The group also organized the Bali open letter signed by 100 climate change skeptics and published in the National Post. [21][22]

Bali open letter to U.N.

On Dec. 13, 2007, towards the end of the U.N. climate change conference held in Bali, indonesia, the Financial Post section of the National Post published an open letter to the UN signed by over a hundred climate change skeptics under the title "Don't fight, adapt" [23], along with the list of signatories [24]. The letter casts doubt on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "hypothesis of dangerous human-caused global warming", and argues that current climate change is within natural variations.

In an accompanying commentary by FP editor Terence Corcoran, headlined "A new call to reason," Corcoran describes this letter as having been "signed by more than 100 specialists" and having been "assembled under Robert M. Carter, a professor at the Marine Geophysical Laboratory of James Cook University in Australia." [25]. Corcoran did not mention the role of the NRSP, nor the fact that Carter is one of the NRSP's scientific advisors.

In the runup to the Bali conference, an e-mail was circulated by the NRSP soliciting potential signatories of the open letter. On Dec. 6, 2008, a week before the publication of the open letter, the text of e-mail was posted at canadafreepress.com, freedominion.ca and bogotafreeplanet.com. The text has been removed from the Canadian websites, but remained for some time at bogatafreeplanet.com. [26] That text is now also missing, but the original web page has been archived at DeepClimate.org [27]

The NRSP e-mail clearly clearly suggests that a deal had already been struck to have the letter published in the National Post: "It is intended that this [open letter to the UN] ... will also be published by a major media outlet towards the end of the current UN Conference on Climate Change in Bali,Indonesia."

The e-mail also states that the open letter is "co-ordinated" by both NRSP scientific advisor Carter, and NRSP executive director Harris. In fact, all five of the NRSP Scientific Advisory Committee are also signatories, as are most of the NRSP's 25 "allied scientists." [28]

After the letter was published in the National Post Dec. 13, the NRSP sent out a press release on the Canada News Wire. The press release does not contain a text of the open letter, but instead links to the National Post online version of the open letter [29].

On January 2, 2008, a SourceWatch contributor sent an e-mail to National Post editor-in-chief Douglas Kelly, advising him of the above facts concerning NRSP involvement in the Bali open letter. This e-mail goes on to state:

"From all this, two reasonable inferences may be drawn:

"a) Terence Corcoran played a key role in an expertly organized and well funded public relations campaign designed to discredit the work of the IPCC and indeed the entire UNFCCC process.

"b) Even worse, Corcoran deliberately witheld information about the role of the NRSP in the open letter, and misled National Post readers about the true provenance of the letter." [30]

The e-mail asserts that Corcoran's behaviour "is a clear breach of journalistic ethics and damages the credibility of the National Post" and exhorts Kelly to publish a full correction and to consider appropriate sanctions against Corcoran including suspension or dismissal.

To date, there has been no response or correction from the National Post.

Funding

According to an October 16, 2006, CanWest News article, journalist Peter O'Neill asked Harris about who financially backs the NRSP. O'Neill reported that, according to Harris, "a confidentiality agreement doesn't allow him to say whether energy companies are funding his [the NRSP] group." [31] Subsequently, Harris stated that there was no "confidentiality agreement". He also insisted that "it is normal for non-profit entities like NRSP to protect the privacy of supporters by not publicizing contributions." [32]

"This is necessary given the nature of the issues we address and the fact that most people do not want to be harassed by lobbyists for support of our activities," he wrote in an edit to an earlier version of this article. [33]

However, Harris declined to indicate any instance of where disclosure of funders had led to harassment or why secrecy of corporate contributions was appropriate.

Contact Details

Current

Dr. Timothy F. Ball, PhD, Environmental Consultant
Professor of Climatology (Ret'd)
Chairman, NRSP
205-27 Songhees Road
Victoria, British Columbia, V9A 7M6
Web: http://www.nrsp.com/

Previously stated

P.O. Box 23013
Ottawa, Ontario K2A 4E2
Phone: 613 234-4487
FAX: 613 234-3325
Email: tom.harris AT nrsp.com

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch Resources

External articles

Profiles

NRSP News Releases and Correspondence

Articles by NRSP Staff & Members

Articles & Commentary on the NRSP

2005
2006
2007

References