In an interview with Diane Rehm on Monday, Schmidt admitted that his company’s partnership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), was done for political reasons and was, ultimately, “sort of a mistake.” Moreover, he said that Google was leaving the organization because it was “just literally lying” on key scientific facts – namely, climate change.
Since the on-air denouncement of ALEC’s anti-climate change position, several prominent tech companies have also voiced their intention to leave ALEC or allow their memberships to expire. Among them: Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo, Uber and Lyft.
On Wednesday, ALEC issued its response to Google. Undersigned by 156 state legislators, the letter passive-aggressively undercuts Schmidt’s denouncement by implying that Google is incapable of adhering to its principles:
“Daily, ALEC members and staff are challenged to stick to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism while engaging in debate and finding common ground on cutting-edge issues. While we understand how hard it can be to stick to principles, we are disappointed that contrary to your chairman’s statement, there have been negative consequences for an organization that provides just such a forum for debate and exchange.”
The letter then flatly tells Google that its “calculated departure” is “based on misinformation from climate activists who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial.”
If that is the case, then what are ALEC’s policy perspectives on climate change?
According to its model policy, the Interstate Research Commission on Climatic Change Act, ALEC believes that:
(A) Human activity has and will continue to alter the atmosphere of the planet. (B) Such activity may lead to demonstrable changes in climate, including a warming of the planetary mean temperature. (C) Such activity may lead to deleterious, neutral, or possibly beneficial climatic changes.
So, ALEC acknowledges the climate is changing and acknowledges that human activity may play a role in that. While critics have been poking at the clause that states such activity could potentially be beneficial (and there is plenty of evidence to suggest it is not), the most important clause is probably (D).
“(D) Further, a great deal of scientific uncertainty surrounds the nature of these prospective changes, and the cost of regulation to inhibit such changes may lead to great economic dislocation.”
This is where ALEC’s argument breaks down. There is no uncertainty among climate scientists surrounding “the nature of these prospective changes.” Or, to be more accurate, there is about 2.9 percent uncertainty, because 97.1 percent of scientists and over 11,000 peer-reviewed articles say climate change is a man-made problem.
Just to make sure everyone was clear on its climate position, ALEC released a statement on Thursday that included a claim that its rooftop solar position is similar to that of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC).
Aliya Haq, special projects director at NRDC’s climate and clean air program, issued this statement in response:
“ALEC is drowning in a sea of its own lies, and this is a desperate reach for a lifeline. It won’t work. NRDC is fighting day and night to protect our climate and advance clean energy. ALEC is doing the opposite. It’s that simple.”
“Carbon dioxide has not caused weather to become more extreme, polar ice and sea ice to melt, or sea level rise to accelerate. These were all false alarms.”