What goes unsaid each time the film director, Gregory Kallenberg, goes on tour, is that Kallenberg is an oil and gas man, with familial industry ties in the Shreveport area dating back 80+ years. Prior to the release of this article, his gas ties have flown under the radar since the film's release in late-2009.
Referred to as “Kuwait on the Prairie” by The New Yorker in an April 2011 feature story and located predominately in northwest North Dakota, the shale formation possesses a vast amount of both oil and methane gas, gathered via the notorious fracking process. Recognizing the economic opportunities that the formation would present to fossil fuel corporations, the U.S. Energy Information Administration penned a report in November 2006 titled “Technology-Based Oil and Natural Gas Plays: Shale Shock! Could There Be Billions in the Bakken?”, highlighting them in some depth.
Among other things, the article lays out the fundamental flaw with NBC’s coverage of anything pertaining to methane gas drilling–they are a “player in that game,” to put it bluntly, with a direct financial interest in the project occurring.
The article then proceeds to discuss, based on that troubling journalistic premise, the “Firewater?” series that took place on the Dylan Ratigan Show from Wed. June 8 through Fri., June 10, revealing all the ways that overarching premise flawed what was pitched as “in-depth coverage,” but in reality, served as a three-day advertising campaign for General Electric and the methane gas industry (an industry GE is a part of).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has only been regulating greenhouse gas emissions for four months, but business groups are already tired of the increased oversight. According to new reports, some of the largest business groups in America are fighting back, urging the President and Congress to strip the EPA of its new authority.
It’s freezing out in the northeast—and to hear some pundits and strategists tell it, global warming may be largely frozen out of President Obama’s pending State of the Union address.
In other words, if waiting for the president to say “climate change” is your drinking game strategy for tomorrow night, you may wind up painfully sober by the end of the speech.
As Joe Romm notes, even those pre-speech analysts who do intimately understand the climate issue (and most do not) want the president to talk about energy innovation, not how much of a risk we’re running from ongoing warming. And at a time when the unswerving focus is the economy and jobs, and the president has just named the CEO of a clean energy company, General Electric, to head his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, you have to figure they’re on to something.
After all, even in the last State of the Union Obama only mentioned climate change twice. And he only did so to quickly reframe it as a clean energy issue:
UPDATE: After posting this, I realized that the idea that climate denial is ideological, rather than corporate driven, is also the explicit and central argument of Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt. There was no intention to slight them–it’s just that I’d read Dunlap and McCright more recently, so their work was at the front of my mind. I’ve added a reference below, and my apologies to Oreskes and Conway.
Recently, I’ve been reading some research by Riley Dunlap, a sociologist at Oklahoma State University who collaborates frequently with Aaron McCright, another sociologist at Michigan State. Together, they’ve done penetrating work on the right wing resistance to climate change science in the US, and in particular, on the role of conservative think tanks in driving this resistance.
In a series of 2010 papers, however, I’m detecting a theme that runs contrary to what many often assume about the driving forces of climate denial. It is this: McCright & Dunlap argue that while corporate interests may once have seemed front-and-center in spurring resistance to climate science, at this point it’s becoming increasingly apparent that ideological motivations are actually the primary motivator. Or as they put it: “conservative movement opposition to climate science and policy has a firm ideological base that supersedes the obvious desire for corporate funding.”
In a recent diatribe on Fox News, the tall hog at the spin-doctoring trough took aim at Ford Motor Co.'s Bill Ford, BP's Lord John Browne and General Electric's Jeff Immelt for recognizing the risks of climate change and advocating corporate policies to combat it. Utilizing logic only the “junkman” could spin, well-heeled corporate lackey Steven Milloy tells us environmentally aware chief executives and business don't mix, then gives examples that illustrate why business needs more green CEOs.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.