Breakthrough Institute decides to go back to being VERY uncivil …

… though, in retrospect, it’s now clear that they never really stopped being uncivil.

I honestly don’t get the Breakthrough Institute and Shellenberger and Nordhaus. As discussed in my post from early morning on Thursday, “Civility breaks through the blogosphere,” I thought Ted Nordhaus and I had come to an understanding on Wednesday in the back-and-forth comments (here) on an earlier post. Indeed, I had already said as much at the end of this post on Pielke from Tuesday (see here).

But I now realize that B.I. never apologized for all the things they wrote about me — and apparently rather than simply calling this a “no fault” decision to be civil, they have decided to try to portray this as if they are they completely innocent victims of “unfair attacks” and that somehow that means they can just go on attacking me uncivilly over and over and over again, which it would seem to me proves that they aren’t so innocent.

[I could list endless instances of their incivility, but let’s just try three, Pielke writing that the “bloggers at Grist … make up ‘facts’ to support their critiques of him,” and B.I. attacking me in headlines for the “Politics of Personal Destruction” and “Joe Romm’s Dissembling.”]

And so all this leads up to this post from B.I. Thursday night:

The Debate Gets Civil: Romm Apologizes For Unfair Attacks.”

A controversial commentary in last week’s Nature — arguing that the IPCC greatly underestimated the emissions reductions challenge — immediately launched a heated debate among environmentalists. We had hoped for an open and productive exchange of ideas, but after the rude welcome the Nature piece got from Joe Romm, we braced ourselves for another round of low blow mud-slinging and ad hominem attack. The ugly battle wore on for a week before things took a turn for the better.

In the comments section of one of Romm’s posts yesterday, Ted pleaded to elevate the level dialogue:

If you would stop with the hysterical character assassination and slander, we might actually be able to have a serious debate about the proper mix of pricing, regulation, and public investment in U.S. climate policy — one that might actually contribute to the policies that the next president and the next congress might actually enact.

What ensued was the beginning of the level-headed, honest critique of each other’s ideas — what we had wanted to begin with. Romm responded,

I think I have stopped calling you two “delayers” a while back. If not, I’m sorry. Anybody who supports Obama’s plan is not a delayer. I disagree with some of the things you are doing — and plan to point that out.

… Here’s hoping that we can put behind us the destructive attacks on the credibility and character of those who, in good faith and with the goal of protecting humanity and the planet, ask hard questions about how we are attempting to address the problem. We commend Romm’s shift in tone and appreciate his apology and look forward to an open debate that focuses on these challenges.

So, it’s all me. They are innocent victims AND at the same time, they can just say anything they want about me. In their view, it’s only because Ted pleaded with me to “stop with the hysterical character assassination and slander” that I apologized. Honestly, B.I. folks, if you actually read what I wrote, I said I had already stopped calling you “delayers” (which, frankly, ain’t much in the way of a character attack on the blogosphere), and I was apologizing if I had slipped up and accidentally used the term more recently.

Anyway, I have decided I am going to continue focusing on just the facts about how they are wrong on so many things. The facts are, it is hard to know exactly what the Breakthrough Institute is up to, but civility is pretty clearly not on their agenda.