Merchants of doom on the great green ship of fools

The CBC’s “science” maven, Bob McDonald, continues to churn out doom and gloom in the latest post on his new, improved closed-to-comments blog:

We can’ t continue to ignore the failing health of our oceans

An international report released this week, called State of the Ocean, suggests time is running out on the colourful coral reefs and pristine waters pictured in holiday travel brochures.

According to the multidisciplinary team of scientists, marine species are being lost at a rate rivaling that of the extinction 65 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs. Except this time, we are the dinosaurs at the top of the food chain with the most to lose.

While the report did not really tell us anything we haven’t heard before – collapsing cod stocks on the East Coast and salmon stocks on the West Coast, toxic algae blooms, melting ice caps, etc. – it did say that the oceans are changing faster than anyone imagined. It’s a rather scary scenario, as our demands on the ocean for food continue to grow. [emphasis added -hro]

How unusual is that, eh? Another scary scenario that’s happening “faster than anyone imagined”!

Being the good little churnalist, that he is, McDonald dutifully linked to an AP report that is also found on the CBC website. Oh, and he also linked to the source of this “report” – an organization body that grandiosely calls itself the “International Program on the State of the Ocean” (IPSO) and claims to be a “unique consortium of scientists and other Ocean experts — including those from the legal, communications and political arenas”.

According to the AP article, this report will be “presented to the United Nations”. No doubt this will be sufficient to guarantee it a place of honour** in one or more chapters of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s forthcoming 5th Assessment Report.

**IPCC Chair, Rajendra K. Pachauri has been furiously backpeddaling from his “all peer reviewed” claims for the past year. In a video endorsing the highly embarrassing work to be found in the recently released “Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN)” Pachauri has lowered the bar so far that he makes no mention of “peer-reviewed” literature: all that is required is that it be “published“:

Rajendra Pachauri (IPCC Chair) on the importance of the SRREN from IPCC on Vimeo.

But, I digress … What neither McDonald nor the AP writer did was verify the credentials of those responsible for this latest scary scenario. Quelle surprise. Had they done so, they would have found – as Ben Pile at Climate Resistance did – that IPSO is, in effect, a one-man show, that this report is the result of a 3-day workshop and that the “experts” are decidedly lacking in relevant expertise (with the possible exception of those in “communications” who succeeded admirably in getting press coverage.) Pile concludes:

But in what way is the product of the 3-day gloom-fest a ‘scientific outcome’? No doubt, with a fancy name like ‘International Programme on the State of the Ocean’, citations to the report it produces will impress people. Indeed, it sounds like an expensive, exhaustive survey of the world. But it was just a couple of dozen eco-warriors in a single room, chatting about their fears.

So much for McDonald’s “multi-disciplinary team of scientists”!

But speaking the IPCC, Pachauri and eco-warriors … Walter Russell Mead offers Part 2 of his analysis of Al Gore’s failure [h/t jorge c. via comment at Judth Curry‘s]. As always with Mead’s prose, it is an absolute joy to read … and he is right on the mark. So do read the whole thing. But here are some excerpts:

The Failure of Al Gore: Part Deux

That Al Gore’s definitive statement on the crisis of the climate change movement appeared in the back pages of Rolling Stone magazine rather than in a more prominent and prestigious location is one sign of the decline in his reputation. At the peak of the climate movement, such an essay might have appeared in Foreign Affairs or any of the world’s leading newspapers. If he had chosen Rolling Stone to reach a hipper crowd, the article would likely have run as the cover story and ignited a global debate.

As it was, the reaction to the most definitive statement yet on the biggest crisis in the history of the climate movement by its most prominent public spokesman (now that his Nobel yoke mate Rajendra Pachauri has been hooted off the world stage as a hot tempered poseur) was, from the former vice president’s viewpoint, deeply disappointing. The piece’s arguments, its logic, its impassioned cri de coeur sank like so many stones, like so many trees falling in a forest when no one was there to hear.

It is a measure of how far Gore has fallen that almost all the scanty attention the piece received focused on Gore’s criticism of what he sees as President Obama’s failure to lead on climate change. Gore, like the global green movement he champions, has fallen by the wayside. Despite terrible weather, despite tornadoes, droughts, food crises and high oil prices, the world conversation has moved on. The question is why.


Gore’s failures are not just about leadership. The strategic vision he crafted for the global green movement has comprehensively failed. That is no accident; the entire green policy vision was so poorly conceived, so carelessly constructed, so unbalanced and so rife with contradictions that it could only thrive among activists and enthusiasts. Once the political power of the climate movement, aided by an indulgent and largely unquestioning press, had pushed the climate agenda into the realm of serious politics, failure was inevitable. The only question was whether the comprehensive green meltdown would occur before or after the movement achieved its core political goal of a comprehensive and binding global agreement on greenhouse gasses.

That question has now been answered; the movement failed before it got its treaty, and while the media and the establishment have still generally failed to analyze these developments and draw the consequences, the global climate movement has become the kind of embarrassment intellectuals like to ignore. Like the Club of Rome, Y2K, the Iraq Study Group and President Obama’s management of the Middle East peace process it is something polite people try not to think about. This is why Al Gore is less visible than he used to be, and his views are less eagerly sought: the polite world and its ready handmaid the press know Gore has failed but does not want to think or write about why.


The idea was to develop and present a scientific case that global warming was happening, that it was caused by human activity, and that its consequences in the near future were so devastating that a binding and effective GGCT (Global Green Carbon Treaty) was the only way out.


To make the case for a proposition like this, one needs to make the following argument: that the cost of inaction is unacceptably high, that the proposed measures are both feasible and effective, and that there are no easier or cheaper methods of accomplishing the goal. This is no special set of high hurdles invented for the purpose of frustrating the greens; it is the basic test that any proposal in any arena must pass.

In the global warming debate, this involves arguing first that the evidence for rapid and destructive climate change is rock solid, second that the global green agenda can be put into place and will work if it is, and third that there are no less costly, less intrusive or more workable alternative policies to the green agenda as it is now understood.

From the beginning, the movement was dogged by what proved to be a fatal flaw. That problem was and is the sheer expense, complexity and unwieldiness of the GGCT. The political goal of the global green movement is so enormously complicated, so economically expensive, so administratively difficult, so dependent on the coordination and cooperation of so many different powerful political interests with radically different agendas that its adoption was extremely unlikely.

Any serious discussion of the merits of the GGCT would be fatal because the more the world reflects on the topic the more the world’s diplomats, policy makers and opinion leaders realize just how utopian and unworkable this “strategy” really is.


The dream that the menace of global warming will cause humanity to overcome its ancient divisions and unite in a grand global coalition is sophomoric. Rising CO2 levels will not cause the world’s governments to accept and enforce international policing of the most intimate details of their economic lives. If the menace of nuclear war can’t create world government, the menace of global warming won’t do it either.

[Mead concludes:]

The green movement’s core tactic is not to “hide the decline” or otherwise to cook the books of science. Its core tactic to cloak a comically absurd, impossibly complex and obviously impractical political program in the authority of science. Let anyone attack the cretinous and rickety construct of policies, trade-offs, offsets and bribes by which the greens plan to govern the world economy in the twenty first century, and they attack you as an anti-science bigot.

To argue with these people about science is to miss the core point. Even if the science is exactly as Mr. Gore claims, his policies are still useless. His advocacy is still a distraction. The movement he heads is still a ship of fools.

It is a waste of time to talk science with Al Gore. It is a waste of time to listen to him at all. That, apparently, is what the world at long last is beginning to understand. The policy makers and the heads of state who only two years ago were ready to follow Gore up the mountain have softly and quietly tuned him out.

These days, he can’t even get his picture on the cover of Rolling Stone. [emphasis added-hro]

Too bad that McDonald’s blog doesn’t allow comments anymore. I would have posted a link to Mead’s article, so that he could see that – along with Pachauri, Gore and other merchants of doom – as Mead notes, he’s been sailing on a ship of fools.

One thought on “Merchants of doom on the great green ship of fools

  1. Having made all the inane statements he has, he is now committed, for life, to justifying them. Neither the McDonalds nor the Suzukis can ever yield an inch.

    So they will have to be stomped into the mud. Too bad, so sad …

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