The Motive Fallacy
This isn’t me asking, you understand. I’m merely repeating a question someone posted on the internet after Lord Lawson had the temerity to appear on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme speaking out in defence of shale gas in a debate with Friends of the Earth’s Tony Juniper. (H/T Bishop Hill)
Did anyone on Lawson’s side of the debate post similar messages earnestly hoping that Juniper choked on his organic tofu? Or demanding that Friends Of The Earth have its charity status withdrawn because it’s quite clearly a viciously misanthropic, anti-capitalist political organisation funded by deep-green ecoloons who given half the chance would have us all living in Maoist peasant collectives while they busily bombed our economy back to the dark ages? I doubt it somehow. Climate realists tend to be far too busy being nice and reasonable and balanced – as Lord Lawson always takes pains to do – to adopt the Alinsky-ite smear tactics adopted by their opponents.
I’m sure Lord Lawson can take consolation from the words of his old boss Margaret Thatcher: “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”
Never were these words truer than in the case of the climate change debate. The alarmists simply haven’t got a leg to stand on, so the best they can do to shore up the ruins of their collapsing cause is to engage in ad homs, appeals to authority and utterly dishonest campaigns like the current Guardian-encouraged witch-hunt to try to force the Global Warming Policy Foundation to reveal its sources of funding.
Why is the campaign so utterly dishonest? First, it succumbs to what Jamie Whyte calls the Motive Fallacy: the demonstrably false notion that if you have an interest (financial or otherwise) in holding an opinion it must perforce be untrue. Whyte gives one example: “A man may stand to gain a great deal of peace and quiet from telling his wife that he loves her. But he may really love her nonetheless.”
But even better answer comes from this brilliant analysis by Ben Pile at Spiked Online!, who notes the outrageous hypocrisy of the greenies’ harassing of the GWPF when its funding – relative to the amount spent on green propaganda – is so minuscule.
Even the £500,000 that the GWPF received from donors in its first year of operations fades into insignificance when put in perspective.
For example, it would take the combined resources of 25 GWPFs to produce an equivalent of the UK government’s extraordinarily patronising Act on CO2 campaign. The Committee on Climate Change spends more than eight times that much each year on its own operations. In 2010, the quasi-independent Carbon Trust and Energy Saving Trust received government grants worth £156million and £70million respectively. That’s a total of 452 times as much public money as the GWPF took from donors. The billionaire Jeremy Grantham – who has around $1.5 billion worth of stock in oil companies – is the benefactor of the influential Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change, headed by Lord Nicholas Stern, who wrote The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. NGOs such as Friends of the Earth and WWF enjoy gifts of millions of pounds from the UK and EU governments. And the EU funds associations of renewable energy companies to lobby politicians to the tune of millions of euros per year.
It would be an astronomical understatement to say that the environmental activists banging on about the GWPF lack a sense of proportion and have incredible double standards. The GWPF’s resources are far less than even a thousandth of what is available to the government for research and PR – through its departments, the quangos and NGOs that are recruited into its green agenda, and firms and other associations that will profit by it. And yet this tiny operation has seemingly achieved such reach, to punch far above its weight, against the collective force of all the above.
But perhaps the best reason of all why the GWPF should never have to name its donors is this one, as advanced by Bishop Hill on Twitter:
Greenpeace spokesman: ” We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work.”. Why would GWPF donors want their names public?
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