Published on September 29th, 2009 | by Tom Schueneman10
More CO2 for a Greener World: One From the Tobacco Advertiser’s Playbook
In April of 1994 CEO’s from the leading tobacco companies appeared before Congress and said, one by one and under oath, that nicotine was not addictive. That may have been the last dying gasp of organized denial of the dangers inherent in smoking.
What the tobacco industry learned from the early days of “doctor recommended” cigarettes through to that hearing in ’94, was that all it took to sell the idea that smoking was good for you – or at least not that bad – was a dose of misinformation combined with a perception of scientific legitimacy in questioning established research. By tossing out a reasonable sounding tidbit of information you can keep uncertainty alive in the public’s mind and thwart progress.
Which leads to the obvious conclusion that if plants need CO2 to grow, then more CO2, not less, is what the world needs now.
That’s the message a new lobby group called CO2 is Green is urging citizens to press on their representatives in anticipation of renewed focus on energy and climate legislation in Congress, and as the EPA finalizes its CO2 endangerment finding.
Though I honestly expected, for some naive reason, that CO2 is Green would attempt the appearance of a more rational-sounding argument, upon landing at their website one’s attention is quickly drawn a Glenn Beckian-like statement proclaiming that “if humans inhale and exhale CO2 with every breath, how could it be a pollutant?” – a blatantly false argument confusing the natural respiration of CO2 in plants and animals with the excessive burning of millions of years worth of stored carbon into the atmosphere within less than two centuries. Why bother with rational sounding arguments? Indeed CO2 is Green is pulling out all the stops of misinformation and deception in the attempt to keep the public off balance – just like the tobacco companies did for decades to keep people buying cigarettes.
As Scott Schefield recently wrote in a recent post on TriplePundit, “The global warming debate is over. Now the argument moves to solving the crisis of climate change.” Idealistically, Scott certainly is right, but unfortunately, and rather disturbingly given the facts on the ground, that isn’t reality for many.
CO2 is Green seeks to keep the debate alive by trotting out every myth and attempting to cloak itself in science-speak, while in turn refuting the entire body of peer-reviewed climate science to the point of denying its existence.
CO2 is Green is the work of veteran oil industry executive H. Leighton Steward and Corbin J Robertson Jr., CEO and leading shareholder in Houston-based Natural Resource Partners, a limited partnership involved in coal mining. Along with CO2 is Green, Steward and Robertson have formed Plants Need CO2, an organization with a similar agenda, but aimed at what the duo calls “education,” as opposed to CO2 is Green’s mission of attempting to muddle the minds of politicians through “grassroots” lobbying to prevent climate legislation.
What Steward and Robertson fail to recognize, beyond the silly arguments made regarding CO2, is that business and industry is beginning to understand not only the need to price carbon and regulate emissions, but also the opportunity it presents to take a leadership role in a new energy economy.
We reported last week that California power utility Pacific Gas & Electric was ending its relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with Nike likely following suit, over the Chamber’s position on climate change. Since then, more companies are becoming fed up with what the Christian Science Monitor terms the Chamber’s “climate deniosphere.” Next week more than 100 business leaders will converge on Capitol Hill for an “advocacy day” in support of climate and energy legislation dubbed We Can Lead.
All these companies aren’t run by tree-hugging, granola-crunching liberals, they are bottom-line business pragmatists who understand that business-as-usual is unsustainable and the choice now is to either take a leadership role and seize an opportunity or become, just like those tobacco execs back in ’94, the last dying gasp of denial.
Whether Steward and Robertson actually believe the misinformation they are peddling is difficult to tell, but it is plain they have made there choice of where they stand – with head firmly buried in the sand.
Regulation and balance is the way of all creation. When human activity interrupts the natural balance, we can either regulate our own excess, or wait for nature to do it for us. But it surely will happen, one way or another.
Image credit: iStockPhoto