International Journal of Inactivism (now supplanted by Decoding SwiftHack)

2009/04/21

Fraser Institute uncovers yet another worldwide conspiracy?

Filed under: Fraser Institute,YouTube videos — stepanovich @ 18:43

cite as: F. Bi. 2009. Fraser Institute uncovers yet another worldwide conspiracy? Intl. J. Inact., 2:64–66

Via DeSmogBlog (sort of): the Fraser Institute recently put up a YouTube video promoting global warming inaction — probably aimed at teenagers, with snazzy music and all. Some highlights:

1′ 19″: “The climate changes naturally. Always has… always will.” Oh no, not this again. As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s like arguing thus:

“Your Honour, the evidence clearly shows that the defendant is guilty of murder.”

“But, Your Honour, people die naturally all the time.”

1′ 39″: Captions: Ft. Yukon, Alaska — 100°F — 27 June, 1915; Antarctica — 59°F — 5 January, 1974; Midale, Sask. — 113°F — 5 April, 1937; etc. When the dates and locations are all over the place, one has to wonder: what’s the sense in throwing out all these statistics?

But the best part of the video has to be… this:

39″: The voiceover says that greenies don’t like you “all because you waste electricity” — while the screen shows a girl using an electric toothbrush (greenies: ‘bad!’), then a boy with tooth decay (greenies: ‘good!’). Hmm. It looks like the Fraser Institute’s on to something here. They’ve stumbled on to a gigantic worldwide conspiracy — the conspiracy against electric toothbrushes! No doubt this whole “environmentalism” thang is just a ploy by purveyors of non-electric toothbrushes to get government pork-barrel funding, given that their products are inferior to electric toothbrushes [RDD07] — which, by the way, are Swiss American!

How it all ties in with the Bavarian Climatati isn’t clear yet, but there’s definitely a connection. Also, contrary to what you hear in the mainstream media, toothbrushes were not invented by Al Gore.

References

  • [RDD07] P. G. Robinson, S. A. Deacon, C. Deery, M. Heanue, A. D. Walmsley, H. V. Worthington, A. M. Glenny, and W. C. Shaw. 2007. Manual versus powered toothbrushing for oral health. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, issue 4. “The review of trials found that only rotation oscillation […] is better than manual toothbrushes at removing plaque and reducing gum inflammation, and is no more likely to cause injuries to gums.”
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3 Comments »

  1. The toothbrush thingie just points out though, again, that public outreach messages saying “you can solve this, by taking personal actions” are hugely counterproductive – not only do they turn the issue into a morality play &not a technical problem to be solved, but they also hand the inactivists a lovely cudgel (and/or toothbrush) for distracting the public & thereby prolonging inaction.

    Unfortunately I don’t seem to be able to get this across to the locals, where I live. Has anyone else had more success in getting other people to see this?

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 2009/04/27 @ 18:58 | Reply

  2. Anna Haynes:

    I’ve been reading books critical of the “it’s easy being green” message in an effort to try to understand that same point — that is, I’m interested to see how these authors bypass the whole issue and try to sell the “green is hard” message to people anyway. (That is, I’m less interested in the content of the books than the communication style. If the content’s great then it’s a bonus.)

    The most convincing of these so far has been the positively genius work Cradle To Cradle, which argues for a complete shift in how we handle waste and systems that produce waste. It does so by being critical of establishment BAU practices, yes, but it’s also critical of traditional environmentalist claims, doing a spectacular job shredding recycling (and the rest of the Three Rs) and pointing out that “being less bad isn’t good enough”. They even make a scathing attack on efficiency, which sounds insane from our perspective until they present their case.

    However, this alone wouldn’t be strong enough — in order to really hook people into their message, they don’t stop at saying “we should do this”: they spend a long time discussing “we HAVE DONE this, it works, it’s profitable, and we’ll keep doing it, and you can demand that governments and businesses join in”. (This is particularly nicely driven home by the physical book itself: It’s not published on paper but rather on a polymer they developed that is reusable (that is, the book itself is raw material for making other books without a loss due to recycling), durable, waterproof, biodegradable, traditionally recyclable, and non-toxic. They talk about potential improvements to this late in the book, but drive this point home straight out of the introduction, and you’re reminded of it each time you touch a page.) It’s this approach that I think makes it most successful — proven demonstration of viability combined with traditional calls for improvement.

    By contrast, the traditional “easy being green” movement pushes for momentum by saying “it takes no effort to join”, which has the problems you discuss, while the approach I’ve been looking into builds momentum by saying “momentum’s growing and you (be you a person, a business, or a government) don’t want to be left behind”, combined with the usual economic-benefit incentives (essentially, pushing and pulling instead of just pushing). This is reliant on pioneers starting the process off before grabbing public attention, but it seems to bypass your dilemma quite nicely, since it focuses on pragmatism instead of morality and requires the inactivists to disprove something that’s already been demonstrated (and is repeatedly demonstrated in front of the audience in the case of Cradle To Cradle). Also, we’re fortunate because pioneer work on renewable energy (supply) and low-carbon technology (demand) has already been done, so we can begin to apply this message elsewhere.

    (I’ve noted an analogy between this approach and cap-and-trade discussions, by the way. The way people are trying to sell it involves pointing out that it’s been done before (the SO2 trading system comes to mind) and that it had a net economic benefit instead of bankrupting the industry as lobbyists had claimed. There’s the push (‘economic gain’) and the pull (‘it’s been done before’), combined with an emphasis on momentum (Obama’s popularity, speaking power, and political capital being thrown behind cap-and-trade, alongside his speeches on the importance of demand-side mitigation like public transport). It’ll be interesting to see how this works out.)

    Next on my reading list is Getting Green Done, which is (allegedly) similarly critical but aimed at a lower tier than policy discussion (the sound bite is “more grunts, fewer visionaries” — something I’m taking to heart, as I’m starting a course on renewable energy systems installation with a heavy focus on passive design this week). I’ll see if the message is similar. If the discussion (i.e. Climate Progress and Grist) is representative, it looks like it will be.

    Comment by Brian D — 2009/04/27 @ 20:30 | Reply

  3. Anna Haynes, Brian D:

    Interesting. But it seems that the ‘it’s not easy, but it’s good’ approach is also susceptible to a different type of attack from inactivists, who can play on people’s fears of being controlled by a “technocratic” elite which uses “rent-seeking”(*) to ‘distort the market’ into supporting their uncompetitive boondoggles.

    So, ‘green’s not easy, but it’s good’ makes people feel powerless; while ‘green’s easy’ makes people feel too much responsibility. A bit hard to get around this problem, I’d think — after all, with power comes responsibility, and all that.

    * * *

    (*) in Václav Klaus’s words

    Comment by frankbi — 2009/04/28 @ 18:10 | Reply


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