Heartland: What is Judith Curry talking about?
I don’t know. I am having a hard time understanding what she is saying.
In a letter to one of his donors, Joe Bast writes:
Greenpeace has contacted the employers of every scientist who works for us, demanding that they be fired for having the temerity to question the official dogma of global warming. Can you imagine a more egregious attack on free speech and open academic debate? Donors to Heartland in the past two years have been the subject of hate mail, letter-writing and telephone campaigns, and online petitions demanding that they stop funding us. All of this happened BEFORE we ran a controversial billboard for a single day a few weeks ago.
What is Judith Curry’s response (emphasis mine)?
That they[Heartland] don’t belong in the big leagues is evidenced by Bast’s concerns that environmental advocacy groups are trying to encourage Heartland’s donors to drop them; this sort of thing goes on nonstop in the world of advocacy organizations.
One can understand if climate activists smelt blood and roused to exploit an opponent’s move with boundless enthusiasm, shooting off letters to sponsors who are public figures. But writing letters to universities and workplaces putting pressure for people to be fired? Does that go on nonstop in the world of advocacy organizations?
Perhaps Curry has seen similar stuff and this is old hat to her. Perhaps environmental pressure groups have constantly bombarded GeorgiaTech that her tenure status be revoked and she be fired from her job for being a bit of a skeptic. Surely such things do happen anyway.
But that does not make it the norm among environmental groups. It is not a normal thing either.
Environmental groups and non-governmental organizations certainly do not all spend their time getting people whose beliefs do not match theirs fired from their jobs by writing letters and emails to their bosses. Only an elite hypocritical handful of them do – and that certainly includes Greenpeace.
For instance, I am quite sure Heartland has not appointed an expert rummaging crew to suss out Greenpeace’s donors from their trash. I am sure Heartland is not writing letters to universities where the numerous expert scientists who advise Greenpeace work, asking them to think hard who they have on their roster and consider firing some. This is particularly important given the near-perpetual tendency of Greenpeace to commit acts that range from borderline to outright illegal. And remember, this is a group that believes ‘activism is not a crime‘. Only its own activism is not a crime, it seems, with Greenpeace.
On the other hand, almost everything Greenpeace doesn’t like is illegitimate, or a ‘crime’. Offshore oil drilling, crop research, palm cultivation, general commerce, oil prospecting, coal mining, nuclear power generation – they are all crimes.
One reason I can think, that Curry is upset/disappointed is because she holds Heartland to a standard of conduct higher than she does, say, Greenpeace. But why? Why does Greenpeace get a pass at rubbish behaviour? They are an organization with a $270 million/year budget. Surely everyone knows, that for every banner drop, ten hats drop on the floor. In a more general sense, why does environmental activism and science uphold such poor standards of conduct and get away with it? Is it simply because these organizations have worked tirelessly in establishing that accepted norms of professional conduct can be overlooked when it comes to them? Curry doesn’t seem to realize it. Almost no one realizes it.
In the end, I think the Heartland Institute did a great job showing what constitutes passable behavior in environmental activism is not acceptable in the real world.