Is Patrick Moore fit to represent science?

GMO supporters promote climate denialist and corporate front man as champion of science*

GMO supporters are campaigning to have climate science denialist and GMO promoter Patrick Moore adopted as an Ambassador for the EXPO 2015 exhibition in Milan, where the theme will be "Feeding the planet, energy for life".

1. Patrick Moore, Ambassador for EXPO 2015?
2. Climate science denialist Patrick Moore tours Australia after comparing students to the Taliban

1. Patrick Moore, Ambassador for EXPO 2015?

Jonathan Matthews
GMWatch, 27 Oct 2014

A campaign is underway to have Patrick Moore adopted as an Ambassador for EXPO 2015 in Milan, where the theme will be "Feeding the planet, energy for life".

Among the GMO supporters leading the Moore campaign are Marc Van Montagu, the president of the European Federation of Biotechnology, and Ingo Potrykus, the "inventor" of Golden Rice.

In their petition, addressed to the President of the Council of the European Union among others, they describe Moore as an environmentalist who's always had "a crystal clear reputation". Some might think this meant he had an unblemished reputation but Moore is, in fact, a hugely controversial figure.

This is because after leaving Greenpeace back in the mid-1980s Moore earned his living defending almost everything Greenpeace was concerned about – from mining to clearcut logging, nuclear power to fish farms, PVC to GMOs. Paul Watson, another early member of Greenpeace, has branded Moore "a hired gun for industry" who defends his clients "with lies, character attacks, and pseudo scientific justifications."

Van Montagu and Potrykus are equally misleading about Moore's campaigning on climate change. Here's what they say in the petition:

"Over the past 15 years, Mr. Moore has been involved in activities related to climate change and food shortage in general adopting an original, but not isolated, approach in the environmental movement: the systematic control of the scientifically proved data."

It almost beggars belief that these GM scientists would place Moore's climate campaigning in the context of championing the systematic use of "scientifically proved data", given that Moore is a leading denialist with zero scientific credibility on the issue – see the article below. In fact, Moore is currently touring Australia for a climate science denial organization that sought to fund raise for his tour by selling t-shirts comparing climate change to make-believe stuff like the tooth fairy!

Van Montagu and Potrykus also describe Moore as "the main voice for the international campaign" in support of Golden Rice. But they fail to disclose that Moore's championing of this GMO rice has about as much basis in scientific reality as his climate denial.

Golden Rice, according to Moore, has not only long been available for use, but science has already shown it to be the most effective cure for Vitamin A deficiency. But the IRRI, the body in charge of the roll out of Golden Rice, has publicly stated that Golden Rice isn't yet ready to be grown in farmers' fields and that it hasn't yet been proven to be effective in helping people suffering from malnutrition, i.e. it may not actually work. Yet Moore promotes Golden Rice as a long-established miracle cure and accuses those who are unconvinced of a crime against humanity.
Even Van Montagu and Potrykus's claim that Patrick Moore is one of "the true founders of Greenpeace" would be challenged by Greenpeace, who point out that Moore didn't even apply for a berth on Greenpeace's boat until a year after the organisation had been founded.  

That said, there is no doubt that Moore was among the early members of Greenpeace. That he has successfully traded on his long-gone Greenpeace past is also true. But his climate change denial and aggressive propagandizing for Golden Rice do anything but make him a champion of scientific evidence or a worthy Ambassador for EXPO 2015.

* NOTE FROM GMWATCH: We created this image to show Moore in the tooth fairy t-shirt used to fundraise for his current Australian tour.

2. Climate science denialist Patrick Moore tours Australia after comparing students to the Taliban

Graham Readfearn, 23 Oct 2014

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.