Critical thinking exercise

What can you do TODAY to fight climate change?

This is a tough one to illustrate effectively, but I’m going to try. And once you see what I’m trying to explain, you cannot look at
an article, report, study, or even an attributed comment in the media the same way. It’s like the movie “The Matrix.” Which pill do you prefer? Once you take the red pill, the sometimes painful truth and reality of a situation is what you’re left with and you can’t “un-see” it. Or, you can take the blue pill and navigate in blissful ignorance. Honestly, I half wish I didn’t know, but here goes:

Let’s start with an easy one from an article in Scientific American as an example. The title is, “Fracking companies fight EPA’s proposed chemical disclosure rules.” Just from the title, you can see why fracking companies would want to fight the rules which might make them disclose which chemicals they use in their fracking process. But the deeper deception to the general public’s understanding of the issue requires reading the article and noticing who adds authoritative “weight.” The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (which sounds pretty knowledgeable, right?) is “warning” that this disclosure of information would be a really bad thing. They SOUND like authorities on what is good and bad, right? WRONG! If you look them up, they are a trade association – still sounds benign, right? They are lobbyists. And not benign at all. Plus, they get your tax dollars as a non-profit organization which they use to get their point across and to help them lobby Congress and push an agenda which does not contribute to anything that is good for the average person, or aquatic life or birds. Basically, they are salesmen, pushing the agenda of Big Chem. Their website is socma.org.

Here is the article: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fracking-companies-fight-epa-s-proposed-chemical-disclosure-rules/

Now let’s take it up a notch. This one is a tangled, ugly roadmap to figure out. We are talking “Black Diamond” difficulty on a ski slope. It would be extremely time consuming to delve completely into every citation and its funding when reading an article, but just by clicking on a link or 2 in pieces such as this, your radar would be “up” and you’d read things more skeptically. If you pulled up this article, for example, and clicked a report that led you to “American Chemical Society,” and you looked up just THAT organization, you’d think “Aha! Skeptic alert!”

Again, we’ll use Scientific American. This article has a lot of references, but almost all of them lead back, money wise, to the American Chemical Society (acs.org). Just like the last time, sounds pretty authoritative, right? Wrong. Once again, we are dealing with a trade association (warning bells should be ringing in your brain), representing their MEMBERS, lobbying and supporting a point of view that serves their members interests first.

The really juicy part about ACS is that an enormous part of their wealth, and they ARE loaded, is an endowed fund called (drumroll please) the “Petroleum Research Fund.” We are talking hundreds of millions of dollars. That is hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars. Yep.

Let’s take a look at what this article is trying to do – ok, basically its trying to blame cow flatulence (poor cows!) and reservoir water for climate change. Or at least confuse you about the actual villains. The title of the article is, “Methane emissions may swell from behind dams.” There is a kernel of truth in that sentence, but that’s not what you’ll walk away thinking. What ACS and their supported research is intending for you to think is, “hmm, maybe I’m not right about this whole fossil fuel thing.” But you would be wrong to give in to the tendency to write off your legitimate fears. I can give dozens of examples, but that would make this post essentially a small book.

Here is the link to the Scientific American article: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/methane-emissions-may-swell-from-behind-dams/

So, for today, and this is really important so you can find your way through the maze of conflicting information which floods the media, sometimes intentionally trying to confuse the public (and I’m not blaming Scientific American here, by the way) is to dig a little deeper when interpreting the information fed to you. And that golden rule should be applied to what is coming from me, too, by the way. No one should be given a free ride. And I will put some supporting documents on my website either tonight or tomorrow for your (excellent) skeptical minds! If you come across good examples, please post links below for others to see how thing works (or not).