Thursday, April 26, 2007

Greenpeace and Al Gore: FUD machines

This Greenpeace video is just sad and pathetic and frustrates me to no end. Organizations spreading lies and false propaganda just makes me sad.

Now, don't get me wrong... some of the things that Greenpeace pushes are good, alternative energy sources among them - but why resort to playing to people's fears and just spewing absolute garbage?

Take this line of crap:

If drastic measures aren't taken soon, there won't be any fish left in the sea by the time I grow up.

Huh? Where's the proof backing this statement? Have fish stopped breeding and I just haven't gotten the memo? Just because Paul Ehrlich said so, doesn't mean it'll happen. Besides, didn't he say:

In ten years, all important life in the sea will be extinct.

back in 1970? Well, I guess we can say that prediction was a bunch of hot air, why is it any different now?

Speaking of Paul Ehrlich, I find the bet he had with Julian Simons pretty amusing. The man is just repeatedly proven wrong...

The results of that bet are pretty typical with these "the world will end" type predictions you see people like Al Gore and Greenpeace going on about. When will people learn they are full of hot air and only do this in their own quest for power? And why do people continue to give it to them? It just boggles my mind...

The polar ice caps will be gone

Again, huh? I'm sorry, kid, but the temperature will have to start changing a lot more rapidly than it has been for the polar ice caps to completely melt. 1 degree every 120 years ain't enough to melt them by the time you're 20 in 6-8 years.

On the topic of Global Warming, wasn't it also discovered recently that Mars was having similar climate changes?

Mars and Earth, for instance, have experienced periodic ice ages throughout their histories.


I have to wonder if Al Gore, the first time he was at a beach during a tide change, ran screaming "OH MY GOD! The world is coming to an end! The water is rising! We're all dooooomed!!! All the land will flood like that really bad Kevin Costner movie, Waterworld! We'll be forced to live on oil tankers!"

Ever hear of cycles? These changes happen and will continue to happen as long as the Earth is around.

Okay, back to the video:

oceans will rise, entire countries will vanish

... pretty drastic predictions there, too bad there's absolutely nothing but theories (from "scientists" desperate for their 15 minutes of fame) to back up these claims.

Hey Paul, care to make a bet about this?

If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.

Oops, sorry Paul. Wrong again. Bzzzt.

there could be famine, world wide epidemics

That's something that could happen, even if humans didn't exist. Way to play to people's fears by preaching FUD. Have anything to say about this one, Paul?

The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970's the world population will undergo famines -- hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death

Thanks, Paul, for that very enlightening prediction. Too bad you were wrong yet again. Keep trying though, someday one of your predictions might actually be correct - playing the odds and all that.

life expectancy will be lower

this is based on... what, exactly? Life expectancy has been increasing since the dawn of man. Sorry to burst your bubble. The CDC has statistics on this stuff if you want to see for yourself.

you adults have known about this for years, and though you could have done something about it, you haven't

...we haven't? Could have fooled me... I am seeing more electric/hybrid automobiles (granted, more could have been done here) every day. We've gotten wind turbines and solar power (wind turbines, at least, are now more cost efficient than most other power sources and I totally support migrating to this new energy source). We've seen Government action to reduce pollution. One need not even look beyond your own neighborhood to see that, especially for those of us who live in cities like Cambridge/Boston - the Charles River has gotten a lot cleaner over the years, even since I've moved here.

Some Environmentalists have good intentions, but I think many of them have gone off the deep end. I doubt many people would label me as an environmentalist, but I do love nature. I am all for doing my part to keep the environment as clean as I can - I don't litter, I try to save power, I don't drive an SUV (oh, does anyone else find it ironic that self-proclaimed environmentalists will often own SUVs? A bit hypocritical, don't you think?).

It makes me sad that most of the world blindly follows this propaganda like sheep, never once stopping to think for themselves.

You want to know the saddest part of this video? It's all to motivate people to use alternative energy sources. You want to know what would have been a better (and less FUDified) ad message? How about pointing out wind energy is now just-as if not more cost-efficient than the energy source their audience is currently using (assuming they aren't already using "clean" energy sources?).

Had they just stuck to facts, they would have had my support.

You want to motivate a wider audience to change their ways in order to make the world a cleaner place? Make the alternatives cheaper and people will move to them, you won't even have to preach. They'll just do it.

Whatever you do, don't resort to spreading lies and false propaganda... seriously. It pisses me off and does not rally me to your side to help fight the good fight.

We have enough lies from our leaders, don't continue the tradition.

For more on the hypocrisy of Al Gore, I found this article rather amusing.


Anonymous said...

Right on, man!

Jae Stutzman said...

You are not allowed to say these things. Please step over here and looking into my red flashy light thingy.


Anonymous said...

Wow - that was a long one!

It would be easy to come away from reading that with the idea that you are advocating not taking any action because of the way the message is being put out - that can't be so, can it?

This is an issue that is far too important to allow any self appointed spokesperson's style, or even factual mistakes (especially concerning predicting the future), to turn you away from what is happening and what we can do about it.

I'm going to pick up on a couple of the specifics you mention above as being fallacies:
Fishing stocks are threatened all over the world and they certainly can collapse completely. The cod on the Grand Banks is an example of a collapse from being one of the richest fisheries in the world. Also take a look at the concerns of the European union over it's own fishing industry in the North Sea. Their own scientists believe they may be close to collapse.

Millions of people have certainly starved to death since the 1970s. The major famines in places like Ethiopia are the tip of the iceberg. It's happening now all over the world. Darfur and Niger spring to mind. Obviously war has a hand in many of these problems but that doesn't mean we can dismiss the potential of climate change to wreak this kind of havoc. One of Niger's problems is that the Sahara is expanding.

The polar ice caps are thinning according to data from NASA and others studying them. The real problem is that the thinning is accelerating.

This is one of things that make the whole subject far trickier to explain to people. When we are told that the temperature has risen by 1 degree over 100 years or whatever everyone naturally assumes we have plenty of time to figure it out. Unfortunately the nature of the system we are dealing with is chaotic which means they can become unbalanced. Even worse, we have no idea what the balance point is.

Basically I'd like to see more use made of the principle that if we don't fully understand the effects of doing something we probably shouldn't be doing it. This is a basic truth when dealing with the plumbing in your house or burning all the fossil fuels on the planet in the space of 100 years.

I also see the idea around the place that if it was made easy or convenient for people then they would do more. This seems fair up to a point. There is certainly much to be said for kerbside recycling (reuse is better of course) and the like. However at some point each person has to take responsibility for their own actions. The other day someone told me they hadn't changed to flourescent bulbs because they didn't like the color of the light. They had obviously missed the point by a wide margin! And we have rebates here for swapping so even cash wasn't enough. We should never avoid doing what we are able to for reasons of convenience or lack of industrial design sexiness

Finally, please don't take my word for any of this - go out and discover it for yourself (which is why I'm not citing sources above). The information exists and it would be a great first step towards doing what each of us can to help, rather than make a risky situation worse.

Sorry for the long post but you raise many points.

Jeffrey Stedfast said...

> that can't be so, can it?

Absolutely not! ;-)

I wholely agree that we all need to be more mindful of the environment and do what we can to clean it up/keep it clean for future generations (whether Global Warming be an issue or not).

One of my many frustrations with the issue is that these environmental groups are not trying to educate people about the alternative energy sources or what they should do as much as they are trying to spread fear and panic.

Take for example wind turbines as a source of clean energy. There isn't enough publicity advocating this and the fact that it is now as cheap as our current (unclean) sources of energy. Nor is anyone telling the general public how to go about switching to clean energy even if they wanted to!

I, myself, would not have switched to clean energy a few months ago had I not gotten a random phone questionaire about energy sources, whether I was aware of what they were, about their costs, etc. After getting that phone survey, I did a Google search for wind turbines and discovered how cheap it has become in the last few years.

Being interested in protecting the environment, I then went to my electric provider and searched their website to find whether they offered clean energy and/or where their energy came from.

I've since switched, but had I not gotten curious, I wouldn't have.

My other frustration with a number of high-profile "environmentalists" is their hypocrisy. Take Al Gore for example, I probably switched to using clean energy before he did! (Has he yet?)

Let's also note that Sen. Ed Kennedy and his nephew, Robert Kennedy Jr., (both speakers for environmentalism) faught tooth and nail to prevent wind turbines from being erected in Cape Cod... hmmm, so it would appear to me that they fight for cleaner air so long as they aren't the ones that need to change their ways.

Anonymous said...

The article you link to the temperature changes in Mars does begin with the statements made from the guy, and then goes on to explain that it is in sharp contrast with every other scientist in the world.

There are a handful of scientists that do not think that global warming is happening, but you can count them in your hands and none of them are heavy hitters.

While every other scientist and Nobel prize winner and those that are actually doing the research (like those studying climate change by the ice record in the poles) are on the other side.

Anonymous said...

"Basically I'd like to see more use made of the principle that if we don't fully understand the effects of doing something we probably shouldn't be doing it."

I find that entire concept rather shocking. I tend to be of the opinion that if you don't fully understand the effects of doing something... you should try to DO it (in the safest way possible) and study the results. That's how we learn. Not even attempting something because you don't FULLY understand it just seems like an insane principle to follow. I mean what do we ever FULLY understand? And how do you go about understanding something if you don't DO it, just blindly believe what others tell you? Sure failures will occur, but nothing great ever came from doing what was known. Risk and failure are a part of life, and you learn just as much from them as you do from successes.

Anonymous said...

"Whatever you do, don't resort to spreading lies and false propaganda..."

You're right that Greenpeace's video is marketing an idea and playing on people's emotions. Since you argue against the claims in Greenpeace's video as if they were scientific claims, it appears that you have trouble distinguishing between scientific debate, scientific fact, and marketing. Tell me, did you also believe that the "Pepsi challenge" was a scientific experiment?

"It pisses me off and does not rally me to your side to help fight the good fight."

Well, that's OK. The Greenpeace video is aimed exactly at people like you: non-experts who make snap judgments based on next to no information. The fact that you didn't respond to it positively is just the way marketing works: it's impossible to design a marketing video that works for everybody.

As for the real arguments and debates, they happen among people who actually know their stuff and who use real scientific results and theories in their communications. Until you do, I don't think why anybody would want you to rally to their cause.


Jeffrey Stedfast said...

> You're right that Greenpeace's video is > marketing an idea and playing on
> people's emotions. Since you argue
> against the claims in Greenpeace's video
> as if they were scientific claims, it
> appears that you have trouble
> distinguishing between scientific
> debate, scientific fact, and marketing.

Not at all, I know that they were marketing. I only argued against them as "scientific claim" because so many people believe that FUD to be scientific fact.

> Well, that's OK. The Greenpeace video
> is aimed exactly at people like you:
> non-experts who make snap judgments
> based on next to no information.

Uh... I beg to differ. I used to work for DEP closely with the EPA. And what snap judgments did I make? The only judgment I made was that Greenpeace was full of shite and that Al Gore was a hypocrite, which I gather is not what you were trying to infer.

I agree that the environment is important and that we (humans) need to take care of it by using alternative energy sources, etc.

Had you actually read what I wrote instead of making your own snap-decision based on next-to-no information, you would have seen that ;-)

Anonymous said...

You must remember that the environmental movement is an industry (like all others) that lives or dies by the amount of funding it receives. The apocalyptic visions that eco-mentalists come up with are simply a way of maintaining their paychecks.

One must also take into account the fact that environmentalism is also a socially acceptable form of anti-capitalism which receives great public sympathy, unlike the usual May Day rioting we see in capital cities worldwide.

This politicisation of the issue would be more acceptable if the science of man-made global warming were actually correct, but it is not.

We should all be following the three R's - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; but ceasing industrialisation of the developing world (on the back of bad science) will sentence untold millions of africans to protracted poverty and premature death.

There is an excellant film on this issue that was originally screened on UK Channel 4 on Thursday 8 March at 9pm. It is called "The Great Global Warming Scandal". I have not yet managed to find anywhere that the DVD can be purchased (unlike Al Gore's 'masterpiece'), but it is available as a torrent in several places.

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