Another Misinformation Article from a Good Place
There are a number of misinformation campaigns that make their way around the climate movement all the time. One of the biggest and most enduring is overpopulation. A deliberate attempt to convince white people in the global north that black people in the global south or the east are the problem, when both sets either have nothing or make products for the global north. It does this by invoking an 18th century, long debunked, economic justification that was originally built and used by the British Parliament to justify slavery.
The other, is the idea that carbon footprints were created by oil companies. This is actually completely false. At best they captured and propagated it by using it within their marketing, but the original term actually started out as the term “ecological footprint” from Reese and Wackenagel (climate analysts) in the 1990s. So not only had nothing to do with the BP popularisation of the term but also is probably a more accurate description of what each person's effect is, as it can account for aspects of biodiversity loss, ocean acidification etc.
I'm certainly not against the return of that term, because the world has learned more and is about ready for the adoption of such a term within the climate action space.
Unfortunately, Sam's blog post offers nothing but a revulsion against fossil fuels and it's clear he has no idea why he's against the term itself as separate from fossil fuels. It doesn't debunk the carbon footprint term anywhere. So not only is it presenting more misinformation and propagating that misinformation, it also highlights all the areas which don't matter.
When it comes to climate change, the only thing that matters is the science. Yet nowhere in this blog post does science appear. It's such a proponent of misinformation I'd normally report it for its removal or write to press standards authority if it was a mainstream publication. At the very least, the climate movement itself should be embarrassed it even came up with this tripe.
People Power = Climate Demise
My biggest fear, as we have seen exemplified in many other people/social powered spaces over the last few years is the climate movement itself becomes the unwitting engineers of climate demise. This usually happens because a movement is full of people who have no numeracy or scientific literacy, but huge heart! Not only does this mean the “Nice but dims” are easily manipulated by covert fossil fuel actors, like they were to support the election of the Trump administration or to give the UK’s Boris Johnson, a right-wing extreme administration (albeit wolf in sheep’s clothing), the greatest majority ever and condemn the UK to a life outside the EU, and breaches of human right of 10% of its population, but for the climate it also means speculative action by the climate groups themselves will lead to greater climate harm.
For example, the lack of numeracy lead to the assumptions that plastic bags are worse than cotton bags, when in fact cotton bags are up to 7,000 times worse for the climate (Danish study). The consumption of space for cotton growing and the huge amounts of water used make the impact HUGE!
Yet, many in the climate movement are completely oblivious to the fact textiles are the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. It is 11 times bigger than plastics and bigger than the totality of emissions produced by all global healthcare systems combined.
Take your lead from Science, not English
Trust me, climate scientists are keen to ensure that there is a people driven component to the climate movement, that pressures commerce and government to make the right moves. But at all points, the activism must be subservient to the science, as much as people's needs should be subservient to the planet's. Otherwise we empower a fake-science narrative that ultimately only does harm because we as activists, refused to be subservient to what the science is telling us and what’s required to engineer our way out.
It is something the WWF itself, after its own war on plastics, has had to softly retract that by issuing a warning from it’s sustainable materials expert. Paraphrasing, the WWF stated solutions to the plastic problem can be worse than plastic, so choose wisely.
It is far too easy for publications like Climate Conscious to become a vector from which disinformation can be injected by fossil fuel companies and enter the same channels relatively innocent misinformation propagate. This leads to groups of people doing exactly the wrong thing.
For example, we now know that planting trees by itself is not a good idea, as it creates a monoculture and doesn't consume enough CO, especially as an acre of saplings. But as part of a rewilding process, trees have a significant bonus upside and nurtures permaculture spaces that rapidly improve an area. However, if all that is done without preventing greenhouse gas emissions entering the ecosystem, it doesn't stand a chance anyway.
As I scour medium for credible publications, the question is whether this publication, it’s readers, authors and editors are ready to make it a credible source. I’m not yet convinced it is. The question is, what to do to improve it?