The Greening of Godzilla
Published on: August 28, 2010
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  • vanderleun

    Well, of course they did. They turned idealism into jobs, grants, paychecks, junkets, and all other sorts of booty. Little wonder they morphed into Godzilla.

  • anon

    You seam to just assume without any hesitation that the threat to important bird species is more important than millions of human lives.

    Remember these are the same people that every single year watch at the very least 800,000 people die just so they don’t have to admit they were ever, ever wrong about anything.

    It’s disgusting.

  • nadine

    “The greens have forgotten where they come from. Modern environmentalism was born in the reaction against Big Science, Big Government and Experts. ”

    Spot on, WRM. But an interesting question is, what made the greens forget where they came from, that is aside from the billions spent on research on the “global threat of climate change”?

    Somewhere along the line, the greens left behind the skepticism of true science, even as the embraced the infallibility of the climate experts, and acquired the fervor of converts to a new religion, for whom dissent is not just incorrect but evil to its core. Somewhere along the line, global warming stopped being a scientific theory backed by unverifiable computer climate models, and started becoming a litmus test of virtue, because the planet was at risk, supposedly.

    Now, if you are doing hard science, lying about the data is a no-no. But if you have to scare the crap out of people to Save the Planet, lying becomes excusable, does it not? Even morally obligatory? And so a scientific endeavor morphed into a church determined to enforce orthodoxy of opinion.

    It would interesting to explore how and why this happened. Michael Crichton, in his famous speech of a few years back, where he posited that environmentalism, with its fantasies of Eden, functioned as a religion for post-Christian urban populations, gave one possible explanation (cf. http://www.forces.org/articles/files/crichton.htm)

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  • NF

    Foolishly, they picked up the ring and put it on their finger…

  • NF

    One likely reason for this development by the way is that the environmental movement received a huge influx of disappointed socialists following the collapse of the Soviet union in 1989. These were the ‘watermelon environmentalists’ (‘green on the outside but red on the inside’). They quickly shouldered the dreamy skeptics aside, seized complete control of the ‘green’ movement and set about reorienting it to express their own envious, frustrated and anti-capitalist obsessions.

  • John Barker

    Mead wrote a recent review in “Foreign Affairs” about a mediocre history of the progressive movement. I hope he will bring out his own promised study soon. I am fascinated by how visions of Utopia have so often degenerated into absolutist hells and would like to avoid living in one.

  • David

    Jeffrey Friedman, Cato Policy Review vo. 32, 2010: “Whether through piecemeal regulation or central planning, both [social democracy and socialism] share the conceit that modern societies are so legible that the causes of their problems yield easily to inspection. Social democracy rests on the premise that when something goes wrong, somebody— whether the voter, the legislator, or the specialist regulator—will know what to
    do about it. This is less ambitious than the
    premise that central planners will know what
    to do about everything all at once, but it is
    no different in principle.”

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Wow, I am so glad to see you finally come around to the position that “Global Warming” is complete BS. Maybe now we can see one of your brilliantly coined terms, like “the Blue Beast”, or “Jacksonian” for the incredibly ugly Environmental Movement. We haven’t seen a new nuclear power plant in 30+ years, despite the low 3.5 cent per Kilo Watt Hour price. The development of Oil whether from ANWR, off shore, oil shale (2 Trillion barrels), etc…have all been hindered. Cheap energy is Productivity, as there is an energy component to everything. Subsidies for all sorts of other energy sources, because they are not economical is utterly stupid.
    Robert Heinlein said
    “There are hidden contradictions in the minds of people who “love Nature” while deploring the “artificialities” with which “Man has spoiled ‘Nature.'” The obvious contradiction lies in their choice of words, which imply that Man and his artifacts are not part of “Nature” — but beavers and their dams are. But the contradictions go deeper than this prima-facie absurdity. In declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers’ purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purposes of men) the Naturist reveals his hatred for his own race — i.e., his own self-hatred.
    In the case of “Naturists” such self-hatred is understandable; they are such a sorry lot. But hatred is too strong an emotion to feel toward them; pity and contempt are the most they rate.
    As for me, willy-nilly I am a man, not a beaver, and H. sapiens is the only race I have or can have. Fortunately for me, I like being part of a race made up of men and women — it strikes me as a fine arrangement — and perfectly “natural” Believe it or not, there were “Naturists” who opposed the first flight to old Earth’s Moon as being “unnatural” and a “despoiling of Nature.””

  • Ken Smith

    This essay calls to mind a book I just finished reading, one that was originally recommended to me by a poster on blog discussing climate controversies.

    _In a Dark Wood: the Fight Over Forests and the Rising Tyranny of Ecology_ (1995) is the second of intellectual & environmental historian Alston Chase’s three major books on environmentalist topics (preceded by _Playing God in Yellowstone_ and followed by _Harvard and the Unabomber: the Education of an American Terrorist_, a profound biography of Ted Kaczynski.

    _In a Dark Wood_ provides a very illuminating look at the evolution of environmentalist philosophy and influence during an extended conflict known to some as the “spotted owl” controversy. This controversy, in which speculative theories with little grounding in empirical reality were advanced to the level of scientific dogma and then used as leverage to force arbitrary and sweeping legislative enactments and judicial rulings, looks in retrospect to be something of a “practice run” for the much more ambitious effort to unite the nations of the world in efforts ostensibly aimed at keeping the planet’s thermostat steady. Chase does a masterful job of showing both the scientific and philosophical mistakes driving the recent environmentalist crusade, and he does a nice job tracing its sociological development as well.

    A few extended quotes from Chases’ closing chapter are particularly revealing:

    “Rather than pursuing unambiguous goals, the environmental crusade was propelled by unexamined assumptions whose ambiguities went unnoticed. The country’s legitimate desire to stem the tide of urban and suburban blight became confused with the goal of re-creating “presettlement conditions” which never existed. From America’s long-term infatuation with primitive wilderness the movement derived the notions that preservation meant “restoring” these prehistoric “conditions” be leaving nature alone. From preservationists such as Thoreau and Muir it inherited a Calvinistic certainty in the righteousness of its cause which justified moral exclusion of those deemed to be damned.

    “Borrowing from European ideas, it transformed ecology from a promising science into a highly political one. From thinkers such as Hegel and Naess it derived a monistic metaphysics justifying activism and absolutism, and a belief that nature was the source of political truth. . . .

    “Like many spiritual movements that achieve worldly power, therefore, environmentalism has lost its way. Bloated by wealth, mainstream environmental groups have become bureaucracies not unlike the public agencies they pledged to police. Occupying high-rent offices in the nation’s capital far from the “ecosystems” they promised to defend, and heavily staffed with well-paid lawyers, these organizations are driven by ever greater pressures to increase income flow. They spread scare stories to stimulate public generosity and embrace litigation as a way of life.

    “Federal agencies, recognizing the ineffability of ecosystem boundaries as an opportunity for expansion, jump on the bandwagon, enacting “remedies” that give them power over science. Unclear about fact-value distinctions, researchers cross the line between science and advocacy. Ecology, which as a purely disciplinary undertaking was essential for understanding the complexity of living systems, has been transformed into a semioccult Delphic priesthood, whose oracles are givn the power to decide what is best for nature, and therefore who in society should sacrifice and who should benefit.

    “The movement is wrong on most key points. Contrary to what it insists, America is not running out of trees; old growth still covers most of its historic range; owls are probably not disappearing and may not even need old growth. Yet activists deny these truths because they do not fit the biases of biocentrism.

    “More than a mere conservation theory, biocentrism has emerged as a full-blown, soup-to-nuts political philosophy. No longer representing a single issue, it has like classical nature-based ideologies, become a complete theory of government, offering an answer to the most fundamental questions of political obligation. But by abandoning all belief in the rationality and moral self-sufficiency of mankind–so necessary for maintaining democracy–it endorses a darker view of humanity.” (415)

  • QM2SS

    I think billionaires aka Al Gore et al hijacked the environmental movement in an attempt to perpetrate a carbon scam that would funnel money into their bank accounts. I believe politicians aka Barrack Obama et al have been bought off with promises of a cut of the booty.

  • Ben Waitin

    The PROBLEM is quite simple, actually. The NEW “religion” is “anything NOT American”, at least in America. The “clergy” in the new church will stop at NOTHING to accomplish their agenda – which is to END this country as it “was”.

    Think of it – they have decried religious freedom as the “enemy” of a free people. But, once an Islamic entity wants to build a structure near “Ground Zero” for the SOLE purpose of “thumbing the eye” of Americans, they come out in support of “religious freedoms”.

    Can anyone imagine, for ONE SECOND, what their positions would be if someone wanted to construct a statue of Jesus at this same site? Is there really any question as to what their response would be?

    The “Green” movement represents (or did represent) their BEST economic chance to “shut it down”, with respect to the economic engine that built this nation. The number ONE agenda in the Green movement was to TAX to oblivion anyone who produces. Tax them out of existence – plain and simple.

  • CJ Altermann

    Excellent article. I agree completely.

  • where is the human mind ? have we never been taught to think—workout ahead of time–reason—plan have meetings to discuss ??? my god ! what has happened to us all ??? evolution —help us !

  • JP
  • Douglas Reiter

    Green ideology is not about science, its about religion. Can you identify any other science based issue where a significant minority of scientists who disagree, are demonized for their skepticism of science and data.

    I think if you chart the rise of secularism in the developed world, you will find a corresponding rise in religious like environmentalism.

    Interesting, problematic, complex.

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  • goodspkr

    It seems to be the story of mankind through out history. A group rails against the establishment, overthrows it and then becomes it.

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  • Neil

    The environmental movement has been hijacked by the socialist/communist movement. The new green is red! Why have so many African-Americans suddenly become green! The answerer is redistribution of wealth under the guise of the green movement.
    That is why it failed. Protecting the environment is secondary to bringing down the capitalist machine we know as America; and Americans are catching on to the game.

  • Rockyspoon

    “Climate Change” is earth’s modus operandi–as a geologist I can tell you it has changed dramatically in the past and will likely change dramatically in the future. Nobody was around to force those changes in the past and man’s impact on future changes is essentially negligible. However, political forces have lined up to take nefarious advantage of a gullible public and too many scientists that are very willing to sell their souls for the sake of grants and fame. This effort, however, has been uncovered and real science is finding that all their catastrophic prediction mongering is a bunch of posturing. It doesn’t wash with an informed public.

  • JohnR22

    The Greens fall into two categories. The first are the True Believers, for whom environmentalism is literally a religion. These are the ones who pushed absurd goals, preached that the end is nigh, and become enraged when their beliefs are challenged. The second group are the cynical and greedy types….mainly politicians…who saw an opportunity to implement massive tax hikes (to fund Obamacare), exponentially expand centralized govt power, and to move the West a step closer to one-world soclalism. I have trouble deciding which group I despise more, but the latter cabal is definitely the more dangerous.

  • imo

    Archaeological remains of a lost city have been discovered 120 feet underwater in the Gulf of Cambay off the western coast of India. And carbon dating says that they are 9,500 years old. I am sure people in India back then were not driving SUVs or polluting the landmass with use of dirty fuel to cause the sea level to rise and sink their city. So this AGW fraud is just that a fraud. Climate changes by itself you cannot do anything to prevent it. More importantly I will not waste my money towards any effort to prevent climate change. I would use it to adapt to any change that may occur, if it occurs and when it occurs . So no money from me towards aiding and abetting carbon racketeering also known as cap n trade.

  • Peter

    Or, as Erik Hoffer might say, Every great cause begins as a movement, degenerates into a business and winds up a racket.

  • John Barker

    Ken Smith

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I will order a copy of “Dark Woods” today.

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  • einwolfsrudel

    Good posts everyone (so far at least),
    I just wanted to add that if you want to read a good book concening mass movements you should read Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.” It is only 169 pages in length and is an easy read (I did it on a 3 hour train trip), but his insight into the mind of activists is uncanny.
    The one part that I liked the most was when he states that at first movements are altruistic and lofty things that are benevolent in nature. But when they have been around for a while, they become a business.
    I think that is what has become of the Environmental movement; It has become a business! When people like Al Gore and GE, oraters of the virtues of green technology, stand to make billions in profit from it, they are no better than the people and entities that they claim are destroying our planet.
    In an epilog of Micheal Chriton’s book “State of Fear,” he talks about another misguided adventure of the scientific intellectuals in the advocacy of “Eugenics.” If any of you have some time, you should research this topic. What you find will amaze if not horrify you. I feel that the AGW crowd are the exact same people who through their knowledge and arrogance, believe that they are crusaders going forth bravely for the betterment of humankind.

  • Peter Cannavo

    Somehow, I missed something. It’s top-down, antidemocratic elitism to listen to peer-reviewed scientists and to favor regulations to help manage our high-stakes, complex relationship with the natural world, but it’s in the spirit of libertarianism and siding with the little guy when you take the side of giant oil and coal companies and energy industry lobbyists??? Yes, environmentalists attacked the so-called experts who peddled DDT and and big hydro projects, but they always relied on science to support their arguments. But I guess peer-reviewed science is just a big fraud. That’s why when you’re ill you should only vist alternative-medicine practitioners and avoid licensed MDs, especially those trained at prestigious medical schools. After all, science is just a liberal conspiracy. So is the record heat we’ve been having this decade (Michael Crichton was surely prescient when he predicted that environmental wackos would actually set about changing the climate to prove their point). We’d all be better off if went back to pre-16th century ‘science.’ After all, those alchemists weren’t tenured commies relying on big research grants.

  • BillC242

    Why was there no mention of the environmentally driven profiteers who are selling products such as “carbon credits?” Al Gore, the high priest of the environmentalists is making so much money selling carbon credits that he has now acquired a 7,500 square foot vacation home in California to go along with his 15,000 square foot primary residence in Tennessee. Why does he need a vacation home? He could just go to the other end of the house in Tennessee and take a vacation there. The sad part is that Big Al actually believes it’s OK to buy these carbon credits from his own company. I don’t think the environmental true believers realize what damage Big Al does to their cause with his continuing hypocrisy.

  • John Bibb

    ***
    Our modern lifestyle comes from wise use of natural resources and from good economic decisions. Environmental protection is far better now than it was 20 years ago.
    ***
    Who would want to go back 200 years and live a 1810 life? No cars, no phones, no TV, no radio, no safe water, food shortages, bad medical help, 90 percent struggling to grow something to eat?
    ***
    The Greenies want to go back to 1810–they can. I want to stay in 2010–and I will. They are “useful” idiots.
    ***
    Rocketman
    ***

  • Gabe K

    It is ironic that we have evolved from once uselessly sacrificing each other in an attempt to control the weather that we did not understand to uselessly sacrificing our economies in an attempt to control the climate changes that we do not understand. Not much progress.

  • Charles

    This post should have been entitled “[bodily fluid — ed] and Vinegar”. While it may make a satisfying bromide cocktail for the author and his drinking buddies, it offers nothing constructive to the ongoing challenge to address the dangerous impacts of global warming. Cheers.

  • Russell C

    There’s one other problem that Walter Russel Mead didn’t mention that could perhaps put the final nail in the coffin of man-caused global warming: that the mainstream media never questioned the accusation saying skeptic scientists were untrustworthy because of alleged corruption from big coal & oil.

    So far as I know, I’m the only person who’s taken a hard look at what might be just a small group of enviro-activists who successfully manipulated the media to ignore the scientists with this accusation, see my 7/6 American Thinker article “Smearing Global Warming Skeptics” http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/07/smearing_global_warming_skepti.html

    From that situation, the question can be asked, would AGW have died of natural causes long ago, if it weren’t for all these highly questionable efforts to make sure the public got only a particular impression of skeptic scientists, and only saw one side of the issue?

  • Rob

    @Rockyspoon

    An informed public? You must be joking. Information is so easily available and yet so few take the time for look for anything that might not fit in with the way the believe things are.

    For example, what do the readers of this site and magazine read that presents an opposing viewpoint?

    I thought so.

  • SamAdams25

    The “greens” have become dupes of the elitist “progressives” (socialists). Cap and Tax was never really about the environment. It has always been about government control over all energy in the US, and enriching Al Gore, Maurice Strong, and their cronies in the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). The “greens” were duped into supporting this scam under false pretenses. Cap and Tax would reduce carbon emissions by less than 1% over 10 years.

    Think about it, if the government controls health care, the media (Net-Neutrality and the Fairness Doctrine), and all energy (Cap and Tax), the only thing left is food production and distribution for them to have absolute and total control over every citizen. This is tyranny in the making, and we must stop it before it’s too late.

  • Bruce Albert

    Good article Mr. Mead, and good comments too (esp. Mr. Smith). I would only add that a lack of regard scientific truth is perhaps actually the major factor in the downfall of this particular movement, it is not only a matter of social cultural context and philosophic attitudes. The need of the CO2-based AGW hypothesis to distort not only the climate history record, but also to marginalize actual atmospheric physical observations and ‘homogenize’ (i.e., fix) more recent instrumental records are acts that are simply not easy to get away with in the present information age (in the 1930’s-70’s perhaps). The proverbial ‘man in the street’ is entirely aware and intelligent enough to take these things in (I say this as a post-doc in Quaternary Science).

  • jose l

    The AGW cult is comprised of two groups. The first group (the followers) includes the uninformed, the gullible, the well intentioned but naive, the sincere but mislead, many journalists and researchers, and yes, the just plain stupid. I would think it safe to say that these people all believe that most of the recent global warming must have been or was caused by human activity – primarily CO2 emissions and that wind farms fix the problem. These people are not evil, they are just wrong. How anyone could rationally think that the IPCC fairytales prove their position is beyond hope and not worthy of debate.

    The second group (the leaders) includes primary, government funded researchers, left leaning political leaders, activist and environmentalist leadership, and, of course, the Hansens, Gores, Manns, Briffas, Pachauri, and the rest of the extremists with which we are burdened. To the surprise of those in the first group, but not at all to the rest of us, these people do not necessarily believe or, for the most part, even care if global warming is anthropogenic. And, unlike the first group, these people are not only evil and wrong but also dangerous. They are not out to save the world but to gain political power and financial control over individuals, businesses and countries.

    There are legitimate environmental issues. Surly we must continue to fight for and to find a way to protect our environment, reduce stress on fisheries, manage water, land and forest resources, protect endangered species if possible and were practical, and a myriad other environmental issues and crises we face. The real tragedy of the AGW shibboleth is that it will destroy the credibility of legitimate environmental movements, divert needed funding away from them, and make the efforts of those movements even more difficult. And this is why the people of the first group, if and when they ever figure it out, should forever condemn those of the second.

    The rest of us already have.

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  • Larry

    The concept is so easy to understand. The ONLY thing in which Greens are interested is control over the world’s population. Tree-hugging embodies some of the most malicious and idiotic stuff to ever be foisted on the public. It never had the public’s interest at heart; it only sought to control everyone else while enriching and empowering the communists at the top. Think North Korea.

  • RSweeney

    The 1960-70’s greenies cleaned up America by forcing all that dirty industry to move to China.

    So when your kids are out looking for jobs, remember who to thank when they come home empty handed.

  • Paul in Colorado

    By the early 1980’s it was clear that the environmental movement had been co-opted by the International Left, with GreenPeace going so far as to claim that the greatest threat to marine mammals was neither the Japanese or Russian whaling fleets, but rather the Reagan Administration’s plans to deploy Pershing II missiles in Europe. That’s right – exploding harpoons were certainly not helping the whale population, but merely being hunted to extinction was not to be compared with the prospect of a planet denuded by thermonuclear war. So GreenPeace sold out, early and cheap.

    Beyond that is their penchant for using environmental rationales to steal land from private owners. Laws that were intended to protect Whooping Cranes and Bald Eagles have been twisted to protect bugs and weeds instead, for the sole purpose of driving the rightful owners off their land.

    The sad fact is that the entire movement has devolved to a single central belief – that humans are the pollutant, and that for the benefit of the self-annointed few, most of humanity needs to get off the planet as soon as possible, one way or another.

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  • Mike

    Jose, I couldn’t agree with you more. Many very good posts here. I am heartened to see so many people awakening to this colossal scam. How much money has already been completely wasted on this nonsense? Money that could have been productively used in so many other ways.

  • Kenneth Larsen

    I will play devil’s advocate.
    How does one account for the case made by level-headed Congressman Edward Markey for climate change mitigation? He is not what one would call a supercilious elitist and ideologue
    Also, can you ignore the changed media environment with pronounced corporate consolidation of ownership and its effect on the climate change debate? What about the effects of the clandestine support of the Koch brothers, for example, in promoting ‘grassroots’ organizations making emotional arguments against environmental, energy and climate change mitigation, which also happen to further their own interests? Who really is Godzilla?

  • Gregson

    The complexities and variables of chaos theory are just too subtle for us to plug into some ready-made formula that some expert panel foolishly claims to embrace all universal interactions.

  • Rob

    @ Gregson

    And what expert panel ever claimed that? The experts I know don’t, I’ve never read of any that did.

    As to your implication that not knowing everything means that we can’t know anything, the dynamics of the solar system are so complex that they have not yet, to this day, been shown to be stable. That doesn’t mean there aren’t predictions we can make, such as, oh… eclipses, lunar and Mars and outer planets explorers, lunar occultations of stars… just to name a few.

    How about the dynamics of oxidation of gasoline in a cylinder? We can’t model the chaotic systems of turbulence or flame very well yet, but somehow or another we’re able to get a lot of power out of burning gasoline.

    Who taught you the words “chaos theory?”

  • NS

    With the exception of: Comment by Charles – August 30, 2010 @ 12:25 pm
    I concur, an excellent read of article and many comments alike. While I’ve no desire to see Native Americans (of Italian decent??) crying highway side due to litter, Charles seems to be a dyed in the wool believer in any and all effects of manmade GW that the “experts” have purported (come on Charles even my 3/yo knew Polar Bears could swim from floe to floe without drowning).

    I would point out to commentor @Ben Waitin, that Progressive Democrats would prefer to eliminate all church based religion if it were not for one thing. PD’s will kowtow to support fascists Islamists because they truly believe it is the only religion to be feared and they hope to maintain their status if it were to come to pass, thus the reason they as a President would bow to Islamic leaders along with supporting a 15 story GZ mosque and not a “Christmas” tree. I don’t see a commonality between AGW and a UBL Islamist except for the Democrat connection. They’d thumb their eye too if they didn’t fear their heads being lopped off after doing so.

  • Jim from the Climate Realists of Sydney, Australia

    What a good read followed by some excellent commentry. I can only but hope that the Greening of Godzilla makes rapid progress to the Land Down Under where, following a recent election, the Green movement has had some recent success by winning imminent control of our Federal Senate with effect from July 2011.

  • JLKrieger

    Whlie perusing quite a few good responses to a very good article, I noticed one comment that illustrates why there there will never be a big enough tent to hold the hard core Libs.
    Edward Markey is “level headed”! HA HA HA!

    When your perspective becomes so skewed that a hard left demogogic Congressman becomes a posterboy for “levelheadedness” there is no way to find common ground.

    At least now with the Emperor down to his skivvies, we can pin our hopes on the possibility that we are in the process of settling into the Hegelian “Synthesis”, Then we can leave guys like Larsen mumbling to themselves in the dark corners of society about “right wing conspiracies, “Jewish Neo-Cons” taking over the country, “Obama is a Nigerian Muslim” and other such silliness.
    JLK

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  • Carbonicus

    WRM – Kudos for speaking out against the supposed “consensus”. More importantly, you’ve done America a great service by pointing out how the modern environmental movement has gone off the rails. You’ve hit the nail on the head.

    I’m a 22 year professional in the environmental industry whose work has helped me understand which are material threats to human health and the environment and which are ideological/pseudo-science/political propaganda. It is my sincere hope that the public will read more articles like this and that the environmental movement will get back to what matters, not that which merely advances a political agenda under the teflon shield of “saving the planet” or “humanity” or “species”. With 1.200 CERCLA NPL sites, thousands of RCRA sites, hundreds of DoD and DoE sites, hundreds of thousands of brownfield sites, PM2.5/PM10 and SO2/NOX and mercury coming out of power plant stacks (get this stuff out but DON’T shut down coal until you’ve built nuclear plants or have a technologically equal substitute for the energetic order we get from coal), coal ash landfills, air quality, surface water quality, nutrient loading to important waterways, and a hundred other important environmental concerns to deal with, it would be morally reprehensible (sorry Al Gore and James Hansen) to misdirect limited environmental dollars to something that won’t have any impact on planetary temperatures 100 years from now that could be distinguished from natural climate variability.

    Let’s get the environmental movement back on the rails and concerned about what hurts us physically, not that which justifies government control of industry through the back door and has a result that is inconsequential to the planet’s temperature. If this entire “anthropogenic global warming” sad episode in history does nothing else but refocus the environmental movement back in that direction (without repeating the Rachel Carson DDT over-reaction and hyperbole as it swings back in the right direction), then it won’t have been for naught.

    For those of you still on the fence, remember the story of Copernicus (from whom Carbonicus name is taken, using the namesake’s plight and applying it to the present day carbon fear) and Galileo and the Catholic Church (no offense to Catholics, the Church simply represents a belief system that it later said itself was wrong). Today, a group of people (politicians, scientists, religious leaders) telling others that the earth is the center of our universe and the sun and all the planets revolve around it would be thought insane. But that’s exactly what the Church taught in the 1300s – 1400s. When Copernicus figured out they were wrong, he was threatened with jail for heresy. He kept his findings mostly quiet and published them right before his death. Then, Galileo picked up where Copernicus had left off and proved that the sun, not the earth, was the center of our universe. The Church jailed him for heresy. It apologized a few years ago (literally, hundreds of years later).

    The example is instructive. Warmists are the modern day equivalent of the Catholic Church back then. One day soon, it will be apparent to all that CO2 doesn’t control climate.

  • J Perl

    ¨But green critics would note that the dam had side effects: silt would back up in the reservoir, soil downstream would be impoverished, parasites and malaria bearing mosquitoes would flourish in the still waters and so on and so forth. Me…anwhile the destruction of wetlands and river bottoms imposed enormous costs to wildlife diversity and the productivity of river systems. Salmon runs would disappear. Often, the development associated with hydroelectric dams led to deforestation, offsetting gains in flood control.¨

    In order to critique the majority scientific position, enviromentalists, in other words, noted the effects that the majority position ignored. Although scientist are often wrong, the proper response is a critique their positions with observable and testable data.

    What other source of knowledge can we use?

    It is also possible, as the author notes, to question scientific research on the basis of its funding. The fact that the scientific consensus is so full, when it is actively working against some of the strongest powers on the planet (autos, oil, our model of agriculture), gives it more credibility.

    I think the author has two basic questions to deal with, that he hasnt
    1 If we cant use science to judge ideas, what standard can we use?
    2 If the author believes natural systems are too complex to interfere in, how does he support the release of massive amounts of fossil fuel? This is effectively massive intervention in the natural order.

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  • mark

    Very interesting thought piece, thanks. Linked to it from Cafe Hayek.

  • Lea Luke

    “More generally, the upper middle class benefited over the last generation from a rising difference between the living standards of professional and blue collar American workers.”

    This is an example of the fallacy of composition, which Wikipedia defines this way:

    “A fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole. . .”

  • Tom in Michigan

    It’s pretty simple, really. The environmental movement, like others before (the civil rights movement comes to mind; leftist policies have re-enslaved black America in the name of “freeing” it) that started at least ostensibly with noble intent was co-opted by the left, the single most destructive force on the planet.

    Once the left gets its grubby paws on anything, expect to be ruined (how about the once-greated education system in the world? How about the Democratic Party itself?) as initial nobility is degraded to mere lust for power and control over “The Lives of Others” (See this movie, by the way).

    Drive the left out of the environmental movement and perhaps it can become a real source of conservation effort instead of being simple “the new red.”

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  • WhiskeyJim

    Beautifully written article.

    I had not remembered the original environmental movement’s core arguments.

    But I also suspect that you are talking about two technically different environmental groups. I have read numerous articles by original environmental groups being taken over by agenda driven socialists.

    The founder of Greenpeace comes to mind.

    The cure for global warming is the proof of the hijack; even if we agreed that global warming was caused by man, and that it was bad, and that we could do something about it, and that we should do something, cap and trade is not the solution. Sure, it is a solution. It is a re-distributive, command and control solution. I see little evidence that it reduces CO2, which could be done quite easily and inexpensively.

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  • techgm

    That both the threat and the “science” were bogus might have had something to do with failure of the “global warming” movement.

    “The rise of the environmental movement reflected the increasing independence of thought and judgment of a public that was becoming less and less impressed with credentials and degrees.” The public, thanks to our schools, also became increasingly ignorant of science and increasingly logic-challenged. These factors made them far more susceptible to emotional appeals and to being duped by the earnest charlatans of the “environmental movement” and self-serving politicians who jumped on the bandwagon.

    BTW, correlation (i.e., a “link”) does not necessarily imply causality. True science has nothing to do with opinion and consensus. True science is about verifiable facts, data, and rigorous testing.

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  • James Evans

    Thanks. A very interesting and enjoyable read.

    I would just add one thing – seems to me that the biggest problem that the AGWers have is that nothing strange or unusual is really happening. The attempts to show that today’s temps are historically unusual, or that the rate of change of temps is unusual, or that there is anything particularly weird going on with the climate – these attempts have simply failed. So it’s pretty much game over.

    In this case, the experts were simply wrong.

  • Such insights regarding the alleged collapse of the AGW movement completely miss the point: the policy positions now belong to governments and are espoused by green parties who have benefited from voters’ disgust with the leading national parties.

    There has been no retreat from governments’ profligate spending on these absurd notions now embraced with religious fervor. There has been no diminution of grant money, foundation and university research money, and political capital flowing to these nutjobs, now with unprecedented power to realize their goals: destruction of western prosperity and the starvation of millions in the name of saving the planet (aka “The Kingdom of Heaven”) from the depredations of technological man. As far as they are concerned, the Borlaug’s genetic improvements in grain production were a tragedy, not a boon.

    It doesn’t matter what people like Mark Morano say or do. Every scientist who now feasts on the junk science of AGW could repudiate his research and reveal his errors tomorrow, and it wouldn’t matter a whit. The true believers are now the government and don’t need public approval. As we all know, governments never admit mistakes; they double-down on them.

    The nutjobs have won, folks.

  • A related matter is the degeneration of the academia into a self-serving, corrupt cartel which is based on secure faculty tenure and on closed-shop self-policing by citation indices and peer review of funding applications and publication drafts.

    Abolish tenure, and let non-academics do the peer review! Sunlight really is the best of disinfectants.

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  • darth

    Wow the whole premise of this essay is completely wrong – environmentalists were never against ‘Big Science” – science is just a tool for finding the truth. The truth is that our industries pollute, the industries try to minimize those facts, and it takes people with guts to dig out the real facts. That is what environmentalists do.

    In this case, the fact is that the earth is warming and it is caused by fossil fuel CO2 emissions. (see http://climateprogress.org/2010/08/10/10-indicators-of-a-human-fingerprint-on-climate-change/ )

    Nothing strange is happening? The hottest 6 months, 12 months and decade EVER RECORDED?!? Record temperatures all over the world? Massive loss of polar ice? Glacier retreat? Acidification of the oceans? Record floods? (Tennessee, Georgia, Pakistan, Ireland, et al) Really? That’s not strange?

    So what’s more likely: a global cabal of ‘greenies’ get together to invent a theory so they can get whopping research grant dollars (umm, scientists don’t get rich from grants) or that a multi-billion dollar industry that stands to lose huge amounts of money if carbon caps are enacted is hiring shills to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt (in some cases hiring the same people who did the same work for the tobacco industry see: http://climateprogress.org/2010/03/07/naomi-oreskes-book-talk-merchants-of-doubt-how-a-handful-of-scientists-obscure-the-truth-about-climate-change/ )?

    Folks, its not a big socialist conspiracy. Its just the truth whether you want to believe it or not.

  • Ken

    I take exception to you calling Obama the greenest President in History. Are you referring to the same Obama that keeps tabling the closing of the Chicago canals for more “studies”?

  • Randy

    When George Will picked up on this essay, I figured that climate fundamentalist Joe Romm would go ballistic. Sure enough:

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/09/05/walter-russell-mead-big-green-lie/#more-32709

  • Ashley S.

    This essay reminds me of the current plight of the residents of Hatteras Island, in North Carolina.
    Extreme environmentalism is crushing them.
    Can any of you help, or at least pass this on to someone who can? Here is the link to a video recently produced by the Greystone project in which many residents describe personally what is happening. Of course it’s complicated; there is lots more info on this available.
    Much appreciated if anyone could take the time to listen and pass it on if you would.
    These people could be any one of us.

    And for the record, I am not a resident of Hatteras Island and have no financial interest in the video or the island. Just know a wrong when I see it.

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  • Joseph Somsel

    As a nuclear engineer since the mid-70s, I’ve been dealing with these people all my professional career. Nuclear power was one of their early successful targets.

    Dr. Mead is far, far too easy on them.

    I agree that there are of two main personality types. The first are the true believers who are unselfconsciously blind and stupid. These tend to be both OCD and lacking grounding for their souls so turn with pitiful enthusiasm to a “virtuous” cause to supplement their empty egos.

    The second type are happy to have found a “virtuous” cover for their own worldly ambitions. It insulates their behavior from external and internal scrutiny while giving them a winning game to play for social status and an income from non-competitive struggle.

    Both types are more than happy to breach any social covetant such as honesty to achieve their goals.

    If you get the picture that there is little love lost between anti-nuclear activists and myself you are quite correct.

    As to Rep. Ed Markey, he is most certainly NOT “level headed” but I believe a Type 2 environmentalist after having watched him lie and distort the truth about nuclear power for these many years.

    BTW, I was initially open to AGW since there is SOME plausible science behind the possibility. However, a review of an early IPCC scientific report made it clear that there was a huge con game at work. Further “tells” over the years made it clear that this was an organized effort to defraud the public for money and power.

    Type 1 believers need medication and Type II activists need jail.

  • Thank god the Greenies are flaming out. They were on their way to killing the planet. SIGs NGOs, Lobbies. I’m really tired of people who thrive on getting paid to jabber about the discord they help create.
    Has anyone noticed that a few enlighted corporations have seen the light and turned it into bottom line revenues.
    Has anyone realized that achieving efficiency of use and optimization of resource values get’s to green a lot faster than buying green shopping bags.

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  • The one part that I liked the most was when he states that at first movements are altruistic and lofty things that are benevolent in nature. But when they have been around for a while, they become a business.
    I think that is what has become of the Environmental movement; It has become a business!

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