How Changing Perspective Could Save Our Environment

It’s TED Talk Tuesday on 350orbust. Here is advertising expert and funny guy Rory Sutherland talking about how it’s possible to change the way people value things can have surprising results:

Advertising adds value to a product by changing our perception, rather than the product itself. Rory Sutherland makes the daring assertion that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider real value — and his conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=audakxABYUc]

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Perspective Is Everything

It’s TED Talk Tuesday on 350orbust, and Rory Sutherland the Ad Man is back. His message is essentially the same as in his 2009 TED Talk, but it bears repeating that our perception of an event or a circumstance is more important than the “reality”:

The circumstances of our lives may matter less than how we see them, says Rory Sutherland. At TEDxAthens, he makes a compelling case for how reframing is the key to happiness.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iueVZJVEmEs]

On Fossil Fools And Fracking Lies

Yes, there is oil in the ground – we just can’t afford it. The folks over at the Post Carbon Institute have just put out this video on the propaganda Big Oil is busy spreading in response to the peak oil crisis:

In recent months we’ve seen a spate of articles, reports, and op-eds claiming that peak oil is a worry of the past thanks to so-called “new technologies” that can tap massive amounts of previously inaccessible stores of “unconventional” oil. “Don’t worry, drive on,” we’re told.

But as Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg asks in this short video, what’s really new here? “What’s new is high oil prices and … the economy hates high oil prices.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uKgU7krWzE]

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We can fall for the oil industry hype and keep ourselves chained to a resource that’s depleting and comes with ever increasing economic and environmental costs, or we can recognize that the days of cheap and abundant oil (not to mention coal and natural gas) are over.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media and politicians on both sides of the aisle are parroting the hype, claiming — in Obama’s case — that unconventional oil can play a key role in an “all of the above” energy strategy and — in Romney’s — that increased production of tight oil and tar sands can make North America energy independent by the end of his second term.

More links:

Post Carbon Institute

University of Calgary Prostitutes Itself To Big Oil & Gas

Canadian journalist Mike DeSousa first wrote three years ago about the anti-science group with the Orwellian name “Friends of Science” funding a PR blitz meant to cast doubt on the science of climate change. Friends of Science paid for their ad campaign out of a University of Calgary research account controlled by Professor Barry Cooper, but the university and the Calgary Foundation (who also received donations and transferred them to the research account) refused to release details at the time that DeSousa broke the original story. DeSousa appealed that censorship, and won.

DeSousa wrote last week in the Ottawa Citizen:

A pair of “research” accounts at the University of Calgary, funded mainly by the oil and gas industry, were used for a sophisticated international political campaign that involved high-priced consultants, lobbying, wining, dining, and travel with the goal of casting doubt on climate change science, newly-released records have revealed.

The records showed that the strategy was crafted by professional firms, in collaboration with well-known climate change skeptics in Canada and abroad, allowing donors to earn tax receipts by channelling their money through the university.

All of the activities and $507,975 in spending were organized by the Friends of Science, an anti-Kyoto Protocol group founded by retired oil industry workers and academics who are skeptical about peer-reviewed research linking human activity to global warming observed in recent decades.

DeSousa has also revealed that an Alberta-based oil and gas company, Talisman Energy, helped to kick-start the elaborate public relations campaign with a donation of nearly $200,000.

The donation from Talisman Energy was the largest single contribution to a pair of trust accounts at the university that received $507,975 in donations to produce a video and engage in public relations, advertising and lobbying activities against the Kyoto Protocol and government measures to restrict fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Talisman is pleased to be a part of this exciting project and wish you success in the production of the video,” said the letter, dated Nov. 4, 2004, to university account administrator Chantal-Lee Watt, that accompanied a $175,000 cheque.

Something smells fishy around here, and it’s not just the leftover pickerel chowder in my fridge. Aren’t universities supposed to be bastions of learning and scientific inquiry? When did it become okay for a public university to accept private corporate funds to spread misinformation and lies? And then try to suppress the truth, only revealing it when forced to by access to information laws?

If you, like me, think something stinks about this, contact University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon by email at: president@ucalgary.ca.

In the meantime, Friends of Science is at it again, bringing in journalist (and now climate expert??) Rex Murphy to the University of Calgary on September 29th. Murphy has been spouting his uninformed  views on climate change for a while now, and I’m sure the FoS is happy to have him spread more doubt on the science. Like the tobacco lobby, who for years delayed action on tobacco regulation by confusing the general public about the science linking tobacco and health effects, the Petroleum Lobby is busily repositioning global warming as theory rather than fact. Want to learn more? Head over to DeSmogBlog.com – they do a great job of separating climate fact from climate fiction.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/29107248]

More links:

University Funds Used in PR War, Files Show

Oil Money Funnelled To Climate Denier Group

Talisman Energy Kick-Started U of C Climate Skeptic Fund