Someone sent me this program and after watching it, I sent back the following comments…

BTW: there is some language in here that some may find objectionable, it’s from cable, what can I say?

As usual, Penn & Teller do what they do on this show, go to extreme opposites and present it as a complete picture. What makes the show worth watching is that you get both sides, though they tend to be a bit extreme on their presentations, fortunately the truth is rarely neither side, but somewhere in between.

The show also tends to skew their story for whatever position they are in support for, not that different than Michael Moore, though at least Michael is honest about what position he is taking. Here are a few examples of where their presented “facts” and proofs are in dispute (for size and time, I stopped the commentary after the first 10 minutes of the show).

  • Patrick Moore — Ecologist
    1. Moore is paid by the British Columbia Forest Alliance: an (accused) industry-front group set up by public relations firm Burson-Marsteller (the same PR firm that represented Exxon after the Valdez oil spill and Union Carbide after the Bhopal chemical disaster). The BC Forest Alliance is funded primarily by the logging industry.
    2. Large openings do occur naturally in some forest ecosystems, but not with any frequency in coastal temperate rainforest. Furthermore, clearcuts remove a considerable amount of the biomass, whereas natural openings caused by wind leave all the bio-mass on site and openings caused by fire leave 20% to70% of the biomass on site.
    3. There are many other statements that he is known for that are of questionable scientific integrity.
  • Some one comments, “their [Corporations] bottom line is how much money is in the bank by the end of the day.” to which Penn comments that is the definition of “bottom line, moron.” In context, what she is referring to is what’s most important to them, not a financial definition as she clarifies immediately after when the rest of her statement is played.
    • People forget the Corporations have one and only one fiduciary responsibility at the end of the day, to make profit for the shareholders, being a good or responsible neighbor is not in the equation since this responsibility is in the short term and tends not to see the long term in many cases.
  • I can’t help but wonder how many students and protesters they had to interview to find this motley collection of speakers who don’t come across as that bright.
  • As far as the Dihydrogen Monoxide petition:
    1. These kinds of rallies are not exactly brain trusts and the descriptions that the petition taker is full of reaction-causing terms in an grouping as this one. Far from what would be considered a scientific survey with it’s targeted phrasing of the uses of H2O. The questioning and arguments were specifically targeted to elicit a response in one direction, not exactly an impartial sampling. Penn even states this is the case by saying it would be using the terminology of “environmental hysteria.”
    2. How many people signed it verses how many didn’t? Since they don’t give us any numbers, it’s not possible to make any conclusions except that there were at least some gullible people out there.
  • Rainforest Action Network (RAN)
    I don’t know the specifics of this organization, but from a cursory look at their website, I think their “representation” was poor to say the least and while the website uses all the “buzz” words, their main goals seem to be reasonable:
    • Global Finance:
      • “…works to redirect the global economic system away from environmentally and socially destructive activities and into clean, sustainable, and socially just alternatives.”
      • “…create an imperative for concerned citizens to demand an end to destructive investments from the world’s largest financial institutions and help to chart a new course towards a sane and sustainable global economy.”
    • Old Growth Forest Preservation:
      • “…works to protect endangered forests, promote sustainable and democratic economies and protect indigenous rights.”
    • Freedom From Oil:
      • “…working to end America’s oil dependence, reduce oil related conflicts, and stop global climate change by convincing the auto industry to dramatically improve fuel efficiency and eliminate vehicle greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • Penn: “No one can agree on what causes Global Warming or even how bad it is, there are some that say that it’s not happening at all.”
    • Interesting that Al Gore in “An Inconvenient Truth” mentions the very same thing. I’m not going to pull it out and get an exact quote, but he says that out of a fair and random sample of the scientific peer-reviewed literature, there was somewhere near complete support for the idea of global warming. It was only in the corporate owned media that the debate came down to around 50% agreement. So, the scientists appear to be in predominant agreement, but the corporations that don’t want change show a different picture, makes me think of Upton Sinclair’s line: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” (It is amazing how much of the world around me falls into this in one way or another)
  • Ross Gelbspan – Journalist:
    1. Has written 2 books on the subject of global warming, “The Heat is On: The High Stakes Battle Over Earth’s Threatened Climate” and “Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis—and What We Can Do to Avoid Disaster
    2. General information is that he believes in a concerted effort between government and business to keep things as is and fight any changes in energy or fossil fuel usage or technologies. While he does come off as a bit of an alarmist, I can’t fault a man for being passionate.
    3. Strange that the only real complaint about the guy I found in a cursory look on Google was an article calling into question if he could use the phrase “Pulitzer Prize winning” since a series of articles that he participated as an editor won but he wasn’t a writer specifically.

The Point:

From my perspective the whole argument true or not is something of a Mass Distraction. I happen to believe that the evidence that I have found and read myself supports the idea that the planet is going through a warming trend and that it is quite likely that it is related to the burning of fossil fuels and the release of large amounts or CO2 and other so-called “greenhouse gasses.”

Agree with me or not is not important, but there are 3 questions that are imperative to ask;

  1. Oil and Coal, though fairly abundant at this time, are limited resources and will eventually run out, if these corporations that are accused by some of being resistant to changing their business wish to be profitable when that happens, wouldn’t it be prudent for them to be looking into alternatives so they can continue being profitable when their market is harvested out? (or is my conspiracy theory friend right when he says they [corporations and government] intend to reap the benefits of an inverse function of supply and demand by reaping higher and higher profits as demand increases on diminishing supplies?)
  2. What sense is there in pouring toxins into the atmosphere that we all depend upon? Other than it is likely cheaper and easier to use centuries old technologies than to find cleaner alternatives, even my cat has more sense than to defecate in his food dish.
  3. Are we making a planet that we would (or could) live on in 100 or 1000 years if we continue the path we are on? What we do or don’t do today will have repercussions on the children of today and beyond, are we making a place they would be happy to live in, judged by quality of life, not quantity of “things”?

At least the title tells you their specific perspective, and I would agree that hysteria is not helpful, but neither is ignoring what may or may not, depending on perspective, be a looming problem.

Oh, one last thing after the 10 minutes into the show, I don’t know of anyone other than the conservative minded that would call the CATO Institute a “libertarian” think-tank. They tend to be more “traditionally conservative” (as compared to neo-conservative) than otherwise.

I know someone will accuse me of being anti-corporation, not at all. I do think that if corporations want the legal rights and privileges to match that of common citizens, they should also be held to the same level of controls within the common-welfare. The pursuit of the all-mighty dollar shouldn’t be a valid excuse for the wanton destruction of everything else around it. The fact is that it may be necessary for corporations to make less profit today if the wish to still be financially viable tomorrow.

Written by R. A. Burgener

After finishing the 850 mile trek of self-rediscovery on California's El Camino Real from San Diego to Sonoma, California, Robert continued, via Greyhound, to Portland, Oregon, where he is becoming familiar with the concepts of weather and seasons after 30 years in Los Angeles.

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