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Unpicking a Gish-Gallop: former Greenpeace figure Patrick Moore on climate change

Posted on 25 August 2012 by John Mason

Who recently said this?

"If we stopped using fossil fuel today, or by 2020 as Al Gore proposes, at least half the human population would perish and there wouldn't be a tree left on the planet with[in] a year, as people struggled to find enough energy to stay alive."

And some people call us 'alarmists'!!

The excerpt comes from a recent piece in the Conservative-leaning Washington Times, to which links are being circulated in the certain quarters of the Blogosphere. The source? Patrick Moore - not the famous TV astronomer, but a former early member of Greenpeace, with which he was involved at various levels between 1971 and 1986, before leaving the organisation to take up salmon-farming in British Columbia and then going on to become involved in PR consultancy for various industries. He managed to exasperate his former organisation sufficiently to have a press release dedicated to him in 2008, and two years later he came under journalist George Monbiot's beady eye in this article, published in The Guardian. Now he's back, with an interview entitled 'Patrick Moore on the facts and fiction of climate change'. Reading down the page, beyond the paragraph from which the above statement was taken, one is treated to a classic example of a well-known debating tactic, the so-called Gish-Gallop. As this is a frequently used ploy by fake-sceptics, it's worth using this example to explore what a Gish-Gallop is and how it works.

Origin

Duane Gish (b. 1921) is an American biochemist and a prominent member of the creationist movement. A former vice-president of the Institute for Creation Research and the author of numerous publications on the subject, Gish is well-known for relishing confrontational publicly staged debates with evolutionists, employing a technique where arguments and topics are presented in a rapid-fire but scattergun manner for a prolonged period. Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, has dubbed this approach the "Gish Gallop," describing it as "where the creationist is allowed to run on for 45 minutes or an hour, spewing forth torrents of error that the evolutionist hasn't a prayer of refuting in the format of a debate". The phrase has stuck and indeed so has the tactic, being used in front of audiences by all manner of advocates of all manner of things from creationism to 'faked' moon landings to climate change denial, where it is a popular way of appearing to be winning a debate. The word 'appearing' is the important one here.

Dissection

When one is stuck in a live debate and faced with such a torrent, Eugenie Scott is quite correct. However, when a Gish-Gallop appears in print, it's a bit easier to unpick at leisure. In the Washington Times piece, interviewer Joseph Cotto asked a straightforward question:

Cotto: In the past, you have said that human activity is not the only cause for climate change. What do you believe is the greatest contributing factor?

What followed was a 631-word volley of disconnected factoids spliced together with pieces of meaningless arm-waving. If this were a live debate, answering the points in detail would be impossible (for the purpose of the Gish-Gallop is just that). However, here we have the advantage that an example has been provided in writing. So let's take our time, split the whole thing into individual, numbered italicised points (I've put horizontal lines between each one to make it a little easier to follow) and examine them for their accuracy. Moore opens fire with:


[1] First, we don't know precisely how the many factors affecting climate contribute and interact in producing the earth's climate at any given time.

Reality: Arm-waving. We have a good understanding of the prime drivers of planetary climate.


[2] The cause of the onset of Ice-Ages, one of which we are presently experiencing, is a puzzle we don't fully understand.

Reality: Whilst there are many areas of interesting research with respect to the glacial-interglacial cycles of the Quaternary, we have a good understanding of the primary drivers i.e. orbital variations occurring over cycles of tens of thousands of years. We also have a good understanding of the feedbacks and how they interact e.g. warming between glacials and interglacials is amplified by carbon dioxide released as permafrost melts. Of course, we are currently in an interglacial, and the last glacial is often referred-to as the ice-age. Presumably Moore is referring to all of the Quaternary here, because we are most certainly not in a glacial phase right now!


[3] I explain in my presentations that as a scientist who is fully qualified to understand climate change, I seem dumber than the people who say they "know" the answers because I do not profess to know the future, especially of something so complicated as the global climate.

Reality: Again, this is meaningless arm-waving. Projections of future climate changes in different emissions-scenarios are accompanied by error-bars representing the range of uncertainty. We have a good understanding of the range of possibilities and the uncertainties involved. If Moore is 'fully qualified to understand climate change' then he ought to understand that.


[4] One thing is certain, there is no "scientific proof" as the term is generally understood, that human emissions are the main cause of climate change today. Even the IPCC only claims that it is "very likely" (a judgement, in their own words, not a proof) that human emissions are responsible for "most" of the warming "since the mid-20th century" (1950).

Reality: There is no such thing as scientific proof so this point is simply nonsensical. However, the notion of 'proof' is a frequently-seen misconception about science. Science does not 'prove' things: it validates or falsifies theories by the weight of evidence. Proof only exists in pure mathematics and logic, as explained in this very readable piece in Psychology Today, written by Satoshi Kanazawa. This is why the IPCC uses terms like 'very likely'. It's the language of probability. To explain further: if you try to run blindfold across a busy motorway, it's very likely you will be run over and seriously injured or killed. It's not 100% certain, but just how lucky do you feel?


[5] Therefore they [IPCC] are not claiming that humans caused the 0.4C warming between 1910-1940, but they are claiming that we are the main cause of the 0.4C warming between 1970 and 2000. Yet they provide no opinion as to what did cause the warming between 1910-1940. There is a logical inconsistency here that has never been addressed.

Reality: Wrong again.  From AR4, Working Group 1, Chapter 9:

"A number of studies detect the influence of external forcings on early 20th-century warming, including a warming from anthropogenic forcing. Both natural forcing and response are uncertain, and different studies find different forcings dominant. Some studies indicate that internal variability could have made a large contribution to early 20th-century warming. Some observational uncertainty in early 20th-century trend (Sections 9.3.3.2, 9.4.1.4; Figures 9.4, 9.5)."


[6] It is also important to note that the IPCC does not speak of "catastrophe", that is left to the fanatics and perpetual doom-sayers.

Reality: Wrong again. In the AR4, working group 3 devotes an entire sub-section to the risk of 'catastrophic or abrupt change.'


[7] The causes of climate change are first the sun, as it is responsible for the existence of climate. Then there are many cycles of earth rotation around the sun and on its own axis. Then there is the chemistry of the atmosphere which seems to be the only factor that matters, and only CO2 concentration, for the true believers/warmists/climate catastrophists etc.

Reality: This is a mixture of accurate and inaccurate points. Firstly, the sun is a cause of climate change, but it is not responsible for the existence of climate. Here, Moore appears to misunderstand what climate actually is. If Earth were somehow blasted into interstellar space, it would still have a climate - it would be an iceball. The orbital cycles are, as mentioned above, recognised to be of importance in the glacial-interglacial cycles of the Quaternary. The chemistry of the atmosphere is a third prime driver of the Earth's climate. Solar activity has been in slight decline since the late 1970s whilst temperatures have trended steeply upwards. The orbital cycles work over many millennia. Indeed, out of the three prime drivers, the only one that has seen major changes in the past few decades is the chemistry of the atmosphere, as a consequence of the emissions from burning fossil fuels. The point ends in more arm-waving.


[8] What most people don't realize, partly because the media never explains it, is that there is no dispute over whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and all else being equal would result in a warming of the climate.

Reality: Inaccurate. Many elements of the media have explained the properties of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas clearly and concisely, although there are some other elements that still try to pretend it's all a great big hoax. Whilst there is no dispute in mainstream science about the properties of carbon dioxide, among the climate change 'skeptics', there are two clear camps: those who accept that the carbon dioxide greenhouse effect is real (but who argue that the effect is small) and those who refuse to accept that the carbon dioxide greenhouse effect even exists!


[9] The fundamental dispute is about water in the atmosphere, either in the form of water vapour (a gas) or clouds (water in liquid form). It is generally accepted that a warmer climate will result in more water evaporating from the land and sea and therefore resulting in a higher level of water in the atmosphere, partly because the warmer the air is the more water it can hold.

Reality: We both agree that warmer air can hold and transport more moisture. This is expressed by the Clausius-Clapeyron Relation, something that has been understood since the 19th Century, as noted in part 1 of our History of Climate Science. But I will address your 'fundamental dispute' in the points below where you attempt to make a case for it.


[10] All of the models used by the IPCC assume that this increase in water vapour will result in a positive feedback in the order of 3-4 times the increase in temperature that would be caused by the increase in CO2 alone.

Reality: Wrong. Models don't "assume". They model.  3-4 times? Wrong again. The net feedback roughly triples the CO2 forcing, but water vapor, while being the biggest single feedback, is just one of a number of feedbacks.  The water vapour feedback roughly doubles the CO2 forcing. Skeptical Science covered this in 2007 in a piece entitled 'Evaporating the Water Vapour Argument'.


[11] Many scientists do not agree with this, or do not agree that we know enough about the impact of increased water to predict the outcome.

Reality: Given how wrong the previous statement is, it is not surprising that many scientists wouldn't agree with it!


[12] Some scientists believe increased water will have a negative feedback instead, due to increased cloud cover. It all depends on how much, and a t what altitudes, latitudes and times of day that water is in the form of a gas (vapour) or a liquid (clouds). So if  a certain increase in CO2 would theoretically cause a 1.0C increase in temperature, then if water caused a 3-4 times positive feedback the temperature would actually increase by 3-4C. This is why the warming predicted by the models is so large.

Reality: You can count the number of climate scientists who believe water vapour feedback to be negative on one hand (out of thousands). Then we're back to the plain wrong stuff again: it has already been pointed out above that 3-4 times positive feedback from water vapour is incorrect (it's roughly 2x). So that is not why modelling has produced scenarios with larger temperature rises. Skeptical Science has covered cloud feedback here, and as an interesting aside, amongst many papers on this subject, Dessler has a new paper on water vapour feedbacks in the Journal of Climate.


[13] Whereas if there was a negative feedback of 0.5 times then the temperature would only rise 0.5C.

Reality: The data say otherwise: it's already gone beyond 0.5C

Ten temperature records

 


[14] The global average temperature has now been flat for the past 15 years, as all the while CO2 emissions have continued to increase.

Reality: Did global warming stop in 1998, 1995, 2002, 2007, 2010 (select unusually warm year of choice as start-point)? We take a look here and here. It did not: the entire planet is accumulating heat due to an energy imbalance. Oceans are accumulating energy. Land absorbs energy and ice absorbs heat to melt - as witnessed by the unusually-strong melt-out of Arctic sea ice this year. What Moore does here is to pick a short timescale with a start-point cherrypicked for its notable warmth, due to the global warming trend being powerfully superimposed by the exceptionally strong 1997-98 El Nino. Similar highpoints have occurred in the past too: let's use a graphic to highlight the problem with short-termism when interpreting climate trends, which are defined as over 30 years or more:


How Realists view global warming


[15] There are only 2 possible explanations for [this], either there is some equally powerful natural factor that is suppressing the warming that should be caused by CO2, or CO2 is only a minor contributor to warming in the first place.

Reality: On short-term timelines, there are powerful natural factors that can potentially suppress temperatures: big volcanic eruptions, strong La Nina episodes and so on. If the background warming trend is around 0.2C per decade, El Nino and La Nina, with their potential +0.3C to -0.3C influences on annual average temperatures respectively, can obviously mask that trend positively or negatively in years where they are strong. As noted above, 1997-98 saw an exceptionally strong El Nino, producing a consequent temperature high that has only in recent years been equalled - hence it being a popular start-point for the 'global average temperature has now been flat for the past 15 years' talking-point. Let's think of an analogy here: unemployment. Supposing a country had seen a brief crisis twenty years ago in which unemployment spiked at 20%, falling quickly back to a more normal level of 5%. Now let's suppose things were slowly going wrong again, with lots of job-losses on the news and unemployment slowly climbing over three years to 10% then 15%. If a Government minister then went on air to say that unemployment had fallen over the past 20 years, what would be your response? If printable, please add in the comments, below!


There was then a pause for breath as the interviewer asked a further question:

Cotto: Across the world, untold millions are very nervous about global warming. Do you believe it really is the sort of threat that many perceive it to be? Why or why not?

And straight off again..... the Gish-Gallop resumes for another 362 words:


[16] No. I do not believe alarmism and fear are the correct responses even if our emissions are causing some warming.

Reality: This is not a response to the question the interviewer asked! Nevertheless, nobody is advocating mass-outbreaks of alarmism: instead what is a sensible course is one of prudent risk management.


[17] In particular I do not believe it makes sense to adopt policies that would obviously cause more harm that the supposed "catastrophe" that might be caused by warming.

Reality: Neither would it make sense to execute all smokers in case they get cancer, but it would make sense to help them to quit. In other words, more arm-waving. In terms of policymaking, the benefits of reducing carbon emissions will significantly outweigh the costs, as explored in more detail here.


[18] The proposal to end fossil fuel use in a short time frame with no alternative is a classic example.

Reality: Name one major government who has made such a proposal, Patrick. None exists.

Some advocates may be suggesting a major and rapid transition away from fossil fuel dependency, but that is completely different from the 'no alternative' scenario that Moore portrays. For example, Al Gore has proposed in a 2008 speech that it would be possible for the USA to make the transition away from fossil fuels in a short timespan, but not without an alternative. He said:

"What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don't cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home?" and: "Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years."

This is both admirable and ambitious (after all, who wants a polluted world?), but let's compare Gore's vision of a clean energy future with Moore's, repeated from the top of this piece:

"If we stopped using fossil fuel today, or by 2020 as Al Gore proposes, at least half the human population would perish and there wouldn't be a tree left on the planet with[in] a year, as people struggled to find enough energy to stay alive."

The one is visionary and positive, the other takes negativity to the brink of hysteria.


[19] Many of the so-called "cures" for climate change would cause more damage to the patient that the so-called "disease".

Reality: This is repetition of the same debunked point for a third time. But we are about to rapidly switch themes. Rapid and apparently random theme-switches are an essential part of any effective Gish-Gallop:


[20] The climate has been considerably warmer throughout the history of modern life (550 million years) for most of the time than it is today.

Reality: This statement is basically meaningless because modern Human civilisation has developed within and is dependent upon a reasonably stable climate. For more on this favourite talking-point, see Climate's changed before.


[21] These were the Greenhouse Ages, often lasting 100 million years or more, when all the land was either tropical or subtropical. Not that many millions of years ago Canada's Arctic islands were covered in sub-tropical forests. There was no ice at either pole. The sea was considerably higher.

Reality: Yes there were prolonged periods during which a Hothouse climate prevailed. This is well understood. See our April 2012 post on Eocene Park. This is not somewhere we want to go quickly.


[22] Life flourished through these times.

Reality: Wrong because it is a vague over-generalisation. There were mass-extinctions associated with phases of rapid climate change. Rapid environmental change tends to cause mass-extinction events because the environment alters faster than the abilities of many species to adapt. Unfortunately, there is evidence that we may be entering another such event right now.


[23] They will say that humans are not adapted to such a warm climate, ignoring the fact that humans are a tropical species, and would not be able to live where there is frost without fire, clothing, and shelter.

Reality: Whilst hominids originated in Africa, they migrated and colonised many latitudes - including temperate and cool zones, well before the fossil fuels were widely used - as fake-sceptics are fond of pointing out, they even colonised southern Greenland on a temporary basis during Medieval times. However, we are not generally well-adapted to exist in certain climatic belts - hot and arid or permanently cold. In both cases, there is simply not enough food available locally to support large populations, although a relatively small number of semi-nomadic hunters and/or herders may eke out an existence. The key threat here involves the expansion of hot and arid conditions into areas that currently sustain large populations: failure of other animal and plant species (including those farmed for food) to adapt quickly enough to such changes and subsequent ecosystem/agricultural collapses would obviously have massive impacts upon us. To underplay this is grossly irresponsible.


[24] I believe that a 2.0C in global average warming, or even more, would be in balance beneficial, partly because most warming occurs where it is now cold and very little occurs in the tropics. This would make northern Canada and Siberia fertile, and it would increase the number of frost-free days for food production in the temperate zones.

Reality: If Moore believes this to be true then he should provide some evidence, not just unsubstantiated opinion. For example, if he knows a way of growing millions of tons of corn on recently thawed-out permafrost bog with the sunlight constraints of high northern latitudes, then he should let the rest of the world know! Fertility depends on deep rich soil development as much as it depends on temperature. More discussion on the topic of where we are heading here - and it sure ain't where Patrick says we are heading. But hey, it's time for another theme-switch:


[25] The polar bear might be reduced in numbers but the only reason they evolved in the first place was due to the present Ice Age.

Reality: So that disqualifies them from a continued existence, does it?


[26] Polar Bears are not even a distinct species, they are a variety of Brown (Grizzly) Bear.

Reality: Wrong. Polar Bear: Ursus maritimus. Grizzly Bear: subspecies of Ursus arctos. They are regarded as distinct species. 


[27] Some penguins that live on ice might dwindle but there are plenty of penguin species that do not depend on ice, In the Galapagos, Australia, and South America, for example.

Reality: Again, so that disqualifies them from a continued existence, does it? 


[28] I fear the irrational policies of extreme environmentalists far more that a warmer climate on this relatively cold planet (14.5 C global average temperature today compared with 25C during the Greenhouse Ages.

Reality: Perhaps you live at a reasonable elevation, well inland. We do not have to lose the polar ice-caps for disastrous sea-level rise to occur, given the number of major cities situated at or close to sea-level. A partial melt would be sufficient for the need to relocate millions and in addition the loss of fertile low-lying agricultural lands would have many severe consequences.


In conclusion, this is a barrage of meaningless arm-waving that links a series of statements that are almost entirely incorrect. It's political rhetoric, in other words, but rhetoric that does not stand up to scrutiny. However, this is not the first example of such from this source. In researching the background to this post, I discovered that Moore's opinings were being highlighted over at Climate Depot, a website that likes to disseminate climate change misinformation. There, I found another set of Moore quotes from a month or so earlier. Take a look at this:

"There is no 'abrupt' increase in CO2 absorption, it is gradual as CO2 levels rise and plants become less stressed by low CO2 levels. At 150 ppm CO2 all plants would die, resulting in virtual end of life on earth."

This is repeating a suggestion from James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, and - again - it is wrong. It is also irrelevant given that we have gone from 280 to nearly 400 ppm CO2 over the past 150 years and are still rising fast. Back to the science, and how plants respond to high (or low) carbon dioxide levels is an interesting enough topic to warrant a full post in its own right, given the amount of research that has been done in this field over recent years (hint - they do not die out at 150ppm), so stay tuned. In the meantime, the best advice would be to treat anything Patrick Moore says on climate change with due skepticism.

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Comments

Comments 1 to 20:

  1. There's no sense trying to minimize his early role at Greenpeace. George Monbiot in the article you link to identifies Moore as one of the founders of Greenpeace. He was said by Greenpeace itself to be one of its founders for many years, until he became an apostate. See: archived Greenpeace webpage

    Moore's been at this a long time. He isn't "back". He never goes away. Eg:

    When the U.K. Royal Society publicly excoriated ExxonMobil's U.K subsidiary Esso because they had broken the promise they made to the Royal Society that they would stop funding climate science denial, Patrick Moore charged to the rescue by writing a letter in support of ExxonMobil. Moore challenged the scientific qualifications of the representative of the Royal Society he was writing to and told them they did not understand what science was.

    [-snip-]
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    Moderator Response: [RH] Snipped inflammatory.
  2. David, thanks for the RS link, within which I found this little gem:

    "Certainly the Royal Society would agree there is no scientific proof of causation between the human-induced increase in atmospheric CO2 and the recent global warming trend, a trend that has been evident for about 500 years, long before the human-induced increase in CO2 was evident."

    He's 'buried' the Little Ice-Age!
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  3. I had a different interpretation of Moore's statement [2] "The cause of the onset of Ice-Ages, one of which we are presently experiencing, is a puzzle we don't fully understand."

    I see it as a self-conflicting double whammy:
    A) that we don't fully understand the onsets of Ice-Ages.
    B) that we are currently experiencing such an onset into the next Ice-Age.

    How can he assure us that we are at such an onset while also insisting we don't fully understand them?
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  4. He doesn't know anything about climate change. [-snip-]

    Eg: When he appeared alongside Fred Singer, Patrick Michaels, Lindzen, Tim Ball, etc., in the movie The Great Global Warming Swindle, Moore explained to the world why climate change became a major issue:

    "The shift to climate being a major focal point came about for two very distinct reasons. The first reason was because by the mid-'80s the majority of people now agreed with all the reasonable things we in the environmental movement were saying they should do. Now, when a majority of people agree with you, it's pretty hard to remain confrontational with them. And so the only way to remain anti-establishment was to adopt ever more extreme positions. When I left Greenpeace, it was in the midst of them adopting a campaign to ban chlorine worldwide. Like I said, 'You guys, this is one of the elements in the periodic table, you know. I mean, I'm not sure that's within our jurisdiction to be banning a whole element. The other reason that environmental extremism emerged was because Communism fell, the wall came down, and a lot of peaceniks and communists moved into the environmental movement, bringing their neo-Marxism with them, and learned to use green language in a very clever way to cloak agendas that actually have more to do with anti-capitalism and anti-globalization than anything with ecology or science"
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    Moderator Response: [RH] Tone it down a bit please.
  5. David Lewis@4,

    our quote: the incoherent rambling of Moore, proves the point of the article that Moore is a classical Gish-Galloper.

    However, it does not say anything bad about his intelligence. I'd guess rather opposite: good rhetoric and public speaking skills mean Moore be possibly as skilled as lord Monckton. I haven't seen Moore in action but I see his tactics are very similar to Monckton's.
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  6. #5 - indeed, a very Moncktonian approach. It takes a certain and not particularly common skill-set to bluster in this way. When people like this demand that one debates them live, read, "I challenge you to sit next to me in public whilst I gush for however long I can get away with it for. You can't catch me".

    Written ones are much more fun, though, as they're easy to demolish even if it's a bit time-consuming.
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  7. I've met people who say the free-market economy can withstand anything: climate disasters, natural resource collapses, overpopulation, you name it - freedom, liberty and private property will take care of everything, even if we don't know how.

    The one thing the free-market economy cannot survive is low carbon - that's certain doom. Half of the people in a world would die within a year, as we now learn.
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  8. Thanks for the patience work it takes to unpick a GG like this. I started the task on a comment thread elsewhere and offer my comment there (lightly edited) as it contains a few extra pieces of information not covered above.
    ________________________
    This quote [the one with which this post started and which was also quoted on the other thread] is a piece alarmist strawman scaremongering from a paid industry lobbyist with a long history of misinformation on behalf of the mining, logging and pharmaceutical industries. I don't have any particular desire to defend Al Gore, but even in the quote you've included there is an easily demonstrated falsehood. Gore has *not* called for cessation of all fossil fuel use by 2020. Nor has McKibben (who is mentioned immediately before this quote), so the 3.5 billion deaths claim (which itself is highly contestable) is a classic strawman. Gore's proposal was for the USA (not the world) to cease all fossil-fuelled electricity generation (not all fuel use) by 2020 - a very different and more modest goal.

    The immediately preceding paragraph has a quote attributed to a man who died in 2005 that is not found anywhere else on the web except in this interview and its mirrors. Perhaps he said it in private musings, but we only have Moore's word for it and apparently he has never mentioned this quote before this interview in any forum that has ended up on the web. [The above post doesn't mention the alleged quote from Greenpeace founder Bob Hunter, in which he said that Greenpeace would have to be based on ideology "because not everyone can be a PhD ecologist".]

    "Oil is responsible for 36% of global energy and is therefore the most important source of energy to support our civilization."
    Methinks he's forgetting one energy source slightly more critical to our, and all previous, civilisations. [i.e. the sun, especially as mediated by photosynthesis.]

    "as a scientist who is fully qualified to understand climate change"
    He's got a PhD in environmental law.

    "Yet they provide no opinion as to what did cause the warming between 1910-1940."
    He has clearly not read IPCC AR4 WG1 Ch9.
    https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch9.html

    "the IPCC does not speak of "catastrophe""
    Nope, just of >50% of all species committed to extinction, >20% suppression of crop yields, the end of Arctic sea ice, sea level rise sufficient to cause trillions in damages, millions of refugees, and so on. Oh, and this...
    https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg3/en/ch2s2-2-4.html

    "The causes of climate change are first the sun, as it is responsible for the existence of climate."
    This is much like saying that the cause of most deaths during the Battle of Britain is the iron core of the earth, whose gravity sucked downed pilots to their demise. Almost trivially true, but basically irrelevant to any causal analysis with ethical significance.

    "global average temperature has now been flat for the past 15 years"
    The heat content of the earth continues to rise, with most of the energy continuing to go into the largest heat sink (the oceans) and a tiny percentage going into the atmosphere in non-linear ways.

    "I fear the irrational policies of extreme environmentalists far more that a warmer climate on this relatively cold planet (14.5 C global average temperature today compared with 25C during the Greenhouse Ages."
    Ah yes, those wonderful times when there were forests across Antarctica, crocodiles in the Arctic and almost no life in the tropics. I can't see any problem heading back there with a world of ten billion people with trillions and trillions of sunk costs in infrastructure built on the assumption of a 14.5ºC world...
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  9. David Lewis @1, the Don't Make a Wave Committee was formed in 1970. Patrick Moore joined the committee in 1971. Given that we have not yet developed time travel, that means Moore was not a foundation member of the Don't Make a Wave Committee, and hence not a foundation member of Greenpeace (which was formed by a name change of the "Don't Make a Wave Committee"). This is quite consistent with his being one of the first members of Greenpeace, which is all that is claimed in the link you provide.

    I think no purpose is gained in inflating Moore's credentials, especially as he is using those credentials to destroy what he once stood for.
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  10. A nit: Greenland was inhabited not only in the middle ages, but also long before -- just not by Europeans.

    I've rarely seen any discussion of how well the Maya and Anasazi did during the MWP. Seems like intellectual honesty would impel climate Pollyannas the resulting resurgence of sagebrush in the southwest US and jungle in the Yucatan. Proof that natural ecosystems thrive in a warmed climate!
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  11. I lived in Vancouver, British Columbia where Greenpeace was formed, at the time it was formed. The "Don't Make a Wave Committee" was the talk of the fishing fleet I worked on in the summers because they rented a boat of the type I worked on. My grandfather knew the owner of the boat. The Amchitka protest the Don't Make a Wave Committee came up with was the talk of the town.

    Later on I worked with one of the founders of Greenpeace, Jim Bohlen, when I was a Speaker of the BC Green Party. That doesn't say I'm a Patrick Moore, or Greenpeace expert. I was an ozone campaigner and a climate activist starting around 1987 and found I had little in common with the Green types of the time who were more interested in forest preservation. I didn't happen to run into Moore or interact with him anywhere.

    What I cited wasn't a wikipedia reference. It was an archived no longer available on the Greenpeace website, "The Founders of Greenpeace" webpage, published by Greenpeace and which existed on the Greenpeace website up to at least February 2007. It was created and displayed by Greenpeace to clear up any doubts about their early history, and to answer questions about who, exactly, founded Greenpeace.

    If you go to the current Greenpeace website and take a look at the politically correct and shiny brand new, "The Founders of Greenpeace" revised webpage you will see what they've done with the page. The name Patrick Moore does not appear anywhere.

    I don't go in for revisionist history. I can't keep the lies straight. I don't see where it serves anyone's interest, for example, to be seen to be pretending Patrick Moore was not generally known in BC, Canada, and the world as one of the founders of Greenpeace for decades, while attacking, for instance, climate science deniers for their pretense that climate science is a hoax.
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  12. David, I agree that revisionism is not good and I accept that people move on from one thing to another. Nevertheless, none of that excuses Moore's streaming invective of inaccurate to plain wrong long-debunked talking-points. A Gish-gallop it remains, period.
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  13. numerobis #10,

    If it rains from time to time....
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  14. Nothing excuses Moore's gibberish on climate science in my books.

    At this point it is hard for me to understand why it isn't a criminal offense to attempt to undermine climate science in the way Moore does, because of what is at stake.

    Just as it is a crime in some jurisdictions, i.e. Germany, to advocate hatred toward identifiable groups such as the Jews, because of the Holocaust, it will one day be a crime to encourage people to believe lies about what is happening to the planet. It took the deaths of millions for people to understand that such laws were necessary.

    There is only one planet.
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  15. DL@15:

    "At this point it is hard for me to understand why it isn't a criminal offense to attempt to undermine climate science in the way Moore does, because of what is at stake."

    Perhaps it may be, if Michael Mann is successful in his lawsuit against the publication which publically, and with no shame, libeled and defamed him.

    I would welcome case law to that end, and then let Messrs. Monckton, Moore, McI, Watts, et al--the list is well known--be called into account for the damage they have done to legititmate climate scientists.
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  16. David Lewis @11, in Moore's own words, he was not a member of the Don't Make a Wave Committee until April 1971, after he had read about their planning "to sail a boat from Vancouver across the North Pacific to protest U.S. hydrogen bomb testing in Alaska". That is his description of his joining of Greenpeace from his book, "Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout". The relevant extract is reproduced below for your convenience:



    Now, as a matter of logic, Moore did not found an organization he read about in the Vancouver Sun. For him to become aware of it by reading about it, it needed to exist already.

    Moore did become a member of that committee very early in its existence (within 5-16 months of its formation), and did sail on the first protest voyage organized by the Don't Make a Wave Committee. He was also present the meeting of that committee when the vote was taken to change its name to Greenpeace, none of which makes him a co-founder of Greenpeace, whose organization existed before he joined.

    Your evidence to the contrary consists only of a quote which states:

    "In 1970, the Don't Make A Wave Committee was established; its sole objective was to stop a second nuclear weapons test at Amchitka Island in the Aleutians.

    The committee's founders and first members included:

    • Paul Cote, a law student at the University of British Columbia
    • Jim Bohlen, a former deep-sea diver and radar operator in the US Navy
    • Irving Stowe, a Quaker and Yale-educated lawyer
    • Patrick Moore, ecology student at the University of British Columbia
    • Bill Darnell, a social worker"

    (My emphasis)

    That quote is entirely consistent with Moore not being a co-founder of the Committee, but a first member (so long as that is interpreted as a member who joined within the first one or possibly two calendar years of formation). The dates however, make it entirely clear that he is the latter, not the former.

    If you object to revisionist history, then what you should object to is that which exaggerates Moore's role by claiming him as a co-founder.

    If Moore wanted to emphasize his early connection to Greenpeace accurately he would describe himself as a crew member of Greenpeace's first protest voyage, and as an early president of Greenpeace. But that would not give him an apparent right and authority to claim that Greenpeace has lost its way in the same way that claiming to be a co-founder does.
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  17. Thanks Tom.

    I think my original description is fair and accurate - Moore was an early member of GP and was involved with it at various levels 1971 through to 1986. I spent some time researching the background to this, as I always do when writing a piece for Skeptical Science, and much that gets read does not end up in the final edition (especially if a ~1000 word gish-gallop has to be reproduced in order to pick it apart).
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  18. Thanks for this patient refutation of a veritable torrent of nonsense John.

    'Early member of Greenpeace' - so what? What he's saying now is still nonsense.
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  19. When people use the popular denial meme, "...life thrived in the Eocene" (or similar), I always like to remind them that it was only some types of life that thrived: like 30-foot snakes, predatory birds with 15-foot wings spans and giant reptiles. Land mammals -- including our own ancestors -- were generally small creatures not much bigger than domestic cats (small being apparently most suited to cope with the heat). [Google 'mammals of the Eocene' to read more.]

    Humans and other modern species with which we share planet Earth today, thrive best in the atmospheric CO2 concentration in which they evolved -- and to which we are slowly saying 'good bye'.
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  20. Love this article! I noted Dr. Moore's tendency toward Gish Gallop in a lengthy serial review of his book I wrote last year.

    I don't have the science chops the author, but found the Moore diatribe around global warming to be easy for even a semi-literate bloke like myself to take apart. he unfortunately has cultivated a following up here in Western Canada as a "sensible environmentalist", which means he has some Envrionmental credibility due to his PhD in Ecology and his Greenpeace roots, but he is sensible enough to say whatever his funding industry likes to hear.

    Moore's autobiography is an interesting read, part because of the tales of adventure on the sea from the early days of Greenpeace, and partly as a long game of "find the logical fallacy" as he tries to argue that the Envrionment is doing OK, and we should worry more about jobs.
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