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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Joseph Romm: Newsbusters lie to themselves about scientific articles on global warming

Newbusters jumps the shark (if that’s possible) in its attack on my truthful statement “windpower now generates more jobs in this country than coal mining.”

by Joseph Romm, Climate Progress, Posted: 08 Apr 2009 09:26 AM PDT

So I had this debate with a former Swift Boat smearer you may have heard about (see here). And I uttered the truthful statement thatwindpower now generates more jobs in this country than coal mining.”

The popular right-wing disinformation website (yes, I know, that is redundant) Newsbusters, devoted a post to attacking me for making that statement. But the statement is true — indeed, the source that first publicized this was business-friendly Fortune magazine, “Wind jobs outstrip coal mining.”

Now conservatives don’t like this accurate talking point or any talk of green jobs at all (see “Mything in action: Why conservatives hate green jobs“), since every card-carrying conservative knows the only way to create jobs is to cut taxes for the wealthiest 1% of Americans. That’s why they are trying to shout it down, and that’s why I am writing this post.

Newbusters could not and did not dispute the truthful claim, but only assert that they don’t like the talking point:

Now, in fairness, Romm only mentioned coal “mining.” However, even this analogy is flawed:

Note to Newsbusters: I wasn’t making an “analogy.” I was making a simple statement of fact. I didn’t say the coal “industry,” as you note. But you then go on to quote the Christian Science Monitor blog that does not argue the statement I made was flawed. Did you even read the piece you cited? It was critical of Fortune for using “coal industry” rather than “coal mining.” When Fortune crossed out “industry” and wrote in “mining,” it reported that Fortune had “corrected its story.” In your effort to refute me, you actually quoted from a source that backs me up! Doh!

The statement is correct. Progressives should also know that the comparison is a fair one. Here’s why:

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.

Second, action on clean energy, which is what was being debated at that point, will dramatically boost jobs in windpower, but have far less of an impact on the jobs of “those who work in coal power plants.”

Why? Because the lowest-cost strategy in the near-term and mid-term for any coal power plant faced with a requirement to reduce emissions is simply to start burning biomass — partly (i.e. cofiring) or entirely. That’s why many major coal utilities are already doing this (see “If Obama stops dirty coal, as he must, what will replace it? Part 2: An intro to biomass cofiring“ and “Southern Company embraces the only practical and affordable way to ‘capture’ emissions at a coal plant today — run it on biomass” and the recent news story “FirstEnergy planning switch to biomass fuel at plant“). Another key job-preserving strategy in the near- and mid-term is converting the coal plant to run on natural gas. In the longer term, if coal with carbon capture and storage proves practical and affordable, then coal plants can keep burning coal — ideally with biomass.

So yes “windpower now generates more jobs in this country than coal mining” is a perfectly reasonable point to make and progressives should say so as long as it remains true. Be sure not to say coal “industry.”

Now since Newbusters did not disprove my factual statement, seemed to concede I had spoken accurately, but then bizarrely and irrelevantly claimed it was a flawed analogy while citing a source that said the statement was correct, I had the following exchange with one commenter on CP (reprinted from Newsbusters with their odd commentary):

*****Update: Want to see the level of Romm’s delusion and how separated from reality he is? This was posted at Climate Progress Friday:

JohninOregon Says:
April 3rd, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Hey, Joe, you’re being dissed over at NewsBusters by Noel Sheppard, one of the most disgusting members of the denier pack: blogs/ noel-sheppard/ 2009/ 04/ 03/ global-warming-debate-morano-vs-climateprogresss-romm

Go get ‘em.

[JR: I'm not sure it is worth the effort. Note that Newsbusters pretty much admits that what I was said was true -- since, of course it was.]

Hey Joe: Why don’t you identify exactly WHERE I said anything you uttered on Wednesday was true?

Astounding. Absolutely astounding.

Even odder, at the top of the Newsbusters post, the author writes “Romm hysterically responds to NewsBusters.

How could anyone possibly describe these words of mine — “I’m not sure it is worth the effort. Note that Newsbusters pretty much admits that what I was said was true — since, of course it was.” — as hysterical?

Newsbusters does not even appear to have a basic grasp of the meaning of relatively common words. They clearly don’t know what an “analogy” is. And they clearly don’t know what “hysterically” means.

Just to spell this out for Newsbusters once again, they wrote:

Now, in fairness, Romm only mentioned coal “mining.” However, even this analogy is flawed.

I say that “pretty much admits that what I said was true” but tries in a verbally mangled way to suggest the truthful statement is somehow inappropriate by citing a source that doesn’t agree with them but does agree with me.

Finally, just for the record, in a second post on me — I’m starting to get to them — they oddly assert:

Romm continually stated that Morano was making stuff up, but didn’t explain to the audience what, and didn’t back up his assertions with demonstrable facts.

Instead, Romm continued to repeat the same non sequitur, and never once explained why Morano was wrong.

Fortunately, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, you can waste your time watching the debate and see how erroneous that claim was. In the first half, I quoted from a scientist who emailed me that the Swift Boat smearer had misstated the conclusions of her study — i.e. made up stuff, in this case that the study showed the sun was the big contributor to recent warming when the study showed the exact reverse (see Scientist: “Our conclusions were misinterpreted” by Morano, CO2 — but not the sun — “is significantly correlated” with temperature since 1850). Early in the second half (here), which I know Newbusters watched since it is where the wind jobs quotes comes from, I explain that the Swift Boat smearer’s claim that Inhofe supports clean technology is made up (for the underlying facts behind my assertion, see “The greenwasher from Arizona has a record as dirty as the denier from Oklahoma“).

So yes, both the Swift Boat smearer and Newbusters make stuff up. I know you’re shocked.

And how sweet is it that Newbusters quoted my line “Swift boat smearer Marc Morano, former denier-in-chief (DIC) for Sen. James Inhofe (R-OIL)”?

If I were Newsbusters, I suppose I could now assert:

Leading conservative website labels Marc Morano a “Swift boat smearer” and a DIC!

That’s accurate by Newbuster standards, no?

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