The Climate Beclowning Continues

Malibu hed copyFar be it from me to prevent a mediocre leftist Democratic congressman from beclowning himself like Rep. Grijalva, but today the whole story jumped more sharks than Sharknado I & II combined when the Malibu Times, a local sheet devoted chiefly to Kardashian sightings and Bruce Jenner accident reports, ran the headline, “Pepperdine Professor Investigated by Congressman.”

Do you think the Malibu Times follows these Capitol Hill stories that closely? I happen to know for a fact that the Malibu Times was contacted by Rep. Grijalva’s staff and encouraged to do a story on the matter—a fact not disclosed in the story. And apparently the reporter and paper editor simply asked “how high?” when suggested they jump on this story. The reporter never called or emailed me for a comment, which is contrary to standard journalistic practice (if standard practice can be presumed to exist any more).

The Malibu Times isn’t the only reporter working hand-in-glove with Rep. Grijalva and ultimately Greenpeace (the real progenitor of this project). Quite clearly Politico reporter Alex Guillen is in direct contact with Greenpeace; John already noted he dodged a direct question about his contact with Greenpeace. This isn’t the first time I’ve been through this media drill. About eight or nine years ago I spent the better part of a day on and off the phone with a TV network news reporter. He kept calling me back with more pointed (and silly) questions about my climate work at AEI. Finally I was able to figure out who he was talking to between each conversation to get fresh questions: It was Greenpeace. Nice to know I live rent-free in their heads. (Footnote: the network news reporter eventually concluded there was no substance to the Greenpeace attempt at a media smear, as did reporters from the New York Times and Washington Post, where Greenpeace also tried to shop the story.) Guillen really ought to come clean on this. I’m not holding my breath.

Brief aside: a few of our commenters objected to my calling Greenpeace the “John Birch Society of the environmental movement” in a previous post. Let me amend that by noting that you can be right about central issues and still be counterproductively extreme, and that was Bill Buckley’s complaint about the JBS back in the 1960s. But let me change my analogy anyway, and suggest Greenpeace is the Westboro Baptists of the environmental movement. Check out The Spectator of London from a month ago, on “How Green and Peaceful Really Is Greenpeace?” Sample:

As far back as 2007, after another Greenpeace publicity stunt, the science writer Martin Robbins described the group as:

‘an NGO that thinks it is acceptable to lie to the public, to lie to bloggers and journalists, and to then intimidate writers with threatening emails warning of legal action.’

Anyway, one of the little details that seems to escaped the attention of Rep. Grijalva is that the congressional testimonies I gave over a decade’s time included not a single line about climate science; each was about climate policy—a very different matter. So why sweep me up along with the genuine physical scientists like Richard Lindzen, Judith Curry, and John Christy? Must be because Greenpeace really does think I am among the most influential persons on climate policy, for which I appreciate the endorsement of what is barely a part time avocation for me.   (I have written—what?—seven books by now; none of them discussing climate change at all. And I don’t teach much about the subject in any of my classes, partly because the subject plainly bores most students.)

My main original contribution to the climate policy debate was to point out, based on raw data from the Department of Energy, that the climate change advocates’ emissions targets for the U.S. for the year 2050—an 80 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from 1990 levels—would require rolling back hydrocarbon energy use to the level of 1910 (or 1905 by a separate analysis by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, a federal government lab I should point out). On a per capita basis (since our population has grown so much), this would mean reducing U.S. hydrocarbon energy use to the per capita level of Somalia today. This is sheer fantasy. No one can produce a credible plan to do this in 35 years (or perhaps ever), which was the point of the Daily Kos series linked to here yesterday.  Even the DailyKos can figure this out!  One of the reasons for my contempt of the Climate Haters is their total and fundamental unseriousness about the entire issue. (This is Roger Piekle’s complaint, too: see his very good book The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming. My review of Roger’s fine book is here.)

It is worth pointing out here that my analysis of the practical effect of the Climate Haters’ emissions target has never been disputed by a climate change activist—not once.  And it did become a prominent talking point in the congressional debate over the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill in 2009 and 2010.  Ah—this probably explains why Greenpeace wants to put out a media hit on me—it’s a genuine inconvenient truth.

I’ll add that the last testimony I gave, to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 2011, concerned the defects of the international diplomacy of climate change which now go back 25 years; it was from this that Grijalva quoted in his letter to Pepperdine University. There was nothing in it about climate science at all. (Read the whole thing, as they say; quite obviously no one in Rep. Grijalva’s office did.)

It is worth mentioning that a fellow panelist at that hearing was Todd Stern, President Obama’s chief climate negotiator at the State Department. He leaned over and told me he agreed with about two-thirds of my testimony, in particular the part about how the distinction between “developed” and “developing” nations had broken down, which made a complete hash of the Kyoto framework.  No wonder Greenpeace hates me: I’ve pointed out that the climate emperor is naked.

Meanwhile, I have to thank Greenpeace and Rep. Grijalva for all the free publicity. I’ve picked up dozens and dozens of new Twitter followers (@StevenFHayward), and renewed attention for my old thoughts on a subject that, outside of my occasional posts here noting the latest pathetic failures of the Climate Haters, I spend almost no time on any more. They make this part time job so much easier.

Stay tuned. I’ll be back with a separate post about the whole matter of “peer review” in climate science, and also the Michael Mann investigation from a few years ago. But I’ll give you a preview. One of our lefty commentators—Caylee Bovee under a new name?—taunted me that I don’t publish peer reviewed science, which is true, because I don’t publish any science at all. However, one of the leading academic journals in the field uses me as a frequent peer reviewer of submitted articles.  I doubt they use anyone from Greenpeace.

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