The Peril of Great Causes

Update and correction: Several readers have pointed out to me that Al Gore was not arrested regarding his encounter with the Oregon masseuse. I regret the error.

As a Lukewarmer I cheerfully accept the science explaining how our high emissions of CO2 have contributed to the current warming period. As a liberal progressive I support large-scale (government and NGO) efforts to address the pressing problems of today. And as someone who has worked in the solar power industry and reported on green technology for over a decade, I believe that green energy can provide a partial solution to some of those problems.

But as a Lukewarmer I see flaws in what has become a Great Cause–to me it seems to often be an excuse for NGOs to ask the public for more money, for politicians to gain easy support and to replace the stock prayer from beauty pageant contestants for world peace.

Climate change is real. The political struggle over acknowledging the scope and impacts is full of unreality.

When a political cause gains traction among those in power, a curious thing happens. Conventional ideas about right and wrong slip in priority and winning becomes so important that criminal activity and sexual impropriety become forgivable by those in service to a Cause.

Addendum: I want to be clear that there are two dangers–it is a commonplace that power tends to corrupt and those who gain or seek power within any organization or group are susceptible–we’ve seen similar cases in politics, religion, lobbyists and NGOs. But the other danger is a relaxation of standards amongst the members of these organizations, a failure to hold their leaders to account, to excuse human frailty in a desire to advance a cause they believe in. This to my mind is more pernicious, as it affects so many more and is ultimately more destructive of worthwhile goals.

Peter Gleick stole documents and forged another to attack his political opponents. Despite the gravity of this crime he was welcomed back into the fold of those promoting worst-case scenarios about the impacts of climate change as if he were a hero, not a criminal. This is not unusual in political movements. The cause becomes more important.

 

Gleick

Al Gore was one of the first who promoted global warming as an imminent threat to human safety. His sybaritic lifestyle was evident from the first–private planes, living in a mansion, conspicuous consumption. None of that was sufficient to cause the Cause to disavow him. It still is unclear whether it was his arrest for pressuring a masseuse for sex encounter with a masseuse or his sale of his television channel to a fossil fuel organization was the cause of his fall from grace–but that fall was apparently temporary, as he still speaks on global warming before green groups the world over. The rules don’t apply.

And now it is the turn of Rajendra Pachauri. Women are now speaking of a decade-long pattern of sexual harassment. Even before this revelation, Pachauri was involved in misconduct, ranging from suppressing dissent to hiding the income from his foundation. He showed incredibly poor judgment in publishing a bodice ripper of a novel while head of an organization that had been criticized by the IAC–with many of those criticisms calling into question his leadership. But it doesn’t matter. He was a champion of the Cause.

Gore Pachauri

Currently, some bloggers and mainstream media sources are reviving decade-long questions about the funding of a scientist named Willie Soon, that he received funding from fossil fuel sources.

It doesn’t matter that institutions ranging from the CRU and Stanford University have received funding from fossil fuel sources, or that BEST’s Richard Muller actually got money from the Koch Brothers. It doesn’t matter that this information is old.

What matters for the Cause is that headlines of supposed misbehavior hit the news at the same time as Pachauri’s disgrace.

Because none of this is about science. It is about controlling the levers of power, making sure the right message is fed through the media channels and that funding for the right issues is uninterrupted.

Oh for the days when we talked about science.

38 responses to “The Peril of Great Causes

  1. “He showed incredibly poor judgment in publishing a bodice ripper of a novel while head of an organization ‘

    Nonsense- he and Al have merely established a level playing field for the run for the Manuel Oliver Chair in Comparative Literature at Southern Missouri U.

  2. You believe too much BS.

  3. I wonder how much warmist alarmism Pachauri managed to keep out of the IPCC reports as deliverables for his BP sponsers….

  4. Tom,
    The essay is excellent. As usual. However I would suggest you check the record on Gores massage problem. I believe he was accused, and went shortly there after into a divorce. I do not believe he was arrested. Fanatics, as you have experienced elsewhere, are nothing if not detail minded in looking for excuses to dismiss entire bodies of work..

  5. Climate change is real. The political struggle over acknowledging the scope and impacts is full of unreality.

    That is a great line, Tom. BTW, I hear (via Bishop Hill) that Roger Pielke Jr. is bailing out of the climate debate because of the toxic environment.

  6. I am saddened to see Pachauri go. He was a fine example of what was wrong with the IPCC. An unrepentant cheerleader of policy in a position that was not supposed to advise on policy. My guess is that many climate scientists shed no tears when they heard the news.

    Possibly they will get someone competent to replace him. I have an uneasy feeling that “climate catastrophe salesman” and “devotion to the cause” will be the most important requirements for his replacement though. I hope not.

    It’s a political position and it will likely be filled by a political operative.

  7. Unlike WUWT, at least someone here has pointed out that your smear on Al Gore is untrue; Gore was never arrested for sexual misconduct. Of course you will retract your libel here and in your other columns …. of course you will ……

    The more interesting question is how you could possibly believe it was true in the first place? Al Gore arrested for sexual misconduct would make headlines everywhere. If it had actually happened, then no one could possibly be unaware of it — unless they lived in a cave.

    Where do people who think like you get this stuff from? Do you make it up all on your own?

    Since you’re dealing with politics here, isn’t it pertinent that Pachauri was George Bush’s pick and a man that Exxon lobbied Bush’s Whitehouse to head the IPCC? Naw – let’s not let facts get in the way of tribal allegiance.

    People like you literally make me sick. I feel like I need a shower after reading your lies.

    • Hi Kevin

      Thanks for pointing out the error! Hope you recover quickly from your nausea. I find a shower usually helps.

      • Kevin ONeill

        And all the other posts where you have made the same or similar charges about Gore being a sex offender/predator/busted with a massage parlor lady/guilty of disqualifying crimes, etc?

        All of this begs the question: How do you come to believe this nonsense or do you just make it up and hope no one calls you on it? What does it say of the people who read you that virtually none of them even attempt to correct you on such a basic matter of fact?

        Had a former Vice-President of the USA actually been arrested for such a crime it would have made headlines all across the world. Lacking said headlines, what weird path did you follow to reach this point?

        You have used this faulty information multiple times as evidence of something or other – what does it say of your reasoning that one of the main points you bring up is total fiction?

        Seriously, do you consider yourself deluded? Do you consider yourself smart? How do you believe we should regard someone that believes complete, utter nonsense for months (years?) without any ability to realize he’s bonkers? Knowing that you’ve been completely wrong – do you now rewrite, rethink all of the things you’ve written that used Gore as an example? Or do you just maintain the same viewpoint even though the facts have changed 180 degrees?

      • Tom please be careful what advice you give Kevin as it could do more harm than good. As I said to him, after he barged over and called me lazy

        You’re skin must be red raw with all that you find dirty, so you have my sympathies but you’d be better off seeking help😉

        http://weatheraction.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/the-peril-of-great-causes/#comments

      • Kevin, I’m glad to see both your nausea and your shower were brief. Welcome back!

        As you have been busy perusing my blog for evidence of thought crimes, surely you noticed that I pointed out that Pachauri was a Bush pick–as a staunch Democrat, do you think I’d pass up that opportunity?

        As for Gore’s sexual misconduct, three different masseuses in three different states made the same allegation–and his wife left him shortly thereafter.

        But it’s true that he was never arrested.

      • Kevin ONeill

        Yes, Tom, please be careful. otherwise I might ask discomforting questions and you’ll be forced to put me in moderation – as Craig has done.

        Craig apparently didn’t like the fact that I questioned his veracity – or at least his interpretation of what ‘differing viewpoints’ means. You see, Craig wrote: “I post different articles with differing viewpoints ….”

        It is unfortunately a trait of mine to be both cynical and skeptical. Rather than just take Craig at his word I perused the last 30 or 40 posts on his site. Approxmately 75% of the posts were juts echo chamber links to original posts at WUWT, TallBloke, Paul Homewood, or Steve Goddard. Now that’s what I call diversity !!!

        If the sarcasm isn’t apparent, please add a large dose of it to my previous sentence – cuz here’s the rest of what I said:

        I didn’t recognize a single link to a blog actually offering any viewpoint other than your general run-of-the-mill denier/pseudosceptic non-science verbal diarrhea.

        I didn’t go through the entire contents, but you’d think in 30 or 40 posts I’d have found one of these ‘differing’ points of view. Or do you mean by ‘differing viewpoints’ that you repost deniers, pseudoskeptics and the absolutely batshit crazies (Goddard)?

        Do you honestly believe that you post ‘differing viewpoints’? Are you so wrapped up in your own rhetoric that you’ve fallen into the ‘smoking your own dope’ rabbit hole? Are you familiar with the term ‘echo chamber’? Do you realize you’ve made yourself part of it? Your site apparently exists merely to echo the memes of a small group of haters. I realize these oft-linked sites probably fit in with your own ideology and personal preferences, but why do you then feel the need to pretend otherwise?”

        I don’t expect Craig to offer any serious answers. Little vanity sites like his are usually only setup so that he can feel he’s part of the group – he doesn’t actually add anything to the discussion – just echoes the sentiments of others. I’ve never found introspection and/or self-reflection to be common in that particular realm.

      • Kevin, you’re welcome here but I will ask you to please be polite with other commenters. Your beef is with me, not them.

  8. Craig, please be accurate. I didn’t call you lazy. I asked a question.

    Why do you choose to repost someone else’s libel? Just too lazy to make up your own?

    Obviously the first sentence is the question I wanted answered. The second sentence includes one possible answer. The questionmark at the end of the second sentence indicates it is said in a *questioning* way. That is, in fact, the purpose of questionmarks.

    So it is incorrect to say that I called you lazy. I asked you if you were lazy. There is a fairly significant and discernible difference.

    Of course you never answered the first question. Or the second one for that matter.

  9. Perhaps Brandon has changed his name………
    Kevin, I am the one who pointed out that Tom was wrong on the Gore point. Compared to the lies and calumnies Gore has tossed out in the course of his post political life I found Tom’s mistake a minor one.
    “People like you”? Please… get a life.

  10. Hunter, I’ll ask you the same question: How does one come to believe the former Vice-President of the United States was arrested for sexual misconduct when it never happened? A minor mistake? Please, explain to me how this happens. You apparently must understand it better than I do.

    Me, I’d think it would be plastered all over the newspaper headlines around the world and TV talking-heads shows would be running with it non-stop for days – if not weeks. It would be kind of hard to miss – and conversely, the fact none of that took place should be a pretty darned good clue that maybe, just maybe – it’s complete BS. Rather than a minor mistake I see it as an indication of a person’s thought processes. It immediately tells me this person lacks a BS detector.

    Not only that, but the same falsehood wasn’t just used in this one post – I counted at least four posts that had the same meme. So it wasn’t just some one-off random factoid thrown into a discussion by mistake. It’s not the equivalent of a typo or misremembering a date – it’s a libel; it’s been used multiple times; and it’s completely false and should have been known to be false without even having to research it. So perhaps you can explain to me how this “minor mistake” is made byany person that has the capability of critical thinking – much less internet access.

    • As for how one could come to believe Gore was arrested, when one reads of police interviews and statement taking, one can get that impression. I did get that impression. And I didn’t read about it in a tabloid, unless you consider The Guardian a tabloid. And when there are multiple incidents cited….

      http://www.businessinsider.com/two-more-women-accuse-al-gore-of-assault-2010-7

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2010/jul/01/algore-usa

    • Kevin,
      People make mistakes. Some, like you apparently, thinks that finding one means they need to be condemned.
      Like with your assertion about temperature adjustments lowering the rate of temp change, not increasing it.
      That is a fundamental mind boggling error by you. You toss it out there as if you are correct and offer nothing more than your snark to support it. But I am not going to go your route and condemn you for it. Merely ask you to either document it or correct yourself.

      • Kevin ONeill

        Hunter, here you are: http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/2015/02/homogenization-adjustments-reduce-global-warming.html

        Using BEST and plots by Zeke Hausfather you can see that global temperature trends are reduced by homogenization (data adjustment).

        The data is available to everyone. Anyone could make the same plots. Anyone that truly cares already knows the adjustments (using any of the temperature series) have little to no effect on global temperature trends. I won’t bother to wait for an apology – just note that the “mind boggling error” comment is about par for the course.

        Please ignore the facts and carry on with your previous stupidity.

      • Kevin, save your insults for me. Hunter is many things. Stupid is not one of them. I agree with Zeke and my co-author Mosher on the need for adjustments and have no argument with their statements that overall adjustments lower the trends. Hunter and I may disagree on that.

        I doubt if we would disagree about you, your motives for being here or the likelihood of having a real conversation with you. So be polite if you wish to continue to rant.

      • Kevin,
        Reducing the past and not the present makes the slope steeper, not shallower.
        I agree with you that “adjustment” does not have to be the same as “reducing the past” yet that is what has happened in far too many cases here and in other parts of the world. The limits of homogenization are real and include creating false trends. Quoting rationalizations of the current trashing of the temp data record does not help your argument.
        What is mind boggling is how climate kooks cling to their apocalypse.
        .

      • Kevin ONeill

        Tom, Hunter wrote: “That is a fundamental mind boggling error by you.” Referring to me.

        I’m sorry – who has made the fundamental mind boggling error? Which temperature set shows greater warming, the unadjusted or the adjusted?

        Apparently, “To kill an error ….” doesn’t count when it’s your tribal member making the error.

  11. Tom – and somehow you just felt he must have been arrested – even though it never received any national attention. Given all the vitriol that Al Gore receives it never crossed your mind to wonder why he wasn’t catching flack for an arrest for sexual misconduct?

    Like I’ve stated elsewhere, it really says to me that you lack a BS detector.

    This is why certain people earn the label of ‘pseudoskeptic’ – they’re only skeptical of evidence/facts/science that doesn’t fit their already defined worldview.

    And when they are forced to admit they’re wrong on this fact or that – it never changes their view *anyways* – there’s always just another rationalization that leads them to the same conclusion.

    I first ran across this whole mindset in the evolution/creationism/intelligent design arena. I’ve seen the same thing happen in macro-economics. The discussion around global warming is as bad, if not worse.

    Let’s take a simple example: temperature adjustments. If I can find one I can find 10,000 blog posts and/or comments that decry climate scientists adjusting the raw data, You can pick your poison as to why – they’re seeking more funding, it’s a conspiracy, they’re stupid, they have a political agenda, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    What none of them seem to understand is that the net effect of all these adjustments is to LOWER the global temperature trend. Not increase the warming, but reduce it. If climate scientists wanted to make global warming seem worse than it is all they would have to do is make no adjustments!

    Yet the belief in many quarters that climate scientists use adjustments to make the temperature trend look worse than it actually is persists. Paul Krugman calls these ‘Zombie Lies’ – because no matter how many times you ‘kill’ them, they just keep coming back. The list of zombie lies about Al Gore is pretty extensive.

    It must be difficult going through life with a defective BS detector.

    • Hi Kevin, I indeed thought Al Gore had been arrested. I was incorrect. He was investigated three times for the Portland incident and for other incidents in different states.

      You might or might not be aware that I have been a staunch defender of temperature adjustments. Or you might just be guilty of the same error you have correctly accused me of with regards to Al Gore. You possibly made an incorrect assumption and didn’t check prior to publishing.

      Or, of course, you might be engaged in the delightful game of Climateball–but you should really consult willard before attempting to play.

      Defective or not,my BS detector is signalling in your direction.

  12. Tom, I haven’t read all of your posts so I made sure that I *didn’t* accuse you of anything regarding temperature adjustments. I specifically wrote it as an example of the idea of Zombie Lies in general. So why your BS detector is going off would seem to indicate that it is indeed faulty – since I neither accused you or lumped you in with those who decry temperature adjustments.

    Where the idea may apply to you is on the subject of Al Gore. The incidents took place nearly 10 years a go. The initial reports were 5 years ago. The debunking was fairly swift. Yet here we are 5 years later and you are *constantly* repeating the false claim.

    As I’ve already described – the hullabaloo over Gore being arrested for sexual misconduct would have gathered headlines and neverending TV news coverage. Fox would still be running weekly specials on it. I’m just unable to understand how the lack of this coverage never caused you to question your belief. At some point I’d think you’d Google it just to be sure you had the details correct. You were willing to believe it – so you did. And I’ll bet the revelation that it isn’t true hasn’t changed your opinion of Gore.

    Al Gore said he invented the internet.

    Al Gore never went to Vietnam.

    Al Gore used family connections to get a cushy Army job.

    Al Gore used ‘special dispensation’ to shorten his Vietnam tour.

    Al Gore sold out to big oil.

    Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth’ was nothing but lies.

    Al Gore sold out to big tobacco

    We can go on and on. I don’t know how many of these you’ve repeated yourself – though the ‘Al Gore sold out to big oil’ is a difference without a distinction substituting your fossil fuels organization.

    Get that BS detector checked.

    • Kevin, you just wrote that you haven’t read all my posts–that becomes obvious with every comment you make. Your ignorance about what you write does not provide evidence that my BS detector is wrong. Perhaps the contrary is true.

      I voted for Al Gore three times. I contributed to his campaigns.

      I was in Vietnam and I know he was too. I have absolutely no idea about the other things you say about his military experience. I’ve never heard those charges.

      Gore did not say he invented the internet. In fact he should receive credit for legislation enabling its creation.

      Gore did not sell out to big oil. He and his partner sold Current TV to Al Jazeera, funded and operated by the Qatari government, which is funded (and some say operated by) Qatari Petroleum. Which is an insult, I believe…to the CIA.

      I’ve never seen the charge that he sold out to Big Tobacco. I do know he adopted their tactics wholesale with regards to debating the climate. What a clever twist to then accuse his opponents of doing so. Perhaps the charge stems from his growing up on a farm that grew tobacco? I know he comes from that region of the earth…

      An Inconvenient Truth was held to have nine errors of fact by a British judge. Whether that invalidates the rest of the book or not is entirely up to the reader, I would say. When I read it I thought that most of it was either grade school obvious or exaggeration for political effect.

      I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you are going on and on… and throwing dozens of accusations you’ve read on the internet at me to see if I might be guilty of one or more of them.

      Which is part of Climateball–but you’re truly an amateur at this, O’Neill. I wrote before that you should really talk to willard about this.

    • Gore went to Vietnam, he did bloviate about the internet, he had a pretty cushy job in the Army, his father was the Senator from Occidental Petroleum, zinc is/was mined on his family property, and he bragged about his work in tobacco
      And selling his pitiful faux network to Al Jazeera, directly owned by big oil, for many times its reasonable market value was a nice play. Too bad he did not get the money upfront.

  13. Tom – do you remember what you wrote in this post?

    Let me refresh you: “ It still is unclear whether it was his arrest for pressuring a masseuse for sex encounter with a masseuse or his sale of his television channel to a fossil fuel organization ….”

    Fossil fuel organization? Isn’t that a euphemism for ‘big oil’? Or is Al Jazeera a fossil fuel organization? Odd that. Never heard of a state-owned media company referred to as fossil fuel organization. Why didn’t you write that he sold it to a media conglomerate? Or simply write that he sold it to Al Jazeera? What was the point and purpose of your strange wording? You obviously regard it as something *bad* – because you state it as a reason that liberals have disavowed Gore.

    Practically every middle-eastern country is (or wishes they were) funded by oil. So selling anything to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, et al – even Ecuador – apparently is now a nefarious deed in your book. Someone’s playing ClimateBall alright – just not playing it very well.

    BTW – have you corrected the other posts where you made the same false allegations vis a vis Al Gore? To kill an error and all that.

    • Al Jazeera is very much under the influence of both the Qatari government and Qatari Petroleum, as many of their ex-employees are happy to attest. They put on a brave front for a while but are descending to the propaganda level associated with organs such as RTV. Yes, I believe that selling to Al Jazeera was selling to big oil. The ‘media conglomerate’ you refer to is a front.

      Was it nefarious? No. Was it deeply hypocritical? In my opinion yes. About as hypocritical as critcizing Soon’s funding while ignoring CRU’s or Stanford University’s acceptance of large sums of money from the same organizations.

      But you wouldn’t have an opinion on that, would you?

  14. Tom – in a comment at 6:31 you wrote “Gore did not sell out to big oil.”

    In the comment at 6:58 you wrote: “Yes, I believe that selling to Al Jazeera was selling to big oil.”

    Some might consider these statements ClimateBall.

    I did ask a question: Why did you choose the wording ‘fossil fuels organization’? Al Jazeera is not a fossil fuels organization. Under Qatari law, Al Jazeera Media Network is incorporated as a private, non-profit company. It receives it’s funding from the state. I’m not sure what information you rely on to believe that Qatar Petroleum controls Al Jazeera, but even if true Qatar Petroleum is not ‘big oil’ – that term is usually reserved for the major international oil companies – Chevron, Exxon, BP, Shell, Total S.A. In bygone days ‘big oil’ was synonymous with the Seven Sisters.

    Soon’s offense was not the source of the funding, but the failure to disclose it. Of course you already knew that – so trying to avoid the actual issue is a ClimateBall move.

    • Hi Kevin, perhaps I should have written that Gore did not sell out to Big Oil, but did sell to big oil. I wonder if anyone would have parsed the difference. Glad this is only a blog… If you can’t see the connection between Al Jazeera and Qatar Petroleum, nothing else I write will convince you. And if you think that only the 7 Sisters qualify as Big Oil, then your definition becomes your argument. And that’s Climateball.

      Questions about Soon’s funding have been around in one form or another since the late 90s. He was fine with disclosure up until recently. I don’t know what went wrong the past couple of years. His institution got their cut of it, so he wasn’t hiding it from them.

  15. Tom – oh, I parsed the difference – and that’s why I said some would consider it ClimateBall. Similarly *your* definition of Big Oil is a non-standard (sic) one. And I’ll borrow what you wrote, your definition becomes your argument. And that’s Climateball. Wiki agrees with me.

    I believe it’s beside the point, but of course there’s something you could write that might convince me – like a link to several articles by middle east experts analyzing the links between Qatar Petroleum and Al Jazeera.

  16. Tom – ?? No, that’s specifically what I was referring to – parsing the difference between ‘sell out to’ and ‘selling to’ – many would consider this to be Climateball; i.e., making what a layman would consider contradictory statements, but relying on a technical grammatical analysis to ‘prove’ the statements aren’t contradictory.

    And as I stated, your definition of ‘big oil’ is a non-standard one; everyone agrees that is pure ClimateBall.

  17. Pingback: On Climate Change, Vox Populi is not Vox Dei | The Lukewarmer's Way

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