The Heartland Institute is stepping back from their awful poster campaign, which has been widely reported and widely condemned by both sides of the debate. I think the reverberations are going to be felt for quite a while.
Abusive analogy and smear by association are a time-honoured rhetorical approaches, which people on both sides of the climate debate are very fond of. Although Brad Johnson's Think Progress article on Anders Breivik's dissent from the climate orthodoxy seems to have been "disappeared", it is still available on Google's cache, and I have taken a copy for posterity here. Some choice excerpts follow:
Although Breivik’s conspiracy theories are insane, they are in line with mainstream opinion among American conservatives. He cites Christopher Monckton’s speech before the Minnesota Free Market Institute in 2009, accusing President Obama of trying to cede United States sovereignty to the United Nations through climate treaties. Monckton — a rabid conspiracy theorist who claims his opponents are Nazis — was a Republican witness before Congress on global warming in 2010.
Breivik also believed that the “Climategate” hacking incident “revealed how top scientists conspired to falsify data in the face of declining global temperatures in order to prop up the premise that man-made factors are driving climate change.”
One of his sources for this delusional claim is right-wing climate conspiracy theorist James Delingpole, who regularly appears on Fox News, including Glenn Beck‘s now defunct show. The Norwegian terrorist also cited climate conspiracy blogger Steve McIntyre, who appeared in a one-hour Fox News special on global warming in 2009. McIntyre’s conspiracy theories have been promoted by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Dozens of Republican members of Congress have endorsed the Climategate conspiracy theory.
It's also interesting to read the Think Progress view on the Heartland billboard campaign in the light of this earlier posting.
DeSmog's article on the same theme remains in place.
It is extraordinary that Think Progress and DeSmog seem to be allowed to do this kind of thing without attracting any significant criticism. I can't help feeling that the people who are now writing letters to Heartland's funders calling for them to cut off support ought to be writing to the backers of Romm et al and DeSmog too.
I think we can all agree that comparisons to individual mass murderers is beyond the pale, but there are of course milder examples of the abusive analogy too. I have spent many a dull minute snipping references to "eco-fascists" and "green Nazis" from the comments threads here. The use of these terms is widely seen as reprehensible.
On the other hand, use of "denier" and "denialist" is extremely widespread among upholders of the IPCC position - indeed it has been used by Rajendra Pachauri himself on occasion. I also wonder if the the Guardian's interest in the BNP's policies on climate change represents more of a general attempt to smear by association than a serious attempt to analyse the party's position.
Is there one rule for upholders of the climate orthodoxy and another for dissenters?
Grist's article on Breivik is here.
This one is particularly interesting because Grist is part of the Guardian's Environment Network.
Here is what Leo Hickman had to say about the Heartland billboard affair:
Earlier, I sent [Roger Helmer MEP] him an email with a link to Heartland's poster campaign press release and asked him: "Will you now be reconsidering attending in light of this new poster campaign for the conference? Do you approve of or condemn the poster campaign?"
He confirmed he was still attending, adding:
I am delighted that the Heartland campaign for the Chicago climate conference has succeeded in its purpose and attracted the attention of the Guardian. I urge Guardian readers to attend the conference if they can, but failing that, to follow it on the web.
I simply have nothing further to add.
If Leo thinks that Helmer should dissociate himself from Heartland, then presumably he thinks that the Guardian should remove Grist from its Environment Network?