Environmental Activist Naomi Klein Slams Joe Romm for Ignorance, Hatchet Tactics

Published October 13, 2013

Environmental activist Naomi Klein published an open letter eviscerating Center for American Progress front man Joe Romm for making ignorant statements and irresponsibly making hatchet-job attacks on people with other points of view.

Big Green ‘Denialism’
In an interview published by Salon.com, Klein said Big Green environmental groups are engaging in “very deep denialism” that is causing more harm to the goal of limiting carbon dioxide emissions than the efforts of global warming skeptics. Klein said many Big Green groups are soliciting and accepting large amounts of cash from corporations that stand to profit from asserted global warming solutions and then are beholden to the corporations’ quest for corporate welfare, even when they are proposing ineffective or counterproductive programs to address global warming.

“I think it’s a really important question why the green groups have been so unwilling to follow science to its logical conclusions,” Klein added.

Romm Fights Back
The Center for American Progress, funded in part by renewable energy lobbyists seeking massive taxpayer subsidies and renewable power mandates, apparently felt threatened by Klein’s observations. Romm posted an article on the organization’s website blasting Klein.

“She is not just wrong, she is profoundly wrong. Her revisionist history is wrong, too, and contradicted by her policy prescriptions,” wrote Romm.

“Klein saves much of her wrath for cap-and-trade—the favorite whipping boy of the counterfactual crowd—but to understand why her analysis is so wrong we need to first look at her revisionist history,” wrote Romm, adding, “There are so many misleading statements packed in there, it is hard to know where to begin.”

“Klein is the queen of conflation and revisionism,” Romm piled on.

Romm’s Ignorance of Facts
Klein responded with a letter on her website within hours of Romm’s attack. Describing Romm’s article as a “hasty and unnecessary hatchet job on a book I haven’t even finished yet, based on an edited interview about one-tenth of its content. A book of which you haven’t read a single word,” she described his dismissal of the book as “a new twist on old-school arrogance. Impressive.”

Later in the letter, she wrote, “Joe, we clearly have some disagreements—as well as huge common ground. But if anyone is guilty of taking a sledge hammer to an ally here, I suggest you take a quick glance at what’s in your (bloody) hand.”

In a postscript, Klein added, “p.p.s. I could have forgiven a lot, but lumping me in with [“skeptical environmentalist” Bjorn] Lomborg? That one is going to haunt you buddy.”

Truth Beneath the Name-Calling
“There is a great deal of truth beneath the back-and-forth name-calling,” said Jay Lehr, science director for the Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News. “As Naomi Klein points out, the large environmental activist groups are heavily funded by the renewable energy lobby, which explains why they turn a blind eye to the very real environmental harms caused by wind and solar power.”

“Klein’s observations illustrate how quick professional global warming alarmists are to shoot from the hip before getting their facts right,” Lehr explained. “Klein suggested ways to make global warming activism more effective, and a professional environmental activist immediately launched a personal attack in response. This is typical of how professional environmental activists respond to the science, as well. When scientific evidence calls their alarmism into question, they launch personal attacks against those who present the science. It is a disservice to science when people respond that way.”

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.