Fang Xuanchang: Viewing environmental NGOs from three angles
Ngocn.net, November 6, 2013
My speech today is mainly directed at people in the media, at people in the same profession as myself. However I hope that online users can also get hold of it as well. There is much information and news in my speech that I would guess that online users have themselves experienced, but have perhaps not drawn the same conclusions as myself. My conclusions are directed towards environmental NGOs, with the Greenpeace organisation acting as a benchmark or typical case for me to discuss the issues that I talk about.
The professional angle: from un-rigorous to anti-scientific
The media figures who are present here would previously have viewed environmental NGOs as a new source of news. Many people now follow organisations such as Greenpeace and the “Green Beagle Natural University”. These kind of organisations have become a new source of news for them. In my early years I used to try to do this but I have never carried it through. This is because the first time that I came into contact with environmental NGOs, I saw these problems whenever they provided me with reports. That was in 2004 or 2003, maybe earlier or later. The first environmental organisation that I came into contact with was the Greenpeace organisation. At that time I got hold of one of their reports about heavy metal soil pollution. Less than one week later they gave me another report, this time about the problem of agricultural chemicals remaining in the soil of an area. I held onto these two reports for five minute then let them go – they were not a source of news. At that time I was still in the habit of working in a laboratory and I considered the reports to not be scientifically rigorous enough. For example, the first report gave some figures and some of them were about mercury. When I worked in the environmental protection office we used the standard methods to test for mercury. However the numbers that were in the Greenpeace report led me to suspect that the detection methods that they had used produced figures that were lower than they should be. I called their reliability into question and called Greenpeace to ask them about what methods they had used. They didn’t reply. The series of problems that I will describe are all of this nature. For example: they couldn’t give me the regression curve, they couldn’t provide me with their sampling method, and they couldn’t give me information about their methodology.
Translation by Tom Bannister. See article for full text. (Chinese)