Global Warming and the Questionable Credentials of Rush Limbaugh’s Patrick Moore

Global Warming / Climate Change is the most important issue facing humanity right now, as it will determine if humans can continue to inhabit this planet in the years to come.

Not coincidentally, it is also the issue that suffers the most from disinformation, lies, conspiracy theories, and manipulation of public opinion. It is a war the 1% has been waging on the 99% for years. Powerful, big-monied interests feed the common citizen lies under the guise of protecting them. A huge player in this game of lies is Rush Limbaugh and his resident Global Warming Denier, Patrick Moore.

Patrick Moore

At the start of 2011, Rush Limbaugh (an adamant Global Warming denier) hosted Moore, who seemed to validate his anti-science beliefs.   Moore said that Global Warming (Climate Change) is a natural occurrence, and a warmer planet would actually be a good thing.  Normally, being that it was on Limbaugh’s show, it would be quite obvious that a guest is either completely ignorant or is outright lying in order to manipulate the audience of (self-described) “ditto-heads.” But Moore seemed to have an impressive background – billed as a “co-founder of Greenpeace,” a scientist, and even an environmentalist. Wait – an environmentalist was saying that Climate Change is not as big of a deal as many other environmentalists say it is?  There’s got to be more going on here…

About f40 years ago, Moore was a “radical” environmentalist. He could still be described as such, but for a much different reason: he now takes a lot of controversial stances that many consider to fly in the face of environmentalism.  For example, while he supports increased use of alternative forms of energy, he also advocates increased nuclear power, and he is very supportive of the logging industry (more on this shortly).  Also, while he is not an all-out Global Warming denier, he does not believe that is anthropogenic (humans having anything to do with it); he believes that what we are currently experiencing is completely natural.

Conservatives love him because they can point to him as an “environmentalist” who supposedly “saw through all of the Left’s moonbat craziness,” and frequently criticizes the environmentalist movement – he says it is too extreme and not based on science.  They can say “this guy founded Greenpeace, so he’s as environmental as you can be, and even he thinks liberals are insane!”

But who is he really, and where do his views come from?

*             *             *             *

Jim Bohlen, Paul Cote, and Irving Stowe (credit: greenpeace.org)

Not Really a Greenpeace Co-Founder
In 2004, Rex Wyler wrote a book called Greenpeace: How a Group of Ecologists, Journalists, and Visionaries Changed the World.  Prior to becoming an author, Wyler studied physics, was an engineer at Lockheed, and was a director of the original Greenpeace.  According to his book, Greenpeace was originally founded as the “Don’t Make a Wave” committee.

The progression was as follows: “the ‘Don’t Make a Wave’ committee was formed in January 1970 by Dorothy and Irving Stowe, Ben Metcalfe, Marie and Jim Bohlen, Paul Cote, and Bob Hunter. The Committee had formed to plan opposition to the testing of a one-megaton hydrogen bomb in 1969 by the United States Atomic Energy Commission on Amchitka Island in the Aleutians.  Moore joined the committee in 1971 and, as Greenpeace co-founder Bob Hunter wrote, ‘Moore was quickly accepted into the inner circle on the basis of his scientific background, his reputation [as an environmental activist], and his ability to inject practical, no-nonsense insights into the discussions.'” Note that following their first protest in 1971, the committee changed their name to Greenpeace.

So Moore wasn’t technically a founder of Greenpeace (the Greenpeace website actually has a PDF of his application, as a way to debunk claims that he helped found the organization) but he was in the inner circle around the time Greenpeace was founded.  Moore’s scientific background that Hunter spoke of came in the form of a PhD in ecology from the Institute of Animal Resource Ecology, University of British Columbia.  In 1977 he was elected president of Greenpeace, but the original founders didn’t like how he ran it so they decided to split from him.  He responded by suing them for copyright infringement. They reached a deal in which Greenpeace International was formed, and Moore would serve as president of Greenpeace Canada.  He also served as a director of Greenpeace International.

Time After Greenpeace: Logging Industry

In 1986, Moore left Greenpeace – although lobbywatch.org points out that “according to Greenpeace’s Tamara Stark, Moore’s exit from the organization was ‘not necessarily by his own choice’.” From there he started a fish farm and began his own environmental consulting firm, Greenspirit Strategies.

Clear-cut logging in Tasmania (picture taken by a friend while I was there)

Also from lobbywatch.org: “Around the same time, he became a full-time paid director and consultant for the British Columbia Forest Alliance. The Alliance, although presented as a ‘citizens group’, was the brainchild of PR firm Burson-Marsteller. The Alliance has a budget of around $2m derived mostly from the forest industry and its 170 or so corporate members, and it campaigns for clear-cutting.”  This was also reported in O’Dwyer’s PR Services Report.

The name Burson-Marsteller should ring a bell and sound alarms.  On the January 24, 2011 edition of The Rachel Maddow Show, Maddow discussed how they are the go-to PR firm for notable clients when large-scale crises need to be managed. They were hired by Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who often staged PR events in which dubious tactics were used to make things seem better in Romania than they actually were (such as flying healthy cows in to the farms he was going to visit).  They also represented Indonesia during the East Timor uprisings (following the Santa Cruz massacre), and they represented Saudi Arabia within days of the terrorist attacks on September 11th  They then represented the controversial private security firm Blackwater USA following their murder of 17 Iraqi citizens.

BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill (picture credit: Associated Press)

In researching the points that Maddow made, I found out that besides representing generally shady clients, most notable to this discussion is that Burson-Marsteller also reportedly helped ExxonMobil clean up their public image following their disastrous Exxon Valdez incident.  This association is what caused the Unibomber, Ted Kaczynski, to murder Thomas J. Mosser who was an executive at B-M at the time.  B-M denies their involvement with Exxon’s image, but admits to conducting a survey of the case for Exxon.  Exxon isn’t the only oil company Burson-Marstellar has ties to.  The list also includes Shell, Conoco, Cheveron, BP, Repsol, and Gulf.

B-M’s ties to oil companies goes back at least as far as the early 1990’s when, as the Times reported, they were hired by the American Energy Alliance (formed by the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute) to oppose Bill Clinton’s BTU tax on fossil fuels.  B-M also has a history of being explicitly anti-environmental.  In 1998, the NY Times reported that B-M was the driving force behind advocacy against emissions standards for cars in California, and the Washington Post reported in 1997 that B-M was behind the deceptively named “Foundation for Clean Air Progress” that was a “multimillion-dollar campaign to turn back EPA regulations for smog and soot”.

So Patrick Moore went from helping to shape Greenpeace’s beginnings, to leading Greenpeace, to basically being kicked out of Greenpeace, to earning his living from a company with ties to anti-environmental campaigns and many of the world’s oil companies.

Old-growth forest in BC (AncientForestAlliance.org)

In fairness to Moore, he doesn’t technically work for Burson-Marstellar – he works for their subsidiary, British Columbia Forest Alliance.  So let’s look at them.  The name sounds environmentally friendly, doesn’t it?  But much like the “Foundation for Clean Air Progress”, the name is deceiving.  The actual environmentally friendly British Columbia organization for forests is the similarly named Ancient Forest Alliance.  Their goal is protecting the province’s old growth forests from being cut down.  In direct contrast, the Moore-directed British Columbia Forest Alliance is a joint venture of the major logging companies in British Columbia.  You see, Moore is an advocate for deforestation…

Moore once defended deforestation the same way he now defends his anti-Climate Change views: that Leftist environmentalists have abandoned science, and we must undertake certain activities in the name of Sustainable Development.  I’ll get into this more in a minute, but here’s what Moore said in an article titled “Give Public ‘New Pair of Eyes’ to View Landscape, Says Ex-Radical”: “Deforestation is nearly always caused by friendly farmers growing our food, and by nice carpenters building our houses, towns, and cities. Deforestation is not an evil plot; it is something we do on purpose in order to feed and house the growing population of 6 billion humans.”

He paints a nice, pastoral, and innocent picture doesn’t he?  ‘Cutting down trees isn’t bad – it’s like a puppy wrapped in a rainbow!  We need to cut down trees because “friendly farmers” need to do their friendly farming so we can all eat happy food!’  You see, he tried to evoke the same false images that are ubiquitous throughout the modern food industry…

Go into your local grocery store, and count how many images there are of pastures, traditional single-family farms, and general small-town scenes.  The truth is that most of that food has been mass-produced in factories – not farms.  And the farms that have been used would be virtually unrecognizable to anyone expecting the picture on the label. The animals have been tortured, not befriended.  And the farmers, who are anything but “friendly” to their animals, probably are in massive debt and are enslaved to a much larger corporate entity that is actually calling the shots.  But the labels don’t show that, because then people would feel bad and possibly not buy it.  So they use propaganda to make what they do seem happier – just like Moore was attempting to do with deforestation.

(trailer credit: Earthlings.com)

Moore was technically correct in that “most” deforestation is driven by the need for increased agricultural land, but his argument is misleading.  According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 80% of deforestation is due to farming.  However, only 48% of deforestation is due to subsistence farming – that’s the “friendly farmer” he was referring to.   Commercial agriculture is responsible for 32% of deforestation (factory farming).  He didn’t mention that logging is responsible for 14% of deforestation, and wood for fuel makes up 5% of deforestation.  It’s a clever use of statistics and imagery on Moore’s part, but it’s deceiving. It also ignores that Moore himself has ties to a deforestion company (Asia Pulp & Paper) that has nothing to do with farming or construction of homes…

Perhaps why he has such a positive view of cutting down trees is because his father was president of the British Columbia Truck Loggers Association as well as president of the Pacific Logging Congress.  Not to mention that he, himself, is being paid by a company that makes its money by cutting down trees.  Also, he admits that he is well paid for his speaking and consulting services through his company Greenspirit Strategies.  He insists that “people don’t pay me to say things they’ve written down or made up. They pay me to tell them what I think.”  However, evidence from one of their clients suggests otherwise.

Following allegations of widespread illegal logging, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) hired Greenspirit Strategies to conduct an “investigation,” but the resulting report was no more than a PR puff piece.  George Monbiot reviewed Moore’s results and said “sections of his report have been copied from a PR brochure produced by APP earlier this year. In some places APP’s text is reproduced verbatim; elsewhere it appears to have been paraphrased

Left, the Sungai Sembilang National Park, Sumatra; right, an area cleared by paper companies. Photograph: Romeo Gacad 7

Deforestation is harmful in two main ways:  the first is that it ruins habitats for wild animals.  In the APP controversy, deforestation was threatening the tiger, orangutan, elephant and clouded leopard of Sumatra.  In North America, deforestation threatens species such as grizzly bear.  Dr. Richard “Nels” Nelson touched on this in one of his radio shows, Encounters, “in southeast Alaska, scientists studying the Brown Bear – especially on Admiralty and Chichagof islands – have found that these bears make very little use of new, raw clear cut forests, other than to pass through them on the logging roads, and to do some minor feeding. When the second-growth forest comes in after clear cutting, they make absolutely no use of those areas whatsoever.”

The second main reason why deforestion is bad, is that it contributes to Global Warming / Climate Change by releasing stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Some of the most important areas on the planet for keeping carbon dioxide in the ground and not in the atmosphere are the boreal forests of Eurasia and North America (the other is the Amazon).  Nels also spoke of the boreal forests in an episode of Encounters:

“2.5 million acres of boreal forest are being cut down every year – mostly for paper and other ephemeral products. … Since the 1960s, the acres of boreal forest burned in wildfires has doubled as the climate gets drier.  The lakes and the wetlands are drying out with climate change.  … The main cause of Global Warming, according to atmospheric scientists, is increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.  And a major source of that carbon dioxide is decomposition.  The cold climate in the subarctic slows decomposition, so vast amounts of plant material have accumulated here on the forest floor.  This is called ‘carbon sequestration.’  The boreal forest is storing more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem on Earth.  So it has a major buffering affect then, on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  Many scientists conclude that this is an important reason to limit cutting of this forest, and to try to control the growing amount of wildfire here.”

It appears that those who have nothing to gain financially from defending deforestation have reached a different conclusion than someone who does: Patrick Moore.

Patrick Moore claims that the Left has hijacked Environmentalism as a way to push their ideology without scientific evidence.  However, it certainly appears to me that he is the one who has been pushing his own ideology (and those of his corporate benefactors) at the sacrifice of scientific evidence.

Scientific evidence of Global Warming arises from understanding (through experiments) that releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere warms the planet (a fact discovered by Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius in 1895, not Al Gore in 2006 – as conservatives want you to think).  Scientific evidence of Global Warming arises from understanding the chemical process of decomposition, and from studying ice cores to determine what atmospheric conditions in the past can teach us about the future.

Global Warming deniers like Patrick Moore, Rush Limbaugh, and Limbaugh’s audience of self-described “dittoheads” want everyone to ignore the scientific evidence. They want everyone to instead rely on the anti-science propaganda of corporations that stand to financially benefit from a manipulated population.

We cannot believes their lies.

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7 Responses to Global Warming and the Questionable Credentials of Rush Limbaugh’s Patrick Moore

  1. Spectra says:

    Full Disclosure: I have basic knowledge but am not as well-versed on the issue of climate change as I’d like to be. Still, this really eloquent, thought-provoking, and inFORmative piece has completely engaged me, and I want to stay on top of this.

    I’m so impressed that your piece provided adequate context and information about (complex) issues relating to environmental justice — farming, mass food production, corporate interests, public opinion, CO2 emission, etc — without overwhelming me. I feel more empowered with this information and I can’t wait to read part two! Though, I have to say, when you mentioned you would be debunking his comments in a follow-up, I thought to myself, “You don’t need to. You just completely discredited his opinion by making really important connections to his corporate alignment.” I’d read the debunking only for sport, not because I need more proof that he’s a shmuck.

    This voice — the kind that investigates, questions, draws connections — is completely missing from so many mainstream press publications. I would encourage you to find some journals to submit this to. It has the sources to substantiate its value and you do so much persuading without overtly doing so. You present the facts and the readers are forced to make similar conclusions; that this dodo who went on Rush’ show used to be for the people but sold his soul for a business card and we shouldn’t trust him. Story done.

    Can’t wait to read the next post! I’ll be relying on you to keep me informed cause the environment is something I very much care about and I’d like to be more engaged — even if my ‘activist’ in this arena is simply sharing your posts with other environmentalists I know. Kudos, bro.

    • Maribel says:

      Super work here. too many green-ish technocrats talk up nukes. Way too many.We gonna dump the waste on the moon, then? Reminds one of Larry Summers’ joke from years back that depevoling nations are underpolluted’ who needs the moon when the poor are just as marginal and expendable?

  2. Pingback: The Cost of Tax Cuts | Wait, I see something

  3. Erico says:

    It is our responsibility to the frtuue, as sentient beings to mitigate the negative affects of our extinction, so as to preserve the integrity and health of the planet for the next higher intelligence to evolve.PeaceProfit@Twitter

  4. You can definitely see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  5. Lech-pol says:

    you should to read it again and think about last sentence. but it`s only my opinion

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