All the CEI has now is a nasty letter

So this is what the climate change “debate” has come to.

Forget debating the economic underpinnings of cap and trade or the best way to implement new vehicle emissions standards. Instead the fine folks at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) are spending their days playing the public victim over an infammatory email they received and subsequently posted on their site.

Michael Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), sent and email to Competitive Enterprise Institute “Senior Fellow” Marlo Lewis saying that he would “destroy” Lewis's “career” as a “liar” if he “produce[d] one more editorial against climate change.”

Eckhart promptly apologizes here.

Most likely it is such petty shenanigans that are one of the reasons behind ExxonMobil ending their longtime funding arrangement with the CEI for their climate change misinformation campaign.

It almost goes without saying that Eckhart has learned a valuable lesson about sending inflammatory emails to an organization bent on (and paid handsomely for) discrediting anyone pushing to address the threat of climate change. What it has done is create yet another strawman for the likes of the CEI and right-wing pundits like NewsBusters to beat the living daylights out of.

Of course, you didn't see NewsBusters exactly jumping off their seat to report a leaked email exchange between “Great Global Warming Swindle” director Martin Durkin and two eminent climate scientists in which Durkin called them “daft cocks” and recommended one of them go “f**k himself.”

Nope, instead you only saw glory and praise for the film.

No doubt, Mr. Eckhart is frustrated by the endless amount of misinformation being put out by the CEI. I myself have used much worse words when it comes to the likes of Lewis and the CEI cadre - just haven't sent an email.

In fact a letter sent in the Fall of last year to ExxonMobil by the very conservative and usually soft-spoken Royal Society regarding the CEI's misinformation campaign was another expression of the frustration harbored by many in the scientific and environmental communities. As the scientific evidence continues to mount about the realities and seriousness of human-caused global warming, the CEI and the rest of the global warming denial industry continue to pump out misleading information about that reality.

It's frustrating.

The best thing we can all do is: a) ignore the CEI, or (b) my favored option, continue to point out that the CEI receives large amounts of money from the very industries whose bottom lines are most threatened if we move to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

And leave the rest unspoken… at least in an email. 


Dear Mike,

I would be happy to accept a complete and genuine apology. However, I do not think yours measures up.

Your apology continues to cast aspersions on my character, although not blatantly as in your Eckhart Response to CEI. You say you now realize you flouted constitutional norms. However, as background, you say you thought you were defending Free Speech against Paid Speech. This distinction implies that I am a mere mouthpiece of paying clients—an allegation made more directly in your email of Sep. 06 (about which your apology is silent), in which you threatened to shut CEI down unless we recant our views on global warming. By repeating that allegation without retracting it, you put it back in play.

Similarly, your apology does not retract the accusation—also made in Eckhart Response to CEI—that I am a liar and you can prove it because I told you so. Nor does it retract the claim that I am out to destroy environmentalists’ careers and, hence, that you were just responding in kind when you threatened to destroy my career.

That is the naughty schoolboy defense: “You started!” Well, no, I didn’t. I would no more tell you that I seek to destroy environmentalists’ careers than I would tell you I lie. Both allegations are outrageous falsehoods. You have not apologized for making those statements.

And how is it that I supposedly destroy environmentalists’ careers? In Eckhart Response to CEI, you say I do this not by attacking environmentalists as people but by criticizing their “underlying assumptions.” Apparently, you confuse refutation with defamation. Thus, apparently, because I questioned your assumptions in this column, and in our subsequent Debate on Energy and Environment TV, you felt entitled to attack me as a person. A policy advocate who cannot tell the difference between refutation and character assassination, challenging assumptions and defaming persons, is bound to flout the rules of civil discourse in the very way you did.

Your apology says I told you I “could actually make a compelling argument either way, but that you were compelled to argue against global warming because you are against big government.” Of course I can make a persuasive case for the other side; if I couldn’t, I also could not make a persuasive case for my side! To construe this as an admission of intellectual dishonesty is another slur.

I therefore feel no obligation to satisfy your curiosity, if that is what it is. Indeed, you posed similar interrogatories before we debated on E&E TV. In retrospect, your only purpose was to “trick” and “pin.” If you are genuinely curious about CEI’s views on climate and energy, I suggest you read the documents that elicited your threats.


Marlo Lewis