The Breakthrough Institute (TBI) has dedicated the resources of their organization to trying to kill prospects for climate and clean energy action in this Congress and to spreading disinformation about Obama, Gore, Congressional leaders, Waxman and Markey, leading climate scientists, Al Gore again, the entire environmental community and anyone else trying to end our status quo energy policies, including me (see “Memo to media: Don’t be suckered by bad analyses from the Breakthrough Institute” and “Will America lose the clean-energy race? Only if we listen to the disinformers of The Breakthrough Institute“). Now they are embracing and defended those who deny the reality of climate science.
This year TBI founders Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger published a string of factually untrue, egregious statements in an essay titled: “The Green Bubble: Why environmentalism keeps imploding.” The biggest whopper: “It has become an article of faith among many greens that the global poor are happier with less and must be shielded from the horrors of overconsumption and economic development-never mind the realities of infant mortality, treatable disease, short life expectancies, and grinding agrarian poverty.” No one in the environmental movement believes that, but it is a right-wing fantasy of the “greens.” Robert J. Brulle, Professor of Sociology and Environmental Science, Drexel University utterly debunks this essay (see below) and writes of this quote, “Who or what environmental group has ever said anything of this nature? This statement is an out-and-out fabrication. One wonders if there are any fact-checkers at The New Republic.”
Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, like Silent Spring, was considered powerful because it marshaled the facts into an effective (read: apocalyptic) story”¦..
In promoting the inconvenient truth that humans must limit their consumption and sacrifice their way of life to prevent the world from ending, environmentalists are not only promoting a solution that won’t work, they’ve discouraged Americans from seeing the big solutions at all.
Yes, that’s right, they are even attacking the Rachel Carson who died decades ago after helping launch the modern environmental movement!
And no, Gore doesn’t believe nor has he written anything like that as I explain here.
So I just wanted to collect in one place some responses to set the record straight and to defend the reputation of the many, many scientists and environmentalists and leading political figures that they routinely attack:
- For an excellent debunking by the media of a typically flawed TBI analysis attacking the clean energy bill, see Markey spokesman: “The Breakthrough Institute seems to believe, much as the Bush administration did, that technology will solve all, even without a market.”
- For TBI’s standard tactics, see “Shellenberger and Nordhaus smear Gore by making stuff up” and “S&N go after Obama by recycling GOP talking points.”
- For their falsehoods about Waxman and Tom Friedman, which was praised by the uber-conservative deniers at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (see here).
- For a good example of where in the political spectrum their assaults on environmentalists and climate scientists fit, see “George Will embraces the anti-environmentalism “” and anti-environment “” message of The Breakthrough Institute.”
- For a good example of how TBI senior fellow Roger Pielke, Jr. directly attacks the reputation of countless serious scientists (see “false charge by Pielke”). Computer scientist Tim Lambert (aka Deltoid) has a whole category just for debunking Pielke. For a debunking of his smear on the reputation Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Evan Mills and his coauthers — all leading scientists — in the 13-agency NOAA-led report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States (see here).
- For TBI close association with the blogger Keith Kloor, see here.
- Bizarrely, TBI now defends the error-riddled screed Superfreakonomics, even though the authors trash every clean energy technology that TBI claims to endorse.
- For a rebuttal of the false claim that I smeared the Superfreaks, see “Bloomberg interview of Dubner and Caldeira backs up my reporting on error-riddled Superfreakonomics” and “One error retracted, 99 to go. Superfreaknomics authors will, in future editions, correct their claim that Caldeira believes “carbon dioxide is not the right villain”.”
- Finally and most revealing, TBI is now defending global warming deniers, which may not be a total surprise since Nordhaus even admitted on CP, “We have argued for five years now that efforts to build the clean energy economy needed to be centrally defined around energy independence not global warming” and “Pielke has admitted he supports policies that will take us to 5-7°C warming or more.“
The rest of this post focuses on how TBI and its founders Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus are spreading falsehoods about President Obama and publishing very bad analyses designed to push their anti-climate-action, anti-environmental agenda. In particular, we’ll see how just how hypocritical TBI is — how desperate are they to sell out their principles in order to attack President Obama. I’ll end with Brulle’s debunking of the TNR essay that George Will so loved.