As the U.S. suffers through catastrophic tornadoes, heat waves, and other climate extremes -- no doubt just a small taste of what the climate crisis will bring in the future -- polluting industries and the politicians that serve them want to convince you that excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is actually a good thing.
Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, the second largest privately-held energy company in America, have poured millions of dollars into creating a web of media influence to increase their power to sow doubt about climate change among the American public. A network of bloggers, pundits, think tanks and foundations get funding from the Kochs, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has received over $700,000, and the libertarian Cato Institute, which has received $13 million from the Kochs since 1998. The Manhattan Institute received $1.5 million, Americans for Prosperity has gotten $5.5 million, the Pacific Research Institute has gotten $1.2 million and the Federalist Society $2 million. This web of think tanks and foundations operates blogs and Web sites and house prominent writers who pump out climate denial writings that help spread the Kochs' anti-climate change ideology. The Kochs' influence isn't limited to fringe media, either. Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, who writes for the Weekly Standard and the Washington Post, Philip Anshutz, owner of the Examiner newspapers and the Weekly Standard, Stephen Moore, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member, are just some of the conservative media figures who attend the Kochs' exclusive, private annual gatherings.
Back in July, 2010 PRWatch noted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ignorance about the potential for ecological damage from BP dumping millions of gallons of oil dispersants into the Gulf to try to limit damage from the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout. Yesterday, scientists released a report that re-confirmed the EPA's voluntary ignorance.
Acquiring "clean natural gas" and "getting off of foreign oil" are pitched as reasons to continue natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. And yet, beyond all the problems associated with fracking, Pro Publica's Abrahm Lustgarten revealed in a January 25, 2011 article that "clean natural gas" isn't all that clean after all. Lustgarten writes,
The United States is poised to bet its energy future on natural gas as a clean, plentiful fuel that can supplant coal and oil. But new research by the Environmental Protection Agency … is casting doubt on the assumption that gas offers a quick and easy solution to climate change … Advocates for natural gas routinely assert that it produces 50 percent less greenhouse gases than coal and is a significant step toward a greener energy future …The EPA now reports that emissions from conventional hydraulic fracturing are 35 times higher than the agency had previously estimated. It also reports that emissions from the type of hydraulic fracturing being used in the nation’s bountiful new shale gas reserves, like the Marcellus, are almost 9,000 times higher than it had previously calculated …"
Environmental groups say we should be certain of the factual data about emissions and environmental effects of shale gas drilling before making major policy decisions that push the nation into dependence on methane gas obtained through drilling.
Those who follow energy politics closely should not be surprised. The government-industry revolving door constantly spins rapidly, and thus it is no different on the natural gas front within the United States. This is highlighted acutely by ProPublica in an article titled, "Some Appointees to Oil and Gas Commission Are Industry Execs, Lobbyists."
The article states, speaking about the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission,
The home page of T. Boone Pickens' "Pickens Plan" is emblematic of the oil industry's aggressive push to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale basin. The page greets visitors with the blaring headline, "WE MUST BREAK AMERICA'S ADDICTION TO FOREIGN OIL. The Pickens Plan will do it, but we need your help."
In the age of the perpetual War on terrorism, politicians, pundits and other U.S. demagogues have successfully used fear as a bargaining chip. Fear-mongering is a method of Orwellian thought control. In this example, Pickens equates foreign oil with evil, similar to the Bush Administration's Orewellian logic regarding American's position in the world: "You're either with us, or you're with the enemy." Bush put forth a false paradigm of absolute good versus absolute evil. The Bush Administration used fear as a political tool after 9/11 to march the country into war, and convince citizens that we need to permit domestic spying to keep us safe domestically. (Think Patriot Act). Fear also led to the heinous crimes committed at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib Detention Centers.
Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has, for the most part, been out of the spotlight for the past year since he wrote his book titled The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...And How We Can Be Safe Again, which came out in September of 2009. In that book, Ridge confessed that, although unsurprising to anyone who understood the rampant fear-mongering and propaganda that took place in the post-9/11 Bush era, he was pressured by others in the Bush Administration to purposely manipulate the infamous color-coded National Security Alerts for political reasons, and in particular, during the run-up to former President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004.
A new group called "Balanced Education for Everyone"(BEE) is rolling out a national effort to stop the teaching of global warming in schools, calling it "unnecessary." The group says global
A Democratic Illinois state representative quietly slipped five words into the definition of renewable energy in a bill that would clear the way for a power company to burn tires as a way to reap green energy credits. Representative David Miller, who is running for state Comptroller, inserted the words "incineration of burning tires" into the definition of renewable energy in a measure that was intended to promote wind and solar energy.