Attempting to shut down debate and demonizing the opposition is one of the hallmarks of the all-renewable-energy tribe.
Last week, anti-hydrocarbon activist and documentary maker Josh Fox — along with Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, Penn State climatologist Michael Mann, and several others — succeeded in briefly getting Michael Moore’s new documentary, Planet of the Humans, taken off of a website owned by a group called Films for Action.
Fox’s censorship effort was cheered by Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and journalist who tweeted “cheers to @joshfoxfilm and everyone who worked hard and quickly to make sure this dangerous film was retracted.” The DailyKos dutifully ran a story with the headline “Distributor pulls Michael Moore’s (@MMFlint’s) #PlanetOfTheHumans due to truthiness.”
But the “dangerous film” didn’t disappear. Planet of the Humans, which was directed and narrated by Jeff Gibbs, was never removed from YouTube. By Thursday afternoon, it had been viewed more than 4.6 million times. Fox’s censorship campaign led Planet of the Humans to post a note on its website saying that it does not “know of, or have any relationship with, an outfit called ‘Films for Action,’” and that any “information disseminated to the contrary is false.”
I have plenty of criticisms of Planet of the Humans. It’s an anti-human film that ignores our need for affordable and reliable energy to survive. It ignores the need for nuclear energy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and it completely ignores the scourge of energy poverty. That’s an inexcusable omission given that about one billion people on the planet today have no access to electricity and another two billion or so are only using tiny amounts of juice.
But it’s also apparent that Planet of the Humans is an important film. The fact that Moore — the most successful documentary-film-maker in America as well as its most famous liberal who’s not a politician – would produce a film that attacks wind energy, solar energy, the Sierra Club, Al Gore, David Blood, Bill McKibben, and Vinod Khosla represents a rupture in left-leaning orthodoxy about energy and climate change. For causing so much trouble, Moore and Gibbs are being branded as apostates. To my ear, the outrage coming from Fox, McKibben, and others to Planet of the Humans sound like Greta Thunberg’s now-famous cri de coeur: “How dare you!”
But the effort to gag Planet of the Humans reveals something more sinister: the refusal by leading climate activists and academics to have an honest discussion about the limits of renewable energy and why renewables alone cannot save us from climate change or solve the problem of energy poverty. As a friend of mine put it, “The climatocracy can’t tolerate debate or disagreement.” Indeed, the belief that many high-profile climate activists and academics have in renewable energy borders on the cultish. As Gibbs asks at one point in the film, “Could we have a religion that we are unaware of?”
Attempting to shut down debate and demonizing the opposition is one of the hallmarks of the all-renewable-energy tribe. And there’s no small bit of irony in the fact that Fox’s effort to censor Planet of the Humans was launched just two days after his ally, Jacobson, was reproached by a federal court for trying to intimidate one of his critics by filing a frivolous lawsuit against him. On April 20, Jacobson was ordered to pay the legal fees of Chris Clack, the Colorado mathematician who Jacobson sued in 2017 for $10 million on claims that Clack had defamed him. Jacobson’s lawsuit, which also named the National Academy of Sciences, was a classic example of a SLAPP suit, or strategic litigation against public participation. What was Clack’s sin? He, along with nearly two dozen other prominent scientists, debunked the claims that Jacobson was making about – what else? — renewable energy.