“Our world cannot afford any more greenwashing, fake movers or late movers… we must close the emissions gap before climate catastrophe closes in on us all.”
~ UN Secretary General António Guterres
[This is a recent statement that was made as green house gas emissions continue to rise, humanity faces climate catastrophe, and yet vested economic and political interests continue to organize and finance climate misinformation and disinformation to hold back action.]
While Americans have been been immersed in the wave (or ripple) of an historic mid term election for the past week or so, at the same time something else of global importance was taking place far away on the continent of Africa. Beginning November 6 and concluding today, November 18, people from around the world made their way to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt to participate in the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (aka COP 27). It is the 27th time that the world community has met as the ‘Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC’ to try as they may to address the existential problem of global warming and mitigate the injustice of climate change.
But wait, there is a caveat to that previous sentence that must not be ignored, a caveat that is the subject of this post. The reality is that not every person or entity attending COP 27 (or any of the previous gatherings) was there to solve the problems of global warming and climate change injustices. Indeed, quite the opposite is the case. Last year this blog reported that the fossil fuel industry had the largest delegation at COP26 in Glasgow, with more than 100 companies attending and over 500 fossil fuel lobbyists, affiliated with some of the world’s biggest polluting oil and gas giants. That dwarfed the UNFCCC’s official indigenous constituency by around two to one.
In advance of COP 27, University of Pennsylvania climate scientist Michael Mann made this observation: “Right now, we’ve got both a critical mid-term election that will determine the course of American democracy and climate action, and the upcoming COP27. A perfect storm, and predictably, the climate change disinformation campaign is ramping up steadily as we approach these events… The fossil fuel industry is allied with state actors like Russia and Saudi Arabia, which played critical roles in the climate disinformation campaign, particularly in the way they’ve weaponized social media. The agenda is the same, of course. Continued fossil fuel profits.”
Decade after decade the mis/disinformation strategy behind that agenda has remained constant: Deny – Deceive – Deflect – Distract – Divide – Delay.
Inside Climate News reports that: “On Tuesday, the Climate Action Against Disinformation coalition released a new analysis of efforts to undermine climate action and found that false and misleading claims made by right-wing media outlets about global warming and clean energy continue to affect public perception about the climate crisis. The fossil fuel industry, the authors said, is riding that wave of disinformation into the climate talks to promote false solutions.”
The report went on to zero in on Fox News as a primary perpetrator of false and misleading information regarding global warming and the climate crisis. The report mentioned a scientific survey indicating that Americans, primarily those who regularly tune in to Fox News, are the most likely among the study’s participants in all six countries (Brazil, Australia, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States) to hold false beliefs about global warming.
Fifty nine percent of Fox News consumers believe that a significant number of scientists disagree on the cause of climate change, compared to just 35 percent of the broader U.S. sample. Additionally, 56 percent of Fox viewers think renewable energy is more expensive than energy from fossil fuels, compared to 34 percent of the bigger sample. And 60 percent of respondents who watch Fox say that renewables are unreliable energy sources, compared to 32 percent of the American sample as a whole. Regular Fox viewers were also far more likely to believe that natural gas is needed to reduce climate-warming emissions, with 57 percent of those respondents agreeing with that premise, compared to 38 percent of overall U.S. respondents.
Erika Seiber, a spokesperson for the coalition that produced the report, stated: “One quarter of Americans think that climate change is a hoax, a consistent and false talking point from Trump and the GOP. We can’t do much to address the climate crisis with this level of discrepancy over reality.”
She is saying that truth matters, facts matter. There are serious consequences to an unending narrative of lies. The abandonment of reality, decency and morality leads to anarchy and ultimately devastation. When the ‘Fox’ is in the hen house, the story does not end well.
Mis/disinformation is a pernicious, pestilent weapon in our modern ‘information age’ that infects a cross section of society unable or unwilling to discern truth from falsehood, reality from fantasy. Merchants of doubt and deception are open for business 24 hours a day 365 days a year selling their wily wares indiscriminately for personal profit at the expense of the common good and the health and well being of all living things. The proliferation of lies spewing forth from corporate, partisan and media propaganda machines accounts for one of the greatest injustices perpetrated on God’s Creation in human history.
The Old Testament Prophets, those ambassadors of God’s truth and purveyors of God’s justice would be wailing and railing against such deception and injustice were they able to time travel into this gilded information age. Since technology does not yet make such journeying possible, it remains the solemn task of the 21st century communion of saints to confront falsehood and speak truth to power under the influence and guidance of the Spirit of he who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Toward that end, I invite the reader to become acquainted with ‘Climate Action Against Disinformation: A global coalition of over 50 leading climate and anti-disinformation organisations’ at https://caad.info/.