I’m still hungover from the Greenpeace Digital Mobilisation Skillshare: and I’m not just talkin about the after party after-effects (Pirates, Ninjas, iPad band, say no more…); I’m talking about the profound kind of headache you get from imbibing so much heady and thought-provoking information that you come home reeling. As Michael Baillie(@mikebailllie) put it, the whole thing was “SupercalifragilisticexpedaliAWESOME.”
Category Archives: Environmental Issues
A scientist who is paid to have an opinion is not a scientist. He’s a lobbyist. And Congress isn’t supposed to call lobbyists in as expert witnesses to give scientific opinions. Patrick Michaels probably knew that when he told Congress he got less than 3% of his funding from oil. So he got to testify. Alone among the scientists who spoke to the subcommittee on Energy and Commerce, he said climate change was no big deal, required no action. Then on CNN he, whoops, mentions that 40% of his funding comes from the oil industry.
Which means when he told Congress he was an independent scientist he was, not to put to fine a point on it, lying out of his methane-spewing ass.
Thing is, this happens all the time. Journalists quote these guys as “scientists” and neglect to mention who is paying for their microphone. Politicians consult with them. The public listens to them. And the Koch brothers, who fear a loss of profits above all else, keep pumping millions of dollars into the denial industry to keep everyone taking the blue pill that says it’s all fine, nothing to see here, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Kert Davies, a researcher at Greenpeace USA, has been following the money and exposing this shell game for years now at his Exxonsecrets.org website. Me, I think it’s time we take the data there, link it into some face recognition software, and give journos and politicos an augemented reality App which will allow them to hold their phones up to the pie-holes of these schills and see immediately just how well oiled their opinions are. Something like this:
We’d be moving toward action on climate change quicker if more people bought that app, and fewer bought the line that global warming science is inconclusive.
So the chief of Ryanair doesn’t believe in global warming, says this article in the Telegraph today, and Joss Garman delivers one of the best put-downs ever:
“Personally, I wouldn’t trust ‘O’Really’ to tell me the price of a seat on his own airline, but to be fair his position does have the support of such intellectual heavyweights as Nick Griffin, Sarah Palin and George W Bush.”
Scorch! Just for fun, I decided to see if the airline that will sell you anything at an extra fee offered carbon offsets. This is what I got for search results:
Dear BP ChairmanCarl-Henric Svanberg,
So. BP is not like the other oil companies. It cares about the “small people.” Well I enclose a picture of two small people that I care about.
If YOU cared about them, you’d be getting your company out of the deadly, dirty fuels business that is coating the dreams of their future in a filthy, oily sludge.
If you cared about these small people, you’d be getting out of the business that sent America to war for more oil, only to have the oil pay back its thanks by invading America’s shores.
If you cared about these small people, you’d admit what you know: that an alternative future is not only possible, it’s happening. That Spain is generating more than half of its power with wind on some days. That China is building a new windmill every four hours. That wecould have a 95% renewables energy mix worldwide by 2050 using existing technology and create MORE jobs doing so than on the current dirty, deadly path.That America’s addiction to oil is unnecessary, making the horrific stories of human suffering, wildlife deaths, and the loss of jobs in the Gulf all the more tragic.
You’d apologise for Katrina, and the more frequent and more deadly Katrina-like events that these small people will see in their lifetimes.
You’d apologise not for an oil spill, but for all the ways you are knowingly screwing up the planet these small people will live in with your crude oily slime.
Apology. Not. Accepted.
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 2010
The unanimous Declaration of the fifty United States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with a dirty, deadly energy source, and to assume among the powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness, and the right to a secure and unpolluted future for their offspring.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Energy becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute an Energy [R]evolution, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing their power sources in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Energy Sources long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Energy Sources, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Energy Production. The history of the present Fossil Fuel Economy is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
British Petroleum and the Fossil Fuel Industry have refused Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
They have obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing their Assent to Laws for establishing environmental protection.
They have made judges and elected official dependent on their Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
They affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
They have combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving their Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
They have quartered large bodies of armed troops on foreign soil, and protected them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of those States
They have used those troops for cutting off Trade with parts of the world,
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
They have plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, and destroyed the lives of our people.
They are at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of a civilized nation.
They have constrained our fellow Citizens to bear Arms, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. An Energy Source whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the fueler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British Petroleum brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Energy-Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the Fossil Fuel Economy, and that all polluting connections between them and Big Oil, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Energy Independent States, they have full Power to shift to Renewable Energy Sources, to catch up with such investments in Wind, Wave, Solar, and other forms of clean renewable energy as other foreign nations have done, and to aggressively accelerate the transition to clean energy.
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Chalk one up for Social Media, the megaphone of the world’s second superpower, Public Opinion. Over the weekend, Nestle conceded to worldwide demand that they stop using palm oil from rainforest destruction in their products.
Our flagship tactic in this campaign was a parody of a Kit Kat ad, which Nestlé, in what in public relations circles is known as a “Fuck ME, how could you be that stupid?” move, attempted to ban from the internet. Which virtually guaranteed that “the internet” would strike back and insist that it be seen. (It finds censorship distasteful, this Internet Thing…) They created a cause celeb out of a brand attack, and fuelled the fire of their own roasting.
They fanned those fires by a hamfisted handling of the reaction on their Facebook page, where people flocked to protest the clearing of Indonesian rainforest to plant palm trees, or to cry foul over censorship of Greenpeace, or to, frankly, join in the fun of watching a public relations bonfire. Nestlé’s official voice came across as dictatorial, condescending, and clueless. Some posters were heckled by the Nestle administrators, some even found the only answer they got to their appeal to the company’s conscience was advice on improving their spelling.
There was something very deep at work here. Nestlé, no stranger to public criticism, appeared to have no experience in handling it. They profoundly failed to listen to their customers. They underestimated the brand damage that could be inflicted upon them. They misjudged the speed at which a social media attack can move.
They thought that an old model was at work here, in which a corporation can manufacture truth, create a demand for it, and then sell it to people, or even force it down their throats. That paradigm is still strong (witness what the oil and coal interests have done by funding and fuelling the climate change denyosphere) but the Kit Kat campaign is a great example of how it can be challenged.
Regular readers will remember that I put together a provocative video paraodying Kit Kat’s initial reaction, based on the Hitler Downfall meme. I pulled it within 24 hours, though, when I witnessed the misunderstanding of a couple people who were unfamiliar with the meme. They read a literal accusation of Nazi-ism or Nazi-style evil into it, not realising that the clip had become, within its intended audience of the subculture which lives and works in the Social Media haunts, a cultural emblem of any situation which provokes an over-the-top response. (For an exhaustive discussion of this meme as subcultural metaphor, and even why it’s funny, see Alex Leavitt’s thoughtful piece here.) As negotiations with Nestléat that moment were, let’s say, tense, I didn’t want to risk the misunderstanding of the top brass there – who had already demonstrated they were not fellow-travellers in the social media subculture. But I did promise a couple enthusiastic folks that I’d reintroduce it once the campaign was won.
Ironically, the meme itself has now effectively been shut down by YouTube content ID block as a result of a copyright claim from the producer of Der Untergang, the source for the original clip, despite the fact that all of the instances I’ve seen to date would almost certainly pass the tests of Fair Use. The copy below is NOT hosted by YouTube, thank you very much.
I’m reposting it as a reminder to others who might find themselves at the pointy end of a social media attack, because the moral of this story is really simple. If your audience/customer base/supporters have a bone to pick with you about your sustainability, your ethics, or the role you play in the ongoing struggle to make this world a better place, deal with the substance of that issue. Respond to it, engage with it. Listen to that voice. Never, ever, try to silence it.
(This video may disappear if someone disagrees that it constitutes Fair Use. If you want to download a zipped local copy of this flash version you can do so here.)