Monday, July 16, 2007

Scientific "Consensus" Or Brown Shirt Thuggery?

From Stubborn Facts:

On June 28th, Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the costs and economic impacts of Kyoto-style carbon suppression schemes. He followed that up with an article in the American Spectator on the same theme.

His testimony and article apparently did not sit well with American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) president, World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE) co-chairman, and Renewable Energy Policy Network (REN 21) Steering Committee member Michael T. Eckhart.

So in rebuttal, does Eckhart [a] demolish Lewis' testimony and article with the use of verifiable scientific evidence, addressing any or all of the points made, or [b] try to bludgeon Lewis into silence? You judge:

Marlo, you are so full of crap," writes Michael T. Eckhart, president of the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE). "You have been proven wrong. The entire world has proven you wrong. You are the last guy on Earth to get it.

Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on."

Of course were Harvard actually interested in the scientific method and the standards of academic freedom Eckhart would be fighting for his career and justly so.

Eckhart is a disgrace and a scumbag.

Tully's post over at Stubborn Facts has many helpful links.

UPDATE:

Tully in the comments points us to a sorta kinda mea culpa (but not really) from Mr. Eckhart here. It is a disappointment in that it boils down to "He started it!"

What is interesting is that Eckhart's explanation reiterates the disdain he has for free academic inquiry:

To CEI, however, there can be no apology. Quite the opposite. It is time to end CEI’s disingenuous undermining of worldwide concern about global warming.
My brown shirt analogy seem less like hyperbole by the minute.

6 comments:

entropy said...

Is "full of crap" a technical term? I must get caught up with the journals.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

In my mind I see him banging his shoe on the table like Kruschev at the UN.

Tully said...

Eckhart published an apologia of sorts on the ACORE site. I don't have a link for that handy but it was reproduced at MaxRedLine blog.

I am less than impressed. He's misunderstood, he says, and you just have to know the context. But the email I quoted, I quoted in full apart from headers. Not much room there for context.

In any case his cited "context" comes down to unsubstantiable allegations that are in any case non-responsive to the factual points made. That he has a deep and abiding hate for Lewis and a near-religious faith in the Goracle scenario does not change the nature of the communication in the least. Namely, it's a threat intended to silence someone dissenting from Eckhart's party line.

info2@acore.org said...

To All Readers of this Blog:
The correspondence between Marlo Lewis and Mike Eckhart should be taken in context. Below for your background information is the original response posted by Mr. Eckhart on July 15th on the ACORE blog.
Thank you for reading this background material.
Jim Pierobon & The ACORE Communications Staff
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To All:
The Competitive Enterprise Institute has made public a July 13, 2007 email that I sent to Dr. Marlo Lewis, CEI’s chief analyst on climate change. This private communication to Dr. Lewis is part of a two-year series of communications between us about CEI’s campaign to stop public policy on global warming. The campaign is led by Fred Smith, CEI’s President, and Dr. Lewis.
I apologize to all in the public who were offended by the email, because it was not intended for public display. You could not be aware of the two-year context of it, nor the choice of words in it – words that were only significant to Dr. Lewis and myself. Now that it is in the public, however, everyone deserves to understand the context.
Summary
I believe that global warming is occurring. The evidence is overwhelming and persuasive both from a statistical as well as anecdotal basis. Last year, the President of the National Wildlife Federation told the story about how a multi-billion duck hunting industry in Arkansas has disappeared – the ducks only fly south to Illinois any more.
Recently, we have learned about the acidification of the oceans and the attendant accelerated loss of coral and other marine life.
This week, credible scientific organizations will predict that the North Pole will no longer have ice in the summer, beginning just ten years from now. Glaciers are melting. If the ice bank on Greenland melts, the seas could rise as much as 20 feet. This is serious business, affecting all.
In my opinion, CEI, and especially Dr. Lewis, has been presenting a false prosecution — a knowingly false prosecution — of the global warming issue, to the detriment of society and the billions of people who will be affected by climate change. This should offend all who believe in integrity and honesty in public affairs.
Dr. Lewis admitted to me two years ago that he does not necessarily believe that global warming is not happening – he is pursuing it for another reason: his philosophical opposition to big government. He has hijacked our issue to further his philosophical ideas about government. I respectfully object.
My email to Dr. Lewis was in the context of personal combat and jousting that has been going on in the background — using his own words, as described below, to prod him out this false prosecution of global warming.
Background
The interchange and jousting began two years ago when Dr. Lewis and I were invited to debate the issue on E&E TV, and we had 20 minutes to talk beforehand in the green room. It was a 20-minute monologue by Dr. Lewis.
He informed us that he is a trained professional debater from Harvard University with a PhD in Philosophy, but that he came out of the experience with the opposite philosophy of most Harvard graduates who believe that government is the solution to society’s problems. He said that he believes that it is excessive government that is the root of most problems in modern society, and that big government must be stopped. He said that one of his life’s goals is to show the Harvard crowd that they are wrong.
He went on the say that environmentalists are, in his view, “just full of cr*p” and that they are falsely using the threat of climate change to gain control of the power of government. He said that he has a permanent dedication to destroy their careers, hence my use of the same phrases. His method, based on his training in philosophical argument, is not to attack them, but to attack their underlying assumptions, in this case the technical arguments that global warming is happening.
I asked him, then: “so your argument against global warming is just a tactic in a larger battle you are waging against big government?” He said: “Yes, correct.”
Dr. Lewis went on to say that he might just as easily make the argument that global warming IS happening, and that, actually, he is a bit concerned about it, but he could not let that sidetrack him from his life’s work to stop big government.
I then asked if there was any possibility that we could talk him into joining the climate change movement and take the lead on developing non-government solutions, since he is against government solutions. He said that this was an intriguing idea, but, no, he couldn’t do it. He said that his job is not to be a consultant on solutions; his mission is to stop big government.
We were called into the studio and I concluded by saying that I had never met such a brilliant mind that was, in my opinion, so off track on intellectual honesty, and asked if he thought it would consider it fair play if I tried to stop him as much as he is trying to stop us. He said: “fair is fair” and we went into the televised debate.
A member of my staff was with us in the Green Room. You will see Dr. Lewis’ own words in my July 13 email.
Subsequent Communications
Since that first event, Dr. Lewis and Fred Smith and I have discussed on several occasions the honesty or dishonesty of hijacking the global warming issue to further their philosophy about making government smaller. I confronted Fred Smith on this in May 2006. There have been several exchanges. For example:
On September 22, 2006, Dr. Lewis sent a campaign email saying: “I attach for your reading pleasure the latest version of my Skeptic’s Guide to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.”
In reply, on September 25, I wrote to Fred Smith and Marlo Lewis: “I am writing to say that I am very unhappy to see this continuing false analysis coming out of CEI, seeking to refute the issue of global warming. What concerns me is that you are credible and persuasive, hence your voice and that of CEI are having the effect of delaying a US response to the crisis. The only explanation that I can see is that you are doing this because you are paid by ExxonMobil and other clients to do so. I find this outrageous, that my children will have a lesser life because you are being paid by oil companies to spread a false story.”
On September 26, Dr. Lewis wrote back to me: “Talk about an inconvenient truth! How inconvenient for some people that fossil fuels played an indispensable role in ending slavery and serfdom, extending human lifespan, etc.”
This was clearly going no where, and it rested for a while.
Turning the Corner on the Acceptance of Global Warming
Coincidently, however, I was informed that ExxonMobil ended its many years of funding CEI’s anti-climate campaign the following month, at the time of a speech by ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex W. Tillerson to the Boston CEO Club on November 30, 2006, in which he said:
“While the scientific community continues this study, we should pursue public policies that start gradually and learn along the way with full recognition of the economic consequences of certain actions and we should bring all countries into the effort…We should start on a path to reduce the likelihood of the worst outcomes… and understand the context of managing carbon emissions among other developing world priorities, such as economic development, poverty eradication and public health. Consistent with this approach, we should take steps now to reduce emissions in effective and meaningful ways.”
The most conservative companies in the oil industry are turning the corner on the global warming issue in a thoughtful and honest way. We also are seeing the electric utility industry study the matter carefully, recognizing that the future is a carbon-constrained world and they must find practical ways of working in it. And many serious people from industry, finance, the professions, academia, commerce, the nonprofit sector and government have looked at this and concluded that we as a society must take action now, for the sake of society as we know it, and for the sake of the generations who come after us.
The Issue Today
In the face of this came another analysis by Dr. Lewis this past week on July 12, undermining the inconvenient and now compelling truth about global warming, and I said: ‘enough is enough.” I challenged Dr. Lewis using his own words from that Green Room conversation two years ago, and challenged him to take me on, to resolve this issue. I have challenged him to debate this out, but he refuses, instead leaking my jousting email to him.
As to the email, there can be no excuse for it in the public’s eye, or out of the context of years of communications in the background. I apologize to all who have read it.
To CEI, however, there can be no apology. Quite the opposite. It is time to end CEI’s disingenuous undermining of worldwide concern about global warming. To resolve this, I again challenge Dr. Lewis to a series of personal debates on global warming that would go on for a month, with daily exchanges. There would be a running public vote. We would agree to accept the vote of the American people on the debate.
We must begin a nonpartisan, bi-partisan, and universal move forward to manage carbon in society and implement solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, other non/low-carbon energy, and the management of oceans, biodiversity and forestation.
I believe that a cleaner world will be a more productive world with more security, longer lives, broader equity, more peace, more prosperity, and greater freedom than the status quo can possibly offer. It will not be big government delivering a solution, but the entire complex of government, the private sector and civil society adapting to a better path.
I believe that an open debate on these issues will reveal the truth of the matter. I call Dr. Lewis out of his analytic hideaway at CEI.
I will be happy to debate this out with Dr. Lewis and seek an answer, and again apologize to everyone for having the private email communication leaked to the press, distracting everyone from the serious matters at hand.
Respectfully submitted,
Michael T. Eckhart
July 15, 2007
Posted by Michael Eckhart on July 15, 2007 at 4:07 pm
Filed under General Renewable Energy

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

Mr. Eckhart,

I'm not sure there is any reason to get quite so defensive, as links to your full statement were made available both in the comments (thanks to Tully) and in the main post in an update. But it will be a service for those reader who are feeling particularly slothful.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

Sorry, didn't notice in all that that it was posted by a Mr. Pierobon.