George Monbiot is a serious thinker. Too bad the Globe and Mail only has Margaret Wente. It’s remarkable how many words one can take from another writer, and still manage to distort them.
We’ve already looked at Wente and plagiarism here - where, along with various near identical passages, she casually re-assigns or invents identities – for example, turning Dr. Mike Carron, a scientist at Mississippi State University, into "a fisherman" in one of many un-attributed bits of other articles.
Wente: “Red snapper are unbelievable right now,” one fisherman said. “You could put a rock on the end a string and they’d bite it.”
AP: "Red snapper are unbelievable right now," said Mike Carron, head of the Northern Gulf Institute in Mississippi. "Now you could put a rock on the end of string and they'll bite it."
Today’s piece on Elizabeth May again shows real effort at recycling, with Wente still being somewhat sparing with quotation marks:
Wente: “But as Mr. Monbiot writes, ‘The problem we face is not that we have too little fossil fuel but too much.’ As oil declines, economies will switch to oil sands, shale gas, coal and ultra-deep reserves”.
Monbiot: “The problem we face is not that we have too little fossil fuel, but too much. As oil declines, economies will switch to tar sands, shale gas and coal; as accessible coal declines, they'll switch to ultra-deep reserves.”
Why does Wente limit her quote to the first bit? To turn ‘tar sands’ into ‘oil sands’?
Wente: “As Mr. Monbiot writes gloomily, ‘All of us in the environment movement – whether we propose accommodation, radical downsizing or collapse – are lost. None of us yet has a convincing account of how humanity can get out of this mess.’ He hopes that by laying out the problem, he can encourage environmentalists to ‘abandon magical thinking’ and recognize the contradictions they confront”.
Monbiot: “All of us in the environment movement, in other words – whether we propose accommodation, radical downsizing or collapse – are lost. None of us yet has a convincing account of how humanity can get out of this mess…I hope that by laying out the problem I can encourage us to address it more logically, to abandon magical thinking and to recognise the contradictions we confront.”
Again, why so stingy with those little things? They don’t take much space.
Wente offers little other than carefully skewed and selected Monbiot and cheap shots at May. The observations that seem to be her own are a bit wacky: “But greens neglect to mention that hundreds of millions of Chinese people have begun consuming stupendous quantities of brick, copper and manufactured goods in their rise from poverty – nearly all of it produced with fossil fuels”.
“Consuming stupendous quantities of brick… produced with fossil fuels”? Of all the things to complain about in China - brick?
In 2001 China announced a ban on traditional bricks made with fossil fuels, in favour of “using brick made of ash from power plants in cleaner kilns” - recycling the byproduct from coal plants, rather than using fossil fuels to produce clay bricks. China is apparently now a leader in “state of the art technology for brick manufacturing”, producing “energy efficient… flyash bricks as an alternative… to the commonly used burnt clay bricks, which use fossil fuel for their production”.
But the most spectacular dishonesty is Wente’s assertion that George Monbiot is Elizabeth May’s “biggest critic”. For this, her central argument, she produces not a single word from the man. One can’t find anything Monbiot has said that is “critical” of Elizabeth May. Nor does he refer to her as a “hyperactive chipmunk” with “a matchless ability to hog the spotlight”.
The two are most well known for debating together on the same side, in the Munk Debates on Climate Change. If Wente can substantiate her claim that Monbiot is May’s “biggest critic”, she should offer up some evidence. And please, Ms. Wente, try doing it the professional way, with quotes.