Propaganda is a soft weapon; hold it in your hands too long, and it will move about like a snake, and strike the other way.
– Jean Anouilh, playwright (1910-1987)
The word propaganda refers to information which is used to promote some cause, according to the dictionary. However, this meaning ignores the negative connotations of the word. For example, when you learn that Joseph Goebbels was the Minister of Propaganda for the Hitler regime and the person mainly responsible for the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany, you better understand the context in which propaganda is used most in recent years.
President Bush of the US and Prime Minister Blair of the UK used “information” about supposed connections between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda and intelligence reports about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Saddam’s Iraq as devices to take their countries into war in Iraq. Both of these informations were not only wrong, but it seems likely that the leaders knew the reports were false before the war because they had reports to the contrary before they declared war on Iraq and Saddam’s regime.
Look what holding onto their propaganda too long did for Hitler, Goebbels, Bush and Blair. Hitler and Goebbels both committed suicide, Blair is retiring as his popularity is plummetting and Bush–whose popularity is at its lowest point ever–doesn’t know which way to turn to keep his troops in Iraq without funding.
In general, we don’t like propaganda. Yet many people welcome it daily on their television sets. TV commercials, especially those by big companies, are nothing more than propaganda with makeup. People accept it because they believe the commercials and the companies don’t do any harm and because their sponsorship brings their favourite programs to them free.
The very popular movement to address the problem of global warming (more properly called climate change) has garnered a huge amount of support, especially as people see their weather changing for the worse: summers hotter than ever before in memory, temperate pine forests being eaten by bugs that never travelled that far north before, Antarctic ice shelves crashing into the ocean and so on. Voices in opposition to the movement and its motives are weak by comparison.
Global temperatures actually cooled a little last year. The Antarctic ice mass has increased since 1979 and interior temperatures have cooled. Climate change is, in fact, the norm, not climate stability. Our ignorance of the history of climate causes us to believe whatever “facts” scientists who desperately want grant money to study their pet projects tell us.
Global temperatures have increased in the northern temperate zones by 1.6 degrees over the past century and a half. But the Little Ice Age that held sway for over 400 years before that and ended only in the mid 19th century would account for at least a slight rise in average temperatures. The burning of massive amounts of coal in Europe, for example, had been going on for ages before the Little Ice Age ended. Coal, the worst greenhosue gas emitter, didn’t end the Little Ice Age in a hurry.
When we hear speakers such as Al Gore claim that we must act quickly or we will all be doomed to devastating results such as flooding of coastal cities, we should ask ourselves what they have to gain by their campaign. If the planet has been warming for 15 decades and ice caps have been melting steadily over that same time, why have no coastal cities flooded?
Propaganda campaigners amass so much information that they throw at us so quickly that we tend ot believe them because they seem to know what they are talking about. However, they do not address arguments contrary to their positions. They do not present all sides of an argument, just the one they intend to win with.
Climate change is natural. The Sahara Desert used to be savannah. Before that it was a massive freshwater lake. The planet’s largest freshwater lake is still there beneath the Sahara sands, in fact, up to one kilometre below the surface. Where that water reaches the surface, the desert blooms and people grow lush crops.
Rather than panicking about global warming or climate change, we need to address the problems that it will inevitably bring upon us. For example, some parts of the USA will desertify while a large part of Canada that sits over solid rock (Precambrian Shield) will become subtropical, but we won’t be able to grow crops on it. Cities may become unlivable because of smog and high temperatures, so we need to either build domes over them and clean the air or move people elsewhere.
We need to address the changes, not worry about the effects. That will require us to think about someone other than ourselves and those immediately around us. It means that we will have to prepare for changes that will benefit our grandchildren more than ourselves.
Our planet will soon have seven billion people. More and more of them will live in countries that can no longer support human life, or at least can’t grow enough food to feed their people. That will mean necessaary migration on a massive scale. That requires changes in our system of political boundaries and a global plan for implementing something that makes sense and is sustainable. It’s going to happen whether we plan or not. If we don’t, global war will likely result.
It means that there is something more important than our worries of today. Our worries of today are the result of propaganda from people making us believe that some things are critically important to our lives when in fact they are merely events that happen in any life and they will pass.
See the following resources to support the above:
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, striving to put the tough questions of life into perspective.
Learn more at http://billallin.com