Transcript: Myron Ebell: Global Warming, Oct 26 2006

Myron Ebell is the director of energy and global warming policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who wrote recently, "The attempt to subvert Christian evangelicals into supporting energy-rationing policies that will consign the world's poor to perpetual poverty is being financed by left-wing foundations such as the Hewlett Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Pew Foundation and organized by major leftist pressure groups. People who front for this effort should be ashamed of themselves. They should also check the factual case against global warming alarmism presented by the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance".

Thom Hartmann interviewed Myron Ebell 26 October 2006

[Thom Hartmann] Well, two nights ago, I was the guy who introduced Al Gore to about 4500 people here in Portland, Oregon and listened to his presentation and moderated a question and answer session afterward and was pretty blown away. It was the third time actually I've seen it. I saw the movie and I saw him a year ago on this presentation.

Now evangelicals are getting into the act; joining together with folks like Al Gore saying we're facing a planetary crisis. We're looking at something that could lead to the death of, that is already leading to the death of millions of humans and other species and could lead to the death of billions of humans. 86 evangelical Christian leaders have joined together to launch an "Evangelical Climate Initiative" and call for Federal legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. They're suggesting a cap and trade market system.

And in February 86 evangelical leaders signed a statement calling on believers to join the fight against climate change. They call this the gospel of "creation care" - please don't call it environmentalism - an ethic they say is inspired by scriptures wherein God gives humanity dominion over the Earth and with it a sacred obligation to exercise conscious stewardship of the air, land and water.

And similarly the pastors and presidents of 39 Evangelical colleges, leaders of aid groups and churches like the Salvation Army and pastors of megachurches including Rick Warren, author of the bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life" have signed a statement calling on evangelical Christians to work to stop global climate change.

Into this steps Myron Ebell, the director of energy and global warming policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, cei.org their web site. Myron, first of all, welcome, Myron.

[Myron Ebell] Thank you, Thom.

[Thom Hartmann] Welcome back to the program. You wrote recently, "The attempt to subvert Christian evangelicals into supporting energy-rationing policies that will consign the world's poor to perpetual poverty is being financed by left-wing foundations such as the Hewlett Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Pew Foundation and organized by major leftist pressure groups. People who front for this effort should be ashamed of themselves. They should also check the factual case against global warming alarmism presented by the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance".

Couple of interesting points there. First of all, you suggest these folks are fronting for leftists. You know, aren't you fronting for big corporations that make money polluting?

[Myron Ebell] No, I'm fronting for myself. We go out and try to find money to support our program. This, the global, the Evangelical Climate Initiative was initiated not by the people who signed the statement but by environmental groups and big foundations.

[Thom Hartmann] But CEI, I mean, you guys get money from Exxon Mobil.

[Myron Ebell] Well look, the money that came initially for the Evangelical Climate Initiative did not come from anybody except the Hewlett Foundation; one of its main issues has always been population control and supporting abortion, which I hope would offend would the people who signed that statement. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Pew Charitable Trust. Now these groups are not typically supporting the goals and aspirations of Christian evangelicals so I think there's some dissonance there.

[Thom Hartmann] But these groups are not profiting from eliminating carbon dioxide pollution, nor are they profiting from increasing it, whereas some of your supporters are actually profiting from carbon dioxide pollution.

[Myron Ebell] Yeah. Absolutely.

[Thom Hartmann] So, why should we take your argument more seriously than theirs if you have a profit agenda in yours and they don't?

[Myron Ebell] Well, you know, let me give you a couple of answers to that. The first is, I think, if these people are taking their, what they believe about global warming, from authoritative sources like Al Gore, I would just point you to our web site where my colleague Marlo Lewis has a 110 or longer page dissection of Al Gore's movie and his book. He did find one factual claim in the movie that he thinks is correct. It's got several hundred footnotes and I would encourage you to go through it and look at that. It's called A Skeptic's Guide to An Inconvenient Truth" and it's on our website.

[Thom Hartmann] That's cei.org.

[Myron Ebell] Yes. The second thing is that, look, this is being portrayed by this group as a moral issue and I think that if you want to look at it as a moral issue, then you need to consider this: the benefits of access to energy are almost inestimable. They are as, research has been done that says that the amount of energy that Americans use gives us the equivalent, an average person the equivalent of having 300 servants. Now, in countries that don't have access to energy, just take a typical African country where a lot of the people have to spend hours a day cutting down brush or collecting cow dung in order to cook a meal in a little hovel that doesn't have a chimney and they suffer from things like bronchitis, emphysema, children - high childhood mortality and so on. The idea that we're gong to cut emissions by 60% by 2050 when 2 million...

[Thom Hartmann] I get where you're going with this, Myron, and we have limited time.

[Myron Ebell] Right.

[Thom Hartmann] I'd like to get to the point here.

[Myron Ebell] Sure.

[Thom Hartmann] You're, first of all, you're conflating fossil fuels with energy and I think that that's a false argument. There's enough solar energy that falls just on the United States in one day to equal all fossil fuels burned on the entire planet in a year. I mean, obviously we're not going to catch it with 100% efficiency but there are a lot of sources of energy out there other than fossil fuels, number 1.

But number 2, the bigger issue here is, let's just, you know, take the example of fish just to get this out of fossil fuels for a minute. If we all collectively own the oceans - if the oceans are part of the commons - and everybody just says, 'OK, we're going to let the free market decide, you know, how many fish can be taken' and everybody goes out and starts fishing, and in taking the fish we wipe out the fish, how can we in good conscience stand by and watch that happen?

I guess the climate analogy of this is if in burning fossil fuels we are destroying the environment and there is no cost to the producers of the fossil fuels or frankly to people like you and me who drive cars that are, you know, converting those fossil fuels into carbon dioxide, if there's no cost to us, if we're not bearing the environmental cost of that, if our children and grandchildren are instead having to bear the environmental cost of that, that seems to me like a dysfunctional system.

[Myron Ebell] Well, I think it may not be fully functional, but it's a lot more functional than what these evangelical semi-leaders are calling for which is a cap and trade system. You know, Europe has a cap and trade system and yet since Kyoto was negotiated in 1997, emissions in the European Union 15 - that is, the developed western European nations - have gone up a lot more rapidly than in the United States. And if you add the eastern European nations since Kyoto, since they're recovering from communism, their emissions are going up even faster, so, and that's because their economies are growing rapidly.

[Thom Hartmann] Well then, why not, in stead of cap and trade and using markets systems, why not just simply say, 'OK, that's it'? We know that it's gonna cost for every 10lbs. of carbon dioxide that goes into the atmosphere, we know it's gong to cost $1 to eventually sequester and so there's a dollar per gallon gas tax that is going for carbon sequestration and that's it?

[Myron Ebell] Well, it would have to be a lot more than a dollar; you know, if you burn 8 pounds

of gasoline you're going to get, I don't know, 15 or 20 pounds of carbon dioxide or more than that; I'd better do the math here.

[Thom Hartmann] But we're using funny numbers. But my point is, why not simply say, 'OK, there is an external cost'? What's going on right here is that Exxon Mobil and the car manufacturers and the gas station and you and me, frankly, all of us, we're internalizing the profit of fossil fuels and we are we are all collectively as a society externalizing the cost. And that cost is going to fall on our children and grandchildren and it may fall really hard. And shouldn't we be picking up some of that cost right now?

[Myron Ebell] No, I think it's better to put the costs off into the future and enjoy the benefits now. I mean, that just strikes me as a simple economic principle.

[Thom Hartmann] So you don't give a damn about our kids?

[Myron Ebell] No, no, no, I think it's just the opposite. I don't want to impoverish us now so that we will be richer then. The fact is, you know, you say that, OK, the United States has more solar energy falls on it, yes, but look at this, Thom: 85% of the world's energy comes from coal, oil and natural gas. In 25 years, in 2030, the Department of Energy projects that the world is going to need 70% more energy than it does today and that 86% of that new energy, that new 70%, is going to come from coal, oil and natural gas.

[Thom Hartmann] If we continue down the road we're going.

[Myron Ebell] They think even if Kyoto was fully implemented it'll be like 83%.

[Thom Hartmann] I'm not talking about Kyoto. I'm talking about a Manhattan Project. Let's do a Manhattan Project for alternative energies and fund it with a gas tax.

[Myron Ebell] Well, it's fine to talk about all this stuff but most of it just doesn't work, you know. Europe has been $4 and $5 a gallon tax on gasoline and transport emissions since 1990 in the EU 15 have gone up 24%.

[Thom Hartmann] Yes, but they've gotten used to that. I mean, they've had that tax for 25 years. In any case…

[Myron Ebell] No, no, no, no. They've always had higher taxes but the big increase in taxes is just the last few years in order to try to compete with Kyoto.

[Thom Hartmann] OK. Cei.org. Myron Ebell.

[Myron Ebell] Yes, thanks a lot, Thom.

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