An Open Letter to Joseph Romm

October 1, 2008 |


Your strategy, as usual, is to shoot the messenger rather than confront the facts. This is what you did when you attacked Nature for publishing Roger Pielke, Chris Greene, and Tom Wigley's "Dangerous Assumptions" about faster-than-expected emissions increases. This is what you did when the International Energy Agency came out and said that stabilization requires technology "breakthroughs" (their word). This is what you did when you attacked those of us who support adaptation as "delayers." And this is what you are doing in response to the accumulating evidence that governments won't raise the price of dirty energy to deal with global warming.

Joe, you find or make up the facts to fit whatever tirade you want to launch. It was for this reason that you approvingly cited Pielke et al. in your post at Cato Unbound when you wanted to break from the IPCC. It was for this reason that you made up your own projections for warming and impacts, rather than relying on the IPCC projections, in your response to Manzi during the same debate. It was for this reason that you called your made-up wedges a "solution" for achieving stabilization even though your wedges are nothing more than a laundry list of technologies. And it's for this reason that you made up the outrageous whopper of a lie that we "go after Obama" when you know full well that the ones we went after were greens and liberals like you who cling to an outmoded pollution pricing paradigm.

Your view is not complicated, it's just wrong. You think that we just have to continue explaining to people that global warming is the coming apocalypse so that they will accept regulations that raise the cost of gasoline and electricity. The whole purpose of your blog is to enforce message and policy orthodoxy among people who are concerned about climate change. Anyone who strays from the herd gets smeared by you as a "denier" or a "delayer."

But look at what's happened to your theory about how political change will occur. From 2006 to 2008 there was an unprecedented amount of attention about global warming. Gore's film because one of the biggest documentary films in history. He won the Oscar and the Nobel and was on virtually every major magazine cover in the country. Media companies from Sports Illustrated to NBC went green. Politicians marched around declaring climate change the most important issue in the world, and their state the greenest in all the land.

Most liberals, including you, came to believe that "everything had changed" -- action was right around the corner.

And then reality settled in. Cap and trade had less support in the Senate in June 2008 than it did in 2003 when it received 43 votes and less support in 2005 when it received 38 votes. Republicans simply had to point out the obvious, that the legislation would raise energy prices, and Democrats jumped ship. Reid had to step in to orchestrate a cloture vote to avoid an embarrassing vote on the legislation. Republicans were so pleased with the power of their argument that they doubled down and attacked Democrats on drilling. Within a few weeks Democrats had reversed their opposition to expanded off-shore oil drilling. High gas prices, which should have been owned by the opposition party, was stolen by the incumbent party.

In following the raise-energy-prices-to-deal-with-climate strategy peddled by you and the green groups, Democrats got beat. You know it, we know it, and Democrats are increasingly starting to realize it. No amount of your usual histrionics will distract attention away from the egg on your face.