Concerned Scientists? Scientists? Oh, Come On…

By September 4, 2007Energy, Global Warming

peace.jpgThe Kansas City Star this weekend carried an anti-coal opinion piece by Jeff Goodall, author of “Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future.” The column first appeared in The Washington Post, and in the Star is called “America’s dependence on coal comes at a high cost.” This line caught our eye:

“As for ‘clean coal,’ it’s a nice advertising slogan, but it’s not a statement of fact. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a scientific advocacy group, annual emissions from a typical coal plant include 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide…”

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a scientific advocacy group? Did you see the organization’s recent fundraising e-mail, signed by its president, Kevin Knobloch?

Dear XXX

I’m excited to announce that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) was chosen as one of 12 groups to participate in Ploughshares Fund’s Peace Primary — an online campaign to build awareness around peace and human security issues during this election season. The Ploughshares Fund is a respected philanthropic foundation that has partnered with UCS for many years.

You can support us and help our chances to win $100,000 by visiting www.peaceprimary.org and voting for UCS.

The 2008 presidential election presents an important opportunity to educate and engage the people who want to lead America—highlighting critical issues affecting our health, security, and environment. On peace and security issues, we are educating candidates and voters about the urgent need to reduce the risks posed by nuclear weapons and advocating for policies that will move us closer toward their elimination.

And so on. The Ploughshares Fund’s Peace Primary is chaired by the lefty actor, Martin Sheen, whose avocation is being arrested for protesting nuclear weapons. (The AP story on his April arrest is here.)

The Union of Concerned Scientists uses its science credentials to sell itself as a credible advocacy group on issues like global warming. To which we say: Oh, come on. It’s anything but a “scientific advocacy group,” as Goodall calls it. Look at its agenda in the fund-raising email: Disarmament, an old and naive form of pacifism, promoted during a time of rogue nations trying to build nuclear bombs.

The group and its members have every right to campaign for unilateral disarmament, but let’s not claim that they do so on the basis of science. The Union of Concerned Scientists is really just another activist group backing a broad left-wing political agenda, akin to Moveon.org, pushing for more government control of the economy and a weak U.S. military.

As experts on global warming and coal, they’re peace activists. But it serves Mr. Goodall’s anti-energy platform to pretend otherwise.

For a copy of the full e-mail, click here.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • James Blye says:

    John Walke obviously doesn’t believe in the power of the marketplace in finding the right solution to our environmental problems. It is greed that runs the market and we must just believe that greed will ultimately result in the greatest good. If pollution or global warming should become a problem, the marketplace will resolve the problem, so we must be left alone to get as much wealth as we can and let the market take care of the waste problems.

  • carter says:

    Yep, names don’t matter in the way a group makes its case. Which is why we’re debating changing NAM to the National Association of Cute Puppies and Chocolate Kisses. In the interest of honesty…

  • John Walke says:

    This silly ad hominem attack on an organization’s name, of all things, is a textbook example of an addage I first heard in law school: if you cannot rebut an argument on the merits, first mischaraterize the argument, then rebut the strawman, then if all else fails, resort to ad hominem attack. This blog efficiently jumps to ad hominem attack.

    But what about the FACTS for which Goodell was citing UCS, that “annual emissions from a typical coal plant include 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide…” Revealingly, this blog does not dispute that or even try; nor could it.

    If anything, Goodell and UCS are being overly generous. The majority of coal-fired power plants in the U.S. have SO2 emissions higher than 10,000 tons annually. In fact, very many individual electric generating units have SO2 emissions greatly above this amount. According to EPA’s Clean Air Markets Division, the top 50 SO2- emitting power plants in the U.S. each spewed over 50,000 tons of SO2 annually in 2006. The 10 dirtiest plants emitted well over 100,000 tons per year of SO2, and the dirtiest plant in the nation — the Southern Company’s Plant Bowen 30 miles northwest of Atlants — emitted 206,000 tons of SO2 last year. Even state-of-the art, medium- or large-sized coal-fired power plants built today will emit many thousands of tons of SO2. So much for “clean coal.”

    So who is more knowledgeable about — and interested in — the scientific facts on the precise point that precipiated this blog: NAM or UCS?

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