You might have seen how climate science deniers like to compare themselves to scientific greats of the past to try to lend their arguments a degree of credibility.
One of their favourites is Galileo, the great Italian astronomer and physicist who was persecuted by the Catholic church for promoting the theory that the Sun and planets did not revolve around the Earth, but the other way around.
Now in an example of previously uncharted overreach, one group of climate science deniers is trying to co-opt the great British naturalist Charles Darwin.
Despite Darwin having died more than 130 years ago, the newly formed and very fancy-sounding Independent Committee on Geoethics (ICG) has appointed the father of the theory of evolution by natural selection as its Honorary President.
With no working ouija board available with which to interview the great naturalist, I instead asked Darwin’s great-great grandson Chris about the appointment of his late relative to this new group. “Hopefully Charles can change their minds,” said Chris Darwin, who lives in Australia’s New South Wales.
He told me:
“This seems in line with what they’re about. That is, using smoke and mirrors to confuse the real science. I can understand why they would grab a big name from history to give their case some respect, but it seems a silly thing to do and it’s a ridiculous choice of person.
Charles was all about verifiable evidence and, on climate change, the verifiable evidence is pretty clear. If you adopt any of Charles Darwin’s thinking systems then you would have come to the conclusion long ago that climate change is occurring and that we have to take it very seriously.”
Darwin is famous for his groundbreaking book On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, published in 1859.
Ironically, this was the same year Irish physicist John Tyndall first demonstrated the properties of atmospheric gases like carbon dioxide that cause what became known later as the greenhouse effect.
The ICG’s steering committee includes climate science deniers like Canada’s Patrick Moore, Australia’s blogger JoNova and the UK’s Rev Philip Foster, who recently organised a meeting of deniers in Paris while the international COP21 talks were ongoing across the city.
But the Independent Committee on Geoethics should not be confused with the legitimate Italy-based organisation, International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG).
The IAPG has members in more than 100 countries and is recognised by several major scientific institutions including the International Union of Geological Sciences, Geological Society of America and the UK’s Geological Society. IAPG secretary general Silvia Peppoloni said the new group had “no relationships” with the IAPG.
She said: “It doesn’t seem opportune to use the umbrella of geoethics for promoting own theories on climate change against other ideas. Geoethics is first of all debate, inclusivity, respect for others ideas. This is the spirit of IAPG. Controversies and personal fights should not be included in geoethics.”
She added that IAPG “promotes a serene debate” and did not like “aggressive tones”.
DeSmogBlog emailed Rev Foster to ask about the group and its choice of honorary president, but did not hear back.