Natural Resources Defense Council board member Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. just became the latest high-profile activist to lament that there are no laws under which to prosecute and jail individuals who disagree with his views on environmental policy. He called for his critics to be sent to “the Hague with all other war criminals.”
This has become an all-too-familiar refrain from the Green left, which consistently confuses debate about policy prescriptions to address climate change with “climate change denial.” It’s a tactic designed to shut down those who would criticize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Obama Administration for a myriad of anti-energy policies by making people fearful of being labeled “climate deniers.”
Which is why it is so refreshing to see this piece from former Obama admiration official Dr. Steven Koonin, who wrote last week in the Wall Street Journal:
The idea that “Climate science is settled” runs through today’s popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided. It has not only distorted our public and policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse-gas emissions and the environment. But it also has inhibited the scientific and policy discussions that we need to have about our climate future.
Would Robert F. Kennedy Jr. see Dr. Koonin, the former undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during Obama’s first term, thrown in jail for suggesting that “individuals and countries can legitimately disagree about these matters” related to climate solutions?
We hope not. Because while the science may be settled on that fact that climate change exists and that humans can influence that change, what is far from settled is how we address the issue. And making the case that the EPA’s ideas for addressing it are wrong is a matter of legitimate debate and should not simply be silenced by loud, name-calling environmentalists.
Most recently, environmental groups such as Sierra Club and Greenpeace, along with a wide variety of left-wing activist groups and labor unions, teamed up to pressure major companies to distance themselves from any political advocacy that challenges the EPA’s agenda and pushes back against the elimination of affordable energy. Just this week, Google announced it was ending its affiliation with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) under pressure from these activist groups who claimed ALEC is a “climate denier” for opposing renewable energy mandates, which raise electricity costs on American families.
By calling ALEC, or any person or organization “climate deniers” for being skeptical of certain environmentalist policies does a great disservice to public discourse surrounding the balance between energy and environmental policy. Good policy is derived from open and unfettered debate, which cannot thrive in an environment in which reasonable dissent is unfairly characterized as a denial of the problem existing altogether.