Myths, Tales & Lies- Quotes
The Myths & Lies category breaks with listing climate deniers and looks at the Cut,n,paste quotes, facts and tales that highlight the idiotic nature of deniers. True sceptics would discover the origins of quotes, stories, and ‘facts’, the denier repeats them.
“Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.”
– Sir John Houghton, first chairman of IPCC
This most quoted quote by deniers has been debunked.
the earliest record of the quote comes not from 15 years ago but from November 2006 when it appeared in a newspaper column written by the journalist Piers Akerman in the Australian newspaper The Sunday Telegraph. Akerman, a controversial right-wing columnist and global warming sceptic, appears to be the first person to use the quote verbatim in an opinion piece criticising the Stern Review, which looked at the economic effects of global warming.
“This alarmist approach reeked of stupidity, snake oil, and misguided gospel preaching but was in line with a formula adopted by the first chairman of the IPCC, Sir John Houghton, who produced the IPCC’s first three reports in 1990, 1995 and 2001 and wrote in his book Global Warming, The Complete Briefing, in 1994: ‘Unless we announce disasters no one will listen’,” Mr Akerman said.
Within three years of Akerman’s piece being published, climate sceptics had jumped on the supposed quotation, citing the source as Houghton’s 1994 book. Mr Akerman said that he could not remember where the quote came from but he will check his records. From the Independent Article where Sir John refutes such misrepresentation.
“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsiblity to bring that about?”
– Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme
Opening speech, Rio Earth Summit. 1992
from Alex Jones [talk show host] Info Wars website
The quote appears frequently- google it and the same short string appears on many denier site, proof that at the core of climate change science are eco-fascists intent on throwing us back into the middle ages.
Maurice Strong allegedly makes the quote in the opening speech of the 1992 Earth Summit. The full transcript can be found here and devoid of the quote. The origins stem from http://www.libertysoup.us/agenda21quotes.htm 31/1/2001
“The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.”
– Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund
Michael Oppenheimer of the EDF is featured as another eco-fascist, finding the origin of this quote is tricker as there is no reference for it.
“…the only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States: We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are. And it is important to the rest of the world to make sure that they don’t suffer economically by virtue of our stopping them.” Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund
This seems the first reference to the quote dating back to 1999 on a ‘new world order conspiracy’ website which appears to be the original source for many meme quotes, although the caveat is left in place indicating it is part of genuine comment, although it could just be made up.
The next meme quote by evil eco-nutters features Paul Ehrlich, Professor of Population Studies [those who mention of this meme fail to mention where he is a professor- for his full bio his Wikipedia entry]
“A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the United States. De-development means bringing our economic system into line with the realities of ecology and the world resource situation.”
Again the first references to the quote are right-wing conspiracy websites –http://americanfreedomwatchradio.com/?page_id=182 with a cluster appearing in 2001. Paul Ehrlich is not connected to climate science and most of his quotes derive from his 1968 book The Population Bomb. Many of his doomsday scenarios have not manifested, and he does not represent modern sustainability ideology. I haven’t bothered to trace the quote as Ehrlich made quite a few that include a prediction that the UK would be starving in 2000, but deniers love this particular bogeyman.
Another favourite maverick is Professor Maurice King
“Global Sustainability requires the deliberate quest of poverty, reduced resource consumption and set levels of mortality control.”
The first reference to this quote is the same American- new world order website featured above but uses the slightly more honest-
Global Sustainability requires: “the deliberate quest of poverty . . . reduced resource consumption . . . and set levels of mortality control.” Professor Maurice King
Whether he said those words is difficult to know unless deniers actually give a reference for the quote! And it may be worth asking anyone using it the significance of the man in the context of AGW, this BMJ article from 1999 highlights the man.
“We need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination… So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts… Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”
~Stephen Schneider, Stanford Professor of Climatology, lead author of many IPCC reports
earlist reference is this web site. Environmental Fraud PushBack pushback.com/issues/environment/environmental-fraud/ dated 12 Nov 1998 .
According to Dr. Wattenburg, Steven Schneider of Stanford University once bragged that even though one doesn’t have good science to support one’s conclusions, it’s better to scare the masses for the sake of the Earth and lie to them than it is to not say anything. You can read the in DISCOVER magazine, Oct 1989, pg. 47. In part, it reads:
On the one hand, as scientists, we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but…. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination…. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have…. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.
This misquote was addressed by Schnieder in 1996 when the quote was first brought up http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/APS.pdf
The evolution of meme climate denial quote mining appears to start with late 1990s websites concerned with The New World Order destroying American values, some sites are completely bonkers and refer to Aliens and other conspiracy theories, others seem to be a reaction to the fall of communism and the need for a new bogey man such as environmentalism or socialism. Agenda 21, although a resolution dating back to the first Rio Conference on Climate Change in 1992 gets a new lease of conspiratorial life about this time. It is around the mid 00s  that sceptic journalists and subsequently the blogosphere pick up on the AGW conspiracy to control the world by casting it back into the middle-ages. Active deniers then repost the misquotes in comments: Sir John Houghton’s misquote/outright lie is repeated 130,000 times according to the Independent article although currently a Google search gives 469,000 returns.
the planet could face an “ecological and agricultural catastrophe” by the next decade if global warming trends continue, exacerbating the greenhouse effect.
this quote from the Buffalo News Oct 15 1990 is in various guises but supposedly demonstrates the alarmist opinion of Sagan [and others] being entirely wrong- it is tricky and the source article confuses the topics Sagan covers- that include, the need to switch away from fossil fuels because they are finite, AGW, and scientific funding- the line that demonstrates that Sagan did not mean 2000 would be the beginning of catastrophe is -“This is not in the far future but in the time of our children,”. The ‘staff reporter’ who is also responsible for the quote also has Sagan confuse the ozone hole [and CFCs] with AGW-