I see several people have written to Comox Valley’s The Record newspaper trying to balance the usual Tom Fletcher far right fossil fuel inspired obfuscation on climate change. And there may be some value in setting The Record (sic) straight on the overwhelming scientific consensus about the role of fossil fuels in the growing impact of climate change on our planet. However, ironically, every letter to a Black Press paper about Fletcher’s misinformation campaign on climate change is just another reason for BC’s behemoth community newspaper chain to print even more of Fletcher’s right wing sophistry. You need to understand that the object of Black Press in publishing Fletcher’s rants is not to provide good journalism nor balanced/intelligent information on which citizens of BC can rely for understanding our province/world. Black Press publishes Fletcher because our reaction to his columns demonstrates he generates readers—and thus advertising revenue—and (equally) because he is such a good mouth piece for the corporate agenda they are promoting. If it were any different you would see some semblance of balance in the reporting and in the reporters. There are all kinds of great journalists to pick from but Black Press chooses to promote the views of just the extreme right.
If there were any doubt about how carefully Black Press—which dominates BC community newspapers– regulates the information available to BC residents just think back to August 2007 when three senior Black Press employees were fired or resigned over a complaint by a Victoria car dealership that a story about buying cheaper cars in the United States was not “balanced.” Balanced! Ha! Balance had nothing to do with it. These firings make it clear that no one at Black Press is permitted to run a story that is not good for business; balanced information has nothing to do with it; corporate interests and corporate interests only is clearly the alpha and omega of Black Press content. A Black Press statement make that absolutely clear, “reporters and editors should not purposely jeopardize advertising revenue with their stories, because that revenue pays their salaries.” The Canadian Association of Journalists publicly questioned how many stories Black Press kills behind the scenes because of advertising concerns,” but in Canada there is no accountability to the public for the prattle that parades as information in the corporate agenda we call news. And all this right wing propaganda is not just about sales promotion; it is about a whole agenda. Take for instance the information management around the Nisga’a Treaty—the first modern treaty in B.C. history. It has been revealed that owner David Black instructed his editors to create information in opposition to the treaty and forbade them to publish editorials favourable to the treaty. When David Black wants an oil refinery in Kitimat, he makes no bones about how his editors will fall in line to promote his agenda—that’s right, it would be absurd to call such propaganda anything other than an agenda; it has no relationship to “balanced” information our meaningful journalism of any sort.
Isn’t it fascinating that now we, in the Comox Valley, have one weekly paper published by Black Press and one biweekly paper published by—you guessed it!—Black Press. What possibly can be the rationale for that? They’ve just closed the Nanaimo Daily News after 141 years of publishing because a single biweekly seems enough to promote the Black Press agenda in Nanaimo. I wouldn’t invest a wooden nickel in The Echo these days, unless it was perfectly clear that Comox Valley residents are so resistant to corporate agendas that we absolutely need to be bombarded with two papers to bring us around to the Black Press line that is obviously served well enough by one paper in Nanaimo.
The tragic irony to all this catering to the corporate interests of the fossil fuel industry is that the one group most in need of balanced/accurate information is the oil and gas industry. Unbelievable as it might seem, it is they that will become the first to succumb to the end of the age of oil. The Saudis have said it eloquently: the Stone Age didn’t end because the world ran out of stones. And it is now apparent to all but Tom Fletcher, Black Press and a few fossil fueled, blind dinosaurs that we are rapidly exiting the age of oil. Even the Saudis are more enlightened on this than Fletcher and a few remaining carbonized die hards. Oil is cheap these days because the Saudis have long since come to understand the concept of stranded assets—assets a company holds that will just never sell. The Saudis see climate change galloping ahead at such a terrifying pace that oil they don’t sell today—really cheap—won’t sell tomorrow—at any price. And not only are they holding a panic sell off on oil, they are investing what revenues they can generate now in diversifying their economy so that when the oil won’t sell they will still have an income—amazing concept!—far too complex for Fletcher. It would actually be good for the oil companies themselves to stop listening to their own propaganda reflected back at them in the rantings of the likes of Tom Fletcher and the Tea Party. It is past time to start noticing that the world around them is rapidly changing.
Climate change is happening all around us and it is no longer about losses to marginalized nations, its everywhere and its dramatic and our leading climate scientists tell us it’s almost all about accumulating greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere. Corporations and national economies that don’t start transitioning to sustainable energy will simply be left in the dustbins of history.
The science is unequivocal, if we are to step back from the cliff of climate disaster (and with it the kind of economic washout that should terrify Fletcher) 85 percent of the potential oil in Alberta’s tar sands will have to remain in the ground. Even if the oil companies want to go on digging, the world won’t be buying what they want to sell.
For all of Fletcher’s ranting about the Leap Manifesto, it is clearly the only serious Canadian look at finding our way to an economy that is good for us and for our planet. And it is absolutely possible. The Germans have already proven that if we simply look for solutions rather than promoting excuses and obfuscations to defend the short term economic interests of a few, we can still build an economy promoting healthy people and a healthy planet. How is it that people like Fletcher just can’t grasp the idea that clean energy is profitable now and will be in the future and will only continue to grow in social/jobs, economic/profits and environmental significance while those left holding onto sunset investments in the oil industry will be bankrupt?
Already Germany is generating an average of 33 percent of its electrical supply with renewable energy created by opening up the renewable energy market to utilities, businesses and homeowners. This “democratized” energy supply where individuals own more than a third of the county’s renewable energy has become an economic powerhouse.
Why can’t corporate spokespersons like Fletcher recognize that what they are advocating is devastating even for those they believe they are advocating for? Why can’t we have a print press that does actually provide, at least, some ‘balance” in the journalism presented? Is the internet the only plausible alternative to a press utterly dominated by a narrow view of journalism as simply a corporate propaganda tool? If so what becomes of the understanding of the diverse interests and activities that make us a whole community? Or how to we learn to understand each other and our connections if all we know about comes from a few narrowly selected internet sites? Does all this mean enough to you to actually do something about it? What? What can we possibly do to redress this incredible imbalance in what was once the noble calling to “speak truth to power”?