Thursday, September 21, 2006

Another proper interview ten years late

Last night on the BBC's Newsnight, after a report by George Monbiot, Myron Ebell presented himself on the TV. This was only after the BBC had checked with Exxon to verify that they were too cowardly for an interview. They supplied a written statement with the usual boilerplate about how they fund lots of different groups which don't all subscribe to their views. In other words, they fire off a lot of harmless decoys to distract your attention so they can get round and shoot you in the back.
UPDATE: See the whole show on you-tube -- thanks to random variable.

Q: Myron Ebell, why do you imagine that Exxon give you money?

Ebell: You know, I think the attempt here to claim that only the purest of the pure can engage in the public policy...

Q: Please answer the question, Mr Ebell. Why do you imagine they give you money?

Ebell: Because we send them letters asking for money to support out general programs. Our general programs is this: do you believe in free markets? and we support policies to promote less regulation in people's daily lives.

Q: And they would not be giving you that money if you were, for example, taking a different view on climate change?

Ebell: I suppose that's right. We develop our policies, and then we try to find funding for them. Some we find some funding, other's we find very little.

In other words, he's claiming that the CEI is acting like a door-to-door salesman selling PR, rather than one that stays in the shop until you come over and ask for their services.
Q: Mr Ebell, you don't contest the science of [climate change], do you?

Ebell: Uh, no.

Q: What is your beef then?

Ebell: We tried to make two points in those ads. In the first we tried to point out the huge, the enormous, the inconceivable blessing that access to modern energy brings to humanity. And in the second ad we tried to show that the public policy debate is really skewed by a certain small group of scientists, particularly by the media, who give very large headlines to every piece of research that comes out that supports the alarmist agenda, and basically ignores every piece of research that shows that climate change could have some beneficial effects or some perfectly neutral effects.

Q: Although you yourself are not a scientist, are you?

Ebell: Uh, no. And I should make that clear, I am not a scientist.

That's correct. What he is is a calculated liar who will carry on saying something that has been proven to be false in as many places as he thinks don't know it yet.

The interview referred to in the following exchange is from the BBC in 2004 on the right hand panel of this blog. Due to the power of the internet you can magically refer to real sources and hear Myron's words in context -- actually making them sound more extreme, not less.
Q: Mr Ebell, you are not a scientist. It is clear that many people on your side of the fence are misrepresenting the arguments. You yourself described the government's chief scientific advisor in this country of "knowing nothing about climate science". He is at least a scientist. Now, do you see the problem that respectable scientists have with the sort of points made by organizations such as yours?

Ebell: No, I do see it if people are continually misquoted as you have just misquoted me. What you have just said -- and this was in a BBC interview -- you have taken completely out of context. You have distorted it to make a political point. Now if you want to discuss this in a reasonable manner, I am perfectly willing to do that. But if you want to try to pigeon-hole me by taking a little piece of an interview out of context, then I don't see the point in trying to engage in a rational discourse.

Q: Just for the record, do you also deny saying that "climate change was a myth cooked up by the EU to hamper American competitiveness"? Is that also something you didn't say, or has been taken out of context?

Ebell: Yes, I was quoting Margo Wallström, the former commissioner for the environment in the European Commission, and I quoted her I believe exactly, and then I interpreted what she was saying, namely that this is not about protecting the environment -- and I am now not quoting her exactly, I am paraphrasing -- this is about levelling the playing field with American businesses without which [EU] firms cannot otherwise compete. And so, again I think seeing the forest is generally useful, and not getting lost in the trees.
There are only so many tricks to use. Tony Blair used this one when confronted by his operative lies about Iraq, where he claimed that only the "totality" of his remarks could be used to damn him, not just, say, large excerpts. But, since the totality of someone's remarks doesn't exist, and is too large and mostly lost to the air without a recording device being present, as well as the fact that people are only supposed to hear parts of it, we have to settle for enough.

But to follow up his quote from Margot Wallström. The source article is here, and she did indeed say:
"[The Kyoto Protocol] is about international relations, [it] is about economy, about trying to create a level playing field for big businesses throughout the world."
Myron's interpretation is, as usual, f***ed up. He said:
"And that's because European businesses are not competitive with American businesses, and by putting a governor on our energy use, the EU hopes to hamper American competitiveness."
The actual context was that in March 2001, Bush had withdrawn the US from the Kyoto protocol. Ms Wallström was explaining why this made it very difficult for the rest of the world to carry on with it because then America would be on an uneven playing field. Consequently, if we all don't adopt Kyoto or any other climate change targets, business will once again be on an even playing field. It'll just be one that's underwater. But that's fine. I am sure the corporation of Exxon will continue to exist, long after all the bodies of the men who have supported its cause are rotting corpses who have adapted to the new environment by dying.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The game is over

They have been playing for what they can stick in our minds, folks.

For years people have had to die needlessly as corporations get away with their convenient lies about smoking and climate change. Our worthless excuse for a journalism industry has been publishing these lies ad nauseum in spite of repeated attempts by readers telling them to stop doing it. They're either fools, or collaborators, or both.

Guys, if you want to take an authoratitive statement at odds with the facts of climate change, take it from Exxon directly, who are supposed to know things, not from Myron Ebell, who has the accountability of a talking turd.

There are not two sides to the argument -- there are proven truths, and there are the professional liars. Debates should be held within one team or the other, not across teams who are playing by different rules. That means, don't ever take Myron's consciously false and designed-to-be-slippery statements to a scientist who has to waste his time refuting them, which is sometimes too complicated to do in a polite five second soundbite. Instead, take Myron's words back to Exxon and get them to explain why they aren't willing to agree with it publically, although they are paying for us to hear it.

So now, at long last, long after the public has made itself fully aware of the game plan, an official scientific organizations finally gets round to gathering up the toxic remnants to ram down Exxon's throat.

Thank heavens.

After 5 years of interviewing Myron Ebell on and off, the BBC has at last had the temerity to phone up Exxon directly and obtain the following interview (lies in bold):
Nick Thomas (Exxon): We recognized concentration of CO2 is increasing, temperatures are rising, we recognize the symptoms, we recognize that CO2 are one of the contributors to climate change,

Q: Why have you given money to a group that's published a report that says that global climate changes were not related to rising CO2.

Mr Thomas: I think it's important to understand that there is a different culture in the US where large companies fund policy debate and research.

Q: But if the research is wrong according to emminant scientists...

Mr Thomas: We fund several hundred external organizations who carry out research and promote discussion on policy issues. They'll be environmental affairs, marketing, economic policy. Now the important thing about all of that is, those organizations do not speak on our behalf, we don't control their views, we don't control their messages, they may or may not hold similar views to our own, and they will also receive funding from many other organizations apart from us.

Q: The Royal Soc says in a letter that Exxon promised to stop funding those groups. Did you make such a promise, and will you keep to it.

Mr Thomas: I don't know which groups specifically they're talking about.

Q: Well, I could give you the details if you like.

Mr Thomas: We keep our funding under review all of the time...

Q: So you are going to continue to fund the IPN.

Mr Thomas: I'm not going to get involved in answering which groups we will fund in the future. All I will say is any group put over a group that happens to get some money from us is not necessarily our view. They do not speak on our behalf.
So there it is. Journalism in action. At. F***ing. Last.

Stop press:

A spokesman added that ExxonMobil stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute this year.

If this is true, we look forward to Myron Ebell losing his job, his health care benefits, his steady income, his air-conditioned office, and joining the Competitive Enterprisers on the streets (also known as tramps). No doubt he and his four kids will be able to adapt to the changed circumstances, as well as to a planet with a steadily worsening climate that he, in his own way, helped foment. Even if he is stopped today, we have already taken the poison and are dying. Life starts to feel real precious when you begin to lose it. That is his gift to the world.