Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Is it for real

Another few-day-old item from the Herald on which I wanted to comment - a letter from a Blair Henry who among other things has been a professor at UND.

Basically the letter opens by lamenting that misinformation traceable to the fossil fuels industry is polluting the process to produce climate/energy legislation, suggests readers check out a relatively brief summary document on climate change, then offers up less reading by citing the recognition by a wide range of prominent groups that anthropogenic climate change is real. Included in the list of the last part are oil companies, coal companies, and electrical utilities.

This leads to a very interesting point - the tendency for some companies and groups to talk out of both sides of their mouth on the issue of climate change.

There is a range to this. The US Chamber of Commerce seems to mention climate change only perfunctorily and because it is like a brand from which maybe money can be made, but they clearly push strongly against action to address climate change with cries that doing anything will hurt business.

Others make more of an effort to at least appear to not be so blatently short-sighted and narrow-minded. Take the last decade of BP attempting to sell itself as "Beyond Petroleum". Even before the current Gulf oil-cano began erupting over a month ago, the sheen was wearing off that greenwashing. Similarly the coal industry likes to throw out "clean" every other word trying to get people to confuse regulation-driven decreases in the likes of sulfur and mercury emissions with not-decreasing carbon dioxide emissions.

On one hand it is a good thing to have the likes of fossil fuel companies acknowledging that carbon emissions and the subsequent climate change are real threats. It leaves that much less cover for the rejectionists and deniers to try to hide behind. On the other hand though there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to taking actual steps away from the business-as-usual fossil fuel use and emissions. For each positive by say the likes of Duke Energy, there is still way too much inaction to downright opposition. Recognition that trying to deny or ignore climate change is untenable is a start, but there needs to be wider recognition that simply talking the talk on climate change without walking the walk is not acceptable.

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