Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sutherland Institute's "Earth Week": A Look at the Guest List

The Sutherland Institute has announced "Earth Week 2008: The Future of Utah." From the press release:

From April 22-25, the Sutherland Institute is launching Earth Week 2008: The Future of Utah. The nation's top energy and climate experts will be in Salt Lake City to discuss the effects that "green" policies will have on the state of Utah. These experts know the truth about man-made global warming, the benefits of nuclear energy, and the disastrous Clinton "off-limits" policy regarding the Grande Escalante Staircase.
With no mean spirited intent toward the forum before it even begins (I plan to attend if possible), though with admitted skepticism that this event will be no more objective than Lyall's blogposts from his Heartland trip, I did a little research into their selection of speakers. Unfortunately a predictable profile.

Judge for yourself:
  • Dave Tabet, Program Manager, Utah Geological Survey. Little information on Mr. Tabet, outside of his various presentations on oil sale production, and various personal opinions of friends at the BLM.
  • Roy Innis, CORE president, and former state chair of the 2000 Alan Keyes' campaign. My first recollection of Roy's insight was this little gem from Townhall:
    Agitators use global warming and “corporate social responsibility” to force companies to acquiesce to their agendas – and ignore human rights to energy and technology, and people’s desperate cries for a chance to take their rightful places among the Earth’s healthy and prosperous people.
  • Jack Spencer, author of the Heritage Foundations infamous "There Is No Energy Shortage"
    Think about it. The legitimacy of these draconian efforts is rooted in the notion there is an energy shortage. Conservation, after all, makes sense when there is a shortage of something.But energy is not in short supply. There are fossil fuels, and lots of them, right here in America. Yet America is one of the few nations that chooses to leaves much of its own reserves untapped.
  • Willie Soon, chairman of Republican think tank Science and Public Policy Institute. Soon was widely criticized by fellow scientists for his use of "research and review" of his peers and his attempts to influence public policy using funds from the American Petroleum Institute. From his ExxonSecrets Factsheet:
    Published, with fellow sceptic Sallie Baliunas, an article in the Climate Research journal which reviewed the work of a number of climate scientists who concluded that the last century is the hottest in the last 1000 years. The article, partly funded by the American Petroleum Institute, caused the resignation of three of the journal's editors, in protest at the peer review process. The peer review process was conducted by New Zealand sceptic scientist Chris de Freitas. The Soon/Baliunas article was widely picked up by Exxon-funded groups and led to a Senate hearing chaired by James Inhofe (R-OK).
  • Roy Spencer, Heartland Institute member ('nuf said?), vocal "intelligent design" supporter, and accomplished meteorologist. Spencer developed one very cool method for monitoring tropical storms that once held my reading interest for an entire week (a long time for my attention span). His book Climate Confusion was panned by, well, the entire climate research community, so probably not the expert he portrays himself to be. (Starting to notice the pattern with these speakers though? Yeah, me to.)
  • Ann McEelhinney and Phelim McAleer, the folks behind the anti-environmentalist documentary Mine Your Own Business.
Just as we would any public forum (and free to boot!) we urge our readers to go. But in the interest of providing you a fair look at what they plan to offer, I must advise you to expect nothing new from this event.

It is unfortunate that for those who truly want to learn about climate change and make an educated decision on global warming policy would have to look so hard to find it, amidst the emotional arguments of both supporters and deniers of global warming suppositions. With a look at the line-up for Sutherland's "Earth Week," it's apparent the search for the real meat of this issue is still up to us.


  1. I'm glad they are going to settle it once and for all, "there is no human caused global climate change." Would you like grape, orange, or tropical punch?

    For their next forum, they'll have Cleon Skousen, Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia settle the proper interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

    Is Cleon still alive?

  2. Jason,

    We'd love to have you come. We're not afraid of the debate, unlike many of the scientists for global warming who have been invited to similar events around the country but have refused to do a point counter-point discussion because there science and reasoning don't stand up to rigor when examined closely. Frankly we hope there is plenty of good, civil discussion.

    On a different note, Jason, for all your research and attempted discrediting (especially Soon --and who are the critics btw-- this is the guy who is the Smithsonian Professor at Harvard, not a position you get by playing loose with numbers) of the speakers coming into town, I find it ironic you do nothing of the sort with respect for those advocating for global warming. Since when did Al Gore, Al Sharpton, Pat Roberston and Newt Ginrich become PhDs in science. If you want me to take your criticism seriously then at least take a hard look at where the $300Million that Al Gore is spending and who has the most to benefit from the regulation and investment in green technologies that will come from the upcoming fear campaign.

    Until then your crtique of my posts (or other man-made global warming skeptics) are a bit of the pot calling the kettle black don't you think.

  3. Jason,

    I work at Sutherland, and I have to say that I was a bit confused by your post (more on that in a second). I do hope that you will attend our event, because the purpose of it is to encourage dialogue that gets past the hype that is dominating environmental policy debates. If you come with an open mind I think you will find that to be the case. I hope to see you there. Now on to my confusion.

    Here's my question: if you don't expect to hear anything new and interesting on environmental issues from a Harvard climate scientist (Soon), a civil rights activist (Innis), a nuclear policy expert (J. Spencer), a respected meterologist (R. Spencer), and a Utah natural resource guru (Tabet), who do you expect to hear new and interesting information from?

    As I read it, the message of your post seems to be that you don't expect to hear anything good from these folks because they all have opinions and those opinions don't align with yours. It doesn't sound like you want debate and new information, it sounds like you want to be reassured by people who agree with you.

    If you don't keep an open mind on the issue, and if you judge comments and opinions based solely on the background of who is saying it rather than what's being said (especially if you do this before even hearing what they have to say), how can you ever expect to learn anything new about environmental issues, or anything else for that matter?

    Once again, I hope that you and your readers to attend the forums. I also hope however that you will attend with an open mind, ready to discuss the issues with these people who know a lot about them, and subsequently have their own opinions about them. Cheers.

    Derek Monson

  4. Lyall and Derek,

    I admire the tenacity you show in defense of your forum.

    But your fist mistake is assuming that I am not a skeptic of existing science myself.

    What I object to is the disingenuous nature of forums such as these (from both sides of the debate) where the deck is stacked to promote a specific agenda, rather than focusing on disseminating information to the public.

    "Earth Week?" C'mon.

    We will be there, but in an effort to keep you honest, not because you have offered us a forum to attend that will present an objective snapshot of the science that exists, but rather because the guests you have chosen make you just as suspect as any out there promoting their point of view under the guise of public education.

    In closing, simmer down. You make yourself look foolish.

  5. Lie-all

    You're one dumb crazy mother fucker.

    Keep spinning your bullshit asshole.

    Hey, just wondering if you would like to go get a couple of two dollar whores with your buddy Mero? Yup! That's right asshole! I'm calling you for what you are, a lie-all bastard.

    The Man!