The founder of 350.org and author of Deep Economy and Eaarth, Bill McKibben, just submitted a sarcastic Op Ed in the Washington Post that reveals his frustration with climate change deniers.
I have to admit, I’m worried that Mr. McKibben’s strategy may alienate a large segment of the main stream audience. These are the folks the “environmental choir” would love to serenade. Who knows how the hard corps deniers will react? They may distort his headline and use it completely out of context. No matter how clever and witty, a condescending tone could drive their heads and hearts further into the proverbial sand…or was it sand tar?
Personally, I feel great about the fact that our own Elephant Journal “scooped” the Washington Post piece by a couple of weeks with an article I was compelled to write about the flooding along the Mississippi – we connected the dots between extreme weather events and climate change. I tried to avoid venting my anger toward the opposition. Nonetheless, good for McKibben to go for the jugular, and kudos to the fellow who produced this video version of Bill’s editorial! Anything we all can do to introduce whole systems thinking to our citizens should be cheered! Is it really that difficult for people to connect the dots and see the interconnectedness of the whole shebang?
Whether we like it or not, we’re in a propaganda war being waged by those whose lives are dedicated to extractive industries. Many of whom are making fortunes in the process. Believing they are serving a high calling, i.e. to provide raw materials and resources to support the dazzling accomplishments and stunning technologies of our modern age, they defend their turf by spending millions of dollars in advertising to win the hearts and minds of average citizens. The reality is difficult to ignore, our comfort and our life styles depend upon the energy these dirty industries provide. Without the “Captains” of extractive industries, the assumption is, we would all die! The fear of change paralyzes the masses.
The dirty energy industry (yup, it’s dirty, no gettin’ around it) spends millions on advertisements emphasizing security and economic prosperity. Then, just enough doubt is planted in peoples’ minds about moving in a new direction toward clean, renewable sources of energy. This is precisely how the climate change deniers continue to win the day. Their multi-million dollar ad campaigns, parroted by right wing corporate apologists on talk radio mesmerize the masses. Remember, doubt is always the friend of the status quo.
One tactic used in the past goes like this: first they wanted everyone to get caught up in arguments about what to call Climate Change; should we call it global warming or climate change? Then they assign other names like El Nino and La Nina. They borrow these terms out of context from meteorologists to describe certain strange phenomena in order to “settle” the matter. That way no one asks the question: “What might be causing La Nina?” Just blame it on her and the case is closed! There’s no need to look for root causes or interdependent variables that might be causing La Nina in the first place. It’s a neat and tidy distraction.
Here is another tactic: there is a huge distinction between extreme weather events and climate. If we focus on global warming as the overarching climate issue, it is very easy to confuse the public when the weather is unusually cold in one region or another. Most people don’t read or research the issue to learn about the powerful relationship between climate and weather.
You can send this to your Uncle Harry in Cleveland or Uncle Joe in New Jersey – especially if you’re afraid they may not want to turn their air-conditioners down a degree or two. As the Earth’s climate gets warmer ( clearly due to a combination of natural factors AND anthropogenic factors … (the fancy term referring to human caused impacts) – violent, unpredictable, chaotic weather events increase in frequency and intensity. It is both complex and simple simultaneously. Scientists are wary of any direct causality being assigned to natural phenomena, hence, the marketing folks are willing to shamelessly distribute their brazen ad campaigns to prop up their profits. You’ve gotta tip your hat to ’em; their half – truth messaging is brilliant:
“We are Energy Citizens for all Americans” – “The oil and natural gas industry fuels U.S. job creation, the American economy and our way of life: … together we can find commonsense solutions to our nation’s energy challenges”.
I’ve noticed nearly every time I open a link on the internet searching for an article about protecting our environment or researching climate change, I’m subjected to an advertisement for Tar Sands Crude Oil. – or shall I say , this crude appeal to ignore ecological concerns in favor of “economic growth” and “energy security” borders on criminal deceit. If it’s not Exxon Mobil, the American Petroleum Institute or the American Enterprise Institute… the “people” of the Oil and Gas industry will get you! Here is one of their current propaganda campaigns to give you a warm fuzzy feeling…
Here is another illustration of how deeply they are penetrating the internet. Since I completed a 40 day wilderness solo experience in Arizona a number of years ago, I wanted to learn more about the Horseshoe 2 fires currently devastating the unique and beautiful Chiricahua Mountains, yes, that’s correct, this is the smaller fire not being covered by the national media. A whopping 300 square miles have been burning out of control for more than a month. By comparison, the Wallow fire, currently in the media, has scorched 675 square miles and is now crossing over the border into New Mexico. So, what does Exxon Mobil decide to do about that? Oh, they paid for another advertisement to divert the curious reader into a video promotion for their Tar Sands operation in Canada!
Imagine the size of their budget to purchase these banner and television advertisements! I have to wonder how many employees of Exxon Mobil or, hired gun “colleagues”, conveniently placed in right wing think tanks, scan the internet to find every article they can that might actually educate people. Once they find the voices of reason and change, they pay big bucks to place their contrary messages intentionally designed to distract people from thinking about the deeper issues facing our energy future and the viability of our biosphere. (Pew Research now says less of the American public even believes that Climate Change is a real concern). Given the widening partisan divide, oil and gas companies are spending whatever it takes to be certain that overwhelming scientific evidence will not turn the tide of public opinion against their agenda to “drill baby drill” or “frack and extract”. They must be heartened by the Pew polls confirming how effective their misinformation campaign is!
This is what Exxon Mobil representing the Energy Nation people plastered across the top of Bill’s Op Ed piece in the Washington Post: You can click on their pathetic video and listen to Artis Brown, apparently an Exxon engineer, tell you they are “taking on America’s toughest energy challenges”. A banner ad for Goldman Sachs is right there with them.
Here is the transcript of the Washington Post opinion piece and the video you watched at the top of my article… read it and weep, or get motivated to take a stand!
It’s my practice these days to leave you with a song, Cat Stevens inspired our generation with some powerful messages in his music and he’s back better than ever!