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Sadly, every time that we fill up our gas tank, flip the switch for fossil-foolish electricity, warm ourselves with (high efficiency?) natural gas, we risk sending funding to people dedicated to destroying the potential for fostering paths toward mitigation of global warming and our other serious challenges.  Fractions of pennies add up to serious money, serious funding for those evidently uncaring as to the havoc that they are fostering for their own children -- let alone yours and mine.

From the West, we have the fumes of a particularly egregious group of astroturfers. Let's talk a little  about the Western Business Roundtable.

Consider, for a moment, WBR's membership:  

  • Gas tank: Shell Oil
  • Coal-fired electricity: Peabody
  • Natural gas (and other fossil fuels): Western Fuels Association

What is their objective?  Scuttling the Western Climate Initiative, an initiative of seven Western governors and heads of four Canadian provinces. While falling short of scientific targets (25+ percent below 1990 levels by 2020), the WCI merits credit as a bipartisan and international framework for cutting emisisions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.  This covers some 20 percent of the US economy and 40 percent of the Canadian economy.  Again, not enough to solve the climate crisis, but a notable international collaboration at the short of national level.

What does the Western Business Roundtable plan to do? Issue a "study" attacking the WCI, asserting that acting to rein in climate chaos-related pollution is harmful for the economy. Hmm ... guess the WBR wants to join NAM/ACCF in distorting truthiness to help destroy the planet's hability.

From a WBR memodistributed, evidently, prior to the study's research and analysis, we can expect to see such illuminating sections like:

  • Inefficiencies of a Unilateral Regional Plan
  • Lack of measurable benefit in future climates according to United Nations-IPCC assumptions
  • Implausibility of the WCI's Electric Power Scenario
  • Disproportionate Impact On Low-Income Families of Higher Prices Caused by WCI Recommendations

Guess WBR is striving for honest, thoughtful, society-strengthening analytical insight as to WCI's strengths and weaknesses.

Behind the closed curtain, things become more interesting as WBR is clearly an "Astroturf Shell Game" as WBR's staff / executives are, basically, the staff/executives of the pr/lobbying firm "Policy Communications, Inc".  And, " lobbying dollars passing between the Western Business Roundtable and Policy Communications Inc., there's been plenty ... So the staff at Western Business Roundtable has paid themselves a total of $470,000 at Policy Communications Inc., in three year. What we don't know (yet) is who is paying the Western Business Roundtable's lobby bill."  An Astroturf shell game, with the money moving from group to group, enabling the originating firms to be 'hands off' from the dirty work.

What is sad is that, without question, there will be reporters who will buy into WBR's disingenuous truthiness.  There will be, when this report comes out, reporters who cite, without clarifying, some horrifying statistics about how the WCI "will harm the economy" amid our economic crisis.  The reporter(s) won't do the work to find out who really funded the WBR's efforts. They won't have the insight or background to highlight how the WBR's "report" gives truth to the adage "lies, damned lies, and statistics".  No, headlines will scream "jobs at risk" when, in fact, the WCI's approach offers the potential for economic growth while offering hope for mitigating utter catastrophic climate change.    Those headlines will not be the truth.

Speaking some truth ...

One of the ugliest lies that has and will continue from those fighting to stop action to turn the tides of Global Warming's rising seas is that, somehow, it is "economy versus the environment". This is a distorting lie: it is economy and environment.   Pursuing smart energy policies that reduce our Global Warming impact will strengthen the economy, not weaken it.

Cleaning up our air, water, and lives will improve health, reducing the health cost burden and (for those in commerce) improve productivity through fewer sick days, brighter (lead exposure lowers IQ) and more alert employees.

Taking leading positions in "green" domains will improve American competitiveness, by reducing our demands for imported energy (oil and natural gas) while increasing the prospects for selling American goods overseas.

And, leaving climate change unchecked will devastate economic (and other) prospects far more than any incremental costs to address it.  The "insurance premium" for avoiding utter catastrophic climate change is far, far less in any sensible fiscal analysis.

No, the lie will be "we can't afford it", "action will be devastating to the economy", etc ...

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics ... somewhere lower on the spectrum are the deceitful 'statistic filled' reports from the Western Business Roundtable seeking to undermine the Western Climate Initiative.

Originally posted to A Siegel on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 06:07 AM PST.

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