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James (Jim) Hoggan is one of Canada’s most respected public-relations professionals and the president and owner of the Vancouver PR firm Hoggan & Associates.
A law school graduate with a longstanding passion for social justice, Jim also serves as chair of the David Suzuki Foundation—the nation’s most influential environmental organization—and as a Trustee of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education.
James Hoggan is the co-founder of Stonehouse Standing Circle, an innovative public-engagement and communications think-tank, and the former chair of The Climate Project Canada —Al Gore’s global education and advocacy organization. He also led the Province of British Columbia’s Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Community Relations and First Nations Partnerships.
James Hoggan is the co-founder of the influential website DeSmogBlog and the author of two books, Do the Right Thing: PR Tips for Skeptical Public, and Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming. He speaks, writes, and presents widely on public attitudes toward sustainability, climate change, and the environment.
You can follow Jim on Twitter here: @James Hoggan on Twitter.
You can click here to read James Hoggan’s recent article on “How Propaganda (Actually) Works”
This is less helpful. The idea that we must all wear hair shirts, drive sucky cars and live in cold, dark houses is … well, let’s say, unappealing. If this is the best PR pitch that we can conceive, global warming is here to stay.
There are two problems with this approach. First, there is a danger that people will make one or two personal sacrifices and then feel that they have done their part for the planet; that having accepted responsibility and taken some personal action, they will return to their apolitical lives with a clear conscience. The really big structural changes that only government can make will remain unmade for lack of public pressure.
Victoria Liberal Member of Parliament and former Canadian Environment Minister was asked on the CBC Radio show The House, on Dec. 3 whether he will be looking for a corporate gig after he leaves politics, perhaps with ExxonMobile.
His answer, for the record:“No, I think of all the companies I would be least likely to work for, ExxonMobil would be it. They are definitely the sort of Darth Vader of my life. (Laughs) They fought bitterly to make sure that Canada did as little as possible on the environmental front with respect to Kyoto; they didn’t want to have any model in North America which people in the United States could look to; they did their damndest to discount the science and to discourage any activity here among the business community and the political people as well. I trust that in the future, when it is perfectly clear to everyone, including ExxonMobil, what a mess they made of the opportunity that we had to get in place climate change measures, I hope they recognise and make appropriate apologies for what I describe as a disgraceful performance by a major economic player.”
You may already have heard about novelist Michael Crichton’s ill-advised foray into what he believes is serious scientific prediction, but sometimes this kind of silliness is worth revisiting. Crichton’s latest novel, a highly fictional account of the current climate change debate, is called State of Fear. Though neither as readable nor as believable as Jurassic Park, this volume has won Crichton a surprising amount of time on the lecture circuit, where he has been peddling his imagined expertise in climate science.
The best counterpoints have come – consistently, thoughtfully, reliably and even humorously – from www.realclimate.org. But this post is particularly fun, and it includes a brief but useful description of scientific method. Would that Crichton would read it.
Maclean’s magazine, which has a fresh, new right-winginess about it since the takeover by Conrad Black’s protege Kenneth White, offers “Three smarter ways to save the world” in its latest edition. The writer, Steve Maich, has rounded up some standard-issue “climate skeptics,” including the self-styled “Skeptical Environmentalist,” Bjørn Lomborg, but most of the article is about economics, not climate science.
One of our favourites among the climate change deniers is www.globalwarming.org, not least because it is “a project of the Cooler Heads Coalition. We love that sense of sage reserve, that conservative caution, even if we’re frightened at the prospect that Cooler Heads might prevail.
Here’s a nice example of their work:
“The 60 Plus Association
Senior citizens will be the ones really burnt if this foolish Kyoto Treaty is implemented - burnt with higher energy costs for fuel in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, both of which are essential for their health.”
Blogger Bob Webster presents the perfect case for scientific skepticism in a recent post challenging the link between hurrican activity and climate change. Webster complains that his earlier climate change posts have garnered criticism from “students who were clearly being taken in by the steady drumbeat of disinformation.” He goes on, “I cautioned them to think for themselves and not simply swallow the diet being forced upon them. Scientific inquiry involves sufficiently questioning assumptions of theories in order to intelligently assess their credibility.”
The Times online gives us a sense of what happens when the global warming debate goes nuclear. This is a reminder that PR people and their policymaking political compatriots are always ready to take advantage of a new opportunity.