Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.

Recent Press Releases

Press releases e-mailed to this blog tell a strange tale.

FoodTank_mothers_day

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I don’t sign up to receive press releases, corporate newsletters, or activist group updates – but torrents of them land in my inbox anyway. Many are sent by people and organizations who’ve clearly never read this blog.

Lance Laytner, at PublicGoodRelations.com, sent one last week. The subject heading reads:

IS YOUR ART KILLING YOU? – Press Release

The topic is a KickStarter fundraising effort for a documentary film that intends to

expose the paint industry’s dirty little secret – that even the low-VOC paints approved by the EPA have been declared safe only for the environment, all the while often being quite harmful to humans.

In other words, even though the companies that manufacture the paints used by visual artists have jumped through all the hoops required by the Environmental Protection Agency, they deserve to be denounced as evil-doers. Apparently because a single artist thinks so.

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Caitlin Graf, Publicity Director for The Nation magazine, sent a chatty e-mail titled The Courage to Fight Climate Change. It tells me that:

As NASA’s top climate scientist, [James] Hansen bravely told the truth about the devastating impacts of climate change-even when the Bush administration tried to silence and penalize him…

If I were a gullible, uniformed journalist, I might fall for it. As it happens, I observed two years ago that, rather than being persecuted for his beliefs, Hansen has actually been “fêted and financially rewarded.”

This isn’t a man who has toiled away in obscurity and poverty. This isn’t someone who has voiced unpopular views and paid a price. Rather, Hansen earned a generous, taxpayer-funded salary for decades and has, furthermore, deposited into his personal bank account hundreds of thousands in prize money.

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Supriya Kumar at the WorldWatch Institute sent a press release on May 8 and then sent it again on May 9. The subject line reads:

For Immediate Release: Agriculture and Livestock Remain Major Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Why is this newsworthy?

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But for sheer inanity and presumption, an unsolicited, obviously-sent-to-a-mailing-list message from Danielle Nierenberg, the co-founder of Food Tank, takes the prize. The subject line reads: A More Sustainable Mother’s Day.

“Dear Donna,” it begins, “Mother’s Day is a holiday where food plays a central role – as a token of appreciation and a gesture of love.”

Seven tips for a “better, more sustainable celebration” then follow. I’ve never heard of this organization until now, but these people seem to imagine that I – and the readers of this blog – require their advice.

The first tip cites a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Yeah, I’m gonna “buy local” because the activists employed by that organization think it’ll stop climate change. Note to the NRDC: the authors of The Locavore’s Dilemma have a more compelling argument than you do.

Tip two urges me to “dine responsibly” and cites the Green Restaurant Association. Others want me to:

  • “make a donation” in my mother’s name to “an organization that supports a food-and agriculture-related issue”
  • “buy fair trade”
  • “plant a garden”
  • “help out in the community”
  • and “learn something new”

Now read that last one again. Honestly. We’re supposed to take these people seriously?

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