Handout photo issued by Just Stop Oil of two protesters who have thrown tinned soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s famous 1888 work Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London, Friday Oct. 14, 2022. The group Just Stop Oil, which wants the British government to halt new oil and gas projects, said activists dumped two cans of Heinz tomato soup over the oil painting on Friday. London’s Metropolitan Police said officers arrested two people on suspicion of criminal damage and aggravated trespass. (Just Stop Oil via AP)

 

This column by Jim Warren is part 4 of 4

What can supporters of the conventional energy industry and a rational transition do to stem the tide of public opinion flowing against them? The simple answer is “catch up.” Learn what we failed to learn prior to and during the Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns and stay abreast of new developments in persuasive mass communications technology including opportunities provided by AI.

While getting the right people elected to the House of Commons should be supported, it can’t be the sole focus of effort. Governments change and the policy pendulum swings the other way when they do. Lasting success depends on long-term shifts in public opinion.

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Apocalyptic visions of the climate future and rapid energy transition fanaticism need to be challenged. This can be done by showing how ordinary people’s lives will be adversely impacted by overly zealous deadlines and emissions reduction targets. Similarly, the virtual certainty that the target of no more than 1.5 degrees of warming by 2050 is unachievable means that those people, who can think, are susceptible to messaging that focuses more on adaptation to climate change than fanciful greenhouse gas mitigation efforts. The desirability of relying on fossil fuels and the revenue they generate during the first several decades of the transition needs to become conventional wisdom as opposed to radical climate change denialism.

Supporters of conventional energy need to learn from the opposition, and adopt those strategies that worked for them that might also work for us. Ideas worth stealing include recognition of the fact supporters of conventional energy have experienced “a burning platform moment” and need to adopt radically new mass communications strategies that make use of digital platforms and more sophisticated message testing and targeting.

Enbridge Line 5 protest. Photo by The Canadian Press

 

A well-financed centralized campaign strategy design and management team with clear goals and objectives should be established. While governments and industry will, out of necessity, be initial sources of financing and information for the organization they should be given a long leash when it comes to overall strategic decision making and tactical execution.

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That central coordinating team should include experts in state-of-the-art computer science and big data management and analysis. Also required are people with hands-on, real world experience making use of digital platforms in support of marketing, advocacy, political and opinion shaping campaigns. It should also include energy industry analysts and credible climate scientists with reality-based views about the pace and intensity of climate change.

The central coordinating team should adopt the public persona of a think tank, research institute or not-for-profit foundation. Its internal operations and details regarding its role in campaign leadership and financing should be kept confidential. Taking a leaf from the ENGOs’ Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns, to the extent possible, funding should be channeled through charitable foundations and private donors. If the requisite foundations are in short supply more need to be created. The power of digital marketing campaigns and opinion research based on big data samples should be employed to raise the requisite financing.

Tactical operations and other actions taken in support of the campaign can be farmed out to semi-independent operational cells and subsidiary organizations. The campaign strategy might, for example, call for the creation and maintenance of a stable of internet influencers capable operating on the woke side of the opinion divide. These agents need to be provided with direction based on effective message testing. They should be provided with coaching in the skills required to effectively shape opinion on social media, and in tactics for disrupting the campaigns of opponents. These are activities Big Green enthusiastically and effectively engaged in during the Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns.

The frequent publication of artfully crafted reports and articles for use by the conventional mass media and online platforms is another tactic that worked quite well for the ENGOs. Another good idea to use.

Public communications directed at opponents should be crafted to appear balanced, and employ jargon and ideas familiar to environmental activists. But, at the same time, articles and social media posts should include nuggets of information that politely challenge specific elements of climate change orthodoxy. The idea being to disseminate nudges that are orthodox enough to be consumed by postmodernists worried about climate change, but which, over time chip away at the very foundations of their beliefs.

The rational people who have quietly provided the very basis for our modern society have quietly taken unbelievable amounts of abuse and vilification in recent years. It’s time to fight back.

 

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Jim Warren: 2010 was the inflection point, with social media bringing woke culture and zealous environmentalism to the fore

Editorial: Facebook and Instagram to start blocking Pipeline Online links on Sunday. This is 1979, on the way to Orwell’s 1984