October 29, 2009

Climate Cover-Up

Those of you who haven't visited DeSmogBlog.com should do so. A great site that works with diligence to source out and debunk the host of lobbyist-funded climate change skeptics causing confusion in the world of media.

Chances are you've come across a host of them. If you're at all skeptical about climate change, you've been suckered in. Any and all climate scientists will tell you that dramatic change is happening to our climate, and we have something to do with it.

Anything else is carefully-planned confusion by big energy groups who stand to lose a ton of money.

A new book called, Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming by James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore, exposes the global-warming denial campaign in vicious, irrefutable fashion. This book isn't some silly bit of finger-waving by activists, but a concise, well-researched (thanks in large part to my friend, Kevin Grandia) piece of journalism by people who have been immersed in the PR industry for decades.

These people are qualified to call shit...well, shit.

Here's a quote from a review of Climate Cover-Up in The Vancouver Sun:

"Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming is a remarkable deconstruction of what he (Hoggan) argues is a carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign whose goal is to set the agenda in climate policy by discrediting legitimate science and manipulating public perceptions of the scientific evidence.

This isn't a book about the science behind global warming scenarios, it's an analysis by a well-informed insider of how the debate was skilfully framed by public relations experts to call that science into question, exploit the media's weakness for a good controversy and ultimately to sow confusion and doubt in the public's mind."


Sam said...

So as a writer who likes books, and who prefers to write at least sometimes without computers, how do you reduce your footprint?

I see a big push to move everyone onto computers and eliminate anything paper-based. But paper isn't the big environment-wrecker it's made out to be. Why is reducing paper so deathly important, when there's little or no effort to reduce, say, plastics?

I'm not being facetious. SFU now gets taxed for every piece of non-recycled paper they used, which seems ludicrous to me.

Harry Tournemille said...

I don't think I have a response for this, Sam. At least not a satisfactory one.

My personal opinion is that recycling is important (not just paper, but plastics, metals etc) because it reduces land-fill waste. As far as carbon footprints are concerned, I doubt it makes much of a dent, since the recycling process is not exactly environmentally friendly (plenty of chemicals involved).

I see plenty of effort out here to reduce plastics. Blue bins are for both paper and plastics and aluminum, so that seems to be equal for my books.

I don't mind SFU being taxed for non-recycled paper, especially when they have the option to choose otherwise, yet refuse to. Partially recycled paper, or completely recycled paper are not that much more expensive.

But this is all small stuff in the world of climate change and has nothing to do with the book in this post.

My opinion has changed dramatically over the past few months. Real climate change can only occur at policy level, by governments--thus the massive lobbying being done in the U.S.--and thus this book which reveals the bullshit behind a lot of the lobbying.

Does this suffice? Did I answer your question?

Harry Tournemille said...

I should amend my comment by noting that non-recycled paper does have a dramatic effect on global warming as deforestation release a ton of C02 into the atmosphere.

I love and prefer books and will always argue for their existence over electronic versions. So, I guess there's an element of hypocrisy on my part. But a lot of books are being printed on recycled paper these days.

Sam said...

Now that there's money to be made off of green-conscious products, it's in vogue. Ten years ago nobody gave a shit. I mean, I've always recycled, but I'm not ever going paperless, nor will I support any sort of electronic book reader. Simply not going to happen.

So why should I be taxed for something which is inherent to learning and bettering myself? And why should the government be allowed to put economic pressure on me to go electronic? Up till last year Apple was one of the worst polluters, so why is buying a computer, which has to be replaced every couple years, better than going through a couple thousand pieces of paper?

More to the point: Why is the lobbying by the flat-earth, head-in-the-sand, no-global-warming people bad, but that done by the spend-your-way-to-a-better-tomorrow 'green' companies treated like Gospel?

Harry Tournemille said...

Climate change science has been around a long time, so 10 yrs ago, plenty of people gave a shit. They just didn't have the political backing or lobbying power to make it well known.

And I don't think anyone is asking you to go paperless.

You're not being taxed to learn, but the school is taxed when it decides to go a more wasteful route.

You make it sound like it's all or nothing. Buy your notepads and books, write in them. If it's important for you to have super-white paper from virgin, old-growth trees, then so be it.

But when you go to school, you may have to use a computer. And the computer use may be mandated, in order to save money. I see no problem here.

I agree with you about computer waste, but "having" to replace a computer every couple of years is a misnomer. People choose to replace them...to be in vogue, perhaps.

I don't follow your last paragraph. I get the impression you want to side with nay-sayers so you can enjoy your paperbacks guilt free? I doubt you need to go this route.

The climate-change deniers have plenty of literature out (in book form...on paper). But where one side's PR appears to be backed by actual scientists with decades of data, the other smacks of heavily-financed campaigns designed to confuse the public--deliberately mislead them. A sufficient enough answer for the good vs. bad question (at least for me).

Perhaps your outrage is better directed at those who mislead? They're actually selling you something.

But to be fair, there is plenty of exploitation in the environmental movement too. Hoggan will make lots of money from this book, which is probably a far bigger motivator for him than "saving the world".

Most of the "green economy" movement is motivated by capitalism too, not some burning desire to quell climate change. So, I hear your resentment of much of the rhetoric from both sides and feel, in part, the same way.

But in the overly-simplistic sense of which side of the PR campaign is "good", I think the answer is fairly obvious.

Kelly D said...

I wanted to clarify something, Harry. There seems to be a common belief that cutting trees releases CO2 into the atmosphere. Clearly it does not. While a tree is alive it will absorb some CO2 while releasing some O2. When a living tree is cut it does not release any gas like some bugs and animals do. What happens is it stops absorbing CO2 and releasing O2. On the other hand, when a tree dies and decomposes, the microorganisms that break down the fiber will release CO2.

Logging is not the bad industry some groups make it out to be. When properly managed, a harvested forest can be beneficial for he environment.

I am with Sam. Why are we going electronic with everything? It's the same with electric cars. We seem to be short sighted and do not look at the total pollution and energy use of our actions.

We think it takes less energy to Google something than it does to get the information from a printed book. People don't realize that Google is one of the largest energy users in the country, or so I have been told.

When someone says "I'm saving the environment by using a plug in electric car," they are not thinking things through. Sure, there is less pollution coming out of the car than an equivalent petrol version. Not even considering the extra energy and pollution to produce the batteries, the electric car could be a bigger polluter than a petrol version. One would have to consider the energy source of the electricity. A knowledgeable consumer may say, "our electricity comes from hydro so it is environmentally friendly." This is complete crap. North America's grid is one large grid. Simply, if one purchases and charges an electric car in BC, the regulators have to import power from another region that uses less clean energy sources such as coal or natural gas. How is this environmentally friendly. Another one to consider here is the amount of energy leak in the power lines before it gets to your car. Is it really environmentally friendly to drive an electric car?

But back to Sam's comment. If you say your company is producing green products, people will buy them even if you have no proof of your greenness. It seems that everything that is considered 'green' is assumed to be good for us.

Harry Tournemille said...

Point taken about forestry, though I doubt the industry's practices denote the ideal benefit you suggest.

My comment to Sam was more about the rationale behind taxation of non-recycled paper--the idea of being less-wasteful. Nothing in the forestry industry is designed to be less wasteful. Their conservation is designed to protect their longevity.

A lot of Google's energy comes from sustainable sources, to my knowledge (on site solar, I believe)--but I don't have anything in front of me to substantiate this at the moment.

And I think you're missing the point re: electricity. The entire climate change movement (currently) is about finding renewable sources of energy. It's not about pinpointing minutiae and saying so-and-so plugs their car in here and draws from coal plant X. It's a matter of overhauling an entire system, power-grid and power-plants included (look up Smart Grid tech).

That's why coal plants are being shut down and replaced with wind farms. And that's why smart grid technology is being implemented to allow for two-way energy transference.

You say, "Not even considering the extra energy and pollution to produce the batteries, the electric car could be a bigger polluter than a petrol version." Utter horseshit. There is no evidence to support this.

Energy consumption for electric car battery production, power-grid displacement--all important issues to be raised, but also all being addressed in one form or another.

This isn't a static industry, and they're most certainly aware of outdated arguments re: energy transference and location.

Now, if you want to pick a bone with "green" energy, take a look at biofuel production by big oil and the way that's being handled. Some messed up stuff there, and it's being passed off as "green".

Sam said...

Harry, you're way more knowledgeable than I when it comes to environmental concerns. But when you say that the forest conservation by the paper industry is for economic rather than noble concerns, isn't that the entire point of the green industry? It's still about making a buck and selling you shit, and it doesn't address the fundamental problem of consumerism.

Why is no effort made to go to modular products, for instance, a line of shoes where, when the sole wears out, you replace the sole rather than ditching the entire shoe? Something like that will NEVER happen, because it spins against the drive of capitalism.

I don't see using a piece of paper for education as waste. I couldn't think of a better use. The BC forestry industry has actually planted a lot more trees over the last fifty years. If they make a more economically sound paper, like the type made from sugar cane wasteproducts, then I'll buy it. But paper is a necessity, and there's no reason the government should be allowed to tax it the way they tax cigarettes and booze (which I also think is wrong, but that's a horse for a different race).

Sam said...

Also, don't think for a minute that the school pays for any part of its decision. All of that is passed along to the students and taxpayers.

And I don't see the issue as good vs bad, it's simply an old economic model vs a new one.

Harry Tournemille said...

I don't disagree, Sam--at least not entirely. Again, I think what makes the climate change movement differ from, say, an industry designed purely for profit, is its source (the aforementioned data and science). So, in my mind the nobility is part and parcel--an end perhaps justified by often less-than-noble means.

But such is the nature of economics, yes? It's impossible to implement change from a purely utilitarian basis. By this I mean, at the core of every human is the inherent need for personal gain of some sort.

A lot of it is distasteful. And you are most correct that it cultures the way we go about changing.

My comments re: paper usage were not meant to imply that using paper in schools was wasteful. Rather, the distinction was to reconcile methods of practice that are less-wasteful. Shakespeare on bleached-white paper must read the same if it's printed on recycled paper--though there is something to be said for the aesthetic experience attached.

Taxation of paper usage is a strange one--perhaps my comments were made off the cuff. I should think about it more.

Harry Tournemille said...

Oh, and thanks to both of you for the conversation. A worthwhile experience.