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
Add to Briefcase
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 »
TRUMP’S ATTORNEY WAS SET TO TESTIFY ON WEDNESDAY
Senate Intel Postpones Testimony by Cohen
1 days ago
THE LATEST
AMENDMENT WOULD HAVE PREVENTED CONSIDERATION
Senate Rejects Effort to Nix SALT Tax Changes
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."

Source:
INTERVIEWED BY COMMITTEE STAFF
Lewandowski Meets with Senate Intelligence Committee
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lewandowski is the latest senior official in Trump's orbit who has met with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign."

Source:
FISHING EXPEDITION
Some Members Seek to Wrap Up Russia Investigations by Year’s End
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."

Source:
WROTE LAW THAT WEAKENED OPIOID OVERSIGHT
Trump: Marino Withdrawing Nomination for Drug Czar
4 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login