What is Ross Gelbspan’s Raison d’être?

Quite unlikely that I have readers in Rio Linda and Port St Lucie, but in case I do, “raison d’être” means “the most important reason or purpose for someone’s existence.” Speaking personally, my concern is not about what motivates Gelbspan to do what he does, I focus on what he has said and compare it to material which contradicts him, with the basic objective being to ask why these contradictions exist. But it is fair to ask if I’ve encountered narratives where he appears to offer base-level reasons for the actions he has taken.

Gelbspan’s oft-repeated narrative includes a line that goes something like, “I’m a journalist, not an environmentalist. I didn’t get into this issue because I love the trees. I tolerate the trees.” Wouldn’t it follow then, upon taking a buy-out retirement from the Boston Globe in 1992, that his fellow Globe reporter would speak of Gelbspan’s dispassionate, thorough reporting, instead of his “environmental warnings”?

A variation of this same narrative line goes like this: “I spent my whole career following the belief that in a democracy we need honest information. I’m a journalist, not an environmentalist. I learned that the coal industry was paying some scientists under the table to say global warming is not happening.” (full text here)

But look what Mother Jones quotes him saying in the paragraph above that second variation:

“We’re at a historically unique moment of opportunity to bring countries together on a common global project that could increase the prosperity and security of our world,” he says. “A real solution to the climate issue contains the seeds of solutions to other problems.”

What does he mean by ‘increased prosperity / solving other problems’? He seems to clarify this in a 2001 Boston Globe article (full text here) he co-authored with no less than the same person who was a catalyst sending him into his investigations of ‘corrupt skeptic climate scientists’:

A properly-funded, US-led global energy transition would also begin to redress the inequities that are splitting humanity into rich and poor. Runaway economic inequities are destabilizing the global political environment just as runaway carbon concentrations are destabilizing the global climate.

He details this even more directly within this video (note the time slider position in this screencapture, transcript screencapture here, full transcript text here):

What the US must do is to join the rest of the world in a common global project to rewire the world with clean energy. The centerpiece of the last chapter of my book, Boiling Point outlines three global strategies that could accomplish this transition. And while we are not dogmatic about the details, we do believe it represents a model of the scope and scale of what we need to accomplish.  …
Redirecting more $250 billion in subsidies in industrial countries away from coal and oil and putting them behind carbon-free technologies;
Creating a large fund, which has been estimated at about $300 billion a year for a decade, to transfer clean energy to poor countries. This could come from a tax on international currency transactions, from carbon taxes in the North or from a tax on international air travel …

Gelbspan mentioned the above set of suggestions several years earlier in a 1999 Grist article, under a subsection titled “Sharing the Wealth”.

In a 2006 public radio “Democracy Now!” piece, his solution was quoted this way:

… the wealthy nations have not been willing to pay for the environmental damage they have caused, or significantly change the way they operate.

Author Ross Gelbspan says poverty is at the root of the problem: Take care of poverty, and humanity can solve the climate crisis. He says retooling the planet for a green economy can be the largest jobs program in history, can create more equality among nations, and is necessary, immediately, to avoid catastrophe.

Gelbspan lampoons tea-party activists for viewing climate change mitigation efforts as “as a conspiracy to impose world government and a sweeping redistribution of wealth”, yet in a 2012 amateur audio interview, he offers the following insight at the four minute point: (profanity alert)

…It’s really important to stress the really proactively positive aspects of solving this, not just defensive ones, where you keep, you know, keep under two degrees, whatever, but the positive ones of getting the whole world to buy into something like this, which leads to a concession of sovereignty in certain ways, it moves to a more unified world in a larger sense, I mean it’s important – it scares some people, [expletive] ’em, man, it’s the 21st century, you know, we’re past the age of tribalism…

And back in 2005, he stated the following (full text here):

… we need a global regulatory mechanism — preferably within the Kyoto process — to ensure that countries act in concert to replace their coal and oil infrastructures with clean, decentralized energy systems based on wind, solar, hydrogen fuel and tidal energy.

So if Gelbspan’s raison d’être was no more than to uphold the tenets of sound democracy and dispassionate investigative journalism by exposing dishonest information from skeptic scientist industry shills and debunking misguided notions about global warming having a hidden agenda of wealth redistribution and global governance……. wouldn’t it be best if he displayed actual evidence proving the guilt of skeptic scientists, describing in detail how his master sleuth skills led him to find that “evidence”, while avoiding every potential appearance of advocating wealth redistribution and global governance?