Last Sunday, June 30, the Spokesman published yet another Washington Policy Center "Guest Opinion," this one entitled "Local climate activists’ rhetoric comes up short on action." (The online version has a related title, "Spokane greens fail the climate test.") Todd Myers, the author (and Director of the WPC's "Center for the Environment"), claims in the opening paragraph that 350 Spokane (a climate action group, 350 in parts per million is the sustainable level of CO2 in the atmosphere), "signed a proclamation [that]...would eliminate about 94% of electrical generation in Washington state." That is nonsense no reader should accept. The online article, where he could offer links supporting his statement, offers none.
Mr. Myers goes on to name 350 Spokane and "Rep. Marcus Riccelli and Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and City Council members Kate Burke, Lori Kinnear and Breean Beggs" as having signed a newspaper ad "attacking" the Washington Policy Center’s environmental protection policy recommendations. You can read the newspaper ad here. The ad concerns "Gov." Scott Walker, not the environment. WPC's environmental policy is mentioned in a single phrase. Mr. Myers' assertion as to the thrust of the ad and its signatories is pure partisan political bluster, designed to cast doubt.
At the end of Mr. Myers' article his primary credential for writing his opinion is laid out: "Todd Myers is the author of the book “Eco-Fads” and is the environmental director at the Washington Policy Center, an independent research organization with offices in Spokane, Tri-Cities, Olympia and Seattle."
A book. Let's look at that. The full title is "Eco-Fads: How the Rise of Trendy Environmentalism Is Harming the Environment." It was published in 2011...by the Washington Policy Center itself. WPC not only pays Mr. Myers as "environmental director," but in the interest of bolstering Mr. Myers' credentials, WPC published his book. The book's Best Sellers Ranking on Amazon is "#2,057,240 in Books and #1992 in Environmental Policy." Not widely read, not influential, not peer reviewed, pure opinion. (For quick reference, Prof. Jared Diamond's "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition," published by Penguin Books also in 2011, is currently ranked "#6,510 in Books, #9 in Environmental Policy") Myers' book has all the gravitas of a lengthy Facebook diatribe, but, thanks to WPC money, it is presented as proof of competence.
That Wikipedia has no listing for a Todd Myers ought to be no surprise. Google does better. It leads to a richly footnoted entry in the Desmog Blog that lays out Mr. Myers' standing as a critic of environmental policy. Mr. Myers holds a B.A. from Whitman College in Politics and an M.A. in Russian/International Studies from the University of Washington. "Myers does not have a scientific background, and a search for his name on Google Scholar does not return any articles published in peer-reviewed journals."
Mr. Myers has been selected and is paid not for his expertise in environmental science but for the political opinions the Washington Policy Center wishes to push. Mr. Myers functions not as a thinker, but as a one man opinion mouthpiece of environmental naysaying. Visit his WPC page. The same statement can accurately be said of other directors directors of the "Centers" at WPC. See the P.P.P.S below.
Bottom line: An institution like the Washington Policy Center, amply funded by the members of the Koch donors group (read Jane Mayer's "Dark Money") seek out like-minded political operatives and elevate them to positions of supposed intellectual prominence in local communities. It is not expertise in a field that is required. It is simply the willingness to serve Republican/Libertarian/free market ideology. Money (and the assistance of the local newspaper) can make such people the loudest voices in the room. Pay attention. Check out the credentials of those attempting to form your opinions.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. Mr. Myers in his Guest Opinion attempts to claim the high ground by announcing that he annually buys "11 metric tons of CO2 production" (the average annual CO2 emissions of a Washington State resident) from the "Bonneville Environmental Foundation." Mr. Myers responded promptly to my email request for more detail. He purchases $110 worth of "Carbon Offsets--U.S." In his email he acknowledges, "There is debate about whether offsets make a real difference." Considering the obscurity of this investment and the faith required to believe the money will be well spent, I heartily agree. I expect Mr. Myers would argue carbon offsets are a "free market solution" for the problem of global warming. a problem he elsewhere suggests is mostly insignificant and overblown. If he considered atmospheric CO2 as a real threat he would be advocating for a real free market solution like H.R. 763.
P.P.S. Another example to illustrate the insignificance of Mr. Myers' book: A friend of mine, a retired professor of the History of Science, Dr. Michael Hobart, wrote a scholarly tome entitled "The Great Rift: Literacy, Numeracy, and the Religion-Science Divide." It was published in hardcover in 2018 by Harvard University Press. It currently ranks on Amazon's Best Sellers at #772,306 in Books, suggesting far greater influence among those who read than Myers' book at #2,057,240 in Books
P.P.P.S. On a side note, another member of the Washington Policy Center "think" tank is Dr. Roger Stark. In 2012 his book, "The Patient-centered Solution: Our Health Care Crisis, How It Happened, and How We Can Fix It" was published by the not-so-well known publisher, "CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform." It was 136 pages. It is now ranked #4,939,854 in Books on Amazon...another example of résumé padding.