Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | February 23, 2012

The most important debate on Earth – Never mind the bollocks

Celebrated earth scientists, logical physicists and development practitioners offer a stark warning today, that civilisation is faced with a perfect storm of economic, ecological and social problems driven by a warming planet, continuous burning of fossil fuels, overpopulation, overconsumption and environmental destruction.

All the past winners of the blue Planet prize – the unofficial Nobel for the environment – have this to say:  “Society has no choice but to take dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilisation. Either we will change our ways and build an entirely new kind of global society, or they will be changed for us.”

The stark assessment of the current global outlook by the group of eighteen scientists, including Sir Bob Watson, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser on environmental issues, the US climate scientist James Hansen, Prof José Goldemberg, Brazil’s secretary of environment during the Rio Earth summit in 1992, and Stanford University Prof Paul Ehrlich, is published today on the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the UN environment programme (UNEP). The paper, which was commissioned by UNEP, will feed into the Rio +20 earth summit conference in June.

Yet back on the FOX news world, staged television debates about scientific consensus create the appearance of another reality. The manufactured reality of climate absurdity… Here is the undermining of science masquerading as scientific doubt. This PR manufactured popular reality claims that there is unsettled scientific debate of whether we have global warming or not. Imagine that…

And it gets even worse. The Heartland Institute – a paid for by oil companies think tank – and it’s affiliated spin doctors and PR princes, globally, claim erroneously that the data and the science about global warming are inconclusive and the science is similarly uncertain. Seeking to create doubt in the mind of the action and forestall any governmental action, they have succeeded to undermine proper science. And they also deny that man has any impact on global warming. They offer payment for the services of docile pseudo scientists who can disseminate their dirty climate denying and reality sceptic drivel. Bollocks really…

And then the whole conservative spin machines masquerading as “Think tanks” preach a clear “don’t think” concept and “muddy the waters” with their well oiled PR machine of spinning doubts about the proper earth science and spreading rumours, doubts and innuendo about the facts. They create issues like the PR fiasco of Climategate and engage in still other more egregious crimes and misdemeanors against the public interest. But facts tend to prevail. You can’t hide the truth for too long, even though you might tarnish it in the eyes of the unsuspecting public. Yet we seek the facts – just the facts.

To plug some of these facts back in place, here comes a major leak from The Heartland Institute of Chicago. The Heartland Institute, that is financed by fossil fuel companies and many other corporates has suffered a fatal leak that exposes the intricate machinations and morally corrupt mechanics of the Heartland Merchants of doom, their corporate donors, and their fossil fuel paymasters. The leak exposes most all of it’s unethical and illegal inner workings.

Because after the leak from the Chicago-based think-tank “The Heartland Institute”  it is vitally important to note that the documents leaked provide an insight into how some of those Climate Sceptics and Climate Deniers groups, that are fundamentally opposed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, attempt to convey the impression that their arguments are founded on science rather than on destructive ideology alone.

The Heartland Institute states on its website that its mission is “to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems”, and that the aim of its work on climate change is to promote “market-based, rather than government-based, solutions to environmental problems”. The Institute has been one of the most active lobbyists against policies in the United States to curb emissions, primarily by attempting to undermine confidence in the findings of the vast and overwhelming scientific research that proves, that climate change is driven mainly by human activities and CO2 released into the atmosphere by our burning up of fossil fuels.

One of the newly “released” documents shows very clearly how the institute intends to target teachers and schoolchildren with this strategy. It begins by claiming:

“Many people lament the absence of educational material suitable for K-12 [kindergarten to 12th grade] students on global warming that isn’t alarmist or overtly political. Heartland has tried to make material available to teachers, but has had only limited success. Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.”

The Heartland document then suggests that it will pay Dr David Wojick, described as “a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the US Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science”, to produce teaching materials which emphasise controversy and uncertainty about climate change:

“Wojick would produce modules for Grades 7-9 on environmental impact (“environmental impact is often difficult to determine. For example there is a major controversy over whether or not humans are changing the weather”), for Grade 6 on water resources and weather systems, and so on.”

This, of course, is a biased and distorted representation of current scientific knowledge, and conflicts with the approach to school lessons outlined by a recent workshop on climate change education, hosted by the United States National Academy of Sciences, which begins with the statement: “The global scientific and policy community now unequivocally accepts that human activities cause global climate change”.

However, the emphasis on uncertainty and controversy is very much in line with another famous leaked document, the so-called Luntz memo, which came to light in 2003. It was prepared by Frank Luntz, the favourite opinion pollster of President George W Bush, and contained advice for Republican activists on how to talk to potential voters about environment issues. On climate change, the memo offers the following recommendation:

“The scientific debate remains open. Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field.”

The strategy of playing up controversy and uncertainty to undermine confidence in well-established scientific findings was pioneered by the tobacco industry to avoid and delay regulation of its products. As Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway point out in their book Merchants of Doubt:

“Doubt is crucial to science – in the version we call curiosity or healthy scepticism, it drives science forward – but it also makes science vulnerable to misrepresentation, because it is easy to take uncertainties out of context and create the impression that everything is unresolved. This was the tobacco industry’s key insight: that you could use normal scientific uncertainty to undermine the status of actual scientific knowledge.”

The Heartland Institute documents leaked last week, also contain details of another activity designed to give its ideological campaign against emissions regulations a veneer of scientific credibility. It notes that the Heartland Institute sponsors the “Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), an international network of scientists who write and speak out on climate change”.

Again this echoes an approach outlined in the Luntz memo:

“You need to be even more active in recruiting experts who are sympathetic to your view, and much more active in making them part of your message. People are much more willing to trust scientists, engineers, and other leading research professionals, and less willing to trust politicians. If you wish to challenge the prevailing wisdom about global warming, it is more effective to have professionals making the case than politicians.”

And it also copies the tactics of cigarette companies which, according to Oreskes and Conway, hired a renowned geneticist in the 1950s to “head the Tobacco Industry Research Committee and spearhead the effort to foster the impression of debate, primarily by promoting the work of scientists whose views might be useful to the industry”.

The Heartland Institute documents demonstrate once again how those driven by ideological dogma or vested commercial interests attempt to hide their true motives behind a facade of false controversy and uncertainty in science.

But let us examine the other side of the coin…

Because in clear contrast with the haters of the environment and the earth, the pure scientists, the logical conservative thinkers and environmental activists know full well that there are solutions we can engage in, besides destruction & the burning up of everything, and the wasteful covering up of the facts…

And let’s not forget that proper worthy science, gives us solutions not only problems and warnings. And thus the Blue Planet group of leading thinkers offers us solutions too. Cause apart from their dire warnings about biodiversity loss and climate change, the group challenges governments to think differently about economic “progress” in order to reach the solutions.

They had this to say on limits to growth and economics:

“The rapidly deteriorating biophysical situation is more than bad enough, but it is barely recognised by a global society infected by the irrational belief that physical economies can grow forever and disregarding the facts that the rich in developed and developing countries get richer and the poor are left behind.

“The perpetual growth myth … promotes the impossible idea that indiscriminate economic growth is the cure for all the world’s problems, while it is actually the disease that is at the root cause of our unsustainable global practices”, they say.

The group warns against over-reliance on markets but instead urges politicians to listen and learn from how poor communities all over the world see the problems of energy, water, food and livelihoods as interdependent and integrated as part of a living ecosystem.

“The long-term answer is not a centralised system but a demystified and decentralised system where the management, control and ownership of the energy technologies lie in the hands of the communities themselves and not dependent on paper-qualified professionals from outside the villages.”

“Community-based groups in the poorer most inaccessible rural areas around the world have demonstrated the power of grassroot action to change policy at regional and national levels… There is an urgency now to bring them into mainstream thinking, convey the belief all is not lost, and the planet can still be saved.”

The answer to addressing the critical issues of poverty and climate change is not primarily technical but social, say the group. “The problems of corruption, wastage of funds, poor technology choices and absent transparency or accountability are social problems for which they are innovative solutions are emerging from the grassroots.”

To transition to a more sustainable future will require simultaneously redesigning the economic system, a technological revolution, and, above all, behavioural change.

“Delay is dangerous and would be a profound mistake. The ratchet effect and technological lock-in increase the risks of dangerous climate change: delay could make stabilisation of concentrations at acceptable levels very difficult. If we act strongly and science is wrong, then we will still have new technologies, greater efficiency and more forests. If fail to act and the science is right, then humanity is in deep trouble and it will be very difficult to extricate ourselves.

The paper urges governments to:

• Replace GDP as a measure of wealth with metrics for natural, built, human and social capital – and how they intersect.

• Eliminate subsidies in sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture that create environmental and social costs, which currently go unpaid.

• Tackle overconsumption in the rich world, and address population pressure by empowering women, improving education and making contraception accessible to all.

• Transform decision-making processes to empower marginalised groups, and integrate economic, social and environmental policies instead of having them compete.

• Conserve and value biodiversity and ecosystem services, and create markets for them that can form the basis of green economies.

• Invest in knowledge through research and training.

In conclusion:

“The current system is broken,” said Sir Bob Watson, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser on environmental issues.

“The current system is driving humanity to a future that is 3-5 Celsius warmer than our species has ever known, and is eliminating the ecology that we depend on for our health, wealth and senses of self.”  _

 Methinks, that perhaps it’s high time to tweak a few things or change some of our more blatantly erroneous beliefs, practices and ways.
Not for any political or ideological reasons but because our very existence is at stake.
We don’t need to wear a hair shirt, and our economy will thrive – thank you very much – but our outlook will be sustainable right along with our future. And we aim to create just this future, because we love life.
Please network and share this post widely. Repost it. Pass it on the FB social network.  Give it some Tweeter love and share with your mates, family and friends.
Because this is an issue we need to win. Make no mistake – this debate has to be won, because it is the most critical debate on earth. Today and forever…
And please never mind the bollocks…

Yours,

Pano

PS:

And while all this is going on, the planet and it’s people face a near certain perfect storm with climate catastrophe, global warming, and ecosystem collapse, as the abuse of the environment continues.

This has created an ‘absolutely unprecedented’ emergency according to the top earth scientists, but the public is lulled to sleep because of the Merchants of Doubt from Heartland and the conservative climate sceptics and the total focus on the current economic morass.

Yet there is no exclusion of economy from ecology but rather the intermarriage between the two…

Apparently even the best scientists sometimes forget the link between Ecology and Economy. In my mind, it all starts by taking care of the Ecos. Because Ecos means Home. So lets start by taking care of our home here. Let’s take care of this Earth ecosystem, and trust that she will take care of us and provide for us fully… as she has done for so many Millennia this far. Simple. We need to clean up our act. Can’t poop where we breath and eat… Stop treating the atmosphere like an open sewer.

And then there are great benefits with change. Because there is tremendous wealth to be gained from Cleantech and Greentech to provide for all of our Energy needs. If only we took to it seriously, like the change we need to engage in, when the doctor says we should change just to survive. Give up smoking… give up burning up things and stop fouling up the atmosphere. Simple.

I’ve always said where the real “Wealth of the Nations” stands.  And in my speech at the UN under that banner, I was rather conclusive.  Happy to recite if anyone wants…


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: