7-7-7: The Launch of Global Warming Inc.

This is a guest post by HeIsSoFly.

July 7, 2007 (7-7-7) was, according to various numerologists, destined to be a lucky day. Countless occasions, from weddings to caesarians, were specifically planned to take place this day. While those who chose to "undergo their procedures" that day may well see themselves finding favor and blessing from it on an individual basis, collectively they will certainly not. Even more certain, their children will not, and neither will the world's poor, or their children. A thing named Live Earth happened, that's why.

Al brings home some extra bacon?
photo: J .Rosenberg

On the collective, global, level, 7-7-7 will be recorded as one of the darkest days in history, all the more so because the majority of us will, in a bitter feat of reverse irony, continue to sing its praise long after its dark deeds become clear.

The Live Earth message, for an estimated TV audience of 2 billion viewers, was that global warming is still a not-too-serious issue. Why else would 150, mostly rich and fading, rock acts, fly all over the globe to "entertain" themselves and countless equally ignorant middle-agers with regurgitated tunes interspersed with fuzzy messages about light bulbs and hybrid cars? It’s not the kind of thing you do when disaster is imminent. In the face of utter mayhem, you don't pay $100 for a ticket, sing along, drink beer and put your hands in the air for hours. Well, yes, maybe that last one. Still, what lingers after Live Earth is the idea that we can "solve this one" while drinking and having a grand old time.

The worst of it all is not that Al Gore himself makes money off of climate change, lives in a big home, and travels non-stop, while spewing record emissions levels to spread the divine word. He’s just one person, and may well have the best intentions. No, the worst is that, as of 7-7-7, 2 billion people have been led to believe that his is the appropriate approach to the problems. And that is most certainly not the case.

Whether Gore is too dumb, naive, or conceited to grasp the reality of it all makes no difference anymore. What does is what’s been in the works for a while, and had its crowning moment at Live Earth. Al Gore has been pushed, by business and media interests, into the forefront of the "fight" against climate change, specifically elected because he doesn't actually fight it. What Gore represents is the idea that there is ample time left, and moreover that there’s money to be made from rising CO2 levels. How do we know? For starters, he says so in his book and film, An Inconvenient Truth.

During Live Earth, one simple short sentence spoken during the North American TV broadcast, words of which Gore was acutely aware, and deserves to be damned and doomed for, was all it took to hammer it home: "This NBC presentation of Live Earth was brought to you by Chevy".

The climate change issue has been hijacked by corporate America (and EU), and turned into a bite-size feel-good issue. That's why we've all of a sudden seen so much media attention this year for climate change, and that's why Live Earth was both such a perversion and success. The big corporations have found ways to turn this into a profit vehicle. That, however, takes diluting and distorting the issue until it no longer has any sharp edges, and it also takes selling it like one sells a detergent or cereal. The secrets of salesmanship are in appealing to what makes people feel better, and these days the magic words are "green" and "sustainable". The dilution of the global warming issue is most striking right there: A car that pollutes 2 percent less than another one, is now advertised as "a green car", just like a cereal with 2% less sugar is labeled as "healthy".

Carmakers, obviously a large part of the climate change problem, are now presented by talking head Gore as the providers of -part of- the solution. It's a brilliant marketing move, but it doesn't work that way. What it does do is this: it dilutes the message, and its urgency and seriousness, until there’s nothing left that requires either our immediate attention, or any true sacrifices. What is left in proposed measures is vague terminology such as "lowering emissions levels by 60% or 90% by 2050". The number doesn't matter, since we don't react to 2050, it's too far away to worry about today. It's a message that allows us to keep on going and trucking, steady as she goes.

The dilution and distortion in informing people of what's really happening to our planet is also evident in what can be considered the core of the matter: climate science. The (heavily) UN-sponsored IPCC publishes reports once every 5 or 6 years, not nearly often enough when both climatic conditions and scientific findings change as fast as they do. Why not a report every year? Because that time-lag is precisely why it was set up the way it was.

The IPCC was structured to provide outdated or even false information. If 1500 scientists, speaking dozens of different languages, need to reach consensus on every letter in a report, and then politicians, from China to the White House, have a last word as well, what could the outcome possibly be? This is how tough issues are played down: take control and distort. The entire process is so cumbersome that 1 year old peer-reviewed papers are left out, too late to review, not to appear till 5-6 years after they were published, even if they're ground-breaking and earth-shattering.

Back to Live Earth. The key buzz word in all of it is raising "awareness". But awareness of what, exactly? That there is a problem in 2050, or that there is one today? Though many people brush it off, that is a crucial difference. If the problem is immediate, 2050 is pretty much a meaningless date. Raising awareness of a problem to take place in 43 years is useless, and even damaging, since it diverts attention from the real issue: today's problems. Besides, how big is the problem? Do we know? Is there some slight discomfort on the horizon, or will 500 million people die? Which of the two are the Live Earth crowds "aware" of the day after the party? Is just any awareness better than none at all? Even if it concerns false facts? The magician says: “Watch the hand”. Is that reality enough when the lives of your children depend on it?

Aboriginals perform a traditional dance on stage while the band Blue King Brown perform during the first Live Earth concert in Sydney.
Photo: AP

Luckily for those among us who prefer real information, there are brave hearts such as James Hansen, NASA's chief climate scientist, under siege from everyone ranging from his own NASA boss to George W. So far Hansen has refused to be silenced, and we should cherish him for as long as he does. He's not the only outspoken voice out there, but at his level certainly a rare one.

Where does Hansen differ from the "official" IPCC models? Try this, from a George Monbiot article in the July 3 Guardian, talking about modeling melting ice sheets:

"When temperatures increased to between two and three degrees above today's level 3.5 million years ago, sea levels rose not by 59cm (IPCC,ed.) but by 25 meters (Hansen,ed.).[1]"

Is that clear enough? If it's not, here's Hansen (and 5 colleagues) talking directly about the IPCC:

"The IPCC analyses and projections do not well account for the nonlinear physics of wet ice sheet disintegration, ice streams and eroding ice shelves, nor are they consistent with the palaeoclimate evidence we have presented for the absence of discernible lag between ice sheet forcing and sea-level rise.[2]"

(Translation: ice sheets melt much faster than the IPCC recognizes in its reports.) From the same source comes this:

"In a densely referenced scientific paper published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, [...] "they say, planet Earth today is in "imminent peril""."

Is that the impression you got, when watching Live Earth, watching Madonna and Al Gore, that the planet is in "imminent peril"?

Supposing that James Hansen is right, and the IPCC is not, we have no time left for former rock stars and vice-presidents throwing parties, much as we might like to. What we witnessed on 7-7-7 was the launch of Global Warming Inc., or, if you will, Climate Change Ltd, its European version. If they are the model we choose to follow, if the best we can think of to do is to buy a different car, we are lost and doomed. The current economic system is the root of the problem, not the root of the solution, no matter what Gore says. We can’t buy ourselves out of this.

In a nutshell: Hansen's message is that we have 10 years left, at most, to prevent disaster. On 7-7-7, Live Earth robbed us of those 10 years, simply by downplaying the severity of the problem, and turning the issue into a party.

The predicament we're in is far worse, and much more advanced, than the incorporated bite-size rock-star version of the problem wants to make us believe. We still have options, we have choices, but we're fast on our way to choosing the wrong ones.

As for Al Gore, he by now is eerily reminiscent of the Faust(us) presented by Marlowe and Goethe. Faust was a good and very smart man, who more than anything else in life wanted the best for all mankind. He wanted it so much that he couldn't wait, and in order to speed up the process, sold his soul to the devil, hoping that in the end it would all work out for the best.

It didn't.


[1] Monbiot: Stop doing the CBI's bidding, and we could be fossil fuel free in 20 years

[2] The Earth today stands in imminent peril

The world is at peril. What you do? You throw out a party.

Luckily 7-7-7 will be remembered as the day the Tour started in London and nothing else.

As for Al Gore, when I saw the first picture of this post it reminded me of these words:

Big man, pig man
Ha, ha, charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You're nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
You're nearly a laugh
But you're really a cry

I don't see what you are suggesting. I mean you are right to criticize what is happening, but how many realistic options do we have to approach the problem?

People want a party and party they got. They don't want bicycles and expensive energy. Anybody speaking out loud about this part will be out of public service before finishing his sentence. So what to do? Maybe we need some sweetener to make the public swallow the sour pill... I know that everyone at this site will disagree with this approach but are we sure that if we were politics, we would be capable of doing anything different?

Of course it might all be very well like you say - a feel-good game for the big corps to make some money of the entire ship sinking (you can count on get higher water bills for that!). But something tells me, (and I hope it's not my wishful thinking) that this time TPTB are truely worried about our long-term survival, but the situation is such that they are held captive by the show-time version of democracy they are selling the masses to keep them warm and happy. At some point of time they will have to choose one or the other... and the critical question is when will this happen and is it going to be too late?

I'm not sure that criticizing this event, which is a very easy target at the first place, will bring this date closer. Let them make the promises, this will allow us to keep them accountable if they are not met. Of course it is absurd to target a 60% reduction by 2050, without a strategy to reach it and without intermediate checkpoints - and making them take legal obligations for this should be the main thing we should focus our efforts on.

They don't want bicycles and expensive energy. Anybody speaking out loud about this part will be out of public service before finishing his sentence.

If that statement is true, then we really are all doomed. This is why there are many many doomers out there, they see that even trying to speak about making the types of changes that will eventually be forced upon us through necessity is socially unacceptable. A speaker should be able to get up and tell the crowd that if they don't change their lifestyle they will be dooming hundreds of millions of people, including some in there own country (it's not just a "third world" problem, although they will of course get the worst of it initially) to starvation and death. It's true. As long as leaders are forbidden from speaking the truth by some combination of powerful wealthy interests and crippling cowardice, things will not proceed fast enough.

Just a few years ago, there were another series of concerts like this trying to deal with Aid to Africa (mostly). Has that problem been addressed or are there plans in place to solve the even the lowest of the low hanging problems? Not really; there were a few token gestures, and some extra funding, but it's structural problem, and those in the structure are not going to willingly change it. This includes most of us here (myself too) who quite frankly like most of how things are : non-crowded living, the option for world travel (even if we don't do it), non-backbreaking work, transportation available even if we don't drive, etc.

Planning for changes would work out a lot better than just constant crisis management for the next 100 years. This will require large scale government projects. Few massive projects like this are ever done without direct action from the government (railways, electrification/telephone lines, roadways, water/sewage systems, etc...). This isn't going to happen until things are too late, because most likely things are already too late. We are entering the crisis management stages, but they aren't recognizable because we're in them, and there aren't large-scale "events" to point them out. Things gradually (on a single lifetime basis, not a human history basis) will grind down, fade away, stop working, and change. And it's all being left to chance. That's OK, I suppose, since that's how we got here in the first place, but it doesn't make me comfortable

Let them make the promises, this will allow us to keep them accountable if they are not met. Of course it is absurd to target a 60% reduction by 2050, without a strategy to reach it and without intermediate checkpoints - and making them take legal obligations for this should be the main thing we should focus our efforts on.

How, exactly, will you keep them accountable? So what if "they" agree a strategy with checkpoints. So what if they are bound by “legal” “obligations?” Really, so what?

Do you think you, or whoever, will be able to force these legal obligations to be achieved? Even if that does happen, who cares? After entering the legal process to “force” “them” to do what they said they were going to do, another three years or another five years have passed and climate change has only grown more acute. Do you really mean to say the menace doesn’t know how to manipulate the legal process?

Perhaps we’ll have passed some point wherein the forcings and the feedbacks cannot be ameliorated. So, what good are those legal obligations? What, you’ll fine them? Or confiscate their assets? Or send the executive management team to prison? Maybe you’ll round up the “stakeholders” and send them to prison as well? Wow, I’m totally impressed by this approach. If this is the best we’re going to come up with, I’ll stick to the party and concert methodology. As nothing more is going to be achieved than the “legally binding” crapola, at least I’ll be able to get down and get funky right along with all the other poor ignorant saps dancing next to me.

The problem will not be resolved using the very means that have created the problem in the first place. Climate Change has been co-opted by the very same menace that is busy diluting and denying Peak Oil, and every other crisis facing the biosphere. How can we legislate and litigate our way out of this problem? Frankly, I just don’t see it. Maybe you need to discard your junior high school civics romanticism with something more firmly grounded today’s realities. The menace controls the “legal” process. Not justice, but justice isn’t part of today’s reality.

I wish you all the best in your endeavours, as doomed as they are to failure. The political process as practiced in the west is pretty much just an exercise in theatre. A chance for you to feel like you making a difference and really count. And, it’s all a lie. When a concert designed to raise awareness about climate change is being “sponsored” by General Motors, the game is over. You can turn out the lights. Strike the set. The show’s over.

I know it is easy to become cynical as we watch the state of the matters, but I don't think this would produce anything positive for anyone - neither for the biosphere nor for the human species (which for some time now have imagined they aren't part of it).

Like you said what needs to be done requires rework of the whole system that created the problems at the first place; a lot of real leadership, international cooperation and hard work. Either this will happen or we are all doomed. What we can constructively do right now is trying to push the things in that direction, using the resources which the current system provides. I don't care - even if this has only a 1% chance of success then it would be worthed.

I happen to be in the Jay Hanson school of the future. I don't think it matters how much awareness is raised because people are going to reject what needs to be done: not just ZPG but a rapidly falling population; the end of the growth paradigm; truly sustainable lifestyles; etc., etc.

I didn't see any of the shows because we chose to stop getting broadcast TV years ago (although I guess I could have found a webcast). But my reality is I have better things to do with my time then watch TV such as working in my garden or cutting firewood.


Hey Todd,

I hear you.

But I still wanted to point out that climate change has now "officially" moved from a bottom-up to a top-down movement. It has been bought by the corporate world because they see profits in it. No surprise there, I just happened to notice the moment it went down, and thought I'd share that.

7-7-7 has in one day taken away the 10-year period we still might have had to at least do something. Whether that's good or bad, I can't truthfully say.

I wanted to expose Al Gore as the man who has achieved the incorporation of the issue. Whether he does so willingly or stupidly makes no difference to me, though I'd go for the former. After all, he sold the whole show to GM. I can only imagine what they paid for the privilege. 2 billion viewers, and the busiest streaming/downlaod website in history.. That can't be cheap.

He should be denounced for it so loud that he's never heard from again.

This is not about awareness, but the 180 degrees opposite, it's about painting a pre-fab picture of the issue (and then calling that awareness), one that makes people fork over. Hey, at times we can, or even must, still rage against the lie, right?

On a site dedicated to peak oil, I thought it might be good to show how the process of incorporating issues works. The exact same thing will happen to peak oil. And when business and media get their hands on it, you won't recognize it anymore. That's what's going on here. TOD afficionado's may think they own the peak oil theme, but they haven't seen anything yet.

James Hansen has to be a very frustrated man, because no-one listens to him. they all listen to Al Gore (who then talks about James Hansen). For peak oil, all you need to do is change the names, the mechanism remains identical.

On a positive note, writing things like this might encourage a few, just a few, more people, sick of being lied to, to throw out the tubes and come work in our gardens with us. That wouldn't be so bad, would it?

PS Love this picture:

Well done, HeIsSoFly, well done.

Promises that will not ever be kept. Promises we cannot keep without taking apart the system. And if we take apart the system, then who will feed the people? How will the rich prosper?

If my memory is correct, both Canada and UK have admitted - in public, in the press, in the past couple of weeks - that they will not make even the minimal Kyoto targets let alone anything more substantial.

Promises we cannot keep. Were Hansen President and were all the congresscritters disciples that would not be enough.

cfm in Gray, ME

HeIsSoFly, very well executed critique!

The simple fact of the matter is that it is worse than you state. You didn't even acknowledge the hard-liners (I'm assuming because you didn't wish to veer into complete desperate hopelessness). I'm thinking, Inhofe, Exxon, CERA, fucktards, et al... You know the usual TOD straw man we build of the the infinite growth economists, or the wild-eyed cornucopians with imaginations sometimes more fertile than the most hysterical fundamentalists? Greed is a powerful force in human nature. These people deny your premise from the start, not that it will be a problem 50 years from now, that oil-addled faux liberals embrace. This 50% (at least in the sole-remaining "superpower"), who you aptly dub "Global Warming Inc." throw up a disengenious campaign on the basis of a real problem that they refuse to fully address... Here, I mean imminent PO, in addition to catastrophic Lovelockian doomerism.

As to Al Gore, my bigoted opinion? All I can say, is that Clinton/Gore didn't do much about our "addiction to oil"--8 years of the largest "growth" ever, I believe... There were a lot of roads built, cars sold, sub-divisions divided under Gore's tutelage. They essentially passed Kyoto right when they were leaving office, only to have Dubya predictably tear it to shreds in the "economic interest" of the US. I'm a far left liberal, and I'm sorry, the fact that the Gore elite team couldn't beat 'ole W the neocon cohort in '00 made me forever despise the man who used to be the vice-president who I just didn't like. All the DLC sellout neoliberalism has crushed the Left's creditability, allowing the neocons to feast on the corpse of a society run into the ground by consistently deplorable leadership ever since WWII... Of course, corporations rule the country, and are democratic institutions are not functioning properly (since corporations by and large own the media, etc--. As I like to say, it all goes back to Madison, who made a strong case for protection small well endowed factions against the masses at large, which morphed into the PR industry, along with the Fortune 500. Oh, yeah, and the "small businessman"--lets not forget about him.......

Btw, Gore's father built the interstate highway system. The Gore family dynamics is reflective of how contradictory liberalism *cough*neoliberalism*cough* has become as our country's economy and foreign policy have evolved over the decades of centuries. Rationality trampled to make way for "progress"... Or, best I say regress? It all depends on how you look at it, doesn't it?

A solution would start with economic collapse, there is great slack in the system but it won't be redirected to a solution without some great shock to the body of the beast.

Without collapse and the rationing of resources there is nothing to do, save to watch it all unfold. Till then, sit back, work in your garden and smell the roses.

IMO. This is a time to wait and watch. Maybe there will be a time for action, lets just try to be around for that.

Popcorn anyone.

Heh, Just watched a bit on CBC of someone from the IEA talking oil and supply. The IEA spokesperson was asked about PO, and I never saw a smile that looked like eternity before, but that was one.


Dude you rock!

HeIsSoFly for President!!!!

You could be the next Nader.

OOPS, I guess thats not a good thing is it?

Don't get me wrong I really appreciate your perspective, (do you work for La Rouche?) just kidding.

Actually I put Al Gore and Matt Savinor in the same camp so F_ _K me anyway.

I am so sick of being told who to hate, it gets so confusing.

But seriously, Thank you for saying what so often needs to be said.

I love your posting, PLEASE keep it up.

Hey Soupy,

I am so sick of being told who to hate, it gets so confusing.

Go big time like me and be an equal opportunity hater, much less confusing that way and who is innocent past the age of innocence anyway?

Matt is in camp???? I thought he deliberately broke his high heels running from those Chinese ass-bandits of his...Gee I am too so confused, doesn't it hurt just hurt so when reality impinges on one's happy little fantasies?

Yes HSF"s article is all right...and that is very high praise indeed from an EOH


I like the fact that it is a validation to the peoples of the world of the reality of the prescience of the problem.
I agree with you he-is-so-fly that its corporate shenanigans again. And that p.o. will suffer the same fate.

The concept that I would like to pose for your consideration is organized demand destruction (o.d.d.) Essentially higher fuel prices will achieve this in an adhoc manner. What may be fruitful is that if you see an o.d.d. then despite panics and related problems that ensue this will be better than the business as usual b.a.u. model. (cornucopianism)

B.a.u. means that we will reach a point where there will be a sudden commandeering of energy supplies by the military / police state that we imagine that we don't live in. They will no doubt seek to guarantee supply chains for their friends.
So if your name is on the 'friends of the state' list party on. If it isn't you need to believe in what you are seeing and make provisions to be able to grow food. You only need an acre + some wood, an ice house, chicken coop, rootcellar and a sunpit (sunken greenhouse -if youre north of 40)This takes time plus a fair amount of knowledge so do you wait to find out it really is the problem or do you expect the governments to solve your problem. Katrina anyone?

If you can't afford this look for small farmers still hanging on and seek a relationship based on your ability to contribute labour.

I agree that the message gets co-opted in order to party. Kind of the like the lie conferred by the blue box recycling program that implies that we can keep consuming b.a.u. as long as the packaging is made out of hemp.

Finally since this was 777 anyone know what happened last year?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I generally agree, watching the BBC coverage in the background last week I was struck how blasé everyone was. The celebrities especially when being interviewed didn’t have anything sensible to say, frequently strayed “off message” and seemed to be there just to have a laugh.