Global Warming Foes Trade Barbs Over Threatening E-mail Message

Well, sports fans, the tale of the threatening global warming e-mail message took an interesting turn Friday morning when a representative from the American Council on Renewable Energy sent a message to yours truly containing a response from ACORE President Michael T. Eckhart. As NewsBusters reported here and here, Eckhart sent the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Dr. Marlo Lewis an e-mail message on July 13 threatening to ruin his career as a result of their differences over whether man is responsible for warming the planet. On July 15, Eckhart posted an explanation for his actions at ACORE's blog, and ACORE representative Tom Weirich has asked me to present its contents for your review. As it turns out, Lewis had already published a response to Eckhart at CEI's blog on July 24. This included the text of an e-mail message from Eckhart to CEI President Fred Smith in which Eckhart admitted saying to Smith, "I [will] give you 90 days to show that CEI is reversing its position on [global warming], or I will take every action I can think of to shut you down." Before we get there, here are some of the key points made by Eckhart (emphasis added throughout):

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has made public a July 13, 2007 email that I sent to Dr. Marlo Lewis, CEI's chief analyst on climate change. This private communication to Dr. Lewis is part of a two-year series of communications between us about CEI's campaign to stop public policy on global warming. The campaign is led by Fred Smith, CEI's President, and Dr. Lewis.I apologize to all in the public who were offended by the email, because it was not intended for public display. You could not be aware of the two-year context of it, nor the choice of words in it - words that were only significant to Dr. Lewis and myself. Now that it is in the public, however, everyone deserves to understand the context.

After describing his position on global warming, Eckhart addressed his squabble with Lewis:

In my opinion, CEI, and especially Dr. Lewis, has been presenting a false prosecution - a knowingly false prosecution - of the global warming issue, to the detriment of society and the billions of people who will be affected by climate change. This should offend all who believe in integrity and honesty in public affairs. Dr. Lewis admitted to me two years ago that he does not necessarily believe that global warming is not happening - he is pursuing it for another reason: his philosophical opposition to big government. He has hijacked our issue to further his philosophical ideas about government. I respectfully object.My email to Dr. Lewis was in the context of personal combat and jousting that has been going on in the background - using his own words, as described below, to prod him out this false prosecution of global warming.

After a lengthy explanation of their two-year history, Eckhart concluded:

We must begin a nonpartisan, bi-partisan, and universal move forward to manage carbon in society and implement solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, other non/low-carbon energy, and the management of oceans, biodiversity and forestation. I believe that a cleaner world will be a more productive world with more security, longer lives, broader equity, more peace, more prosperity, and greater freedom than the status quo can possibly offer. It will not be big government delivering a solution, but the entire complex of government, the private sector and civil society adapting to a better path. I believe that an open debate on these issues will reveal the truth of the matter. I call Dr. Lewis out of his analytic hideaway at CEI.I will be happy to debate this out with Dr. Lewis and seek an answer, and again apologize to everyone for having the private email communication leaked to the press, distracting everyone from the serious matters at hand.

Those interested in reading Eckhart's entire response should go here. With this in mind, on July 24, Lewis posted the following at CEI's blog (emphasis added throughout):

Eckhart's so-called apology was nothing of the sort. In fact, it was the very attempt to destroy my career that he threatened to undertake in his nasty-gram.Eckhart's so-called apology claims that I "knowingly mount a false prosecution" against global warming. Upon what evidence does he base this accusation? Eckhart claims that on first meeting him, minutes prior to a debate in which we were opponents, I confided to him that I don't really believe what I say; I just say it as a "tactic" to advance my agenda. How plausible is that?In his "apology," Eckhart quotes from an email he sent to my boss, Competitive Enterprise Institute President Fred Smith, on September 25, 2006. But he leaves out the most pertinent part of the email-the part where he threatens to shut CEI down. By his own account, Eckhart made the same threat in person three months earlier at a meeting he and Smith attended. I attach Eckhart's 9/26/06 email below.[...]From: Michael Eckhart To: Fred SmithCc: Marlo LewisSent: Mon Sep 25 22:30:21 2006Subject: FW: Latest version of my running commentary on Al Gore's An Inconvenient TruthDear Fred:Following up on our meeting at the Rocky Mountain retreat last spring with Al Gore, I am writing to say that I am very unhappy to see this continuing false analysis coming out of CEI, seeking to refute the issue of global warming.At the retreat, I could not understand how you, as a Phi Beta Kappa mathematician from Tulane, could refute what is a valid statistical analysis. You are clearly a highly trained scientist, and yet you are making a living refuting what is irrefutably the truth.What concerns me is that you are credible and persuasive, hence your voice and that of CEI are having the effect of delaying a US response to the crisis.This will have the ultimate effect of putting my two daughters' lives at greater risk, and even more so for their children.The only explanation that I can see is that you are doing this because you are paid by Exxon Mobil and other clients to do so. I find this outrageous, that my children will have a lesser life because you are being paid by oil companies to spread a false story.As I said to you at the time, I would give you 90 days to show that CEI is reversing its position on this, or I will take every action I can think of to shut you down.The 90 days has just passed, and your colleague Marlo Lewis, whom I debated last year and know to be a PhD in Philosophy from Harvard (not a dumb man either), has come out with the email below.I am writing to demand that you and CEI reverse course on this, and do so loudly and publicly, within 30 days, or I will personally file on October 25, 2006, two complaints:1. A complaint with the IRS to have CEI's tax exemption revoked, on the basis that CEI is really a lobbyist for the energy industry;2. A complaint with Phi Beta Kappa that your key should be withdrawn for using your mathematical skills to do the world harm.The fact that you are a lobbyist for the oil industry is suggested by Marlo Lewis' opening complaint written below about Al Gore's movie, that it "[n]ever acknowledges the indispensable role of fossil fuels in ending serfdom and slavery, alleviating hunger and poverty, extending human life spans, and democratizing consumer goods, literacy, leisure, and personal mobility." We are going to see if there is any email traffic between ExxonMobil and CEI about the crafting of those words.You have 30 days to speak the truth, or face the IRS and PBK. I hope you choose to do the right thing.Very truly yours,MikeMichael T. EckhartPresidentAmerican Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE)

Yikes. For those interested, Eckhart did indeed reference this e-mail message to Smith in his July 15 response. However, this is all he said about the correspondence:

In reply, on September 25, I wrote to Fred Smith and Marlo Lewis: "I am writing to say that I am very unhappy to see this continuing false analysis coming out of CEI, seeking to refute the issue of global warming. What concerns me is that you are credible and persuasive, hence your voice and that of CEI are having the effect of delaying a US response to the crisis. The only explanation that I can see is that you are doing this because you are paid by ExxonMobil and other clients to do so. I find this outrageous, that my children will have a lesser life because you are being paid by oil companies to spread a false story."

For some reason, he didn't share the parts where he threatened to have CEI shut down. For those interested in reading all of Lewis' response, go here.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.