A Free-Market Energy Blog

Ad Hominem Backfire in the Energy/Climate Debate

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- May 20, 2024

“Get off your high horse, all of us are ‘pro climate’, you just have a different view on how to achieve that. Mr. Bradley interacts with anyone who challenges his statements. As far as your charge that he, “declare a position”? He does so every day. Catch up….” Mark Rohrbacher to Thomas Ortman (below)

Social media exchanges between free market and government energy/climate proponents are an excellent way to understand the arguments, politics, and motivations of all involved. Cancel culture not, may the best ideas win. Here is a LinkedIn exchange of note, where I (and others) rebut a familiar ad hominem. In this case, one Thomas Ortman just … disappeared.

The exchange occurred with a post by Gavin Mooney, self-described “energy transition optimist.”. “Batteries have taken a huge leap forward in California this spring, soaking up solar during the day and discharging it when it’s needed in the evening” he wrote. I responded:

Sure, but at what cost, economically and ecologically? Resources are scarce….. Government does not create but redistributes from the many to the political elite.

A discussion followed from both sides (167 comments in the last week), including this ad hominem.

Geoffrey Lakings: what needs to be understood in regards to IER & their bias can be summarized in this one statement, “The Institute for Energy Research (IER) is a nonprofit ‘partner’ organization of the American Energy Alliance, which is a 501(c)(4) grassroots organization designed to communicate IER’s policies to voters. The groups are run by Tom Pyle, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries.”

Mark Rohrbacher: All non profits have their benefactors, Greenpeace, Tides Foundation, Rockefeller, etc. Is it really necessary for us to “tit for tat” Soros and company vs. “ The Koch Brothers”?

I am so sick of “green advocates” painting their opposition as “evil” or posting with a ulterior motive just because of the organization that they belong to. It’s repeated over and over on LinkedIn and cheapens the level of discourse.

Rob Bradley: Geoffrey S Lakings Classical liberal on the education and public policy advocacy sides. Pro consumer, taxpayer, freedom, and environment. What is your beef? Our several thousand supporters want to know.

The idea that wind, solar, and batteries are ecological and that government should override consenting adults with their energy choices put the burden of proof on you.

Thomas Ortman: Thank You Geoffrey S Lakings. This makes all the sense in the world having watched Rob Bradley tossing hand grenades into any clean energy/ clean tech discussion for years. It was clear that there was a major bias, but I did not know the backstory.

Rob, we all have biases. Mine is strongly pro-climate and I am not paid to promote what I believe to be true and ethical. The difference is that you are clearly well informed on the subject and yet often toss out misinformation/disinformation which I find to be very disingenuous. It appears you take pleasure in tossing out an ounce of malcontent and generating five pounds of response. I suppose that as yours is a paid position, it would be reasonable to ask for you to declare your position and to come out in favor of *something*, ( as opposed to your constant brush fires with nothing constructive to offer).
If your bias/employer is to support oil and gas – fine, have sufficient integrity to claim as much. Then we can have an honest discussion regarding all of the critical areas that the O&G sector can provide critical and profitable contributions.

Mark Rohrbacher: “If your bias/employer is to support oil and gas … have sufficient integrity to claim as much.” He hides nothing. Get off your high horse, all of us are “pro climate”, you just have a different view on how to achieve that. Mr. Bradley interacts with anyone who challenges his statements. As far as your charge that he, “declare a position”? He does so every day. Catch up…

Rob Bradley: Thomas Ortman Wrong. You have reversed the causality. Beliefs first, funding last. And no, I do not carry the water for any company or industry but for consumers, taxpayers, freedom, and … the environment against wind, solar, and batteries.

I have been classical liberal since high school and through a corporate career where I challenged my Enron superiors who were pushing climate alarmism and promoting government subsidies for their wind and solar investments.

Read the emails here to judge for yourself.

Rob Bradley: Thomas Ortman Your business profile includes “Goal of expanding this base into related areas of … clean energy products, including; Solar Energy, Solid State Lighting, Energy, Energy Storage and Clean Technologies led to a merger with Voltabox of Texas, Inc.”

So note that I do not use ad hominem against you for your bread-and-butter. In fact, I never do so except in certain instances, such as the conflict of interest with Chris Tomlinson, business editorialist at the Houston Chronicle here.


Round Two

Ortman: I am confused. Why are you raising the ad hominem flag? I am in agreement with you in this matter. I appreciate that even when you and other industry colleagues disagree, even strongly, that we can still maintain a civil discourse.
Further, I would submit that being civil is a strong suit for *you*, and I recognize and appreciate it.
Were you feeling attacked? By me?

Bradley: The post documents the ad hominem and is something I can link to next time I go through this on LinkedIn. Yes, I am civil but you went too far, way too far. And it is a regular trop that your side needs to eliminate. Read your own words, and leave a comment if you would like.

Mark Rohrbacher stepped in: ““Rob Bradley tossing hand granades”… Also from Thomas Ortman: “Rob, I am in agreement with you in this matter.”

Ortman: “I have read through the entire post/string, and I do not see where I have gone ‘way to far’. Nonetheless, Mr. Rohrbacher suggests that my statement “Rob Bradley tossing hand granades…” was not well received.

I appreciate you bringing this to my attention and I shall endeavor to improve upon my delivery.
I believe that we would both agree that the issue at hand ( energy-climate-fossil fuels-renewables) is of critical importance to all living creatures, and thereby only constructive conversations add value.
Thank You for taking the time to contribute to constructive dialogue.”

Rohrbacher: “There’s much more that you said about Rob; 2 to 3 paragraphs of innuendo. I’m not posting all of it, you need to go back with a discerning eye and look at it. Are you being willfully obtuse?
That’s all I’m saying about it.”

Bradley: The general point is that Ortman had an ‘ah ha’ moment when another person pointed out my position in the debate as being financially self-interested. I rebutted that and made an issue of the entire exchange because … the trope that skeptics of climate alarm/forced energy transformation are either stupid/ill-informed or paid shills. Neither is true: our arguments are better, and we are being proved right as time marches on.

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