The key to selling any negative message is to surround it with as many true facts and good intentions as possible, and then focus on the legitimate components so that the questionable ones seem almost unimportant.
Most of the people in the climate-change circle are well intentioned; they’re environmentally conscious and have good intentions, though they may have a tendency to believe that man is almost always the source of the problem.
The same could be said for the environmental movement, animal welfare, and even the food-safety and nutritional movements. Their goals are generally good ones, and their concerns have at least some basis in truth. It’s true that good science is sometimes replaced with hyperbole and extreme rhetoric but, for the most part, their intentions are clear.
Still, I believe it would be a mistake to believe that we in livestock production are dealing with passionate, well-intentioned people who occasionally are misinformed about the issues. These movements/causes also have elements within them that are simply trying to eliminate animal agriculture and will use whatever means they can to do just that.
In the London Times online edition this week, a leading global warming expert, climate chief Lord Stern, advocates giving up meat to save the planet. He highlights methane production, and goes on to say that "People will need to consider turning vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change."
After discussing the wastefulness of meat production, he says that a successful outcome to the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen would be for it to lead to soaring costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases. He’s long predicted that people's attitudes would evolve to the point that eating meat would become unacceptable.
It’s nothing short of amazing when you read what the leaders of this movement are hoping to accomplish at this meeting. They’re talking about radical changes of monumental scope. Simple statements like halving greenhouse emissions by 2030 don't even hint at the impacts that such a proposal would create.
Of course, with global temperatures actually cooling and the computer models having to be manipulated on almost a daily basis to maintain the two main themes that man is at fault and that we are headed toward catastrophe, people are becoming increasingly skeptical. Throw in the fact that boosting taxes, lowering standards of living, increasing unemployment and the like wouldn't be popular even in great economic times, and one has to hope that the radical agenda will crash hard against political reality.
The leadership of the climate-change movement is well aware of these issues, and increasingly is talking about shaping public opinion in order to raise the urgency level.
Their mantra today can be summed up as “create a crisis to advance your agenda.” The bigger and more urgent the crisis the better, is the thinking. That’s because it enables one to eliminate debate and divergent opinions and justify bolder actions. Be prepared for both over the next 40 days.