05 Nov 2009

Standing Up to the Bully, Joe Romm

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For those who read the “indispensable” (Tom Friedman’s word) Joe Romm’s climate blog, I believe you will find this analysis from the Breakthrough Institute spot-on:

Think about it: If you’re an ambitious young Democratic Hill staffer, a liberal policy analyst, or a struggling young reporter, why would you ever stand up to a guy who is famous for first trashing people to their editors, employers and funders in private emails, and then, if that doesn’t work, in public blogs? Why would you challenge someone who seems to have so much of the liberal establishment on his side?

Romm’s McCarthyism is apparently contagious, as Krugman now seems to see it as his role acts as an enforcer of the orthodoxy, issuing this chilling warning in the wake of the Superfreakonomics controversy:

[I]f you’re going to get into issues that are both important and the subject of serious study, like the fate of the planet, you’d better be very careful not to stray over the line between being counterintuitive and being just plain, unforgivably wrong.

Get that? Not just wrong — “unforgivably wrong.” That’s a pretty amazing judgment against a book suggesting an alternative strategy for dealing with global warming. When we think of unforgivably wrong, we tend to think of things like, say, getting thousands of people to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. But suggesting we should consider shooting sulfur dioxide particles into the sky to cool the earth? That’s unforgivable?

There will always be bullies like Joe Romm — they are not the problem. It is the the establishment figures who goad them on, and the bystanders who could speak up but do not, fearing the consequences of doing so. If we are to move to real solutions to global warming, and protect some level of basic human decency, Joe Romm and his enablers must be challenged. For Climate McCarthyism isn’t just bad for climate policy, it’s anathema to liberal and democratic values.

This is why I’ve been so upset over the Superfreakonomics spat. I can’t believe that none of the global warming standard bearers are even lightly saying, “Of course our good friend Romm, in his zealousness to save the planet, may have acted indecorously” or something like that.

Before I thought it was because they were so classless, but duh, in retrospect it’s because they don’t want to get on Romm’s bad side.

(BTW if anyone knows of a pro-cap-and-trader who chastised Romm for quite clearly lying to his readers about what the Freako authors had done, please let me know. I want to highlight heroes here.)

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