Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Last Gasp of the Climate Deniers, Detractors and Doomsayers?

With the science of climate change pretty solidly unimpeachable at this point, the rag tag camp of climate change deniers, detractors, doomsayers and other flat-earthers have a new tactic these days: talk up the supposedly disastrous economic consequences of regulating carbon.

A good example: the National Association of Manufacturers has been peddling a bought-and-paid-for "study" of the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill, taking their doom-and-gloom predictions of an economy wrecked by climate regulations on a national speaking tour over the next couple of months.

The Flat Earth camp pulled out all the stops at the Wall Street Journal's ECO:nomics conference held last week in California.

Hosted by "climate change experts" from the WSJ's notoriously ideological, knuckle-dragging, anti-climate editorial board, the WSJ assembled the full cast-of-characters of the Flat Earth Society of America: Fred Smith and Myron Ebell of CEI (makers of the hilariously funny "CO2: some call it pollution, we call it life" ad), Steve Milloy of JunkScience, and the WSJ's own ideologues came into the conference to put America's leading "green-minded" CEO's to the test, show them they were simply tools for liberal, socialist hippies, and expose carbon regulation as the sure-fire end of the treasured American way of life.

"Instead, they ended up looking small, shrill, and utterly marginalized," David Roberts, who covered the Eco:nomics conference for Grist.org writes. "Despite their claims to be pro-business, the business community disdains them."

David's coverage of the Flat-Earthers flailing attempts at the Eco:nomics conference is great. I highly suggest you head over to Gristmill to read the full story, but here are some great excerpts:

One incident captured it pretty well. During the panel where EDF's Fred Krupp debated CEI's Fred Smith, moderator and right-wing polemicist Kim Strassel of the WSJ editorial board paused to ask the audience, "is there a CEO who went down this road [going 'green'] and hasn't been happy with the experience?" She looked around the room expectantly, even hopefully.

Crickets.

...

Or when she confronted Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, asking incredulously, "do you think 80% by 2050 is achievable?" The breezy response: "My answer's obvious." So Strassel turned and asked the same question of the crowd. They voted: 75% think it can be done. Strassel's face fell.

Or hold on. Even favoriter: There was a debate between Mindy Lubber of Ceres, whose Investor Network on Climate Risk represents $5 trillion in capital, and Steve Milloy, who was there on behalf of his Free Enterprise Action Fund. Milloy spent 20 minutes telling Lubber she was an unwitting vehicle for lefty activists and the CEOs in attendance that they were dupes being fleeced out of billions of dollars by devious crypto-socialists. Toward the end, Andrew Shapiro of Green Order rose to ask Milloy, how much capital does your fund represent? The too-dumb-to-be-embarrassed answer, which prompted open laughter in the audience? $11 million. As Shapiro noted: looks like the market has spoken.
Or how about this video of WSJ's Alan Murray trying to bait WalMart's CEO, H. Lee Scott Jr. into objecting to carbon regulation because it will raise energy prices and kill the economy. Scott just won't buy it!



David Roberts sums it all up so well I'll just leave you with this:
Time after time, the ideologues pushed the same questions: Isn't this a tax? Isn't the government crippling the free market? Won't we lose our precious fluids?

Time after time, they were dismissed, with reactions ranging from anger to awkward condescension (as when the crazy uncle starts in at the family reunion) to barely concealed disdain. The people operating in the market -- as opposed to lobbing bombs from think tanks and Fox News studios -- are pragmatists. They don't have time for rigid ideology, or as Immelt called it, "false idols." Their job is to make money within the constraints set by the polity; they are under no illusion that there ever was or ever will be the frictionless free market of Ayn Rand's heated fantasies. Unlike the dour doomsayers, they have faith in themselves, in the business community, and in America to innovate and tackle any challenge.
Are we witnessing the last gasp of the climate deniers, detractors and doomsayers? Is this the beginning of the end for the Flat Earth Society of America? When the CEO's of America's biggest companies can't stand the shit your shoveling, it sure looks like it...

Well at least they'll always find open arms and a welcome home at James Inhofe's office.

See also:

  • Gristmill: "Eco:nomics: The decline and fall of the ideologues"
  • Energy Smart: "WSJ, the anti-business newspaper of record?"
  • SolveClimate: "Wall Street Journal Editorial Page Laughing Stock -- Of It's Own Conference"
  • WarmingLaw: "CEI's Ideas Can No Longer Compete (Outside of Congress and the EPA)"

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