Climate Science Denialist Patrick Moore Tours Australia After Comparing Students to the Taliban

Canadian climate science denialist Patrick Moore is at the beginning of a tour around Australia speaking to audiences across the country.

But here’s a warning. 

If you do find yourself in the audience and don’t want to be compared to the “Taliban” then don’t even think about walking out in protest.

Less than two weeks before flying to Australia, Moore spoke on the campus of Amherst College in Massachusetts. 

When members of the college’s environmental group decided they had heard enough and walked, Moore said they had a “Taliban mindset”. 

When he was later asked to apologise, a report in the Amherst College student newspaper says Moore instead chose to double-down on his remark.

Fifty people walk out, and I say that’s a pretty Taliban thing to do,” Moore is reported to have said, characterizing the behavior of the young students to that of the fundamentalist regime that massacred thousands and committed brutal repression of women.

Who is Patrick Moore?

Moore has no scientific credibility on climate change and has never published a scientific paper on the issue.

Yet Moore claims there is “no scientific proof” that humans are causing global warming and that “throwing bones on the ground” would have a better predictive ability than most climate models. 

His opinion on the science runs against all the major national science academies in the world and about 97 per cent of all the peer reviewed studies on climate change carried out since the early 1990s.

In his Amherst talk, it is reported that Moore asked rhetorically who would “not want to be on an ice-free planet”?

Good question. According to a study published in a Royal Society journal, global sea level was about 60 metres higher than today when the Earth was virtually ice-free about 35 million years ago.

Galileo Movement

Moore’s trip to Australia has been financed through the climate science denial organisation the Galileo Movement

The trip came about despite what has to be one of the least successful web-based crowd funding campaigns in history.

The Galileo Movement launched its campaign on the crowd funding site Indiegogo on 5 August with a goal of raising $50,000 (archived here).  Perks were offered to any donors feeling especially generous, including signed copies of Patrick Moore’s book, t-shirts and a one-hour visit from the man himself for a $1000 corporate donation.

By the time the campaign closed on October 4, only one single donation had been made through the site, raising the grand total of $25.

The Galileo Movement also attempted to use the social media tool Thunderclap to create a social media buzz around Moore’s trip.  The group needed 100 Twitter supporters to activate the “Thunderclap” but managed just 31.

Despite this and Moore’s lack of credibility, the tour goes ahead with events in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Hobart, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. Moore has been given favourable coverage in popular rural newspaper The Land and the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Australian.

Moore is almost always described as a co-founder of Greenpeace, despite Greenpeace itself contesting that he wasn’t a co-founder. Moore did hold senior positions at Greenpeace, but left there almost 30 years ago.

A former Greenpeace colleague and actual co-founder of Greenpeace International, Rex Weyler, wrote: “Moore has served as a corporate public relations consultant far longer than he ever worked for Greenpeace, and he has never worked as a scientist.”

Media coverage

In The Australian, the report repeated as fact a claim from the Galileo Movement’s own publicity that Moore had been a crew member of the famous Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior boat at the time it was bombed by the French government in July 1985 (I checked this with Greenpeace who told me Moore was not a member of the Rainbow Warrior crew and was not on the boat when the two bombs exploded — killing a photographer and sinking the ship — but was on the New Zealand mainland for a Greenpeace board meeting that was scheduled around that time).

An archive of Moore’s CV shows his work for corporations and organisations in logging, pulp and paper and mining. He has also been an advocate for the nuclear energy industry.

Neither The Australian nor The Land newspaper mentioned Moore’s corporate links or explained Moore’s lack of genuine expertise. In The Land, the headline suggested Moore was the “Man in the middle on climate” when in fact, Moore is a man out on the fringes with a conspiracy that human-caused climate change is the work of a “powerful convergence of elites” who want to control energy policy or chase government grant money.

Moore was also given airtime on Sky News in a “debate” on the “Richo + Jones” programme. 

Co-presenter Alan Jones, a popular Sydney radio talkback host, is a patron of the Galileo Movement.

The Galileo Movement has previously helped to finance and organise (thanks during one tour to a donation from mining magnate and Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart) tours of Australia by British climate science denialist Lord Christopher Monckton.

Moore’s characterization of students’ right to protest as resembling “the Taliban” has echoes of the time Monckton called young environmentalists the “Hitler youth” and compared an Australian government policy advisor on climate change to a Nazi.

The Galileo Movement claims to stand for “open and free discussion of major scientific issues” — the “Hitler youth” or the “Taliban” need not apply.