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Environment

A Hawk Goes Off Message

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMarch 5, 2012 7:09 PM

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In his weekend op-ed, Thomas Friedman indicated he was ready to embrace a form of climate pragmatism:

This is a column about energy and environment and why we must not let the poisonous debate about climate change so tie us in knots that we cannot have any energy policy at all, particularly one focused on developing much more efficient use of resources, through better designs and systems.

Friedman still had some tart words for those who think that belief in climate science is a slippery slope to one-world, UN-led government. Actually, this is what he said:

If you are so reckless as to dismiss all climate science as a hoax, and do not accept the data that our planet is getting hotter and the oceans rising, I can't help you.

Translation: He's moving on. He's realized that fighting climate contrarians--much less trying to reason with them--is futile. And counterproductive. He's concluded:

We can't let the climate wars continue to derail efforts to have an energy policy that puts in place rising efficiency standards, for buildings, windows, traffic, housing, packaging and appliances, that will drive innovation "” which is our strength "” in what has to be the next great global industry: energy and resource efficiency.

Friedman's philosophical shift prompted Andy Revkin to tweet:

Tom Friedman pushes smart-energy endrun past CO2 stasis http://nyti.ms/xxJRFe echoing climate pragmatism [strike]@[/strike]GlobalEcoGuyenvironment.umn.edu/momentum/issue"¦

Needless, to say, this non-climate-centric rhetorical approach was not received well in certain quarters. The Climate Orthodoxy Police (COP), an outfit run by blogger Joe Romm at the Center for American Progress (CAP), sounded its internal alarms. This happens nearly every day when someone goes off message or does anything to undermine the dictates by the COP. Friedman's column definitely put him on the wrong side of COP. Shortly after his column was published, he received a phone call from Romm. A COP insider sent me the exchange between Romm and Friedman: JR: Tom, this is Joe Romm. Listen, about your column today... TF: Uh oh. I already got your three emails about it. Look, I know I'm deviating from the COP playbook... JR: Tom, you can't go soft on me now. We can't let the deniers off the hook. Climate has to remain front and center. TF: I'm not going soft. I just don't see any other way. Listen, I finally got around to reading this report called Climate Pragmatism, which makes a lot of sense to me. Maybe these Breakthrough guys are on to... JR: [shrieks] Nooooo! Arghrhrh... TF: Joe, are you alright? I can't understand you. JR: Breakthrarghrhh [audible choking] TF: No, really, Joe. Come on. You know I'm one of your biggest fans, but I think it might be time for you to consider a new tact. Maybe be a little more tolerant of... JR: Tolerant of who?! The disinformers! The delayers! Tom, don't let them fool you. Those so-called climate pragmatists are flim flam artists. TF: What are you talking about? JR: Tom, listen to me. Ok. Just listen. You need to stay strong and fierce, like a climate hawk. TF: [Sounding offended] I am a hawk! Always have been. And, by the way, look where that got me with Iraq. JR: Water under the bridge. Look, this is the real war, Tom. Civilization hangs in the balance. TF [Sounding distracted.] I feel like I've heard that... JR: Stay focused, Tom. Don't get wobbly on me. Look, did you see my recent post, the one about the tornadoes? This is the stuff we need to keep hitting. We ratchet up climate doom messaging and we whack the deniers. That's the strategy. That's Climate Progress. TF: I'm not so sure anymore. How do India and China fit into this strategy? You know, this Roger Pielke Jr. and his "iron law of climate policy" seems to make a lot of... JR: [choking] Arghghhg. [Loud thud, like a body hitting the ground.] TF: Joe, are you there? Joe, is everything alright? Ok, well listen, you take it easy. We'll finish this conversation another time.

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