Monday, August 27, 2007

Pollution and Propaganda

Responding to Barbara Fister of ACRLog

I think it is unreasonable to vilify China for hiding environmental data when the American government is doing the same.

American government officials have engaged in a years-long campaign to deny global warming, a campaign that involved misleading and false research reports, funding for lobby groups posing as scientific agencies, and much more.

The United States has still not signed onto a global environmental treaty, preferring instead to preserve its polluting industries, the very ones it now criticizes China for running. Had the U.S. signed onto Kyoto, it might have had grounds to argue. However it did not, and in fact was its most vocal opponent.

The U.S. media has been engaged in a systematic campaign to discredit China for the last couple of years, and this article is another episode in this course of propaganda.

We've been subjected to a whole series of articles asserting that China has poison in its products and that Chinese exports are unsafe. Why now? Nothing in China has changed, and if anything its products are better than ever.

Although the New York Times apologized after the onset of the Iraq War for shamefully passing along government propaganda as news, it seems evident from articles such as this that nothing has changed.

As for the tradition of access to data and academic freedom in the United States, I would suggest that it's time for a good examination of what is actually happening.

To a large degree, academic output in the United States is driven by funding, and this funding frequently has an overt commercial agenda. There is no shortage of reports of research data being altered or suppressed in order to satisfy the demands of corporate sponsors.

There has also been a series of incidents where professors are harassed and even fired because of their political views. I read about the latest of these, the firing of Norman Finkelstein, just this morning.

In corporate offices and classrooms, access to a great deal of online content is blocked, only some of which is even arguably offensive. Criticism is stifled through the threat of lawsuits and copyright actions.

Access to the media in the United States is limited through an effective stranglehold over the industry by a small number of conglomerates. These agencies limit the perspectives offered and offer Americans a distorted view of the world. While corporate and political advertising is effectively unlimited, attempts by agencies such as Adbusters to buy commercial time have been blocked.

It is very evident from my perspective that Americans live in an environment where the news is tightly managed, where scientific data is manipulated, where academic freedom is abridged, and where an ongoing stream of propaganda manipulates the citizenry in a manufactured climate of fear.

Incredibly, Americans throughout all this continue to trumpet the virtues of their free press, and even more incredibly, their environmental record.

The world's major polluter always has ben, and continues to be, the United States. The statistics are available but you can be sure they are barely accessible to, much less known by, the average American.


Update: as of 12:00 this comment no longer appears on the ACRLog website. Presumably it has been deleted. Update Aug. 28 - barbara Fister comments (see below): "I checked with others at the blog - none of us saw your comment and we can't see any record of it. Please feel free to add your comment, since we welcome them." I submitted a second time; it does not appear on the site.

7 comments:

  1. It also doesn't help that a large part of China's pollution is from the manufacturing sector - which has ramped up at least partially to satisfy our craving for inexpensive goods at Wal*Mart. We've essentially offshored much of North American pollution to China (and India, and other manufacturing countries).

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  2. I agree with what you say, Stephen. The US is in no position to complain about China's pollution since we still, by most accounts, are worse offenders and we're the consumers and corporate entities who demand that China produces our goods for cheap. But I wasn't writing this post to bash China or praise the US. I was mainly struck by the number of times that suppression of information came up. And while we don't have a great record on that, either, I think it's important for academics to think about why it's vital to have government information widely available (which is threatened these days, but has been a standard that has worked well in the past) and academic freedom (which is also threatened, which is why we have to remind ourselves why it's so important.)

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  3. I checked with others at the blog - none of us saw your comment and we can't see any record of it. Please feel free to add your comment, since we welcome them.

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  4. I have just submitted it again. It doesn't appear on the site. Usually this means it's sitting in a moderation queue somewhere.

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  5. Hmmm.... I have to find out what's going on. It's not in the moderation queue.

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  6. Ah.... somehow it got snagged by Akismet. I "despammed" it and now it's posted. Thanks.

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  7. Pages of many web site contains global warming pictures. But that pictures not give enough information of global warming. Global Warming myth is very deep ozone has doubled since the mid-19th century due to chemical emissions from vehicles, industrial processes and the burning of forests, the British climate researchers wrote.

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I welcome your comments - I'm really sorry about the moderation, but Google's filters are basically ineffective.