If It's Sponsored By Corporate America, Then It Isn't A Grassroots Movement!

We all agree that we must be very, very vigilant when information is placed before us by those who try to look friendly, but aren't. On the very back page of the April 19, 1999 issue of the Washington Post National Weekly Edition is an advertisement featuring a cute little chimp, grinning like a happy child and holding his hands on top of his head, giving the visual impression of someone afraid that the sky is falling. Just above this little scene are the words, "DOOMSAYERS WON'T LISTEN TO THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT CO2. WILL YOU?" (The all caps format is theirs.)

Now, with just a peek at this ad, which is about what most readers will allow before they put the paper aside and go on to their next project, you are left with the distinct impression that the bad guys don't want you to know something but, well, the good guys are about to break that silence and inform the world.

"Great!", you think, "Let's see what this is all about!"

You read the copy and "learn" that lots and lots of CO2 is wonderful for all, including our environment. "But what about the greenhouse effect that I've been hearing about from independent scientists? Isn't that being caused mostly by excess CO2 in the atmosphere?

Well, I'll let the copy speak for itself since, as you'll see, even I couldn't make this stuff up.

"Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels have risen in direct proportion to human population since the 15th century. The good news is that today's higher CO2 levels are producing more abundant plant life and greater agricultural yields. Unfortunately, good news like this doesn't command the same attention as news about catastrophic climate change."

"Proponents of radical changes in our reliance on fossil fuels refuse to acknowledge the beneficial aspects of CO2. Instead, they have succeeded in portraying CO2 as a menace to mankind. Nothing could be further from the truth."

"CO2 - One of Nature's Building Blocks. You can't see it or smell it, but CO2 is all around us. Humans exhale it. Plants thrive on it. And natural geological processes produce most of the CO2 in our atmosphere. The use of fossil fuels also contributes to atmospheric CO2. Without CO2, life on earth would cease."

"Apocalyptic Warning? Most people have heard so much about global warming that they accept it as truth. In fact, apocalyptic global warming is a hypothesis, and the models that fuel it are fundamentally flawed."

"Get The Facts - Free Of Charge. Learn the whole story. Join Greening Earth Society (ooh, what a warm and fuzzy sounding name that is, huh?!? My aside, obviously), an organization funded by consumer-owned utility companies, concerned citizens and Western Fuels Association. We'll send you a free booklet, The CO2 Issue, and information on what you can do to help balance the debate. Call the Greening Earth Society toll-free, or visit our Web site."

Well, I took them at their word and visited their Web site and found an amazing place where facts are "suppositions" and where proof is "unfounded rumors".

Let's then go back to those who "fund" this society. In the first place, nearly all utilities are "consumer-owned", that is they are if you happen to own stock in the company. Otherwise, their comfort or profit or whatever has little to do with the rest of us. The only truly "consumer-owned utilities" are those, such as the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, which is nominally owned by the citizens of that city, citizens who have no voice in its operations and who still must pay full price for all electricity and water that the department provides.

Next, I could find absolutely no information as to exactly who these "concerned citizens" might be since none are listed anywhere on the ad nor the web page.

Finally, this space has mentioned Western Fuels Association before and not in an attractive light. This group is responsible for the "founding" of a number of supposedly "grassroots" organizations all meant only as vehicles to disseminate bogus or questionable information and to give it the appearance of truth. The Greening Earth Society is no different whatsoever.

The only scientists who claim that the greenhouse effect isn't a threat are those whose studies are funded by the very corporations whose pollution is at the center of the entire controversy. Nearly every independent study has shown that, yes, CO2 has been on the increase since about the 15th century but the increases are not due to the breath of mankind but are a direct result of the burning of larger and larger amounts of fuel; first wood and then coal and eventually petroleum.

The claim that the earth produces CO2 naturally is true, of course, but the earth has developed, over the billions of years of its existence, a fragile and perfect balance of CO2 producing processes and CO2 ingesting processes. The very same Western Fuels Association that so loves CO2 and wants us all to relax and learn to love CO2 is also in the business of the destruction of the pine forests and rain forests and meadows and marine life and all of the other parts of nature which consume and chemically alter CO2 into oxygen and other gases necessary to what we know of as life on earth. The continuing destruction of the rain forest and the pollution dumped into the ocean that kills the algae that is the planet's main converter of CO2 into oxygen and the fast disappearing coral reefs that lock up massive amounts of CO2 in their calcium deposits are all quickly being lost to the world. These resources can never be saved if groups like Western Fuels Assoc. have their way and, frankly, even if the problem was solved today, it may take thousands of years before these resources can ever recover even to the levels found just twenty years ago. Remember, the first organisms on earth lived on what we would term poisonous gases and produced oxygen as a waste by-product and that waste eventually poisoned all of earth's first life, allowing oxygen using organisms to begin the long slow climb to the flora and fauna you see around us today. We seem hell-bent on repeating and reversing that process, only this time it isn't a natural event but one caused solely by an unnatural need for material wealth and comfort at all costs.

The best example of just how wonderful excess CO2 can be for our home planet is found on a little piece of rock spinning around the sun just inside our own orbit. Venus is a planet with what scientists describe as a runaway greenhouse effect. The entire atmosphere is made up of CO and CO2 and methane and sulfuric acid and all of the other gases that Corporate America constantly spews into our atmosphere and water and soil while trying to distract the attention of the people whose planet and home they are slowly destroying. Unless we all wake up and explain to folks like this "grassroots" society that their message is a lie and that we are sick unto death, or will soon literally be sick unto death, of the foul garbage that they force into our lives every day then our slow motion slide into planetary extinction will continue. Until then, sadly, silly little folks like this will easily believe that they are succeeding in fooling most of the people, all of the time.

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Copyright 5/5/99