“Global warming” is the phrase of the decade, the Global Language Monitor declared this week. Also making the top 25 words of the decade is “truthiness“. This word was coined by political satirist Stephen Colbert to describe the fondness for appeals to emotion and gut feeling, rather than facts, in contemporary political discourse. He particularly applied it to the Bush administration’s penchant to make public statements that sounded true but contained little factual information, and even untruths.
Unfortunately, truthiness is rampant right now over climate change/global warming. Websites such as “Friends of Science” and astroturf groups like “Information Council for the Environment” or the “National Resources Stewardship Council” have a truthiness ring to them. The trouble is, “Friends of Science” is not a friend of science but is funded by oil and gas companies. And the only resources that the National Resource Stewardship Council is worried about stewarding are those of those same oil and gas companies, which fund it as well.
Articles on climate change, whether on news websites or in local and national newspapers, are followed by a flood comments from deniers making unsubstantiated and misleading statements. In response, I noticed a comment recently saying “Can anyone respond to this article, or only lobbyists?”
Don’t doubt that there is a war being waged right now for the hearts and minds of citizens in industrialized countries. There are companies with extremely deep pockets who are very invested in maintaining the status quo. They got rich by exploiting our dependence on fossil fuels, and they’d like to keep it that way.
But don’t take my word for it. Whenever you hear a discussion/rant on climate change, make sure before you believe everything you are being told that you take the time to consider the background of the person or institution offering the information. Do the vast majority of the world’s scientists really have a conspiracy going to fool the rest of us? Or are there vested interests out there willing to put time and money into confusing the issue? If you want to investigate further, DeSmogBlog is a good place to start, as are OpenSecrets.org and ClimateSight. But don’t take my word for it – check into it yourself!