"NO TO DEBATE! NO TO DEMOCRACY!"

On Friday, we wrote about the US ‘Friends of the Earth’, who have enlisted James Hansen in their campaign to censor a book on American politics because it might give the impression that there’s something to discuss. Somehow we managed to miss this gem of a page on the campaign’s website…

Tell Houghton Mifflin global warming isn’t a matter of debate
Friends of the Earth has received a copy of American Government, published by mammoth Houghton Mifflin, which is used in AP government classes in high schools nationwide. The latest edition’s chapter on “Environmental Policy” contains a discussion of global warming so biased and misleading it would humble a tobacco industry PR man:
[…]

These are not quotes from oil company press releases. These and other such statements are made by the authors of American Government in the same omnipotent, textbook tone with which we are all familiar.

Please join us in writing Houghton Mifflin right now! We will copy your governor to make sure every state is aware of the problem with this textbook.

There follows an electronic form for activists to fill in, which gets sent to Houghton Mifflin (and your governor), to tell them not to allow debate on global warming, to harass them not to allow debate to happen in American classrooms.

We have written before about FoE’s contempt for democracy. And this is one more example of how Environmentalists regard the “ethics” of climate change as trumping fundamentals of democratic society. FoE’s shame is unlikely to be forthcoming, however, because the self-importance of the Environmental movement is growing, and its latest action needs to be viewed with some perspective. And what better perspective than a quick recap of Environmentalism in all its misanthropic glory, as reported by wonderful us during our first year on the job? So…

  • In April last year, we wrote about how UK FoE director Tony Juniper dropped his enthusiasm for consensus science when it challenged his desire to return to pre-industrial society.
  • Later that month we criticised former media officer of the Royal Society Bob Ward’s campaign to have the DVD version of The Great Global Warming Swindle censored.
  • Following an article in the TLS, we wondered how interested in science former president of the Royal Society Bob May actually is when he orders us to ‘respect the facts’.
  • In May we reported on the work of German psychologist Andreas Ernst, who claimed to have identified similarities between the psychology of climate change denialists and rats.
  • Following that, we looked at the UK Government’s plans to distribute An Inconvenient Truth to every school in the country in order to manufacture an environmentally-obedient generation.
  • In July, we reported on a UK poll by Ipsos Mori about attitudes to global warming in the UK and how Green MEP, Caroline Lucas blames the media for present climate scepticism, which she equates to holocaust denial.
  • Then we caught former president of the Royal Society telling blatant fibs about Martin Durkin (director of the Great Global Warming Swindle) to an audience in Oxford.
  • In August, futurologist Jamais Casico joined others in fantasising about trying climate sceptics in criminal courts.
  • In October we reported on the UK Government’s plans to put CO2 targets for the country out of political – ie, democratic – control.
  • In November we showed how miserable George Monbiot was complaining about the only hour on television where scepticism of climate alarmism ever got an airing – Top Gear – as though people were forced to watch it.
  • We also pointed out FoE’s two-facedness on matters of democracy.
  • In December, Andrew Dessler tried to persuade us not to listen to climate sceptics by using the image of a sick child.
  • In January, we showed how claims that dissenting views on climate change have been financed by big oil interests lack any sense of proportion, and that green organisations have much more cash available to them.
  • Later that month we showed how Marc D. Davidson was attempting to diminish the moral character of Kyoto sceptics by ‘comparing’ their argument tothat made against the abolition of the slave trade.
  • The next day, David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith exhibit their utter contempt for democracy… It destroys the Environment, you see.
  • In February, OilChange International tried to claim that the oil companies had bought your vote.
  • Later that month, Caroline Lucas terrified people into voting Green by claiming that 70% of cancers are caused by environmental pollution.
  • Later still, we showed how David Roberts’ claim that climate-scepticism is ideological is incorrect, and how he in fact reveals his own nasty ideology, which he hides behind ‘science’.
  • And in March, we showed how Naomi Oreskes’ dismissal of climate scepticism as “the tobacco strategy” itself suffered from being a rather desperate strategy, devoid of reason.

What emerges from this list (and there’s plenty more) is the nasty, anti-democratic, anti-human fundamentals of Environmentalism. These examples show how the self-important urgency of Environmentalists allows them to diminish humans, to portray us as too stupid to engage with the decision making process,
or

too stupid to understand the issues, let alone hear the full range of arguments, lest they corrupt us. The irony is that of all the Environmentalists’ attempts to diminish the moral character of climate sceptics, to banish them, to compare them to fascists, or to reduce the public to unthinking morons undeserving of democracy, none are actually attempts to win the debate – they are just new ways of avoiding it.

17 thoughts on “"NO TO DEBATE! NO TO DEMOCRACY!"”

  1. The dot-point “Then we caught former president of the Royal Society telling blatant fibs” requires a link.

  2. The foe ‘boilerplate’ email can be easily modified to a different message.

    I did so. It appears that it would be subject to an automated modification attack as it does not appear to use any form of ‘captcha’ coding (not that I would do such a thing).

  3. Well I guess I am not the only one to go in and change the form letter! Here is my contribution:

    I am writing to urge Houghton Mifflin to resist the censorship by the global warming alarmists disguising themselves as environmentalists and scientists of the textbook: American Government, 11th edition, by Professors James Q. Wilson and John J. DiIulio, Jr.

    The reason? Chapter 21 on Environmental Policy is an unbiased view of climate change and we need our youth to be able to study the science as it is and not to be swayed by the politics of the biased science of James Hansen. We trust the textbook authors to be fair and speak the truth. To address global warming as “enmeshed in scientific uncertainty” is an accurate portrayal of the work of our nation’s and the world’s top climate scientists, astrophysicists, and climate paleontologists.

    We need our nation’s youth to be given all the information we have available so that they are able to make their own well-informed decisions. For years, Houghton Mifflin has provided that information–and I am outraged that over zealous pseudo-environmentalists would try to censor the publication of such an obvious balanced approach.

    I am copying my governor with this message to ensure that my state knows about the problem with the censorship of this textbook!

    Sincerely,

    Eric

  4. I have sent my own “corrected version” too…

    ————-

    I am writing to support Houghton Mifflin against the debate-stifling, coarse, ethically unsound attempts by Friends of the Earth to force Houghton Mifflin to immediately issue a corrective packet to all the school districts currently using the textbook: American Government, 11th edition, by Professors James Q. Wilson and John J. DiIulio, Jr.

    I also ask that Houghton Mifflin keep up in the future too, its consensus-challenging, fact-based outlook that can only enhance the capabilities for critical thinking in high school pupils.

    The reason? Chapter 21 on Environmental Policy is a godsend, not a “disgrace” as claimed by Friends of the Earth.

    We trust the textbook authors to be fair and speak the truth. To address global warming as “enmeshed in scientific uncertainty” is to describe things as they are. Far from dismissing the work of the nation’s and the world’s top climate scientists, such text underlines the huge challenges facing them and us in understanding the relationship between humanity and the rest of the planet.

    We need the nation’s youth to be given all the information we have available, not just the so-called “consensus”, so that they are able to make their own well-informed decisions. For years, Houghton Mifflin has provided that information–and I am encouraged to see that a company with such a highly respected reputation is continuing to publish along the same tradition.

    I am copying my governor with this message to ensure that my state knows that there is absolutely no problem whatsoever with this textbook!

    Sincerely,

  5. I think their actions are completely in keeping with the ideals of democracy. Democracy is majority rule. There isn’t any premise that it needs to conform to the facts or include debate. I think you have differing opinions on what “democracy” is.

  6. Anonymous claims that Democracy means nothing more than ‘majority rule’. But this is a very crude understanding of ‘democracy’.

    A more accurate description would be ‘majority will’, but this too is incomplete, because it makes no mention of the process by which the majority will is determined.

    I wonder how Anon beleives the ‘majority’ can establish their will – let alone their rule – without debate.

    Closing down debate is anti-democratic, even if it is the majority’s desire that debate be closed down.

  7. “Anti-democracy” leaves quite a bit out of the conception of a free society. That the majority rules is incomplete, as that idea by itself merely substitutes an oligarchy comprised of millions for the older hundreds or scores of oligarchs. In practice, of course, it only changes the membership of the oligarchy from those with power arising from the traditional bases to one whose membership is made up of those who manipulate the vote (or the voters, depending upon the depth of one’s cynacism) most effectively.

    That manipulation is precisely what is being attempted by the Greens and their fellow-travellers. Without some formal known and supported limits to governmental powers, democracy only changes the identity of the tyrant, not the fact of tyranny.

    As an aside, have you noted how the stock solution to these “dooms-day” predictions is always authoritarian and socialist if not outright communist? Why is it true that the proposed solutions to the “New Ice Age Coming” scares of the 70’s and 80’s was tyranny as is the proposed solution to the “Earth Burning Up” scares of this decade or so is likewise tyranny? Why is the proposed solution never freedom? e.g., reduced laws, reduced taxes, reduced bureaucratic regulation? Why always more of those things rather than less? Because the proponents suppose that we are too utterly stupid to save ourselves; not to mention their penchant for autocracy and tyrannies, so long as they are the autocrats and tyrants! Coincidence? I think not.

  8. Ike asks if we have noted ‘how the stock solution to these “dooms-day” predictions is always authoritarian and socialist if not outright communist?’

    We’ve certainly noted that the environmental movement is indeed authoritarian. And that that is a good reason to object to it.

    But is it really socialist? And communist? We don’t think it is.

    And we have written previously on why we think it is a mistake to confuse green with red .

    Environmentalism differs from socialism or communism in many ways. But one of the most important is that the abolition of scarcity is a key intention of socialism and communism. Environmentalists, on the other hand, aim to limit our material expectations – “REDUCE! REUSE! RECYCLE!”, and make a virtue out of scarcity. They don’t want us to go on flights across the world, or to trade with people in far away places. Instead, they bang on about localised systems of small-scale production, which would, of course, have the effect of limiting the horizons of individuals who lived in them, and their work and social aspirations. Critics of capitalism, on the other hand, might argue that it had failed to deliver the benefits of industrial society equally or fairly, and that capitalists who had argued that it’s not society’s responsibility to extend such benefits had thus made an ethic out of austerity – for the poor – in much the same way as the Greens; it is the poor who have to adjust their expectations to the ‘realities’ of the market under capitalism, and to the ‘realities’ of the biosphere under environmentalism.

    And environmentalism is no ‘majority rule’, ‘tyranny of the majority’, or as socialists might aim for, ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’. Indeed, environmentalism is elitism, against the interests of the masses, and is cynical of mass politics. It is ‘inconvenient’ and stands in the way of the ‘higher purpose’.

    Communism’s ultimate objective – a free, stateless society – seems to share something with what Ike has expressed. After all, the desire to achieve a free society, and some pertinent questions about the legitimacy of cold bureaucracy are where most revolutionaries start out.

    Are you a communist, Ike?

  9. Ike – the people who run this blog are closely associated with a group of ideologues who originated in the Revolutionary Communist Party, a Trotskyite fringe group that morphed into Living Marxism and then the Spiked / Institute of Ideas nexus.

    Whether or not they would still think of themselves as communists is hard to say – and they themselves are extremely cagey on the subject, preferring to witter on about the alleged bankrupcy of other people’s politics without offering anything coherent by way of a political programme themselves. I suspect that they imagine themselves as some sort of vanguard group that will declare its true revolutionary colours and lead the grateful workers to a land of limitless material wealth when the right historical moment arises.

    As with most such groups, the position they most revile is that of reformist liberal democracy. They are far happier cosying up to extreme right-wingers, with whom they indeed have a lot more in common. So if you’re not too fussed about political labels, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship!

  10. With all the accusations being flung back and forth, the reality is being ignored. There is a vast middle ground between censoring the minority view and neglecting to mention that it is the minority view. The editors of this blog are so intent on their cause that they’ve ignored the textbook’s omission of the fact that the majority of scientists and scientific organizations do believe global warming is a serious problem that merits attention; and the authors’ suggestion that the contrary is true. Whatever organizations who support him may say, that is and has been Matthew’s point.

    Matthew was criticizing a textbook because it was inaccurate and misleading. He is right. The media instantly spun that as a crtiticism of bias, which is not the main point. FoE has taken the point to argue their cause. People who deny that global warming is a problem, like the authors of this blog, have completely distorted the debate to make their point. In all of this, Matt’s main point, which is about education, has been lost.

    So everybody can write Houghton-Mifflin, but no one has a right to force the authors or the publisher to re-write the textbook their way. What we do have a right to insist on is that it be accurate.

  11. Paul,
    Yes, you have already made the point that you object to the “inaccuracies” in the book. And we can only repeat that it is far from clear that the inaccuracies you highlight are indeed inaccuracies in any factual, scientific sense. (Have you still not read our original post on the subject?) We maintain that you are confusing political opinion with scientific evidence. The media were perfectly justified to “spin” the story into into one of bias, because you are obviously approaching the issue from a particular political perspective. Which is fine. But it is hard to take seriously when you accuse those with whom you disagree of doing the same.
    You state that “People who deny that global warming is a problem, like the authors of this blog, have completely distorted the debate to make their point.” We absolutely do not deny that global warming is a problem. We just happen to disagree with the mainstream, orthodox political response to any problems that might arise. And therein lies our main point – you are hiding behind the putative certainties of climate science to advance your own political opinion. We certainly disagree with you (and, no doubt with many of the arguments in the book, for that matter). But we are not so naive as to believe that our differences are matters of scientific accuracy. They are political differences. And no amount of scientific accuracy can bridge that gap. Your argument would carry much more weight if you could appreciate that.

  12. What you’re saying is that politics drive facts. Too many people think that way, in my opinion. It’s not how it should be, and just because that’s the only way you see it doesn’t mean it’s how we see it.

    You’ve been attacking our assessment of something we have read, and you by your own admission have not read. Now by your own words you admit that your view of the facts is governed wholly by your politics.

    We haven’t argued for any particular response to global warming. We’ve merely pointed out that there is a strong consensus among scientists and scientific organizations that it is a problem that merits attention; and that a student textbook does a disservice by arguing otherwise using cute little phrases like “activist scientists.” That’s the fact. That’s what we’ve said.

    So how about pulling back that letter to Houghton-Mifflin and telling them that while you deplore the methods of FoE, you now recognize that the text is unacceptably slanted and misleading, and should be corrected. A more balanced and more accurate approach like that would lend you credibility.

  13. Paul,

    Where on Earth do you get the idea that we think that politics should drive facts? We just plain old fashioned do not think that. We do, however, recognise that politics often DOES drive facts. You, however, would appear to be in [cough] denial on that one, so please excuse us if we take your “facts” with a pinch of salt.

    Likewise, where’d you get this one from? “by your own words you admit that your view of the facts is governed wholly by your politics”.

    And there’s more… “We’ve merely pointed out that there is a strong consensus among scientists and scientific organizations that it is a problem that merits attention; and that a student textbook does a disservice by arguing otherwise using cute little phrases like “activist scientists.” That’s the fact. That’s what we’ve said.”

    We have already pointed out that the text accepts that “Most scientists agree that the earth has gotten a bit warmer over the past century. But from there on profound disagreements exist.” Sorry Paul, we remain wholly unconvinced by your examples of global warming “facts” that you think the authors have got wrong.

    “So how about pulling back that letter to Houghton-Mifflin and telling them that while you deplore the methods of FoE, you now recognize that the text is unacceptably slanted and misleading, and should be corrected.”

    Because to do so would fly in the face of the “the facts”. You of all people should see that.

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