Thursday 13th August 2020

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Doomsday deniers

Patrick Moore and Conrad Black challenge the tenets of environmentalism

by Greg Klein

Patrick Moore and Conrad Black challenge the tenets of environmentalism

 

There might be limits to the ideological realm after all. Not only can heretics get paid speaking gigs but investors, of all people, will forego avarice long enough to grant them an audience. Over 600 attendees crammed into each of three SRO events at VRIC 2020, once to hear establishment apostate Conrad Black and twice for Greenpeace renegade Patrick Moore, as they took turns denouncing the cause célèbre of our time.

Both of them characterized environmentalism as a movement that’s been led astray. But they see the issue from different perspectives—Moore, not just as an insider but actually a founder of one of the earliest and most prominent activist groups; Black, maybe harbouring some Canadian Ancien régime instincts but largely uncategorizable.

Distinguished from most conventional enviro activists, Moore actually holds scientific credentials. He earned his PhD in ecology with a critique of British Columbia’s Island Copper Mine, helped create Greenpeace to protest U.S. H-bomb tests off the Alaska coast, and became influential in protecting whales and stopping French nuclear testing in the South Pacific.

Patrick Moore and Conrad Black challenge the tenets of environmentalism

Between talks Patrick Moore kept busy signing
copies of Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout:
The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist.

He has recounted his falling out with “political activists, social activists, entrepreneurial types” whom he accuses of turning environmentalism into an anti-humanitarian cause. Two striking examples he relates are global campaigns to ban chlorine and golden rice.

“Chlorine is, in fact, the most important element for public health and medicine,” he said. “This reinforces the [activists’] anti-human aspect. They didn’t seem to really care about that. So it became an ideological position that chlorine should be banned worldwide, even though it would result in a vast problem with human health and medicine. Seventy-five percent of our synthetic pharmaceuticals are made with chlorine chemistry, and adding chlorine to drinking water was the biggest advance in the history of public health. And this fell on deaf ears.”

As for golden rice, genetic research succeeded where breeding trials failed by adding vitamin A to the world’s least nutritious but—to billions living in poverty—most common staple food.

“Millions of children have died from vitamin A deficiency while Greenpeace has led the effort, along with all these other hundreds of anti-GMO organizations, to stop golden rice from being approved.”

Outrages like that hardly endear him to activists’ more recent rhetoric. Nor do their factual claims. Outlining evidence of global warming and cooling trends from history and pre-history, he lambasted conventionally accepted climate science.

We’ve always had this doomsday-apocalypse-end times kind of prediction with us in our civilization, but it has reached fever pitch now with the ‘climate emergency.’—Patrick Moore

“We’ve always had this doomsday-apocalypse-end times kind of prediction with us in our civilization, but it has reached fever pitch now with the ‘climate emergency.’ The truth is nothing in the climate or the weather today is anywhere near out of line with the past 10,000 years of this inter-glacial period.”

The movement’s tactics typify a general strategy, he maintained. “Nearly every single one of the scare stories you’re told of today from the media, and by the activist groups and politicians of all stripes, is something that is either invisible, remote or both. So you can’t verify it on your own.”

Examples range from CO2, invisible but much less abundant in the atmosphere than previously, to polar bears, remote and supposedly threatened by climate change but much more abundant than ever.

Not just misguided or unscientific, the movement’s evidence is often fake, he argued. Fake data, fake photos prop up fake claims that 93% of the Great Barrier coral reef was dying, a sea of garbage twice the size of Texas or even half the size of South America pollutes the Pacific, albatross innards have filled with discarded plastic, a million species face imminent extinction.

“This is the kind of B.S. you’re fed every day through the media on environmental issues.”

Patrick Moore and Conrad Black challenge the tenets of environmentalism

Like Moore, Conrad Black commended
the work of early environmentalists.

Black’s CV is well known but it’s worth emphasizing that by founding the National Post he created probably the closest approximation of a dissenting voice tolerated by Canada’s mainstream. His 35-minute talk began with a 20-minute outline of Canadian history before offering a political and economic perspective on environmentalism.

Early activists “were generally benign, well-intentioned and not particularly irritating groups, and most of what they did was a good thing,” he said. “However, as was apparent with the complete defeat of the international left, the collapse of international communism, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the severe defeat domestically of the left by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher in particular and to some extent by the Gaullists in France and even Brian Mulroney in this country, the international left landed, not I think by brilliant improvisation or strategic design, but initially by coincidence that they quickly realized was fortuitous on the subject of the environment.

“…. They saw environmental issues as an irresistible and powerful battering ram to attack capitalism, and that’s what they’ve done. A great deal of support for the environmental movement, as is quite demonstrable, comes from people who are not particularly environmentalists but are attempting to assault the economic system for what are strictly speaking esoteric reasons.”

Canada has drunk the Kool-Aid that almost anything that supports economic growth is environmentally irresponsible.—Conrad Black

They’ve found a ready audience in this country, Black said. “Canada has drunk the Kool-Aid that almost anything that supports economic growth is environmentally irresponsible.”

As a result, Canadian prosperity has been “repressed by an unrigorous and despotic tyranny of credulousness based on unproved pseudo-scientific facts.” This country should respond, he proposed, by leading a comprehensive study of climate science.

The suggestion that environmentalism constitutes an attack on capitalism, however, predates the fall of communism. And could it be that there’s more under attack than an economic system? Some time ago activists dropped class warfare for cultural warfare in a wide-ranging social revolution that has successfully transformed the mainstream. Moore might have a stronger point with his depiction of environmentalism as an anti-humanitarian campaign.

Climate alarmism might fizzle out, maybe in the same way a previous era of millennial fear ended after the year 1000 passed unapocalyptically. But culture warriors have other causes, most of them related to identity politics. The leaders need opportunities for their ambitions; the followers need outlets for their emotions.

Meanwhile Greta Thunberg might be shortchanging her followers with such a narrow focus. Arguably more realistic nightmares have been portrayed in literature, with examples such as 1984 and Animal Farm (as frightening now as when Orwell wrote them), The Camp of the Saints (Jean Raspail), The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 (Lionel Shriver), You Can’t Say That (an anonymously written Canadian dystopia), One Second After (William R. Forstchen), Sea Changes (Derek Turner), The Elementary Particles and Submission (Michel Houellebecq), and 2084: The End of the World (Boualem Sansal).

This generation might face a disturbing range of dystopian or doomsday possibilities. But one sign of hope came from Moore. He’s campaigned extensively for this cause which, to the ire of environmentalists, he says would significantly improve nutrition for the world’s poor. Last month the Philippines approved the consumption of golden rice.

Read more about Patrick Moore and Conrad Black.


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