Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why its founder left Greenpeace

With a "thank you" to the Anon commenter who called it to my attention, I call to your attention an op-ed which appeared in yesterday's WSJ.

It's author, Patrick Moore, co-founder and former leader of the environmental activist organization Greenpeace used the op-ed to explain why he left Greenpeace.

Even if you're familiar with how often many environmental groups' policies are the result of the triumph of political and organizational considerations over science, you may be shocked by some of what Moore discloses.

Here's part of it:

At first, many of the causes [Greenpeace] championed, such as opposition to nuclear testing and protection of whales, stemmed from our scientific knowledge of nuclear physics and marine biology.

But after six years as one of five directors of Greenpeace International, I observed that none of my fellow directors had any formal science education. They were either political activists or environmental entrepreneurs. Ultimately, a trend toward abandoning scientific objectivity in favor of political agendas forced me to leave Greenpeace in 1986.

The breaking point was a Greenpeace decision to support a world-wide ban on chlorine.

Science shows that adding chlorine to drinking water was the biggest advance in the history of public health, virtually eradicating water-borne diseases such as cholera. And the majority of our pharmaceuticals are based on chlorine chemistry. Simply put, chlorine is essential for our health.

My former colleagues ignored science and supported the ban, forcing my departure.

Despite science concluding no known health risks – and ample benefits – from chlorine in drinking water, Greenpeace and other environmental groups have opposed its use for more than 20 years.

Opposition to the use of chemicals such as chlorine is part of a broader hostility to the use of industrial chemicals.

Rachel Carson's 1962 book, "Silent Spring," had a significant impact on many pioneers of the green movement. The book raised concerns, many rooted in science, about the risks and negative environmental impact associated with the overuse of chemicals.

But the initial healthy skepticism hardened into a mindset that treats virtually all industrial use of chemicals with suspicion.

Sadly, Greenpeace has evolved into an organization of extremism and politically motivated agendas. ...
Moore's entire op-ed's here.

The op-ed's tag line says Moore's now chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies which at its home page describes itself as working "with leading organizations in forestry, biotechnology, aquaculture, plastics and mining, developing sustainability messaging in the areas of natural resources, biodiversity, energy and climate change."

Moore ended his op-ed with this reminder:
We all have a responsibility to be environmental stewards. But that stewardship requires that science, not political agendas, drive our public policy.


Archer05 said...

I did read the WSJ article, and I appreciate another perspective on how personal agendas can takeover a formerly worthwhile organization.

Another good discussion surrounds John Coleman the founder of the Weather Channel saying: [Global Warming]
‘Greatest Scam in History …’
“The Weather Channel has become a ‘Global Warming’ propaganda machine, when people just want to get to work.”

Anonymous said...

Luddites! Greenpeace, PETA, and the rest of them, all Luddites. They may at their founding have had a legitimate mission, but each of them has been hijacked by lunatics. A pox on the lot of them says I.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

John -

Great post. I might add that I have read that Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring led to the Nixon's Administration's banning DDT, bereft of any science. (NB Despite being a strong R, I think Nixon was a particularly bad president.) The consequence of the ban has been and continues to be millions dying needlessly from malaria in Africa every year. (Fortunately, some African governments have decided to use minimal amounts of DDT to reduce the ravages of malaria.)

Then of course there is our current energy problems, and those stem from some particularly bad environmental laws, litigation and scare mongering by Hollywood and the MSM. The environmentalists have made it impossible to:
Drill on any more acreage in Alaska;
Drill off the coasts of Floria or California, where there is plenty of oil to be had;
Mine anthracite coal in any great quantities (thank Bubba for that one);
Burn coals for electricity in power plants;
Build dams for hydroelectric power;
Build any more refineries (none have been built since the late 70s);
Build wind-powered electric generation devices in some case (remember T. Kennedy and the wind-powered devices off of Hyannis Port?)
Build any more nuclear power plants (the China Syndrome + Chernobyl + Three Mile Island hyped the MSM did the trick there along with some deadly litigation, aided and abetted by some really bad judges).

Finally, archer05 mentions the Global Warming scam, also aided and abetted by the MSM. As a practical matter, the entire increase in the last 100 years has been 1 degree. Given the variability of temperature from year to year and decade to decade, I suspect 1 degree is not a statistically significant increase. Also, Richard Lindzen, an MIT climatologist, in an e-mail to to me, indicated that there has been no global warming since 1998, and possibly 1995. Even if there has been some global warming, there is no evidence (none) that human activity is the cause of any of it. The amounts of carbon are just too teeny to make a difference. Finally, recall, that in 1975 Newsweek ran a column about the coming ice age. How did we go from an ice age to global warming in the space of 33 years?

I wonder just how many more people have to die of malaria or how high the price of oil has to go, or how ridiculous this global warming claim has to get before some sanity is restored to our environmental policies.

Jack in Silver Spring

Anonymous said...

I got my most honest assessment of the enviro movement in a graduate sociology class at the University of Michigan in the 1980's.

The Marxist professor basically admitted that environmentalism was a back door attack on capitalism. It was too tough to take out capitalism with the "merits" of socialism since Americans were deluded, but the enviro angle would soften them up.

He explained the importance of using "cute and furry" animals for sympathy as opposed to what he called "cold and slimey" things like snail darters. And what is the poster animal for global warming -- a cute, furry polar bear?

Despite the horrors of capitalism for the environment, it is interesting that some of the most polluted places on earth are either in China or the former Soviet Union.

Anyway, I managed to learn something in a sociology class, even if it was mostly about political manipulation.