“People, who do not believe in man-made global warming, are so beyond the pale of reasonable human discourse, that the only just and fair penalty for them is death.” This may seem a bit extreme to you, but as James Delingpole, author of the new book Watermelons: The Green Movement’s True Colors, observed in a recent Heritage event, it is the very tone that many in the green movement set in today’s global warming debate.

Delingpole, whose book delves into the background of the organizations and individuals who have sought to push global warming to the top of the political agenda, spoke of the inconclusiveness of evidence utilized by environmental scientists in promoting their radical agenda. He also spoke at great length about the culture and tactics of intellectual conformity that many in the movement seek to enforce on their colleagues, the public and elected officials.

“I think there is built into our DNA, this innate catastrophism. Every generation believes that it will be the last, it will be the one that so shapes the world, that it will destroy the world through its own evil.” It is that human response that leads environmental extremists, as Delingpole notes, to deride and disregard anyone who has not been convinced by their conclusions as a ‘denier’ of ‘scientific fact.’

“If you take a look at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s research, IPCC has grown increasing shrill about its prognostications in regards to man made climate change doom. But in that period, no convincing evidence has been produced to show that human influence on climate is so significant or dangerous that we are all going to fry. On the contrary, global warming actually flattened around ten years ago; we’re now entering a period of global cooling.” Delingpole went on to lament that this type of research, presenting their work at The Heartland Institute’s annual conference on climate change, is often overshadowed by demagoguery and hyperbolic rhetoric. “I contend that the manmade global warming industry and it is an industry, a vast and costly industry, represents the biggest outbreak of mass hysteria in history.  Certainly the most expensive outbreak.”

Those on the side of environmental extremism however, believe that any sort of cost benefit analysis that takes into account potential economic strain, is dwarfed by the impending doom the global warming threat poses. “There is this perception that environmentalist nurture. That without them, the world would go to hell in a hand cart.  I would contend that this is very much not the case.” Delingpole argues that it is the extreme rhetoric and demands of many in the environmental movement that actually make reasonable regulation and policy more difficult. “You don’t have to make a choice between either the environment or economic growth.  On the contrary, real environmentalism and economic growth go hand and hand.”

Unfortunately, dialogue on the issue remains littered with exaggeration and misrepresentation. “One of the great propaganda victories that has been scored by the green movement has been to portray this world as having two kinds of people: on the one hand you have the caring sharing bunny hugging types, members of Greenpeace who care about nature; and on the other hand you have evil capitalists with big fat cigars in their mouth and dollar signs on their pinstripe suits.” With a dialogue like this, it makes reasonable debate and compromise an increasingly unlikely proposition. As Delingpole points out, the evidence is inconclusive as to whether climate change is actually caused by man or if subtle climate change is even a problem. But these types of open discussions can only occur when fear and propaganda are taken out of the equation. “What my book is really about is a plea for a more rational discourse about the environment.”

Justin DiGennaro is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm