Newsbusters, unable to read, continues to quote an article that backs me up, not them

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"Newsbusters, unable to read, continues to quote an article that backs me up, not them"

[My apologies to readers about the heavy denier traffic, but one of the most popular right-wing disinformation sites has trained its slime on me.  The main reason I am responding is that this involves an important progressive talking point that conservatives are trying to shout down.  I have been traveling this week, which hindered my response to the comments, but I will be more vigilant.]

I’m not certain it’s worth a lot more time debating people who can’t or won’t read, like those at Newsbusters.

But let’s do this one last time, since it involves an important talking point progressives should use comparing jobs in the wind industry with coal mining jobs, which is probably best stated:

Last year, windpower generated as many jobs in this country as coal mining.

A version of this was first popularized by business-friendly Fortune magazine in a post mistitledWind jobs outstrip coal industry,” which called this “a talking point in the green jobs debate.”

The Christian Science Monitor wrote a post (here) critical of Fortune.  Since Newsbusters has written yet another post attacking me and the talking point (here) — and since they bizarrely insist that the CSM post supports their attack, when in fact the reverse is true — let’s briefly look at what CSM actually wrote.  CSM criticized Fortune for using the word “industry” in the headline and [once] in the story:

But it’s a bogus comparison. According to the wind energy report, those 85,000 jobs in wind power are as “varied as turbine component manufacturing, construction and installation of wind turbines, wind turbine operations and maintenance, legal and marketing services, and more.”  The 81,000 coal jobs counted by the Department of Energy are only miners. Their figure excludes those who haul the coal around the country, as well as those who work in coal power plants.

To be fair, Woody’s lede does say that “[t]he wind industry now employs more people than coal mining in the United States.” But his story then immediately abandons this distinction, and then goes on to characterize those 81,000 jobs as comprising the total employment of the coal industry….

Update: It appears that the Green Wombat has corrected its story….

Now click on the Green Wombat (i.e. Fortune‘s blog) post to see what CSM considers a correction to the story [crossouts in original]:

Wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, a 70% increase from the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday from the American Wind Energy Association. In contrast, the coal industry mining employs about 81,000 workers.

As anyone who can read can plainly see, Fortune changed “coal industry” to “coal mining” and that was what CSM considered correcting the story.

So, the talking point is, as I’ve said, both accurate and fair as long as you use “coal mining,” which, of course, I did.

So I repeat to Newsbusters, “In your effort to refute me, you actually quoted from a source that backs me up!  Doh!

In fact, what is so hysterical laughable about Newsbusters is that after I explained this to Newsbusters in my last post, you would think they would at least read the CSM post and stop quoting it to defend their position.

One final point for progressives.  The jobs figures for both coal mining and the wind are in flux, in part because of the severe economic downturn.  For wind in particular, the sharp upward growth in wind, which provided “42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally last year,” temporarily slowed at the end of last year and first quarter of this year.  So I think the best way to phrase the talking point is

Last year, windpower generated as many jobs in this country as coal mining.

or

Windpower generates as many jobs in this country as coal mining.

The main point of the talking point is that the two numbers are now roughly the same.  Why is it a powerful talking point, one that the right wing hates?  Coal mining is the iconic fossil fuel industry job.  Many people have a mistaken notion that there are an enormous number of coal mining jobs that might be lost because of action on clean energy and climate.  Many people also have a mistaken notion that renewables have too little market penetration to generate many jobs.  The statement corrects both of those misimpressions in one fell swoop.  Other reasons why the comparison are fair can be found here.

The above talking point should be good for this year, at least until new figures for wind come out.  The severe downturn and credit crunch hit all capital-intensive energy investments hard, but the stimulus package has started to turn things around — see Stimulus and venture capital sow seeds for cleantech industry’s “revival.”

In fact, as E&E News PM (subs. req’d) put it Monday:

In a sign the federal stimulus might be reawakening the clean energy industry, General Electric’s energy investment division announced two big capital injections today into wind project developers and manufacturers.

GE Energy Financial Services said it would pump $200 million into three wind farms being built by Noble Environmental Power in Clinton, Franklin and Wyoming counties. The project, backed by a consortium of 10 foreign and domestic financial firms, is expected to generate 330 megawatts — enough electricity to power 110,000 households….

Today’s news comes after GE’s announcement last week of expanded wind activity.

Last Thursday, project developer Invenergy Wind announced a deal in which GE Energy will supply 74 1.5-megawatt wind turbines to expand the Grand Ridge wind farm in LaSalle County, Ill. That development should generate 110 megawatts.

So we’ll have to wait until next January or so to know if the talking point needs to be changed again.  Within a year or two, wind industry jobs will again exceed coal mining jobs — eventually by a great deal — and likely stay that way for a long time.

One final small point — and I do hope it is a final point — about the Newsbusters smear-fest.  In a post filled with misstatements and lies, Newsbusters’ biggest and most telling whopper is in the first paragraph:

Joe Romm has set his sights on NewsBusters.

[Wait for laughter to die down.]

In yet another amazing demonstration of Newsbusters inability to read even its own posts, that same paragraph has two links.  The first goes to an April 3 (!) disinformation-laden post smearing me.  The second goes to an April 7 disinformation-laden post smearing me.  As anyone who can read can plainly see, I didn’t respond to these attacks until yesterday, April 8 — see Newbusters jumps the shark (if that’s possible).

Newbusters hysterical attempt to play the victim here is, well, hysterical.

To end where I began, I don’t think it’s worth spending a lot more time debating people who can’t or won’t read, like those at Newsbusters.  So I hope to ignore them as much as possible in the future.

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8 Responses to Newsbusters, unable to read, continues to quote an article that backs me up, not them

  1. Bob Wallace says:

    It’s time to start considering site moderators.

    There comes a point at which the ‘main guy’ is forced to spend too much time taking out the trash. Why not identify a few “trusted users” and let them whack the moles?

    And, as to content, I’d like to see more on solutions and progress being made and a bit less on “spats”.

    [JR: And what percentage of posts are solutions and progress vs. “spats”? 20-to-1, maybe?]

    Getting into fights with deniers usually turns out to be a waste of time. They don’t play by the rules that govern scientific/logical behavior. They make up their rules as they go. Debating them only gives them more public exposure.

    Perhaps you should have “notes” which are very short statements of facts and not allow comments/discussion following those notes.

    All this Newsbuster crap could be rebutted in a couple of sentences. State the facts and let people make their own judgments as to who is credible.

  2. David says:

    Your still using misleading information. Kinda like saying that the orange Juice Industry outnumbers Apple Growers.

  3. Gail says:

    On the other hand Bob Wallace, I have found quite a few absolutely fantastic links posted here by commenters as rebuttals to the deniers. Just in the last few days, I got links about global dimming masking even worse warming, which I had never heard of before, and videos of the ice sheets disintegrating, which were breathtaking.

  4. Bob Wallace says:

    [JR: And what percentage of posts are solutions and progress vs. “spats”? 20-to-1, maybe?]

    Using rough definitions of solutions/spats I took a look at the most recent two pages. I found 8 entries involving Newsbusters, George Will, Mike M. type stuff, 9 entries about the extent of the climate problem and solutions, and a couple of “none of the above”s.

    Your definitions may vary….

    [JR: Your comment really, really annoys me. First, the Newsbusters stuff ain’t anything like the George Will post. If you don’t get that, then this is not the blog for you. Second, “the most recent two pages.” Yeah. Then I’ll judge you by your recent comments. Hmm. You never seem to post on the climate problem or solutions anymore. Seriously, dude!]

    Gail – agree. But do we want these links at the potential cost of turning the site into a cesspool?

    As it is I don’t visit the comment sections of some very valuable science sites because they allow absolute crap to linger. I’ve seen some very good sites such as The Energy Blog go from a place where knowledgeable people posted to a worthless troll haven.

    This is about the only site that I’ve found where one can engage in civil, fact-based give and take. I’d hate to lose this one as well.

    Perhaps a moderation approach that struck down the really ridiculous and rephrased the denier points into legitimate questions that people could then answer with valuable information?

    Really frustrate trolls. Turn their sow’s ears into silk purses….

    [JR: I was traveling this week. That is about 90% of the reason I couldn’t moderate more. ’nuff said.]

  5. Joe, shouldn’t the proper comparison be jobs per megawatt anyway? This seems a silly comparison when you factor the relative size of the two industries.

    [JR: I think the only interesting comparison, if it could be done, is jobs that might be lost by climate action vs. those that would certainly be gained. That’s why I think the coal miners numbers is interesting. Many of the other jobs related to the coal industry are not nearly as greatly threatened.]

  6. Bob Wallace says:

    [JR: Your comment really, really annoys me. First, the Newsbusters stuff ain’t anything like the George Will post. If you don’t get that, then this is not the blog for you. Second, “the most recent two pages.” Yeah. Then I’ll judge you by your recent comments. Hmm. You never seem to post on the climate problem or solutions anymore. Seriously, dude!]

    Joe – please don’t let your anger over the people attacking you spread over to the people who are on your side.

    You might want to seriously consider taking on some moderation help so that you don’t have to deal with all the crazies single-handed.

  7. Chad says:

    A 1 GW coal plant employs about 1500 people for five years in order to build, and about 100 people permanantly to run it. The same amount of wind is estimated to provide the same amount of construction jobs, but about 400 permanant jobs. Similar numbers are quoted for solar as well. Nuclear provides even more construction jobs (over 2000) and around 400 permanent jobs as well.

    When it comes to jobs, coal is dead last by a wide margin.

  8. Pete says:

    Chad – are you saying the payroll to produce 1GW of wind is 4 times more expensive than coal?