by Richard T. Stuebi
As a big sports fan, I’ve become an enthusiastic listener of Mad Dog Radio on Sirius, enjoying the rantings and ravings of both hosts and callers alike. It’s quite an eyehole (or earhole) into an interesting segment of Americana.
Unfortunately, one disconcerting aspect about this segment is reflected by the advertisers that choose to send their messages to this audience. Advertisers include such products and services of dubious veracity as the Hollywood Cookie Diet, the California Psychic Hotline, and water vapor cigarettes.
Clearly, the demographic of the Mad Dog Radio listening audience is such that discriminating intelligence is not its hallmark characteristic.
To this apparently intellectually-challenged audience, an organization called the Institute of Policy Innovation has begun to run a 30-second soundbite called “Is the Earth Actually Cooling?”, narrated by Dr. Merrill Matthews. Dr. Matthews, whose stated credentials are in health care policy (in contrast to climatology, a more useful background for someone who’s going to opine on this topic), alleges – without substantiation, other than the offhand comment that unnamed “Russian scientists” are increasingly convinced – that the evidence is now suggesting that the earth is “on the verge of a mini-Ice Age”, rather than warming. He closes with the following cheap shot:
“ But at least all those global warming scolds may leave the rest of us alone allowing them to fly around in their private jets openly and guilt free.”
This dreck I find very annoying and insulting. By affiliation with its fellow advertisers, I put the Institute of Policy Innovation right alongside the California Psychic Hotline in terms of credibility. However, to an audience inclined to believe that psychics can provide good personal advice, no doubt Dr. Matthews’ asinine and unsupportable message is compelling to many.
This is not to say that cleantech advocates don’t also offer up their share of absurdities. As an example, I can’t tell you how fatigued I’ve become with “green job” mantras, almost implying that such jobs can be created by whim or fiat. No, they can’t: jobs (at least, good long-term non-governmental ones) are created only after economic opportunities for profit- and wealth-creation emerge. Instead of focusing on creating green jobs, the debate should be about creating a healthy market environment within which employers can/will hire people to pursue those economic opportunities.
I don’t know about you, but for me, I want people in key positions affecting my life – such as my doctors, for example – to be both smart and educated in their disciplines. Why don’t more of us insist that those who are debating our political and social futures, on key issues such as climate change and the future green economy, also be among the most intelligent and well-informed?
More of us need to take a stand: fight stupidity now!
Our future increasingly depends on wise choices in a complex world. We cannot abide those who pollute airwaves with misleading or erroneous statements on critical civic topics — especially to listeners whose judgment on matters more important than sports is probably not highly refined, but who nevertheless vote and otherwise make their voices heard in the political arena.
As the Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at the Cleveland Foundation, Richard T. Stuebi is on loan to NorTech as a founding Principal in its advanced energy initiative. He is also a Managing Director at Early Stage Partners, and is the founder of NextWave Energy.