LaRouchies on Climate Change: My Guiltiest Pleasure

by William Yeatman on May 25, 2011

in Blog, Features

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If you’re unfamiliar with the LaRouchies, collectively known as the LaRouche movement, they are mostly young people, organized in cells, dedicated to delivering the wacky message of their namesake, Lyndon LaRouche. Read all about Mr. LaRouche on Wikipedia. Here’s a highly edited snippet:

Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche, Jr…American political activist…largely promoting a conspiracist [sic] view…was a perennial presidential candidate…15 years’ imprisonment…Members of the LaRouche movement see LaRouche as a political leader in the tradition of Franklin D. Roosevelt…conspiracy theorist, fascist, and anti-Semite…cult…”what may well be one of the strangest political groups in American history.”

While I could never support or respect a group whose ideological leader is an anti-Semite, and they are almost uniformly wrong, I will admit that the LaRouchies are my guiltiest pleasure. The movement has the right spirit on climate change policy, and their Abbie Hoffman stylings are entertaining to a “denier” like me.

I hadn’t thought of the LaRouchies’ climate shenanigans in a long time when I checked RealClimate.com this afternoon. It was a post by a contributor identified as “Stefan” on the Stockholm Memorandum, a recent agreement by 17 former Nobel Laureates that “we have entered a new geological era: the Anthropocene, where humanity has become the main driver of global change.” I’m OK with mankind being the main driver of global change, so I don’t care about the Memo, but the mischievous part of me was plenty pleased to see that the LaRouchies made an appearance in Stockholm. As Stefan tells it…

p.s. As a little reminder of the ongoing work of the merchants of doubt, a small band of five or six “climate sceptic” protesters were gathered outside the symposium, some of whom flown in from Berlin. Their pamphlet identified them as part of the longstanding anti-climate-science campaign of US billionaire Lyndon LaRouche and claimed that climate change is “a hoax” and an “insane theory”, the global temperature measurements are “mere lies”, the Nobel laureates meeting “a conspiracy” and the Stockholm Memorandum a “Fascist Manifesto”. I approached one of the protesters who carried a banner “against Green fascism” and asked him whether he seriously believes what his pamphlet says, namely that our meeting is a “symposium for global genocide”. He nodded emphatically and replied: “Yes, of course!”

I’ve witnessed this earnestness once before.  It was late 2007, at a World Wildlife Fund lecture by Naomi Oreskes, the science historian and climate alarmist. After her presentation and during the Q&A, a young woman began a non-question* by rambling on about the polar bear, and how she felt awful that they may die. She easily cleared three minutes with this disjointed spiel. It felt like an eternity. But the guy holding the mike was too nice, or too timid, to stop her.

And because her style and manner of speech did not change in the least, I failed to notice when her “question” dramatically tacked. About 5 minutes in, I became aware that she was talking about poor Africans who wouldn’t be able to afford energy if the world adopted a cap-and-trade. Her emotions flared conspicuously as she spoke about the deleterious effects on the poor caused by international energy rationing policies. There were tears. Her voice quivered as she denounced Al Gore and his ilk. Finally, she sobbed that she had weighed the polar bears against the poor African children, and she thought the children were more important. It had gone on for 7 or 8 minutes. She had hijacked the entire Q&A, and got the last word: A global cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme would harm the world’s poorest the most. I agree with that policy commentary (although I also believe that a global climate regime is impossible, as I explain in this post).

I was blown away and confused. I had no idea what was her angle. As we left the building, the young woman was among peers passing out fliers. I don’t remember what the fliers said; I do remember whom they were from.

[*The non-question is a staple at any Q&A in D.C. Basically it’s a thirty second policy statement, given under the false pretense of a question. It would be a 10 minute policy statement, but the person in charge usually cuts them off.]

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