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Fossil Fueled Foolery: Bookclub Reflection

As some of you may know, BPCM has reinstated a monthly learning club as a way to build community and further explore the many facets of environmental justice work. Our first session took place in May, where a few members gathered in a home in East Baltimore to discuss the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Department’s recent publication titled “Fossil Fueled Foolery: An Illustrated Primer on the Top 10 Manipulation Tactics of the Fossil Fuel Industry”. Despite the long title, the report was easy to follow and came with some funny comics that were helpful for those of us who are more visual learners.

The article was intentionally published on April Fool’s Day and, according to department director Jacqueline Patterson, was created so that readers could be empowered by understanding the phony “ways in which this industry promotes policies dangerous to our communities and the planet.” It looked at ten common tactics that executives from fossil fuel based industries use to trick consumers and activists. These tactics are:

  1. Investing in efforts that do not support democracy.
  2. Financing political campaigns and pressure politicians.
  3. Funding scientists and scientific institutions to publish biased research studies.
  4. Claiming that government regulations hurt the economy, consumers, and poor people.
  5. Denying or downplaying the harms that pollutants cause to people and the environment.
  6. Not taking responsibility– Shift blame to the very communities they pollute.
  7. Exaggerating the level of job creation and downplaying job quality and safety.
  8. Silencing community leaders and organizations and falsely representing the interests and opinions of communities.
  9. Praising false solutions while claiming that real solutions are impractical or impossible.
  10.  Pretending to support renewable energy to control the new energy economy and prevent freedom of clean energy use.

The report went on to offer detailed examples of how these methods are used to distract and confuse the masses so that fossil fuel companies can continue to use up our natural resources and take large amounts of wealth at the expense of our health and the health of the planet. Thankfully the article was not all doom and gloom. It went on to offer 10 ways that we can stand up and fight back in the face of lies and threats. One of those tips is something you have already done just by reading this post, which is to educate yourself. When we understand the forces against us, we can better engage in democracy and resist being taken over by those with money who wish to cause harm. This second list, plus examples of actions people and organizations are already taking, made what may have otherwise been a bleak read pleasant and even funny at times. If you would like to read the report, it can be found here.

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