Eco-warriors are losing the public relations battle on global warming -- and it's driving them batty.
Take environmental writer Steve Zwick. Writing for Forbes.com, Zwick has called on so-called "climate deniers" to be treated like virtual war criminals: "We know who the active denialists are--not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies," he writes. "Let's start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let's make them pay. Let's let their houses burn until the innocent are rescued. Let's swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let's force them to bear the cost of rising food prices. They broke the climate. Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?"
Those who disagree with him are not merely mistaken, they are malevolent, unworthy even of persuasion through honest debate. Instead, "denialists" deserve only to have their homes razed.
This is becoming a more and more common feature of environmentalist rhetoric. The violent imagery has even seeped into the pronouncements of the eco-priests at the Environmental Protection Agency. Recently, a video surfaced of EPA Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz admitting that his agency's philosophy is to "crucify" oil and gas companies: "It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They'd go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they'd find the first five guys they saw and they'd crucify them. Then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years."
How can anyone, Left or Right, not be chilled to the bone to hear a government official talk in such a manner about federal treatment of private companies and individuals? Incredibly, this man was in charge of enforcing environmental regulations in five states before the uproar over his repulsive comments forced him to resign.
Then there is the sad case of Peter Gleick, a once-respected environmental scientist who heads the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in California. Gleick disgraced himself and his cause when he confessed to stealing confidential documents from the Heartland Institute back in February in an effort to discredit the conservative think tank. What had Heartland done to deserve such treatment? It had given a platform to ideas considered anathema to Gleick and the global warming community.
Gleick, who was forced to step down from the "scientific ethics and integrity" task force of the American Geophysical Union because of his fraud, failed -- the stolen memos revealed nothing untoward or even unexpected about Heartland's operations. But his actions show just how desperate climate scaremongers have become.
The environmentalists' real problem is that the Earth is not melting. The disastrous consequences of carbon emissions we have long been warned about have not come to pass, and the public is noticing. Even those who believe the Earth is warming don't necessarily blame the coal industry -- a recent Rasmussen survey found only 40 percent of respondents believe global warming is "primarily caused by human activity," down from 47 percent four years ago.
The environmental movement has become a cesspool of hate, where hack journalists and bureaucrats can openly fantasize about violently punishing their political adversaries, and where scientists compromised by a poisonous ideology lie and steal to discredit their intellectual opponents.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, global warming was the Left's last, best chance to redistribute wealth for a supposedly greater cause. When global warming, too, collapses, will they go gently into that good night?
Matt Patterson is the Warren T. Brookes fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and editor of Green Watch at the Capital Research Center.