Ecology and Politics and Social Issues10 Jan 2010 10:58 am

I’m always amazed and fascinated at how efficient US propagandists are in creating a debate which draws people away from the real issue.  At other times they simply find a way to change the focus of a movement which suits their purposes.

The women’s movement which started out as a quality of life issue, got morphed into a rather narrow personal rights and monetary issue. This subtle shift in the national discussion allowed our government and corporate structure to capitalize on the women’s movement and slowly have two pay checks equal the purchasing power and standard of living of one pay check a few decades back.

The women’s movement quickly dropped its emphasis on intimacy and personal development and traded it in for consumption and jobs which men were finding oppressive and unrewarding. Instead of freeing men and woman from oppressive roles and serfdom the women’s movement was seduced into joining men in their prison with such deceptive slogans as “you’ve come a long way baby” in a series of commercial celebrating the fact that woman could now use their new found economic life to get cancer like their workaholic husbands they felt so alienated from.

Likewise the propagandists artfully steered the American public away from their fervent opposition to our many wars treating other nations as US property, to a demand that we “support the troops”. Any words spoken against the war(s) were both a source of motivation and “support to our enemies” while undermining the “courageous” efforts of our young men and women in battle. Never mind the fact that the reasons for war were fictitious at best and more than likely morally indefensible.

When the Soviet Union fell the US became the undisputed world superpower. Despite this, the US’s involvement in military conflicts and police actions continued to escalate. Public anger with our government’s international actions and policies grew along with a reluctance to encourage our children to get involved in such military actions.

Then voila we suddenly found (created) an enemy worthy of our fear and hatred. This, of course, is terrorism and the war on terrorism. Terrorists exist no where in particular, but can and as the propagandists say, do exist everywhere.  Terrorists are  as hard to identify as they are to define.

Since terrorists sole goal is to destroy us and our way of life, it is “imperative” that we act aggressively and savagely to extinguish them before they proliferate. The propagandists have used this logic to defend our use of torture, banned substances, and unilateral and unsanctioned military action. The war on terror gives the US reason and the duty to invade any country at any time with or without that country’s permission.

So, now let’s take a look at how the “debate on global warming” is just another example of how good our government and corporate propagandists are at diverting the public’s attention away from the obvious.

The battle between environmentalists and corporate spin doctors and propagandists has been lengthy. At every turn spin doctors have found a way to change the dialogue or find a way to make the most profit out of a situation.

The ecological movement which began in the early seventies suffered a huge set back in the late seventies when an OPEC driven energy crisis and stagflation were used to outweigh all concerns regarding pollution caused by fossil fuels. Public relations departments trumpeted their new “concern for your total environment” putting fisheries next to energy plants while the smoke stack industry tried to make their toxic discharges look more environmentally friendly.

Neatly tailored industrial parks, and beach renovations were used to paint lip stick on the environmental pigs. Nuclear power plants which were not as profitable as coal based plants were phased out as a sign of corporate concern for the public health. Newer plants were able to have the toxic releases of coal plants be less visually obvious, and through the efforts of spin doctors and narrow and highly funded scientific studies industries were able to convince the public that their environment was becoming cleaner and healthier.

The debate over ecological concerns regarding the efficient and frugal use of natural resources would slowly resurface in the early eighties as the economy recovered. It was at this time that a lot of the discussion focused on the deterioration of the ozone layer and its effects on people and wildlife.

Once again corporate spin doctors did an excellent job of posing themselves as well intentioned victims of fanatics and potentially harmful idealists. They fended off attacks by environmentalists concerns regarding species extinction by forming and funding fraudulent and extreme conservation groups who were given ample TV and radio air time as they tried to halt progress in order to save a single bird (like the spotted owl).  Soon the bulk of the American public viewed ecologists and ecological activists as being goofy reactionaries disconnected from the real world.

Likewise, environmental health concerns regarding lead paint, asbestos, PCB’s etc. were posed as extreme measures tending to minor problems. Public sympathy was swayed by the expense, tediousness and inconvenience of the governments (EPA’s) clean up programs and interventions.  Once again the environmental and health concerns of ecological activists were successfully posed as being unnecessary and economically unrealistic and harmful.

The changes and concessions made by corporate America were, like always, done in a manner which increased their profits while at the same time fostering public support and sympathy. Concerns regarding the effects of ozone depletion gave rise to skin and sun screen products as well as more profitable delivery systems than the aerosol can. Highly profitable green industries began to sprout up everywhere from organic food stores to recycling industries and businesses.

The current debate on global warming is just the latest manifestation of how corporate and government spin doctors divert and win public opinion and support. The science regarding the effects of industrial pollution and practices on the environment is still in its infancy. Though much compelling information exists, its models and long term predictions are still crude. The number of variables are vast making it difficult to make any reasonable forecast for the foreseeable future.

The complexity of the situation and science makes it so easy for the spin doctors to make the global warming crowd fit the standard role of naive reactionaries who pose a threat to our economic progress and stability. By forcing scientists and activists to prove their viewpoint through specific predictions over short time frames, they are demanding the impossible, and setting up the ecologists to fail and look ridiculous.

Let’s say when psychologists first talked of the harms caused by physical abuse and torture they were scoffed at and demanded to prove their case. Early psychologists would likely say that abused children would develop many psychosocial problems including depression, increase aggression and violence, low self-esteem and inabilities to establish and maintain relationships. Those who have endured long term or severe torture would have similar social deficits and personal handicaps.

Let’s go on to say that the psychologists were demanded to give specific time frames for the manifestation of these problems to arise. They would say many things, but some psychologists would point out that the onset of many of these problems could be almost immediate.

Therefore, any spin doctor opposed to the psychologists viewpoint could easily distort and destroy the psychologists assertion. One could easily find children and even adults who have been physically abused and tortured who function and appear to be happy and productive people. By writing a few articles stating psychological theories and well documented probabilities as predictions of fact, one could sway the reading public to view the psychologists as reactionary and wrong about their assumptions and predictions of the effects of violence on human beings.

This is what is happening in the global warming debate where spin doctors are now popularizing specific dire concerns and possible scenarios of the effects of industrial pollution as specific predictions. If we do not flood in five years, or all polar bears drown than global warming doesn’t exist or at least does not pose any immanent danger.

Think how easy it would be to form some bogus ecological body and pay them to make outrageous statements or popularize data which negates specific claims. Talk about your low hanging fruit. Think of how many pilot studies and papers are written each day. What if I were paid handsomely to find dubious studies or to find ways to interpret studies to give the impression that if such and such doesn’t happen this winter or this year than the global warming perspective is wrong.

Even though I find much of the current evidence regarding global warming somewhat compelling, to me it isn’t the point. Even if global warming isn’t happening, or at least not to the point to usher in a global disaster or ice age, it doesn’t mean that ecological concerns are myths or needless fear mongering.

The point is that dumping tons of toxic waste into our air and water on a daily basis is most likely not a good thing. It’s hard to prove that abuse is destructive to the human spirit, but its harms are well documented. Just as we could never prove smoking caused cancer, it was obvious it had a terrible track record in terms of personal health.

The debate over global warming is a spin doctors dream. It is diverting the attention  away from the obvious harms of toxic pollution and onto a debate which cannot be decided or proven. Those opposed to global warming do not have to prove that global warming isn’t happening, they only have to show the ways in which any global warming model of their choosing is wrong or inaccurate.

Jim Guido

One Response to “The Global Warming Debate”

  1. on 14 Jan 2010 at 6:17 pm Ellen

    OMG! This was such a great article! I REALLY wish you were around with the whole Bunker-C issue we are currently having on the island right now; with the new Power Plant that is being built and millions of dollars being spent with the awful choice of fuel…i have heard both sides of the story and i am into protecting the environment(not beyond reason at times) BUT…the point is with change, why not be smarter with the decision on WHAT we use…why does it have to be an environmental issue anyways??? If something has negative effects overall….???? ummmm…??? yeah…But this article opens your eyes! And i finally now know what to call the people who mulch of crisis to freak people out and make lots of moolah….SPIN DOCS!!!! and why am i surprised that they are connected to the government…hmmmm KEWL!!!!

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