This is a guest post by freelance journalist Victoria Seabrook, MA City Journalism graduate with work published in the Guardian and Evening Standard.
Climate change deniers assembled at a highly secretive meeting in London on Wednesday October 14 to discuss the celebration of carbon dioxide.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a think tank and charity set up by Lord Lawson, invited Canadian climate denier Dr Patrick Moore to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers at Westminster, to deliver this year’s annual GWPF lecture.
Unfortunately I was prevented from reporting what the climate change deniers discussed. Any chancers – including myself – hoping to attend were met with three officious representatives, who would only grant entrance to those already accredited.
Despite the charity’s chief aim being to “inform the media,” the staff on the door admitted they “verified” attendees, to expunge “gatecrashers and infiltrators.”
The GWPF spokesman said: “We don’t really [allow entrance] unless people have been verified. We get gate crashers and infiltrators trying to disrupt us. So, that’s why we’re just careful of people who haven’t got an invitation.”
Details about the conference were kept under wraps: it was not advertised on the GWPF website or social media, the building bore no branding that advertised the event and entry was by invitation only.
This secrecy is in sharp contradiction to the proclaimed openness of the charity.
It likes to call itself “open minded” and an “educational charity”. The GWPF claims it has, since its founding, “encouraged media to become more balanced in its coverage of climate change,” and its campaign arm, the GWPForum, calls for “objective media reporting”. This is impressive, given that some media were banned from the conference.
Carbon Is Not Pollution
Dr Patrick Moore, the guest speaker, is a Canadian environmentalist who believes humans are not to blame for global warming. He thinks carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but “plant food,” and that high levels of CO2 in the past contradict the warming effect of CO2.
Moore called his talk ‘Should we celebrate CO2?’ and he often tweets on similar subjects:
RT @COCrowe: Let the light of truth shine. Climate Change is a hoax for Governments to gain more control over us & take more of our money.— Patrick Moore (@EcoSenseNow) April 4, 2015
The speech is now published online for all to read. In it, Moore spends quite a bit of time talking about his time at Greenpeace in the 1970s and ‘80s. While Moore did play a significant role in Greenpeace Canada when it first began, he frequently portrays himself as a founder of Greenpeace who has now ‘seen the light’ – a powerful talking point upon which he has built his reputation within the ranks of climate deniers.
But a letter from 1971 shows him applying to take part in a Greenpeace trip and protest against nuclear testing in the Arctic – which raises the question of how one can apply to be part of an organisation that is already founded and then claim later to have founded it?
As Greenpeace contends: “What Moore really saw was an opportunity for financial gain. Since then he has gone from defender of the planet to a paid representative of corporate polluters.”
CO2 and Monsanto
Moore, however, definitely is a director of the CO2 Coalition – launched in September – which aims to educate “thought leaders, policy makers, and the public about the important contribution made by carbon dioxide and fossil fuels to our lives and the economy.”
The group shares a Virginia address with the ExxonMobil- and Koch-funded George C. Marshall Institute, suggesting the Coalition may be operating under the Marshall Institute. The group’s tag line is: “Carbon dioxide, a nutrient vital for life”.
Moore also achieved fantastic notoriety after he claimed on camera in March that glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide – is safe to drink.
Although a World Health Organization study had recently concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic,” Moore boasted to the filmmaker: “People try to commit suicide with it and fail fairly regularly.”
But Moore refused to follow through on his suggestion by drinking a glass of the herbicide, saying “I'm not an idiot” so, unfortunately the audience never got to find out if he would survive the drink.
Watch the video below to see the PR fail: