‘Global Warming for Dummies’ or Global Warming Propaganda?
The guide, authored by Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada and Zoë Caron of the Sierra Club of Canada, suggests a wide range of personal and government solutions to climate change. They take positions on tax policy, transportation policy, and population growth while dismissing opposing arguments and telling readers to avoid works produced by global warming skeptics.
One passage, on page 68, seems to indicate a necessity to reduce fertility among the world’s women – and that empowered women will naturally have fewer children.
“Luckily, population growth is slowing and should level off,” the book says. However, on the same page, May and Caron claim that: “It all depends on reducing fertility rates, which all depends on improving the economic, educational, and political status of women.”
The book also makes extensive suggestions for government actions in regard to the economy. On one hand, the authors say on page 145 that, “an excellent way for governments to encourage proper behavior (climate change-related or otherwise) is to offer incentives.” However, on page 156, they say, “Taxes can be a powerful disincentive to individuals and companies; stop polluting or you have to pay!”
The authors envision increased bicycle usage as an answer to global warming – even during extremely cold weather.
“A large percentage of city dwellers cycle contentedly throughout the cold and wet winters in Northern Europe,” the book states on page 152.
On the local level, meanwhile, the authors take aim at everything from parking spaces to reporters.
“Municipally, cities could make parking spaces smaller,” says page 154. “If your vehicle is too big, you pay for two parking spots rather than one!”
Even more controversial is the assertion on pages 256-257, where May and Caron argue that people who question global warming orthodoxy should be excluded from media coverage of the issue.
“Because journalists are supposed to give both sides of the story, sometimes they actually create a bias in their reporting,” they say.
Later, they claim that, “Giving both sides equal coverage creates the inaccurate perception that it’s an equally weighted debate.”
They also say: “Although ‘balanced’ reporting might seem fair, the likelihood that humans are contributing to climate change is 95 percent certain.”
The authors punctuate their list of recommended fiction (on page 266) by steering readers away from a novel that attacks their views.
“One novel we don’t recommend for satisfying your climate curiosity,” they write, “is State of Fear (HarperCollins), a 2004 thriller by Michael Crichton. The book depicts global warming as a conspiracy concocted by conniving environmentalists. The story would be amusing if people didn’t take the book seriously.”
May and Caron also attack the use of nuclear energy, which does not emit carbon.
“Nuclear power is just a tea kettle on a very dangerous nuclear fire,” they write on page 222.
The book takes aim at a number of personal practices that are viewed as harmful to the climate – such as eating kiwi fruit.
“Elizabeth never even saw a kiwi until she was about 18-years-old,” says page 90. “Her daughter started asking for them for her school lunch in first grade. You may enjoy strawberries and mangoes in the dead of winter, when you can’t pick fresh fruit right in your backyard. But moving exotic fruits and veggies around the world by plane, ship, and truck has a real cost in energy. Could people afford them if companies factored in the cost to the climate? And why should your apple be more traveled than you?”
Product packaging – especially bubble-style packaging -- is condemned on page 90.
“To buy a few nails, you buy a big piece of cardboard encased in hard plastic that defies any opening technique except a major attack with scissors,” May and Caron write. “Multiply that packaging approach by a zillion, and you can see how our society wastes so much energy in packaging."
However, they also claim that people should not feel guilt – or even take responsibility – for their personal contributions to climate change.
“Don’t allow yourself to feel depressed when you realize that your day-to-day choices have been part of the global warming problem,” reads page 84, “the choices you made were heavily influenced by false pricing and a lack of support for the right choices.”
There was also one glaring error in the book, on page 39.
“As shocking as it may seem,” the authors write, “good old H20 (two parts hydrogen, one part water) causes the majority – 60 percent – of the planet’s warming.”
H20, the chemical name for water, is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen – not “one part water,” as the book states.
The back cover of the book indicates in bold text that a portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation.
One of the writers is also a politician in Canada. Co-author Elizabeth May is the leader of the Green Party of Canada – a Canadian environmental political party.
Although the Green Party has never won a seat in the Canadian Parliament, its candidates won 6.78 percent of the vote in Canada’s 2008 national election and May was included in televised debates involving major party leaders.
May will be “standing” – i.e. running – for election to Parliament in the next election. Recent polls have shown the Green Party winning as much as 11 percent of the vote in the next election, which could occur as early as this autumn.
May’s “For Dummies” guide suggests that readers use the content of the book to make political decisions.
“Knowing what solutions government can enact empowers you as a voter,” the authors say on page 143. “You can knowledgably select candidates whose climate change plan seems like it’ll be most effective.”
The entire 10th chapter--“Voting for Your Future: What Governments Can Do”--is devoted to politics.
One posting on the Green Party Web in February offered “an autographed copy of Global Warming For Dummies (a $23.99 value) when you donate $150 or more to the Green Party of Canada.”
“The book was fairly separate from the political party, though we definitely were happy to have it--to use it for publicity and publicity for her,” said Green Party of Canada communications officer Michael Bernard in an interview with CNSNews.com.
In another passage, the book advocates halting development on the Athabasca tar sands. These sands constitute the world’s second-largest oil patch and their development is a major industry in the Canadian province of Alberta.
“Canada’s decision to keep expanding and developing the tar sands is an example for other nations of what not to do,” says page 66, “while making oil development a top priority, it’s impossible for Canada to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions.”
“The mining industry,” it says, “consumes a huge amount of energy in order to produce oil, which primarily the United States buys for cars that don’t have proper energy efficiency standards.”