Ben Pile has authored a brilliant analysis of attempts by UK newspaper columnist George Monbiot to blame climate skepticism on a big-oil-funded denial machine. Although the post addresses Monbiot specifically, these criticisms also apply to many other green activists.

Pile points out that, when environmentalists organize themselves, fund-raise, and try to spread their message this is considered legitimate democratic activity. Yet the minute climate skeptics engage in the very same activities we’re accused of being doubt-mongers who manufacture uncertainty in an attempt to mislead the public (see this recent Chris Mooney column, for example).

Here’s Pile’s take:

George’s articles about the environment and environmental politics are poorly conceived. Yet they call for radical political, economic and social changes, throughout the world. It is obvious from what happens [in the comments section below his online columns] that George’s ideas are not going to spread throughout wider society. The only way George can account for this is by conceiving of an effort to deny ˜the truth’. He can’t reflect on the idea that people might disagree with him, because he is wrong. They can’t have worked out for themselves that he’s wrong. They can’t have been persuaded by a better argument than his. They must all have been persuaded by a lie, then. Or they must all have prostituted themselves to Big Oil.

As Pile observes, Monbiot behaves in a profoundly disrespectful way toward the very people he’s trying to win over – an approach that always baffles me:

What this speaks about then, is the contempt Monbiot has for humans and their faculties of reason; for democratic expression such as association and debate. He simply does not trust people to make their own minds up: all that happens is they end up disagreeing with him.He’s expecting the sympathies of the same people he is calling stupid.

Now here’s my favourite part:

If there’s a film which questions climate change, it’s because the broadcaster has declared a war against science. If there’s an organised effort to challenge environmentalism, there’s a ˜tobacco strategy’ and a conspiracy.If the public don’t buy his ideas, it’s because they are feckless, stupid, sheep, blindly following their base drives and instincts. This is the consistent pattern of Monbiot’s arguments.

Exactly. I couldn’t have said it better. Read the whole thing here


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