The Sociologic Of Political Silence: Explaining A Discourse In Jamaica’s Society

The hegemonic categorization of the Jamaican landscape is primarily the justifiable reason for the sophisticated demonstrations and social hemorrhaging. Many of those happenings are caused from the lack of monologue of the business constituents. This group of elitists has exponentially benefited from playing the proletariat class. They have not offered their clientele the respect of voice on matters of social concerns or political mismanagement. The present government’s socio-economic policies are chiefly responsible for the erosion of much of the social fibre and economic livelihood of the Jamaican people. The poor are not only suffering but they are also hemorrhaging while the business class offers the society stillness as a tool of needed social change. PIOJ (2004) report, Economic and Social Survey Jamaica, report confirms that the national poverty stood at 16 per cent. Of the 2, 650,900 inhabitants, there are 424,144 poor people, which absolute valuation seems not to perturb the hegemony of this society. In order to attain that social society that we all desire, justice through actions and deems must be a hallmark of the leadership.

The categorization of Jamaicans as poor has been declining (Henry-Lee, 2001) but the economic indicators of growth are not impressive as our Caricom counterparts. Looking at the absolute figures, the social realities of the peoples are not marginally measured or understood. Despite the fluctuations in economic growth valuations, rural poverty continues to be higher than the national figures and of those for other towns and cities. Coupled with the economic hardship of poverty, rural Jamaica over the last six months is seeing a dwindling of economic activities. As a social scientist, I believe that the current tidal waves of price increases are eroding the economic livelihood of many of the poor. This situation means that the economic hardship of the people within the context of the hegemony – silence, is destroying the moral and other social fibre of the poor. “What are poor to do?”

‘Once economic growth was taking place, it was that poverty would be reduced’ (Henry-Lee, 2001, p.202) but this orthodox phenomenology may be changing in Jamaican as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at constant prices have been increasing (PIOJ, 2004, p.3.1) with a simultaneous change in economic hardship of the poor while the hegemonic class expand their physical surroundings and amass European amenities. To date, the constant salary, the MTTP (Ministers Tricking the Poor), the minimal bus fare increases (only 67 % – what!), the huge increases in prices of basic foods and increase in political leadership are making the ‘poor’ poorer. Those hurdles are not the challenges of the poor as they wrestle with ‘prince’ and ‘guards’ for sanity. The electricity increases, instructional materials increases, the last blatant disdain by the Prime Minister, ‘Rt’ honourable Percival James Patterson, for the intellectual mindset of the ‘black’ academic is frightening and speaks volume of the private sector’s silence.

The private sector, despite ‘recognizing’ the challenges of governance and policies formulation of the government, continue to hemorrhage in silence, which, I construe, indicates the tenants of the PNP over the economy. I realize that there is no longer a unified Jamaica but a PNP, a JLP group and a business class. This situation was unfolded to me over time as there is not core concern that may create unison in order that Jamaicans can forge around with the interest of all. Instead, we are ‘Ps’ and a ‘B’. The socio-political arena has changed globally and nationally for the JLP but the reality is, the average citizenry of this society are still clamouring for hegemony and social transformation though development.

It is the business class that is the engine of growth in all societies and not the public sectors. This group dictates the terms of economic activities and stipulates the atmosphere of governance but the Jamaican group is hemorrhaging from fear and political conformity. Hence, the present proletariat class, the underclass, is left to view the heavens for a haven. When the business class fails to provide that leadership for the society, the ‘labourer’ class will gradually venture in deviant acts as a medium of grappling with political mismanagement. ‘Too many people are comfortable with the present affairs (Bourne, 2005) and silence of the ‘underclass’ is becoming increasingly deafening. If the business class continues with this dialectic silence, the poor may resort to revolution in an effort to understand and come to a rationale of their social space.

The old philosophical construct of poverty is primarily food consumption of the poorest quintile but this definition fails to recognize that poor people are social beings with children. One researcher (Henry-Lee) forwarded a slant that; the poor spend the largest proportion of their earnings on food, which means that the business class must begin to offer a position against any erosion of their economic base. If there are presently 424, 100 absolutely poor people any increase in food prices will see them living how?

According to Rapley (1996, p.7), “state interventions to relieve poverty would inhibit initiative, and would stifle investment because they would rely on increased taxes.” Dr. Rapley’s cited perspective is a clear indication of the stance taken by all traditional economists. This stance sees development as solely an economic growth phenomenon that is driven by the free market but many post World War II economists differ on a theorizing for this construct. Lewis concurred with classicalists like Smith and Keynes that development is primarily economic. Rapley (1996, p.16) stated that, “Lewis argued that in a Third World economy, the wage rate was set at a constant level as determined by minimum levels of existence in traditional family farming.” This ensured a virtually unlimited supply of cheap labour, which has an advantageous factor in industrial development (Rapley, 1996 p.16). As a social scientist who is concerned with development and its determinants, the researcher is cognizant of the different discourse on the issue but will analyze both schools of thought before coming to a consensus.

The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS, 2002) wrote, “while material poverty affect a large number of households, the Report points to the impending dangers of more widespread and subtle forms of poverty that include poor health, inadequate levels of educational attainment; lack of economic assets or access to markets or jobs that could create the unsafe physical environment; and various forms of social exclusion.” This report forwards the core of the post-1950 scholars’ viewpoints on development that is broader than the Classicalists theorizing that was once the epistemological framework on development thoughts. The article points to other non-economic growth theorizing such as health care, education and other psychosocial conditions. Hence, the author will not seek to continue in the pre-1950s epistemological mindset as it is a one sided theorizing but will seek to quantify any validity of the contemporary developmentalists’ perspective on the issue as this include social, political and economic factors. This paper surrounds the social aspect to development in the form of expenditure on health care and expenditure on education with the intention of using those two (2) determinants of contemporary development in order to ascertain any causal and/or associational relationship between expenditure on social programmes and their influence on levels of development.

Spikes (2002) posits: “poverty can be regarded as the inability to obtain the essentials of life; for others it is a matter of low income; for others a problem of social inequality”. He goes on to say that “poverty can be explained in terms of material conditions, that is basic needs, food, clothing, and shelter; however limited resource interfere with the ability to acquire the essentials. Poverty can be seen as exclusion; the European Union defines the poor as persons whose resources (material culture and social) are so limited as to exclude them from the minimum acceptable way of life in the member state in which they live depending on benefits as equivalents as claiming social assistance”.

It is frightening to say the least that despite efforts within the technological age people are living in abject poverty that retards the process in which many of these issues should have been addressed. Haralambus (1995)”poverty implies an undesirable social problem that a solution should be found. Basic amenities, for examples, shelter health and nutrition: the latter according to Drewnowski and Scott in Haralambus “is measured by factors in relation to the amount of calories and protein consumed by the individual. Shelter is measured by the quality of living arrangements (dwelling etc.) and health is measured by factors such as infant mortality and the quality of medical treatments available.

When individuals are malnourished, the health of these individuals would affect them in terms of their physical and mental states. A medical practitioner, Dalzell-Ward (1974: 23), commented that “The deprivation of energy foods’ will result in excessive fatigue which will in turn diminish social and work performances and interfere with well-being.” There is however, the indication of a level of development, where as if an individual is not in the best of health, this will contribute to fewer hours worked and reduced production. The economist Adam Smith states that this would be an indication of reduced economic growth. Professor Todaro (Todaro, 2000) from his perspective, that development envelope social, political and economic changes in peoples lives. Another medical practitioner concurred with Dalzell–Ward (1974) when she said:

In fact many of today’s problems with students are actually health related. Kids are not able to learn sufficiently if they are hungry, tired, hung-over from alcohol, or worried about violence. We need to eliminate barriers that affect students’ readiness to learn. A variety of physical and mental conditions impact students’ attendance and their ability to pay attention in class anger, and restrain from self-destructive impulses.

Eurocentric beliefs have so conquered the epistemology of world ideology that it becomes difficult even for the ‘honest’ advocate to be effective. Individualism-profiteerism drives the engine of social existence that humans only protect themselves, even if it appears that another is being helped in the process. Christianity is a by-product of the Eurocentric system and so helps to explain its true tenet. Europe in an effort to corner all epistemologies of the ontology of man’s existence and creation offered spiritualism. Christianity operates as though it has the sole authority to the ontology of creation. Despite its stance, the ideological phenomenology of Christianity subsumes individualism. Unlike the other traditional epistemological construct of man, humanitarianism is a tenet of their doctrine but they are not the iconic thought because they were fashioned prior to Europe’s delineation of world ideology. The social reality is such that we cannot afford to mute a position, the people are being ‘Saddomized’ by the political structure, and it is in the hegemony’s best interest to ensure that the poor and less fortunate are protected as they have nothing to lose in the event of a revolution.

References

Allen, R.G.D. 1967. Macro-Economic theory: A mathematical treatment. New York, United States: St. Martin’s Press.

Baguant, J., Prinz, C., Toth, F.L., and Wils, A.B. 1994. Population-Development-Environment: Understanding their interactions in Mauritius. Laxenburg, Austria: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Banae, Mitiku, E., and Yandell, Dirk. 2006. Development strategies and opportunities: The case of Africa. Review of Human Factor Studies, 12: 114-133. Academic Research Premier EBSCOhost Research Databases. University of the West Indies Library, Kingston, Jamaica. 12 September 2006 [http://epnet.umi.com/].

Beardshaw, J. 1992. Economics: A Students Guide. England: Pitman Publishers.

Bloom, David E., David Canning, and Jaypee Sevilla. 2004. “The Effect of Health on Economic Growth: A Production Function Approach.” World Development 32, no. 1: 1-13.

Booth, David. (eds). 1994. Rethinking social development, theory, research and practice. Longman Scientific and Technical. Longman Group Limited. Longman House, Burnt Mill, Harlow.

Chambers, Robert. 1989. Rural development: Putting the last first. 7th Edition. United Kingdom: Longman House.

Dalzell-Ward, A. (1974). A textbook of health education. London: Tavistock Publications.

Easterly, William. 2001. The political economy of growth without development: A Case Study of Pakistan. USA.: World Bank. Retrieved on October 12, 2006 from [http://ksghome.harvard.edu/~drodrik/Growth%20volume/EASTER~1.PDF].

Edey, H.C., Peacock, A.T., and Cooper, R.A. 1967. National income and social accounting, 4th. London, United Kingdom: Hutchinson and Company.

Findlay, Ronald. 1989. W. Arthur Lecture: National and Global Perspectives on Economic Development – The two models of Arthur Lewis. National Economic Association and the Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy of Clark College.

Francis, Brian and Iyare Sunday. 2006. Education and Development in the Caribbean: A Cointegration and Causal Approach. Economics Bulletin 15(2): 1-13. Retrieved on February 20, 2007 from http://economicsbulletin.vanderbilt.edu/2006/volume15/EB-05O10022A.pdf.

Friedman, Milton. 1955. The Role of Government in Education. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1173402/posts (published on 07/17/2004 4:04:55 PM PDT by Remember Salamis, viewed on February 27, 2005).

Haq, Klahija, & Kidar, Uner. (1987). Human Development, Adjustment and Growth. Pakistaqn: North South Round Table.

Haque, M. S. 2004. The myths of economic growth (GNP): Implications for human development. In Gedeon Mucacumura and M. Shamsul Haque (ed). Handbook of Development Policy Studies. New York: Marcel Dekker, 2004. pp.1-24. Retrieved on October 12, 2006 from http://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/polhaque/gnp-myth.pdf.

Haralambos, M & Holborn, M. (1996). Sociology themes and perspectives. (4th). Collin Education: An Imprint of Harper Collin Publisher.

Henry-Lee, Aldrie. 2001. The Dynamics of Poverty in Jamaica, 1989-1999. Social and Economic Studies 50 (1): 199-228.

Hettne, Bjorn. 1996. Development theory and the Three Worlds. 2nd Edition. England: Addison Wesley Longman.

Hogendorn, Jan S. (1987). Economic Development. Harper and Row, Publishers, New York.

King, Damien. 2001. The Evolution of Structural Adjustment and Stabilization Policy in Jamaica. Social and Economic Studies, volume 50, No. 1. Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, University of the West Indies, Jamaica.

Kirdar, Uner. 1987. Adjustment and Growth with Human Development: A Review. Human Development, Adjustment and Growth (edited by Khadij Haq and Uner Kirdar). The North South Roundtable, P.O. Box 2006, Islamabad, Pakistan.

Kurihara, Kenneth K. 1959. The Keynesian Theory of Economic Development. Columbia University Press, New York

Kuznets, Simon. 1989. Economic development, the family, and income distribution. Selected essays. The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.

Lalta, Stanley and Marie Freckleton (Editors). 1993. Caribbean Economic Development, the First Generation. Ian Randle Publishers Limited.

Lee, Jong-Wha. 1993. Economic growth and human development in the Republic of Korea, 1945- 1992. Retrieved on October 13, 2006 from http://hdr.undp.org/docs/publications/ocational_papers/oc24aa.htm#foot1.

Lewis, Winston. A. 1954. Economic development with unlimited supplies of labour. The Manchester school of Economics and Social Studies, 22, 139-191.

___________. 1955. The theory of economic growth. London: Allen and Unwin.

___________. 1964. Closing remarks in Baer and Kerstenetzky (1964).

___________. 1977. The evolution of the International Economic Order. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Macionis, John, J. and Plummer, Kenneth. 1998. Sociology. New York: Prentice Hall, New York

Marglin, Frederizue A., and Marglin, Stephen A. (ed). 1990. Dominating knowledge: Development, Culture, and Resistance. United States: Oxford University Press.

Mohammed, Patricia. 2000. City limits: Urbanization and gender roles in the Caribbean into the twenty-first century. In K. Hall & D. Benn. (Eds)., Contending with destiny: The Caribbean in the @!st century (pp.196-203). Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers.

Munck, R. (1999a). Deconstructing Development Discourses: of Impasses Alternatives and Politics. In R. Munck, and O’Hearn, D. (Ed.), Critical Development Theory. London: Zed Books.

Munroe, Trevor. 1993. An Introduction to Politics. Lectures for First Year Students. Canoe Press, University of the West Indies, 1a Aqueduct Flats, Kingston 7, Jamaica, WI.

Norbye, O. D. K. 1974. Health and Demography: Adequate health services for poor countries: how can the rich countries contribute to reaching such a goal? World Development, 2, 13-17. Retrieved on March 10, 2006 from [http://www.lloydwaller.com/]

O’Donnell, M (1997). Introduction to sociology. (Fourth Edition). Surrey KT12 5PL. Thomas, U.K.: Nelson House.

O’Donnell, Mike (1997). Introduction to Sociology. 4th Edition. Thomas Nelson and sons Ltd. Nelson House, Mayfield Road, Walton-on-Thomas, Surrey KT12 5PL. U.K.

Oraganization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). (2002). Human development report. Trinidad and Tobago. SCRIP-J Printers.

Owens, Edgar. 1987. The future of freedom in the developing world: Economic development as Political Reform. New York, USA.: Pergamon Press.

Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) & Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN). 1992-2004. Social and Economic Survey of Living Condition. Kingston: PIOJ & STATIN.

Ramirez, A., Ranis, G., and Stewart, F. 1997. Economic growth and human development. Economic Growth Centre, U.S.A.: Yale University. Retrieved on October 12, 2006 from http://aida.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp787.pdf.

Ramos, Joseph and Sunkel, Osvaldo. 1993. Toward a neostructuralist synthesis. In Sunkel, Osvaldo, (ed). Development form within: Toward a neostructuralist approach for Latin America. United States: Lynne Rienner.

Randall, Vicky and Robin Theobald. 1998. Political Change and Underdevelopment. A Critical Introduction to Third World Politics. Second Edition. Macmillan Press Limited.

Ranis, Gustav and Stewart, Frances. 2001. “Growth and human development: Comparative Latin American Experience.” The Developing Economies, XXXIX (4): 333-65. Retrieved on October 12, 2006 from [http://www.ide.go.jp/English/Publish/De/pdf/01_04_01.pdf].

Ranis, Gustav, Stewart, Francis and Ramirez, Alejandro. 2000. “Economic Growth and Human Development.”World Development, 28: 197-219.

Rapley, John. 2002. ¬Understanding development: Theory and practice in the Third World. 2nd Edition. United States: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Rasheed, Sadiz. 1998. Development, Europe and Africa: The search for a new partnership, Volume 41, No.4, December 1998. Society for International Development.

Rodney, W. 1974. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. United States: Howard University Press.

Rist, G. 2002. The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith. London: Zed Books.

Rostow, Walter. W. 1963. The Economics of take-off into sustained growth: proceedings of a conference held by the International Economic Association. Macmillan: London.

Rostow, Walter. W. 1960. The Stages of Economic Growth: a Non-Communist Manifesto. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Seaga, Edward P. G. 1996. Advancing to the 21st Century with a Dynamic Agenda. Kingston: Jamaica Institute for Political Education.

Sen, Amartya K. 1999. Development as Freedom. New York: Anchor Books.

Stewart, J. 1989. Book reviews. Racial conflict and economic development. The review of Black political economy. Atlanta: National Economic Association and the Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy of Clark College.

Streeten, Paul. 1979. “Development Ideas in Historical Perspective,” in Rothko Chapel Colloquium (ed.), Toward a New Strategy for Development. New York: Pergamon Press, pp.21-52.

Sunkel, Osvaldo, (ed). 1993. Development form within: Toward a neostructuralist approach for Latin America. United States: Lynne Rienner.

Todaro, Michael. 2000. Economic Development. Seventh Edition. Addison-Wesley Longman, Inc. New York.

United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Reports (various). New York: Oxford University Press.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (1998). Human Development Report – Consumption for Human Development. New York: Oxford University Press.

UNDP. 1999. Human Development Report – Globalization with a Human Face. New York: Oxford University Press.

UNDP. 2000a. Choices. New York: UNDP.

UNDP. 2000b. Human Development Report – Human rights and human development. New York: Oxford University Press.

UNDP. 2000c. Challenges to developing countries. Retrieved October 12, 2005, from [http://www.undp.org/info21/e-com/e7.html#Anchor-Human-51139]

UNDP. 2001a. Human Development Report – Making new technologies work for human development. New York: Oxford University Press.

UNDP. 2001b. Choices. New York: UNDP.

UNDP. 2001c. Creating a Development Dynamic Final Report of the Digital Opportunity Initiative July 2001. New York: UNDP.

UNDP. 2001d. Project Sustainable Dryland Agriculture by Mahila Sanghams: Andhra Pradesh. Retrieved March 4, 2005 from [http://www.undp.org.in/ictpe.htm]

UNDP. 2002a. Human Development Report – Deepening democracy in a fragmented world. New York: Oxford University Press.

UNDP. 2002b. Support to the Jamaica Sustainable Network. Kingston: UNDP Jamaica Country Office.

UNDP. 2002c. Choices. New York: UNDP.

UNDP. 2004. Human Development Report – Cultural Liberty in Today’s Diverse World. New York: Oxford University Press.

UNDP. 2005. What Is Human Development. Retrieved October 21, 2005, from [http://hdr.undp.org/hd/]

Waller, Lloyd G. “ICTs for Whose Development? A critical analysis of the discourses surrounding an ICT for Development Initiative for a group of microenterprise entrepreneurs operating in the Jamaican tourism industry: Towards the development of methodologies and analytical tools for understanding and explaining the ICT for Development Phenomenon.” PhD dissertation, University of Waikota, 2006.

Waroop, Vinaya S. 1997. Education and Health Care in the Caribbean. Retrieved on February 20, 2007 from http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd

Politics and Religion – Mexico City

Travellers are generally warned to steer well clear of crowds and political gatherings. Such places provide many opportunities for the pickpocket or bag-slasher to make off with your belongings. Worse, if a protest of rally turns really nasty, you are caught up in the midst of an angry mob. The South American riot police are not known for their subtle handling of such situations or their ability to distinguish the innocent bystander from the rabble rouser or trouble-maker.

It appears to be a peculiarity of mine that I will continually ignore such advice. And I am more likely to cross the street to find out exactly why people are standing there waving flags and banging drums, than I am to take steps to avoid the situation.

In my travels to date, I have encountered numerous forms of protest and political activism as a result of this habit. A group of workers laid off from a chocolate factory following a merger with Cadbury´s, a union of insurance workers demanding job protection during the credit crunch, families demanding justice for their children who disappeared during the times of dictatorships; plus a variety of political parties campaigning vigorously in the street – from neo Peronists in Buenos Aires to a crowd of female supporters of Evo Morales in Bolivia.

I even attended an impromptu kerbside meeting in a Washington DC neighbourhood held by a militant African American separatist church loosely associated with the Black Panthers who were asserting that Barack Obama was not black, while attributing all of their community´s troubles to the fact that people had turned their backs on Jehovah.

But in Mexico City, I was given no choice whether I became involved in the public gatherings or not. As I slowly emerged into the bright sunlight of the main square in Zocalo from the stuffy and overcrowded darkness of the subway, I heard the dull and repetitive sound of bells from above me. Not the clear and joyous clarion call of a wedding or celebration, but the over-powering heavy note that fell half way between a medieval funeral march and the deafening primeval drum beats in Tolkein´s Mines of Moria.

I immediately found myself almost at the foot of the cathedral bell tower, so that I had to turn my neck almost fully back to see the source of the sound. Narrowing my eyes against the glaring mid-day sun which flashed between the towers of the cathedral, I could make out several figures striking the bells with large hammers. All were wearing giant ear plugs to protect themselves from the noise they were inflicting on the populace beneath.

The crowd was pressed tightly together between the high wrought iron railings in front of the church on one side, and a large wooden hoarding board on the other, fencing off an area where a stage was being constructed in the square. Progress was slow, as people were trying to proceed in both directions. Usually in Latin America I was able to see well ahead of me over the crowds, but here my view was obstructed by several small flags and various multi-coloured parasols.

A few moments later, however, I could make out a golden cross standing out above the people in front of me. It was about 8 feet tall and further raised from the ground since it was sitting in the back of a large black pick up truck. The cross was enclosed between 4 white pillars and covered by a roof, giving the impression of a simple temple. This construction was also encircled at its base with white and yellow flowers.

My first thought was that perhaps this was another Don Bosco event – the famous Italian Catholic educator, whose corpse had been on a grand tour of the Americas for the last several months, whom I had caught up with twice while in Bolivia. Bit the absence of children at the event persuaded me that this was unlikely.

There were a couple of men standing in the back of the truck next to the cross. They both appeared to priests, dressed almost entirely in white, reciting a liturgy and placing their hands on the cross at various points in the ceremony. After a few minutes, the recitation stopped, the men bowed their heads in humility and the assembled crowd cheered.

The two men then made their way into the cathedral, flanked on either side by the crowd, while the vehicle carrying the cross was driven away and parked in a nearby side street so that the flowers could be removed.

As the mass of people began to disperse, I noticed several nuns and monks among them. I also saw a group of around 10 men and women dressed in the most striking costumes and headdressed. Most of these appeared to be brightly coloured birds or beasts, though one man had a mask and costume making him look very much like a skeleton. Despite the lack of familiar Christian symbolism, these people seemed to be an integral part of the celebration.

Though the ceremony had finished, I was unable to evade the crowds. Walking down the narrow Calle Brasil which ran past the left hand side of the cathedral square, I came upon a group of stalls half blocking the pavement, and numerous colourful posters laid out on the ground. These were mostly associated with workers and communist parties of Mexico. A man was also standing by the roadside with a megaphone addressing a small group that had gathered around him.

Turning back to the main square again, I realised that there were more political protest banners erected there, having been able to see them due to the crowd outside the cathedral earlier. The whole square seemed to be filled with wooden stalls and small tents, all covered in flags proclaimed some social injustice in the country. Largest of all was a giant white inflatable mushroom shaped object almost in the centre of the square, declaring that there must be a solution to world hunger.

The issues, causes and messages being promoted were numerous – though all on the left of the political spectrum. Freedom for the presses from state censorship, justice for imprisoned comrades, the need to take a stand against indifference, calls for everyone to join up in the struggle, the return of Mexico´s borders to those of 1847 before the war with the USA, the rights of the Apaches to own their own territory in Arizona, demands for general human rights to be respected, the need to go on hunger strikes to obtain fair pay for work, appeals to patriotic socialism to uphold the memories of those who had fought in the past, a just immigration system which did not treat asylum seekers as criminals or terrorists.

The groups represented were just as diverse: the Mexican communist and people´s workers party, the Garibaldi Movement, an electricians union, the Emilio Zapata Brigade, an umbrella group representing diverse associations across the barrios of Mexico City and a group called Committee 68.

A favourite target for all demonstrators was President Calderon. There were two life sized effigies of him on display. One showing him carrying a bottle in one hand and a fistful of dollars in the other. While the other depicted him in the khaki combat uniform of the USA, a bottle in his pocket and a swastika on his head. There could be no mistaking the message that he was seen as a drunkard, in league with the US and large commercial interests, and suspected of warlike and fascist tendencies.

Later in the evening, a small stage appeared at the back of the square where a small group sang and played guitars. Once the music had finished the remaining supporters marched through the streets around the centre of City, chanting, singing and handling out pamphlets outlining their grievances as they did so.

Although the protest was only schedules for one day, it was several days more before all the tents in stalls were removed. The weather was hot and progress was slow. However, the remaining demonstrators were all gathered together in a much smaller corner of the square. The central area was being prepared for the forthcoming football World Cup, where it seemed as though a giant screen was being erected for the populace to watch the game.

If I was mistaken in thinking that the protestors would only be in town for the day, I was also mistaken in thinking that the religious activities were also over. While touring the city, I discovered that the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadaloupe is in fact the most important religious site of pilgrimage for the Catholic Church in the Americas, and second only to the Vatican City in the world. Around 10 million people visit the site each year – approximately 2,800 per day.

The bus towards the basilica took us past a large group of pilgrims on their way to the site. The group was made up of men, women and children who marched purposefully and sang as they did so. Many of the women wore traditional red and black costumes, decorated with white braid across the front. They also wore golden crowns. Each separate group of pilgrims also carried a banner showing the crest of their local church.

The importance of the site is due to a miracle which is meant to have occurred in 1521, a few years after the Spanish Conquest. Over the course of several nights in December, a local Indian man claimed that he had seen a vision of the Virgin come to him. The Spaniards had refused to believe that one of the Indians could have been favoured by the Virgin in this way so they ignored him. On the following night, the Virgin appeared again and told the man to appear in the church on the next day and walk up to the front in front of all the priests.

The man did as he was instructed, and to the surprise of the priests and congregation, when he arrived there, an elaborate full length colour image of the Virgin appeared on the clothing he was wearing. The miracle was confirmed and churches and shrines were built on the sites where the other visions had appeared.

The original garment still survives with the image of the Virgin still intact upon it. Sceptical materials scientists from NASA recently came to investigate the clothing to ascertain how the coloration and design had got there. Their conclusion was that they were unable to say what had caused image to appear. But they could say for certain that the colours were not part of the original material, and that they had not been applied by any other material. The design hovered between somewhere between the two.

Such subtleties and scepticism were clearly far from the minds of the hundreds of visitors to the old and new churches on the site. Large parties of pilgrims arrived every few minutes – all under the watchful eyes of the police and armed guards at the entrance to the basilica site.

The complex was filled with people of all ages – including children and the very elderly. A couple were getting married on the day I was there – and a large congregation stood outside in the main courtyard. Souvenirs of the Virgin and Jesus of all kinds were for sale – and it was possible to view the original garment in the new church. To keep visitors moving swiftly by, a moving platform had been set up – and pilgrims did not so much walk past the relic as glide smoothly by.

Why Millennials Are Resistant To Advertising And Politics

Much has been written about Millennials, the first “digital generation” (18-35), and their growing influence on business and society. These 86 million younger people are now the most important generation in terms of size and purchasing power – they spend $200 billion annually. They are also the most diverse, with 43% non-white and 25% speaking a foreign language at home. And they will represent 40% of the electorate by 2020, so their potential clout for shaping our future should be enormous.

Understanding and adapting to their distinct attitudes and behavior is essential, however. What makes Millennials so challenging is their level of trust in brands and politics, driven primarily by the internet which lets them better judge transparency, credibility and authenticity. The results of a recent (10/14) survey by two consulting firms, Elite Daily and Millennial Branding, show how different their perceptions and buying habits are:

• Millennials don’t trust advertising – only 3% are influenced by traditional media like TV and print, and only 1% say an ad would make them trust a brand more. Instead they rely more on feedback (mainly online) from friends (37%), parents (36%) and experts (17%) before making a purchase.

• The answer for marketers is to engage, not “sell’ to Millennials. 62% say that if a brand engages them online (e.g. social networks), they will more likely become a loyal customer.

• Sharing certain types of information is essential for building brand loyalty – on the quality of a product (39%), their experience with the product (30%) and most important, a brand giving back to society (75% said this is “fairly/very important”).

Trust is the key reason for their reluctance to get involved in politics too. Recently I led a panel discussion at my college reunion (Colby) on how our values and attitudes have changed over the years, with special focus on this distinctive Generation Y segment (i.e. our kids). Their potential role in politics was recognized by my classmates, but the panelists (all educators) offered another insight based on their close experience with these younger students – i.e. most simply do not trust Government, especially Congress, and are very frustrated as they have lost faith in electoral politics as a way of tackling society’s problems.

This trend of declining brand trust in our core institutions is not surprising given the growth of fraud, inefficiencies and corruption in Government. The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer found that Government remains the least trusted institution for the fourth consecutive year, now at 41%. Consistent with this negativity, Government officials score the lowest for trusted leadership (38%), with CEO’s next at 43%. A 2014 survey of Millennials by Reason-Rupe confirmed these negative perceptions, noting that Government has a high potential for corruption:

• 66% say Government is inefficient and wasteful (up from 42% in 2009)
• 63% feel that regulators favor special interests over the public
• 58% say Government agencies generally abuse their power

The irony is that Millennials tend to be more civic minded than other generations. Many are keen to participate in public life – 63% give to charities and 43% actively volunteer to be part of a community organization (source: 2014 Survey by Deloitte). They are very concerned about questions on public policy, from climate change to healthcare. While they recognize that Government has the greatest potential for addressing social issues, Millennials believe strongly that they are not doing anything about it. In fact, they feel Government is having a negative impact on the top challenges for society:

• Economic/unemployment, -15%
• Environment/resource scarcity, -12%
• Inequality of income and wealth, -31%

These jaundiced views are reflected in their voting trends. In the 1972 presidential election (Nixon versus McGovern), half of eligible 18-24 year olds cast ballots, but only a third of them voted in 2000. Occasionally a new, fresh candidate like Bill Clinton in 1992 and Barack Obama in 2008 will stimulate youth voting, but the general trend is downward. In the 1970s almost three quarters of the young regularly discussed politics with their parents. Today three quarters seldom talk about politics, and 60% have negative views of politics according to political scientists, Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox.

Most Millennials don’t want to be labeled as a Democrat or a Republican, preferring to be an Independent (40%, according to a recent poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics). They also see Congress as a place that “oldies” control. This generation doesn’t trust either party to handle the social issues they care most about (only 28%), but tend to lean more Democrat (43%) than Republican (22%), source: Reason-Rupe Survey.

Their growing apathy is having an impact on their interest in running for political office too. The survey by Lawless and Fox indicated that only one in nine young people would ever seriously consider such a political role. Furthermore 25% of younger Millennials have no opinions about politics, and they are likely to think all politicians are “awful people”.

This trend of Millennials resisting traditional advertising and turning their backs on politics is certainly disconcerting. The main reason for their alienation boils down to their increasing distrust of core institutions like Government and business. To re-build trust, Edelman offered five areas where marketers and politicians can improve their performance:

1. Integrity/Transparency- ethical practices, taking responsible actions to address issues
2. Engagement – listening and getting feedback, honest communications
3. Products & Services – innovative, high quality, customer experience
4. Purpose – improving the environment, addressing society’s needs, supporting local communities
5. Leadership/Operations – honest and admired leaders, global sensitivity, consistency

The first step is to assess the current level and causes of this distrust, – i.e. a comprehensive brand audit (we have a template for this, which has become an effective tool for clients and my NYU students, if interested). This Millennial group offers such enormous potential for shaping our future and solving society’s challenges that the task of re-establishing authentic trust warrants a new perspective by marketers and politicians, followed with urgent action.

Book Review: The Greatest Hoax by Sen James Inhofe

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s long promised book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future is finally finished. It was published by WND Books, which has published other grand conspiracy books such as The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada. The book will certainly be a hit with some lobbyists, politicians and corporate leaders. It may also be popular among scientists as it reveals some interesting things about Sen. Inhofe and gives scientists an opportunity to examine his ideas and arguments.

Sen. Inhofe has served as the mayor of Tulsa and is the senior Senator from Oklahoma. He has been a strong advocate for many of his constituents and he has been a strong critic of the lack of openness of some congressional procedures. He was instrumental in getting federal Superfund money to clean up the Pitcher lead mines in northeastern Oklahoma. A large area of northeastern Oklahoma was affected and millions of dollars have been spent to try to mitigate the environmental damage. No one knew at the time that lead was toxic, and Pitcher is a perfect example of how what you don’t know can hurt you and be costly.

Sen. Inhofe has often stated Global warming is a hoax, but proving that may be difficult. Every major scientific organizations in the world has adopted a statement similar to that of the American Chemical Society: “Careful and comprehensive scientific assessments have clearly demonstrated that the Earth’s climate system is changing rapidly in response to growing atmospheric burdens of greenhouse gases and absorbing aerosol particles. There is very little room for doubt that observed climate trends are due to human activities. The threats are serious and action is urgently needed to mitigate the risks of climate change.” A 2010 Stanford University poll of 1,372 climate scientists found that 97-98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in climate science agree that global warming is occurring and man activities are the main factor. The Greatest Hoax tries convincing us otherwise by quoting media sources, politicians, lobbyist, and the 2-3% of the scientists who claim to be skeptics, though some receive substantial rewards for being skeptical. Legitimate science is based upon evidence and reason, but many of the ideas put forward in this book are not.

Politics: Sen. Inhofe says: “I am not a scientist. I do understand politics. “He says he went into politics because a Tulsa city engineer would not approve his request to move a fire escape on his building. Mr. Inhofe told him that he was going to run for mayor and fire him when he won. And he did. It is possible that the engineer was following the building code adopted by the city’s elected officials, and that there may have been a good reason to leave the fire escape where it was, such as it being easily assessable in case of a fire. That incident, however, explains Senator Inhofe’s attitudes toward regulations, regulators, and scientists whose research show the need for regulations. It also explains the Senators approach to regulations. He sees them as an impediment to business but he does not see that most regulations are developed to protect the public. One of his favorite targets is the EPA, which was created by Pres. Nixon to protect the environment. Sen. Inhofe chose to work on the Senate’s Environmental and Public Works (EPW) committee so he could protect businesses from what he considers needless environmental regulations.

The Hoax: Sen. Inhofe was apparently convinced “global warming is a hoax” by one of the worse hoaxes in recent Congressional history. It started when Dr. Willie Soon managed to get a paper through the peer review process at Climate Reviews with the help of an editor sympathetic to his views. The paper reviewed the literature on climate science, and concluded that the global warming in the 20th century was not unusual and that natural forces, rather than man’s activities was the cause. An important piece of his evidence was the Medieval Warm Period, which he claimed was warmer than the latter 20th century. But there was something wrong with the paper. There were no accurate temperature records in Medieval Times, the Americas had not yet been discovered, and much of the Southern hemisphere was unknown. Dr. Soon’s paper contradicted the evidence from hundreds of other peer-reviewed papers. It caused quite a furor at Climate Reviews which ended with 3 members the editorial board resigning in protest and the newly hired chief editor stating the paper had serious errors and should never have been published. The EPA was unwilling to include the paper in its assessment of climate science, so Sen. Inhofe scheduled a meeting of the EPW committee to examine the paper.

Shortly before the meeting, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) issued a press release from 13 of the scientists whose work was used in Dr. Soon’s paper, saying the paper distorted their research. At the hearing, Michael Mann represented the scientific viewpoint, presenting evidence from multiple sources showing that the Medieval Warm period was not worldwide and resulted only in a small hump in the temperature record. Soon stood behind his work and testified that he had not received any funds that might have biased his objectivity. However, the paper lists the American Petroleum Institute as a major source of funding and documents received since from the Smithsonian Institution in response to FOIA requests, revealed that since 2001 Dr. Soon has received over $1 million in funding from oil and coal interests. Sen. Inhofe was upset by the turn of events and tried to get him fired – Michael Mann that is. At Sen. Inhofe’s insistence, the University of Pennsylvania, a Quaker University, has conducted 2 investigations into Dr. Mann’s research and found no misconduct. A 2010 Science article reviewed the investigations, declaring “Michael Mann is cleared, again. ” Dissatisfied with the ruling, Sen. Inhofe has tried to get the attorney general to charge Michael Mann with fraud. Sadly, for the first time in history, scientists are collecting a legal defense fund to defend scientists against political attacks. And even worse, the scientific opinion of the senior member of our Environmental and Public Works committee is apparently based on a paper that would not pass freshman English.

Endorsement: The Greatest Hoax was endorsed by Dr. R.M. Carter, a paleontologist from Australia, who was the star witness at Sen. Inhofe’s 2006 Senate hearing on Climate Change and the Media. No credible members of the media testified, and one might wonder why Sen. Inhofe would be interested in the media bias in Australia. Dr. Carter was likely there because he could be counted on to testify that historically the rise in global temperatures had always preceded rising carbon dioxide concentration; thus some natural cause must be releasing the carbon dioxide that is causing the temperature to rise. He was right about the role of carbon dioxide in increasing the Earth’s temperature, but he rather ignored the possibility that the CO2 concentration was rising because the burning of fossil fuels was releasing 30 billion tons of CO2 annually.

After the hearing, Dr. Carter was challenged by climatologists to produce research showing the natural variability he claimed, but the paper he belatedly produced was soon refuted when significant errors were found in his reasoning. Though two of the four scientists who testified at the hearing were skeptics, all four agreed that the Earth had warmed about 1°C in the last century. Sen. Inhofe’s own hearing had clearly refuted his claim: “Global warming is a hoax.” That was of little concern to Sen. Inhofe, as the main purpose of the hearing was to intimidate members of the press – as if that were needed.

Science: There is little science in the book, though much of the book is dedicated to discrediting science and scientists by quoting friends of his from the Heartland Institute, media personalities, and other politicians. He even sets up Al Gore as a strawman for scientists. In the book’s introduction, he displays a rather tasteless picture of Al Gore naked, and considerable space is devoted to vilifying him. That is a shame as Al Gore has served as a respected Senator, Vice President, and as a Presidential candidate came within a few hundred votes of being elected. Al Gore received a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work and his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, won an Oscar. The movie also had its day in court and won. Interestingly, the same Dr. Carter, who endorsed the book, was the star witness for the plaintiff in Dimmock v Secretary of State for Education, a suit which sought to prevent the educational use of An Inconvenient Truth in England. The court apparently did not agree with Dr. Carter and ruled that, though the film had some errors, it was substantially founded upon scientific research and fact and could be shown. Sen. Inhofe claims to be a free market capitalist, but he seems to take great umbrage that Al Gore has profited from his investments in green energy, apparently without realizing that most of those profits have been dedicated to promoting conservative causes, such as protecting the Earth.

Though he may be a skilled politician, in the partisan sense, Sen. Inhofe is correct when he says “I am not a scientist.” He does not understand how scientific knowledge from many fields fits together to form a consistent view of nature. For instance, the book tells that after a large snowfall in Washington D.C., his grandchildren built an igloo and put up a sign: “Al Gore’s New Home“. Sen. Inhofe used the picture to denounce global warming alarmism, though he should know that a single weather event proves nothing. And, if he were a scientist, he might understand how the warming oceans increase the probability of a record snowfall in Washington D.C., making the igloo possible – and how carbon dioxide has made more probable the record heat waves in Texas and Oklahoma, making droughts and wildfires possible.

Sen. Inhofe shows he does not understand how science works when he brings up the “Coming Ice Age” story to discredit the scientific evidence. The argument goes, “How can you trust science, when in the 1970s the scientists were predicting the coming of a new Ice Age, but now scientists claim that the Earth is warming?” In the 70’s, scientists found that increased industrialization was causing not only an increase in particulates, which would cause global cooling, but also an increase in CO2, which would increase global warming. There was no consensus among scientists about which effect would predominate. A count of scientific papers in that decade showed that only 7 journal articles predicted that the global average temperature would continue to cool, while 44 papers indicated that the average temperature would rise. The research on global cooling was valuable as it showed a nuclear war was unwinnable as particulates from a nuclear exchange might create a nuclear winter, ending life on Earth as we know it.

Scientific controversies are usually settled by the evidence, but this one was settled by the intervention of man. Particulates are visible and have serious health consequences. By 1980, regulations were in place to limit particulate emissions and, as that happened, the temperature of the Earth began increasing again. The fossil fuel companies became alarmed, as it was becoming apparent that we should also limit carbon emissions to keep the Earth’s temperature at equilibrium, so they began a propaganda campaign to convince us that carbon dioxide was harmless. If you believe that, remember the lesson of Pitcher, Oklahoma. What you don’t know can hurt you and be very costly.

Cap and Trade: Sen. Inhofe claims that cap and trade is the “crown jewel” of a global conspiracy of scientists, Hollywood stars, and media personalities who want to take away your freedom and create a world government. However, cap and trade was devised by free-market conservatives for President Reagan, who used it successfully to stop the acid rain drifting into Canada from our Northeastern power plants. It was part the Clean Air Act signed into law by President Bush I and many prominent Republicans, including John McCain, have supported it. Cap and trade is considered to be the market solution to reducing carbon emissions. It is described by the EPA as “an environmental policy tool that delivers results with a mandatory cap on emissions while providing sources flexibility in how they comply. Successful cap and trade programs reward innovation, efficiency, and early action and provide strict environmental accountability without inhibiting economic growth.”Does that sound like it “Threatens Your Future“, as the subtitle of the book claims? And, it cannot be making Al Gore rich – or be the cause of rising energy prices – as it has not yet been enacted for carbon emissions.

Costs: Sen. Inhofe main objection to environmental regulations is their tremendous cost; but an accurate analysis of costs and benefits are not in the book. He just claims that it would cost each U.S. household $3,100 a year, a cost that has great sticker shock, but is totally inaccurate. Dr. John Reilly, the MIT economist whose work was used to arrive at that number, has publicly criticized a Republican lobbyist for distorting his work to arrive at that inflated value. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of the cap-and-trade program by 2020 would average about $175 annually per household, and that associated savings would reduce the federal deficit by about $19 billion over the next decade. A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences details other high economic costs of inadequate environmental legislation, such as reduced streamflow, rainfall, and crop yields. Yet Congress has refused to act on the matter.

Also, Sen. Inhofe seems to have left some important items out of his balance sheet, such as the true cost of using fossil fuels. The true cost of a resource should include repairing damage caused by its use and disposing of the waste. We are in effect subsidizing the fossil fuel industry by allowing them to freely discharge their wastes into the environment. Some of the “true costs” of fossil fuel use, such as health and environmental costs can be estimated. Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank and one of the world’s top economists, has used the results from formal economic models to examine the potential cost of failure to limit our carbon emissions. He estimates that the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year, now and forever. If a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account, the cost of mitigation and damages could rise to 20% of GDP or more in the future – and we would run the additional risk of an environmental catastrophe.

Taking 5% of the US GDP for 2010, would give an environmental cost of $727 billion. As to health costs, the American Lung Association estimates that the EPA’s proposed guidelines for particulates could prevent 38,000 heart attacks and premature deaths, 1.5 million cases of acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma, and 2.7 million days of missed work or school. They estimate the economic benefits of reduced exposure to particulates alone could reach as much as $281 billion annually. Those two add up to about $1.08 trillion. The calculations do not include all the environmental and health costs, but they do show about how much we are subsidizing the fossil fuel industries by ignoring the damage to people’s health and the environment.

Sen. Inhofe, in his Rachel Maddow interview, stated that the cost of cap and trade would be $30-$40 billion annually. That is about 1/30 of what the environmental and health costs might eventually be. Then, it is rather hard to put a value on those premature deaths or the added risk of environmental catastrophes. The number of billion-dollar weather disasters has increased fivefold over the last 30 years, and insurance giants such as Suisse Re now consider man-made global warming real, and a risk factor in setting insurance rates. Increased insurance rates will be an additional out of pocket cost, which could easily offset the $175 the CBO estimated that cap and trade would cost.

Scientists: To get around the strong consensus of scientists, the book claims there is a global conspiracy of liberal scientists bent on creating a world government, that climate science is a religion, that climate scientists are in it for the money, and that Climategate proves climate scientists are dishonest. None of those claims are supported by verifiable evidence. Most scientists are good citizens, conservative in their statements and actions. Most are religious, with stewardship and concern for their fellow man being part of their religion. The Presbyterian church, where Senator Inhofe claims membership, stated in 1989 and reaffirmed in 2008, its “serious concern that the global atmospheric warming trend (the greenhouse effect) represents one of the most serious global environmental challenges to the health, security, and stability of human life and natural ecosystems.”

The book calls climate scientists “alarmists” in a derogatory sense, but many are becoming alarmed. Research shows that the Earth’s climate is changing because of our emissions of CO2, yet Congress has not acted to solve the problem. Scientists were criticized for considering the problem catastrophic, but they realize our carbon emissions will have an affect for 100 years or more into the future and inaction will threaten our food and water supply,increase the risk of severe weather events, and a possibly lead to an environmental catastrophe. Remember what happened at Pitcher, Oklahoma because lead mining was considered harmless.

Sen. Inhofe often calls those who disagree with him “liberals”, but the meaning of liberal and conservative seem to be flexible. During the American Revolution, it was the liberals who wanted to create a democracy and conservatives who thought that King George had a divine right to rule. Sen. Inhofe uses “liberals” to describe environmentalists and others who want to preserve the earth – and uses “conservatives” for those who want to conserve power and profits.

He describes Rachel Maddow as one of his favorite liberals, but that may change. In his book he said “Rachel’s segment was one of the last major efforts to go after me just days before I landed in Copenhagen and declared vindication.” However in his recent interview on Rachel’s show, she showed the clip. Nowhere in the clip does it mention Copenhagen or climate change. Rather than apologize, he said he couldn’t remember everything he said in the 350 pages of fine print in the book, raising questions about how much of the book he actually wrote. Apparently liberal can also mean “pesky”.

Big Oil: Sen. Inhofe tells some good stories of the old days in the Oklahoma oilfields, but back then Tulsa was the Oil Capital of the World and our domestic oil producers were a different breed from today’s multinational oil companies. They have little loyalty to the United States and little concern for our citizens or the environment. They have created some of the greatest man-made environmental disasters and resisted compensating their victims fairly. After the furor over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP’s CEO commented “I want my life back“, but he could not give back the 11 lives lost because of his decisions. Although he promised to compensate Americans damaged by the oil spill, BP appointed a lawyer to disperse the funds, who made many of the victims “take it or leave it” offers. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Exxon Mobil went all the way to the Supreme Court to avoid paying the $5 billion in damages owed the native Alaskans. Koch oil was charged in Oklahoma of cheating Native Americans and the government out $5 billion in oil royalties. They settled the case out of court for a 10th of the $5 billion, with no admission of wrongdoing. Who says crime doesn’t pay?

Last year, the world’s 5 largest oil companies received $24 billion in tax break subsidies. Yet, they reported $171 billion in profits, while most US businesses and citizens struggled with financial losses, in part caused by the steep rise in fuel prices. Sen. Inhofe says his goal is “energy self-sufficiency” for the United States, yet last year the leading US export was fuels, so Big Oil companies are selling American oil abroad, creating a shortage in the United States that is driving up prices. Increasing their profits is their main goal, even though carbon emissions may cause a man-made environmental disaster much greater than oil spills. To defend their profits, these companies are now the major contributors to the science denial machine that Sen. Inhofe defends in his book.

Heartland Foundation: Sen. Inhofe was able to poke fun at himself when he said” Nature strikes back”, referring to a serious illness he contacted while swimming in a lake contaminated with toxic blue-green algae, whose growth was fueled by water pollution and the heat wave and Oklahoma. The illness caused him to miss the meeting of the Heartland Institute where he was to be a keynote speaker. His relation to the Heartland Institute is troubling. The Heartland Institute, once a major source of propaganda designed to prove there was no link between smoking, cancer, and lung disease, has now turned its considerable experience and resources into producing propaganda disputing the link between carbon emissions and global warming. Big Oil provides much of the funding for the Heartland Institute, and other similar “conservative” think tanks, who channel millions of dollars into the denial of science. The Heartland Institute is a gathering place for Big Oil’s lobbyists, loyal politicians, and paid skeptics. Many of those are the sources of information for Sen. Inhofe’s book. How accurate is that information likely to be?

Skeptics: Science values its skeptics as they make science strong by pointing out areas that need more investigation, and they sometimes making valuable contributions to science. When Richard Muller questioned NASA’s temperature records, he evaluated all 6 billion pieces of weather station data, and came to the conclusion that the temperature record was accurate. When O’Donnell doubted Steig’s work showing Antarctica was warming, he re-analyzed the data and found that indeed Antarctica, the coldest place on Earth, was getting warmer.

Skeptics are expected to follow the methodologies and the ethics of science, to subject their work to review by their peers, and to divulge conflicts of interest. Many of those Sen. Inhofe praises as “climate skeptics” do not meet those criteria. They profit from being skeptical and, when research shows them wrong, they continue to repeat their skeptical arguments anyway. An example is Anthony Watts, who started the Surface Station Project to examine the data from weather stations, which he claimed had errors. The AGU took his skepticism seriously and did a thorough study on the weather stations, finding the data was reliable. They had offered Watts a chance to participate in the research, but he missed his chance to be a scientist when he refused. And though the question has been answered, Mr. Watts is still repeating the same criticisms – and collecting substantial donations to continue his Surface Station Project. There are many skeptics like Mr. Watts, who receives generous grants from think tanks, not for fundamental research, but to come up with ideas to cast doubt on the IPCC, climate research, and the work of legitimate scientists. Many of the paid skeptics appear in Sen. Inhofe’s book as his sources for information, quotes, and references.

Vindication: In this chapter of the book, Sen. Inhofe claims vindication, but it is hard to imagine sufficient vindication for displaying a picture of Al Gore naked. Sen. Inhofe does claim he is vindicated by the Climategate e-mails. Hackers broke into the computers of England’s Hadley Climatic Research Unit (CRU), and stole 10 years of e-mails exchanged between the scientists. Quotes from the stolen e-mails were taken out of context, distorted, and released to media sources with claims the CRU scientists engaged in illegal and unethical acts. As of today, eight independent formal investigations have been completed and none have found any scientific misconduct by the scientists involved. The incident was dubbed “Climategate”, but it was in no way like Watergate. In Wategate, the thieves were caught and punished and those who masterminded the plot were publicly disgraced. In Climategate, the thieves have been hailed by some skeptics as heroes – and the victims of the theft have been vilified. It seems strange that Scotland Yard is searching for the hackers, while Sen. Inhofe is gleefully helping spread the misinformation. So, rather than being like Watergate, the e-mail scandal was actually more like Stargate, fictional fantasy. The accusations of wrongdoing by some of the skeptical scientists, made before the matter could be investigated, were particularly egregious as scientist’s ethical codes say that:” Public comments on scientific matters should be made with care and precision, without unsubstantiated, exaggerated, or premature statements.”

Winning: Sen. Inhofe claims he is winning, but he can’t be talking about the scientific debate. All the world’s major scientific organizations think he is losing, as do 97 – 98% of the climate scientists, and 83% of American voters. A 2011 Stanford poll found that 83% of Americans say that global warming is happening with 88% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans saying it is the result of human action. Attacking scientists may prove to be contrary to the Republican party’s best interest. While polls find scientist’s trustworthiness is highly rated , with 84% having a favorable view of scientists, Congress’ approval has now dropped to around 9%. This may be indicative of the public’s dissatisfaction with the partisanship and gridlock in Congress, occurring for reasons well on display in this book.

Although some members of Congress and some of the public may listen to Sen. Inhofe, nature doesn’t. No matter how much he claims “hoax”, research shows the climate is changing in response to man’s activities. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing, the temperature of the Earth is rising, the oceans are becoming more acidic, glaciers and polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, the probability of severe weather events is increasing, and weather-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more costly. It’s time we examine more closely who is actually winning by ignoring science.

(c) 2012 J.C. Moore