Confessions of a ‘Lukewarmist’

An ecologist and early member of Greenpeace will speak at a conference of climate-change skeptics.

National Journal
Christopher Snow Hopkins
See more stories about...
Christopher Snow Hopkins
May 8, 2014, 8 a.m.

In Feb­ru­ary, Patrick Moore, one of the ori­gin­al mem­bers of Green­peace, told mem­bers of Con­gress that cli­mate change was a the­ory, not a fact.

“There is no sci­entif­ic proof that hu­man emis­sions of car­bon di­ox­ide (CO2) are the dom­in­ant cause of the minor warm­ing of the Earth’s at­mo­sphere over the past 100 years,” he test­i­fied be­fore the Sen­ate En­vir­on­ment and Pub­lic Works Sub­com­mit­tee on Over­sight. “If there were such a proof it would be writ­ten down for all to see. No ac­tu­al proof, as it is un­der­stood in sci­ence, ex­ists.”

Moore knows well that his views run con­trary to the sci­entif­ic con­sensus on cli­mate change and he’s un­apo­lo­get­ic. “I real­ize that my com­ments are con­trary to much of the spec­u­la­tion about our cli­mate that is ban­died about today,” he said. “However, I am con­fid­ent that his­tory will bear me out.”

Earli­er this week, it was an­nounced that the cur­mudgeonly 66-year-old, who has re­pu­di­ated the or­gan­iz­a­tion he once be­longed to (and it has re­pu­di­ated him), will de­liv­er a key­note ad­dress at the 9th In­ter­na­tion­al Con­fer­ence on Cli­mate Change, a gath­er­ing of cli­mate-change skep­tics that will take place in Ju­ly. The thrust of his present­a­tion will be what Moore sees as the spec­u­lat­ive nature of cli­mate-change re­search.

“Com­puter mod­els are not a crys­tal ball,” Moore said on the phone Thursday. “In fact, the crys­tal ball is a myth­ic­al op­tion. There is no such ma­chine that can pre­dict the fu­ture”¦. As Yogi Berra opined many years ago, ‘Pre­dic­tions are dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially about the fu­ture.’ If you can pre­dict cli­mate change, you can pre­dict the stock ex­change and the win­ner of every horse race. The fu­ture is full of vari­ables.”

Moore, who holds a Ph.D. in eco­logy from the Uni­versity of Brit­ish Columbia, con­cedes that the sci­entif­ic com­munity has co­alesced around the the­ory of cli­mate change but poin­ted to a re­cent sur­vey of Iowa corn farm­ers in which 92 per­cent of re­spond­ents said that they did not be­lieve hu­mans were the main cause of glob­al warm­ing. “I’m in good com­pany,” he said.

The self-de­scribed “luke­warm­ist” — which he defines as “someone in between a den­ier and a true be­liev­er” — will be joined at the con­fer­ence by a mot­ley co­ali­tion of cli­mate skep­tics, in­clud­ing a smat­ter­ing of cli­ma­to­lo­gists, a former mem­ber of the Aus­trali­an Par­lia­ment, and a re­tired NASA rock­et sci­ent­ist.

For its part, Green­peace main­tains that Moore did not help found the or­gan­iz­a­tion, as he claims, but joined after it was es­tab­lished. These days, the or­gan­iz­a­tion is crit­ic­al of Moore, say­ing on its web­site that he “fre­quently cites a long-ago af­fil­i­ation with Green­peace to gain le­git­im­acy.”

They dis­agree on policy, too. On the mat­ter of cli­mate change, for ex­ample, the or­gan­iz­a­tion ar­gues force­fully that it is an im­port­ant and press­ing en­vir­on­ment­al prob­lem, point­ing to a re­cent White House re­port as fur­ther evid­ence of the ur­gent need to re­duce glob­al car­bon emis­sions.

“This week’s Na­tion­al Cli­mate As­sess­ment re­minds us that cli­mate change isn’t something we can wait to deal with,” said Gabe Wis­niewski, Green­peace’s cli­mate cam­paign dir­ect­or. “Amer­ic­an com­munit­ies are already fa­cing the im­pacts every day. And the threat of stronger storms, droughts, and rising sea levels will only grow un­less we re­duce car­bon pol­lu­tion.”

Born in Brit­ish Columbia, Moore served for nine years as pres­id­ent of Green­peace Canada and sev­en years as a dir­ect­or of Green­peace In­ter­na­tion­al. In 1971, he sailed on a small boat across the Pa­cific to protest U.S. hy­dro­gen-bomb test­ing in Alaska, ac­cord­ing to his con­gres­sion­al testi­mony.

He left Green­peace in the 1980s and spent four years as dir­ect­or and vice pres­id­ent for the en­vir­on­ment and gov­ern­ment­al af­fairs at Wa­ter­fur­nace In­ter­na­tion­al, a man­u­fac­turer of geo­therm­al heat pumps. From 2000 to 2012, he served as chair­man and chief sci­ent­ist of Green­spir­it Strategies, a con­sultancy. He has pub­lic­ally worked on be­half of the nuc­le­ar in­dustry.

Now semire­tired, Moore has been to Europe twice in the last few months to fight against a cam­paign to ban “golden rice,” a ge­net­ic­ally mod­i­fied ver­sion of rice en­riched with beta-carotene. “Vit­am­in A de­fi­ciency kills mil­lions of chil­dren,” he said. “Golden rice can fix that.”

It’s one more area that he and Green­peace don’t see eye to eye. As Aless­andro Sac­coc­cio, com­mu­nic­a­tions man­ager for eco­lo­gic­al farm­ing at Green­peace In­ter­na­tion­al, put it, “Ge­net­ic­ally en­gin­eered Golden Rice is an ex­pens­ive and risky ex­per­i­ment that for the past 20 years has failed to de­liv­er a real solu­tion for Vit­am­in A de­fi­ciency in the Phil­ip­pines.”

COR­REC­TION: An earli­er ver­sion of this story mis­sated where a sur­vey of farm­ers took place. It was Iowa.

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
7 REPUBLICANS ON STAGE
Carly Fiorina Will Not Be Allowed to Debate on Saturday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

ABC News has announced the criteria for Saturday’s Republican debate, and that means Carly Fiorina won’t be a part of it. The network is demanding candidates have “a top-three finish in Iowa, a top-six standing in an average of recent New Hampshire polls or a top-six placement in national polls in order for candidates to qualify.” And there will be no “happy hour” undercard debate this time. “So that means no Fiorina vs. Jim Gilmore showdown earlier in the evening for the most ardent of campaign 2016 junkies.

Source:
×