Climate Change Science Attitudes Australia and Koch in USA

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Climate science or climate change denialism have been apparent for some decades since the 1970s with Koch Industries being central along with ‘big oil’ of Exxon Mobil etc. in funding through ‘Dark Money’ academia, research, think tanks, media, politicians and PR techniques to influence society.  Now we see the results including wide-spread climate denialism, avoidance of environmental protections and negative media PR campaigns; meanwhile the roots of this strategy have become more transparent with legal action following. 

 

Climate Lawsuits Are Coming for Koch Industries

 

Dharna Noor June 25, 2020

 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced on Wednesday that he’s suing ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute because the three firms deceived customers about the climate crisis. This is the first lawsuit of its kind to name API and Koch Industries, and it takes a novel approach by suing them solely for the lies they told.

 

The consumer fraud lawsuit alleges that the companies engaged in a multi-decade “campaign of deception,” hiding the fact that they understood as early as the 1950s that oil and gas production contributes to climate breakdown and still chose to extract, market, and sell the fuels. It includes claims for fraud, failure to warn and violations of Minnesota statutes on consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices and false statements in advertising. As retribution, it calls for Minnesotans to be compensated for their losses and for the defendants to fund a public education campaign about the dangers of climate change.

 

“We’re here suing these defendants, API, ExxonMobil and Koch, for hiding the truth, confusing the facts and muddling the water to devastating effect,” Ellison said at a news conference…..

 

….. But while other lawsuits have targeted ExxonMobil and other major oil producers, Ellison’s groundbreaking suit targets not just the polluting companies but also fossil fuel lobbyists who also deceived consumers. The multinational Koch Industries’ does produce fossil fuel products — in fact, it owns a large Minnesota refinery that manufactures about 80% of the gasoline used in the state — but it is also heavily involved in lobbying for the fossil fuel industry’s interests. And API is the largest U.S. trade association for oil and natural gas companies. Naming these representatives, rather than just fossil fuel producers themselves, lays out that they had a role in the deception as well.

 

Meanwhile in Australia, from SBS on climate change attitudes:

 

The number of climate deniers in Australia is more than double the global average, new study finds

 

News consumers in Australia are more likely to believe climate change is “not at all” serious compared to news consumers in other countries, according to new research.

 

16/06/2020 by Caroline Fisher & Sora Park

 

Australian news consumers are far more likely to believe climate change is “not at all” serious compared to news users in other countries. That’s according to new research that surveyed 2,131 Australians about their news consumption in relation to climate change.

 

The Digital News Report: Australia 2020 was conducted by the University of Canberra at the end of the severe bushfire season during 17 January and 8 February, 2020.

 

It also found the level of climate change concern varies considerably depending on age, gender, education, place of residence, political orientation and the type of news consumed.

 

Young people are much more concerned than older generations, women are more concerned than men, and city-dwellers think it’s more serious than news consumers in regional and rural Australia.

 

Strident critics in commercial media

 

There’s a strong connection between the brands people use and whether they think climate change is serious.

 

More than one-third (35 per cent) of people who listen to commercial AM radio (such as 2GB, 2UE, 3AW) or watch Sky News consider climate change to be “not at all” or “not very” serious, followed by Fox News consumers (32 per cent).

 

This is perhaps not surprising when some of the most strident critics of climate change science can be found on commercial AM radio, Sky and Fox News.

 

For more articles and blogs about Australian politics, climate change, critical thinking, digital or e-consumer behaviour, environment, fossil fuel pollution, marketing & communications, political strategy, populist politics, science literacy, strategic management, WOM word of mouth and younger generations.

 

 

 

Covid-19 Climate Science Vaccination Misinformation PR and Astro Turfing

In recent months there has been an increase in confusion, misrepresentation and misunderstanding in news and social media round Covid-19 using same techniques as in tobacco, climate science denialism and anti-vaccination movements that seem to benefit US radical right libertarians’ preferred ideology and politics.

 

The following articles from The Fifth Estate in Australia and DeSmog Blog in Canada explain the communication techniques well.

 

Separating truth from lies in the causes of the pandemic

 

David Thorpe | 28 April 2020

 

OPINION: What’s caused this devastating pandemic that’s so far cost at least 207,000 lives (and it’s hardly begun) and wrecked the global economy? If, like me, you’ve been on the receiving end of a blizzard of bizarre messages claiming to reveal the truth behind the pandemic you might be forgiven for feeling confused, so here’s your handy guide to what isn’t the cause and what is.

 

Misinformation wars

 

Right from the start misinformation was rife: there was no virus; the disease was like flu and wouldn’t cause significant harm; emails offered baseless cures and treatments; and conspiracy theories spread like wildfire about its origin.

 

It turns out that many who circulated such misinformation have a history of casting doubt on climate science or seeking to debate issues that were already laid to rest within the scientific community, according to DeSmog.org:

 

“The decades that fossil fuel companies spent funding organisations that sought to undermine the conclusions of credible climate scientists and building up doubt about science itself ultimately created a network of professional science deniers who are now deploying some of the same skills they honed on climate against the public health crisis at the centre of our attention today.”

 

Some of this misinformation was/is channelled by presidents Trump and Bolsanaro. Others by think tanks, experts (some self-proclaimed), academics, and professional right-wing activists who are also climate change denialists.

 

After taking apart all of these arguments, DeSmog asserts: “COVID denial should forever discredit climate science deniers”.’

 

From DeSmog direct:

 

The Reason COVID-19 and Climate Seem So Similar: Disinformation

 

Repost By Guest • Monday, April 20, 2020  of Amy Westervelt, Drilled News. Originally published by Drilled News.

 

For a long time, the story went that the tobacco industry cooked up disinformation and then spread it to the fossil fuel guys, the chemical industry, pharma, you name it. But one thing that became incredibly clear when we began digging into PR firms and specific publicists was that this version of history was not quite right; if disinformation strategies were cooked up by any particular industry it was the public relations industry, which put these strategies to work on behalf of fossil fuels, tobacco, chemical manufacturers and more, often all at the same time.

 

The very first publicist, Ivy Ledbetter Lee, worked on behalf of both Standard Oil and, shortly after, American Tobacco, for example. Daniel Edelman developed astroturf campaigns for both RJ Reynolds tobacco company and the American Petroleum Institute, as did John Hill, who went so far as to have tobacco folks join the API. He also worked with Monsanto, juggling all three clients at the same time. E. Bruce Harrison worked for the chemical guys first, then managed front groups for tobacco and fossil fuels at the same time. You get the drift.

 

These industries all surely learned from each other at various points in time, but that was mostly because they were working with the same publicists. The history is less that tobacco or oil embraced disinformation first and then passed it on and more that a handful of PR firms and consultants created the disinformation industry, and then put it to work on behalf of whatever industry needed it at any given time.

 

Today, those same strategies are at work on behalf of those who worry that the response to COVID-19 will undermine capitalism, which is why climate folks keep noting how familiar the whole anti-science component of the rightwing response to the pandemic feels. It’s familiar because the exact same strategies are being deployed, in some cases by the same people. Here are a few key examples:

 

Disinformation Strategy #1: He who controls the language controls the narrative.

Disinformation Strategy #2: Leverage science illiteracy to create doubt.

Disinformation strategy #3: Astroturfing.

 

Our hope, of course, is that when people learn to recognize these strategies and know what’s behind them, they might become less effective. Disempowering the disinformation industry is a necessary part of any climate solution.’

 

For more articles and blogs about climate change, Covid-19, populist politics, critical thinking, marketing & communications and science literacy click through.

Australia Commission for Human Future

Australia has a Commission for the Human Future outlining a series of existing e.g. Covid-19 like pandemic, and other threats.  However, one of the threats cited is ‘human population growth beyond carry capacity’ with unclear support from demographic research and science, who lobbied for its inclusion?

Credible research shows already declining fertility rates with a predicted global peak mid century, then decline.  Further, ‘carrying capacity’ is linked to the debunked ‘Limits to Growth’ construct promoted by the fossil and auto supported Club of Rome, including Paul ‘population bomb’ Ehrlich, which is used by white nationalists to promote the ‘Great Replacement Theory’.

 

The following article from The Conversation Australia explains the Commission for the Human Futures:

 

There are 10 catastrophic threats facing humans right now, and coronavirus is only one of them

 

April 22, 2020 3.08am BST
Arnagretta Hunter – ANU Human Futures Fellow 2020; Cardiologist and Physician., Australian National University

 

John Hewson – Professor and Chair, Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Crawford School of Public Policy

 

Four months in, this year has already been a remarkable showcase for existential and catastrophic risk. A severe drought, devastating bushfires, hazardous smoke, towns running dry – these events all demonstrate the consequences of human-induced climate change.

 

While the above may seem like isolated threats, they are parts of a larger puzzle of which the pieces are all interconnected. A report titled Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century, published today by the Commission for the Human Future, has isolated ten potentially catastrophic threats to human survival.

 

Not prioritised over one another, these risks are:

 

decline of natural resources, particularly water
collapse of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity
human population growth beyond Earth’s carrying capacity
global warming and human-induced climate change
chemical pollution of the Earth system, including the atmosphere and oceans
rising food insecurity and failing nutritional quality
nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction
pandemics of new and untreatable disease
the advent of powerful, uncontrolled new technology
national and global failure to understand and act preventatively on these risks.

 

The start of ongoing discussions

The Commission for the Human Future formed last year, following earlier discussions within emeritus faculty at the Australian National University about the major risks faced by humanity, how they should be approached and how they might be solved. We hosted our first round-table discussion last month, bringing together more than 40 academics, thinkers and policy leaders.

 

The commission’s report states our species’ ability to cause mass harm to itself has been accelerating since the mid-20th century. Global trends in demographics, information, politics, warfare, climate, environmental damage and technology have culminated in an entirely new level of risk…..

 

For more articles and blogs about Covid-19, population growth, climage change, environment, populist politics and white nationalism click through.

Trump’s White House Immigration Policies and White Nationalist John Tanton

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The aggressive anti-immigration sentiment and policies that are promoted by governments in the US, UK and Australia are not new and have been in the making for generations, John Tanton described as the ‘most influential unknown man in America’ appears central in modern day manifestations. A long game in the same eco system as radical right libertarians, evangelical conservative Christians, eco-fascists, eugenicists, autarkist proponents, climate science denialism and white nationalists, weaponised by deep pocketed philanthropists and ideologues, many of the same highlighted in research by Jane Mayer’s ‘Dark Money’ and Nancy MacLean’s ‘Democracy in Chains’.

 

The fulcrum of these seemingly unrelated entities, donors and operators revolves round the likes of John Tanton, James Buchanan, Paul Ehrlich, Paul Weyrich, Rockefeller Bros. Foundation (more in the past? and related fossil fuel players in addition to ExxonMobil), Colcom (Mellon Scaife), Kochs, then organisations they spawned such as ZPG Zero Population Growth, Club of Rome (‘Limits to Growth’), Heritage Foundation, Cato, Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity, ‘bill mill’ ALEC, FAIR, CIS Center for Immigration Studies, The Social Contract Press, and elsewhere including university academia. In Australia this includes Sustainable (Population) Australia, former head of Monash University based CUPR, demographer Dr. Bob Birrell (contributed to Tanton’s Social Contract Press), IPA Institute of Public Affairs (in Koch’s Atlas Network) and in the UK IEA Institute of Economic Affairs (Atlas Network), Population Matters UK ( Pa patronaul Ehrlich) and Migration Watch UK (linked to Tanton’s CIS).

From SPLC:

HATEWATCH – John Tanton’s Legacy – July 18, 2019

Swathi Shanmugasundaram
John Tanton, the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement, has left behind a legacy that spawned more than a dozen nativist organizations, driven an anti-immigrant agenda for four decades, and found friends in the White House.

 

Tanton created groups that billed themselves as fact-based think tanks and lobbyists. Instead, those groups spread propaganda targeting immigrants that has become central to President Trump’s immigration policy.

 

Tanton, 85, died Tuesday in Petoskey, Michigan. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an SPLC-designated hate group that Tanton launched in 1979, announced his death in a press release.

 

Tanton’s anti-immigrant influence goes far beyond FAIR. He founded or funded 13 anti-immigrant organizations, including three of the most influential anti-immigrant groups in the United States – FAIR, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA – known as the “Big Three.”

 

These groups spoke at congressional briefings and provided media interviews with mainstream outlets such as the Associated Press and The New York Times, all the while couching their racism in more palatable terms.

 

John Tanton’s anti-immigrant legacy spawned more than a dozen nativist organizations.

 

The Big Three also have close connections with a number of people in the Trump administration. As the president ramps up his anti-immigrant policies, extremists from Tanton’s network are finding positions of authority within the administration.

 

Tanton’s views were first revealed when a series of private memos he wrote to leaders of FAIR were leaked to the press. In an October 1986 memo he wrote, “As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”

 

FAIR, the action arm of the movement, regularly deploys its employees to lobby legislators to introduce anti-immigrant legislation in state legislatures nationwide. Its lobbying efforts to repeal birthright citizenship and ban sanctuary law span decades.

 

FAIR’s self-described mission is to reduce overall immigration and has big allies in, or connected to, the White House. Allies include former employees Julie Kirchner, who now serves as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ombudsman, John Zadrozny, an official at the State Department, and Ian Smith. Smith had stints at the State Department and Domestic Policy Council but ultimately had to resign in August 2018 after leaked emails tied him to white nationalists Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor.

 

Center for Immigration Studies, the think tank of the movement run by Mark Krikorian, regularly publishes discredited reports about immigrants. CIS reports have been widely criticized and debunked by groups such as the Immigration Policy Center and the CATO Institute. Still, the hate group has gained legitimacy in Trump’s administration.

 

In early 2017, Stephen Miller, a senior advisor in the White House, cited a CIS study in defending Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. “First of all, 72 individuals, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, have been implicated in terroristic activity in the United States who hail from those seven nations, point one,” Miller said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Fact-checkers at The Washington Post debunked this talking point.

 

In April 2016, CIS published a “wish list” of policies, many of which have been implemented by the Trump administration. These policies range from terminating the diversity visa lottery program, to refugee admissions. In September 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the lowest refugee cap since the passage of the Refugee Act in 2018.

 

Krikorian appears in the press and on television programs ranging from Fox & Friends, where he spoke about immigration with former ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan, to C-SPAN, where he defended the inclusion of material from the white nationalist site VDARE in CIS’s weekly newsletter.

 

VDARE is an anti-immigration, white nationalist hate site founded by Peter Brimelow “dedicated to preserving our historical unity as Americans into the 21st Century.” Brimelow says VDARE.com was an idea that “flowed out of the best-selling book I wrote back in 1995, Alien Nation,” an anti-immigrant book about Brimelow’s perspective on how the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 changed the United States. According to a Nov. 2, 1995, memo by Tanton, he “encouraged Brimelow to write his book,” and “provided the necessary research funds to get it done.” On July 17, 2019, Brimelow tweeted, “Very sad to hear of John Tanton’s passing – great immigration patriot. ‘Truly a citizen who has taken up arms for his country,’ in Robert E. Lee’s phrase.” He linked to a VDARE article about Tanton’s legacy.

 

NumbersUSA is the grassroots organizer of the anti-immigrant movement. The group sends action alerts urging its followers to contact their representatives in support of anti-immigrant legislation. Roy Beck, the executive director of the organization, has tried to distance the group and himself from Tanton and his legacy. However, in a memo, Tanton wrote Beck asking him to sign on as his “ heir apparent” in the case of his death and thanked him the next day, Jan. 6, 1998, for doing so.

 

Beck was also a longtime editor for Tanton’s The Social Contract Press (TSCP), a white nationalist group that publishes articles written by white nationalists. In 1994, while Beck was still an employee, TSCP published an English translation of the openly racist French book, The Camp of the Saints. Tanton wrote that he was “honored” to republish the novel.

 

Tanton was critical to securing initial funding for a number of these organizations, including by introducing leaders of FAIR to the Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund’s original mandate was to pursue “race betterment” by promoting the genetic stock of those “deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution.” Tanton himself said in 1993, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”

 

These groups still are able to thrive thanks to grantmakers including the Colcom Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation. Political Research Associates published a report this year detailing more than $100 million being given to FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA alone from 2006 – 2016. Other groups within this network, including Californians for Population Stabilization and Immigration Reform Law Institute, FAIR’s legal arm, boast more than $7 million each during this same period.

 

Tanton’s legacy is difficult to overstate. Other groups within the network also are experiencing mainstream success. ProEnglish, an anti-immigrant hate group that lobbies for English only legislation and policies across the country, met with Trump and aides to Vice President Mike Pence multiple times in 2018 and as recently as July 11 of this year. Executive director Stephen Guschov recounted the last meeting in a blog post. He said it was about, “official English legislation and to continue to advocate for President Trump to sign a new Executive Order to effectively repeal and replace former President Clinton’s onerous Executive Order 13166 that requires foreign language translations and interpretations for all federally funded agencies and contractors.” ProEnglish’s former executive director is Robert “Bob” Vandervoort, who is also the former head of the white nationalist group Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance. That group is a satellite for white nationalist hate group American Renaissance.

 

Tanton’s influence is seen in state legislatures, and especially at the federal level, where his mentees and allies have imbibed his material, enacted his policies, and sold a rehabbed version of Tanton, critically leaving out his explicitly racist views.

 

On July 17, FAIR president Dan Stein published a press release, calling Tanton “a selfless giver of his time and talents in the interests of a better tomorrow.” He added, “For John, the big reward was to see a number of the organizations he helped conceive grow into tall oaks – guiding and shaping the public discourse in history-changing ways.”

 

Leaders of groups within Tanton’s network regularly obfuscate Tanton’s racist views or their connections to Tanton himself. In a spring 2018 edition of The Social Contract Press, Tanton wrote a blog directly attempting to do the same with NumbersUSA and CIS. He wrote:

 

NumbersUSA, an organization I helped start, but on whose board I do not serve, has also made stellar contributions to the immigration reform debate. I also helped raise a grant in 1985 for the Center for Immigration Studies, but I have played no role in the Center’s growth or development.

 

In September 1986, a year after CIS was founded as a project of FAIR, it became independent, but the relationship with Tanton was far from over. The same year, Tanton wrote a memo discussing the need to get CIS properly functioning: “We need to get CIS fully funded and entrenched as a major Washington think-tank, one that can venture into issues, which FAIR is not yet ready to raise.” Eight years later, in 1994, Tanton wrote that he still was setting “the proper roles for FAIR and CIS.”

 

Jared Taylor, the white nationalist who created American Renaissance, was a close friend of Tanton.

 

During the latest episode of Taylor’s podcast, “Radio Renaissance,” he mourned Tanton’s death, praising him as a man who “became very concerned about the demographic future of the United States.” His pseudonymous cohost, Paul Kersey, hailed Tanton’s legacy through the groups he founded that ensured “these ideas would flourish.” Taylor added: “Everything I know about immigration I learned from CIS.”

 

For more articles about immigration, populist policies, population growth and white nationalism click through.

Cars Killing Cities and Citizens

Article discussing issues, assumptions, entitlement and habits round the use of motor cars or vehicles in urban areas in America, same issues exist in Australia.  Often if not always accidents, injuries, deaths, more roads, car parks, traffic congestion, bitumen or asphalt, fossil fuels and pollution are never questioned or linked to car usage.  However, if question do arise about pollution, traffic congestion etc. the deflection used is blaming ‘immigration’ or ‘population growth‘ rather than focus upon the incentives e.g. salary package tax breaks and lack of disincentives e.g. discouraging private motor vehicle usage.

Car or vehicle usage and infrastructure costs not questioned

Cars, Roads and Fossil Fuels (Image copyright Pexels)

From The Week: ‘American cities need to phase out cars

Ryan Cooper

August 19, 2019

On August 12, a man named Umar Baig was driving illegally in Brooklyn — speeding his Dodge Charger down Coney Island Avenue far, far above the speed limit of 25 miles per hour. At the intersection with Avenue L, he ran a red light, and smashed directly into the side of a Honda SUV.

The collision was so violent that Baig’s car lifted the Honda completely off the ground for a split second in the process of flinging it at high speed across the oncoming lanes of Coney Island Avenue — where the SUV crushed a cyclist named Jose Alzorriz, who had just pulled up to wait for the red light Baig blew through. Bystanders lifted the car off him, but Alzorriz later died of his injuries. (A pedestrian and the Honda’s driver were also injured, but not fatally).

This was the 19th cyclist killed by a car in New York City so far in 2019, in addition to 69 pedestrians — as compared to 10 and 107 respectively in the whole of 2018. For reasons of safety and basic urban functionality, it’s time to start banning private automobiles from America’s urban cores.

The basic problem with cars in a dense urban setting like New York is that they go too fast and take up too much space. Dense cities are enormously more energy efficient than sprawling suburbs or exurbs because apartment buildings and row houses are far more efficient to heat and cool than single-family homes (due to shared walls), larger enterprises can take advantage of efficiencies of scale, and because lots of people packed into a small area enables highly-efficient mass transit. New Yorkers emit only about 2.3 tons of carbon dioxide per person, as compared to 45 tons from residents of Flagstaff, Arizona.

A car-centered transportation system is simply at odds with the logic of a dense city. For commuters, cars take up a huge volume of space being parked at home and at work. On the road, a lane of highway traffic can transport about 3,000 people per hour under perfect conditions, while a subway can easily manage 10 times that — and many do even better. And while subways can be delayed, conditions are rarely ideal on the highway — on the contrary, every day at rush hour most are jammed to a crawl with too many cars, or slowed by some gruesome accident.

What’s more, the terrible toll of injuries and deaths inflicted on New York’s cyclists and pedestrians this year is simply what happens when one allows cars to roam free in cities. It is highly risky to allow huge, heavy steel cages capable of high speeds to be flying around crowds of delicate human bodies. It takes only a slight error or moment of inattention to get someone brutally killed.

Yet America’s urban centers were still rent asunder during its great mid-20th century car bender. Large swathes of our finest cities were eviscerated to make way for filthy, dangerous freeways, and hideous parking lots and garages. New cities were built entirely around this new transport paradigm, eating up vast quantities of land and forcing millions upon millions of people to spend hours every day stuck in traffic. Cars became a near requirement for most Americans, even in relatively dense metros.

This has left many American cities and neighborhoods without high-quality public transit, even where density is high enough that it could be supported. Big chunks of D.C., Philadelphia, New York, and many other places are stuck in a sort of no-man’s-land where bus and train service aren’t good enough to enable a truly car-free lifestyle for most residents — but driving and parking are still a monumental inconvenience.

All this is why American cities should follow the lead of European cities like Oslo and Brussels, and start phasing out private cars in their central cities…..

…..All this would be expensive and difficult in many cities, but the bigger obstacle is cultural. Even in New York, the only city in America where a majority of households do not own a car, laws are so ludicrously biased in favor of drivers that police and prosecutors are struggling to find a way to charge Umar Baig with a serious crime. A proposal to ban private vehicles from just a few blocks of the clogged 14th Street in lower Manhattan to improve bus service inspired screaming outrage from the reactionary New York Post, and has been repeatedly blocked by a judge. But perhaps once the manifest benefits of a car-free urban core can be widely seen, attitudes will start slowly shifting. Cars simply do not belong downtown.’

 

For more articles and blogs about Australian politics, Immigration and Population Growth click through.