A Test Of Democracy

Are you listening?

Are you listening?

Since his inauguration, I have watched in horror as President Trump has fulfilled my worst fears about his administration. He has behaved exactly as I expected he would and I’ve spent the past several weeks in a cold stupor. It’s been a combination of disbelief and a deep visceral fear that has kept me in a daze. But I’m coming out of my political coma and starting to take action. I’ll be writing more articles in the coming days and weeks and today I wanted to share a letter I emailed to my representative in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan.

While I have little faith that he will even read my letter and I’m almost positive that even if he did, it would have virtually no impact on his perspective or his actions in Congress, I felt I had to start my journey into the revolution somewhere and that was as good a place as any.

Despite my cynicism about letter writing, I would suggest that if you are like me, if you’ve been watching with horror at the events unfolding around us and if you’ve been experiencing the same feeling of both helplessness and a desire to break free and take action, why not start by writing to your representatives in government. I’ll include links at the bottom of the article to assist you in finding contact information.

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If You Can’t Beat Them… Lie, Cheat and Brainwash the Public

Coal energy is clean. Clean energy is dirty. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Coal energy is clean. Clean energy is dirty. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I wrote once on my bewilderment of the climate change deniers and how there could still be a segment of the population that buys into the nonsense that says human impacted climate change is not real or is of no importance. I concluded that as long as there are those who have a financial interest in fighting legislation that weakens the stranglehold the fossil fuel industry has on power production, there will constantly be a struggle to fend off the very real propaganda campaigns launched by those same individuals. The extent to which the rich and powerful energy barons have gone to discredit competing industries has been something right out of a blockbuster conspiracy movie.

Let me give you an example. The following link is to a page from a group calling itself the Institute for Energy Research. In their article, they try desperately to argue that Wind Power is dirty and expensive. It’s pretty much what environmentalists have been saying about fossil fuels for years. On the surface, one might think that Wind Power is suddenly dangerous and inefficient, but as I’ve written before, it’s important to consider the source of information before buying into it.

The IER is essentially a shill for Big Oil and Big Coal. The CEO, Robert Bradley was the former Director for Policy Analysis for Enron. To say he’s not environmentally friendly might be an understatement. In his book, Climate Alarmism Reconsidered he states that carbon dioxide “is not a pollutant but a building block of a living and vibrant biosphere.” I suppose this is technically true, in that it naturally makes up a percentage of our atmosphere and is necessary for the survival of plant life, but in the context of his argument, he suggests that the alarming increase in the levels of CO2 is nothing about which to be concerned, which is blatantly false.

It is also worthy of note that the IER is partnered with the American Energy Alliance, founded by Thomas Pyle who formerly worked for Congressman Tom Delay as well as the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association and Koch Industries.

The IER is but one of many groups with scientific or neutral sounding names with clearly pro-fossil fuel agendas. The Energy & Environment Legal Institute has been critical of the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan (naturally). According to Sourcewatch, the E&ELI also has ties to Koch Industries as well as Big Coal. Most interestingly, the E&ELI’s predecessor group, the American Trade Institute, was involved in a proposal for a massive campaign to discredit Wind Power.

This proposal included items like:

  1. Create a national professional Public Relations (PR) campaign to organize communications to targeted audiences to influence national and state energy and environmental policies.
  2. Cause the targeted audience to change its opinion and action.
  3. Provide credible counter message to the (wind) industry.
  4. Disrupt industry message with countermeasures.
  5. Cause subversion in message of industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it (much like wind has done to coal, by turning green to black and clean to dirty)
  6. Create some catch phrases of wind energy – e.g. Puff Power, Breeze Energy, etc.
  7. Develop a list of experts for testimony to government agencies, etc.
  8. Create a “think-tank” subgroup to produce and disseminate white paper reports and scientific quotes and papers that back up the message.
  9. Employ a well-known spokesperson with star credibility.
  10. Youth outreach will create program for public school coordination as well as college coordination. This will include community activity and participation with sponsorships for science fairs, school activity etc. with preset parameters that cause students to steer away from wind because they discover it doesn’t meet the criteria we set up (poster contests, essays, etc.).

[Author’s note: #10, in my opinion is a particularly disgusting maneuver.]

There’s more of course and I encourage everyone to read the article from The Guardian, who obtained the memo and published it.

Behind all of this is the frightening reality that public policy is being crafted by corporations using legislators on both a state and federal level as messengers for corporate interests. In part, this comes from “model bills” generated by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC. As the website Alecexposed.org explains:

“Through the secretive meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, corporate lobbyists and state legislators vote as equals on ‘model bills’ to change our rights that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line at public expense. ALEC is a pay-to-play operation where corporations buy a seat and a vote on ‘task forces’ to advance their legislative wish lists and can get a tax break for donations, effectively passing these lobbying costs on to taxpayers.”

Make no mistake, the fossil fuel industry is not going down without a fight. So the next time you read about how the Clean Power Plan was a mistake, or illegal, or how wind energy is dirty and expensive or how climate change is a farce, you may want to check the source of that argument. Chances are it is coming from a fossil fuel industry front and is subject to serious scrutiny. We live in a world where corporate greed can trump all and billions are spent on pollution propaganda. Be wary.

~V

Imagine All the People

unitystrength

I’ve been watching the political race for the US Presidency unfold, and I’ve been thinking about some of the topics that have dominated US news for the past few months and I’m struggling to understand why we as a nation, as a species even, cannot seem to agree on certain issues that seem to me to be very plain and not controversial at all.

For instance, let’s take the popular topic of the hour: Cecil the Lion and the backlash against trophy hunting. I can’t see anyone making a reasonable, rational argument to support  killing endangered or nearly endangered species. Setting aside the discussion about shooting deer as a supposed method to thin the population to prevent starvation in the winter months when food is scarce, (that’s probably another topic altogether), hunting for sport is cruel and serves no purpose. As Ricky Gervais said recently:

“It annoys me that it’s called ‘trophy hunting’ because it has nothing to do with hunting. There’s a big difference with, you know, hunting for food cleanly and honestly, as we said before, and wanting to know what it’s like to murder a majestic animal for no reason other than the thrill of what it’s like to murder something… Why is bullfighting fun? Why is torturing an animal the fun bit? It’s not fun to do, it’s not fun to watch. I wonder about the psychology of the people that like seeing an animal in fear or tortured or its life snuffed out for no good reason.”

Isn’t this something that we could all agree upon? Is banning trophy hunting really controversial?

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A New Environmental Crisis: High Levels of Smug

 

We are approaching critical levels

We are approaching critical levels

“You really shouldn’t eat beef, ya know… like, it’s full of hormones and stuff and like… it’s totally bad fer you.”

“OMG, I ONLY eat free range chicken. I think chickens should be happy before they’re slaughtered for food. You can taste the happiness in every bite.”

“I could NEVER eat anything that has eyes. Meat is murder, ya know? I’m strictly a vegetarian.”

“Vegetarians are SO unenlightened. My diet is pure vegan. You should change to a vegan diet. I feel SO much better.”

“I’ve eliminated all the gluten from my diet. I read it causes cancer… or something. Jeez, why don’t they have more gluten-free foods at this grocery store. Ugh, this is why I only shop at Whole Foods.”

“You don’t buy all organic? That non-organic stuff will kill you, ya know. The pesticides build up in your body and cause like… brain bleeding or something. Even my Pop Tarts are organic because the label says so.”

“You bought a puppy? I would like… NEVER do that. Puppies are adopted so easily. I got my dog Rex from a shelter. He was a 14-year-old rescue dog. He was blind and only had three legs. That’s like, the socially responsible thing to do, ya know.”

“You’re still driving a regular compact car? You know how much carbon emissions come from that? I totally drive a hybrid and we’re thinking of getting an electric next year. Don’t you care about the environment?”

“Caitlyn Jenner is SO beautiful, don’t you think? It was so brave of her to come out like that. I wish I could just see her picture everywhere I go to inspire me. Anyone that doesn’t just love her is a transphobic jerk.”

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Extinction of an Industry

Could this be the future of energy?

Could this be the future of energy?

Could producers of fossil fuels eventually go the way of the dinosaur? Some feel that it’s only a matter of time before pressure from the free market pushes the oil and coal industries out of business. With demand for alternative energy sources growing and the cost of producing clean energy shrinking, the planet may be going through a metamorphosis that will ultimately leave fossil fuels in the dirt.

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