Romm's hell and high water slams "denyers and delayers"

Tue, 2007-01-02 17:16Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Romm's hell and high water slams "denyers and delayers"

Haven't Joseph Romm's book Hell and High Water yet, but I will after seeing some of the quotes from this recent book review:

Helping plant these doubts [about global warming] is a handful of scientist-commentators – “A group small enough to fit into a typical home bathroom,” writes Romm – who are often funded by the oil and gas industry and are adept at exploiting one of the media's biggest vulnerabilities: Its pursuit of balance.

To create doubt on any scientific issue, all you have to do is find a few credible-sounding people to present your side, and no matter how many people are on the other side, you've got instant debate,” laments Romm, explaining that giving “equal time” to Denyers gives the public the wrong impression about our understanding and level of certainty around global warming science.

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Comments

Well I disagree.

“….are adept at exploiting one of the media’s biggest vulnerabilities: Its pursuit of balance.”

If anything, the media has been uncritically supportive of AGW. Sure, once in a while you hear/read a comment from a dissenter, but the rest of the time (for the last 10 years at least) it has been a constant cacophony of environmental doom, heaped upon gloom, piled upon despair.

Enthralled and intimidated by the Expert Statement, the media has fallen down on their job in at least asking a few pointed questions; certainly in regards to the non-scientific consensus alarmist claims which constantly pollute the print and airwaves.

Stating for the umpteenth time that action on AGW is paralyzed by a few malcontents is tired, lazy thinking….and untrue. That it appears to take a new book to rehash this hoary shibboleth suggests that the debate on AGW is going nowhere. Regards,

Sorry Paul, but your argument about the media being uncritically supportive does not hold water, and is getting quite old and worn.

This “unfair treatment” argument continually raised by the likes of Sen. Inhofe and self-appointed media watchdogs like the Exxon-backed Business and Media Institute ignores the hard evidence in the same way they ignore most science that does not fit their agenda.

In 2004 Boykoff and Boykoff published a study analyzing global warming press coverage – they found that in 52% of cases the media provided balanced coverage between the consensus view and the so-called “skeptic” view.

I have attached the Boykoff study to the blog post if anyone is interested in reviewing it.

Kevin, people can find a “study” to support nearly any postition they want. But it is your implication that a few skeptics can paralyze government action on the subject that I disagree with.

Only collectivists (and Marxists) demand 100% subjugation from their subjects on an issue. In a free and democratic society, we always have dissenters, legitimate and otherwise, on every single issue we face. And yet, we are not “paralyzed”. To posit the idea that we, as a society, can not move forward on this issue because of a few dissenters is preposterous.

As for the Boykoff and Boykoff study, I will read it later today, but it appears to completely contradict my own experience with the media on AGW; which overwhelmingly reports all AGW news with none of that balance you claim it shows. Regards,

Quite respectfully, I will stick with the research on the subject and not your gut feeling or experience – unless you find a study to substantiate your experience, I am afraid you are dealing in what Colbert likes to call “truthiness” - a feeling in your gut that something is true.

As far as finding a “study” on nearly any position, I would invite you to find a peer-reviewed study that refutes Boykoff and substantiates your gut feeling of a media inbalance. If you do, I will gladly post it.

As far as a free society having dissenters, that is absolutley necessary to progress. However, when the dissenters are being paid to say what fossil fuel interests, like peabody coal and exxonmobil, don't want to say themselves, that is not dissent, it is deception.

And please drop the socialist junk, do you actually believe there is some undergound marxist movement to take over the world? Seriously, it just makes you look paranoid.

Kevin, you quote Boykoff and Boykoff, I suspect, they support your position. But are they neutral, objective and unbiased? Both Boykoffs are of the hard left, hard green persuasion and are definitely not neutral reporters on the subject. As such, since they are the only study you cite, I will not lend their report much credence unless supported by other research or unless their report is peer reviewed and found to be valid.

On free speech, you appear to support a limited version of it, in which case, it is no longer free speech. Jim Hansen, an ardent advocate of action on AGW, has taken large sums of money from corporate entities yet I have never heard any disagreement expressed about this incongruity.

The attempt to suppress free speech by calling it deception is creative, but the end result is still suppression and censorship. Whether an individual, a government employee, an NGO, or a corporation, all have the inherent right to freedom of speech. Let’s let them have it.

Interestingly, you mention “socialist junk”. And with the illogical hostility at Exxon and the calls for censorship, yes, I do believe there are undercurrents of Marxism still going around, at least here in Canada.

Finally, did you read Ross Gelbspan’s “One Path To Climate Peace” post today? It reads like the green’s version of the Great Leap Forward. Say it ain’t so. Regards,

Paul, quit it with your “Marxist” fearmongering, would you? We’re no longer in the Cold War. (I’m no Marxist, either, as I cannot stand the Michael Moores or Noam Chomskys of this world. I’m no right-wing ideologue firebrand either, so the Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs of the world can also go away.)

As for this quote:

“Jim Hansen, an ardent advocate of action on AGW, has taken large sums of money from corporate entities yet I have never heard any disagreement expressed about this incongruity.”

Do you have any proof? Dr. Hansen’s salary comes from NASA. He doesn’t engage in the policy wonk, “think”-tank, lunch talk circuit unlike contrarian “scientists” who rely on these events to get their message out, otherwise they would be held silent. He speaks truth to power and speaks out against government meddling (i.e. censorship of research and reports).

Dr. Hansen is the one being censored, not these “skeptics”. Dr. Hansen was silenced by chiefs-of-staff and secretaries who were appointed by the Bush Administration and have no scientific background in climatology whatsoever. Phil Cooney is one of these, who, after being outed by scientists went back to work with, you guessed it, ExxonMobil.

No, Boykoff and Boykoff are right. These “skeptics” get way too much airtime which must be reduced to about 0.01% of all airtime as this is about the proportion of climate scientists who do not agree that human-induced global warming is occurring. That way the story will be balanced in the media and all scientists will have their proportional amount of freedom of speech.

Ha. Marxist fearmongering. And Marxists and collectivists both demand(ed) 100% subjugation. Which is what hard-core advocates concerning AGW demand also. So, my exaggerated analogy has some relevance.

Jim Hansen has taken a large amount of money from corporate foundations. It’s a well known fact. Is he a corporate mouthpiece too?

Jim Hansen seems to speak very freely if you ask me. I object strongly that he was subjected to some intimidation, but he is also a government employee, and subject to his employer’s rules.

That said, since you object to Jim Hansen being censored (as I do), how do you manage to hold the hypocritical position of advocating censorship and the suppression of free speech elsewhere?

And how do you know Boykoff and Boykoff are right? One study rarely proves a case, especially by the two Boykoffs who are obviously so biased on the subject of AGW already.
My original criticisms of their study stands. Regards,

Paul, people are free to think what they want on a subject. Whether they are right or wrong only reflects on themselves. What they are not entitled to do is to distort the truth, falsify data, misrepresent what has been found to be true etc.

This is what the small body of professional climate deniers are doing. It is as wrong as defauding some one of their life savings.

Distort the truth? You mean we have all The Truth on AGW?

Falsifying data? What are you talking about?

Misrepresent? Considering that most of the public debate centers around climate models extending far into the future, all with high values of uncertainty built in, I would suggest it is the alarmists who are the most guilty of distorting, falsifying, and misrepresenting the data.

And no one anywhere is calling for censorship of the alarmists, nor will they.

If you can’t handle the open, free wheeling, and sometimes nasty nature of a public debate Ian, maybe you should avoid it all together. Regards,

Paul, when you get advice from a professional such as a lawyer or accountant do you believe everything they say? How would you react if you believed some advice which was in fact not the truth and you lost your life savings what would you do? Would you just say, “Everything is OK because I believe in free speech and lies are meaningless?” I suspect not. You would probably hire another lawyer and sue the pants of the distorting professional.

Science works the same way. Lies are not acceptable in a scientific study or interpretation of a scientific paper.

Honest scientists do not distort or falsify data. However, there are a small number who do. Check out Soon, Baliunas, Carter, Ball et al.

As for talking about nasty debating techniques. I am glad that you recognize what you are doing. For all the posts you have on this blog you never present any actual facts or back up your arguments with documented cases. You have “feelings”, well, I am a scientist and facts are what count in my life and whether you like it or not the facts show that AGW is happening right now and will continue to happen and cost a great deal of money to future generations.

It seems to me that your insinuation that I should “get lost” is a sign that you are, in fact, losing the debate. I will continue to respond to your support of distorted truth. What qualifications do you have to try and come across as “an expert” in this debate?

Ian, no one asked these groups for professional advice. Therefore they are in no way accountable for whatever opinion they express. Free speech is free speech. Get over it.

We the taxpayers in Canada have spent $6 billion “fighting” global warming already. Our emissions continue going up. Do we get our $6 billion back? Can we sue?

And yes Ian, if unfettered free speech is too difficult for you to engage in, then withdraw from the debate. Instead you advocate censorhip. How sad. Regards,

Paul, it is people like you, who do not understand the difference between free speech and lies and misinformation, that cause many of the problems the world is facing today. If you cannot understand that then you are the one who should be leaving the debate.

And why do you refuse to answer any questions you are asked but expect answers from everyone else?

What questions have I refused to answer Ian? Post a few and I’ll see if I can answer them. Regards,

Number One: “Paul, when you get advice from a professional such as a lawyer or accountant do you believe everything they say? How would you react if you believed some advice that was in fact not the truth and you lost your life savings what would you do? Would you just say, ‘Everything is OK because I believe in free speech and lies are meaningless?’”

Number Two: “What qualifications do you have to try and come across as ‘an expert’ in this debate”?

In many areas lies are in fact illegal and will result in charges being brought against the perpetrator. I don’t see “Freedom of Speech” being used as a defense in those cases. Any lie that causes personal or financial hardship should be illegal. Denying AGW and delaying response to it will cause grief and hardship to many people throughout the world.

==== ian said: ====
Number One: “Paul, when you get advice from a professional such as a lawyer or accountant do you believe everything they say? How would you react if you believed some advice that was in fact not the truth and you lost your life savings what would you do? Would you just say, ‘Everything is OK because I believe in free speech and lies are meaningless?’”
================

Ian, I believe I answered this question previously. First, Exxon or groups it supports have not been asked for professional advice so culpability on that level does not exist.

Within the public sphere, proffering opinions and viewpoints is something everyone is entitled too, without the threat of legal sanction of which you seem to support.

==== ian said: ====
Number Two: “What qualifications do you have to try and come across as ‘an expert’ in this debate”?

In many areas lies are in fact illegal and will result in charges being brought against the perpetrator. I don’t see “Freedom of Speech” being used as a defense in those cases. Any lie that causes personal or financial hardship should be illegal. Denying AGW and delaying response to it will cause grief and hardship to many people throughout the world.
================

Experts can never control a debate in a free society. And we have deferred to “experts” too much in this debate. Policy is set by us, so debate on what policy we pursue must be discussed by everyone who wants to participate.

Concerning “lies”, that is simply your opinion. And you are entitled to it. But you are not allowed to supress public debate simply because of your opinion.

Your claims of there being perpetrators is unproven, your claims of lies is unproven (in the legal sense) and your claims of legal liability for events that have not occurred are unproven. What more can I say? Regards,

As I suspected you have not answerewd the questions. You must be a politician or a lawyer which gives you absolutely no standing in this debate.

Science is what determines the truth in this matter and you refuse to discuss the science i.e. give solid scientific backing for your opinions and “gut feelings”.

I answered the questions clearly Ian. But since you appear to be a zealot, unless my response demonstrated absolute adherence to your ideology, you will not be satisfied.

For the record, politicians and lawyers also have inherent free speech rights. You appear to advocate widespread censorship in society; thankfully your viewpoints are on the fringe of society.

Yes, science determines the truth, which is why such intensive climate research continues. However, policy is set by we the people. Regards,

Paul, do you have trouble with the English language? My first question was about your personal reponse not about Exxon.

You never answered the second question either. No wonder you have so much trouble undestanding climate science.

Free speech does not give anyone the right to tell lies or distort the truth. The end point in science is to determine the truth which is exactly the opposite of politics and the legal system where those who shout loudest consider themselves to be correct. You are trying to shout louder than the scientists but it is not working since you are only showing how ignorant of the subject you really are.

Your analogy is so poor Ian that no further comment is necessary.

Worth repeating is that you have not established, legally or otherwise, that Exxon is lying. You are offering merely your opinion. And opinion carries no legal weight. Since your opinion carries no legal weight, Exxon and anyone else is free, and welcome, to engage in the public debate over AGW.

Your contempt for all things political and legal is of cause for concern Ian. Science DOES determine much truth, and we set the policy. Regards,

Paul said: “Your contempt for all things political and legal is of cause for concern Ian”. Until these two groups show us by leadership and honesty that they have the wellfare of their constituents as a first priority and not wealthy clients or political donors they are not worthy of our support.

End of discussion since you have identified yourself as belonging to the groups who are the targets of this blog, distortion and misinformation merchants.

I like that. END OF DISCUSSION.

You can object to the leadership, or lack of, demonstrated by our political leaders, but ultimately, if meaningful action is to be taken, it must come through our political leaders.

For the record, I am a member of none of the groups you are targetting. Your deep-seated prejudices are clouding your thinking again Ian. Regards,

Just wondering. The arguments get thinner and thinner as time marches on.

Note to Desmogblog: Change the format, and provide a list/links of new comments on the main page to avoid having to scroll and search.

This is not new for blogging- on many sites. Thought this was a new and improved site!

Get on it Kevin.

Kate Moss looks the size of an elephant from this perspective.
TEST. How thin can a post get?
Say discombobulate?

“Worth repeating is that you have not established, legally or otherwise, that Exxon is lying.”

Exxon may not be lying, but the “scientists” which they help fund are certainly doing a good job of it with claims that weather and climate are the same thing, that the world has been cooling since 1998, and that increases in CO2 do not cause warming.

“And opinion carries no legal weight. Since your opinion carries no legal weight, Exxon and anyone else is free, and welcome, to engage in the public debate over AGW.”

Paul, this must mean your opinion carries no legal weight, too! For all I know, the accuracy of your opinion on AGW is similar to that of a plumber’s opinion of how to perform a triple-bypass heart operation. (If you want to refute this, Paul, please state your qualifications in the field of climate science.)

People are free to give their views on AGW, but this does not guarantee that their views on AGW are correct. Moreover, the general public shouldn’t claim expertise in climate science when they are, in fact, laypeople.

Most of all, a company whose profits are driven (no pun intended) by the exploitation and consumption of a substance, the combustion of which increases AGW, should be given little say in the regulation of said substance as there is always the suspicion that it will do only what is necessary to prolong its profit no matter the expense of the environment and our health. A classic case of conflict of interest.

Kevin,

I hope that Joseph Romm is more on target with this book than he was in 2004, when he attacked the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s attempt to produce cleaner vehicles. He accused the SCAQMD of proposing to use hydrogen hybrids which would be dirtier than petroleum fueled hybrids. Romm’s claim is chemically incorrect, which is not an error that I would expect from someone with a PhD in Physics from MIT.

The SCAQMD felt that Romm was so far off base with his claims that they felt obliged to rebut his LA Times Op Ed piece with the following: http://www.aqmd.gov/news1/2004/response_to_joseph_romm.html

Kevin,

So that there is no misunderstanding:

Romm was Acting Assistant Secretary at DOE’s ….Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy during 1997 and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary from 1995 though 1998.

He was not the Assistant Secretary of DOE, but rather the Acting Assistant Secretary of an office within the DOE, for one year.

Source “Bio of Joseph Romm, PhD: http://www.buildings.com/Articles/detail.asp?ArticleID=1766

The book reviewer in the Toronto Star got the information wrong, not you.

Brooks, will revise.
Romm was Acting Assistant Secretary of the Dept. of Energy. He was in charge of the office of Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy when his boss, Asst. Secy White, left the DOE. The rest of the time Romm was Principal Deputy Asst. Sec’y, that is, first among those one level below Assistant Secretary. He’s an analyst/scientist, not a political appointee–Asst. Secretaries to cabinet depts. are Pres. appointees. I hope that clarifies it for you.

My comment to Kevin was that the Star was misleading in how they described his position at the DOE. I am not diminishing Romm’s position, and I doubt that he was trying to mislead anyone. I was only correcting the error which was in the Star.

This is also not correct. Romm was Acting Asst. Secy of the whole U.S. Dept. of Energy, not just of an office. As such, Romm was HEAD of the Dept’s entire renewable energy and energy research office. The only other office of the Dept. is the nuclear office. So, Romm was Acting Asst. Secy’ of Energy for the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Mr. White was the Assistant Secretary, and when he left the DOE, Romm (his principal Deputy) became Acting Assistant until Clinton appointed a new Asst. Sec’y of Energy to head the office.

From the Toronto Star book review. One of the ten solutions he offers:

“Capture carbon dioxide gas from existing and future coal plants and store it underground, while relying more on nuclear power.”

Some previous discussion in this blog entry on your site: http://www.desmogblog.com/how-to-make-big-coal-look-good-on-global-warming

The proposal to “Capture carbon dioxide gas from existing and future coal plants and store it underground” sounds like a good idea.

We looked at this in one of my engineering classes (environmental engineering). The problem that we found is that it costs too much to capture and store CO2 to make this potential solution commercially feasible.

[x]

There are enough articles on the “myth of peak oil” floating around the Internet to fill a book; and there are enough books on the subject to fill a small library.  One of the common threads throughout these publications is their lack of credible sources, because not only is peak oil real, but we’re rapidly approaching that threshold. 

An example that is smacking the United...

read more