November 22, 2016

Vilify critics now, send money

By James S. Burling Vice President for Litigation

My friend, Myron Ebell, at the conservative / libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute has become a chief fund raiser for all sorts of liberal green groups in this post-election season of hand-wringing. How did this happen?burling

At the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Myron has long been skeptical of many of the claims made by the global warming community. And climate change professionals are, if nothing else, hostile to those who disagree with the orthodoxy.

But up until now, about the best they could do to silence Myron was for the Attorney General of the Virgin Islands to issue a stupendously broad subpoena, demanding the complete repository of CEI’s work for the last three decades or so on climate change and every scrap of data relating to its fund-raising. Those forays into legal intimidation were easily brushed back by CEI. About all those efforts accomplished was to raise the profile of CEI.

But now that President-Elect Trump has made Myron the head of his transition team dealing with the Environmental Protection Agency, the skeptics have finally learned that they can both abuse Myron and make lots of money off of him.

So in the last week, we’ve several groups use high-powered projectors (presumably carbon-neutral) to beam “anti-Ebell” messages on the EPA headquarters palace. These were almost as sophisticated as the “Trump is a Pig” message beamed onto the entrance of Trump Tower. And of course, there was the petition on the White House’s website to get Ebell removed. Except its backers apparently forgot that the present occupant of the White House has no say in what the next President does.  Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records and world-renowned climate scientist, writes in the Huffington Post that Ebell is like a surgeon general who doesn’t believe in germs. Seriously?

We’ve watched the Center for Biological Diversity make a hysterical fund-raising pitch, professing “shock” that Trump would put a climate skeptic like Myron onto his transition team, and concluding that “fighting the Trump administration on all these different fronts at once won’t be cheap, which is why we need you to step up today with a contribution.” Uh-huh, give now before the planet blows up. (Were they simply shocked, shocked, that Trump didn’t pick a CBD staffer for that same job?) The Sierra Club calls Ebell a “professional merchant of doubt.” Send money. 350.org claims they are “appalled.” More money please. After all, those high-powered projectors aren’t cheap. And so it goes. There’s no better medicine for an election result that you don’t like than creating a bogeyman to generate contributions.

Now, Myron is actually a mild-mannered guy with a sense of humor. He ends his emails with a tongue-in-cheek message to “Stop Continental Drift!” Vanity Fair once called him “an elegant nerd,” whatever that means. He has helped PLF in developing strategy to reform the Endangered Species Act, as you can see in this forum here. But he has aroused the ire of the left because he has the courage to express doubt about some of the more melodramatic alarmism from the left. As Ebell stated earlier today in a short essay, it’s not that he doesn’t believe that man is increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and this may cause the planet to warm, but it’s that the drastic solutions being proposed by the left may do far more harm than good. That’s not much different from Bjorn Lomborg’s essay in today’s Washington Post, where Lomborg argues that even if every nation makes every carbon cut promised in Paris, that will do very little to stop climate change, but will sentence billions to more malnutrition and poverty. This seems like a debate worth having, not drowning in a deluge of end-of-the-world fund-raising pitches.

Now I’m not an expert on climate change, or the lack thereof. But demonizing someone because he doesn’t buy the orthodoxy while making money off of him at the same time is perhaps the best proof out there that the swamp needs to be drained.

What to read next