Failure to use Google should be a crime

When is a pro-nuke Green not a Green? When his name is Patrick Moore.

Topics: Environment, Globalization, How the World Works, Nuclear Power,

Right-wing bloggers, nuclear-energy advocates and oxymoron lovers of all kinds have been beside themselves with glee this week, following the publication in last Sunday’s Washington Post of an ode to nuclear power by a “co-founder of Greenpeace,” Patrick Moore.

Really, people. Your awful cackling may be music to your own ears, but it also happens to be proof of one of the most pathetic demonstrations of willful ignorance I’ve seen since starting this blog. If failure to use Google was a crime, we’d have to kick out all the present inhabitants of our nation’s prisons just to make room for the hordes of people, including, apparently, the editors of the Post, who neglected to plug Moore’s name into their nearest search engine.

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It takes all of about five seconds to drum up the info that while, yes, Patrick Moore was once a prominent member of Greenpeace, he has long since forfeited any right he has to be described, as the Post’s headline does, as a “green.” As a Wired magazine profile of him — titled “Eco-traitor” (which still, mind you, bends over backward to be fair to him) — notes, he has long since “joined the other side.” He has served as a member of the board of directors of the Forest Alliance, a logging association formed to defend logging interests from environmental pressure. He’s a huge fan of genetically modified crops, has testified in favor of polyvinyl chloride, and has written indignantly about unfair criticism of mining companies.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

Moore, is, of course, allowed to advocate any darn thing he wants. And the pros and cons of nuclear power, especially insofar as global warming is concerned, are worth a hard look. But to give Moore any special credence because of his “about-face” is just dumb.

Entire Web sites are devoted to the sole topic of excoriating him as a Judas to the environmental movement. The man makes a living by trading on the contrarian nature of being a co-founder of Greenpeace who now shills for business interests. That’s his shtick!

The bloggers I can understand, if not forgive. It’s all too easy to follow a link and dash off a half-baked riff in response without doing due diligence. I’m sure I’m as guilty of it as anyone else. But the Post’s headline was “Going Nuclear: A Green Makes the Case.” That’s just plain false advertising, if not an outright error of fact.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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