It was a daring daylight raid, launched from just the kind of inflatable boat that Greenpeace uses to confront illegal whalers on the high seas. But it this case, the raid was on Greenpeace’s warriors in Copenhagen for the COP15 talks. Climate deniers from Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (online at CFact.org) were attempting to rechristen the legendary “Rainbow Warrior” as “The Propaganda Warrior.” Here’s the video, which lacks production values:
Greenpeace was not impressed. After first declining to comment, spokesman Michael Crocker said through gritted teeth, “These are people who do not believe in science or reason. They are not credible commentators on the climate crisis.”
Maybe not, Mike, but you can have a sense of humor about it. The inflatable sailed under the flag of CFact.org, grandmasters of climate denial. Cfact maintains several sites including Climate Depot, masterminded by the legendary Marc Morano. The longtime spokesman for a committee headed by climate science’s number one foe in Congress, Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Morano used his perch on the Hill, as Newsweek put it, “like a wire service … pumping out scads of e-mails each week, sometimes each day, to reporters covering climate change.”
As a spokesman for Inhofe, Morano was extremely aggressive, and that continues. Climate Depot (which has 168,000 unique visitors a month, making it the most popular denial site, says Mother Jones magazine) is deep into “Climategate” (the release of stolen e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Britain), maintaining that it is the smoking gun proving that climate science is a crock.
According to Mother Jones (in an article written by my former intern, Josh Harkinson), “The site functions much as his e-mail list did, slapping sensationalistic headlines on links to questionable science and frothing ‘experts.’”
On the Huffington Post, Josh Dorner of the Sierra Club said Morano's site is likely to spew "the usual denialist dreck mixed in with headlines about Gywneth Paltrow, Hannah Montana, sheep farts, and, of course, lots of about the brave exploits of Mr. Morano himself (including a swashbuckling confrontation with Al Gore at 37,000 [feet] that Mr. Gore says he 'has no memory of')." That would seem to be in line with the Greenpeace raid, but I'm not sure Morano was along for the ride.
Rush Limbaugh loves Morano, of course, saying on his syndicated show: “Morano’s probably single-handedly, in a civilian sense, the guy — other than me, of course — doing a better job of ringing the bells alarming people of what's going on here.”
CFact wasn’t content raiding just the "Rainbow Warrior." They also went after the “Arctic Sunrise,” using “neither stealth nor force, but by baffling the crew with doughnuts and unfurling a banner that read ‘Ship of Lies’ off the starboard side." Here’s that video. An interview with CFact Executive Director Craig Rucker appears at the end:
Rucker did have a point when he said, “Greenpeace has been using these kinds of tactics for decades, and now they have found out what it’s like to have a taste of their own medicine.” That's fair, but at least in my view CFact and groups like it will have to do a whole lot more than sensationalist stunts to make a dent in mainstream climate science.
But the barrage is working, especially among people who haven't studied the issue closely. If Climategate gains momentum, it will be because of deniers like Morano, Rucker and Patrick Michaels of the University of Virginia (who’s actually mentioned in some of the e-mails). The uproar has undoubtedly been felt in Copenhagen, and may help scuttle an international agreement. And that, of course, is not funny at all.
CFact didn't return calls by presstime, by the way. If they do respond I'll post it here. In the meantime, here's a video of me talking about Climategate on FOX Business News: