WHEN TRAPPED IN A CORNER OF YOUR OWN MAKING, BLAME THE MEDIA

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This morning (Thursday, 1/5/17), Donald Trump tweeted: “The dishonest media likes saying that I am in Agreement with Julian Assange – wrong. I simply state what he states, it is for the people.… to make up their own minds as to the truth. The media lies to make it look like I am against ‘Intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!”

With apologies to readers who can’t stand the sight of Trump, here are screenshots of his actual tweets:

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Trump’s tweets are so full of fallacies that I don’t know where to begin, so I guess I’ll just dive in with several sets of questions.

First, whom is Trump calling dishonest? Why doesn’t he name anyone specifically? Is he, in fact, claiming that every reporter and all news media are dishonest, or is he leaving it to his Twitter followers to blame the ones that he’s attacked in the past? Is the ultimate purpose behind his blanket statements to sow distrust in news media as a whole?

Second, do the dishonest media—whoever they may be—actually say that Trump is “in Agreement with Julian Assange,” or do they do what Trump says he does, that is, “simply state what he [Trump] states” and leave it to “the people to make up their own minds as to the truth”? If he has examples of media quoting him falsely, why doesn’t he cite them? Granted, Twitter allows only 140 characters per tweet, but Trump could add a screenshot of the false claim to his tweet or put links in his tweet to the stories that contain the false quotes—if there are any—or he could cite multiple examples in a series of tweets.

Third, does the following tweet look like the work of a “big fan” of U.S. intelligence agencies to you? Please note that the quotation marks Trump puts around the words “Intelligence” and “Russian hacking” indicate that he’s mocking the U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the Russians interfered in the U.S. election.

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Fourth, if Trump is such a “big fan” of “Intelligence,” why didn’t he publicize the intelligence community’s conclusions about Russian interference in the election? And if he’s not in agreement with Assange, why did he go out of his way to tweet to his millions of followers that Assange said the “Russians did not give him the info”? (See screenshot of tweet below.) Don’t Trump’s actions indicate that he gives more credence to Assange than to U.S. intelligence agencies?

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So, what is Trump up to here? I don’t know for certain, but I suspect that he suffered a narcissistic injury when he—along with rest of the world—learned that all of the official U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that Russia intervened in the U.S. election in order to harm the electoral prospects of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Worse still, the C.I.A. concluded that Russia actively interceded in Trump’s behalf. How humiliating! Well, Trump, who has deluded himself into believing he won a “historic electoral landslide” couldn’t let that stand. So, in a narcissistic rage, he lashed out at the intelligence agencies by publicly doubting their conclusions and having his transition team release a statement that, in effect, called the agencies incompetent.

But now (oops!), the intelligence agencies’ report is about to be released, and Trump has painted himself into a corner. What does he do? He blames the “dishonest media,” of course! He tweets: “The media lies to make it look like I am against ‘Intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!” Trump’s a big fan? Yeah, right!

Let’s not let him get away with it.

 

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#@&%#$*$!!!

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CNN aired 23.5 minutes of American Petroleum Institute ads over two weeks, compared to just five minutes of coverage about climate change or the temperature

ECOWATCH.COM

Check out the story that goes with the above headline here: http://ecowatch.com/2016/04/26/cnn-fossil-fuel-ads/

 

The fact that time devoted to oil-industry ads dwarfs time spent on climate change is not a coincidence. Advertisers avoid sponsoring environmental stories on news programs, based in part on the supposition that an informed public would demand big changes, and those changes would be bad for business. So the media report environmental stories in inverse proportion to their importance, and the public assumes that environmental degradation isn’t worth worrying about because the media rarely cover it. And the media rarely cover environmental stories because polls show that the public doesn’t realize the importance of such stories, and because advertisers don’t want to foot the bill for environmental stories that could have a negative impact on their bottom lines. 

So, in my little way, I try to inform people about what’s happening. The big media organizations have the budgets and the talent to do a much better job than I will ever do, but they seem to be more interested in fulfilling their responsibility to their stockholders than fulfilling their responsibility to the public.  I, on the other hand, have only to answer to my conscience.

And my conscience tells me that I have a responsibility to talk about what I know.  I’ve been studying environmental issues for over 30 years, and I know that things are bad and they’re getting worse at an accelerating rate. We’re rushing headlong into a chaotic world of our own making — a world of cascading social, economic, medical, and ecological catastrophies. Our children and grandchildren will blame us. They will say, “You knew or should have known that your wasteful activities would create environmental havoc down the road. Why didn’t you do something while there was still time?”

Three Articles on Climate Change Politics

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Today, I’d just like to pass along links to three articles that I read this morning.

The first is from WIRED.

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You can find the article at:

http://www.wired.com/2015/12/climate-scientists-used-to-just-get-angry-now-theyre-taking-action/

The next article is from The New York Times.

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Find the rest of the article at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/04/opinion/the-latest-attack-on-climate-science.html?partner=IFTTT&_r=0

 

Finally, the op-ed below is by Paul Krugman. It also ran in today’s  New York Times.

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The entire article is at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/04/opinion/republicans-climate-change-denial-denial.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Pity Poor Exxon . . . . . . . . . . . Not!

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Last week, a number of environmental and civil rights groups launched petition drives aimed at encouraging Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate Exxon Mobil. The groups accuse the company of disregarding the results of its own scientists’ research and launching a systematic disinformation campaign to sow doubt about the existence of global warming.

This morning, in “The War Against Exxon Mobil,” Washington Post economics columnist Robert J. Samuelson defended the oil company against being cast “as the scapegoat for global warming’s dilemmas.” According to Samuelson, environmentalists are engaged in a campaign to deprive the company of its first-amendment rights. “If you care about free speech,” he argues, “you should pay attention to the campaign now being waged against Exxon Mobil.”

. . . The advocates of a probe into Exxon Mobil are essentially proposing that the company be punished for expressing its opinions. These opinions may be smart or stupid, constructive or destructive, sensible or self-interested. Whatever, they deserve protection. An investigation would, at least, constitute a form of harassment that would warn other companies to be circumspect in airing their views.[1]

In fact, the probe’s advocates are not proposing — essentially or otherwise — that “the company be punished for expressing its opinions.” No doubt, the probe’s advocates would be delighted to hear the company’s actual opinions, because, as evidence uncovered by investigative reporters shows, if Exxon Mobil had expressed its actual opinions, it might have said something like: In our opinion, company profits are more important than scientific evidence; hence, regardless of the scientific evidence, in our opinion, the science isn’t settled; therefore, in our opinion, we should fund groups that will chant, like a mantra, “climate change is a hoax.”

No, the probe’s advocates aren’t attempting to infringe on the first-amendment rights of Exxon Mobil or any other entity. They simply want the oil company to be held accountable for reaping billions in profits while spending millions on a disinformation campaign that successfully delayed action on climate change for decades.

In the meantime, more and more carbon has been pumped into the atmosphere, making the associated problems harder and more expensive to confront. And would you like to take a guess who’s been slated to pick up the bill for the consequences of climate change? You, that’s who! Yes, tax payers — especially future tax payers — will be picking up the bill long after the Exxon-Mobil executives who established the disinformation policy are dead and gone and unavailable to be held accountable.

So three cheers for the groups that are encouraging the U.S. Attorney General to launch a federal investigation. They aren’t posing a danger to free speech, they’re merely attempting to recapture for the rest of us some of Exxon Mobil’s ill-gotten gains.

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[1] Samuelson, Robert, J. “The War Against Exxon Mobil.” Washington Post. November 9, 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-war-against-exxon-mobil/2015/11/08/094ff978-84a6-11e5-8ba6-cec48b74b2a7_story.html?postshare=1791447078862248

Inducing Passivity

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A few days ago, in a blogpost entitled “Are We All Sleepwalking?” I argued that many of us are unaware of the severity of our environmental predicament because news media are failing to provide coverage of environmental stories in proportion to their importance. I listed a number of reasons for that failure. One such reason is that environmental problems are cropping up all over the globe, often in remote locations, so the cost of covering those stories is high. Like other businesses, the media want to get the biggest bang for their buck, so they look for less costly stories to cover.

With the bottom line in mind, the news media tend to cover stories that come from institutional sources, via press releases from agencies or press conferences with officials. For example, last weekend, when the United Nations released the news that 146 nations, including China, India, and all of the world’s major economies, have now pledged to control their greenhouse gas emissions, a number of news outlets covered the story. Likewise, last August, when President Obama announced a plan to cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and Senate Majority Leader McConnell (Republican from Kentucky) promised to pass legislation to thwart the president’s plan, those stories were widely reported.

So it isn’t as if there’s a blackout on environmental news. The media do cover environmental stories to some extent. It’s just that profit-minded news producers, on the lookout for stories that are cheap and easy to report, are overly dependent on handouts from institutional sources (in my humble view). And the trouble with those stories is that they tend to create the false impression that most of us have no role to play in the unfolding environmental drama. So, for example, when we see a story about a new power-plant regulation, we tend to think that either the President is taking care of the problem for us or that the Republicans are preventing the administration from acting. Either way, we’re passive observers, at most, applauding or booing.

Our unbalanced diet of institutionally sourced stories seems to be making us complacent. When we hear from the United Nations that almost every country, and all of the biggest polluters, have pledged to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions, many of us breathe a sigh of relief, in the belief that the powers that be are taking care of a major environmental problem for us. But the truth of the matter is that they’re not. While 146 nations have plans to cut their emissions, an analysis by Climate Interactive (a group that the U.S. and many other governments rely on for data) indicates that the Earth’s average temperature will rise more than 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit even if every nation keeps its pledge. And while that’s an improvement over the 8.1 degrees that scientists say the temperature will rise if we continue on our current path, it’s far from the goal of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (or 2 degrees Celsius), which, according to scientific consensus, is the maximum we dare allow.

So it’s up to us to act. The things that are being done in our name to address environmental problems simply aren’t getting the job done. We, as individuals, must take a bigger role, and we better do it in a hurry.