Denying Denial: Backing Away from the Crazy

October 2, 2014


Meanwhile, in Crazytown, the rush for the doors continues.  Since last week’s mammoth climate rally in New York, a whole lot of re-calculating about climate denial, even among the true unbelievers.

Climate Progress:

The fourth-largest U.S. oil and gas company revealed Friday that it is leaving the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) amid widespread backlash over the free-market lobbying group’s efforts to undermine clean energy and promote climate change denial.

In a letter to its investment manager obtained by National Journal, Occidental Petroleum said it has “no plans” to continue supporting the group. The company said it determined that there are “other associations at the state-level that provide equal or greater value” than ALEC. It also cited concerns that it could be “presumed to share the positions” of other ALEC members, like the American Petroleum Institute and the Chamber of Commerce, on climate change and EPA regulations.

Occidental’s revelation comes just a few days after a number of tech companiesannounced they would abandon ALEC, an exodus spearheaded by Google chairman Eric Schmidt last week. Schmidt, in an appearance on NPR’s Diane Rehm show, said the company’s decision to fund ALEC was a “mistake,” because the group spreads lies about global warming and “mak[es] the world a much worse place.”

Climate Progress also noted that a leading far right wing Senatorial Candidate in Iowa has joined her science-denying colleagues now tiptoeing around the climate issue – no doubt being advised to soft pedal public statements so as not to play into the emerging media paradigm that climate denier = loon.

On Sunday, the Republicans’ Senate candidate from Iowa, Joni Ernst, joined the ranks of politicians who confess to not knowing the science of climate change, but remain happy declaring we need do nothing about it.

Ernst, a member of Iowa’s state senate, is going up against Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) for one of Iowa’s two seats in the national Senate. The two have been neck-and-neck in the polling, and last night they had their first debate at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. At about 41 minutes into the debate one of the moderators told Ernst they had received a number of emails concerning climate change, and asked her, “What do you believe about climate change, and what if anything will you do about it?”

Ernst began her response by praising Iowans and in particular Iowa’s farmers for their conservationist streak — a point on which Braley later agreed with her — and pointed out that her own family drives a hybrid car and devoutly recycles. But on the point of climate change specifically, Ernst dodged: “I don’t know the science behind climate change. I can’t say one way or another what is the direct impact, whether it’s man-made or not. I’ve heard arguments from both sides, but I do believe in protecting our environment, but without the job killing regulations that are coming out of the [Environmental Protection Agency] which is what Congressman Braley supports.”

“I do believe our climate is changing,” she continued, after being pressed. “But again, I’m not sure what the impact of man is upon that climate change.”

Now, even the parent company of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp, has realized it’s time to put on a shirt and wipe the vomit off their shoes.  No evidence that they are adjusting their medication, as yet, however.

PR Watch:

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., Occidental Petroleum, International Paper, and are the latest corporations to say they have left the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) after a wave of technology companies led by Google and Facebook announced their departures last week.

News Corp., the $8 billion-a-year global media company run by media mogul Rupert Murdoch that owns the Wall Street Journal, had been a member of ALEC’s Education Task Force and Communications and Technology Task Force. A spokesperson told Media Matters in response to an article published Friday that the company is no longer a member of ALEC. Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Ashley Huston told the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that News Corp. has not been a member of ALEC since its split from 21st Century Fox in July 2013.

International Paper, the $29 billion-a-year global paper and packaging company headquartered in Tennessee, had been a member of ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force and had sponsored ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting. Company spokesperson Tom Ryan told Common Cause on September 26 that “we no longer have a membership with ALEC” and confirmed that the company no longer funds ALEC., the $1.3 billion-a-year online retailer, had joined ALEC to push a state sales tax legislative issue. A company spokesperson told CMD on September 26 that the company had determined not to renew its membership after a year of funding the group.

Corporations that have publicly cut ties to ALEC since CMD launched in July 2011 include Fortune 500 firms such as General Motors, General Electric, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Kraft Foods, Coke, and Pepsi. ALEC spent years pushing controverisal Stand Your Ground gun laws and bills to make it harder for Americans to vote before trying to distance itself from that legacy.

More recently, ALEC has been criticized for its bills on energy. The group has worked to repeal renewable energy laws and is working to get state attorneys general to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.

PR Watch quoted Sierra Club President Michael Brune, who said, “Climate deniers are the new tobacco executives..”

Meanwhile, in Slate, Atmospheric Scientist Ray Pierrehumbert notes that even in their most recent high profile effort at climate obfuscation, Newscorp’s Wall Street Journal felt compelled to make a brief, spastic nod to reality.

Let’s first gratefully acknowledge that in some ways this piece represents a material step forward in the annals of the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of climate change: Koonin writes that the human influence on climate is “no hoax,” and that “continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate.” He affirms that “uncertainty need not be an excuse for inaction.” If all the economic heavy hitters who read the Journal subscribed to these views, that would represent progress of a sort.

“Progress of a sort”, bit by bit, over time, adds up to Progress. We’ll take it.
Look for Novembers’s election results to further underline the rapidly vanishing evolutionary value of climate denial in the public sphere.


National Journal:

The American Legislative Exchange Council was unaware of Google’s plans to leave the conservative organization prior to the tech giant’s announcement of its departure on a radio show last week.

In an interview with National Journal, ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson said Wednesday she was surprised by Google’s decision, and likened it to splitting with a high-school sweetheart.

“It’s like breaking up via text with your girlfriend when you’re 16,” Nelson said. “We were caught by surprise, but we’ve had several conversations with them [since].”

Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt, of course, publicly broke the connection and stated that ALEC was “…just lying” about climate change.
Brand new ALEC chair and lying liar Lisa Nelson reassures her posse that its all no problem, she has tons of new boyfriends all lined up.
Denial has its uses, I guess.

But Nelson, who was installed as ALEC’s chief executive just two weeks ago, said that Google’s departure, while disappointing, hasn’t hurt the group’s standing with other members, despite a wave of other companies announcing they, too, were leaving.

“Quite the contrary—I’ve had calls from companies that want to join,” Nelson said. “I am totally focused on growing the organization, and I am convinced we are poised for growth. We certainly are very optimistic about the future.”




12 Responses to “Denying Denial: Backing Away from the Crazy”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Turn on the lights in the kitchen and watch the Kochroaches run for cover.

  2. Remember Bush coming to California and claiming he was an environmentalist? In the Republican crowd, it’s a kindler, gentler form of liar.

  3. indy222 Says:

    I read from that even major pollsters are predicting a Republican takeover of the Senate. This could turn around badly, if so.

  4. You mean the tens of thousands of batshit crazy tweets and all my blog posts about government conspiracy theories aren’t winning sane people to our side? Nooooooooo!

    • andrewfez Says:

      It’s time to double down Goddard.

      Here, read this missive on the coastline paradox, ignore the part about the plank length, whilst conflating the length properties of coastlines and fractals in order to conclude that all coastlines are infinite so the crazy scientists that try to measure sea ice extent are wrong. They are just comparing infinity to infinity, therefore their error margin is infinity.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Hah! You’ve got Goddard there, Andrew! The coastline paradox is just “honest and simple math”, but it’s analogous to what Goddard does with numbers—–fudge them around to fit preconceived notions.

        You want a longer coastline? Use a smaller ruler! You want a different result regarding temperature changes in the atmosphere or oceans or a different sea ice extent? Yep, use a “different ruler” by cherry-picking certain time intervals and locations.

        One of the few honest things Anthony Watts has ever done is to ban the lying POS Tony/Steven Goddard from WUWT (not that it has improved the credibility of WUWT by much, but be thankful for little things).

        I do suggest that all go look at tonyhellerexposed. It IS heartwarming to see that Tony aka Steve Goddard is confessing his sins and appears to be seeking redemption and forgiveness. We should encourage him, at least until he turns on us as the scumbag deniers are so prone to do.

        • andrewfez Says:

          Yeah, I used to talk with the WUWT disciples on Youtube. Lot’s of ‘second law of thermodynamics disproves global warming’ folks out there, alongside the ‘reradiated IR can’t cause the ocean to reduce its heat loss because my IRR gun can’t warm my bowl of water’ crowd.

          Of course if they wanted to use the fractal idea, they would compare different lengths at different scales to create an error margin that looked good in a headline (not to big, not to small; a Goldilocks error margin).

      • Brilliant! I used to read Discover magazine as a kid. I kind of get this.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          My (spinster) Algebra I teacher used to tell us what fun it was to sit by the fire and do factoring problems on a Saturday night. We humored her.

          Looking at “F” words, Fractals are way more Freakin’ Fun than Factoring. I recommend reading CHAOS by Gleick to understand them better.

          Mandelbrot Sets, Koch Curves, and Lorenz Attractors are mind blowing and even psychedelic, and Chaos Theory has had major implications for science, and in the science of climate change in particular—-remember The Butterfly Effect?.

  5. […] Meanwhile, in Crazytown, the rush for the doors continues. Since last week's mammoth climate rally in New York, a whole lot of re-calculating about climate denial, even among the true unbelievers….  […]

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