A private propaganda organization called the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has been gaining a lot of press with some recent ads defending business pollution practices, but more on that in a moment. First, who is CEI? Here's a snippet of how they describe themselves (emphasis mine).
We are nationally recognized as a leading voice on a broad range of regulatory issues-from free market approaches to environmental policy, to antitrust and technology policy, to risk regulation.
You'd wonder how they keep a straight face when saying this, but I'm sure that money buys sincerity. Speaking of money, who funds these guys? Well, they won't tell us, but Sourcewatch has uncovered quite a list of donors. Seems rather heavily tilted towards oil and chemical companies. Hmm ...
You think "free market environmental policy" isn't strange enough? According to thinkprogress.org, in a March 27, 1992 episode of Crossfire, Fred Smith, the head of propaganda at CEI had this to say about global warming:
Most of the indications right now are it looks pretty good. Warmer winters, warmer nights, no effects during the day because of clouding, sounds to me like we’re moving to a more benign planet, more rain, richer, easier productivity to agriculture...
Of course, if you want a real laugh, do a Google search to find out why they think smoking is a civic duty.
So back to the ads which are trying to defend air pollution. They have the charming tag line "Carbon dioxide. They call it pollution. We call it life." They also do a great job of mentioning scientific papers whose titles might seem to contradict global warming but whose contents most clearly do not.
What's sad is not that this group so willingly churns out masses of propaganda for our mega-industries. What's sad is that this propaganda works. Even a brief reading about CEI's history reveals that they successfully get the industry's propaganda out. In fact, if their Web site is to be believed, the Wall Street Journal heralded them as "the best environmental think tank in the country." (Of course, it's the heads of those petrochemical companies who read Wall Street Journal. WSJ wouldn't be so foolish as to print too many things which offend them, even if they are true.)
Today, the primary focus of debate in the scientific community regarding global warming is how fast it's going to hit and how much the human contribution is to this process (not whether or not there is one). There's also quite a bit of research into trying to predict how severe the impact is going to be, but we still have politicians pretending it doesn't exit. We still have radio talk show hosts railing against the "liberal scientific fringe". If our mega-corporations didn't have such a financial stranglehold on our political system and news organizations, we might actually look at solving these problems rather than debating their existence.
You know, our grandchildren are going to be so pissed at us.