Bottled water: pouring resources down the drain /
Muffled warnings on global warming /
Tobacco's PR strategy used on global warming

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Environment - Feb 6

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Flamey McGassy
(ANIMATION)
Mark Fiore, Working for Change
While you were focused on Bush's State of the Union speech,
You may have missed the speech by
Flamey McGassey (Your guide to global warming!)...
(2 February 2006)


"Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference"

Stuart Staniford, The Oil Drum
Many people have the perception articulated by Halfin, the other day:

My understanding is that most of the impact of global warming is in the relatively far future, decades away, in the latter half of the 21st century. Some small effects are being noticed now, changes in growing seasons, changes in animal and plant distributions, but nothing major

... I think this is definite progress is recognizing the seriousness of the situation, but I do not think we are there yet.

I'm going to argue that the changes due to global warming are full-on, old-testament, wrath-of-God stuff, they are starting already, and they will get much worse in our lifetimes. This is not a problem for our grandchildren, it's very much a problem for us.

There are a number of things to pick, but I'm going to focus on two: hurricanes (this post), and sea-level (next post).
(2 February 2006)
This seems to be number 3 in Stuart's series on carbon and climate change.


Bottled Water: Pouring Resources Down the Drain

Emily Arnold, Earth Policy Institute
The global consumption of bottled water reached 154 billion liters (41 billion gallons) in 2004, up 57 percent from the 98 billion liters consumed five years earlier. Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing-producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy. Although in the industrial world bottled water is often no healthier than tap water, it can cost up to 10,000 times more. At as much as $2.50 per liter ($10 per gallon), bottled water costs more than gasoline.

The United States is the world’s leading consumer of bottled water, with Americans drinking 26 billion liters in 2004, or approximately one 8-ounce glass per person every day. Mexico has the second highest consumption, at 18 billion liters. China and Brazil follow, at close to 12 billion liters each. Ranking fifth and sixth in consumption are Italy and Germany, using just over 10 billion liters of bottled water each. ... In contrast to tap water, which is distributed through an energy-efficient infrastructure, transporting bottled water long distances involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels. Nearly a quarter of all bottled water crosses national borders to reach consumers, transported by boat, train, and truck. ... Roughly 40 percent of bottled water begins as tap water.
(2 Feb 2006)
The meme against bottled water seems to be catching on. I just heard it mentioned in a talk by a drip irrigation salesman! -BA
Related: Bottled Water: Nectar of the Frauds? (oneworld.net via Common Dreams).


Muffled Warnings on Global Warming

Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe via Common Dreams
...The coup de ice came at the end of January when NASA's chief climate scientist, James Hansen, said Bush administration minions were muffling his warnings on global warming. Hansen said officials at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in recent months have canceled or rejected interview requests for him and appointed monitors for approved interviews. He reportedly was ordered last fall to remove preliminary information from the Internet that said last year might be the warmest year on record. Last week, NASA announced that 2005 was indeed the warmest on record.

''In my three decades in government, I've never seen control of communications to the public so constrained," Hansen said over the phone this week. ''Communications from government scientists have never been so constrained."

Hansen, 63, said NASA, which denies any censorship, seemed particularly petrified by a December speech he gave in San Francisco before other earth and space scientists. He said of the nation's stonewalling on climate change, ''It seems to me that special interests have been a roadblock wielding undue influence over policymakers. The special interests seek to maintain short-term profits with little regard to either the long-term impact on the planet that will be inherited by our children and grandchildren or the long-term economic well-being of our country."
(4 February 2006)
Related: Stop the Gag on Global Warming (The Nation).


Fuelling controversy
(Tobacco's PR strategy used on global warming)

Tim Holmes, UK Watch via Znet
...the tobacco industry’s plan was not to try and win the scientific argument, something they were well aware they were in no position to do. What they could do, appropriately enough, was create a smokescreen: a manufactured controversy fostering enough doubt in the public mind that a P.R. disaster could be averted – or at least forestalled.

“Doubt is our product,” one tobacco company executive wrote in 1969, “since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy. ... Spread doubt over strong scientific evidence and the public won’t know what to believe.”

...Sadly, these tactics do not stop with the cigarette companies – they are, in fact, a staple of the P.R. industry. When backed into a corner, the generation of controversy is a powerful weapon in the corporate arsenal, as Phil Lesley, the author of a corporate P.R. handbook, acknowledges in “Coping with Opposition Groups”...

“People generally do not favour action on a non-alarming situation when arguments seem to be balanced on both sides and there is a clear doubt. The weight of impressions on the public must be balanced so people will have doubts and lack motivation to take action. Accordingly, means are needed to get balancing information into the stream from sources that the public will find credible. There is no need for a clear-cut ‘victory’. ... Nurturing public doubts by demonstrating that this is not a clear-cut situation in support of the opponents usually is all that is necessary …”

Nowhere has the extraordinary potential of this strategy been better demonstrated than over the issue of climate change. The scientific consensus is as at least as strong as that on the link between cigarettes and cancer; the vested interests just as powerful; the implications of the problem far, far more worrying.
(3 February 2006)

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