Below my long preamble is a copy of a blog post by Brad Johnson, a climate and political activist based out of DC. A few important disclaimers. First, I know Brad. He’s a solid writer and excellent researcher of political issues related to climate change. I don’t (surprise!) always agree with him. Today, he wrote about Paul Ryan’s climate politics and published it at Think Progress, which is run by some fine liberal folks.
So, to be very, very clear: I do not support Paul Ryan’s platform. Nor do I share most of Brad’s anti-Paul Ryan rhetoric. I explain why, below. I thought my readers would find his post topical and might be interested in how I view climate and politics.
In the first bullet below, Brad accuses Ryan of believing that there is a climate-science conspiracy. He’s wrong. Brad’s point is that the reader should conclude that Ryan is a fool. As support, Brad points to an op-ed that Ryan wrote about government regulating carbon in 2009. In my opinion, it’s a rather well written op-ed, and you should read it, here.
Of course I disagree with Ryan’s conclusions, but as an observer of rhetoric I find the contours of Ryan’s argument to be impeccable. Ryan argues that 1) government should not regulate carbon because 2) it would hurt the economy during a recession and that 3) raising the price of gas, oil, and coal would deepen the recession and cost jobs. Indeed, Obama has essentially taken the same position, placing carbon regulation on the back burner.
Ryan supports his 3-point argument by showing that momentum for cap-and-trade has waned and that the EPA has taken an unprecedented and over-reaching action when it determined that carbon is a pollutant. Both of these points are true. Ryan also points out that India and China are rapidly developing, and there is nothing to stop them from economic growth, especially not untested, speculative, and risky carbon regulation. Also true. So, again from a neutral observer’s perspective, Paul Ryan made a solid argument in his op-ed.
So why does Brad accuse Ryan of believing in a conspiracy? Brad made this accusation based on only one source - the last paragraphs of Ryan’s op-ed. In these paragraphs, Ryan mentions something called “climategate.” And from Brad’s perspective, anyone who believed in climategate is a conspiracy theorist. This is sloppy non-sense and it’s simply not true with respect to Paul Ryan.
Climategate really happened in 2009. And it was a really dangerous situation, where several renowned climate scientist’s emails were stolen from a university in the UK. The FBI was called in to investigate death threats against climate scientists.
So serious was the climategate hack, that several climate and earth scientists resigned their posts (including the editor of Nature from a review panel).
At least seven independent inquiries were launched, including lawsuits, some of which are still pending. And, politicians and commentators - both left and right - around the world (not just Paul Ryan!) pointed to some of those emails as proof that scientists were potentially lying about the dangers of climate change.
The emails were stolen in late 2009, and Paul Ryan wrote his op-ed just one month after this issue surfaced. Now, to be clear, years later the accusers - including Ryan - were all wrong. Every one of those seven inquiries showed there were no lies, no deceptions. They also found that the climate science subject of the emails was impenetrably solid.
What did Paul Ryan do in response? Nothing. He never brought climategate emails again. Something Brad nor my lovely friend’s at Think Progress would tell you.
So there you have it. The emails were stolen in late 2009, and one month later Ryan used those stolen emails to create doubt about regulating carbon. There’s no way to conclude, as Brad does, that Paul Ryan believes in climate conspiracy theories. Ryan wrote an op-ed against government regulation and supported it with some very sharp political rhetoric. One part of that rhetoric included the then unknowable supposition that stolen emails discredited climate science. No one was really sure what the emails meant at the time (it took months before environmentalists could safely write about the “hide the decline” email at the center of climategate).
Nothing was found in the emails, and Ryan never brought it up again.
With that preemptive grain of salt, here’s Brad’s piece:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick, is a virulent denier of climate science, with a voting record to match.
A favorite of the Koch brothers, Ryan has accused scientists of engaging in conspiracy to “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.” He has implied that snow invalidates global warming.
Ryan has voted to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting greenhouse pollution, to eliminate White House climate advisers, to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture from preparing for climate disasters like the drought devastating his home state, and to eliminate the Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E):
Paul Ryan Promoted Unfounded Conspiracy Theories About Climate Scientists. In a December 2009 op-ed during international climate talks, Ryan made reference to the hacked University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit emails. He accused climatologists of a “perversion of the scientific method, where data were manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion,” in order to “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.” Because of spurious claims of conspiracy like these, several governmental and academic inquiries were launched, all of which found the accusations to be without merit. [Paul Ryan, 2/11/09]
Paul Ryan Argued Snow Invalidates Global Warming Policy. In the same December 2009 op-ed, Ryan argued, “Unilateral economic restraint in the name of fighting global warming has been a tough sell in our communities, where much of the state is buried under snow.” [Paul Ryan, 2/11/09]
Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate EPA Limits On Greenhouse Pollution. Ryan voted in favor of H.R. 910, introduced in 2011 by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas pollution. [Roll Call 249, 4/7/11]
Paul Ryan Voted To Block The USDA From Preparing For Climate Change. In 2011, Ryan voted in favor of the Scalise (R-LA) Amendment to the FY12 Agriculture Appropriations bill, to bar the U.S. Department of Agriculture from implementing its Climate Protection Plan. [Roll Call 448, 6/16/11]
Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate White House Climate Advisers. Ryan voted in favor of Scalise (R-LA) Amendment 204 to the 2011 Continuing Resolution, to eliminate the assistant to the president for energy and climate change, the special envoy for climate change (Todd Stern), and the special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation. [Roll Call 87, 2/17/11]
Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate ARPA-E. Ryan voted in favor of Biggert (R-IL) Amendment 192 to the 2011 Continuing Resolution, to eliminate the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E). [Roll Call 55, 2/17/11]
Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate Light Bulb Efficiency Standards. In 2011, Ryan voted to roll back light-bulb efficiency standards that had reinvigorated the domestic lighting industry and that significantly reduce energy waste and carbon pollution. [Roll Call 563, 7/12/11]
Paul Ryan Voted For Keystone XL. In 2011, Ryan voted to expedite the consideration and approval of the construction and operation of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. [Roll Call 650, 7/26/11]
Paul Ryan Budget Kept Big Oil Subsidies And Slashed Clean Energy Investment. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed FY 2013 budget resolution retained a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion, while slashing funding for investments in clean energy research, development, deployment, and commercialization, along with other energy programs. The plan called for a $3 billion cut in energy programs in FY 2013 alone. [CAP, 3/20/12]
In short, Paul Ryan stands with Big Oil against scientific fact and the future of human civilization. Brad Johnson.
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