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The Carbon Empire Strikes Back
Alex Steffen, 19 May 06

Carbon lobby front groups have begun releasing ads attacking An Inconvenient Truth, essentially claiming this whole climate change this is one big plot by stinky-headed eco-freaks. As Erica C. Barnett notes, the group behind the ads, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, " receives major financial backing from ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute." Best line: "Carbon dioxide - they call it pollution. We call it life."

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I think it might have been someone over at Grist who said that these ads might actually be indirect publicity for Gore's movie, and I agree.

The kind of people who would believe that propaganda probably would never see Gore's movie, but other people might be reminded of the issue (and realize how ridiculous the claims in the ads are) and decide to look for more information.

Lets just hope there are more of the latter than the former type...

Posted by: Michael G. Richard on 19 May 06

How insane and delusional are these people. They will destroy the world for a buck. And not only that they try to brainwash the people to go along with it. I hope this hits them with a backlash so hard their heads spin.

Posted by: Joe on 19 May 06

Those ads are so obvioulsy propaganda and so badly done, they'll drive people to the green side. Only the most closed minds will see them as rational arguments.

Posted by: El Dudo on 19 May 06

If you don't think these sorts of commericials are going to work, then you haven't been paying attention to the success the Bush administration, and all of the polluters out there, have been having using baloney science to cast doubt upon real science. Some of the language - though false in its factual basis - touches the real concern that the American public will have to give up what they are used to. I would publicly challenge that group to have one of their members stand in gas chamber filled with CO2. Let's see how long they "live."

Posted by: Erik on 19 May 06

the real concern that the American public will have to give up what they are used to

Exactly. Facts don't matter to most people. The threat of their comfort does.

Posted by: David Lucas on 19 May 06

Well if the Peak Oilers are right, then we won't have to wait for the switchover, but the Collapse, a Depression that will make the time of the Tulip collapse look like a picnic... okay... maybe not that extreme but it will be baad for quite a few suburbanites. Hopefully my city builds rail links to my cities suburbs but wether we can do it in time or not is a gamble to say the least.

Posted by: Chris on 19 May 06

"Manufactured doubt" is big business for "Product" lobbyists. Pharmaceuticals routinely use them very effectively by making sure that the harmful blockbusters stay in the market sufficiently long (17 years or so for the patents to run out (yes, patients too)) and then release enough harmful information at that time so that 'generics' cannot be produced.

Doubt can be sown on to any claim with the right choice of words. It is sad when major irreversible effects are ignored for a buck as Joe said in the comment above.

Here is an excerpt of evil in action:

....However, "corporations and others who manufacture dangerous products and pollutants have realized that by adding manufactured uncertainty to the equation, they can essentially stop the regulatory process from moving forward," says George Washington University epidemiologist David Michaels.

He said consulting firms hired by industries review critical scientific findings "and pull these studies apart."

Posted by: Subbarao Seethamsetty on 19 May 06

Hell yes those ads will work! Not because the American people are stupid or evil, but because it's alot easier to defend a status quo--any status quo, but especially one that results in a comfortable lifestyle--than to propose vast and radical change in 60 seconds.

Based on my own (admittedly anecdotal and therefore unscientific) perception, Americans have been exposed mainly to "Dark Green" arguments and proposals: threats of massive extinction, "Day After Tomorrow" style climate apocalypse, etc. to be combated through equally massive government regulation.

Then there's the "Dark Green" future: either a Waterworld/Mad Max wreck, or a vision of being crowded into tiny high-rise apartments in a grey city where you can take the bus to the grocery store and the vet, so that somewhere beyond the grimy city walls flowers can grow and birds sing, untrammeled by the presence of humanity.

The idea of a Bright Green future that can be *better* than what we have now has not "sunk in" to the global consciousness yet, despite the efforts of Bucky Fuller and others who have been promoting it for decades. In part, I think, because the necessary technologies haven't been ready for prime time, and maybe because "doom-and-gloom" is more sensational, hence gets more press.

What's needed IMO is a concrete, comprehensive vision of a Bright Green future people will *want* to give up the status quo for.

Posted by: P.T. Galt on 23 May 06

Erik wrote:

If you don't think these sorts of commericials are going to work, then you haven't been paying attention to the success the Bush administration

IMO, it's not "the Bush Administation" but the entire American political process, since television became the predominant campaign medium. Even if there were no Big Corporations renting "both" parties (as if there were two of them), the inherent limitations of "sound-bite" based political discourse would insure the continuation of "politics-as-usual."

I would publicly challenge that group to have one of their members stand in gas chamber filled with CO2. Let's see how long they "live."

IMO, this sort of implied malevolence does more damage to the green movement that CEI and thier kin could ever do. The anti-greens quote this kind of stuff and say, "See, those greens want to shove us into gas chambers and subject us to 'back-breaking labor'!" (cf the reference to "back-breaking labor" in the second ad).

BTW, did anyone notice how both ads end with a cute little girl blowing dandelion seeds? Remember that ad with the little dandelion girl and the nuclear mushroom cloud Lyndon Johnson used to destroy Barry Goldwater? These guys obviously aren't afraid to copy success...

Posted by: P.T. Galt on 23 May 06

One of the ads makes the claim that the Antarctic ice sheet is getting thicker, and asks why we aren't being told about that, as if there is a liberal media/environmentalist conspiracy. It turns out that part of the Antarctic is experiencing increased precipitation, but that is only part of the story. Here is a link to a post regarding one of the scientists dealing with the Antarctic ice sheet who wants CEI to stop misrepresenting his research.

Posted by: Tavita on 24 May 06

Here's another link on the CEI ads, in addition to Antarctic ice sheet issue, it also addresses the question of the glaciers growing in Greenland. The relevant info is about half way down the post.

Posted by: Tavita on 24 May 06



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