Climate Change Hero Gets Sarcastic.

Via Bud Wilson
on Jun 11, 2011
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The founder of 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…

A banner ad from Energy recruiting an online army

Have any of you noticed this banner ad lately showing up on your searches?

More Propaganda from your friends in the Oil and Gas industry

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!

Forget paying attention to Extreme Events... we "need" more OIL!

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.

Swaying Public Opinion with OIL PROFITS

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!



About Bud Wilson

As a student-athlete-activist during the tumultuous era at Harvard University Bud emerged with an interdisciplinary degree combining, child development, innovative education and urban social policy. To recover from academia, he moved to the mountains of Colorado and devoted his energy to hosting professional conferences and seminars in Snowmass Village, followed by a few years working with John Denver's Windstar Foundation. He has lots of stories to share about those formative years living in the Roaring Fork Valley. Bud continues to consult with many organizations including Newfield Network, Environmental Communications, Inc. and The Living Green Foundation, Next Culture Network, Climate Colorado, The Unified Field Corporation, Regenerative Community Development of Colorado and The Agora Projects. Bud has 25 years of experience as an awareness & Qi Gong instructor and wilderness guide for Sacred Passage and the Way of Nature. He served as Global Director of Eco-Regional Leadership for The Way of Nature, in May 2011, he co-created and coordinated the first World Nature Quest. More than 35 groups in 17 countries on 5 continents simultaneously communed with the Earth for healing and renewal. He is the Founder and Director of Deep Nature Journeys where he shares his insights and vast experience in service to others. His articles have been read by more than 70,000 Elephant Journal Readers His adult son, daughter and son-in-law are the source of great joy in his life.


11 Responses to “Climate Change Hero Gets Sarcastic.”

  1. Vicki says:

    One has to have their head buried deep in the sand, not to notice the frequency and intensity of our changing climate patterns and severity of storms and weather around the planet. I guess it's easier to be in denial, then to be in awareness, because then one would have to change the way they live and consume, and one might have to even alter their thinking about how we humans treat the only life support system we have, Mother Earth. Great article. Nice work putting some potent pieces together for those disbelievers and deniers!

  2. elephantjournal says:

    Love this! Featuring on our Front Page.

    Wrote this a week ago:… …I'm not sure ExxonMobil's BS ads are doing them any good.

  3. Bud says:

    Thanks for your comments! Exxon alone has spent, and continues to spend nearly $ 20 million funding the disinformation campaigns of think tanks and now they are spending additional millions advertising for their Tar Sands projects. Most likely, when people click on my link to Bill McKibben's article, they will see more than one banner designed to counter his facts and clear warning regarding climate change. I just did, and got a banner ad sponsored by "The PEOPLE of America's Oil and Natural Gas Industry" in addition to a large ad by Exxon Mobil.

  4. Bud says:

    Thanks Waylon! Your previous piece is right on. I hadn't seen it, so thanks for posting the link! The Exxon Mobil ads are virtually everywhere, with a simple message, based on fear and economics "Energy Security and Economic Growth" – Given so few people even read these days they've embedded videos in their banner ads! Someone ought to research how much they are spending to misinform the American Public to maintain the status quo.

  5. You know what REALLY bothers me? Is even if you can't convince anyone about climate change the fact is the crap in the environment from these energy sources and extraction techniques are unhealthy for US… NOW.
    Fracking pours chemicals directly into our rivers and ground water. Can anyone argue that pollution is not making us sick?
    Rather than fighting about climate change can't we just focus on health? I figure we focus on that and the climate impact will improve by default…

  6. […] people who don’t want to embrace the reality of climate disruption. They don’t want to connect the dots between extreme weather events and anthropocentric climate disruption. According to recent research from the Pew Charitable Trust, the numbers of people who don’t […]

  7. Bud Wilson says:

    I just realized that I didn't reply to your excellent observation. I agree entirely with your point. To my knowledge the Environmental Working Group is about the only significant group connecting the dots between pollution and human health. The toxicity we're swimming in most definitely is making us sick and depleting our spirit to resist the insanity of poisoning our planet. Here is a link to my most recent article to move us beyond indifference:

  8. […] nationally-averaged precipitation total was 2.73 inches, which is 0.33 inch above average. The Pacific Northwest and the Southern […]

  9. Bud Wilson says:

    This issue is still extremely relevant if not incredibly urgent and more extreme than ever! If anyone out there is interested in taking action. Let me know what you have in mind and contact me here. Maybe it will inspire another article and more. Thanks