Thursday, February 24, 2005

Environmentalism and the Skeptical Mind, Part 2

"My bologna has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R..."
"America is turning 7UP!"
"Weebles wobble but they don't fall down!"
"Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us. All we ask is that you let us serve it your way!"

After all these years I still remember those jingles from commercials. The tunes are still in my head! And who doesn't remember the "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" commercial?

There are two other commercials I remember from my childhood. One showed a (fake?) Native American, paddling his canoe and walking around places strewn with litter. At the end of the commercial a single tear fell from one eye. Another commercial had a young boy saying that if we didn't conserve, there'd be no gas left when kids his age were able to drive--and I was about his age. Those two commercials had an obvious environmental intent, the first for the greater social conscience and the second to scare people.

Which brings me to Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace. Moore grew up in Winter Harbour, a village on the northwestern edge of Vancouver Island. His father and grandfather were loggers and his mother's family were fishermen. He grew up in an area where industrialization and nature coexisted peacefully. He earned a PhD in Ecology.

He protested American nuclear tests in the Pacific. He was famously photographed sitting on a seal pup, preventing it from being clubbed to death. He set out in dinghies to oppose Japanese whalers. He co-founded Greenpeace.

In 1986, he left the organization he co-founded back in the 70's. Some call him an eco-Judas, turning his back on everything he believed in. He'd rather think of himself as the apostle Paul, who converted to Christianity after railing against it for most of his life. But he has a valid explanation for why he left. Like Ronald Reagan, who said that the Democrat Party left him and not vice versa, so it is with Patrick Moore and Greenpeace.

In the mid-80's, Greenpeace was looking for other issues to legitimize its existence. They'd succeeded in getting their founding principles adopted by mainstream citizens. Greenpeace "lost its science and logic and became driven by something else: an anti-corporate, anti-globalist agenda." The endgame came with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 when "an influx of peace activists and Marxist ideologues into the green movement destroyed the remnants of a science-based agenda," said Moore. "Most environmentalists have [now] adopted zero-tolerance positions in order to remain adversarial. The only way to stay adversarial is to adopt even more extreme positions." He accuses Greenpeace of using agenda-based "science" to misinform and distort the truth--junk science. He also claims that they are more concerned with maintaining problems so they can push so-called solutions that further a leftist political agenda.

So what does Moore advocate? Sustainable development, which he defines as providing for human needs in ways that reduce negative impact on the environment while also being socially acceptable and technically and economically feasible. He now supports nuclear energy and is an avid proponent of genetically engineered foods, especially golden rice. He's still against unsustainable practices in whaling, fishing, waste dumping, nuclear testing, etc, but believes there are sustainable practices or alternatives available. He's capable of listing them :-)

So we have an avowed environmentalist, a PhD in Ecology, co-founder of Greenpeace, who says that today's activists are philosophically unmoored and blindly technophobic. He claims that "their idea is that all human activity is negative, while trees are by nature good. That's a religious interpretation, not a scientific or logical interpretation." Now that he accomplished all of his early goals, he wants to stand for something instead of always against something. He's still proud of what he accomplished in Greenpeace--he doesn't sound much like a turncoat to me.

He sounds like someone we should listen to. Check out his web site here.

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