J’Accuse Robert J. Samuelson, J’Accuse …

J’Accuse Robert J. Samuelson of facilitating inaction in the fact of J'AccusePeak Oil.

J’Accuse Robert J. Samulson of putting this nation, humanity, my (and your) children at greater risk through his peddling of false information about options to deal with Global Warming.

J’Accuse Robert J. Samuelson of putting this nation, humanity, my (and your) children at greater risk.

Robert J. Samuelson, J’Accuse … J’Accuse

J’Accuse, by Émile Zola is perhaps the most influential single , “greatest newspaper article” in history. It caused an uproar in French politics.  “No other newspaper article has ever provoked such public debate and controversy or had such an impact on law, justice, and society.” Amid the falsely based prosecution of Dreyfus, it accused the French system of anti-Semitism and covering up treasonous acts by another.  It is a powerful and important work, one that should be studied and remembered.  And, it can speak to our times in so many ways.

And, when it comes to Global Warming,

“la verite est en marche et rien ne l’arretera”

Truth is on the march and nothing can stop it.

Robert J. Samuelson, J’Accuse.  I accuse you of fostering a rear-guard battle against the truth.  I accuse you of using your pedestal at Newsweek, The Washington Post, and elsewhere for peddling falsehoods cloaked in seeming reasonableness.  I accuse you of seeking to confuse, rather than enlighten, on the critical issue of our times.

In Newsweek, The Washington Post, and elsewhere, Samuelson just published Greenhouse Simplicities which was an attack on the previous week’s Newsweek cover story The Truth About Denial.

Samuelson’s claim:

The global-warming debate’s great un-mentionable is this: we lack the technology to get from here to there.

Upfront, clearly, unequivocably: THIS IS FALSE, THIS IS NOT TRUE.  We, the United States and humanity, already have in had energy efficient options to dramatically cut energy use and therefore emissions. (Well, that compact flourescent lightbulb that cuts your lighting electricity by 73%, that is just the tip of the (melting) iceberg folks.)   To quote
Royal Dutch Shell’s CEO,

More than half the energy we generate every day is wasted.

What’s the point of producing even more energy if we continue to waste most of it? Instead, we should aim to become twice as efficient in our use of energy by the middle of the next century. That is entirely feasible, provided that the will is there.

We have renewable energy (and, yes, nuclear power as well) technologies aleady in hand that can be displacing coal-fired electricity.  We can (solely using technologies that already exist today), eliminate coal from our electricity system within twenty years.

That is entirely feasible, provided that the will is there.

Well, what does Samuelson claim:  “At best, we might curb emissions growth.”

Simply, purely, not true.  

That is, unless we abandon any concept of an American ability to lead the world to a better future.  Oh, well, Samuelson has abandoned that as he states:  

Democracies don’t easily adopt painful measures in the present to avert possible future problems.

That is true, not easily.  But, do we abandon all hope in the face of this?  I guess, for Samuelson, that is the case.

But, he wants to pound this in.

One way or another, our assaults against global warming are likely to be symbolic, ineffective or both. But if we succeed in cutting emissions substantially, savings would probably be offset by gains in China and elsewhere.

Ah, why bother to do anything, after all the Chinese and others in that ‘developing world’ are going to be polluting?  Well, hmmmm, would not smart policy create a path for them to leapfrog to a sustainable and prosperous energy future, avoiding as much as possible heavy fossil fuel pollution?  “Entirely feasible, provided tha the will is there. …”

What to do about global warming is a quandary. Certainly, more research and development. Advances in underground storage of carbon dioxide, battery technology (for plug-in hybrid cars), biomass or nuclear power could alter energy economics.

Certainly it is a quandary, because those like Samuelson are inhibiting moves to anything sensible.  

This is Samuelson’s favorite.  

He claims that we don’t have anything in hand to do something about emissions (a claim, again, that is false) and thus we need to do research. Research to find that Silver Bullet solution.

Well, first off, there is no Silver Bullet solution. But the right path is that we do fund research, we do look for better paths forward, we do look for great new technologies. But, as we search for the better mousetrap to come, we start employing the great ones that we have in hand.  

We have, in hand, much of what is required to create a prosperous and sustainable energy future despite the truthiness propaganda coming from the likes of Robert J. Samuelson.

Samuelson’s concluding paragraph begins:

But the overriding reality seems almost un-American: we simply don’t have a solution for this problem.

Yes, there are solutions. To again quote from an oil company executive, a solution path

is entirely feasible, provided that the will is there.

Well, Robert J. Samuelson, I have the will. Others have the will.  We have the will to Energize America and the Globe to a prosperous and sustainable energy future.

This future “is entirely feasible, provided that the will is there.”

We will, Mr. Samuelson, we will provide that will.

Ask yourself:  Are you doing your part to

Are you ready  to do your part?

Your voice can … and will make a difference.

So … SPEAK UP … NOW!!!


  • Samuelson is impressive for how much mendacity he can fit into just one column.  See Mary’s excellent Global Warming Naysayers for a discussion of other areas where we should say, “Robert J Samuelson, J’Accuse”.  
  • Samuelson, sadly, often merits being called out.  Just over a year ago, J’accuse! Distorting reality in “Global Warming’s Real Inconvenient Truth”, which was about a Samuelson OPED that “has factual errors, misleading statements and conclusions, and provides a counterproductive path for thinking about and achieving change for a better future.”
  • Answer the Call for a better future.


3 responses to “J’Accuse Robert J. Samuelson, J’Accuse …

  1. Thank you for calling Samuelson out! Not only are his opinions untrue, they serve to extinguish hope that we can do anything about global warming, which is arguably even more dangerous than his outright lies. His attitude is completely defeatist: we can’t do anything so why waste our time and money.

    At a recent dinner party, when some sought to try to clear up some of Samuelson’s erroneous ideas about our ability to address the climate crisis. Samuelson’s answer (reportedly): I don’t write about global warming, I’m not an expert, and I don’t want to learn anything more about it.

    Could have fooled me. I guess writing columns about global warming for the Washington Post doesn’t count?!?

  2. Here is a letter to the editor NRDC submitted to the Washington Post on Samuelson’s op-ed.

    In his recent op-ed (Global Warming Simplicities, August 14) Robert Samuelson agrees that we need to curb global warming pollution and a good way to do it is a cap-and-trade system. But it is surprising how little faith he has in the power of markets to deliver the technology necessary. Existing clean energy technologies will be widely deployed as soon as the President and Congress create the right market signals for clean energy investors and consumers. They can begin by adopting an emissions cap and other policies to reward those investments.

    If we shrink emissions cap at a steady, predictable rate over the coming decades, ideally two percent a year until 2050, more and increasingly better clean technologies will be developed and brought to market. And if we act early enough, Americans will be selling this technology to the rest of the world, not buying it from abroad.

    As for the emissions from China and India, by leading the way ourselves, we can help them avoid the mistakes we have made and help them find a cleaner, safer path to economic growth without putting the earth’s climate at risk.

    David Doniger

    Policy Director

    Natural Resources Defense Council

  3. Pingback: Truthi-Samuelson Strikes Again « Energy Smart

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