The New Language of Global Warming

When it comes to “global warming”, you have the skeptics, the die-hards, and everyone else. The problem, from the point of view of the “Al Gore the Prophet” set is that the skeptics are picking up a lot of support as the science behind their claims receives more and more of that cleansing light of day, to paraphrase former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. That simply won’t do, especially when they want to impose cap-and-trade energy taxation in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Europeans have tried that and so far it hasn’t worked for them, but it does raise prices for everything, harms small business, creates another trading commodity and it sure brings in revenue to the government.

So, what is the solution? To learn from the European example, or maybe to do the math and see what spending all that money on cap-and-trade would actually do to the ailing US economy? Nope. According to some pretty extensive polling and focus group work conducted by the nonprofit, Washington-based environmental marketing and messaging firm ecoAmerica, and reported by the New York Times, the solution is to change the way they talk about the issue in order to pull the synthetic wool over your eyes.

In addition to various recommendations on addressing the issues of energy and the environment that include using inspirational language and talking about shared American ideals, like freedom, prosperity, independence and self-sufficiency while also avoiding the use of jargon, policy details, science, economics or technology, here are some specific recommendations:

Global Warming. Currently, it is referred to as “climate change.” This way, if the global cooling folks are right, then “climate change” covers that as well. Now, ecoAmerica suggests changing that to the even vaguer “our deteriorating atmosphere.” With that, people will think of pollution in general, not specifically about global warming.

Fossil Fuels. Oil, coal and natural gas now take on the pejorative “dirty fuels of the past.” Here we imply that these are obsolete fuels and conjure up visions of smokestacks pouring filth into the air.

Cap-and-Trade. Here is the most insidious recommendation from ecoAmerica. Instead of calling this cap-and-trade, they suggest calling it “cap and cash back” or “pollution reduction refund” so as not to confuse people.

ecoAmerica and other environmental groups have been speaking with Congress and the administration, hoping to use the findings of this study to change the terms of the debate now under way in Washington. However, since the memo that contained the findings of their study was prematurely released to the media—and reported upon—there is a very good chance that the recommendations will go nowhere.

On the other hand, this is the same administration that turned “terrorist attack” into “man-caused disaster”, “Islamic terrorist” into “enemy combatant”, “War on Terror” into “Overseas Contingency Operation” and “Swine Flu” into “H1N1 virus.” Given this track record of changing the vocabulary for important issues, there is no reason not to expect the terms in this debate to shift away from the precise, easy-to-understand terms of today to something far more disingenuous in order to advance their agenda.

The Bottom Line

I am not sure if the current Administration understands that their election was not a mandate for their proposals, but a condemnation of George W. Bush and Republicans in general. I am also not certain that they understand that more Americans are concerned over their jobs and the economy than over the environment. Whether the administration understands this or believes that they have a mandate to do as they will, they have already shown that they are more than willing to go to Machiavellian lengths to force their agenda onto the American people. We cannot expect cap-and-trade, a tax on the use of energy that will, in the President’s own terms, cause energy costs to “skyrocket”; one of the pillars of this administration’s energy policy, to simply go away. No, as this leaked memo shows, we can expect propaganda and Orwellian doublespeak.

Regardless of what they want to call it, the cap-and-trade energy tax is a business-killing proposal, especially during a time when businesses are barely making it, and it must be opposed by the very people who will be the most effected—and the most harmed—by its tenets: Small business.