Obama named SmogMaker of 2007

Obama named SmogMaker of 2007
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Prize honors those who sow confusion and delay on Climate Change

Update: DeSmogBlog withdraws Obama Award

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama has captured the inaugural 2007 SmogMaker Award for blowing smoke on global warming, the DeSmogBlog announced today.

Global warming is an environmental problem, not a political one. And people who try to ‘solve’ it with political or public relations spin are just making the problem worse,” said James Hoggan, co-founder of the DeSmogBlog.

“Yet the spin campaign continues, and it’s becoming more insidious. Climate spin used to be all about denial – self-appointed experts took money from the energy industry and then denied that humans are affecting life on earth.

But the new spin is even more dangerous and sly. Now, it’s all about delay and distraction. Now, spindoctors in industry and government are acknowledging the science, but arguing that we shouldn’t or can’t act quickly to correct the problem.”

Barack Obama may not be the worst offender among the spinmeisters, but he’s the biggest disappointment.

An outspoken supporter of the U.S. coal industry, Obama has presented himself as someone who can overcome the Bush legacy of inaction on climate change. But he is campaigning on a greenhouse gas reduction ‘target’ that the U.S. won’t have to meet for 42 years and he has continued to promote the current administration’s plan to circumvent the Kyoto Protocol, the only international climate agreement currently in place.

The world has a right to expect more from a man who wants to be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States,” Hoggan said.

This is the first year for the SmogMaker Awards, honoring those who have subverted honest and forthright public conversation on global warming.

Judged by an expert panel of fraudbusters – the staff at the climate change watchdog DeSmogBlog.com – these awards recognize clever, deceptive or merely devious public relations campaigns.

The winners have distinguished themselves in five categories:

Individual

After nearly two full terms of a Republican President who sponsored climate-science censorship, the world has been looking forward to any successor as an improvement.

But on climate change, Barack Obama, is looking like George Bush lite.

While the world’s leading scientific bodies tell us we need to act immediately to avoid catastrophic climate disruption, Obama has set his own target date at 2050, long past any opportunity for voters to hold him accountable. His short-term strategy is the same as President Bush’s; Obama wants to create a new Global Energy Forum that doesn’t include the cleanest and most progressive (European) economies.

If Obama wants to be taken seriously on climate change, he has to stop promoting coal and start setting realistic, urgent strategies.

(Addendum: Joseph Romm at climateprogress.org has taken a convincing whack at us for this award, pointing out rightly that Obama has indeed called for at least one substantive early target – to reduce U.S. emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 – and that he includes Europe’s biggest economies in some elements and some versions of his climate plan. That, however, leaves the issues of his support for coal and an ethanol plan that follows G. W. Bush in, mostly, pandering to the U.S. agriculture lobby. Romm criticizes the DeSmogBlog for singling out Obama, a relative good guy, rather than President Bush. We’d like to point out that our position – really, everyone’s position – on the Bush performance is pretty much on the record. We were hoping to kickstart a discussion about the person currently advertising himself as the change agent. If Barack Obama offers any convincing counterpoint on his coal position, we’d be happy to “strip him” of this award. In the meantime, our position stands: he’s spinning the American people on this issue.)

Industry

Toyota made itself the world’s No.1 carmaker by producing energy-efficient models, but nevertheless joined the car consortium that sued California – and 5 other state governments – for legislating lower emission levels. (Why give up the competitive advantage – or save the Earth – when profits are on the line?)

Government

You can’t beat the Canadian government for environmental hypocrisy.

Having signed an international agreement that committed the country to reducing its CO2 emissions by 6 per cent from 1990 levels, Canada increased its annual output by 35 per cent. Now, the Canadian government has joined the world’s biggest polluters to block, divert, or minimize any new global warming agreements.

In fact, notwithstanding that it is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and one of the top five per-capita polluters, Canada says it won’t lift a finger against climate change unless the big emitters in the developing world first commit to taking action.

Media

News baron Rupert Murdoch startled the world in May of this year by announcing that he is worried about climate change and determined to bring his worldwide News Corp. into the international battle for better performance and better policy.

Yet his Fox News still employs the likes of climate quibbler Brit Hume and Steve Milloy, a PR guy who went from defending tobacco on behalf of Philip Morris to questioning climate change on behalf of the energy industry.

The idea that a man who created an entire right-of-centre network is now standing back in protection of journalistic independence is beyond quaint.

“Non-Profit”

Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus offers the best example of how climate quibblers are now playing the public for fools.

By accepting the science behind climate change as early as 2004, Lomborg presented himself as a climate moderate. Then he launched an international campaign to distract public policy makers by understating the potential devastation of climate change, while setting up a false choice between spending money addressing global warming or spending instead on eradicating poverty or AIDS.

The SmogMaker Awards are sponsored by DeSmogBlog.com, a website dedicated to exposing the public relations spin that has so distorted the debate about global warming.

DeSmogBlog co-founder James Hoggan is the president of the award-winning public relations firm James Hoggan & Associates. He is also Chair of the David Suzuki Foundation, a Trustee of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, and a board member of Future Generations. Mr. Hoggan also chairs a sustainable development project in the Four Great Rivers region, an environmentally pristine, but endangered corner of Eastern Tibet.

For further information, contact:

Kevin Grandia

Operations Manager

c: 778-240-6343

e: desmogblog [at] gmail [dot] com

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