Media colleagues, we’re being played


We live in an era of professional front-page hounds, and Trump is not the only one. We need to understand this creature and conduct ourselves accordingly. We’re being played.

Front-page hound: Someone who can advance personal goals just by increasing their name recognition. Politicans, actors, singers and religious figures fall into this category. If their success is confusing for you, you might be a substantive.

Substantive: Someone who believes in something and has more than a cursory level of education on the issue they believe in.

substantives composite low res

1. It doesn’t matter why front-page hounds are ‘on the front page,’ negative or positive, as long as they are on the front page regularly (or all over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, television etc.)

2. If they are on the front page their competitors are not. If the conversation is about the hound’s opinion or action, it’s not about their competitor’s opinion or action.

3. If the hound’s coverage is too negative, the best antidote is to ramp it up, preventing any resolution of the last controversy before the next controversy arises. Distraction. Constant coverage. No real conclusion. No problem.

4. In the information age/splintered media/social media world, front-page news can seem like the only news, as it gets replicated and aggregated millions of times. If it bleeds it leads. If it shocks it rocks.

5. Front-page hounds may ‘believe’ something or ‘believe in’ something, but not deeply. Their expertise is not in any one thing. Their expertise is in hooking and playing the mainstream and social media. Their expertise is clickbait, controversy and show biz.

6. Substantives care about issues, want to be accurate, evidence-based, sensible in their positions, consistent and respected. They trade away coverage in exchange for credibility.

7. Front-page hounds don’t care about issues, except to use issues to acquire coverage. They care about coverage. They don’t care about accuracy or evidence or consistency. Being inaccurate and inconsistent is actually a plus because it ramps up the controversy level, and thus ramps up the coverage. The only respect they care about are the metrics that come with coverage.

Media colleagues, we’re being played. Not so long ago we gave more coverage to the shooters than the victims, however in the past few years we have corrected this. We thought about it.

Just today a national newspaper in Canada, the Toronto Star, ran an item warning the public about some unregistered cryptocurrencies. But then they ran a big logo of one of the questionable companies, providing excellent national publicity for this company. Did they think about it?

It’s time to ignore or play down the hounds and promote the substantives. We’re professionals. We can find ways to make the substantives more exciting.



scott pruittPipeline lobbyists pay for his family’s housing. He has accepted more than $300,000 in campaign donations from fossil fuel companies. He travels first class or by military jets and private planes, and expenses trips that have nothing to do with his job. He demotes people who question these expenses, and gives huge raises to political aides, spends millions on personal security while attending Disneyland and football games, or on personal errands in Oklahoma.

He is supposed to be a leader of the EPA, which protects American health, but thinks he’s in charge of dismantling the EPA and abandoning protection for the country and its people. He used to spend time suing the EPA, which he describes as a threat to freedom for American business. Some 447 former EPA employees wrote a joint letter to oppose Pruitt’s nomination. Few of his attempts at destruction have made progress, so he’s both incompetent and unfit for the job.

Despite the fact that 100% of the world’s national science academies and 99% of the world’s journal-published, peer-reviewed scientists say there is no debate about climate science, this so-called leader of our key environmental department says the science is very debatable. Of course Pruitt is a lawyer, not a scientist of any kind. Unfake news: Climate science enjoys more consensus among scientists than the theory of gravity.

Environmentalism: Three Eras

I think we are living an important time. For me it’s useful to understand current priorities in the context of the history of environmentalism. That history can be summarized as three key periods:


Recorded history does not include widespread concern about the impact of the human race on the earth’s natural processes, until the industrial revolution was in full swing in the 1800s. The earliest voices may have been taken seriously, but they seem to have had little effect on human behaviour.

earth plus space low res


From approximately 1960 until 2015, with world population growing from 3 billion to 7 billion people, concern about pollution became widespread. Governments all over the world passed laws. Thousands of environmental groups were formed. Scientists and environmentalists were releasing many more significant books and articles. Oil and coal companies used their great wealth to fight vigourously to confuse the issues and defend their dominant position in the global economy.

By the 2000s numerous alternative technologies had been proven to work and their cost became economically viable. In 2015 worldwide policymakers met in Paris and signed an accord that established climate change as one of the earth’s most pressing problems and our highest priority for coordinated international action.


Today governments are intervening in the marketplace to help implement solutions and smooth the transition from our oil and coal based economy to a clean tech world. Scientists believe we must act quickly to avoid very serious effects from climate change. With 7.6 billion people, our planet is politically, economically and technologically diverse. We will need more than government intervention to meet the challenge. We will need to continue to work together, to ramp up our efforts, and to communicate about success stories and best practices.

Please help celebrate the innovations and best practices of our modern clean energy heroes by visiting this clean energy page and sharing the information found there.








The Weight of Evidence

Our education system – The weight of evidence & the human species

Weight of evidence“If it leads it bleeds,” is a TV journalism phrase that describes the ratings/page views phenomenon that feeds the sensationalist nature of modern media and social media. While many of us don’t like what it reveals about us, we understand the realism of our mundane day-to-day lives and our fascination with tragic news. We’re human, we’re stressed or tired, we do what’s easy. We chat about what’s in the news, whether it’s bleeding, or the Trump show.


There was a moment during a mostly tame recent Netflix discussion between Barack Obama and David Letterman when they touched on media polarization and mentioned a cause and an effect.

First the effect: We live in a bubble that reinforces our current beliefs. Every time we click ‘like’ or sign up to another site, show, station or feed that makes assertions we already agree with, we limit the amount of balance in our world view.

The cause: That site or feed or TV station generates revenue by targetting a kind of ‘profile person’ that will behave as needed: revisit, comment, click through and or buy services, products and ideas. Whatever your online activity is, the ‘big data’ algorithms are creating your ‘profile persona,’ defining you as an audience member or customer of a certain kind.

The result is that we can’t really blame Donald Trump for Donald Trump. We need to understand that he is a product of this bubble world. The 62 million who voted for him believed in a different set of ‘facts’ or a different version of reality than those who did not. They truly believed that tighter immigration laws will make us safer, that saving the coal mining industry is smart economics, that bluster, bluffing and insults are better for world leaders than more nuanced approaches.

The future: The probability is that growing numbers and also a growing proportion of the world’s population will be living and working with internet-based technology. People may eventually be more involved in decision-making about the way we should live. If this happens we need to be better equipped, with more balanced frames of reference, fewer fast-held bubble-based beliefs, less polarized, more willing to take our assessment of reality seriously as a part of responsible living.

The solution: How? It starts in Kindergarten or sooner. There’s something new needed at every level in our education system. We need to learn a few important Internet/media/social media skills. We need to learn about the weight of evidence. We can all find ways to cleverly (or ridiculously) argue about a given ‘fact,’ but what we really need to be able to assess is the weight of evidence.

It’s fun and usefully stimulating that we have a Flat Earth Society, but the weight of scientific evidence suggests that the world is indeed round, that gravity is real, that smoking causes cancer, that texting leads to car crashes, and so on.

If someone wanted to debate any one of these, would you be able to refute their arguments with a few clicks on the internet? That’s what we need to learn to be able to do. Sort quickly through a gazillion terabytes of info and inform our viewpoints in a balanced way.

Obviously busy people don’t have time to be perfectly up to date on every issue, but we can try to do better. One way is to choose our sources more carefully and set them up for quick access. We know that the Washington Post, Economist Magazine, United Nations, and the International Panel on Climate Change each have their biases, are human, and might not be perfect. But we also know that they make serious attempts to arrive at assertions based of the weight of evidence. They make it their business to review many sides of a question before publishing what they consider to be a reasonable version of the truth.

Maybe you think these four are not the best examples. It doesn’t matter. The point is that you could do worse and a lot of people are doing worse. We’re choosing terrible sources for our information. In the modern world everyone needs training, from an early age, about the weight of evidence and best practices for evaluation of information sources.



• According to a new study from Lancer Medical highlighted in the Toronto Star newspaper, dirty air, bad water and other effects of environmental pollution are “killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.” Nine million deaths can be attributed to disease from toxic exposure.

• The same report says these deaths and illnesses cost $4.6 trillion — or about 6.2 per cent of the global economy.

• Forget all the debates about being a vegetarian etc., We are already implementing proven, non-controversial solutions for about 70% of our C02 and methane problem –just not fast enough. They have nothing to do with food.

• We need to focus on 3 areas: Heating & cooling buildings, transportation, and power plants.

• We’re changing building codes for new buildings but governments need to invest big in helping us retrofit our existing buildings, because they represent more than 95% of all buildings. If they made this investment they would create a lot of immediate local jobs, save everybody money on energy, and move North America toward energy independence. All the fixes are known and well-proven.

• States, provinces and cities are moving quickly to electrify transportation, but national governments in North America, are another story. Canada is too slow and careful (on both transportation and buildings) and the Trump administration is made up a lot of young, incredibly intelligent Mensa members (How’s that for fake news?).

• With power plants, again, lots of spineless political battles. Here are the economic facts:


I will debate anyone in any forum on the facts above. I have all the backup information to support these assertions. I have made challenges like this before and the lobbyists who generate BS for money have been afraid to take me up.




Trump decision could subtract from 8.1 million clean tech jobs


TURBINE jobs smallMore than 8.1 million people were working in renewable energy worldwide during 2016, a 6% increase over a year before, compared with a decline of 18% for the oil and gas sector. In China, the numbers were 3.5 million people in renewables, compared with 2.6 million for oil and gas. Bloomberg said that 350,000 people were laid off in the oil and gas sector in the US between 2014 and 2016.2 Renewables create the most jobs and they create local jobs.



CALIFORNIA SOLAR GROWTH SMALLER 2Not only are these real immediate jobs, but Trump could theoretically eliminate USA jobs in the future by limiting the country’s participation in the development of expertise, investment leadership, supply chain growth and so on, in a clean tech sector that will be worth trillions within a couple of short decades. One example: there are more than 2,754 solar companies in California, employing 75,598 people. In 2010, there were a couple hundred installations, in 2012 more than a thousand. In 2014, there were about 3500, and in 2016 more than 5000. In other words, 20% annual growth. And it’s expected to grow twice as fast, or by 200% over the next five years. All states and countries are actively competing for this work. It’s just business and ordinary technological change.

For more please see the book The New Energy Age at

Trump cannot change economic reality

People have been asking me about the impact of Donald Trump’s election on the new energy age. Despite panic in many parts of the environmental movement, not much is likely to change.

The bottom line on Donald Trump is that about 60 million people voted for him so that America could serve notice to the world that they are no longer going to pay to police the globe or keep shipping all their low wage jobs out of the country. Instead they will ship brown and black people out. But the Trump administration cannot change what is essentially an economic shift to cheaper, better, energy technology. There are now more Republicans benefitting from clean tech than any other political sector. One quarter of the country’s wind turbines are found in Texas. Republicans recently voted to extend the 30% tax credit on renewables for another 5 years.

Despite his claims to the contrary, Trump is a politician, while clean tech growth is moving beyond the political arena and is increasingly dependent on a very favourable and unstoppable economic wind.

Trump is 72 and has thrown in with some even older, still wealthy and powerful oil and gas people, so due to their actions the move into electric vehicles might be slower in the rural areas and in the least progressive states. Even the Detroit carmakers are going to realize that Trump can’t change the regulatory approach of progressive states and the progress of their European, Asian, and Californian competitors

The talk about coal is nothing but bluster and/or wasted subsidies. Coal is economically and technologically obsolete. And the fate of the oil and gas market is similarly sealed. It will dramatically shrink over the next few decades.

There is nothing Trump can do to prevent renewables winning in the power sector or clean tech pervading the building sector. And in the long run he may slow the electrification of transportation, but probably not by much.

For more please see