We Are Being Lied To
Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom by Patrick Moore
Ecosense Environmental Inc, 2021, 208 pp
Patrick Moore is a former Greenpeace activist who wants us to know we are being lied to about environmental catastrophes. They involve invisible substances or are remote from most people’s direct knowledge. This puts us into the hands of expert interpreters and the media. Pulling no punches, he accuses high-profile people and institutions including Sir David Attenborough of “knowingly lying through their teeth.” Moore thinks mutually reinforcing self-interests explain this. But he doesn’t get to the core of the issue: cowering us with fear and seducing us with a heroic sense of purpose for a reset in which an eco-corporate-socialist oligarchy advances its ambition for a totalitarian state.
Moore grew up in a remote forestry and fishing village on Canada’s Vancouver Island in the years following the Second World War and took a degree in forestry. As a young man pursuing a PhD in ecology, in 1971 he joined a group planning to sail a boat from Vancouver to the North Pacific to protest against atomic bomb testing in Alaska. The group adopted the name Greenpeace. Moore became a leading Greenpeace activist in its campaigns to stop nuclear testing and whaling in the Pacific, and seal clubbing in Canada. He was a founding director of Greenpeace International, established to govern the many Greenpeace organisations that sprang up in American states and in other countries.
By the mid 1980s, Moore began to have doubts about the organisation he’d help to build. One trigger was Greenpeace’s campaign to ban the element chlorine, branding it the devil’s element, because some dangerous chemicals contain it. No matter that chlorine is one half of common salt and that, according to Moore, “the addition of chlorine to drinking water represented the biggest advance in public health in history.” Moore explains that as Greenpeace’s confrontational tactics made environmental awareness mainstream, driving publicity and funding meant “adopting ever more extreme positions, eventually abandoning science and logic altogether…” The movement was by then too large for Moore alone to turn the tide. He put up a spirited debate on many issues, earning himself the moniker “Dr Truth,” but was simply outvoted. Moore left, started a salmon farming business with his brother on is native Vancouver Island, and became an environmental consultant. He chronicles his experiences in his 2011 memoir Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist.
The truth is Greenpeace and I underwent divergent evolutions. I became a sensible environmentalist; Greenpeace became increasingly senseless as it adopted an agenda that is antiscience, antibusiness, and downright antihuman.
In his new book, Fake Invisible Catastrophes and the Threats of Doom, Moore notices that “the great majority of scare stories about the present and future state of the planet, and humanity as a whole, are based on subjects that are either invisible, like CO2 and radiation, or extremely remote, like polar bears and coral reefs.” This means that most people have no way of verifying them for themselves and must rely on “activists, the media, politicians and scientists—all of whom have a very large financial and/or political stake in the subject.” These scare mongers are unwilling to engage in civilised discussion, often stoop to ridiculing and shaming their critics, and dismissing them as deniers or industry shills.
In summary, these purveyors of global environmental catastrophes are definitely a scurrilous and dishonest lot.
The book sets out to prove this. Unsurprisingly, it is independently published.
Moore’s approach to the supposedly imminent death of the Great Barrier Reef is illustrative of how he tackles the other alleged catastrophes. The claims the Reef is in imminent danger are outlined and referenced, the science is explained—in this case, how reef organisms work and grow, along with their evolutionary development – and he highlights some killer questions which cast the catastrophic claims in opposition to common sense. In the case of the Reef, “if modern corals evolved and survived for 225 million years when the climate was considerably warmer than it is today, why are we told that a small amount of warming threatens their very existence?” He clinches the argument by pointing out that the world’s most prolific and diverse coral reefs are in warmer tropical waters, particularly those north of Australia in the Coral Triangle between Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and New Guinea. So why are scientists peddling the death-of-the-Reef narrative? “Unfortunately, the answer is: for academic status and money.”
Climate change is the most technically difficult chapter in the book, but Moore handles it in much the same way as his chapter on the Reef. He outlines and references the many allegations of impending doom, some of which, like the Reef and polar bears, are the subject of other chapters; others, like the predicted vanishing of the ice caps, are disposed of in the chapter. He critiques computer models and scientific consensus, runs through the science of the greenhouse effect and the carbon cycle, and what we know about Earth’s climate in the past, including in deep time many millions of years ago. This again provides his critical question. Finally, he offers an alternative to the theory that carbon dioxide is the Earth’s temperature control knob.
Looking at Earth’s climate since complex life evolved some 570 million years ago, Moore’s key question is this. If for almost all of that vast time the Earth has been warmer than it is now, and carbon dioxide concentrations higher (often many times higher) and there is no correlation between them over periods of many millions of years, why are we being scared, and guilt tripped, to accept that relatively small increases now in carbon dioxide concentrations and temperature will be catastrophic?
We are now in the Pleistocene Ice Age that began some 2.6 million years ago. The so-called pre-industrial concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, at 280 parts per million, is almost as low as it has ever been. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have been on a generally declining trend for some 150 million years. Plants absorbed it, and it got locked away as fossil fuels. Marine calcifying animals absorbed it to make their shells, and it got locked away as limestone. “When we burn fossil fuels, we return carbon dioxide to the atmosphere where it came from in the first place.” This liberates “trapped carbon” into the life-generating carbon cycle, which Moore says is “one of the most positive developments in Earth’s history, the replenishment of the most important substance for life on Earth.”
Moore then goes into the science of the greenhouse effect, involving water vapour, carbon dioxide, and methane; and atmospheric physics and heat transfer mechanisms. Water vapour, said to be responsible for about 60 per cent or more of the greenhouse effect, has an ambiguous role, with clouds the wild cards. The implications of the wild-card clouds for computer prediction of climate were considered by Patrick Frank from the Stanford Linear Accelerator. He concluded that:
At the current level of theory an [anthropogenic global warming] signal, if any, will never emerge from climate noise … because the uncertainty width will necessarily increase much faster than any projected trend in air temperature. Any impact from [greenhouse gases] will always be lost within the uncertainty interval. Even advanced climate models exhibit poor energy resolution and very large projection uncertainties.
Moore calls for an end to public funding of computer model predictions of the climate. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated, “the climate system is a coupled non-linear system, and therefore the long-term prediction of climate states is not possible.” The key point in disposing of the scientific consensus argument is elegantly made by author Michael Crichton: “If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus.” Moore backs that up with Albert Einstein’s quip in response to a book contesting his theories by a hundred authors: “If I were wrong, then one (author) would have been enough.”
For an explanation for Earth’s climate changes, Moore looks in more detail at the Pleistocene Ice Age of the last 2.6 million years, during which the ice sheets have advanced and retreated several times. Our current epoch, the Holocene interglacial, began about 11,700 years ago with the retreat of the glaciers from the mid latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere—Boston was once under more than 1,000 m of ice, Montreal under more than 3,000 m. The Holocene has itself seen some modest rises and falls in temperatures, such as the Medieval Warm Period, when the Vikings settled in Greenland, followed by the Little Ice Age at its coldest in the late 17th century. We have been in a period of gradual warming ever since. That the latter half of this coincides with the period of industrialisation and the burning of fossil fuels, resulting in increasing emissions of carbon dioxide, does not mean those emissions have caused the warming. Instead, Moore says the record of the Pleistocene shows the glacial and interglacial periods coincide with periodic changes to the Earth’s orbital eccentricity (a 100,000-year cycle) and changes in the tilt of Earth’s axis of rotation from the ecliptic (a 41,000-year cycle). These are caused by the gravitational effects on the Earth of other planets in the solar system—principally, Jupiter and Saturn. Because the ocean has about 1,000 times the heat content of the atmosphere, it takes a while to respond to warming, but as it does, it releases carbon dioxide, lifting the atmospheric concentration.
To summarize, the 2.6-million-year Pleistocene Ice Age provides ample evidence that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration during this period has been dictated by the cycles of warming and cooling as the seas emitted and absorbed CO2 in synchronization with the temperature, with an average lag time of 800 years.
… we have not actually altered the climate in any way out of the ordinary and there is no hard evidence that we will. The climate of Earth today is not at all unusual for an interglacial period.
Whereas more CO2 is entirely beneficial for life including the plants we depend on, the biggest threats to society and the environment, are the very policies that are being adopted to “fight catastrophic climate change.
With the centre piece of the book out of the way, Moore romps through a number of other fake invisible catastrophes. His analysis that polar bears are not threatened with extinction due to climate change draws significantly on the work of Susan Crockford, formerly of the University of Victoria, British Columbia, which refused to renew her appointment. The great Pacific garbage patch is largely a case of fake, doctored images. The related scare that sea birds are eating plastic, threatening their survival, involves doctored images and sins of omission. Moore explains that because birds have no teeth, they eat small, hard objects to help grind up food in their gizzard. Many birds, especially on land, use pebbles. Sea birds can use hard plastic just as effectively and harmlessly. Experts and many science communicators know this, but nevertheless spread the lie.
It is clear that Sir David Attenborough, the BBC, the Smithsonian, and Greenpeace are knowingly lying through their teeth in hopes no one will call them out.
Moving on to the scare campaign to ban genetically modified foods, Moore’s key question is this: if they contain something harmful, what is it?
Of all the fabricated scare stories today, this is probably the most serious one as it is costing millions of lives, especially among children and pregnant women. There is simply nothing in the genetically modified organisms that are being grown around the world today that could cause harm.
Greenpeace’s campaign against Golden Rice prompted Moore to return to his activist roots. It is genetically modified to produce beta-carotene to tackle vitamin A deficiency in people with rice-dominated diets. Moore branded Greenpeace’s campaign a “crime against humanity” with “8 million children dead.”
Radiation, however, is real and can cause harm. Moore takes us on a technical tour of electromagnetic and other radiation. He emphasises the first rule of toxicology that the dose makes the poison and there is no evidence that low doses of radiation are harmful. He believes “nuclear energy had been unfairly lumped in with nuclear weapons as something evil.” Moore unpicks the various scare stories that followed the accidents at three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. Only Chernobyl resulted in nuclear-related deaths, and not many at that. Since he doesn’t believe the demonisation of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide is justified, he makes a case for greater adoption of nuclear energy on the basis of conserving those limited resources, especially for land and air transport. He doesn’t believe wind and solar with battery back-up is economically or technically viable to replace a high percentage of fossil fuels on a global scale.
One of the most irrational aspects of the climate alarmism movement is that the vast majority of the people in the movement are adamantly opposed to nuclear energy.
As the son of a logging family who studied forestry, Moore is scathingly critical of the view that climate change is causing ‘megafires’, saying it is “a dereliction of duty on the part of politicians and “green” activists.” The area of forest burned in the USA has declined markedly since fire suppression became the dominant paradigm for forest management in the 1940s. It has risen gradually since the 1990s when the environmental movement began to have more influence, promoting a “hands off” approach. Like many others, Moore says the solutions lie in proper management of the forests, in particular managing fuel loads, and not letting people live too close to forested land. This is one of the fake catastrophes about which quite a lot of people in places like California and Australia do have access to direct personal experience. Moore makes the case for commercial use of the forests, though not national parks, saying “wood is the most important renewable material substance in the world.” He also supports using wood waste for power production.
Felling trees is a somewhat integral part of forestry and should not be confused with deforestation.
So long as the wood … is used at a sustainable rate, and is comparable to the growth rate of forests, it doesn’t really matter what the wood is used for.
The claim that carbon dioxide is making the oceans acidic, causing the extinction of shellfish and corals is described by Moore as a “complete fabrication.” It has the unique property among climate catastrophe narratives of being independent of temperature, so it would not be undermined by a pause in temperature increases. Again, the fact that such marine creatures have evolved and survived much higher levels of carbon dioxide in past ages gives the lie to this scare story. Moore also goes into the buffering properties of sea water, making it relatively immune to changes in pH, and he explains how life forms have a crucial ability to maintain internal chemistry distinct from their external environment. Thus, calcifying marine life can make shells under a range of pH conditions. This can be demonstrated experimentally.
Not many people stop to think that every individual of every species on Earth today represents a continuously successful line of reproduction from the beginning of life.
Finally, Moore takes delight in skewering Sir David Attenborough for promoting the story that walruses were falling from cliffs to their deaths due to climate change. Moore says this is an “outright lie.” He explains the lifestyle of walruses, a coastal species because they are bottom feeders, which is why they have those tusks. They don’t need the sea ice said to be disappearing due to climate change. As for walruses falling from cliffs, the large colonies of walruses attracted polar bears. Backing away in terror, some walruses fell, and the polar bears then ate the carcases.
Those who suggest these events are a sign of pending catastrophe are looking for victims of global warming to tally on a ledger…
Moore offers several explanations for why we are being lied to about these fake invisible catastrophes. The most instrumental one is self-interest. Activists seeking donations, the media seeking readers, politicians seeking votes, and scientists seeking never-ending grants. Environmental alarmism is a type of yellow journalism. A proclivity for hyperbole gets so-called experts media attention, raises their profile, and helps them sell books. Catastrophism makes climate scientists feel important. Politicians, positioning on the high moral ground of avoiding a climate disaster in the future, claim a mandate to regulate and spend at will in the present. But Moore doesn’t attempt to demonstrate that any scientist or scientific organisation is deliberately lying to get grants. There is only the general implication that since catastrophic predictions have leveraged funding increases for climate research, there is a general community of interest in keeping the narrative going.
Another reason is common to most activist movements. As their advocacy gains traction and becomes mainstream, the activists adopt ever more extreme positions to get attention and continue their movement, eventually parting company with science and reason altogether. We’ve seen this with the movement to decriminalise homosexuality, which went on to demand gay rights, the legalisation of same sex marriage, and having achieved that exploded into the radical transgender movement. The civil rights movement too, having achieved formal legal equality and the mainstreaming of affirmative action, now assaults society with charges of systemic racism and demands for reparations.
A third explanation is that following the end of the Cold War in 1989 the environmental movement was hijacked by political and social activists who learned to use green language to cloak agendas that had more to do with anticapitalism than with science and ecology. Moore doesn’t document that transformation in either of his books, but others have followed the connections and it does ring true.[vi] Many former socialist weeklies have been rebadged as green-left. People also moved. Marxism Today, the theoretical journal of the Communist Party of Great Britain, folded in 1991. One of its prominent writers in the 1980s was left-feminist Beatrix (Bea) Campbell, who’d joined the party as a teenager. She subsequently stood as a Greens party candidate. The Australian Greens were once an environmental party opposing dams and the wood chip industry and supporting national parks and the protection of endangered species. Its early leaders and elected representatives came from that tradition. But it is now a socialist party which declares in its vision for the future that:
By making billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax – we can tackle the climate crisis and economic inequality, and create a better life for all.
Most of their policies have nothing to do with the environment—free health care, free education, jobs and incomes guarantees, rights for renters, and support for refugees and indigenous people’s causes. Its current leader was a student member of the communist-aligned Left Alliance, did a PhD on Marxist themes, once dismissed the Greens as a “bourgeois party,” and as leader has called for Australians to “rise up” against their elected government. In the US, Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio Cortes co-sponsored the Green New Deal in Congress. The self-described democratic socialist and presidential contender Bernie Sanders promised to implement it.
Marxists see capitalism as a system of class oppression and liberal freedom as false consciousness at best. Environmentalists see consumer capitalism as destructive of the natural environment they seek to conserve. They unite under the banner of climate and social justice to delegitimise the current economic and social order. Shelby Steele observes that “the greater the menace to the nation’s moral legitimacy, the more power redounded to the left.” Climate catastrophism is the ultimate weapon of moral delegitimization. Greta Thunberg nailed it when she told the United Nations that: "We are at the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!"
Michael Rectenwald points out that:
The left’s dependence on catastrophism can’t be overstated. Without some looming or present catastrophe to use as a pretext for their interventionist schemes, whether “reform” or revolution, the left would have nothing.
That substantially answers the common interest of the environmental movement and the socialists in climate catastrophism and the lies that go with it. But why are a lot of global corporations going along? One answer might be an instrumental one. If customers, perhaps brainwashed by decades of eco-alarmism, are motivated to buy eco-friendly products, and feel good about eco-friendly brands, why not go with the flow? Tell customers what they want to hear and develop branding and marketing campaigns accordingly. They can be astonishingly brazen. Oil company BP rebranded itself as “Beyond Petroleum” in 2001 but is still overwhelmingly an oil company. Its green and yellow sunburst logo adorns gas stations. Alan Jope, CEO of consumer goods company Unilever, warns against “brands undermining purposeful marketing by launching campaigns which aren’t backing up what their brand says with what their brand does. Purpose-led brand communications is not just a matter of ‘make them cry, make them buy’. It’s about action in the world.”
Michael Shellenberger says apocalyptic environmentalism provides a purpose—to save the world—a story in which people can be heroes and find meaning. Jordan Peterson agrees that what motivates these revolutionary movements is the “romance and heroism” they offer. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was on the same page when she told President Biden’s April climate summit that fighting climate change is “our generation’s moonshot.” In contrast, Moore’s “Dr Truth” methodical science and anti-catastrophism offers no antidote to the pandemic of 21st Century nihilism.
Michael Rectenwald assesses that corporate interest in eco-catastrophism and woke agendas is about much more than marketing and a sense of purpose for jaded consumers.
Corporate leftists aim to abolish all but corporate monopolies and use the socialist left to help them accomplish it.
The vision is explicitly outlined as part of the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset,” which it describes as “a new form of capitalism, one that puts people and planet first, as we come together to rebuild the world.” Rectenwald says:
It involves a decidedly two-tiered system, with favored corporations and the state on top, and “actually existing socialism” for the vast majority – like state socialism, only with the role usually reserved for the state under standard socialism undertaken by corporate-state partners of the stakeholder economy—like feudalism, only with an enhanced, supposedly comfortable serfdom.
The eco-catastrophe lies both cower us with fear and seduce us with a heroic sense of purpose for a reset in which an eco-corporate-socialist oligarchy advances its ambition for a totalitarian state. If they can control carbon dioxide emissions, they will control everything.
Adam Selene has a PhD in Systems Engineering.
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