A Free-Market Energy Blog

A Misstep and Signs of Despair at Climate Progress (climate optimism, anyone?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- February 1, 2010

Joseph Romm heavily edits the comments at his top-rated energy/environmental blog, Climate Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress. (The more academic, one-post-per-day MasterResource is #14 of 2,800 “green blogs” as of 1/31/10 per Technorati, not too bad for being 13 months old.)

Dr. Romm will not publicly debate his distinguished opponents either, just as Paul Ehrlich refused to debate the late Julian Simon. Though thin-skinned and trigger happy, Romm has not attempted to rebut a four-part post at the Breakthrough Institute by Michael Shellenberger, Ted Nordhaus, et al., Joe Romm and Climate McCarthyism, a widely disseminated and discussed event on the Left. (Updates on the Romm series are available at the Breakthrough Institute blog.)

Nor will Romm show the courage of his convictions by betting on his predicted global warming trend, which has led some to speculate that Romm deep down is really a global lukewarmer. In a similar vein, a reasonable oil production bet offered by Michael Lynch to put Romm’s peak-oil belief to the test has also been ignored by the uber-confident senior fellow at CAP.

Critics may ask: Is the MIT doctorate who commands a top bully pulpit for the Party in Power an intellectual scarecrow?

Yet sometimes loyal readers at Climate Progress reveal much in their (permitted) comments. And they are fighting the blues as the key issue to which they are emotionally chained continues to fray, politically and intellectually.

Retreating Romm

Romm himself has waxed and waned in the great climate tumult of the last year, often retreating to an I’ll-take-anything position in the service of the Obama agenda. Once a flaming radical, Romm as a Democratic Party operative is now an incrementalist. And his  incrementalism has shrunk with new developments. It must be sad for climate Left veterans to read such Romm statements as the outcome of Copenhagen being a glass two-thirds full.

Dr. Romm is picking some pretty poor fights too. Recently, he thought he could embarrass the Right regarding the Bin Laden global warming rant (Limbaugh, Fox News suckered by Bin Laden into repeating his disinformation and message of hatred). But the Left and mainstream media were also all over the same news, and how strange for Romm to suddenly position himself as an American patriot in the terror debate. And speaking of hate and rants, isn’t this what Joe Romm is infamous for?

But Climate Progress readers–having to confront another PR blowup as if Climategate, IPCCgate, and COLD were not enough–saw what Romm himself could not in this particular post.  As for myself, I posted a comment that Joe actually let through. “Thank you Joe for this post,” is all I said, to which Romm predictably added, “Bradley is a leading anti-science disinformer.” (Dr. Romm, I congratulated you for a post that has contributed in its little way to the crack-up of climate alarmism.)

Two Intriguing Comments

Some comments on Romm’s Bin Laden post impart the sad state of climate alarmism.Folks here need to consider giving up on the progressive project to save civilization from climate change, ecocide, natural resource depletion, etc and going into adaptation mode,” said Sean Taylor in Comment #13, which reminds me of the mentality behind the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth beseller in 1972.

After their book came out, two of the coauthors, Dennis and Donella Meadows, retreated to a New Hampshire farm “to learn about homesteading and wait for the coming collapse.” “We definitely felt like Cassandras,” Donella Meadows added, “especially as we watched the world react to our work.” (1)

I am not sure when the Meadows woke up and returned to regular life, but they did.

And at Comment 17. Krumrich says: “A lot of people are leaving global warming. It looks like a flagging group and Bin Laden is helping bolster beliefs in drastic warming. Climate was a disaster.”

This comment raises an interesting question: What might be the next item in the neo-Malthusian agenda if the public has rejected the great climate alarm? It is too early to tell, but the tide has turned in a definite way against climate alarmism. It is ironic that the stormists got their own perfect storm.

Time for an Alarmist Rethink?

I offer a challenge to the readership at Climate Progress. Being blue is no fun. Being mad and sad at the fading climate alarm is bizarre. Go into a reflective mode. Revisit fundamental assumptions. Allow yourself to see both sides of the arguments in a open manner. And for some of you who come to see why the non-alarmism passes intellectual muster, share your thinking with others–and still others.

And maybe even at the end challenge Joe Romm himself to recognize a two-sided debate. After all, we are now living in a post-Climategate, post-Copenhagen, and perhaps even a post-alarmist world.


(1) Quoted in Robert Bradley, Capitalism at Work: Business, Government, and Energy (2009), p. 235.


  1. Andrew  

    I don’t know why you hold out hope that these people will see sanity. They haven’t got a clue and their abandonment of rationality makes reasoning with them like reasoning with your dog.

    Actually, dogs are a little more rational.


  2. Robert Bradley Jr.  

    You might be right, but if some of them honestly believe in climate alarmism and are depressed, they might actually want to relieve their depression. The best way to do that is by becoming a climate optimist.

    Julian Simon began as a Malthusian and changed his mind–why not others?


  3. Andrew  

    Well, I admit I am extremely cynical. I hope you are right and I’m wrong. Admittedly you have more experience reasoning with the unreasonable than I do.


  4. bill  

    He does more than “heavily edit”…he censors. A few months ago he made some ludicrous assertion and I peppered him with some respectful, but pointed, retorts. After a brief give-and-take on his blog, I suddenly received error messages whenever I hit the submit button. He banned my IP address from his site!


  5. Robert Bradley Jr.  

    I noticed that Joe Romm did debate a gentleman from the Heritage Foundation, so he is debating in some limited formats.

    I would like to see him in a formal debate with, say, Chris Horner with the world watching. It is this that I doubt he would do.


  6. J Mayeau  

    I stop over to give Joe a good stiff kick in the shins every once in a while. (Short and sweet because I know it will never be seen by anybody but him.)

    “Keep it up doofus”, “We’ll own you at the midterm” ,”How many times did you reference yourself in that post, Joe? Must be some kind of egotist record”. Stuff like that.

    It’s fun.


  7. Charles Barton  

    Joe, practices outright censorship of his comments, and by doing so he marginalizes himself. Joe’s fundamental problem is his participation in the cult of Amory Lovins. Lovins, who is no leftist, has become the darling of the pseudo-liberal, intellectually challenged, irrational wing of the left. There is nothing liberal about Lovings thinking, and very little liberal about Romm’s.


  8. Robert Bradley Jr.  

    Things are getting strange over at Climate Progress. Today, Romm tries to undo the headlines about Obama opening the door to ditch cap-and-trade for an energy bill.


    But why can’t Romm just go ahead and criticize Obama? The shrinking incrementalist needs to shrink some more or stop and say–“I disagree with Obama (and my bosses).”

    I did this at Enron for my (intellectually strong) cause–but Romm can’t do it for his (intellectually weak) cause.

    A hard question comes to mind: Is this just a job for Smokin’ Joe?


  9. Jean Demesure  

    Romm’s attitude reminds me of French climate skeptics Claude Allègre here in France : deference to authority by hypocrisy and interest.
    Allegre is arch climato-skeptics but when interviewed on what he thinks about arch climato-hysterics Sarkozy (we call him Carbozy, for his “taxe carbone”, due to come back soon), all he has to say is the President is wise for leading the charge to protect the climate, still hoping Carbozy will give him some ministry seat. Typical lefties’ duplicity.

    As to your appeal to reason to Romm’s groupies, I must concur with Andrew. Those guys won’t let uggly facts get into their beautiful theories. See their denial of the DDT tragedy or the busted “nuclear winter”.
    Never wrong, never shameful, that’s how many minds work.


  10. Chris  


    I have always thought that there was a good chance that even the warmists do not believe their own propaganda. It’s as if man-made global warming was some reason for living, or in some cases, the reason for their paycheck. For sports fans, what would a cubs fan be without the Chicago cubs? If one followed the cubs since childhood, how could one get it out of your system? Eventually, you move on to something else. Here’s my next catastrophe prediction: death by killer asteroid!!! We’re due for a large asteroid collision that could knock out a city if it landed on one. Chances are it will land in the ocean, but can you imagine the fallout (in politics)? You heard it here first.


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