"Joe Romm is Climate McCarthyite-in-chief"


The headline comes from environmentalists Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus over at the Breakthrough Institute. The Breakthrough guys are calling out Center of American Progress climate bully, ah, blogger, Joe Romm. As background, Shellenberger and Nordhaus recite some of the details of Romm's inaccurate attack on the SuperFreakonomics proposal to research climate engineering as a back up plan to cool the planet. In particular, they report the fact that Romm tried to solicit a quote from a source in order to "trash" SuperFreakonomics. They also cite the super-strange incident in which Romm trashes Keith Kloor, former editor of Audubon Magazine, when Kloor objected that real journalists don't try to solicit specific quotes from sources. The call out is well worth reading, but to whet your appeitite I include some choice selections below:

The character assassination, the bullying, the psychological projection—it all adds up to Climate McCarthyism, and Joe Romm is Climate McCarthyite-in-chief. Joe Romm's "Global Warming Deniers and Delayers" play the same role as Joe McCarthy's "Communists and Communist sympathizers." While Romm built a loyal liberal and environmentalist following for attacking right-wing "global warming deniers"—a designation meant to invoke "Holocaust denier"—he spends much of his time attacking well-meaning journalists (e.g. here, here, and here), academics (here and here) and activists (here, here and here) who take the issue of global warming seriously, accept climate science, and support immediate action to address it. His aim is to intimidate and prevent increasing numbers of people from questioning climate policy orthodoxy, and especially Democratic efforts to pass cap and trade climate legislation.

And make no mistake, Joe Romm's political agenda is as mainstream among liberals today as Joe McCarthy's was among conservatives in 1953. Romm is held up by Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, UC Berkeley's Brad DeLong,The New Republic's Brad Plumer, Grist's Dave Roberts, and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman as an inspiration. He works for John Podesta, Obama's transition director and head of Center for American Progress. And he is the leading spokesperson for Waxman Markey climate legislation that passed the House, and Kerry-Boxer legislation in the Senate.

Think about it: If you're an ambitious young Democratic Hill staffer, a liberal policy analyst, or a struggling young reporter, why would you ever stand up to a guy who is famous for first trashing people to their editors, employers and funders in private emails, and then, if that doesn't work, in public blogs? Why would you challenge someone who seems to have so much of the liberal establishment on his side?….

In the end, the purpose of bullying is not simply to victimize individuals, it's to intimidate the bystanders. What most bystanders want is to not be attacked by the bully. It ruins your day and threatens your career. So if you are a reporter you hew to the climate orthodoxy because, well, after all, look at what Romm did to Keith Kloor.

This is the state of liberal debate about climate change. Those who question apocalyptic predictions are treated as global warming deniers or traitors or worse. Those who advocate solutions other than cap-and-trade have their characters assassinated. Those who stand up to Joe Romm find themselves turned into projection screens by an angry and vindictive bully….

There will always be bullies like Joe Romm—they are not the problem. It is the the establishment figures who goad them on, and the bystanders who could speak up but do not, fearing the consequences of doing so. If we are to move to real solutions to global warming, and protect some level of basic human decency, Joe Romm and his enablers must be challenged. For Climate McCarthyism isn't just bad for climate policy, it's anathema to liberal and democratic values.

For my take on Romm and the SuperFreakonomics climate engineering proposal go here. See also some of my views of the Breakthrough Institute's proposals here.