TO followers of the climate change policy debate, the extreme conspiratorial rhetoric is all too familiar:
Climate change is a hoax. Environmentalists are just communists in disguise. The United Nations is using efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions as a smokescreen for installing a world government. Greenies are actually reds. Eco fascists want your freedom.
Such rhetoric is daily bread for many neo-conservative commentators, some climate change deniers and even the occasional elected representative. The language is divisive, often becomes abusive and – regrettably – has become a feature of the manufactured debate over the risk posed by human-caused climate change.
The manifesto of Norwegian terrorist and Christian fundamentalist Anders Behring Breivik, currently facing trial for the massacre of 76 people, shows what can happen when the unhinged take the language of the far-right to its ultimate ends.
In the 1500-word document, published online under his Anglicised name Andrew Berwick before the brutal bombing and shootings in Norway, Breivik reveals a hatred for Islam and socialism.
The document reveals how sceptic commentators had convinced him that the so-called “climategate” hacking of emails and data disproved human-cased climate change.
Writing about the unauthorised release of emails from researchers of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in November 2009, Breivik says:
Breivik then provides seven URL links to the PrisonPlanet website of conservative radio host and climate change denier Alex Jones. Some of these links were re-posts of blogs written by Steve McIntyre.
Also in the manifesto, Breivik lists “environmentalist organisations” as being “smoke screens” for “cultural Marxists”. He also includes in this bracket, groups which advocate for animal rights, human rights, feminism and anti-racism.
In a section of his manifesto entitled “Green is the new Red - Stop Enviro-Communism!”, Breivik writes of the “global warming scam”:
One section of Breivik’s manifesto points readers to a video clip of Lord Christopher Monckton, the climate change sceptic who is nearing the end of an Australian tour supported by mining magnate Gina Rinehart, The Climate Sceptics political party and part-funded by the Association for Mining and Exploration Companies. He is scheduled to tour New Zealand in August.
In the video, which is an excerpt of Lord Monckton’s October 2009 speech to Bethel University in St Thomas, Minnesota, Monckton states that attempts to agree a binding agreement to cut global emissions were a UN plot to install a world government. Lord Monckton told the audience:
Echoing the paranoia that environmentalists are communists, UK-based Daily Telegraph columnist James Delingpole, a climate sceptic, is currently promoting his book Watermelons – The Environment Movement’s True Colours – in which he argues environmentalists are “green on the outside, red on the inside”.
When former Fox News pundit Glenn Beck heard of the Norwegian tragedy, he compared the young Norwegians killed by Breivik to “the Hitler youth”. Lord Monckton also once described a group of climate change campaigners as “the Hitler youth”.
All public commentators should understand clearly that readers and listeners can hang on their words. Their views and beliefs can accumulate and hang heavy in the psyche but very few followers would ever consider violence. No doubt the commentators themselves would recoil at any such thought.
But unfortunately for those now dead and scarred in the Norwegian terror attack, the weight of conspiracy became too much to bare for Anders Breivik.