Why an Ex-Greenpeace Activist Is Attacking the Climate Change Industry

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Patrick Moore will have you know that climate change is a complete scam and a conspiracy theory cooked up by the Left to further its own agenda. According to him, it preys on the “two most powerful human motivators: fear and guilt.” In an article published on Heartland, he writes, “We fear driving our car will kill our grandchildren, and we feel guilty for doing it.”

Ordinarily, pronouncements by climate change skeptics are not news. But this case is different. Apart from his work as a spokesperson for the nuclear energy industry, Patrick Moore is also a former Greenpeace activist. Numerous media reports refer to him as a Greenpeace co-founder, but the environmental organization claims that Moore applied for membership a year after Greenpeace was founded.

Moore’s argument against climate change spans its economics, politics, and science. For example, he focuses on the economic and political potency of the climate change industry, which has made multimillionaires out of activists and businessmen alike. Similarly, he refers to the earth’s natural cycles of warming and cooling to debunk computer models, which predict unnatural warming.

There is more than a grain of truth in Moore’s arguments. Yes, the media loves the inherent conflict in climate change; yes, the earth has natural cycles of warming and cooling; and yes, the climate change industry is a lucrative one, and new industries have emerged as a result of climate change economics. But Moore’s argument also has its problems.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

A paradox of arguments

A fact remains, though, that many of Moore’s statements are contradictory and self-serving (Moore is a spokesperson for the nuclear energy industry). Let’s look at the scientific, economic, and ethical aspects of his complaint against the climate change industry.

There is no doubt that the Earth has been warming since the Ice Age (we wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t). It is also true that certain earlier periods of human history were hotter than the current one. But previous warming cycles were a result of natural causes, such as solar radiance and volcanic eruptions that release sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere, a gas that traps carbon dioxide.

There is also strong evidence that the rate of natural weather patterns or cycles of warming and cooling, which used to take millions of years earlier, has accelerated in recent times.

According to data from NASA and Environment Protection Agency (EPA), changes in the Earth’s temperature are inconsistent with earlier periods of warming and cooling.

“Even if the sun were getting brighter, the pattern of warming observed on Earth since 1950 does not match the type of warming that the sun would cause. The rate of change is extremely unusual,” the NASA website states.

Even as he charges the Left with conspiracy theories and tilting against the windmills as far as global warming is concerned, Moore indulges in some economic conspiracy theories of his own.

According to Moore, climate change has resulted in a “feeding frenzy” of scary scenarios. In turn, this has led to the emergence of new industries — solar, wind, and nuclear. Moore also states that climate change has benefited scientific institutions because they have expanded operations by installing new departments. They have also earned “millions in funding” to research climate change. A number of climate change organizations funded by the same sources have also emerged.

Finally, in his screed against the climate change industry, Moore charges the Left with an agenda for redistributing wealth from industrial countries to the developing world and UN bureaucracy.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

The ultimate issue

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it overlooks the economic benefits of new industries. Even if one discounts for their effect on climate change, fossil fuels are being depleted at a phenomenal rate. As such, it makes sense to look for alternate sources of energy to power world growth. The economic consequences of a shift toward renewable or alternate sources of energy is also economically beneficial for the West.

For example, the United States’ recent deal with India could earn serious money for the nuclear industry here. Solar power, another industry that emerged as a result of climate change politics, is undergoing a similar renaissance as American solar panel manufacturers benefit from exposure to Indian markets. As always, economic interests are at the heart of an industrial shift, just as they were 300 years ago.

Finally, there is the egregious charge of conflict of interest against the Inter Governmental Panel of Climate Change. According to Moore’s article, the IPCC has a “hopeless conflict of interest” because its existence depends on proving that human activity is responsible for climate change.

The criticism is not unwarranted.

But the problem with Moore’s argument is his own credentials. There is an inherent conflict present in his criticism of the industry. He is part of the same sphere (climate change) that he criticizes. He is also a representative and promoter of nuclear energy, a form of energy that has gained tremendous traction due to greater awareness about dirty coal and fossil fuels.

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