The Globe and Mail printed 3 letters of follow-up on the Friends of Science knock-out piecefrom the weekend found here and here. They are in the “insider edition” section for subscribers only, but here is a summary of them from the free section:
Vancouver – In the 15th century, Tim Ball would probably have been criss-crossing the country eloquently opposing the heliocentric theory of our universe, or in an even earlier era, making impassioned speeches claiming that the Earth is flat.
As you many of you know, we here at the DeSmogBlog have been following the Calgary, Canada – based super skeptic group, the Friends of Science, for quite some time now. What you might not have known is that we have been using extremely cutting-edge technology to do so.
Unfortunately, the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, has uncovered our high tech ways in their expose today on the Friends of Science and their connections to the oil industry. So, for those who have not read the G&M piece and in the spirit of full disclosure, here it is: string, tape and paper.
That’s right, much like Senior Agent Jack Malone on the CBS hit series “Without a Trace,” when we are hot on the trail of those kidnapping the truth on climate change, we use the very same forensic techniques – we take a piece of string, tape it on the wall and put two pieces paper with writing on it and make the connection between science and oil. Now everyone can start their own blog just like ours and start outing the bad guys.
We recently did a post on the outrageous claims made by Bonner Cohen, the “tobacco hack turned climate change flak,” in which Mr. Cohen, a “senior fellow” at the National Centre for Public Policy Research, who once stated on the science backing the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke that:
“The science [on tobacco smoke], of which the EPA avails itself, is that which happens to fit the political agenda of the moment …. the one certainty following the EPA's report on tobacco smoke, is that the available science is inconclusive.”
Scarily, his stance on climate change is quite similar:
“Your grandchildren would be best served, when considering climate change that we not allow ourselves to be driven by idle speculation, not by computer models. Simply look at the scientific data and see if in fact we are experiencing anything out of the ordinary.”
Something light for a Friday, this is an hilarious Futurama piece on global warming. The first bit was used in Gore's Inconvenient Truth. This video is constantly being posted on YouTube, so I am assuming many others find it amusing as well. Enjoy!
Here's the whole interview, and below is a good example of Bonner's spin, and a comparison to his old arguments on second-hand tobacco smoke:
Caller: “I do believe in global warming… how do you foresee the future if we keep going with the pedal to metal so to speak?”
Bonner: “Your grandchildren would be best served, when considering climate change that we not allow ourselves to be driven by idle speculation, not by computer models. Simply look at the scientific data and see if in fact we are experiencing anything out of the ordinary.”
“…. what i think is vitally important is that for everyone, that we make the decisions that we make with respect to our environmental and energy policies based on the best available scientific data that we have. We cannot afford to do that based on speculation alone.”
This clip was posted on youtube.com a while ago. It is piece done by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel in response to the notorious “C02, we call it life ads” produced by the oil money laden Competitive Enterprise Institute. These ads were so laughable to begin with, I didn't think anyone could make them funnier, but Jimmy sure does. While it is enjoyable to poke fun at such blatant PR spin, there is the very serious fact that these ads were played heavily in 10 states across the US and probably did exactly what they intended to do; that is confuse the public even more on the issue of climate change.
Rawstory.com has a piece today that hightlights how desperate some people are to continue to spin the climate change story. The piece titled, “Free Market advocate says fight effects, not global warming,” quotes Sterling Burnett, a Senior Fellow with the National Centre for Policy Analysis (NCPA), as saying:
“People assume that the science is sound and leap to the conclusion they must do something, and they know what select something to do, when it’s not so clear what we should be doing,” he said.
Unfortunately for Burnett’s argument, the scientific consensus is clear on what we should be doing: burning less fossil fuel.
Tim Lambert at his ever-interesting blogsite, Deltoid, is reporting that the new environmental reporter for The Australian is Matthew Warren, who as early as June 5th of this year was Director of External Affairs for the New South Wales Mineral Council - an association heavily invested in the promotion of coal-fired electricity.
On many occasions I have heard PR pros exclaim “PR would be so much easier if I only had my own newspaper!” Seems that Mr. Warren is getting just that, his own newspaper to sell the public on the benefits of “clean coal” technology and the like. Mr. Warren will fit in well with the folks at The Australian who have been touting the climate change denial message for quite some time now.
ABC news is reporting that a popular YouTube.com video mocking Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth, first purported to be created by a 29-year old, was actually created by the PR firm, DCI Group. ABC also rightly reports that the infamous climate change “skeptic” funder ExxonMobil is a DCI client. Coincidently, the DCI group is responsible for the creation of “Tech Central Station,” a forum for climate change deniers that just so happens to have received funding directly from Exxon for so-called “climate change support.”
Exxon denies they had anyting to do with the video and ABC reports a DCI representative as stating:
“We do not disclose the names of our clients, nor do we discuss the work we do on behalf of our clients.”
This is yet another in a long list of examples of underhanded PR spin being used to attack the scientific consensus on climate change - it is also an extremely amateurish and immature example of PR in general. DCI's unwillingness to disclose the client footing the bill for this sad little video means they're probably raring up for some damage control on this one. This is a bad PR move on the part of DCI, by covering up their client they are only drawing more attention to the story and making themselves and Exxon look all that more guilty.
Of course, questionable PR tactics by DCI are not surprising, when you consider that DCI's current CEO, Doug Goodyear, was also heavily involved as a PR consultant in RJ Reynold's efforts to manufacture a grassroots campaign against tougher tobacco laws.
I guess when it comes to PR and climate change, we just have to keep “smoking” these guys out of their holes. Sorry, bad pun, had to be done.
The Institute for Public Policy Research, a UK-based think tank, issued areport yesterday warning environmentalists and communicaters to stay away from alarmist language that may be causing more harm than good when it comes to getting the message across about global warming.
The IPPR report is just another in a series of reports and research urging envrionmentalists and those who want real action on climate change to re-think the way we communicate the issue to the public. In any public relations campaign, there is always a real danger of creating an unwanted or opposite effect from what is intended. If the PR program you design is not grounded in thorough research, usually in the form of such things as polling and focus groups, you will always be in the dark about what the actual effects are of your program are.
In the case of the IPPR report, the authors, a linguist and a textual analyst, make the sound argument that alarmist language can elicit an effect more akin to “climate porn,” than a call to arms by the citizenry to tackle global warming. In other words, many public interest groups assume that melting glaciers and heat waves will scare people to action, when in fact it has the opposite effect of people tuning out the message they are trying to get across. PR professionals have known this for years, but much like smoking, we all know that alarmism is bad for us, but many of us continue to do it anyways.