Environmental advocates - who now include media commentators and high-ranking politicians - frequently suffer from an unpleasant malady whenever they get talking about global warming. They're rude. They're intolerant. They're mean-spirited.
In short, they behave like bullies. If you don't already agree with them, you're morally defective and need to get a brain for the good of the planet. A recent speech by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd provides an astonishing example of this headspace.
Martin Luther King Jr., we should remember, applied his considerable rhetorical skill to persuading those who saw the world differently to change their minds. He appealed to their better natures, to their moral reasoning. He got respect because he treated others with respect.
Mr. Rudd doesn't view his opponents as equals who have a right to civility. He considers them errant children whom he intends to publicly scold until they start thinking correctly. Australian climate skeptic Joanne Nova's spirited reply to Mr. Rudd is well worth reading.
In a similar vein, the bloggers at Climate-Resistance.org address advocates of global warming theory such as UK newspaper columnist George Monbiot. They observe that it's now standard practice for such people to diminish both the moral character and the intelligence of those with whom they disagree.
It seems the world is overrun with true-believers who inevitably (if perhaps unconsciously) adopt the following positions as described by Climate-Resistance.org:
Environmentalists like to talk about democracy. Yet they clearly consider the masses too gullible to sort wheat from chaff.
- What’s the point of having an argument, when you already know you’re right?
- What’s the point of debate, if all it is going to mean is that the wrong ideas get an airing?
They say "the debate is over" when, in fact, few people have witnessed an actual debate between someone who believes in an impending global warming catastrophe and someone who is skeptical.
They discourage people from reading Michael Crichton's global-warming-questioning novel, State of Fear - rather than encouraging them to become acquainted with the broad brushstrokes of the larger discussion.
Rather than demonstrating a quiet confidence in the strength of their own arguments, they want their neighbours and co-workers shielded from competing ideas.
Rather than persuading, they condemn. They name-call. They accuse.
Well I have a message for these folks: If you live in a sandbox where you're bigger, stronger, and nastier than everyone else maybe such behavior will get you somewhere.
But in the grown-up world, if you want people to join your team and share your views, you need to begin by showing them some respect.