CEI and the bounds of the socially acceptable
Speaking of the CEI ads, I’ve been giving them some thought.
I worry that they will be a flash in the media pan, and quickly fade from memory. That would be a lost opportunity.
Here’s a suggestion for a group that has the money and will to organize (maybe MoveOn): Don’t let this drop. Find out every single corporate sponsor of CEI, contact them, and ask them if they agree with the content of the ads. If they agree, publicize the hell out of it. If they don’t agree — as Ford claims not to — ask them why they’re supporting an organization that’s muddying the waters on this vital issue. If they refuse to respond, publicize the hell out of that.
Our development director questioned me about the Ford post. He said (paraphrasing), surely Ford shouldn’t be held accountable for everything CEI does. After all, organizations that fund Grist don’t necessarily agree with everything in our pages.
On most issues, I would agree. If Ford had disagreements with CEI over, say, accounting regulations, but supported their other work, fine. Reasonable people differ about accounting regulations.
But it’s time to make it clear that outright climate denialism — denying that global warming is occurring, or that human activity is contributing to it — is outside the pale. It is no longer an acceptable position for a mainstream organization to take.
It’s time to bring shame to bear. Shame is a powerful social force, and any company with their name associated with CEI should be publicly and mercilessly shamed, whether or not their money went directly to this ad campaign. This campaign should make CEI a pariah, outside the bounds of civil society. It’s equivalent to denying that cigarettes cause cancer.
We’ve been too hesitant about this, too willing to allow deniers newspaper and TV time to make their case. But their case has been utterly and irrevocably destroyed by science. At this point, they are engaging in dishonest, morally reprehensible behavior, for transparently self-interested reasons. It’s time to call out the organizations — corporations, media, whoever — that enable them.
We’ve put up with this bullshit for too long. There’s too much at stake.