Hero Farmer Joel Salatin Rejects Climate Change Science Using 'Standard Denier Talking Points'

Read time: 6 mins
Farmer Joel Salatin holding a chicken

Joel Salatin, a global hero of the sustainable small-scale farming movement, does not accept the well-established science linking greenhouse gas emissions to dangerous climate change, DeSmog has found.

The Virginia farmer and self-described “Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic” has told DeSmog he is skeptical because he “grew up inundated with the science that by now, we would enter a new ice age.”

Climate scientists have told DeSmog that Salatin had apparently accepted several “standard denier talking points,” including the 1970s cooling myth.

In late June, Salatin gave a keynote speech at the “Red Pill Expo” where other presenters pushed conspiracy theories about the 9/11 terrorist attacks and claimed human-caused climate change was largely a hoax.

Hero Figure

Salatin has written several books and been featured in Time magazine. His livestock farm, Polyface Farm, has been featured in a number of documentary films. He is a widely sought speaker.

One senior figure in the sustainable food movement in Australia, where Salatin has toured many times, says while Salatin enjoys “hero” status for his revolutionary farming methods, his position on climate change will be “surprising and disappointing” to many of his supporters.

Climate Denial Myths

DeSmog contacted Salatin after his appearance at the Red Pill Expo — an event organized by a group fronted by notorious conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin who has claimed there is “no such thing” as HIV and that airplane contrails might be a political plot to spray chemicals onto the world’s population.

Salatin said: “On climate change, I grew up inundated with the science that by now, we would enter a new ice age. Now we're going to burn up. I don't believe either and I don't think we know enough. Science is limited to what we can observe and what we can duplicate; much of this is outside the realm of science.” 

That we're in a warming trend is certainly evident, but remember, Greenland was once named that because it was a pastoral, hospitable place to live. Not now,” Salatin said. “We've been warmer and have also had far more carbon in the atmosphere.”

None of the world’s major scientific academies would agree with Salatin. His notion that scientists in the 1970s were mainly concerned about global cooling is an oft-repeated myth.

A review published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society looked at research published in academic journals between 1965 and 1979 and found only seven articles predicting cooling, with 44 predicting warming.

Professor Andy Pitman, director of the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Climate System Science, said: “It is a myth that the community argued strongly that we were heading towards an ice age in the 1970s. I know it’s commonly believed that this is what the science community argued, but it just ain’t so!”

Pitman said Salatin’s claims about the limitations of science were “simply false.”

He said: “Science is not limited to what we can observe. Black holes were predicted before they were observed. It is extremely common in science to predict something and for observations to later find evidence.”

Professor Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said Salatin’s statements were “all standard denier talking points.”

There is no evidence that Greenland was any ‘greener’ or had substantially less ice during Viking times than now, or for that matter in the first half of the 20th century before global warming really took off,” he told DeSmog.

The Viking settlements were along the coast where the Greenland Ice Sheet does not reach and where there is fertile land, then and now. Some people have claimed Greenland was nearly ice-free during the Middle Ages — maybe [Salatin] is referring to this denier myth. That is obvious nonsense since we have ice cores from the Greenland Ice Sheet which show it was there continuously all the way back to the Eemian interglacial, about 120,000 years ago.”

Salatin Had 'Never Heard' of Denialist Lord Monckton

At the Red Pill Expo, Salatin shared a stage with Lord Christopher Monckton — a climate science denier who has claimed climate science is being used by the United Nations to install a socialist New World Order.

Salatin said he had “never heard of Lord Monckton or Ed Griffin” when he agreed to attend but was motivated partly by the chance to meet controversial finance self-help author Robert Kyosaki, who was also speaking. He also agreed to appear “as a favor” to one of the Red Pill organizers he had met previously at the Weston A. Price Foundation.

During the Red Pill Expo, Salatin delivered a speech explaining the methods used on his farm, which he told DeSmog was helping to massively increase the carbon content of the soil. Salatin was also heavily critical of government-imposed regulations.

He told DeSmog: “While there, on a Q&A panel, I sparred with Monckton and others who quickly accuse many of conspiracy. I certainly did not and do not agree with everything I heard there. But I think my presence and the things I said challenged some of the accusatory conspiratorial leanings of the group. I was definitely a maverick.”

But I'm just as much a maverick in radical environmental groups who want government tyranny over every aspect of life,” he continued. “So my monicker, ‘Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic’ was chosen carefully and keeps me from being put in a box. If we can't be in the same room with people who disagree with us, how are we ever supposed to build bridges and challenge assumptions?”

Salatin's Climate Views Will 'Disappoint' Followers

Dr. Nick Rose is the executive director of Sustain: The Australian Food Network and a lecturer on food systems at William Angliss Institute in Australia.

Rose said Salatin is “revered by many” and is a “figure of adulation” and “inspiration to many wanting to become farmers for the first time.”

His model of farming is seen as approaching best practice. He is held in high esteem generally — he is almost like a hero and a role model,” he said.

Rose said while Salatin’s view on climate science did not undermine his farming methods, it would disappoint many who looked up to him.

He added: “It is surprising and quite disappointing that he seems to be siding with skeptics and denialists who very much seem to be, on the whole, in the pockets of the fossil fuel polluting industries.”

It’s disappointing and in his leadership role, it’s not helpful. It will be surprising and disappointing to many of his supporters and followers.”

Main image: Joel Salatin at Polyface Farm in Virginia. Credit: cheeseslave, CC BY 2.0

Get DeSmog News and Alerts