Julian Morris

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Julian Morris was co-director, with Roger Bate, of the environment and technology programme of the rightwing think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs until 2001. He is now a member of its academic advisory board.[1] Morris has been director of the International Policy Network (IPN) since 2001.[2] Bate was also a co-director at the IPN for a time.[3] Morris is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Buckingham[4].

Contents

Global warming sceptic

In 1994 Morris and Bate wrote a book entitled Global Warming: Apocalypse of Hot Air, which disputed the likelihood of global warming.[5] This was followed in 1997 with a book edited by Morris entitled Climate Change: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom.[6] Both books were published by the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Morris is also among the contributors to an IPN book which attacks the Kyoto protocol. It was edited by Kendra Okonski, IPN's communications director.[7] The book's other contributors include several who connect to Morris and who have been active in the GM debate - Martin Livermore, Barun Mitra and Philip Stott.[8]

Morris argued in an August 2010 article that recent floods in Pakistan and China were unlikely to have been caused by global warming, he cited alternative theories:

Underpinning both the floods in Pakistan and China and the drought in Russia is a change in the usual pattern of the jet stream. Each hemisphere has a polar jet (7-12km above sea level) and a subtropical jet (at 10-16km). In the Northern hemisphere, the polar jet pushes cooler air south and induces rain in mid-latitudes, while the subtropical jet pushes warm air north. But in mid-June, a kink appeared at the intersection, causing warm air to remain further north and east than normal and causing more cold air and rain to fall over northern Pakistan and China.
To make matters far worse, this kink in the jet stream was kept in place by a phenomenon called a blocking event. This kept the Russian heatwave going for nearly two months and massively exacerbated the precipitation in Pakistan and China.
Such blocking events are rare and there is no evidence of links with global warming. However, an explanation has been proposed by Professor Mike Lockwood, an astrophysicist at the University of Reading in the UK, who shows in a recent paper that blocking events in winter are related primarily to solar activity (although he cautiously said in an email to me that he cannot say much (yet) about summer conditions as most of our work to date has been on wintertime which shows relatively strong solar effects in the Eurasian region.). So the culprit is quite possibly the sun, not human emissions of greenhouse gases.

Morris went on to argue that free market solutions would help Pakistan to deal with future environmental disasters, arguing that:

Last week, Pakistan requested that the IMF restructure a US$10bn loan because the floods prevent it meeting the conditions. But Pakistans reliance on Western aid (including these soft loans) has undermined incentives for economic reform. When governments must rely on local taxes rather than taxpayers in foreign countries, they are more strongly motivated to create conditions that generate wealth at home.
At present, Pakistan remains hidebound by restrictions on economic activity. Inefficient and expensive law courts make it difficult to enforce contracts. Restrictions on property make ownership insecure and undermine investment. Employment regulations and corruption make it difficult to operate a formal business, driving economic activity underground, where it cannot be taxed. These factors put Pakistan near the bottom of every ranking of economic freedom and are the main reasons for its weak economy and slow growth.
Instead of relying on foreign aid, governments of poor countries should remove these barriers to enterprise. Then next time they are struck by a natural disaster, people will be better able to cope and far fewer will suffer and die.

Morris attended a New York conference entitled 'Global Warming: Was It Ever Really a Crisis?' alongside Kendra Okonski as representatives of the International Policy Network[9]. The conference was co-sponsored by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which was created by Antony Fisher of the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Atlas network was given $100,000 by ExxonMobil in 2008[10]. The conference was organised by the Heartland Institute who described it as 'the world's largest-ever gathering of global warming sceptics'[11].

Downplaying environmental risks

Morris has also coedited a book with Okonski entitled Environment & Health: Myths & Realities which, according to the IPN's website, illustrates that:

  • "On balance synthetic pesticides are beneficial to humanity..."
  • "The effects of “gender-bending” chemicals -– endocrine disruptors –- on humans have not been established by science, but scientific evidence refuting the idea has been under-reported by the media."
  • "Dietary nitrates (caused by agricultural fertiliser run-off) pose no threat to human health..."
  • "Expenditures to prevent low doses of radiation are unnecessary and a wasteful use of society’s resources, especially since natural radiation levels are far higher and cause no human health problems."
  • "Fears over dioxin poisoning are now totally unjustified..."
  • "Overall human mortality from heat waves caused by global warming is not likely to increase..."
  • "The precautionary principle reflects a general “chemo-phobia” in society..."[12]

Anti-precautionary principle

Morris argues that "The precautionary principle has become an excuse for imposing arbitrary regulations."[13] He has campaigned against the precautionary principle as can be seen in the following publications:[14]

  • Morris, J. (2002), ‘The Relationship between Risk Assessment and the Precautionary Principle,’ Toxicology, Vols. 181-182, pp. 127-130.
  • Morris, J. (2002) ‘The Precautionary Principle and Biotechnology,’ Int. J. Biotechnology, Vol 4, No. 1, pp. 46-61.
  • Morris, J. (ed.) (2000), Rethinking Risk and the Precautionary Principle, Oxford: Butterworth- Heinemann

Anti-organic food

Morris has been a key contributor to several BBC programmes raising questions about organic food. One of these programmes ('Counterblast', BBC 2, 31 Jan 2000) was presented by Roger Bate in his then role as director of the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF). As far as viewers knew, Morris had no connection with ESEF, but an ESEF domain inquiry prior to the website's removal revealed that Morris was the site's administrative contact.[15]

This suggests ESEF may, like the IEA's Environment Unit, have been synonymous with Bate and Morris. Bate and Morris also co-edited a book, Fearing Food: Risk, Health and the Environment,[16] to which Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute contributed. Avery has been at the heart of the anti-organic campaign. Bate and Morris appear unembarrassed by the dubious nature of Avery's claims, repeating them in the BBC programmes they contributed to and using them in a publicity stunt to launch their book.[17]

The book claimed the following were myths:

  • "Pesticides are bad for the environment and bad for human health."
  • "Antibiotic resistance in animals is spreading to humans."
  • "Nitrate fertilizers are a threat to human health."
  • "Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are bad for the environment and bad for our health."
  • "Instances of food poisoning would be reduced if we had more regulations."
  • "Subsidies are needed in order to ensure that food and fish are produced in environmentally sound ways."
  • "Packaging and transporting food is environmentally unfriendly."[18]

Affiliations

Institute of Economic Affairs | International Policy Network | University of Buckingham

Notes

  1. "Julian Morris", International Policy Network, Accessed 3-Spetember-2010.
  2. "Julian Morris", International Policy Network, Accessed 3-September-2010.
  3. "About International Policy Network", International Policy Network, 5 December 2002.
  4. Julian Morris, Catastrophe and prosperity, Daily News Egypt, 30-August-2010
  5. R. Bate and J. Morris, eds. Global Warming: Apocalypse of Hot Air, London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1994.
  6. J. Morris, ed. Climate Change: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom, London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1997.
  7. "Kendra Okonski", International Policy Network, accessed 5 February 2009.
  8. Kendra Okonski, ed., "Adapt or Die: The science, politics and economics of climate change", International Policy Network, 1st December 2003, accessed 5 February 2009.
  9. Jonathan Owen and Paul Bignell, Think-tanks take oil money and use it to fund climate deniers; cash supported concerted campaign to undermine case for man-made warming, The Independent, 7-February-2010
  10. Jonathan Owen and Paul Bignell, Think-tanks take oil money and use it to fund climate deniers; cash supported concerted campaign to undermine case for man-made warming, The Independent, 7-February-2010
  11. Jonathan Owen and Paul Bignell, Think-tanks take oil money and use it to fund climate deniers; cash supported concerted campaign to undermine case for man-made warming, The Independent, 7-February-2010
  12. "New book debunks environment, health myths", International Policy Network, 21 June 2004, accessed 6 February 2009.
  13. J. Morris, ed. Rethinking Risk and the Precautionary Principle, Oxford: Butterworth- Heinemann, 2000, p. viii.
  14. "Julian Morris", International Policy Network, accessed 5 February 2009.
  15. "Pro-GM scientists and the right", Norfolk Genetic Information Network, accessed 5 February 2009.
  16. J. Morris and R. Bate, eds., Fearing Food: Risk, Health and the Environment, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1999.
  17. "Big Tobacco Behind Euro Anti-Organic Campaign", Norfolk Genetic Information Network, accessed 5 February 2009.
  18. J. Morris and R. Bate, eds., Fearing Food: Risk, Health and the Environment, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1999, back cover.
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