“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Friday, November 30, 2007

How To Diss Your CARMA

I want to follow up on the heads-up and comments on the Amarillo Globe-News (AGN) editorial "Survey's Worth is Suspect" from 11/23/07 that Calamus offered on 11/27/07.

The editorial was a slippery exercise in how to discredit, diminish, and deride the work of an environmental organization (Carbon Monitoring for Action, CARMA.org) by back-handed implication. It used a cherry-picked story of uncertain source, selective use of facts, and guilt by association to imply that the CARMA website is suspiciously biased, that the US isn't such a bad global warming polluter, and that CARMA associates with ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS (hide the women and children)!

Implication 1. The CARMA website's "worth is suspect" and its "slant is apparent and is a detriment" because it holds a political agenda focused against power companies, the Republican party, and Bush.

I cannot find the purported link to the "news story" that AGN uses to imply CARMA's political bias, not on the CARMA website nor on the Center For Global Development (CGD) website. That CARMA has an agenda or bias is most certainly true - "Action" is part of its name. They clearly state:

"The objective of CARMA.org is to equip individuals with the information they need to forge a cleaner, low-carbon future. By providing complete information for both clean and dirty power producers, CARMA hopes to influence the opinions and decisions of consumers, investors, shareholders, managers, workers, activists, and policymakers. CARMA builds on experience with public information disclosure techniques that have proven successful in reducing traditional pollutants."

Sounds pretty good to me.

But AGN attempts to discredit CARMA and CGD with unattributed quotes from an unlinked story. I smell AGN's agenda here, too. Maybe the odoriferous scent, heavy with hedonic tone, of climate change denial?

Implication 2. The US isn't so bad, because Australia puts out even more CO2 per capita than we do.

The US and Australia are the two major nonsignatories of the Kyoto Protocol, which attempted to set international controls on runaway global warming pollution of the atmosphere. 172 countries have ratified the treaty. Australia's new Labor government, largely elected on an environmental platform, announced its intention to ratify. That leaves the US alone on the refusal list.

When you look at total per capita CO2-equivalent emissions, the United States (pop. 300 million) comes in at 20.4 metric tons per year and Australia (pop. 21 million) at 16.3. European Union countries, who share a comparable standard of living and population with the US, emit less than half the global warming gases, compared with the US.

The US is the biggest global warming gas polluter. We're most responsible for the observed global warming of the past century, and the coming temperature rise already in the climate system pipeline. The Bush administration, after denying human-caused global warming for years, now denies US responsibility to doing anything about it. Omitting the hugely significant role of the US from the editorial is also a form of denial.

Implication 3. CARMA probably doesn't have an open mind (and you might not either) because it has as a partner the Sierra Club, an "environmental activist organization", and we all know that working actively for the environment (wink-nudge) is suspect, or at least kooky.

The CARMA database is well-researched and factual. It's easy to use and gives people a tool to understand an important contribution to global warming, power generation, - who does it and where. That's empowering and if it leads to activism for the sake of the environment, then hurray. We need more activism on behalf of the earth, and fast. And that is eminently useful and worthy.