Today they've brought us an op-ed from Patrick Moore declaring nuclear power to be safe, environmentally friendly, and that by the way nuclear waste isn't really all that dangerous:
Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.
You know, there's perhaps something to be said for reexamining the nuclear equation. But while Moore is described by the Washington Post by his preferred title, "co-founder of Greenpeace", as well as "chairman and chief scientist" of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd, there's a lot more than that going on behind the scenes. Either the Post got taken -- yet again -- or we need to start having more serious discussions about the extent to which the national press provides pay-to-play editorializing for whatever players can foot the bill of the editorialist.
Bluntly put, Patrick Moore is a paid consultant for the mining, logging, biotech and energy industries, and putting him out as "ex-Greenpeace" is a lot like calling Scooter Libby an "ex-Hill staffer." Moore is indeed more significantly described as founder of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd -- a firm that, if you are a company in the extraction or other environmentally damaging industries, can "assist in communicating your issues".
And the Washington Post, in presenting this "editorial", either didn't know what Greenspirit does for the extraction, biotech and energy industries, or they didn't think that was information you needed to know.
Patrick Moore was one of the names that came up frequently in researching that piece. Moore may indeed have been an early Greenpeace member, in the distant mists, but more recently can be better described as the founder of Greenspirit Enterprises, a consulting organization focused on improving the environmental PR of his mining, logging, biotech and energy industry clients. He has, to put it mildly, built a colorful reputation.
At around the same time that Moore set up Greenspirit, he also became a full-time paid director and consultant, and a main spokesperson, for the British Columbia Forest Alliance. The Alliance, it turns out, although presented as a "citizens group", has a budget of around C$2m derived mostly from the forest industry and its 170 or so corporate members.
This industry-funded pressure group was the brain child of the anti-environmental PR multinational, Burson-Marsteller. B-M even put in one of its own employees as Executive Director, as well as handpicking many of the Alliance's board. B-M was forced to withdraw from the Alliance in a welter of bad publicity, but the Alliance has continued to be used, as intended, as the British Columbian forest industry's PR weapon against Greenpeace and other environmental groups, using TV ads and other campaigns to undermine and discredit them.
Moore certainly gets around. In 2000, Patrick Moore made a documentary with Marc Morano for American Investigator Television. The film was set in the Brazilian Amazon and promoting the notion, by Moore, that the rainforest was "more than 90 percent intact", and that mining and logging were of negligible environmental impact.
A 2001 Manila Times article describes Moore as having been flown to New Zealand by the biotech industry as an "expert witness" defending bioengineered crops. A 2001 Manila Times article describes Moore as having been flown to New Zealand by the biotech industry as a paid "expert witness" defending bioengineered crops:
A flurry of such pro-GM/anti-Greenpeace publicity centering on Moore, was originally prompted by Moore's appearance at the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification in New Zealand, after Moore was flown in by the biotech industry as one of its expert witnesses.
"There are so many real benefits from genetic modification...", Moore told the Commission, but he ran into some difficult questions as to what exactly had qualified him to appear as an expert on genetic modification. Moore proferred:
"I have.. recently had a full tour of the Monsanto labs in St Louis for example. I have also been briefed thoroughly by the people in Novartis in Basel Switzerland..."
Moore has also figured prominently in the Monsanto-funded lobbying groups BIO and AgBioWorld, supporting "Golden Rice" and other industry-produced bioengineered crops. He was also the key speaker at a CORE-sponsored event extolling the virtues of biotechnology, highlighting the environmental movement as "Eco-Imperialism". (Eco-Imperialism has, not even remotely coincidentally, been the name of a book by (and a common thread for) CORE senior advisor and CNSNews contributor Paul Driessen, and who seems to be a veritable magnet for ExxonMobil money into his various affiliated think tanks, policy groups, and other ventures.)
Make no mistake, Moore's "consulting" activities consist of constructing industry-friendly PR. According to SourceWatch,
- Moore was "on retainer to the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association to tour European countries to counter advocacy by environmental groups for a boycott of British Columbian forest products" from 1992-1996.
- Moore acted as "consultant to the National Association of Forest Industries in Australia for a national tour defending the logging of native forests"
- Moore was paid to "to author a paper on the environmental impact of submarine tailings disposal over the 23-year life of the Island Copper Mine on Vancouver Island"
... among a series of pro-industry appearances and speeches at industry-sponsored events and/or for industry-sponsored associations. His connections to the extraction industries seem especially strong, though biotechnology also seems prominent in recent years.
Information about Moore's most current clients is sketchier, since his website is far from forthcoming about which companies are paying him to take which actions. Specifically, whether the firm currently has clients in the nuclear industry is unknown -- SourceWatch has been able to provide information only as recently as 2004. But considering the prominent display of a nuclear cooling tower as the defining image of a portion of their site and the express calling out of "nuclear" as one of the industries Greenspirit can assist, I'd say it's accurate to describe them as, shall we say, at least "soliciting" such business.
So the question becomes this, and perhaps the much-put-upon Washington Post ombudsman might want to take a crack at this one, too. To what extent are op-eds bought and paid for by the industries funding the editorialists in question?
We all know the answer to that, of course. It's common practice, and even national papers like WaPo are either unable to identify the connections between the "think tanks" and "experts" and the industry checks that get written to them -- or simply don't care. In any event, I'm not impressed with bleatings from the national press about the trustworthiness of bloggers or blogs, or with Carol Darr's almost-but-not-quite hilarious concerns about funding and accountability on the Internet when off-Internet national news sources are absolutely sticky with interconnections, cross-funded "experts", and the failure to themselves vet the claims of anybody for anything.
But I'm sure looking forward to being invited to yet another necessary Blogger's Ethics Conference. Funny how they never seem to invite the bloggers that bring things like this up, eh?