The Weekender

Don Calzada

US government lab debunks “Spanish Professor” study

The “whack-a-mole” study by a far-right-wing Spanish economist (and global warming denier) purporting to show that renewable energy is a job killer has been whacked once again.

Wielding the mallet this time was the prestigious National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). As reported yesterday in the blog Into the Wind, NREL’s analysis (available in pdf form, here) concludes:

The recent report from King Juan Carlos University deviates from the traditional research methodologies used to estimate jobs impacts. In addition, it lacks transparency and supporting statistics, and fails to compare RE [Renewable Energy] technologies with comparable energy industry metrics. It also fails to account for important issues such as the role of government in emerging markets, the success of RE exports in Spain, and the fact that induced economic impacts can be attributed to RE deployment. Finally, differences in policy are significant enough that the results of analysis conducted in the Spanish context are not likely to be indicative of workforce impacts in the United States or other countries.

The primary conclusion made by the authors – policy support of renewable energy results in net jobs losses – is not supported by their work. — NREL Study

The report by Gabriel Calzada, an associate professor of economics with ties to the fossil fuel industry, has already been discredited in Spain, as I previously wrote here. The NREL study should be the final nail in the coffin for this report based on ideology not fact. But it’s unlikely to silence supporters. We’re still living in the shadow of the Bush years, when science was trumped by Belief and reality was routinely spurned for the sake of expediency.

(For more on the erosion of scientific literacy during the Bush years, read Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future, by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum.)

NREL studyCalzada’s study lives on, and no amount of rational analysis will slay it. Perhaps there’s a silver lining to this clouded report. By continuing to cite the Calzada “study,” despite overwhelming evidence against its methodology and conclusion, supporters make their bias clear to the rest of us.

Think of it like this: You’re in a crowded room at a party which, you’ve been warned, includes some lunatics (I know, what party doesn’t?). Someone tosses a still-lit cigarette into a trash can full of crumpled paper napkins. You see the flames shoot up and set fire to nearby curtains. Quickly, you shout, “Who doesn’t believe in fire?”

The people who raise their hands — they do not belong on the bucket brigade.

The fire, in this case, is global warming, and the party guests with their hands in the air include the obvious kooks (right-wing bloggers), the less obvious nutters like George Will and venal politicians who, to keep corporate donations flowing in, would willingly raise their hand and swear fire is actually a plot hatched by an Obama Death Panel.

Keep this in mind when Senate debate on the climate bill soon begins in earnest. When a senator cites the Calzada study, make a mental note to help vote them off the bucket brigade the next chance you get.

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