March 6th, 2013
Ugh. There they go again — the viscerally-driven celebrities, following the flaming sink of “Gasland,” and NIMBYism, stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime. Michael Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute has an excellent essay today that summarizes the current “Gas Crushes Coal” controversy — how the evil fracking is extinguishing the MEGA-evil coal, but the celebs and enviros can’t seem to see the petrified forest for the wells. Or something like that.
THE ETERNAL SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH. Yes, celebrities are powerful and important communications resources, but sometimes they go too quickly with the visceral side of an issue. Michael Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute tries to strike a balance with this essay.
SHORT ATTENTION SPANS VS. GRAPHS
The fracking issue is shaping up to be a text book case of guts vs. brains, feelings vs. data, local vs. global — particularly in the communication dynamics. Whatever happened to the old slogan, “Think globally, act locally.” The fracking issue seems to be advocating, “Think globally, then do the opposite locally.” Meaning the global problem is global warming driven significantly by the emissions of coal plants, but the local “fracktivisits” don’t seem to care that gas production has led to decline in coal emissions in the US, they just want the fracking out of their back yards.
Josh Fox used a visceral medium (a so-called “documentary” — and I’m sorry but as soon as you open your film with a hushed voice of conspiracy you ain’t documenting squat — you’re editorializing) to enflame the masses and lots of celebs have followed suit, including Matt Damon with his “Promised Land” (which has a rotten 51% on Rotten Tomatoes, sah-ree). The result is an anti-fracking movement at a time when gas production has significantly reduced coal emissions.
As usual, the overall dynamic is reflective of the poor leadership of today’s environmental movement. I have talked in the past about the powerful leadership that produced loud, singular voices in the 1970’s for such issues as protecting Alaska and stopping nuclear power. Today the environmental cacophony can’t seem to pull its act together on these things to produce a coordinated singular voice.
And in the meanwhile, Shellenberger points out that major scientists, like Dan Schrag at Harvard, are presenting the data to show that this minor evil of fracking has made major strides in addressing the major evil of coal burning. Is it really that tough to keep a clear perspective on two things at once?
And how much do you think the anti-environmentalists enjoy watching the anti-fracking crowd battle the anti-coal crowd?
Lastly, didn’t Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (who is one of the celebrity voices behind the anti-fracking movemet) throw all his credibility behind the anti-vaccination movement — an effort that has not only been thoroughly discredited but was also 100% anti-science. Doesn’t credibility matter any more?