masthead-highres

Monday, December 04, 2006

DeSmogBlog: A Wrecked Train Under the Big Top, Or Why I'm Not Taking Twenty Bucks from an Anti-Skeptic Attack Site

For more than a week now I have had a #10 envelope perched on my desk lamp. It has a little sticky on it, with "???" written in inch-high red letters. Someone in my office opened my incoming mail and wondered why a Canadian public affairs firm had sent me a $20 contribution to Greenpeace with a cheery but not altogether approving note -- and an apology for using recycled paper.

Because that letter is on my desk because of a post in this blog, and a response in DeSmogBlog, I really ought to respond.

But first, some backstory. As the name implies, DeSmogBlog is a blog -- one that puts me in mind of a train wreck at a circus. You can't help looking, but when you do, you can't decide whether to laugh or feel sorry for the poor sods.

The purpose of DeSmogBlog, as described in the birthday note it posted to itself December 1, is "to challenge those people who try to make climate change a political story - and not a scientific one."

If you therefore suppose that this blog run by a PR firm and funded by a banker to online casinos is challenging those who are lobbying politicians on climate issues before the science is settled, think again. The DeSmogBlog crew favors political action -- it's the political story they don't like. That is, discussing the issue through first. Talking it out. Weighing pros and cons. Letting the public have a say. All that messy democracy stuff.

No, they want us all to creep silently into the non-emissions night. And dark it would be.

Not that they're anti-democratic, you understand. They just figure that if they have a consensus, no one else needs a vote.

A DeSmoggian will tell you "DeSmogBlog is not a science site." But its main page will also tell you: "The science is clear, climate change is happening and humans are to blame."

I read that as: "Trust us on global warming. Don't ask for details."

Visit DeSmogBlog, and a latter-day Sherlock Holmes on the main page, complete with fedora and magnifying glass, will implore you: "Help us fight the PR spin on climate change. Join the growing army of DeSmog Detectives."

If you're ready to help them search for signs of climate change, don't fly to the DeSmog Crime Lab in Vancouver just yet. They're not science bloggers, remember? They're Sherlock Holmeses, looking not for credible evidence that global warming is a serious manmade calamity that human action can rectify, but for evidence that the people who don't necessarily agree with their rather alarmist predictions and/or political prescriptions are bad guys.

DeSmoggians call dissenters "deniers." Lest you miss the reference, let James Hoggan, who runs the PR firm behind DeSmogBlog, explain. "Like Holocaust deniers," he says.

Pithy fellow. Can you tell he's in PR?

The Sherlock Holmes figure drives the point further: To a DeSmoggian, global warming skeptics are Moriarties. Criminal masterminds; veritable Napoleons of crime. Criminals - in every sense except the one that includes a fair trial.

You see, the DeSmoggians are so sure they're right; so self-confident, they can't imagine anyone disagreeing with their point-of-view unless the dissenters have been paid to lie about what they really think.

On one level, you have to admire the DeSmoggian self-confidence. And their nerve. Not everyone could be as sanguine as they appear to be about libel suits.

But don't let me imply that the DeSmogBlog crewmates aren't friendly guys. They appear to be. (Well, maybe not Ross Gelbspan.) I'm reminded of the friendliness of men at a construction site. "Hey honey, nice ass." They sort of greet you and slam you at the same time, and leave you wondering what you ever did to them.

The answer is that you didn't do anything. You're just different.

* * *

But let's get back to the twenty bucks. The point of this post was to explain what I am going to do with the $20 check made out to Greenpeace from the PR firm of Richard Littlemore & Associates; said check being DeSmoggian Richard Littlemore's supposed payment to me for use of a picture I took of my husband that appeared on DeSmogBlog without my permission. Despite the fact that a photo of my husband -- stud that he is -- would be likely to drive traffic to DeSmogBlog, in the generous spirit that characterizes much of the oh-so-misunderstood climate denialist (realist) community I had offered to allow one-time use of the pic of husband David for a buck. I had promised to donate the buck to charity.

R. Littlemore, for that is how he signed his letter (may I call you "R"?), responded by mailing me a $20 donation to a political organization.

What to do? Donating the funds is off the table; I don't have the time or resources to fully investigate those pesky rumors connecting Greenpeace with boarding boats. Yet tossing the check in the trash is a non-starter; doing so might lead to its incineration, and create soot. Might that warm the planet? The science is still out. Still, I wouldn't want to distress R.

So I've decided to keep the check. It could be worth more than $20 someday - as proof of the contrary, should someone bet me that's its not possible for DeSmoggian to address correspondence to a skeptic without being nasty.

This check and letter may be the only proof of that contention in existence.

And I'll let DeSmogBlog have one-time use of the picture of husband David for free.

But, DeSmoggians, please: Next time you guys want to use a pic, ask first. Copyright laws, like libel laws, exist for a reason.

But if you're nice about it, we'll probably say "yes."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:06 AM

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