Conservative media are latching on to the climate change denial of Patrick Moore, who has masqueraded as a co-founder of Greenpeace. But Moore has been a spokesman for nuclear power and fossil fuel-intensive industries for more than 20 years, and his denial of climate change -- without any expertise in the matter -- is nothing new.
Patrick Moore Denies Human-Caused Climate Change In Testimony
Moore Claims There Is "No Scientific Proof" That Humans Are "Dominant Cause" Of Global Warming. On February 25, Patrick Moore, who used to work at Greenpeace before becoming a communications consultant for the nuclear and fossil fuel energy industries, testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to deny that humans are the dominant cause of climate change:
There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth's atmosphere over the past 100 years. If there were such a proof it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists. [U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, 2/25/14]
Contrary To Moore, Actual Climate Scientists Have Extensive Scientific Proof Of Man's Impact. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the United Kingdom's Royal Society released a report on February 26, 2014, saying that "[i]t is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth's climate." NASA has explained some of the evidence showing that recent warming is due to an amplified greenhouse effect rather than an increase in solar output:
How do we know that changes in the sun aren't to blame for current global warming trends?
Since 1978, a series of satellite instruments have measured the energy output of the sun directly. The satellite data show a very slight drop in solar irradiance (which is a measure of the amount of energy the sun gives off) over this time period. So the sun doesn't appear to be responsible for the warming trend observed over the past 30 years.
- If the warming were caused by a more active sun, then scientists would expect to see warmer temperatures in all layers of the atmosphere. Instead, they have observed a cooling in the upper atmosphere, and a warming at the surface and in the lower parts of the atmosphere. That's because greenhouse gasses are trapping heat in the lower atmosphere.
- Climate models that include solar irradiance changes can't reproduce the observed temperature trend over the past century or more without including a rise in greenhouse gases. [National Academy of Sciences, 2/26/14; NASA, accessed 2/27/14]
This Is Not The First Time Moore Has Used Misleading Claims To Deny Climate Change. Moore has denied climate change since at least 2007. In May 2007, Moore cited the debunked "Oregon Petition" to dismiss the scientific consensus on climate change in an interview with Glenn Beck. But the petition gathered the signatures of more than 18,000 so-called "scientists," many of which were fake and the vast majority of which were not climate experts (the petition counts anyone with a bachelor's degree in various fields including computer science and statistics as a "scientist"). [CNN Headline News, Glenn Beck, 5/2/07, via Media Matters; Skeptical Science, 7/9/10]
Patrick Moore's Climate Denial Misleadingly Hyped By Conservative Media Pundits
Fox Business Uses Moore's Statement To Call Climate Change A "Scam." On the February 27 edition of Varney & Company, host Stuart Varney introduced Patrick Moore by exclaiming incredulously, "the co-founder of Greenpeace," going on to repeat Moore's statement that "environmentalists have been using faulty climate models and scare tactics to back up their claims." Fox's Charles Payne agreed, saying "we shouldn't base policy on this because it's more of a scam."
[Fox Business, Varney & Company, 2/27/14]
Fox News' Gretchen Carlson Hyped "A Stunning Admission About Climate Change." On February 27's The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson, Carlson touted "a stunning admission about climate change" from "the co-founder of Greenpeace, who says there is no scientific proof that man is contributing to climate change."
[Fox News, The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, 2/27/14]
CNBC's Joe Kernen Used Moore's Talking Points To Compare Climate Science To "Witchcraft." On the February 27 edition of Squawk Box, CNBC co-host Joe Kernen read Moore's testimony as a segue into his own climate misinformation, asking, "why isn't it the warmest month every year? ... Looking at this, it's almost like witch[craft]. In the Middle Ages, you would attribute adverse weather events to witchcraft, now we just have CO2."
[CNBC, Squawk Box, 2/27/14]
- For more on higher carbon dioxide levels before humans existed and the natural variability in temperature records, see Skeptical Science and Carbon Brief. [Skeptical Science, 11/26/13; Carbon Brief, 1/23/14]
Fox News Uncritically Airs Moore's Claim That "There Is No Scientific Proof That Humans Cause Global Warming." Fox News' Fox & Friends First highlighted Moore's comments in a headline roundup, stating, "there is no scientific proof that humans cause global warming." In the segment, they referred to Moore as a "Greenpeace co-founder":
[Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 2/27/14]
And Moore Received Wide Pick Up In Conservative News Sites. Moore's testimony, particularly his comments denying manmade climate change, was featured uncritically in The Washington Times, FoxNews.com, the Daily Caller, Newsmax, and the Daily Mail. In every case, Moore was characterized as a co-founder of Greenpeace. [The Washington Times, 2/26/14; FoxNews.com, 2/26/14; Daily Caller, 2/25/14; Newsmax, 2/27/14; Daily Mail, 2/27/14]
Moore, An Industry Spokesman, Is Not A "Greenpeace Co-Founder"
Patrick Moore Is Not A Co-Founder Of Greenpeace. Moore frequently portrays himself as a co-founder of Greenpeace, a title often repeated by the media. But Moore was not a co-founder, as explained by Greenpeace:
Patrick Moore frequently portrays himself as a founder or co-founder of Greenpeace, and many news outlets have repeated this characterization. Although Mr. Moore played a significant role in Greenpeace Canada for several years, he did not found Greenpeace. Phil Cotes, Irving Stowe, and Jim Bohlen founded Greenpeace in 1970. Patrick Moore applied for a berth on the Phyllis Cormack in March, 1971 after the organization had already been in existence for a year. A copy of his application letter and Greenpeace's response are available here (PDF). [Greenpeace, 12/7/10]
Greenpeace: Moore Left Greenpeace For "Financial Gain." Moore has repeatedly claimed that he left Greenpeace because their policies shifted to the radical left, saying for instance in his testimony, "I had to leave as Greenpeace took a sharp turn to the political left, and began to adopt policies that I could not accept from my scientific perspective." But Greenpeace has a different view of the situation, saying "what Moore really saw was an opportunity for financial gain. Since then he has gone from defender of the planet to a paid representative of corporate polluters." [U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, 2/25/14; Greenpeace, 10/10/08]
Moore Has Been An Industry Spokesman For Over 20 Years. Patrick Moore founded Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. in 1991, a communications strategy firm that promotes energy-intensive industries including "mining, energy, forestry, aquaculture, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing," and supports "environmentally sound oil extraction, like is being done in the Canadian oil sands." Moore has worked as a spokesman for many different nuclear energy companies, as reported by Media Matters:
Moore is co-chair and paid spokesman for the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition (CSEC), which describes itself as "a large grassroots coalition that united unlikely allies across the business, environmental, academic, consumer and labor community to support nuclear energy." In fact, as the Columbia Journalism Review reported, CSEC was formed by the Nuclear Energy Institute in 2006 and continues to receive most of its funding from that body. NEI is the policy organization of the nuclear energy and technology industry, and seeks to "promote the beneficial uses of nuclear energy and technologies in the United States and around the world."
As the Brattleboro Reformer reported on January 16, Moore serves as spokesman for the Vermont Energy Partnership, a nuclear industry front group that seeks to prevent the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. He is also an adviser for the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, a lobby group that promotes the renewal of the operating license for the Indian Point nuclear power plants. [Greenspirit Strategies, accessed 2/27/14; Greenspirit Strategies, accessed 2/27/14; Media Matters, 5/3/07]