A lot of money in the world today is spent on getting people to believe things that aren’t true. For some industries, it’s the only thing that will work. For example, cigarette companies have been doing it for decades. It turns out, so have fossil fuel companies. They keep making money by trying to hide or obfuscate the truth about the damage they are causing.
Don’t fall for it. Learn to be true. To get started, here are some resources:
- Union of Concerned Scientists, “Fossil Fuel Industry Climate Science Deception,” which includes links to Inside Climate News’ Exxon Mobil investigation
- Democracy in Chains, book by Nancy MacLean, which covers the “sixty-year campaign to make libertarianism mainstream and eventually take the government itself”
- Watch the documentary “The Brainwashing of My Dad“
- Obfuscation, lying and distraction were key strategies of the Nazis.
- Most electric companies and cooperatives support organizations that fight against air pollution rules, which are proven to decrease human death but supposedly reduce the profits for shareholders. So when you pay your electricity bills, you may have helped these companies skirt responsibility for death without even knowing. Read more about the massive structure in place set up to fight against making more money at any cost.
There is nothing random or unclear about these efforts. They are all very well organized, well funded, and known, and very effective. The only way to stop it is to make sure everyone is aware of what’s going on, and to analyze the information they choose to consume. When you consume information:
- Check the author/publisher financial backing, and their motivations. Often, people and “think tanks” are paid by industry that is aiming to create confusion or influence legislation that requires them to reduce their pollution and destruction of the environment, which they don’t want to do. Organizations like DeSmog and SourceWatch provide information about who is funding authors and organizations, so you can decide if they’re impartial. Note: some will claim these types of organizations (DeSmog and SourceWatch) are biased and aiming to turn everyone into idiotic cave dwellers, which is what we would have to be if we don’t use energy. This is a logical fallacy (see below); there are solutions to our problems that are not terribly intrusive and have lots of co-benefits, but of course fossil fuel companies don’t want you to know this. If there’s one logical fallacy, follow the trail and there are probably more.
- Check the referenced sources of the claims the author is making. Often they will just make claims without any references at all, or they will refer to one publication that may have already been debunked, or they will refer to authors and publications that are known to be funded by industry that is aiming to obfuscate.
- Check for logical fallacies. These are known ways that truth is twisted to make reality look different.
- Check assumptions. All reports and studies are based on assumptions. For example, financial statements of companies on the stock exchange have pages and pages of assumptions. If they don’t have “risks of climate change” in their assumptions, you know they are living in an alternate reality where climate change doesn’t exist; this is probably not a good sign. Also, sometimes assumptions can be in how a research study is set up. It may be set up in a specific way that will only lead to one possible result, for example. So read those assumptions.
- Ask questions. When you read something, try to understand why it’s being written. Is it to help some company or industry make more money or avoid having to deal with restrictions? Is it to inform people of things that actually cause harm? Who benefits? Who is harmed? Those who are harmed usually are weak and penniless compared to the big companies behind these kinds of actions and have no way to fight back.
This may sound like a lot but it’s absolutely required in today’s world. Politicians and news organizations state or repeat things they know are not true, then only correct it later, or never correct it, but they know people who already heard it will most likely not go through the trouble of checking the facts. Don’t make it so easy for them! Learn to be true!
Look at the article “The IMF’s Net-Zero Fairy Tale” on RealClearEnergy.org. If you follow the first source, you’ll find reference to a study by someone named Mark Perry from the American Enterprise Institute. Let’s look at the data in that source. They use this table:
They claim this table is from the Energy Information Administration and BW Research Partnership, but it’s not the table, it’s just the data. They’re using actual true data from good sources to claim something that isn’t true.
First, for cost of energy, there are capital (startup or new project) investment costs and labor to consider, then continuing operations. In all cases, you’re going to have extra labor to build new energy, but in the case of solar, once the panels are up, there’s very little work, so those workers are moving on to the next installation. They’re not staying every year at that same installation once it’s up, they’re moving on and building more. At this point in time, it’s cheaper to build new solar and operate it across it’s lifetime than just to keep operating an already existing coal plant (so not even including the investment costs of the coal plant). It’s very hard to understand the way these people twist data to make it look the way they want unless you’re really on top of the industry in a way that most people aren’t, and that’s what the bad operators depend upon. By understanding that their main point is garbage, you can probably assume the rest is too.
Second, let’s look at the authors. The author of the first article on Real Clear Energy is by Rupert Darwall. Who’s he? Well he runs the Real Clear Foundation. Turns out, that foundation is funded by the Kock Brothers, some of the biggest climate deniers trying to hang on to the last threads of their dying fossil fuel empire. Rupert’s source, the American Enterprise Institute, “an influential right-wing think tank that advocates for lower taxes, fewer protections for consumers and the environment, and cuts to the social safety net,” also funded by the Kochs. These are not unbiased sources; they have specific agendas to make it easier and cheaper for their big corporations to pollute so they can make more money and keep selling their harmful products. Find a better source for your opinion, or read the actual IMF document yourself and check their sources, and compare.