Thursday, May 18, 2006

But...But...Carbon Dioxide is So Natural!

According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is really a front group funded by Exxon Mobil and other Big Oil players, the concept of global warming is nothing more than a scary smear campaign against that most natural of compounds, carbon dioxide. And of course, they've begun their slick counterattack on science itself--indeed, against anyone who utters the phrase "Global Warming" or attempts to educate the public about the coming crisis if we don't address it right now (Al Gore, for example, in his lectures and much-anticipated movie An Inconvenient Truth)--by creating, in a pair of commercials, what has to be the most transparent and nauseatingly saccharine work of cinematic propaganda I have ever seen in my life. Watch the videos at Think Progress, who note:

The first ad portrays global warming science as a vicious smear campaign against carbon dioxide. The ad, which despite appearances is not an SNL parody, helpfully reminds us that carbon dioxide is “essential to life” because “we breathe it out.”

In the first clip, there are pretty children blowing dandelions, you know, to demonstrate the act of exhaling. There is a calm voice that tells us how natural carbon dioxide is. Of course it's natural. And before fossil fuels were burned in mass quantity, Earth's ecosystem was working quite nicely in that department, thank you. Animals, including humans, breathed in the oxygen produced by the plant kingdom; trees took in our exhaled carbon dioxide. The levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere kept the planet's temperature within a range hospitable to life.

Then two things happened: deforestation and the advent of fossil fuels. Once we began burning petroleum products, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose dramatically. And little by little, so did the temperature of planet Earth.

Carbon dioxide and other gases warm the surface of the planet naturally by trapping solar heat in the atmosphere. This is a good thing because it keeps our planet habitable. However, by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and clearing forests we have dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere and temperatures are rising.

The vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is real, it’s already happening and that it is the result of our activities and not a natural occurrence. The evidence is overwhelming and undeniable.

We’re already seeing changes. Glaciers are melting, plants and animals are being forced from their habitat, and the number of severe storms and droughts is increasing.

All together now: Natural compounds in unnatural quantities can be very deadly.

In the second video, the Competitive Enterprise Institute asserts that glaciers are actually growing. And they reiterate the point that carbon dioxide isn't pollution, but rather, a natural substance: "They call it pollution; we call it life".

Although this campaign is an interesting mix of sickening, laughable, and desperate, it does speak to Big Oil's concerns about the effect numerous magazine cover stories, as well as Gore's movie, are already having on people with at least a few active brain cells in their skulls. As for the rest of the population (most of whom reside in Florida, I fear), they're cutting back on fuel consumption for less noble reasons: it costs too much.

Either way, the sticky, black writing is on the increasingly warm wall. Let's hope enough people are able to read it.

(A big hat-tip to Eric Wyatt)

UPDATE: Check out the superb script for a proposed counter-ad over at Global Warming Watch.

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