Fellows of the French Academy of Sciences are opposing the Institute of France’s decision to appoint former socialist education minister Claude Allègre as head of a new ecology foundation.
Allègre, a geochemist, has become a controversial figure after publishing non-peer reviewed articles and books challenging the evidence on man-made climate change. In a letter to Gabriel de Broglie, chancellor of the institute, a group of 60 academy members argue that appointing Allègre as head of an organisation that deals with the environment is a mistake.
The Future Ecology Foundation was launched last week, stating its aim as addressing the issues around humankind’s relationship with the planet. Its mission statement rejects the idea of pitting sustainability against economic growth and opposes “irrational fears and blind beliefs”. The organisation also plans to encourage cooperation between scientists and the business world.
Allègre, who is himself a fellow of the Academy of Sciences, is chairman of the foundation’s council.
The academicians’ letter welcomed the creation of the foundation but warned that choosing Allègre as the head of its council “can only harm” its work with the public.
“As you know, our fellow member Claude Allègre is, in public opinion, a champion of climate scepticism, while the evidence shows that climate change is without doubt one of the major themes requiring immediate action in order to protect the environment and allow the adaptation of human society,” the letter reads.
“We therefore believe that choosing him as head of the council is a mistake that should be reconsidered if we want to continue to be heard by the public.”
Last year a group of 400 scientists petitioned French research minister Valérie Pécresse to order the Academy of Sciences to hold a debate on climate change, accusing Allègre of fuelling climate scepticism. The scientists said that Allègre’s book, L’imposture Climatique, was misrepresenting scientific facts.