Thursday, May 11, 2006

Recently I was out for a stroll on the internet in search of more information on Global Warming. A quick google search led me to visit a certain site. From the sound of the web address I was sure to learn a thing or two about this phenomenon. The experience though was bizarre. sounds like just the place to get good information on Global Warming. It is not.

The site gave examples of cold weather in an attempt to dispute Global Warming stating “China, already enduring its coldest winter in 20 years, is preparing for a cold snap”. This site told me not to worry about Global Warming because, “Ice ages come every 11,000 years. A mega ice age comes every 105,000 years. Both are due between now and 2012.” Then another article referenced by this site informed me that even if that doesn’t happen and Global Warming does occur I should not panic over higher temperatures because, “as our cities have warmed, heat-related mortality declined significantly as people adapted to the change.” So I guess every thing will be fine.

It went on to offer causes for Global Warming. “Could it be that celebrities are planting the forests that are causing the Global Warming that is growing the bacteria that are wiping out the frogs?” What? “In a discovery that has left climate scientists gasping, researchers have found that the earth's vegetation is churning out vast quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent even than CO2.” The site seemed to suggest that trees are to blame for Global Warming. While it is true that plants give off methane they’ve been doing it for thousands of years and are these people suggesting we cut down all the forests? I read on curious about this supposed authority on Global Warming.

I was told “More and more people believe we must quickly wean ourselves from fossil fuels oil, natural gas and coal to save the planet from environmental catastrophe, wars and economic collapse. Professor Jaccard argues that this view is misguided,” The site asked me to ask myself, “Are coal and oil the Earth's dirty, dwindling foes or humanity's loyal friends?” I had never considered giving human characteristics like loyalty to finite resources. I usually stick to facts and common sense when evaluating issues. If I was really looking for someone to blame however this site told me to hold other countries accountable “Earth lacks the water, energy and agricultural land to allow China and India to attain Western living standards… The Worldwatch Institute said the booming economies of China and India are ‘planetary powers that are shaping the global biosphere’.

Now I was getting confused. was asking me to believe that cold weather on parts of our planet means Global Warming isn’t happening but that in fact an ice age is right around the corner. If however Global Warming is happening it could be caused by trees or people planting trees but that in any case it’s ok because humans will easily adapt to higher temperatures and that I should think of fossil fuels as being loyal to me and if there is someone to blame it’s foreigners. Huh? What sort of Global Warming site had I stumbled onto? I checked to see who ran this website. It’s a project of the Cooler Heads Coalition. Their front page motto is "The risks of Global Warming are speculative; the risks of Global Warming policies are all too real." That got me interested in the real question- Who was funding this website? I followed the money and guess where it led?

It turns out the site is funded Consumer Alert. I clicked on a link to their homepage but strangely it led to nothing more than an undeveloped website parked at For more information I turned back to the internet and that’s when it all started to make sense. Consumer Alert is a group funded by among others Exxon, Chevron, Amoco, and the auto industry. It’s an organization that in addition to shaping public opinion about Global Warming has fought against mandatory airbags in cars and lent out their name when “the beer industry placed full-page, anti-excise ads in 57 newspapers”. Wow. Read more here but you’ll have to scroll down.

Consumer Alert, the group funding the website, is nothing more than a front group for industries who products produce a lot of greenhouse gasses.

I love the internet. Anyone with a computer and a connection can learn a great deal about almost anything. It seems however that it can also be used to dissuade and misinform. I urge all of you to inform yourselves, to surf the internet, to do your own research and to form your own intelligent opinions. I do have one piece of advice however. When investigating Global Warming don’t get your information from corporations largely responsible for producing greenhouse gasses. What is it they would like you to believe?

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