CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

A Review of Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout. By Patrick Moore.

Feb 19, 2011

Beatty Street, 2010.

Patrick Moore was a founder of Greenpeace back in the early 70s. He was a radical environmentalist who became a sensible environmentalist. This book tells his story, and much more. It is an eye-opening account not only of the inner workings of one radical green group, but a story of how balanced environmental concerns can be expressed.

The book chronicles his involvement with Greenpeace and his eventful disillusionment with it. The first half looks at all the now famous activities of Greenpeace and his involvement with them. There are all the stories of anti-nuclear activism, anti-whaling programs, campaigns against chemicals, and so on.

We learn about how he became involved in radical environmentalism; how he became president of Greenpeace in 1977; how he reacted to the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland; how he grew aware of ideological and politicised agendas amongst his peers; and how he eventually decided he had had enough of a once important organisation.

Image of Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist
Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist by Patrick Albert Moore Amazon logo

He describes in detail his growing disillusionment with Greenpeace. He came to see that these people were ideologically-driven activists, not scientists, so they were often going off half-cocked, lambasting things which were not in fact harmful or dangerous.

The last straw was when Greenpeace decided to run with a global ban on chlorine. “This is when Greenpeace really lost me. As a student of advanced biochemistry, I realized chlorine was one of the 92 natural elements in the periodic table and that it is essential for life. You don’t just go around banning entire elements, especially when life without them would be impossible!”

A number of related concerns eventually led to his decision to leave. He was tired of the politics, the grandstanding, the propaganda, and the radical, inflexible warfare mentality of Greenpeace. He knew there must be a better way to achieve genuine sustainable environmental outcomes.

“I wanted to move from constant confrontation, always telling people what they should stop doing, to trying to find consensus about what we should do instead. I had been against three or four things every day of my life for the past 15 years. I now decided to figure out what I was in favour of for a change. I wanted to find solutions rather than problems and to seek win-win resolutions rather than unending confrontations.”

In 1986 he finally parted ways with the organisation he helped to form some 15 years earlier. The second half of the book examines the various major environmental issues, examining how Greenpeace has been more interested in activist politics than in sound science.

Thus Moore looks in some detail at all the big issues, including nuclear energy, climate change, the nature of chemicals, population issues, biodiversity and endangered species. While still a committed environmentalist, he now has moved in polar opposite directions in many of these areas.

Take the issue of nuclear power for example. Moore now knows that nuclear energy is one of the safest energy sources we have. Compared to other major energy sources, it is very safe indeed. While many deaths occur in other areas, “no nuclear worker has ever been killed in a nuclear plant accident in the West, and only one accident has caused fatalities.”

Chernobyl was the exception to the rule, and despite propaganda to the contrary (Greenpeace claims over 90,000 died because of the accident), the UN-based Chernobyl Forum concluded that only 56 people died as a direct result of the episode.

Environmentalists are right to want us to get off our dependence on fossil fuels. But nuclear energy is the most efficient and least expensive alternative to fossil fuels. Yet greens are totally opposed to it. “How did we get to the point where environmental groups reject the most cost-effective, feasible, and timely solutions to the very problems they are most concerned about?”

Or consider the issue of chemicals. It is one of the most abused and misused words around, certainly in green circles. As Moore reminds us, “our food is made entirely of chemicals. Water is a chemical. Our medicines are all chemicals. Without chemicals there could be no life, never mind civilization.”

After a detailed discussion of chemicals, toxicology and related issues, he offers these concluding generalisations:
-All material things are made of chemicals.
-No chemical is inherently evil.
-Under certain conditions some chemicals can be quite dangerous.
-Many chemicals have both negative and positive attributes.
-Bans should be placed on the way a chemical is used, not on the chemical itself.
-The benefits of many chemicals far outweigh any toxic impacts.

He also talks good solid sense on the contentious issue of climate change. He reminds us that climatology science is only a few decades old, and there is a great deal of diversity of opinion within the community. And climate science is about two quite different things: current facts versus future predictions. It is in the latter area that we often get into so much trouble.

He offers plenty of detailed discussion on this issue. Scare-mongering about polar bears is one case he tackles head on. The truth is, in 1960 there were around 6,000 polar bears, whereas today there are some 20,000 to 25,000. It is not weather conditions but hunting that is mainly responsible for their numbers.

Moore points out how greatly global temperatures vary, and how there have been warmer periods in the earth’s history. He believes that CO2 emissions may in fact be mostly beneficial, “possibly making the coldest places on earth more habitable and definitely increasing yields of food crops, energy crops, and forests around the entire world.”

In sum, he believes that groups like Greenpeace have in many ways been selling us a bill of goods. The environmental movement “is partly a political movement that aims to influence public policy, but it is also partly a religious movement in that many of its policies are based on beliefs rather than scientific facts….

“Environmentalism is to a large extent a populist movement that challenges established authority and appeals to the disenchanted, social revolutionaries, and idealists. ‘Pop environmentalism,’ like popular culture in general, tends to be shallow and sensational, moving from fad to fad. The pop environmentalists are generally self-assured, even smug in the belief they know the truth.”

He is alarmed by how the political left has hijacked the environmental movement, given how there are clear examples of good environmental policies which can be found on both the left and right side of politics. He concludes with a list of causes he thinks we should be tackling, such as:

-grow more trees;
-move to hydroelectric and nuclear energy;
-deal with the most pressing environmental problem: poverty;
-relax about climate change which is always taking place;
-make use of advances in genetic science.

This is a very important book. Simply going by the amount of flack he has come under since making his move tells us about its importance. Indeed, whenever a person leaves a group of true believers, be it atheism, Islam or other totalist ideologies, such a move will always be considered to be treasonous.

So Moore is now considered to be an apostate and a heretic by many of his former fellow-travellers. Well, so be it. The time has well and truly come for the radical, loony activism of so many greens to be replaced by realistic, science-based and sensible environmentalism. We can all be grateful for Moore taking the lead in this.

[1235 words]

14 Responses to A Review of Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout. By Patrick Moore.

  • “Simply going by the amount of flack he has come under since making his move tells us about its importance. Indeed, whenever a person leaves a group of true believers, be it atheism, Islam or other totalist ideologies, such a move will always be considered to be treasonous”

    This is a very telling comment. Many such organisations are very religious – even the ones which claim to be atheistic. Many of them (Greenpeace is by no means alone in this regard) happily use tactics to discredit detractors which tend to show their true colours more than any of their policies or ideologies.

    John Symons

  • Thanks Bill.
    This is an important book by one with a high profile – he often appears as a talking head on environment programmes. However, being a heretic and apostate the venom spouted against him from the green advocates proves again that we are not dealing here with scientists and their legitimate pursuits, using the hypothetico-deductive method and openness to falsifiability.

    We face with them a movement of totalitarian zealots bent on imposing total control over our way of life and using scare-stories, intimidation, threats, and pretended moral high-ground rhetoric about the planet to achieve those ends. It is a religion in every sense of the word, but not as with Christianity, which in principle can be falsified (cf. 1 Cor.15:14-18).

    This is an insane belief system which no amount of evidence can falsify – just look at the way the rhetoric has changed about global warming in the light of the recent floods and heavy rain. We were told for several years that because of AGW drought was the new norm, that rains as we had grown used to them would never return, that we must build expensive desalination plants etc. But now all that is whitewashed over, and now we are assured that “these extreme weather events (sic!) are in line with global warming predictions”, and are in fact proof of climate change. Do you notice a falsetto note there? Yes, “weather events”! So often these zealots remind us that “weather is not climate”. That’s what they have been saying in regard to the extremely cold weather (third year running) in the Northern Hemisphere this year: “Oh, it’s only a weather event, and weather is not climate.” But apparently in regard to the recent rains and floods here weather IS climate. You see, it’s ‘heads I win; tails you lose’.

    Then there’s the intimidation and harassment tactics practised against targets of hate, e.g. the Japanese whaling ships. Whatever you might think of whaling the behaviour of Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace on the high seas is nothing short of sheer piracy. Sea Shepherd deserved to have its boat cut in two!

    We are facing in the “green movement” a most insidious and thuggish group of religious zealots, who will stop at nothing to beat people into silence if they dare oppose them. Bear in mind also that they harbour the main protagonists of the ideological left, who herded out of Communism after its collapse in Russia, and herded into the green movement at the same time.

    Murray R. Adamthwaite

  • Bill,
    My response to this piece was intense joy.
    Stan Fishley

  • Environmentalists take absolute positions against chemicals and radiation and other so-called toxins. But they realise that a small amount of any of these can even be good for you. Take radiation. Studies on rats have shown that a small amount of radiation can actually inoculate against cancer.

    Michael Fumento also has a superb article Exercising the Demons of Chernobyl on the deceptions of the environmental lobby and their lackeys in the media.

    http://www.fumento.com/environment/chernobyl.html

    Damien Spillane

  • Great article Bill – thanks for the post.
    Peter Jackel

  • Speaking of Greens. People should get on and sign the petition against the flood levy which 20% has now been disgracefully siphoned off to the Greens to get it passed;

    http://www.stopthelevy.com/

    Damien Spillane

  • Good article Bill.
    Last week on radio 774, David Suzuki was just telling the old story about the polar bear who had to swim for ages to find some sheet ice and that the polar bear population is falling.
    Where does Suzuki get his information from?
    Does anybody still take him seriously any more?
    Perhaps he has been on the slippery slope for too long and for him it is impossible to get off … or the embarrassment would be too great, so just continue with the lies and hope for the best.
    Michael Treacy

  • This book looks wonderful. Go here for an excerpt.

    http://www.beattystreetpublishing.com/xcerpt-from-confessions-of-a-greenpeace-dropout/

    Moore’s set of basic beliefs is worth quoting here:

    • We should be growing more trees and using more wood, not cutting fewer trees and using less wood as Greenpeace and its allies contend. Wood is the most important renewable material and energy resource.

    • Those countries that have reserves of potential hydroelectric energy should build the dams required to deliver that energy. There is nothing wrong with creating more lakes in this world.

    • Nuclear energy is essential for our future energy supply, especially if we wish to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. It has proven to be clean safe, reliable, and cost-effective.

    • Geothermal heat pumps, which too few people know about, are far more important and cost-effective than either solar panels or wind mills as a source of renewable energy. They should be required in all new buildings unless there is a good reason to use some other technology for heating, cooling, and making hot water.

    • The most effective way to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels is to encourage the development of technologies that require less or no fossil fuels to operate. Electric cars, heat pumps, nuclear and hydroelectric energy, and biofuels are the answer, not cumbersome regulatory systems that stifle economic activity.

    • Genetic science, including genetic engineering, will improve nutrition and end malnutrition, improve crop yields, reduce the environmental impact of farming, and make people and the environment healthier.

    • Many activist campaigns designed to make us fear useful chemicals are based on misinformation and unwarranted fear.

    • Aquaculture, including salmon and shrimp farming, will be one of our most important future sources of healthy food. It will also take pressure off depleted wild fish stocks and will employ millions of people productively.

    • There is no cause for alarm about climate change. The climate is always changing. Some of the proposed “solutions” would be far worse than any imaginable consequence of global warming, which will likely be mostly positive. Cooling is what we should fear.

    • Poverty is the worst environmental problem. Wealth and urbanization will stabilize the human population. Agriculture should be mechanized throughout the developing world. Disease and malnutrition can be largely eliminated by the application of modern technology. Health care, sanitation, literacy, and electrification should be provided to everyone.

    • No whale or dolphin should be killed or captured anywhere, ever. This is one of my few religious beliefs. They are the only species on earth whose brains are larger than ours and it is impossible to kill or capture them humanely.

    Things I have believed intuitively for some time. Now I have a resource to delve further

    I particularly like his last point and disagree strongly with Murray Adamthwaite. In my opinion, the Japanese whaling boats should be shot out of the water. Even Greenpeace has its occasional uses.

    David Williams

  • One of the more bizarre Greenpeace hypocrisies concerns their 1995 campaign to pressure Shell to break up the Brent Spar oil terminal on land rather than sink it in deep water using the slogan ‘The sea is not a dumping ground’.

    But did Greenpeace follow their own advice when the Rainbow Warrior was sunk ten years previously. No, they towed it out to deep water and scuttled it!

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Hi Bill, sounds like a great book. About the only comment of yours that I would take issue with is where you said, “Environmentalists are right to want us to get off our dependence on fossil fuels.” But why? With modern technology, fossil fuels can be burnt cleanly with only CO2 as a by-product. And there’s good reasons to think more CO2 is a good thing. About the only good reason I can think of to get us off dependence of fossil fuel is so that the West can stop funding jihad via the purchase of Middle Eastern oil.

    Ewan McDonald, VIC

  • Thanks Ewan

    Yes what I should have more accurately said is that it is desirable to free ourselves of our dependency on Middle Eastern fossil fuels (oil).

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • “About the only good reason I can think of to get us off dependence of fossil fuel is so that the West can stop funding jihad via the purchase of Middle Eastern oil.”

    And er, also the fact that it will run out one day. As a wit of my acquaintance put it, “dinosaurs are no longer dying at a rapid enough rate to replace it”.

    David Williams

  • David Williams, you are wrong on both counts. Firstly, we should keep using fossil fuels and allow market forces alone to determine when and if a transition to other forms of energy is necessary. As fossil fuels become scarce their price will increase which will encourage the development of alternatives. The government should not be interfering in this process.

    With regard to the origin of fossil fuels, your ‘wit’ appears to base his thinking on the evolutionary paradigm which mistakenly claims fossil fuels were formed during some alleged ‘age of the dinosaurs’. A far more credible explanation is that the vast reserves of fossil fuels were formed in a single event – Noah’s Flood.

    Ewan McDonald, VIC

  • I think, the 1 good thing that Greenpeace did: was to STOP the inhumane killing of whales. I’ve seen them [whales] close up on a boat. I think our Govt should’ve got our Navy ships to confront the Japanese & stop them killing the whales like Greenpeace did. Greenpeace put their boats in front of the ‘harpooners’ [Congratulations] & stopped them killing 1 of God’s beautiful creatures!!
    Darilyn Adams

Leave a Reply