Insights Into the Thinking of Trump Advisor Myron Ebell’s Competitive Enterprise Institute on Climate Change

Read time: 6 mins

The 20th Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights was held on October 22nd in Albany, NY. Although this was an association supposedly concerned about property rights, two speakers from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) spoke about climate change science. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is where Myron Ebell — the man Donald Trump has since appointed to oversee the dismantling of the EPA during the transition, has been employed for years as the Director of Energy and Environment. 

Between the content of the talks of the two Ivy League educated speakers, Sam Kazman and Marlo Lewis, Jr., it isn’t hard to figure out how Myron Ebell will approach the issue of climate science as part of the Trump administration. Here were some of the highlights. 

Efforts to Address Climate Change Are “Anti-human” 

Sam Kazman was up first with a talk titled “The Right to Dissent Global Warming Doctrine” (PDF) and covered a lot of ground, from defending ExxonMobil and attacking various Attorneys General to making the case that efforts to hold fossil fuel companies accountable were nothing more than a scheme to make lawyers rich — using Big Tobacco as his proof. 

However, it was Kazman’s concluding statements where he offered up some new ideas on what climate change is really about. We’ve been hearing for a while from the oil industry about how its members “have done more as an industry to advance the cause of raising living standards across the world than any other industry…” as the CEO of pipeline giant Kinder Morgan told an industry conference in 2015.

And of course coal is being sold as a way to lift the world out of poverty. Apparently the fossil fuel industry just really cares about poor people. 

And Sam Kazman echoed that repeatedly, including expressing his concern about the living conditions in Africa. 

If you get people buying into the mindset that energy, that affordable energy, is a sin product I think you’ve got civilization by the throat. In this country it’s going to cost us a hell of a lot. In less developed countries, in parts of Africa and Asia, it is a death sentence.”

Not satisfied with the idea that efforts to combat climate change were taking civilization “by the throat” Kazman then took the rhetoric to a whole new level when he gave his opinion on the motivation of  people working to stop climate change.

To many of these people we have global blight and it consists of the fact that people are alive and living their lives and having kids and flourishing. And so, frankly, I see this entire campaign as something that in a roundabout way is aimed at reducing the ability of people, reducing the number of people, the ability of people to live the lives they like, the number of people in terms of children on this planet. It’s an anti-human campaign at its worst. Thank you.”

Global Warming -  “there’s really nothing to it”

Marlo Lewis, Jr. followed Kazman with his talk “Standing for Accuracy About Global Warming” (PDF) and spoke at length using all the known tired “arguments” to debunk climate science. After talking about how Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the signing of the Paris Agreement was actually a “burning of the constitution” he launched into the body of his presentation and outlined his three main points as follows: 

I’m going to make three main points. One is that however strong the scientific case may have appeared at one time for alarm about global warming, there’s really nothing to it.”

Another key point that all of these folks forget about is that fossil fuels have actually done more to make our climate a livable system than any other force on this planet. If it weren’t for fossil fuels our lives would all be nasty, brutal, and short.” 

My final point is that all of these emission reduction policies, which they claim are necessary to save the world, are one of two things. They’re either all pain for no gain, in other words, they’re a highly costly exercise in symbolism, or they’re a cure that’s worse than the alleged disease. They are a humanitarian disaster in the making.”

Lewis then ran through a PowerPoint presentation “disproving” all climate science. And while Lewis is in no way a scientist, the man does have a Ph.D. in government from Harvard. And yet, even with that level of education, he made the following argument about how easily humans can adapt to large shifts in the temperature of the global climate.  

“The other thing is if this were really the terrible crisis that we can’t adapt to that they say, then the population shifts in the United States should have all been moving in the other direction, which is what my next slide shows. It shows that the states that are warmest are the states that have had the most rapid population growth over the last fifty years. People are voting with their feet by the millions to embrace and endure more climate warming in a short space of time than even these outlandish models predict will happen in a century. If you move from Albany to Florida or to Texas, the climate is really going to change for you.”

While he may have an advanced degree from Harvard, it was in government, not science. But then again, Donald Trump also has an advanced degree from an Ivy League institution — but that also was not in science. 

Oddly enough, neither CEI speaker ever mentioned the phrase “hottest year on record” although Lewis did mention that surface temperature data “often is of very questionable quality.” He provided no evidence to back up this statement. 

Like his two fellow CEI employees, Myron Ebell has no scientific background and holds degrees in philosophy and political science and yet now he has been chosen to shape the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency. 

As John Oliver highlighted recently, Myron Ebell said the following about global warming and climate change: 

The whole case for global warming I believe is silly. And I believe the vast majority of scientists think it’s silly. And therefore I’m a little bit embarrassed that I waste my time on a silly issue.” 

So these are the people who are going to be in charge of America’s climate policy for the next four years. And if you disagree with them — according to them — it is because you want to keep people in poverty and you are anti-human. 

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