A recent response to one of my posts questioned my statement that there were fewer trees in the world than 200 years ago, saying I had provided no proof. This same person questioned why it was important to point out that trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen when discussing global warming.
This is amusing, on the face of it. Except that there is a relentless disinformation campaign going on, funded by the companies that have the most to lose if our economy switches from fossil fuel-based to greener, less polluting energy sources. Lest you think I’m just a paranoid conspiracy theorist, let me remind you of the tobacco companies’ example. For years, they poured millions of dollars into denying that cigarette smoke is linked to cancer, paying scientists and PR people alike to muddy the waters. Can we really assume that the oil, coal and gas companies are any different? They have taken a page out of the tobacco companies’ book, and are trying to divert a solutions-focused climate change discussion.
Exxon Mobile is the largest and wealthiest corporation in the world. Rather than retreating in the face of mounting evidence of global disaster, there is evidence that it continues to put money and effort into denial of global warming. In 2006 Exxon was called to account before the Royal Society of London scientific body for its funding of so-called “think tanks”, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). CEI produced commercials extolling the virtues of carbon dioxide; set to the background of sunrises and little girls blowing dandelions, the commercials state boldly “Carbon dioxide. They call it pollution. We call it life.” (If I can find a current link to them, I will post it.)
Obviously, carbon dioxide is a part of life. But the CEI ad – and similar denial claims – ignore that fact that it is not carbon dioxide itself that is inherently harmful, but it is excessive discharges of the gas that scientists argue is harmful to the atmosphere. And excessive discharging of carbon dioxide is what we humans, mostly in Europe and North America, have been doing with our increased rate of fossil fuel consumption since the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago.
In “Climate Change Cover-Up”, James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore offer this analogy:
Behind us is a considerable crowd, 6.7 billion people and counting, and below is a beckoning pool. Some people say that you can jump into that pool without risk. They say that humans having been doing so for ages without any problems. But others say that waves have been eating away at the foot of the cliff, causing big rocks to fall into the water. They say that the risk of jumping grows more frightening by the day. Whom do you trust?
Hoggan and Littlemore then point out that some of the lifeguards on the climate change cliff just aren’t that qualified, and some of them seem quite willing to sacrifice the whole swim team if there are profits to be made.
Would you trust an unqualified lifeguard, or one with vested interests, with your life, and that of your children and grandchildren?