The protocols of polite company would discourage labeling anyone a liar, but it is hard to come up with a more appropriate way to describe those who receive their paychecks from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. This conservative think tank has in the past proved themselves to be enemies of reason and democracy. To that list we will have to add the truth, what with the appearance of its latest television ad designed to undermine support for action on the climate crisis.
In fact, I would challenge anyone still working with the CEI, or anyone associated in any way with the institute to defend themselves, their personal ethics and integrity.
It was bad enough when the CEI produced a couple of ads touting the health and environmental benefit of carbon dioxide and arguing that ice sheets aren’t really melting. Technically, of course, CO2 is essential to life on earth, being the raw material of photosynthesis and all. But one of the ads went to on cite two peer-reviewed climate science papers as evidence that the Earth is not warming. Anyone who had actually read the papers would know that the authors, and their studies, support the anthropogenic global warming consensus. Given the complexity of the subject ó;;;;; one of the papers, for example, discussed increased snowmass in central Antarctica, and reading only the title would probably have left you confused ó;;;;; you could, in theory, ascribe the error to intellectual laziness, rather than mendacity.
If that is, you assume the CEI staff are not liars, but just plain stupid. The author of the Antarctica study, Curt Davis, wasn’t so generous, when he denounced the ad as “a deliberate effort to confuse and mislead the public about the global warming debate.”
Now we know beyond a shadow of doubt that Curt was right, and the CEI can no longer claim play the stupidity card. The new ad, instead of challenging the conventional understanding of the science of climate change, focuses the CEI’s wrath on one of the movement’s leading spokespeople, Al Gore. (I guess last summer disappearing north polar ice made that argument look silly even to those unfamiliar with the science.) The ad alleges that his house in Tennessee uses 20 times the average home’s energy. As the good folks at DeSmog Blog have already pointed out, that’s patently false, and a simple Google search would have put the lie to that allegation.
While it is true that Gore’s place of residence, which is also his own and his wife’s office, and as such hosts a large working staff, consumed an awful lot of electricity a few months ago, that was only while it was undergoing renovations. Since then, and since the installation of a geothermal pump (which I dearly wish we could have afforded when we had to replace our home’s heat source) the Gore’s natural gas use has fallen by 93 percent. In addition, their investments in solar and wind system more than compensate for his electricity usage.
It is simply not credible to argue that the CEI team did not know about the discrepancy between their ad’s claim and the truth. At best they didn’t care whether or not their ad was factual, which amounts to the same irresponsible attitude.
No, I’m afraid the CEI is full of liars and scoundrels, and any media outlet that turns to the CEI for analysis and any philanthropist or corporate executive who sends financial support its way is no better.
By the way, this has nothing to do with my tenuous association with Al Gore through The Climate Project, but at least he’s interested in representing the science fairly. The same cannot be said of his critics at the CEI.