31 July 2009

Please Read Climate Progress

It'd sure be nice if people who disagree could debate policy questions based on the merits of the issue. Of course, this is not reality. I have been amused to see Joe Romm, a blogger for the Center for American Progress, find himself unable to respond to the policy arguments that I make, and thus find himself having to instead engage in ever more shrill and personal attacks on me. Most recently he has falsely accused my university of violating my academic freedom by shutting down our blog, Prometheus. They of course did no such thing, and when a reader of both of our blogs called him on it he could not provide the goods (because there aren't any). Does anyone who even remotely knows me think that such a thing would occur and I'd be silent about it?;-) Now Joe says that my positions about climate change are not really my positions, that I am pretending to hold these positions. It is of course much easier to debate someone's views when you just make those views up for them.

To give Joe a bit of a break, he has a role to play for CAP as a bulldog cheerleader for the Waxman-Markey bill. His salary depends upon playing this role which of course explains his about-face on Waxman-Markey and its genesis in the USCAP proposal. The democratic process is full of people on all sides of the aisle who believe that the world is comprised only of us and them and gaining victory over "them" does not mean playing fair, or abiding by the norms of intellectual debate that we in academia find appropriate. It is of course one reason why many people find politics so distasteful. Others like to watch it for the same reason that cage-fights gain a large following -- for some, fights are fun to see, and the blogosphere is no different than anywhere else people interact. The bottom line is that if we academics want to swim in choppy political waters, we have to accept that we can't do so without getting wet.

Joe's increasingly desperate attacks are a good sign that he sees my views as being compelling (or else why attack?) and his inability to confront them head-on a sign that my views are pretty solid. But as with much in the climate debate, things don't work as people would like: Ever since Joe has gone on the rampage about my views, demanding that the media not talk to me and people ignore my views, it seems that my inbox is has been flooded with requests for interviews and to provide commentaries. (Apparently, some in the media don't like being ordered what to do and who to talk to, go figure!;-) Sales of The Honest Broker jump as well. So in the post-modern world of policy debates, you can make stuff up and try to shout people down, but all you really do is draw more attention to their views.

If Joe decides to engage in substantive debate, he is welcome to do so here. If he does not, and wants instead to issue demands to the media and offer what my "real" views are, rather than the ones I actually espouse, well, that is fine by me. I'm pleased for people to read what I write here and also to read Climate Progress (which I strongly encourage) and come to their own conclusions about the arguments that they encounter.