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Green Movement Jumps the Shark

Over the past week, the climate blogosphere has been in a tizzy, first over a cache of leaked documents from the climate-skeptic Heartland Institute, then over the slow realization that at least one of these documents was probably faked. These documents, which purported to show that funding for Heartland’s climate programs were largely bankrolled by one or two wealthy donors (as well as the conservative Koch Foundation) were sold as the greens’ answer to the Climategate emails of 2009, which shed light on some occasionally less-than-scientific actions by members of the climate lobby. Yet as the week has progressed, these documents have looked less like a smoking gun and more like a fraud. On Tuesday, finally, the curtain was removed: Climate activist Peter Gleick has come forward admitting to using deception in obtaining the leaked emails, and the Heartland Institute alleges that one document was a complete fabrication, possibly by Gleick himself.

As Andrew Revkin, the New York Times’ Dot Earth columnist, writes, Gleick’s admission will destroy his reputation and his career, and will set back the work of the greens for a long time. Reckless and sensationalist actions like Gleick’s are a reminder of the wild and loony side of the green movement—no group certain of its own arguments should feel the need to stoop to this level, and it will take a long time for the movement to be trusted again in the eyes of the public.

Between Rajenda Pachauri and Peter Gleick, the international green movement has displayed a penchant for colorful personalities. But the root cause of the green meltdown is not the flawed personalities and eccentric ethical standards some greens display.  The problem has been that the greens tried to stick the world with a monstrous and unworkable climate control system through the flawed medium of a global treaty. This project is so expensive, so poorly conceived and, in fact, so naive and unthinking, that greens increasingly felt their only hope to get their agenda adopted involved scare tactics.

Like Dean Acheson addressing the communist menace, they were “clearer than truth.” They stretched evidence, invented catastrophes—vanishing glaciers, disappearing polar bears, waves of force five hurricanes sweeping up the coast, the end of snow—to sell their unsalable dream. Not all greens were this irresponsible, but many prominent spokespersons and journalists working with the movement were; ultimately the mix of an unworkable policy agenda and a climate of hype and hysteria holed the green ship below the waterline.

Of contemporary mass movements, the green movement has been consistently the most alarmist, the least constructive, the most emotional, the least rational, the most intolerant and the most self righteous.  What makes it all sad rather than funny is that underneath the hype, the misstatements, the vicious character attacks on anyone who dissented from the orthodoxy of the day, and the dumbest policy ideas since the Kellogg-Briand Pact that aimed to outlaw war, there really are some issues here that require thoughtful study and response.


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  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Global Warming is the Greatest Hoax and Fraud in history. It’s a terrible shame that the Warmists will likely never be punished, as at the very least they have committed Crimes Against Humanity.

  • Anthony

    “…there really are some issues here that require thoughtful study and response.”

  • Verinder Syal

    Follow the money. Always. Behind their zeal lies a grab for money and power. That is their real goal. The green movement is a convenient cover.

  • SteveMG

    Sorry, Jacksonian Libertarian, but anyone who believes that the entire AGW effort is a giant hoax is clearly not reading the science.

    The problem, such as it is, is summarized by Dr. Mead in his post. They are so certain of their science, so sure that critics are motivated by ill intent and oil money, that they are unwilling to accept legitimate criticism or listen to good faith sceptics.

    Now they may be wrong. They may be missing something. They may be ignoring other factors that have been, broadly speaking, warming the planet. But their problem – and outs – is not that they don’t believe what they say; their problem is they don’t believe what anyone else say about what they believe.

  • Kenny

    Evironmental kook Peter Gleick belongs in prison and Heartland just might push for that.

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    Dr. Peter Gleick and his Pacific Institute for water policy has for some time been a propagandist for Northern California water interests.

    One of his main efforts has been to plant in newspapers nearly everywhere the misleading statistic that agriculture consumes 75 percent of the water in California. His main rhetorical device is to label everyone that disagrees with him or who can point to more reliable data and more probable assumptions as “myth makers.”

    His contention that agriculture consumes 75 percent of the water does not square with the data from the California Dept. of Water Resources which indicates agricultures uses from 28 percent in a wet year and 52 percent in a dry year of all the “developable” water. The Dept. of Water Resources projects that agriculture will reduce its use to 39 percent by 2020.

    Even these numbers are misleadingly high. Agriculture only uses about 8 percent of all the PRECIPITATION in a wet year and about 23 percent in a dry year.

    64 percent of all the water in California goes to the “environment.”

    Read more here:

  • Stephen

    As one who maintains a close association with engineers and scientists, I’ve always advocated this dictum: mix political activism with science and you get political activism.

  • justaguy

    Tens of billions of dollars in grants per year given out to Academia to prove global warming by the various governments proved too much incentive to what should have been a skeptical scientific community. Al Gore, who started the funding process knew what he was doing. Only true believers received grants and Academia could not resist the lure of grants and positions enough to maintain their objectivity.

    We are left with the credibility of science in tatters over a political theory that was easily debunked by any moderately analytical engineer or scientist –i.e.McIntyre, a statistician not a physicist. That almost every major organization pronounced their beleif in the AGW hoax, often provoking members to publicaaly dissent, shows the massive influence of money in science. Some organizations had non-conclusive wording, but all drank the koolade.

    Now that the veil has been lifted and the facts and evidence make it hard to maintain the hoax, the truth slowly comes out. CERN, stagnant temperatures, satellite data etc. are all casting doubt on the supposedly 95% sure conclusive theory. It will be a long time before the public trusts any “science” pronouncements that affect public policy again. Daniel Bell was right –science and technology simply become pawns of the policy battles.

  • Kohl Haas

    Nobody these days wants to remember that Kyoto was largely designed by Enron – the company darling which was the only company considered to “get it” and beyond “old technology”. Of course, they wanted to trade the carbon credits with the same sense of integrity they ran their other trading activities.

  • Kohl Haas

    Years ago, I was on the committee that started the Environmental Science program at the Colorado School of Mines. The main problem we had was finding faculty who could hold the students. As the so-called environmentalists perverted the courses to political advocacy and advocated compromising the science instead of teaching it, the students dropped the program. Our students were appalled by such behavior. Under the rules at the time, no students, no funding. We finally had to hire science professors who had an interest in teaching science with environmental concerns.

    About the same time, my wife, who was a staff member of the Wilderness Society, watched that organization gradually pervert their environmental concerns to a political agenda and the environment became only a ruse for fund raising from the gullible. She quit.

    That was a long time ago; we still worry about the environment when we see so many negative consequences of the actions and political positions taken by the environmental organizations.

  • Scott

    Remember when Rolling Stone author Matt Taibbi wrote the article titled, “The Great American Bubble Machine” about Goldman Sachs a couple of years ago? His second sentence got a tremendous amount of attention because of the colorful way he described Goldman. He said they are “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

    He listed all the financial bubbles he claims Goldman has helped create since the Great Depression. The last one is a prospective bubble in trading carbon credits and derivatives.

    He estimates the size of the market would have been $1 trillion annually if the “cap and trade” law Democrats tried jamming through would have passed (not shockingly, Goldman was Obama’s largest donor).

    It’s on page 7, here:

    There are so many people who have a vested interest in making us believe global warming is a threat to our species very survival. You can’t help but be cynical when you read stuff like this as well as all the miscues in the climate activist industry.

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