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Climate change: it’s time for the communications industry to pick a side

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In a time of moral crisis and a battle for hearts, rather than minds, the communications industry must end its relationship with the climate change denial lobby, writes Kirsty Schneeberger. 

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality,” said JFK, interpreting the Third Canto of Dante’s Inferno. 

Gripped in a moral crisis of such epic proportions, as we are in relation to climate change and fossil fuel based economic systems, we must ask ourselves “who is preserving their neutrality?” Mired in the deep-rooted politicisation of a systemic failure many of us have impotently borne witness to; the fight over data, scientific facts, moral and economic rationalization, and – ultimately – semantics, play out on the world’s stage.

We align ourselves with the scientists we trust, the politicians who represent our views, those papers that tell the story we want to believe in. But whose side of the story are we most exposed to? How do we determine whether or not we can trust a source?

There are those who patiently produce graph after graph, believing that a rational mind will understand it for what it is. That we will be able to interpret detailed analysis for ourselves and form conclusions that will satisfy our thirst for understanding. 

The reality is, however, that any word to support or any morsel of evidence to justify our own position is pounced upon and heralded as being the truth. Forget the graphs and analysis, forget the rational argument and logical conclusions drawn, this is a battle of hearts, not minds.

Out there in the digital landscape we have access to all the information we could ever need to develop an informed opinion, but access isn’t the issue, representation, or rather misrepresentation, is.

With big PR companies being employed not to promote the truth, but to peddle the views of the highest bidders, a multi-billion dollar industry has grown up around the ‘communications’ of climate change.

In focusing on fees and selling their services to those who can pay, has the communications industry maintained a morally neutral position, or have they inadvertently picked a side by default? Have they been hiding behind their ‘independence’ in order to promote the views that best align with themselves and their profits?

In failing to consult a moral compass on the issue of climate change, they have also failed to recognize that the service they provide is helping to promote views that go against society’s best interests. They are promoting misinformation that doesn’t necessarily prevent people from having access to unbiased information; rather it skews the debate by using its powers of persuasion to muddy the waters and make it even more difficult for the general populace (not to mention politicians) to reach an informed view. 

In his poem The Second Coming, Yeats writes that “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”

It is not so much that the ‘best’ – those who are earnestly trying to promote a fair side of the story – lack conviction. It is perhaps that they have neither had the resources to call on PR companies to promote their messages; nor have they had a willingness to engage in deploying ‘spin’ tactics.

And rightly so. As soon as there is even a whiff of ambiguity relating to scientific issues, climate deniers and the biased press leap upon it, blowing its relevance out of all proportion, leaving the grains of truth hidden in the wake of a non-scandal.

But that’s not to say the balance cannot be tipped in favour of those promoting the messages that we need to hear. This week’s revelation of PR companies refusing to work for climate deniers is just one way (of many) in which we can combat the promotion of misinformation.

Thanks to the work of the Climate Investigations Centre we now know that 25 of the world’s top PR companies have taken a stand against climate deniers. No longer will climate denialism be given the megaphone it has so desperately relied on.

This is one of the most important steps in tackling the insidious influence that climate deniers have enjoyed over the past few decades, whilst others have tried in earnest to keep the debate ‘clean.’

Whether they were neutral or not before, the PR and communications industry is finally catching up with the likes of Futerra and Nice and Serious, and taking a side – the good side. In this time of moral crisis they have saved themselves a few degrees of eternal heat: Mephistopheles will be most displeased to have lost out on such promising clients. 

Kirsty Schneeberger is a co-founder of Beautiful Corporations, a sustainability engagement and communications consultancy. She previously worked for the Stakeholder Forum, leading the UN engagement work on sustainable development in London and New York.

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Further reading:

Top PR firms rule out working with climate deniers

US billionaire Tom Steyer to launch $100m campaign against climate deniers

BBC tells journalists to cut airtime for climate change deniers

Sir Richard Branson says climate deniers should ‘get out of the way’

Prince Charles attacks ‘headless chicken’ climate change deniers

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4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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