Imagine for a minute a "Saturday Night Live" skit starring Andy Samberg in which the Keebler Elf argues with Wendy Whiner about whether or not climate change is real. That would pretty much capture the tone of last week's Lexus-sponsored Darker Side of Green event in Los Angeles.
Hand it to Lexus (and Patron, whose free-flowing libations made the whole event much more tolerable). In a city beset with the same old pack of greenies preaching to each other about how great they are, this was certainly a refreshing change of pace.
Let me paint the picture. First off, the event was genuinely star-studded, with Ashton Kutcher snapping Nikon photos, Adrian Brody fending off women, Jeremy Piven acting almost a little too much like his Hollywood agent alter ego, and packs of short-skirted starlets whose names I can never remember. The doors were blockaded by a throng of eager people hoping to get into the packed PaliHouse alongside numerous bodyguards keeping them at bay, and the few available spots on the green carpet were quickly snatched up.
The Planet 100 crew was there to cover the event for our show, but we got beat out by the London Times, leaving us with little to do ... besides drink, which made the debate proceedings even more surreal.
If you don't know anything about Phelim (or Sir Phelim as he is called in the climate denier community) he's like a younger, more lovable version of Lord Monckton, the world's leading climate skeptic who (though neither a Lord nor a scientist) was recently chosen
by U.S. House Republicans as the sole witness in the committee on climate science.
Phelim created a rebuttal documentary to Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" (which should have been retitled "Multiple Convenient Lies") in which he manages to spell out an argument against climate change regulation solely based on whit and rhetoric. Some of his main talking points are:
- Liberals say there are too many people on the planet. I say there are too few. I love people!
- There's no evidence that there isn't an endless supply of oil and coal, so why are manufacturing hysteria?
- First they called it "global cooling" and now it's "global warming." They can't even decide which direction the thermometer is going.
- If the problem were so bad, it would affect large corporations. The free market is not responding, so it must not be a big problem.
- He also loves to point out the hypocrisy of liberals (like Simran Sethi) who rely on fossil fuels to a far greater degree than the average working Joe.
As you can imagine, Sethi — though clearly intelligent and fast on her feet —was no match for the adorable little leprechaun whose humor and smiling demeanor masked years of training as a cut-throat media operative with a quiver full of colorful, charming anecdotes to counter any sciencey-sounding offensive Sethi could possibly lob his way.
This points out an important discrepancy between the climate science and climate denial camps.
The former uses facts, figures and charts while the latter uses storytelling and imagery designed to go straight to the heart. And guess who wins ... every single time?
Yes Phelim won the debate, managing to come across as something of a humanist in the process. And the irony of this win was all the more heightened by the fact that the very same week
the ClimateGate scientists were officially cleared by a third international tribunal of any wrongdoing AND a giant chunk of ice
nearly the size of Manhattan broke off the Greenland ice sheet. (It's now heading straight for Canada's East Coast).
The Darker Side of Green is a wake-up call, people ... until we get better at telling colorful, heart-warming stories (something that goes against the very grain of science) and using brash, outlandish rhetoric to shake the rotting, rickety foundations of climate skepticism, TRUTH will never win.
MNN homepage photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images