Monday, August 07, 2006

Gory Details of Political Communication about the Earth

The Crying Indian (1974)
Watch it here.

As I predicted in my review of the Gore film, the conservatives will not
engage the film's arguments en totale. Gore's two or three quibbl-ible points are then used to brand him as a propagandist on par with Hitler and Goebbels--literally. And this did not appear on Rush Limbaugh, but on CNN (Yes, spare me your yawns;there's a difference)! Click here for the story. Now that's the kind of public discourse worthy of a healthy democracy...

Such cynical political speech and media redcarpeting thereof can send a democracy-lover into a spiral of pessimism and depression. Really, what good is it to start trotting out even the government's own top scientists to make the point to a few shamefully selfish and myopic ("it wouldn't be good for the economy" to limit greenhouse fuels) interests that the world will very likely end in the next 50-200 years if substantial structural change isn't made pronto? How does one proceed in this game of persuasion whose stakes are the fate of the planet and its species?

For a couple more mainstream reports, see this, and especially this.

Secondly, unsurprisingly I'm finding more examples of politics as rumor bomb even here. Instead of engaging Gore and his film on the level of claims and evidence (which isn't that hard; it doesn't ALL hold up, even if most of it does), they hire a public relations firm to diminish him in as entertaining a way as possible. If you thought "YouTube" was apolitical or at least a sometimes tool of left activists and alternative media, think again. A snippet from the article: "What is certain is that political operatives, public relations experts and ad agencies" are increasingly using video-sharing websites like YouTube to shape public opinion." For the rest of that, click here.

p.s. Where do people think energy comes from, the wall (especially so-called "educated" people)? Consider this: "When it comes to devouring our natural resources, the places we live and work are monsters. More than half the materials consumed globally are used in construction, and 45 percent of the world's energy is used to heat, light, and ventilate our [American] buildings." "There is certainly a lot to dispose of. Americans produce 800kg of post-consumer waste per person per year. Europeans produce 400 kg. Between 1980 and 1985 every OECD country (except Germany and Japan) increased its flow of municipal solid waste - Ireland by as much as 72%. Between 1940 and 1976, the USA consumed more minerals than the whole of humanity did prior to 1940." "If the rest of the world's people lived and consumed like that average American, we would need five planets to support them" (source). Not only does all this crap we consume in the West go in landfills or into the atmosphere, but it is made through ecologically harmful expenditures of energy and is sometimes consumed through similar expenditures (our appliances, cars, boats, planes, motorcycles,etc.). All of this is in a global context where parts of the world, their energy reserves, and peoples are disproportionately exploited and served. Remember that next time Tom Bodett says, "We'll leave the lights on for you." (That's right, friend, I'M going to try to practice what I preach, too! Forget about racism, gender discrimination, classism etc. for a second, though they're all caught up in this issue. If we don't have a planet left on which to wage battles for justice, there ain't much point in worrying about them.

Further reading:
  • How PR firms manage major environmental organizations and public opinion generally: Click


Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss said...

I'm not familiar with Walt Bodine, but I thought it was Tom Bodett who said "We'll leave the light on for you." (Allegedly born in Champaign, Illinois, by the way, which I did not know until reading this wikipedia entry:

Of course this is an insignificant detail. But insignificant details are my life.

Jayson said...

Oh, Heavens, Stronger, you are correct as usual! It's remedied. Walt Bodine has a show on a KC NPR affiliate, "The Walt Bodine Show." I'll flip through my Freud to see why in the world Bodine appeared there. Thanks.