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GM exec stands by calling global warming a "crock"

Reuters – February 22, 2008

I pretty much ignored the original story about GM’s Bob Lutz saying that global warming is a crock.  I think I was one of the few bloggers that did though since the web is awash with complaints about his statements.  I do need to comment though on his more recent statements that defend his right to say that it is a “crock of s—“.

Personally, I don’t care what the executive of a major manufacturer says about concepts like global warming. The discussion is not about what people say but about what science and research says. Obviously, others disagree with me as typified by Energy Smart saying:No, Bob, that is not the case. Opinions coming from leaders (and, yes, the Vice Chairman of one of the Big Three can qualify here) shape opinions.” As I have said before on this site, there is enough ambiguity in the scientific proof of causation to drive a Hummer through the hole, so condemning an individual in how they interpret this evidence is not like calling them a “flat earther” (apologies to Mr. Gore). There are even claims of carbon reduction schemes being used to put the US at a disadvantage in the world market and diluter our economic strength.

The reality is that it is the job of companies to create products and services that their customers want to buy, make a profit from that transaction, and return a profit to their investors. Making policy declarations on scientific and political principles is outside of this territory unless it helps them with the above. Condemning any of their statements needs to be taken with that reality in mind.

GM has stated before that they respond to the needs of the consumer as best that they can.  The reality is that it takes months (years) to develop a new car so they need to be very careful about following the “whims” of the market. The consumer is what drives their behavior and they definitely listen to this. The simple naked fact is every time you come out with a vehicle with more horsepower, it sells better than the old one with less horsepower. If the consumer wants less efficient vehicles then is it wrong for GM to build them?

Until the consumer is willing to forgo power and comfort for economy and ecology, GM and all car companies would be foolish to not give them what they want. The industry is ripe with examples of auto manufacturers missing the mark and paying dearly for it.

General Motors Corp Vice Chairman Bob Lutz has defended remarks he made dismissing global warming as a “total crock of s—,” saying his views had no bearing on GM’s commitment to build environmentally friendly vehicles.


My thoughts on what has or hasn’t been the cause of climate change have nothing to do with the decisions I make to advance the cause of General Motors


As part of a campaign against higher fuel economy standards, Lutz wrote in a 2006 blog posting that forcing automakers to sell smaller cars would be “like trying to address the obesity problem in this country by forcing clothing manufacturers to sell smaller, tighter sizes.”

You can read the rest of the news story here.

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4 Responses to “GM exec stands by calling global warming a "crock"”

  1. Nice post on this, even I disagree.

    Now, to be fair, the sentence that you quote from my (second) post on this controversy is directly responding to something that Lutz wrote.

    Lutz: “My opinions on the subject like anyones are immaterial.”

    Me: “Wow, time to get rid of public opinion polls. No, Bob, that is not the case. Opinions coming from leaders (and, yes, the Vice Chairman of one of the Big Three can qualify here) shape opinions. And, opinions (rephrase, ill-informed opinions) on Global Warming are influencing the US (and Global) ability to deal with this very serious challenge.”

  2. A Siegel – but his opinions really don’t matter and neither do anyone else’s. This really isn’t an opinion poll. We need convincing science not speculation. Right now we have a lot of speculation based on inaccurate models referencing inaccurate empirical data.

  3. With all due respect, opinions do matter is shaping public opinion.

    The facts of Global Warming are not “an opinion poll”. But, the ability to motivate government policy, to help sway political leaders to actually look at the facts and take action does relate to “opinion polls”.

    Electing politicians who will actually respect science and scientific opinion relies on something that is, in essence, an opinion poll.

    And, well, the science is convincing. The models are not perfect — absolutely not. However, their problems are as much (if not more) on the negative side (e.g, not accounting for positive feedback loops) as in any overestimation of the problems.

    Simply look at what is happening in the real world, the pattern of temperatures, Arctic ice shelf extent year-to-year, changing animal/plant patterns, etc … Are you actually suggesting that there is a serious reason to question whether there is Global Warming?

    And, are you so into delaying action to deal with Global Warming that you will deny humanity having a major role in driving the warming.

    Opinions matter to making policy.

    And, the science is far stronger than your loose words suggest.

  4. A Siegel – Thank you for your continuing conversation on this topic.

    Unfortunately, the items that you cite prove very little. In fact, the pattern’s that you cite aren’t really patterns at all but rather variations that are well within statistical variation of weather. Also, showing an isolated event does nothing to prove causation and that is the true discussion. Global warming could very well be occurring (I don’t discount that possibility) but the evidence provided by the scientific community is far from certain and any causation analysis is even less certain. Therefore this entire discussion (with today’s verifiable data) is an opinion and Mr. Lutz is definitely allowed his opinion.

    Right now, opinions don’t matter. As regular readers to this site have read multiple times, what we need is better science so that we can eliminate much of the conjecture and guessing that is part of this discussion.