I have great respect for Scientific American and have even published a couple of articles in it in my career. So it was quite disappointing to see this pop-up when I visited ScientificAmerican.com yesterday from two different computers:
This is what they call a “push poll,” a “technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll.”
First off, the specified choices don’t include most of the strategies needed to actually reduce emissions from fossil fuels — as opposed to, say, just slowing their growth. R&D into technologies “that increase efficiency and reduce emissions in hydrocarbon production” — what, more efficient drills and refineries? Yes, that’s going to reduce fossil fuel emissions. And establishing a “capability” in CCS? Seriously. How about putting in place a standard that requires CCS?
Of course, this “poll” omits all regulations, renewable standards, efficiency standards, all significant efforts to accelerate deployment, or any mechanism to create a price on CO2. So what precisely is the point of this “energy poll” if not to mislead the public into thinking that those measures are actually “priority” ones and that the problem isn’t terribly urgent.
And if we’re quoting what IEA “predicts,” how about explaining what the IEA warns will happen if we don’t dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions (see Must read IEA report, Part 1: Act now with clean energy or face 6°C warming):
Unsustainable pressure on natural resources and on the environment is inevitable if energy demand is not de-coupled from economic growth and fossil fuel demand reduced.
The situation is getting worse”¦. Baseline scenario foreshadow a 70% increase in oil demand by 2050 and a 130% rise in CO2 emissions”¦. a rise in CO2 emissions of such magnitude could raise global average temperatures by 6°C (eventual stabilisation level), perhaps more. The consequences would be significant change in all aspects of life and irreversible change in the natural environment.
Yeah, no point in sticking that into this energy poll, otherwise readers might actually figure out how lame are the prioritized steps they’re voting on.
Jeers to Scientific American for running this pop up push poll in “association with” a once-green, now-greenwashing oil company (see Shell shocker: Once ‘green’ oil company guts renewables effort and Investors warn Shell and BP over tar sands greenwashing).
And yes, it only compounds the irony that the banner ad is for “easy & affordable carbon offsets” to “fight global warming.” One thing we can safely say, if offsets are cheap, then you’re getting what you’re paying for. Absent a national climate bill and global climate deal, offsets, particularly cheap ones, are a placebo.
Sadly, Scientific American has joined the growing list of newspapers and magazines who go astray while struggling to find sources of revenue to supplement their dwindling print readership base:
- Media stunner: Newsweek partners with oil lobby to raise ad cash, host energy and climate events with lawmakers “” while publishing the uber-greenwashing story, “Big Oil Goes Green for Real”
- The New York Times sells its integrity to ExxonMobil with front-page ad that falsely asserts “Today’s car has 95% fewer emissions than a car from 1970.”³