Knut: the polite dyslexic’s worst nightmare
Cancun is coming and as my Indian pal Rajan has rightly noted belief in the great myth of “Man Made Global Warming” has reached such a low ebb that even greenie NGOs such as Greenpeace and the WWF are dropping the topic like a hot potato.
But that doesn’t mean we believers in freedom, truth and functioning free markets have won the day, no sirree! All it means, I’m sorry to say, is that the green movement is going to become more fanatical, more devious, more mendacious as it tries frantically to spin some kind of victory from its abject and squalid defeat.
Let me give you an example of this process in action, inspired – if that’s the mot juste – by George Monbiot’s recent rantathon on DDT. You probably won’t have read it because poor George is about as relevant these days as a set of spare valves for a bakelite wireless set. But here’s the gist of his gripe:
Last week I gave Stewart Brand a simple challenge. In his book Whole Earth Discipline he claimed that the pesticide DDT “was banned worldwide” as a result of campaigning by environmentalists, killing millions. Complaints meant the explicit claim was cut at the last minute from the film he fronted for Channel 4, What the Green Movement Got Wrong, but the impression remained. I challenged Brand either to provide evidence to support his claim or to admit that he got it wrong.
Now as the mighty Steve McIntyre so often likes to say of Warmist trickery, you’ve got to watch the pea under the thimble here.
For chapter and verse as to why Stewart Brand was 100 per cent right to criticise the global green movement’s role in banning DDT, I recommend this 2005 testimony to the US Senate Committee by retired Professor of Tropical Public Health Donald R Roberts. (And also this summary at Opendemocracy.net)
In a nutshell, here’s what happened. In 1962 Rachel “more blood on her hands than Stalin” Carson published her junk science bestseller Silent Spring, predicting dire consequences (a cancer “epidemic”, no more birdies, etc) if man carried on spraying evil chemicals especially DDT. Despite none of this being true, environmental campaigners successfully demonised DDT as the new killer menace, leading to a drastic reduction in the use of this insecticide by the World Health Organisation (the UN body responsible for financing and co-ordinating the global strategy for fighting malaria), leading in turn – inevitably – in a massive world wide increase in malaria rates, and therefore in the number of third world deaths.
But like the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monbiot just refuses to admit when he’s beat. Rather than argue against Brand on the fundamentals – which obviously he can’t because it’s all basically true – he instead has to engage in a navel-gazing disputation over semantics.
DDT was never actually technically “banned”, he claims.
“Nor has Greenpeace demanded that the use of DDT for disease control should be banned,” he adds with his characteristically tubthumping righteous rage.
Hence the title of this post: How many drowning polar bears can dance on the head of a pin?
It’s a technique worth noting because I see it being used an awful lot by green propagandists these days, almost as if they’ve been taking advice from Futerra or Fenton Communications on how best to continue the struggle after the war has been lost.
It’s classic Saul Alinsky: the leftist propagandist’s equivalent of filibustering or “work to rule” or industrial sabotage. OK so the basic facts are all against you, as any reasonable and sufficiently informed person can see. So what do you do instead? Why you try to grind down the opposition with tedious, wearing and essentially irrelevant detail.
Monbiot on DDT is a classic. As far as the fundamental truth is concerned, it simply doesn’t matter a rat’s bum the degree to which Greenpeace did or didn’t contribute to the ban on DDT, nor indeed whether the term “ban” is entirely correct because it wasn’t really a “ban” only a “semi-ban”. None of this semantic onanism alters one whit the most important details of the story, viz: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring led greenies to campaign against DDT which in turn caused numerous deaths from malaria.
If Monbiot had been able to prove, say, that the real reason for the DDT ban had been evil right wing chemical manufacturers who suddenly decided after a crazy, cocaine-fuelled night on the tiles that just for fun they’d put themselves out of business, well, that would be an interesting new angle. As it would, say, if his piece had proved that, far from campaigning against DDT, the green movement had actually pleaded with the WHO to keep it because of their enduring love and respect for the people of the third world. But Monbiot didn’t. The only defence he could come up with against an essentially true story was: “Well you got that tiny detail ever so slightly wrong and because of that I’m going to tell all my readers that not a word you say is to be trusted.”
This doesn’t apply just to Monbiot but to green propagandists generally and I’ll be offering plenty more examples over the next few days, including one from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia: seriously guys, if this is the best you can do, I’d be inclined to reach for the whiskey and your grandad’s old service pistol.