A roundup of the news, views and ideas from the main stream press and the blogosphere.  Click on the headline link to see the full article.


Why I’m A Hypocrite – And I’m Not Ashamed Of It

Lee Camp 
Environmental activists use modes of transportation that burn fossil fuels. Anti-consumerist activists buy smartphones. How do these people sleep at night? Should we support hypocrites?


(17 Feb 2015)
Can you change the world living in a log cabin without internet or transportation? We regularly deal with this issue of personal and organizational hypocrisy (Questions like: How can PCI claim to care about resources when every Facebook post is consuming coal? No really, people have asked this.) Lee Camp addresses this with a lot of humor. Warning: He uses some blue language. -AM


Extinct—Extincter—Extinctest

Dmitry Orlov, CLubOrlov 
This blog is dedicated to the idea of presenting the big picture—the biggest possible—of what is going on in the world. The abiding areas of interest that make up the big picture have included the following:

1. The terminal decay and eventual collapse of industrial civilization as the fossil fuels that power it become more and more expensive to produce in the needed quantities, of lower and lower resource quality and net energy and, eventually, in ever-shorter supply.

… 2. The very interesting process of the USA becoming its own nemesis: the USSR 2.0, or, as some are calling, the USSA.

The USA is best characterized as a decomposing corpse of a nation lorded over by a tiny clique of oligarchs who control the herd by wielding Orwellian methods of mind control. So far gone is the populace that most of them think that things are just peachy—there is an economic recovery, don’t you know—but a few of them do realize that they all have lots of personal issues with things like violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and gluttony. But don’t call them a nation of violent, drug-abusing gluttons, because that would be insulting. In any case, you can’t call them anything, because they aren’t listening, for they are too busy fiddling with their electronic life support units to which they have become addicted. Thanks to Facebook and the like they are now so far inside Plato’s cave that even the shadows they see aren’t real: they are computer simulations of shadows of other computer simulations.

… 3. The climate of Earth, our home planet, is, to put it as politely as possible, completely fucked. Now, there are quite a few people who think that radically altering the planet’s atmospheric and ocean chemistry and physics by burning just over half the fossilized hydrocarbons that could possibly be dug up using industrial methods means nothing, and that what we are observing is just natural climate variability. These people are morons. I will delete every single one of the comments they submit in response to this post, but in spite of my promise to do so, I assure you that they will still submit them… because they are morons. [Update: Yes indeed they have, QED.] (17 Feb 2015)
No one does apocalypse black humor like Dmitry Orlov. -BA


Big Ag’s Fight for Twitter Credibility

Teresa Miller, Common Dreams 
Many consumers and food activists use social media platforms to stay informed and engage in important debates about the future of our food system. But increasing corporate influence in these spaces requires us to differentiate fact from spin as we encounter hundreds of posts and tweets per day. Big Ag’s attempts to shape social media debates expose its fear of criticism from a growing food movement demanding corporate transparency, regulation, and sustainable alternatives to industrial agriculture. With 284 million monthly active users, Twitter has become a battleground for Big Ag’s credibility.

Half of social media users share news stories and discuss current events on social media, and all of the “Big Six” agribusiness companies—Bayer, BASF, Dow, Syngenta, DuPont, and Monsanto—maintain active social media presences. Searching for terms like GMO, agriculture, or farming on Twitter yields thousands of tweets from the Big Six. While I knew agribusiness companies used PR campaigns, I became more acutely aware of their social media tactics through an exchange I had with Bayer CropScience (@Bayer4Crops).

… Big Ag, including Bayer, manipulates social media exchanges with a variety of obfuscating tactics:

Tactic #1: Take the conversation off Twitter and into a biotech-controlled forum …
Tactic #2: Downplay what’s at stake …
Tactic #3: Pretend you’re just misunderstood …
Tactic #4: Green-wash language and assert a common interest …
Tactic #5: Sow doubt …

… In an age of intentional misinformation campaigns, critical consumption of media is imperative. We must ask: who is writing or speaking, who funds them, and what do they and their funders have to gain? Big Ag has responded to grassroots social movements by manipulating conversations on social media, which undermines public debate and erodes the democratic process. Food and environmental activists should respond by actively encouraging informed analysis among consumers. Green-washed websites, corporate-controlled discussion forums, and concerned-sounding tweets must not undermine the growing movement for healthy, culturally appropriate, and ecologically produced food.
(18 Feb 2015)
Social media – it’s a battleground out there! -BA

Megaphone graffiti image via globetrotteri/flickt. Creative Commons 2.0 license.