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James Boyce

James Boyce

Posted: September 29, 2009 02:44 PM

What's Spanish for Total and Complete BS?

What's Your Reaction?

Sometimes it's hard to explain how the far-right and corporate lobbyists operate or how they view reality. It's much easier to understand their actions if you accept that first, they know the facts, but just choose, on the basis of business reasons, to completely ignore them and second, that they understand if they present, backed up with millions of dollars, absolute crap as fact, somewhere someone will believe them.

Recent estimates are that large energy companies, big oil companies and other interested groups are spending $1,000,000 every single day working to distort, deny and come up with reasons why we all shouldn't support clean energy.

I don't often disagree with Paul Krugman but when he recently wrote:

In a rational world, then, the looming climate disaster would be our dominant political and policy concern. But it manifestly isn't. Why not?


Part of the answer is that it's hard to keep peoples' attention focused. Weather fluctuates -- New Yorkers may recall the heat wave that pushed the thermometer above 90 in April -- and even at a global level, this is enough to cause substantial year-to-year wobbles in average temperature. As a result, any year with record heat is normally followed by a number of cooler years: According to Britain's Met Office, 1998 was the hottest year so far, although NASA -- which arguably has better data -- says it was 2005. And it's all too easy to reach the false conclusion that the danger is past.

But the larger reason we're ignoring climate change is that Al Gore was right: This truth is just too inconvenient. Responding to climate change with the vigor that the threat deserves would not, contrary to legend, be devastating for the economy as a whole. But it would shuffle the economic deck, hurting some powerful vested interests even as it created new economic opportunities. And the industries of the past have armies of lobbyists in place right now; the industries of the future don't.

Nor is it just a matter of vested interests. It's also a matter of vested ideas. For three decades the dominant political ideology in America has extolled private enterprise and denigrated government, but climate change is a problem that can only be addressed through government action. And rather than concede the limits of their philosophy, many on the right have chosen to deny that the problem exists.

He missed a fundamental point.

The money spent presenting fiction as fact over the past decade has had a real impact on the average American. Still, to this day, you will hear that there is debate about global warming, about whether it's happening at all.

All around us, there is massive evidence of global warming, and there is scientific consensus, but the money spent denying it gives an out to many people and many politicians.

So when something like the following happens, the tragedy isn't just that it is the effort of a few highly profitable companies who are putting profit before planet (their profit; our planet) but also that it is essentially a successful strategy.

The Institute For Energy Research, a group funded by oil companies, has paid for the author of a completely debunked study to come to the US and talk about the debunked study. What's in the study that is so wrong?

Essentially the study claims that spending money on clean-energy jobs costs an economy jobs.

Now, most of us would stop right there and say, hmm, doesn't make any sense. Of course, smarter people than me have debunked the study. Like the US Government, the Spanish Government, even the Wall Street Journal, not exactly the land of the far-left environmentalists, says, ah, no.

And yet, here is the author in the United States doing media interviews and getting press coverage on the basis of a study that is false. Unfortunately time and time again, the media takes something like this and creates a story when there is none.

That, Mr. Krugman, is also part of the problem.

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