Friday, 9 November 2007

Eco Chamber

Climate campaigners continually repeat that global warming is a threat, that scientific opinion is near-unanimous and that immediate action is needed, but many view them as alarmist doomsayers - and that's hardly surprising.

Why is it hardly surprising?

1 Because the people responsible for spreading this message constantly overstate their case in the belief that it will galvanise people to respond. Hurricanes1,2, droughts2, floods3 and fires2 have been linked to climate change by environmentalists. Of course, these things have happened throughout human history and probably before - but now they are the stimulus for the latest push towards green legislation and taxation. The statement made by climate scientist Stephen Schneider3 in 1996 is telling:

"We need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have."

2 Because the attitude of many environmentalists towards people who are not quite convinced of the 'dangers of global warming' leaves a lot to be desired. The most telling example is the branding of such as "deniers" or "denialists". This Independent column4 by Johann Hari uses the word ten times, while fellow environ-gelist George Monbiot was at least until quite recently a regular user of the term5. In case it isn't obvious, the repugnant connotations of this expression are made clear by one of the most alarmist greens of all, Mark Lynas (author of 'Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet')6:
"I put this in a similar moral category to Holocaust denial – except that this time the Holocaust is yet to come, and we still have time to avoid it. Those who try to ensure we don’t will one day have to answer for their crimes."
3 Because a lot of people suspect that a lot of green activism is a cover for authoritarian, leftist and/or socialist ideas. The expression "watermelon" (meaning someone who is 'green on the outside and red in the middle') has gained currency among right-wingers to refer to such politically-motivated environmentalists8. You don't have to spend much time reading Comment is Free comments threads to observe that there is some truth in this assertion. These responses to a typical George Monbiot column9 there are by no means exceptional:
"What we need is a political revolution or convulsion, similar to the mass revolts europe has gone through periodically since the French Revolution." - writeon (30/10/07, 07:50)
"Revolution is all that's left. And in the case of selfish, stupid arseholes like RogerInTheUSA, the more violent the better, if only pour encourager les autres. (Oh and Jeremy Clarkson too, while we're at it.) History shows that revolution works, that it brings about paradigm shift - and paradigm shift is the only way we're going to get off the road to perdition that we're currently accelerating down." - rockinred (08:31, 30/10/07)
"...As the need increases you will see more revolutions positively affecting social structure. I think that both writeon and rockinred were right to point out the need for a revolutionary change in our current mind-set and political system." - LesterJones (16:14, 30/10/07)

What I am highlighting here is not so much that greens are adopting socialist ideas in response to the threats posed by climate change, but that left-wing activists are taking advantage of the environmentalists' concerns to advocate the agenda they were interested in advocating all along. This is not a new thing - Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace who left the organisation in 198610 was quoted on an popular US science show 'Penn & Teller: Bullshit!' entitled 'Environmental Hysteria' that:

"The environmental movement was basically hijacked by political and social activists who came in and very cleverly learned how to use green rhetoric and green language to cloak agendas that actually have more to do with anti-corporatism, anti-globalization, anti-business, and very little to do with science or ecology...I realized that the movement I had started was being taken over by politicos and that they were using it for fundraising purposes."
So in the face of the exaggeration, the hectoring and the politically-motivated misdirection provided by the environmentalists, alongside the natural human desire to avoid or put off making uncomfortable changes, is it any surprise that, right or wrong, they are largely preaching to the converted - and among the unconverted face considerable and increasingly vocal opposition?


1. http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0912-32.htm (Al Gore)
2. http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=1201
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Schneider
4. http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/derek_wall/2007/08/wheres_the_deluge_of_coverage.html
5. http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/johann_hari/article2183809.ece
6. http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2006/09/19/the-smoke-behind-the-deniers-fire-3/
7. http://www.marklynas.org/2006/5/19/climate-denial-ads-to-air-on-us-national-television
8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eco-socialism
9. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2201594,00.html
10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Moore_(environmentalist)

No comments: