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Environment

Monbiot: The Gentleman Thug

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorNovember 15, 2010 11:50 PM

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Have you ever known someone too proud or pigheaded to admit he was wrong? Let's say it was a particular claim this person made, that turned out to be false, but which the person couldn't admit to getting wrong. Would this then lead you to think that the person's stubbornness in this one instance masks a nefarious, hidden agenda? George Monbiot thinks this is the case with Stewart Brand, the legendary (and, in recent years, controversial) techno-environmentalist. Last week, Monbiot wrote the second of two back-to-back columns on Brand, of which this was the subtitle:

The environmentalist is refusing to retract false claims that there was a worldwide ban on pesticide DDT. Does his obstinacy mask a hidden, pro-corporate agenda elsewhere?

I've already explained why I think this is a ridiculous leap of logic for Monbiot to make. Now let's look at the headline of that same column:

Dear Stuart Brand: If we can't trust your claims on DDT, why should we trust you on anything else?

Let's go back to some recent history concerning Monbiot and "climategate," of which a good number of people feel pretty strongly about. Funny thing, I wasn't seeing any posts from Tim Lambert with headlines like this:

Dear George Monbiot: If we can't trust your claims on "Climategate," why should we trust you on anything else."

Nor has the partial walk-back in July from Monbiot seem to have appeased his critics, judging by this recent comment at Deltoid:

he [Monbiot] still hasn't apologised for condemning the CRU without reading the evidence...he still hasn't acknowledged his part in the witch hunt that was called climategate.

I'm going to leave it up to Tim Lambert to tell me if this is true or not, since I didn't see any response by him to that reader. (Come to think of it, were there any posts by Tim on Monbiot in the aftermath of "climategate" assessing Monbiot's role?) Let's say, for the sake of argument, that it's true (and anyone should feel free to weigh in on this)--that Monbiot has yet to admit or acknowledge "his part in the witch hunt that was called climategate." Might the subtitle of that hypothetical Lambert post, taking Monbiot to task, read:

The environmentalist is refusing to retract false claims that were made about about the behavior of CRU scientists. Does his obstinacy mask a hidden, anti-scientist agenda elsewhere?

It's coming up on a year since the email hack. Maybe Monbiot will devote his next column to a retrospective look back at his series of responses. Or maybe he'll continue to make a mountain out of a semantic molehill and dazzle us with an email chain that is notable for his passive-aggressive tone and pretentiously polite salutations.

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