Fakegate Apologism — It’s How They Roll
Guest post by Chris Horner
This morning I read a terrific recounting of the “the fact that a whole section of the scientific establishment is defending Gleick on the grounds that it’s OK to lie to promote their cause…from the intellectual heights of the establishment and specifically from those who have proclaimed themselves to be experts on scientific ethics.” (“‘Fake But Accurate’ Science”, TIA Daily, subscription required). Following on my post Fakegate: It’s what they do, and Anthony’s continuing elaboration of the “noble cause corruption”, this recalled for me a recent experience that had nagged at the back of my mind, bothersome for what it indicates. And it all fits together.
Last week I gave a talk at Yale Law School on the role of environmental regulation, sponsored by the Federalist Society and Young America’s Foundation. I made my way to the greatest economic boom-time opportunity we’ve ever faced — we’re told — which happens to be (surprise!) a massive regulatory boom. But before being sold — in adaptation to the downturn — as an economic boom it was sold — during flush times — as necessitating economic slowdown. Got it.
Rationales I cited and supported with sources included: make the uneconomic “profitable” (Pres. Obama, Ken Lay), redistribute the world’s wealth (UN guy), restructure the global economy, “level the playing field” (unions, greens, EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom), “slow down our economy” (Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan), create a boom economy (Pres. Obama, Al Gore, Carol Browner, some congressmen), transform our economy (Tom Friedman), “raise billions of dollars”/finance social agenda (Pres. Obama, lawmakers), avoid having “too much energy”, too little drudgery (John Holdren and his ilk).
President Obama said in his 2010 State of the Union speech that, even if you doubt the scientific argument, it’s “the right thing to do”, echoing movement-godfather Sen. Tim Wirth who said the very same thing in 1988. Now, with more “human redemption”! (guess who).
Thomas Friedman, responding to such doubts, told Meet the Press that, “everything we would do to get ready for climate change, to build this new green industry, would make us more respected, more entrepreneurial, more competitive, more healthy as a country.”
To which Jonah Goldberg responded, “Thus Plato’s Noble Lie is resuscitated in a pas de deux of flimflammery. The diagnosis might be fake, but the cure will still fix your lumbago, whiten your teeth, and give your horse a shiny coat.”
And I walked through the raging hypocrisy and outright fabrications embodied in the sales pitch for an agenda that was rebranded as pollsters dictated. When John Kerry cancelled the scheduled (by pure coincidence) Earth Day introduction of his cap-and-trade bill, he told the press it was because “this is not an environment bill.” Amending the Clean Air Act. Granting authority to the…EPA. Riddled with hundreds of references to “environment”, “greenhouse” and “pollution”.
Not an environment bill. And, true enough, no one says it would detectably impact the climate. It was repackaged and introduced as the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act. It was now a jobs bill. His pollster told him so.
And it would bring a jobs boom the likes of which we had never seen, though it had killed jobs everywhere; it would lower the price and increase the reliability and security of our energy supply, though the opposite had been proved true; and it would lower emissions as study after study indicates the opposite results, from the inefficiencies.
Hey, man, back off. There’s a “cause” to push here, after all. By whatever means necessary.
During the discussion that followed one attendee, a student at the nation’s most prestigious law school clearly unnerved by my challenging the climate agenda, if not by the brazen employment of untruths to justify employing the state’s police power, complained that I was merely making fun of flaws in their communication effort. In focusing on such details I wrongly ignored the larger problem that we must act.
So, a movement being exposed as risibly dishonest in saying whatever might wash in order to get their way, a way which as I noted is leading to terrible human consequences in the European theater of operations where they are several years ahead of us, merely harps on a communications problem?
No. This is a movement — someone once called it a “cause” — clearly not about what it says it’s about. After all, no one or no computer model on which they premise their cause claims that anything they’ve ever proposed, all of which is typically sold as salvation, would actually do anything about that in which name it is demanded.
These are Alinskyites, schooled that the issue isn’t the issue. When I pointed that out at a Heartland event, a leftist journalist in the audience dedicated many words of outrage in response. Outrage grounded in (faux) morality. Outrage not that I would say that — she also went on to say that of course the issue isn’t the issue. But that I would say that.
She had heard me recount the serial admissions of this by her ideological allies, but left that part out of her otherwise deathless essay which found room for anything and everything else. Not relevant.
As always with this crowd, it’s one’s cause, or motivations, that determine the rightness of their words or deeds. Greenpeace said the same thing about how our replicating their FOIA request to the University of Virginia was, well, different than their identical effort. Sorry, their multiple efforts. Our “objective” was different, you see. A hypocrisy shared by the Washington Post and the academic and scientific establishments.
This movement is quite plainly one infested with unethical actors. Climategates 1 and 2 exposed this. Fakegate affirmed it. The apologies for Fakegate cast it in stone. The political and policy dogmatists only adorn the stone with flowers. R.I.P. 2012.
This is not a communications problem any more than what we have seen from Fakegate’s fallout represents science.