In modern public relations, half the battle is won if you can get the media to embrace your choice of wording.
For example, take "carbon pollution."
No one supports "carbon pollution." So when the activist pro-regulation group Greenpeace said it welcomed last week's announcement that the "EPA has finally announced the schedule by which it will regulate carbon pollution," the casual listener might have cheered that something was finally being done about nasty, gritty, airborne soot.
But sooty particulate emissions from furnaces and power plants have long been subject to strenuous regulation.
Instead, those who promote vastly greater and more expensive regulation of the energy industry -- those who would love to see America's industrial output decline as our personal electric bills soar, in part to purposely paralyze industrial and economic development in America and Europe until the unregulated Third World can "catch up" -- are purposely using the misleading phrase "carbon pollution" when they really refer to power plants emitting carbon dioxide.
When a single carbon atom has bonded with two oxygen atoms, it forms a colorless, odorless, non-toxic gas that is not a pollutant, but is in fact used in the metabolism of plants, vital to the survival of life on earth. To now brand carbon dioxide a "pollutant" is verbal manipulation of the first order.
Environmentalists theorize that the activities of mankind are churning historically unprecedented amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and that this carbon dioxide is acting as a "greenhouse gas," trapping solar heat and thus causing the planet to warm to such an extent that it many endanger life on earth.
There are several problems with this theory. First, while there might have been some minor warming in the late 20th century -- a whistle-blower has revealed much of the supporting data was unreliable or simply faked -- there appears to have been no warming in the past decade, despite the fact that none of the Draconian penalties now proposed has been in effect.
Second, the geological and historical records indicate there have been periods of higher carbon dioxide concentration in the past, and that they lagged rather than preceded solar warming. There is also evidence that earth was once much warmer than it is now -- and that life did just fine.
But the biggest problem with global warming theory as now propounded is that it lacks a vital component of any legitimate scientific theory: deniability. The theory allows any change in weather to be attributed to global warming, while preventing any climate pattern from disproving it. Far from sound science, it is an article of faith.
Global warming theorists predicted a warm, dry winter. Instead, English and Northeast American airports are shut down under unusually heavy snows. It's snowing in Tasmania (where it's now high summer.) The National Weather Service says Nashville and Atlanta could see serious snowfall this week for the first time in 17 years.
So, if there's drought and unusually warm weather, we should attribute it to man-caused global warming. But if the world is seized in a new deep freeze, we can also attribute that to man-caused global warming?
That's quite a theory. It's almost as honest as the term "carbon pollution."