Doubt and Climate Change

Cedar Rapids Flood

Cedar Rapids Flood

Public discussions about climate change are closely connected with sales.

Anyone who has taken professional sales training knows creating doubt about a competitor is a key tool used to gain favorable consideration from prospective clients. If there is a legitimate way to point out flaws in a competitor’s product and create a value proposition for a customer, a sale can be made.

A cottage industry has grown up around creating doubt about the reality of climate change, with money flowing from the hydrocarbon business community to fund politicized scientific thought. Unfortunately, it has proven to be effective as was noted in Tuesday’s post.

Most professionals know that in sales, the truth will out and the consequences for future sales depend on a faithful representation of the value proposition. During my recent time with former vice president Al Gore, he displayed an acute awareness of the need to use language in a way to convey truth and not hyperbole. If a salesperson makes false statements about competitors to make sales, or misrepresents the value of his own product during the sales process, the prospective customer will eventually discover the deceit and reject the purchase, and future sales.

Brooke Alexander

Brooke Alexander

The hydrocarbon industry has been very effective in creating doubt about the science of climate change, putting the best face on a dirty source of energy. Most T.V. viewers are familiar with the American Petroleum Institute’s Energy Tomorrow campaign featuring former beauty queen, soap opera star and spokesmodel Brooke Alexander. The value proposition has varied over the years but recently has been safe extraction of natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, jobs, energy security and tax revenues to build infrastructure and fund public employees like teachers, fire fighters and law enforcement officers. It all sounds pretty good until we consider the fact that burning fossil fuels adds tens of millions of tons of CO2 to the atmosphere like it was an open sewer every day. This directly contributes to global warming and a changing climate, putting infrastructure, jobs and energy security at risk. Ms. Alexander doesn’t mention that in the ads.

One business group that has no doubt about the climate crisis is the re-insurance industry, companies who insure catastrophic loss. Check out why Munich Re and Swiss Re support reduction of CO2 emissions in the New York Times article, “For Insurers, No Doubt on Climate Change.”

To learn how the hydrocarbon industry borrowed from the tobacco industry’s 1960s sales campaigns to create doubt about the fact that tobacco use causes cancer, to create doubt about climate change, view the five-minute, 12 second video below. While those of us fighting for climate action believe the truth will out, we also hope it will be told and understood before it’s too late.

~ This is part of a series of summer posts on climate change written for Blog for Iowa.

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