Those of us taking action to deal with climate change know we are in for a long struggle. But we tend to be confident. Ninety-seven percent of earth scientists are on our side. We believe that this is our ace in the hole. We may think it will only be a question of time until the deniers and everyone else will come around. What we fail to notice and deal with is what the other guys are doing.
The other guys are waging a disinformation campaign. Based in the United States, these are the heads of carbon companies and members of conservative think tanks. Their ace in the hole is their large amounts of money, political access and communications technology, especially in their use of social media.
They are targeting our efforts to change or replace the economic and political systems that are the major causes of climate change. They benefit from these systems. Their major tool is their disinformation strategy. They continue to refine and update it. It is naïve to believe that they are just going to sit back and wait for things to happen.
The masters of disinformation are the Russians. Recently I watched a number of videos in the NY Times about how Russia, through a process of disinformation, is influencing American politics and the politics of a number of other governments around the world.
The Russians have developed a simple but effective seven part strategy. It occurred to me that this same strategy is being used to defeat our efforts to raise consciousness, take action and change the systems that are the major causes of climate change.
Here are the seven strategies from the Russian disinformation playbook. Underneath each strategy is my effort to show how the strategies might be used.
- Find the Critics and work with them.
“You are right to be skeptical about climate change. Don’t be fooled. Though a lot of scientists are worrying about our systems causing climate change, there are a significant number of scientists who disagree. If what scientists are saying is true all of them would agree… and that’s a fact. Anyhow, there have been a number of times in history where the majority of scientists were dead wrong. So stick to your guns. Our systems have proven themselves. If we fool with them we will cause disasters in our country and around the world.”
- Create the Big Lie.
“You know what this is about? This is about Earth causing a natural problem. What we have here is scientists blowing up the climate change bit. Why? So they can hold onto their jobs. But they are not succeeding. If they were succeeding you and your friends would be spending all your time trying to figure out what to do about climate change. Take a look around you. Scientists have been making comments about climate change for fifty years. If they were right you and your friends and most people would have bought into this theory years ago.”
- A Kernel of truth.
“Let me be very clear about this. I agree with you that Earth is getting hotter and it is causing all kinds of problems around the world. But, like I say, this is just a natural phenomenon—like other times in history that were hotter than usual. Trying to blame us or our systems for this is just phony baloney.”
- Conceal your hand.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a scientist and I’m not making this up. I’m just repeating stuff I got from some other scientists.
- Find a Useful Idiot.
“I don’t know what you think about Donald Trump but he was smart enough to get elected by a majority of Americans who were fed up with the bullshit. He denies climate change is humanly induced and the whole Republican Party agrees with him. He knows that the looney tunes on the left are cranking up this the-world-is-coming-to-an-end stuff. He also knows that if these jerks get their way they will destroy our economy and it will get flushed down the toilet. The same thing seems to be happening in other countries.
- Deny Everything.
“You do what you want. I didn’t make this stuff up. I got it from other people-intelligent people whom I respect. If you want I’ll give you some contacts and there is a raft of material and websites that are available to you. I can also introduce you to some powerful people in the know. Don’t hesitate to call on me.”
- Play the Long Game
“Oh, yes. One more thing. Don’t expect to turn things around on a dime. The crazies are stubborn and it is going to take quite a long time to clear the decks. You gotta be in it for the long haul. But it’s worth it. By saving our systems from this climate change crap you are saving our way of life and the future of our children and their children.”
Our climate change efforts are not going to lead us down a smooth path into the future. Those controlling and benefitting from our current systems want to remain in power. It is going to be a battle all the way and we will require a great deal of spiritual resilience.
We must always be aware of the opposition. As we used to say in the old days about struggles like this one, “Keep the Faith.”